Shame on you. It’s coming and you’re not ready. The current steady rate of economic growth is going to get interrupted. No one knows if the interruption will be a recession or a pause. But there will be an interruption. If you prepare in advance, watch out for early warning signs and manage through the disruption to come out even stronger on the other side, good for you. Otherwise, the next chapter in your story could be number 11.

RSM’s Bill Gorman shared their Middle Market Index and Trends with the 150 mid-market CEOs and outside experts at the CEO Connection’s Mid-Market CEO Convention at the Wharton School in Philadelphia last week. In general, the trends look good. Perhaps too good. Things are beginning to fray around the edges and Gorman is sure there will be a pause or recession at some point. His suggestion is that organizations get ready for a downturn by preparing and positioning how they want to come out of it with the right labor costs, talent, innovation.

With that as general advice, you should also be ready for specific things that could impact you along the way.


Cyber Security

A panel of FBI Special Agent and Counterintelligence Strategic Partnership Coordinator Charles Kelley and intellectual property lawyers Russell Beck and Victoria Cundiff suggested we should be afraid. We should be very afraid.

Everyone’s a threat. The threat could come from outside like the state entities that hacked into Yahoo’s accounts. It could come from insiders acting intentionally. It could come from insiders acting innocently. You can perhaps mitigate the risk by

• Sharing information with peer firms to improve your ability to monitor risks

• Taking a total eco-system approach to manage access to information creation, routing, management, protection and your response to the inevitable breach.

• Clarifying your policies, guidelines and procedures around devices employees bring to work and connect to your systems

• Leveraging resources from the FBI and others to help train your people

• Testing your system to see how vulnerable it is to breaches and how well your team responds to a breech


Personal Branding

As Ewan McGowan-Watson told the group, you don’t have to suffer through a recession or a cyber security breach to have a problem. People attacking your reputation on the Internet can make your life miserable as well. He suggests getting way out in front of any potential attack by building a reservoir of positive content and connections on the web capable of diluting any such attack. If someone gives you a glass of very high proof grain alcohol, you’re going to feel the impact. But if they pour that same glass into a fresh water lake you won’t even notice.

McGowan-Watson suggests three steps:

1. Create high quality websites and profiles

2. Optimize connecting sites, social networks and the like

3. Update on a regular basis

Underlying these three is the competition for great content.


Preparing For The Coming Recession

You know it’s coming. You don’t know exactly how it’s going to impact you. One of the things you’ll need to figure out is whether the change impacting you is major or minor, temporary or permanent. If it is:

• Minor and temporary, ignore it and keep going.

• Minor and permanent, evolve your organization to mitigate the downside and capitalize on the upside.

• Major and temporary, treat like the crisis or opportunity it is and manage through the situation

• Major and enduring, hit a reset button and rethink everything you’re doing.


Bottom line, pay attention and:

1. See the change

2. Accept the change

3. Understand the nature of the change: temporary vs. permanent, major vs. minor

4. Understand the implications of the change on your current reality

5. Re-look at your purpose, destination, objectives

6. Find a new way to bridge the new gap

As UCLA Basketball coaching legend Jack Wooden said, “Things turn out best for the people that make the best of the way things turn out.” Be one of those people.