Tom Peters Needs Our Help

Last Updated Oct 8, 2008 11:13 PM EDT

What are the rest of us to do when even high-priced, highly influential management consultants are flummoxed by the economy? To wit, Tom Peters put up this concession post, Musings, saying events have put him in a state of "significantly debilitating disorientation."

I don't disagree with him. The current economy could make anyone feel like a squirrel sitting in the middle of the road, unable to move as a truck bears down on it. But he's Tom Peters, and I expected him to beep the horn or something (hard to beep the horn while being a squirrel, I guess). He's seen hard times. He lived through 1970s and early 1980s, after all, as well as the tech bubble.

So I'd expect him to do more than tell us that government is likely to be more of a solution than a problem in this case (we don't have a modern-day JP Morgan who can swoop in and single-handedly fix market problems; the only thing with that much money is the government, and so far, the market doesn't want to be fixed). He's also right but irrelevant in saying that most likely, "the worst is yet to come." yes, we know. But the downturn won't affect every business equally.

Maybe Peters should read BNET's guide to Managing in a downturn. It has practical advice for how to help teams. But we need a version for independent workers, like well-off management consultants. How about we suggest a few things:

1) conserve cash, but don't be a miser -- buy a cheaper coffee maker, but don't skip the coffee all together.

2) spend extra time networking, even if it means springing for lunch;

3) work cheerfully; it makes a good impression that could lead to more business. It's also not debilitating.

Those are just three quick thoughts on what sole practitioners can do to keep a bit of sanity. Other ideas? Let's post them in comments and give back to a great author and business thinker.

  • Michael Fitzgerald

    Michael Fitzgerald writes about innovation and other big ideas in business for publications like the New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc. and CIO. He’s worked as a writer or editor at Red Herring, ZDNet, TechTV and Computerworld, and has received numerous awards as a writer and editor. Most recently, his piece on the hacker collective the l0pht won the 2008 award for best trade piece from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He was also a 2007 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.