OMG — panic in the streets!

Your first loss is your
best loss.

Just ask the dead men walking
— former CEOs of Lehman or
Bear Stearns — who kept saying, “It isn’t as bad as it looks.
We’ll save ourselves. We’ve done
it before, and we can do it again.”
Hello bankruptcy, goodbye billions! If these Pollyannas had
acted a few weeks earlier, they
would have at least salvaged
something for their investors.
The lesson for all businesses is,
always have plan A and plan B
covering worst-case scenarios.
Then, if everything hits the fan
at once, don’t be afraid to pull
the trigger. Survival takes a plan
combined with guts.

Forget Gordon Gekko
from the movie “Wall
Street” who said,
“Greed is good.”

It’s not, and he was a jerk.
There is nothing wrong with
making it big, but not at the
expense of others. Good business is not a zero-sum game.
Always take care of your customers, investors and employees. You’ll be amazed at how
much good comes to you even
if you’re not first in line. There
are many equalizers in the business world that work in mysterious ways.

This September, we saw what
many pundits think was the
closest thing to panic in the
streets and a near meltdown
that may have rivaled the big
crash of 1929. What transpired
in the last 15 days of this month
from hell paralyzed some
executives from taking action.
Others had their heads on
straight, such as the CEO of
Merrill Lynch who saved what
there was to save by merging
before the lights were involuntarily turned off. Your job as an
executive is to know your business and anticipate a crisis
before it occurs. However,
when your worst fears materialize, don’t behave like a deer in
the headlights.

The Boy Scouts still have
the best idea: “Always be
prepared.”

MICHAEL FEUER co-founded OfficeMax in 1988 with a friend and partner. Starting with one store during a 16-year span, Feuer, as CEO, grew the company to almost 1,000 stores worldwide, with annual
sales approximating $5 billion before selling this retail giant for almost $1.5 billion in 2003 to Boise
Cascade Corp. Feuer immediately launched another start-up, Max-Ventures, a retail/consumer products
venture capital operating and consulting firm headquartered in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. Feuer serves
on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards and is a frequent speaker on business, marketing and
building entrepreneurial enterprises. Reach him with comments at [email protected].

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