As we enter Week 4 and update plans for surviving the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history, it is important to acknowledge that important government services that protect millions of Americans are crippled or at risk, 800,000 Federal employees are without pay, Federal contractors who support vital government missions have already been laid off, and hundreds of thousands more are fearing for their jobs in the coming weeks.
The impact to our economy is already severe, and likely irreversible as the shutdown prolongs. As I stated in my Open Letter to President Trump on LinkedIn last night, “According to S&P Global Ratings, the shutdown could shave approximately $1.2 billion off real GDP for each week that the government is partially closed.” This is going to hurt us all.
But no matter how anyone makes us feel, we are not helpless or powerless. We can lean on, and learn from, each other as business leaders for ideas, inspiration, and encouragement. And we can raise our collective voices via social media, phone calls, and emails to tell the President, the House of Representatives, and the Senate (for the people, by the people) to #endtheshutdown – NOW.
Dire situations such as these call for 3 things from us as business leaders:
1) Manage Feelings of Helplessness
Manage your feelings first, and then those of your employees and loved ones. If you are a leader or head of household, all eyes are on you at this time. As hard as it is to accept and deliver difficult news, and watch your own aspirations go up in flames, stay the course and continue to be true to your values. Don’t allow yourself to become disillusioned by the partisanship and ineffectiveness of our elected representatives. This is the time for practical, constructive action – not despair.
Take care of yourself so you can be strong to take care of those around you. This is the same good advice we get during airline safety briefings: secure your own mask first, before helping others. And if you need someone to talk to who gets it – please reach out to me directly. You never know when someone else can offer you a creative solution that gets you through the next day or week. Don’t isolate yourself. Get connected with others who care and are willing to reach across that aisle.
2) Preserve Cash
Cash flow continues to be “queen” during this time. Scale back on expenses and recommend that all those around you scale back as well. This includes personal and business expenses. Tremors will continue to reverberate throughout our economy and many more markets will be impacted in the weeks and months to come. Conservation is key right now. If you are like me and have chosen to continue to protect your workforce at great personal expense, now is an important time to implement creative solutions for Weeks 4 and 5. Reach out if you wish to discuss.
3) Engage Immediately with Elected Officials
Take the lead and ask everyone in your network, including your employees, to get engaged immediately with their representatives, key members of the Administration, and leaders of the House and Senate on social media – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and their respective constituency portals. Provide employees with sample communications, links to sites, and instructions on how to use diverse social media outlets to post their concerns respectfully and swiftly. Ask elected officials to stop using Americans as human shields in their negotiations.
One crisis is not served by creating another. There will be no glory in prolonging this battle.
Sadly, given the state of negotiations (or lack thereof) between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, I am already bracing for Week 5. I would love input from others on creative strategies and solutions we can all implement. My own employees, family members, and other business owners in my network have been a great source of strength, encouragement, and insights during this time.
Let’s remember that we are not alone. Lean on your network. You never know which person’s voice will provide the right words of wisdom, encouragement, or inspiration to help you overcome your own specific challenges. I encourage you to be that voice for me and others today.
Be well. Do good. Be strong.