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Posted by: Michelle Conlin on January 06, 2009
Waiting for the elevator today at the BusinessWeek mothership, I bumped into a certain managing editor. He of the frayed Brooks Brothers, the dependable cardigan.
He was sporting a baseball cap emblazoned with “L.L. Bean” on the bill.
“Nice hat,” I said.
“It’s old,” he responded.
“Old is the new new,” I said.
In the elevator, we continued the riff: down is the new up. Losses are the new profits. Black is the new…Black.
The chatter is all Gothic. But it reminds me of what a certain Greek billionaire once said, one who never missed in the market even though he lived on an island removed from screens and 24-hour TV. “Beware of noise and bubble,” he said.
I think by noise and bubble he meant black-and-white thinking, the pessimist’s favorite baton. Yes, these are widly difficult times. But the downside has upside. Bottoms often come bearing gifts. An old L.L. Bean hat—still fabulous.
My favorite bit is this:
“Psychologists say that narcissists obsessed with their own “specialness” can be cured only when they learn to accept their ordinary humanity. Something like this acceptance in the realm of economic life lies ahead for the U.S. We can’t control every aspect of our economic trajectory in this new era. But with the right presidential leadership, we can influence how we think about what is happening - and, more important, what we do about it.”
Any economist who can flawlessly argue the link between narcissism and the US. economy is one very non-noise-and-bubble guy.
How can you manage smarter? BusinessWeek writers Nanette Byrnes, Patricia O’Connell, Emily Thornton, Matthew Boyle, Michelle Conlin and Diane Brady synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.