Sources of Optimism

January 12, 2016

The year is starting off in interesting fashion. $1.1 trillion was lost by the S&P 500 in a rough start for Wall Street, and the Chinese market halted twice to avoid a meltdown. The December jobs report shows that job growth is strong, but wage growth and general labor participation remain weak.

Times like these can scare the average citizen invested in the economy through 401(k)s and college funds. They should also frighten the holders of the economic status quo, and give pundits the opportunity to draw plenty of doomsday scenarios.

In disruptive times like these, I find that two types of people are especially interesting to speak with: entrepreneurs and mayors. I had the opportunity to meet with several new mayors last week. Instead of being overwhelmed, I become excited about the prospect of helping them tackle the problems they face in their neighborhoods and economies. I also spoke with several business leaders and small business entrepreneurs. They are excited in much the same way. They are excited to compete, even if it can be brutal some days, and to take advantage of the volatility – not run from it.

Entrepreneurs and mayors share a lot of common ground. They are inherently optimistic, they rightly feel that they are the last line of defense, and they consider themselves especially accountable for the people who look to them for leadership and paychecks. They are also resilient and practical. They have to get things done.

As these leaders are starting the year, pick up the phone or write a letter to the editor to let them know that they aren’t alone. Let them know you want them to act and succeed, and let them know how you can help.

-Kenny McDonald