"No matter where you go.....there you are." ~Buckaroo Banzai
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai was a movie I watched in the late eighties - it was campy, funny and the special effects were awful. I am not even sure you could use the word effects. As bad as the movie was I loved it, and thought it was hysterical. The music was awesome too, so awesome I sat with my recorder and recorded the songs right off the TV. That was about as technical as I was in my mid-teens. I don't recall much about the movie now, but I do remember this quote - and it about sums up me and my business these days.
Going Down, Down, Down
As 2010 comes to a close and the Economy seeming to just sit still, I get asked;
"How's Jamie's Painting & Design doing?"
Just like I got it asked in 2009 and the end of 2008. Everyone wants to know how my business is doing. And as much as I enjoy sharing about what I do for a living, I inwardly sigh when I am asked this. I tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. My response:
"Bad. Times are tough and sales are down."
I have spoken to many people in retail, and lots of other Entrepreneurs and they all agree - people's spending habits have changed. I know the boom time bathing in money days are over, but I feel they I am optimistic that things will turn around. History repeats itself and things will get better.
Most times, people just agree, we commiserate and we go on to other topics. Topics like how our children are doing in school, the weather or what the latest is on Facebook. But in the last two weeks these were a few zingers I got from some industry peeps, partners and friends:
"Oh, you mean it started when Obama was elected?"
"Oh sales are down because of the Democrats?"
"It is because you are all crazy in California, you voted in some awful people."
"Won't people start spending when the Republicans gain power?"
"It is all Obama's fault, someone should tell that man."
My response everytime goes a little something like this;
"Uh............okay no I do not agree, I actually strongly disagree with you. I don't really care whether you are a Republican, a Democrat or a Tea Bagger...er Partier. I don't. I don't blame either party entirely. My sales started going down slowly in 2007....did you hear me 2007? They really fell off a cliff on September 30, 2008 - the day of the Financial Meltdown thingie (before Obama was elected). I just would like someone to fix the Economy. Fix it I say! I don't care how, I just want people to start spending money again....money on my products!"
What People Mean
I know that people mean well, and they think they are saying the right thing. I also know it is really much easier to just play 'The Blame Game' when faced with adversity or possible financial ruin. I get it. I just don't agree with it. Politics and business do not mix well, nor do politics and people that do not have the same political views I have. I am not saying anything brilliant, but I am just saying.....why must we blame one person and one political party? Does anyone recall who was president when the country fell of a cliff? I mean - could it be both their faults? Could it then be both their responsibility to fix it. With unemployment at about 10% I can see why people are not spending like crazy on gifts and wall decor for their children. I just can't wait for them to start.
Moving Away from Honesty
To help me with these uncomfortable and often right sided conversations I think I need to change my response. Maybe honesty is not the best policy, maybe they don't really want to know how I am doing. It could be that they are just making small talk and I should do the same. I think moving forward I am going to change my response to one of the following:
"I am keeping myself busy."
"It is what it is"
"What on earth did you do with your hair? I LOOOOVE it!"
"Why do you want to know?"
"None of your business."
"I don't want to talk about (sobbing and tears soon to follow) it"
"Have you ever heard of Buckaroo Banzai?"
Yes, instead of killing them with kindness, honesty and real tangible information I will be rude, deffensive and possibly dillusional. If all else fails my last resort will be showing them a dog swimming with a dophin youtube video on my new phone. That will change the subject I am sure.