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Something for which to be thankful

Week of 1 Dec 08

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Here in the United States, Thursday, 27 Nov 08, has long been a traditional holiday--Thanksgiving. It dates back to the earliest European settlers, the Pilgrims. Today, it is a day of gorging on probably the biggest meal of the year. The traditional meat is turkey. Even the homeless in the USA don't have to look too far to have a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving--shelters, permanent and temporary, are opened wide so that all may share. It is one of our best hours of generosity throughout the entire year.

Back in the recently and blessedly completed presidential campaign, the candidates often liked to set the scene of the family with the primary income provider out of work, all sitting around the kitchen table, staring at a bunch of unpaid bills. For most in that scenario, it is a scary situation. However, today I want to focus on a small minority that find themselves in such a place at this time, no matter where they may be on this planet or what industry most recently employed them.

For it is for these that we can offer thanks in advance. Who are they? The bold and creative ones who have or will in the near future decide to strike out on their own. They will create great new products, services and businesses, some right here in the worldwide pulp and paper industry.

What will these businesses be? We don't know yet. What we do know is that the most creative, useful services, products and businesses are created in times of great angst and often in a sea of hopelessness. These are exciting, optimistic times, if one considers this perspective.

A few examples. Henry Ford created the economical automobile (the Model T) to eliminate rural people's isolation. His idea flew in the face of conventional wisdom that believed automobiles would always be expensive and out of reach of the common person. When did he do this? He started building the production line in 1906 (the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 75.45). The first one rolled off the line October 1, 1908 (the Dow Jones Industrial Average was around 40 - a drop of 47%). By the way, from 1902 to 1904, the Dow had fallen 46% to 30.88. Ford's idea was not incubated in exactly robust times.

John F. Kennedy's challenge to get to the moon within a decade, by the end of the 1960's, was not a casual thought--the cold war was in full force and he felt this challenge necessary to answer the Russian's increasing threats. We are still reaping the benefits in technology from this endeavor.

In the late 1970's, we in the US suffered from massive inflation followed by a double recession (roughly two separate recessions back-to-back). In these bleak times were birthed Apple Computers, Microsoft, and Oracle, among others.

War always brings innovation at both ends of the gun--high technology fire power and great advances in recuperative medicine.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend wrote to me and said, "What about 'Creative Destruction?'" I confessed we are currently in the destruction part, the creative part is yet to come. What is important to realize is that the soil in which creativity blossoms is that filled with adversity. For a creative person like your writer, times like these make me smile ear-to-ear. On some unknown kitchen tables will sprout fantastic new ideas and opportunities unimaginable in these otherwise cloudy days. I am very happy and thankful. I hope I live to see the fruits of this angst-filled soil.

As I have been stressing in recent weeks, stress causes a slip in safety awareness. Please be sure you are focusing on safety, no matter what is going on around you. And, if you should be so unfortunate as to lose your job in these times, remember a loss of a job is not a loss of a safety attitude (and, by the way, send me your email address so you can continue to receive Paperitalo Publications).

Be safe and we will talk next week.

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