Archive for January, 2009

I
went looking for some recession-busters — ideas that local businesses have to
beat the slowdown blues.

The
one consensus I heard seems simple enough: Turn off
  the TV news. No one, by the way, mentioned turning off their
BlackBerries.

I
get it, but it’s hard for me.
  I’m
an incurable news junkie who writes better with a Jake Jabs commercial playing.
I need my morning groans about the latest layoffs or Ponzi schemes. Today’s Journal
had Nortel Networks’ Chapter 11 and Microsoft job cut rumors.
  The closest thing to an upbeat story
was that more people are heading to public libraries; of course, they’re using
free Wi-Fi to search for jobs.

The
recession’s a reality. We listened to endless forecasts of when it would get
here, now we have endless forecasts of how long it will last.

So
what are local businesses doing? No matter how cautious you were in ‘08, was it
enough? It seems like there is some uncovered financial surprise around every
corner.

In
18 years of running my own business, there were few I met with a more positive
attitude than Karen Bernardi, who runs
Bernardi Real Estate Group at Coldwell
Banker.

         We met again at a
New Year’s Eve party, and she was dancing, celebrating 2009 like the stock
market had topped 20,000. Didn’t you hear about the housing bubble Karen?
  You had to know Colorado had the fifth
highest foreclosure rate in the nation last year.

         Call
the Bernardi Group, and listen as the receptionist makes you feel like it’s
your birthday and hers, too.

         Karen’s
team practices everyday on how they talk to customers and what they’re going to
say. “
We are a sales organization, and
everything comes down to the number of people you talk to.”
  The goal of positive thinking: “We
interact better.”

         Bernardi Group has a
strategic plan. It’s called higher sales. “Interest rates are down, and I try
to focus on that, the things that are positive in this market.”

         CNN? Karen doesn’t
watch it. “National news sells negativity,” something not in her formula for
closing sales. She knows the stats and reads publications that keep her
informed, but she also knows she “can’t change the national economy.” With her
energy, I’m not so sure.

         Cut back on
marketing to lower costs? No way. Bernardi increases her advertising in tougher
times, while trying to “spend our money wisely.”

         Most people downtown
know Sam Sussman. Click on the Web site of
Eight Days A Week Imaging, and
you’re greeted by a video of two smiling staffers. Sam says he tried harder
last year to get “back to the basics,”
 
cutting expenses and renegotiating some deals with his biggest vendors.

Just
the same, he admits to being surprised by the severity of the year-end economic
“meltdown.” Sam also mentioned negative national news for keeping people down.
“Media just makes its message a little more extreme,” he said.

Sam,
who campaigned for Obama,
  says he
watched “the best come out” from friends and other businesspeople working for a
change in the White House. He believes the psychology of the marketplace will
swing soon toward a more positive note.

“I
think we’re entering a new age of personal responsibility. The people he
(Obama) is putting in office are not idealists, they are pragmatists.”

The
good news, he adds, is Boulder’s economy still seems “pretty solid,” and he’s
expecting brighter signs nationally, maybe as soon as the second quarter.

         Brian Cleveland, CEO
at
Parallel Path, a Boulder Internet marketing agency, has his own ideas to
beat the recession blues. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that his business
actually doubled in 2008.

         “Standing out in the
crowd is going to be very important in 2009,” Brian says. And his company is
investing in “new tools to improve customer communications.”

         Freeze in your
tracks and just try to ride it out? Brian takes the other track, working on a
new product (and new revenue stream) to help “brick and mortar retail
businesses who may have never considered using SEO (search engine optimization)
techniques to drive traffic to their Web sites.”

         In
a city that thrives on entrepreneurial startups, shouldn’t we be just a little
worried?
  A survey of VCs found a
national consensus of an investing slowdown and continued weakened exit markets
in 2009.

            Foundry Group partner Brad Feld pointed me to his
“Downturn Lessons” on his popular
Feld Thoughts blog. The first is “Don’t
Forget to Play.” “Don’t forget to hang out and have fun with the people you
work with. Lunch anyone?”

         Another
is “Give Your Sales People All the Knives.” No, it’s not about carrying your
Swiss Army knife to work, it’s about the attitude necessary to reach each
quarter’s sales target. “This is in direct conflict with what you might think
if all you do is read the newspaper and watch the television,” Brad writes.

OK,
maybe I need to change.
  “Comedy
Central” is my new channel.
Wolf Blitzer, I’m gonna miss ya.

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Jan
20

Hotel Boulderado with full moon

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Hotel Boulderado with full moon
Originally uploaded by Jerry W. Lewis

This year is the Hotel Boulderado’s centennial anniversary, along with the city of Boulder’s Sesquicentennial, or 150th.

I like this post card, one of many vintage cards in the collection of Peter Pollock, former city planner. About 20 years ago he was researching early Boulder buildings at the Carnegie Library here, and ran across some nice old post cards. So he got the collecting bug, and now has hundreds.

I was looking through his collection for some art to use with stories on Boulder’s 150th. This was one of my favorites.

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