When the Tough Get Going

What you need to learn about conquering economic hardship from a homeless man turned millionaire

One of the most important decisions I made this year was that as an organization, we were not going to participate in the recession. We absolutely refuse to. Does that mean we are not aware of it?

No. Some of our customers have had their assets under management cut in half. So if it affects our customers it affects us. But we are not getting involved in this massive panic about the economy. This is what we are going to do: Stay real focused on our core business. We are going to continue to invest in the technology we need to add value and service to our customers. And this is probably the best time for a small shop like ours to add talent.

We have recently signed some employment contracts with some guys who 18 months ago would not have talked to me. They were big shots at Merrill Lynch, Lehman Bros., and Bear Stearns—and guess what? I’m starting to look real good at some good prices. As value investors are picking up stock and bond investments at “real values,” we are finding real values in people. This is the best time to build a team, but I’m not hiring just anybody who’s looking for a job. I’m looking for people who want an opportunity to help build a business. Gardner Rich is a brand. Right now, we are all about content. I’m hiring candidates who say, “I see where I can add value to your efforts in this area and some expertise that you don’t have on your team right now,” or “I could help round out your team.” Those are people we want to talk to.

This economy could turn in a year or two—in the cycle of economics, it’s a short time. The focus needs to be on what I need to prepare myself to participate at a meaningful level in the way that I choose. You don’t have to do something new. You can do what you’ve been doing but better, smarter, and with more commitment. This is that time. This is a beautiful time.

This story originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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