Where were you this time in 2008?

Dr Ross McKenzie The Startup Business Strategy

Where were you this time in 2008?

For me, I was with Capgemini, the global consulting, technology and outsourcing firm and was temporarily based in South Korea helping a large client with their global sourcing strategy.

To ensure I was keeping up to date with what was happening around the world, I took an interest to read various articles and publications including one at the time that applauded AIG’s global strategy.

They were interesting days…

On the 6th May 2008, I recall the Wall Street Journal quoting Hank Paulson, US Treasury Secretary from 2006 to 2009 saying…

“I do believe that the worst is likely to be behind us”

Then two days later, AIG posted a larger than expected loss and as Bloomberg reported…

“After the market close on May 8, the world’s largest insurance company reported a net loss of $7.81 billion”


But as we know, it was only getting started.

By September, I had my bags packed was heading home with The Wall Street Journal publishing the headlines on the 16th September…

U.S. to Take Over AIG in $85 Billion Bailout; Central Banks Inject Cash as Credit Dries Up

Emergency Loan Effectively Gives Government Control of Insurer; Historic Move Would Cap 10 Days That Reshaped U.S. Finance


What struck me at the time was the speed of the collapse.

Price Waterhouse Coopers would later publish a report that estimated by then end of 2008 more than 7 million jobs had been obliterated in developed countries alone.

People would lose their jobs.

Businesses would close down.

Lives would be impacted for ever.

Economies are still struggling – eight years later.

When I returned back to Australia, I was asked to reduce my work days to just three a week.

Now in my industry, that of course meant you still had to put in the time. However, I was one of the lucky ones, meaning that I still had a job and I lived in a part of the world where we were least affected from the fallout of the GFC.

Yet, what I observed impacted me to the point that I wanted to learn what could prevent this from ever occurring again, or at least, how can a business, or an individual prevent this from happening again.

In other words, how can you become “recession proof”?

You see what I discovered that despite the collapse of businesses, markets and economies, there were businesses and individuals who were either not impacted from the GFC or actually did very well.

Call them smart, call them opportunist if you want, but these businesses and people had different strategies than most of us who suffered.

Furthermore, while there were differences in these individual’s education, background, personal resources or the tactics they deployed to ride out the GFC.

This realisation, or “epiphany”, led me to develop what I now call “The Five Imperatives Of Highly Successful Businesses” and I share these to my clients, or my students so that they can recession proof their own businesses and careers.

Now while I consider it essential that you need to have all five imperatives in place and in the right balance, I recently obtained a further distinction on this when I heard Tony Robbins share his thoughts on high achievers and their “burning desire”.

They were prepared to do what it takes. They were uncomfortable with their current situation. People like Oprah Winfrey who overcame incredible obstacles and Tony Robbins himself – both now making huge positive differences to the lives of many across the world

Their mind set, or psychology, has been transformed to drive them.

The problem is, for many of us, we are just too comfortable to change and it is too late when we are forced to like during the GFC. I know this because this happened to me until I decided to change.

That is why the first of the five imperatives you need to have in place and master is about having a Strategy that Empowers.

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