Wow, it's great to be back to a Michigan winter. Really! I never thought I'd EVER say that, except that the weather in Ireland was about 100 times worse! Wet, cold, dark, miserable, with icy winds whipping your face straight off the Atlantic. Just look at how many layers of clothing I had to wear just to go out shopping (and I can hardly see out of my hood!).
Lucky that the Irish are so warm and welcoming because the weather sure isn't. Maybe that explains why family life revolves around the local taverns that are always brimming with laughter, guinness (of course), and some of the most incredible fiddle playing, singing and Irish dancing I've ever seen! The whole reason for going to Ireland was to catch up with my older brother Dale and his family, who live in Belfast. He's got 3 kids of his own now who range in age from 1 to 6 and are delightful little characters with thick Irish accents and a naughty streak. I sat on a whoppee cushion about 10 times, got pelted with "Nerf Bullets," and helped make a gingerbread train for Santa to hopefully "cancel out any naughtyness" during the year! I also suffered 4 humiliating defeats playing tabletop football with my 4 year old nephew...!
I was last in Ireland 2 1/2 years ago - it's a country I love visiting, and this time around I was curious to see how things had changed. Particularly in regards to how the recession had impacted the area. The reports I had read lumped the Irish economy alongside other EU economies that are in the toilet (like Greece). Were there going to be stores borded up and lots of "going out of business" signs? Would there be people begging on the streets? Lots of vacant commercial buildings and houses?
What I was about to discover astounded me...
In Belfast, the post Christmas sales have always been legendary. With the recession going on, I thought that the post Christmas shopping experience would be a little more sane, a lot less hectic, and far less busy. So when my sister-in-law suggested we "hit the shops," I thought it was a great idea as I'm not usually one to brave big crowds. With the economy, surely most people would be staying home - right? Afterall, in a country whose economy has been likened to that of the great depression, how many people would be out spending their hard earned dollars...not many, right?
Oh my goodness...
It was total madness. There were crowds clamboring to the stores like I have NEVER EVER SEEN IN ANY ECONOMY. People were lining up outside some of the high end department stores, braving that terrible weather, just for the chance to buy a $200 sweater at 25% off! These people were NOT strapped for cash, and what blew me away is how well dressed everyone was - designer duds everywhere, expensive baby strollers...if there was a recession going on, the people shopping in downtown Belfast surely hadn't been told about it!!!
In one store I went to (that I wish I owned shares in) - there was quite literally a MOVING HIGHWAY of people in and out, all hustling to buy and then moving onto the next deal. I stood in the same spot by the door for maybe 5 minutes and watched throngs of people push past me in search of bargains. The store is a high end clothing and homeware store where basic throw rugs sell for the equivilent of $175 USD! To put things in perspective, in Northern Ireland the currency is British pounds, which is a lot stronger than our US dollar, and dollar for dollar things are much more expensive in Belfast than what we pay over here. Yet I watched in amazement as people dropped huge sums of money on purses, suits, coats, linens...hundreds and hundreds and very often thousands of pounds!
After I recovered from my initial shock, I realized with a grin the significance of what I was witnessing. Actions speak a lot louder than words...WHAT RECESSION? These people were thriving! Businesses were thriving!
So here's the BIG LESSON: Just like you've heard me say so many times before...be very careful what you read and who you listen to and whatever you do.... "DON'T BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ IN MASS MEDIA." Scare mongering is the real business they're in. It's bad news, not good news, that sells newspapers and magazines. Despite what you might hear there are many businesses thriving (including mine :) and there is MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY TO PROSPER EVERYWHERE!
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not denying that there's a recession going on. I know times are tough for many right now. There's no doubt that shrinkage has happened and will continue to happen for those industries and businesses who refuse to adapt and keep operating under the rules of the old economy. But YOU won't be one of them - providing you run your business according to the new rules of the new economy. (If you're not yet familiar with the new rules of the new economy then drop everything right now and order a copy of my audio CD "How to thrive in the new economy" - (worth $97, it's yours for just $2) - it's your blueprint for success in the coming year.
And speaking of this year - take heart that things aren't nearly as bad as they seem. In fact many businesses will continue to quietly thrive, racking up record profits. There's NO reason why your business can't be one of them.
So set your goals HIGH for this year. Work tirelessly to deliver even greater value to your customers. Refuse to read anything negative and only listen to those of us who are getting on and making things happen. And stay tuned, I've got some REALLY exciting things happening to help you build your business quickly and easily, that you're just going to love.