In a Recession, It’s Nice To Be Good at Something

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Today at the cafe, a Christmas song came on the sound system….I felt self conscious like I should stop playing those tunes from the expired holiday, and face the fact that we are now in January, a month I’ve dreaded since I first became an adult. There is something bleak and stark about January, pushing out in front of me, weeks and weeks of cold, ice and nothing. I thought about how many times the cafe has actually been closed….only six days a year. So the cafe will be open from now until Memorial day. There’s no let up in sight.

I asked a customer who runs a painting company how things are going. “Bad–I’m not working on any jobs, people are not going ahead with projects,” he said with a sigh. Then a friendly mustachioed contracting company owner, who said he had to let five guys go, but he still has a 20-person payroll. “Twenty grand a week, hey, it ain’t easy, let me tell you.” He is happy to have some decent jobs but is bidding hard even for small stuff, like a 70K house addition.

One of my least favorite pieces of advice that you hear from people like Suze Orman is that giving up lattes and other little expenses is how to save money. No, Suze, that’s bad advice. Lattes and coffees in a little cafe are how you connect with your neighbors, and besides, it’s a good chance to read the paper which most people no longer subscribe to.

I sent an email to my friend Jim Foudy who edits the Daily Hampshire Gazette. I told him I thought I could help them make more money from their website. He replied, interested in hearing what I advise suggesting we meet soon. I’ve confirmed a speaking engagement at the Boston Globe Travel show in late February, talking about ‘Web 2.0’ and making money from the web.

It’s nice to be good at something, even in a recession.