Monday, February 09, 2009

Why I Am Optimistic

These are tough, turbulent times. The national debt is now pushing $11 trillion. Unemployment is way up; the S&P, way down. In fact, in the 185-year history of the Standard & Poor’s Index, the two years with the lowest return (-50%) were 2008 and 1931 … during the Great Depression.

So why am I so optimistic about the future of the country and my firm?

Because history demonstrates that the entrepreneurial spirit can triumph in even the most trying economic times … even in the depths of the Depression. Take a look at three companies launched in 1931:

• When Standard Oil of New York merged with Vacuum Oil, it created the predecessor of the company now known as ExxonMobil.

• In 1931, Shojiro Ishibashi founded the Bridgestone Tire Company — today, the world's largest manufacturer of tires and a range of other industrial products.

• That same year, Sears Roebuck President Robert Wood was convinced he could make money selling car insurance through a mail order catalogue. Today, Allstate is the largest publicly held personal lines insurer in the U.S.

In 2007, the combined sales of these three companies totaled $471 billion. That’s more than the total GDP of Sweden! And it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

A host of other great companies and brands trace their birth to the ten years immediately following the Great Wall Street Crash of 1929 … among them, Hewlett-Packard, Revlon, Unilever, Baxter International, Sara Lee, Westin Hotels, Canon, GMAC Insurance, Zabar’s, Morgan Stanley, Krispy Kreme, Pepperidge Farm, Avery Dennison, DC Comics, T. Rowe Price, Owens Corning and GNC.

In 2005, Senator John Kerry said, “In this remarkable time for the world, I refuse to believe it’s time to stop believing in the possibilities of our remarkable country. I refuse to accept the downsizing of the American Dream. I refuse to bet against American entrepreneurial spirit and American ingenuity.”

I believe that the entrepreneurial spirit — which is alive and well in the United States — gives us the power to turn adversity into advantage. And that’s why I have every confidence that we will successfully weather the current storm.

Technorati Tags: national debt, Unemployment, Standard & Poor’s Index, 2008, 1931, the Great Depression, future, history, Senator John Kerry, the American Dream, entrepreneurial, American, business, communications, public relations

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