An Addendum to Starbuck’s Howard Schultz: Don’t Talk Yourself Into Another Recession

eagleUnless you’ve been living under a rock for the past three weeks, you know that some Coffee Guy from Seattle has lobbed a word grenade into American business and politics. Howard Schultz, Starbuck’s CEO, ex-CEO, and then CEO again, issued a blog post that cut through all the crap that’s been flying around the political scene these days.

Howard said, in a very brief paraphrase, that American politicians of every size, shape and party affiliation have, well, had their heads up their respective backsides. Here’s a quote that captures his argument:

“Like so many of you, I am deeply disappointed by the pervasive failure of leadership in Washington. And also like you, I am frustrated by our political leaders’ steadfast refusal to recognize that, for every day they perpetuate partisan conflict and put ideology over country, America and Americans suffer from the combined effects of paralysis and uncertainty. Americans can’t find jobs. Small businesses can’t get credit. And the fracturing of consumer confidence continues.”

I believe that says it all.

My concern is this “consumer confidence” issue. As consumer confidence declines, so do retail sales. It becomes a downward spiral, and that’s something that needs to stop.

Here’s a way to stop it: Stop listening to national media. Stop believing that statistics and opinion polls control your life. Here’s what I mean:

I am one of those small business owners who economists keep saying are the backbone of our economy. I need consumers to feel confident enough to keep spending their money, so that I can grow my business, pay more taxes (which will help to replenish government coffers), and hire more people.

And contrary to popular opinion, people are spending their money! My sales in the first half of 2011 were 11% above last year. Then some time this summer, the stock market took another dump, some statistics that economic and political pundits live by came out a little short of the mark, and the national media started ranting semi-hysterically about another recession.

But my sales still held!

Now it’s not like I’m doing business in Texas or one of those places that’s been steaming along nicely. I live in one of the regions that two years ago boasted a 15% unemployment rate!

So why are my customers still spending their money? Why are they acting confident?

Because contrary to what you hear from the media, basic industries (such as steel and heavy manufacturing) are up. That means some people are back at work. Auto sales are way up, and since we make the Chevy Cruze around here, that means lots of local people are back at work, and GM employees have even moved here to take the extra jobs that were created.

You see, it’s not so bad: people just keep talking about it being so bad. And all that talk could make more people act as though it’s bad.

If we don’t stop this soon, we will indeed have talked ourselves into another recession.

And I’m not an isolated incident. One of my customers (thank you, Patty C.) is an executive recruiter. “Wow,” people say to her. “Your business must be really bad.” On the contrary. She’s as busy as she needs to be, and points out that in this same “depressed” area, you can’t get a table at any decent restaurant because they’re so busy!

Here’s my request: Believe in yourself, believe in our country, and act as though we’re all here for the long haul. Cheers!


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