A Door Out of The Recession?


When you lack conventional equipment and supplies, creativity is required.

Two saw horses, a piece of plywood, and a queen size bedsheet make a good temporary dining table for 12.

The town dump can be a treasure trove.

Doors are transformed into a kitchen table and a utility shed (see picture on right–there are 11 doors in this shed, only 2 of which function as a point of entry).

Leftovers from lobster fishermen provide the foundation of a collection of artifacts for a museum.

My Aunt Martha and Uncle John are masters of reinvention, and experts at repurposing objects to suit their needs (creations above). In a sense, it's virtual necessity: they spend summers on an island on Maine accessible only by ferry (car reservations are limited and in high demand). While a notable source of fresh lobster, bald eagle sightings, and summer pie auctions, the island is also known for what it doesn't have: gas stations, a large general store, a hardware store. You can't eat out of the garden all year–planning ahead is a necessity!

Geography, diminished access to resources, and a less than temperate climate demand resourcefulness. Sound familiar in a landscape with decreased travel budgets, "lean cutbacks" and routine exhortations to do "more with less"?

One of the silver linings of the economy is the opportunity–and necessity–for such creative brainstorming. This past weekend, the New York Times published an op-ed by Tom Friedman about the U.S. opportunity for reinvention.

Historically, recessions have been a time when new companies, like Microsoft, get born, and good companies separate themselves from their competition. It makes sense. When times are tight, people look for new, less expensive ways to do old things. Necessity breeds invention.

Therefore, the country that uses this crisis to make its population smarter and more innovative — and endows its people with more tools and basic research to invent new goods and services — is the one that will not just survive but thrive down the road.

We might be able to stimulate our way back to stability, but we can only invent our way back to prosperity. We need everyone at every level to get smarter.

If your employment prospects or career interests are changing, why not start your search by taking a hard look at the "big picture"? Do you have skills and experiences that you could apply in an entirely new way–or use to help an existing organization fill a critical gap? If nothing comes to mind, why not start your job search with a little reverse engineering–talk to people who work in your dream job and find out what skills and services are most needed. The answer may surprise you–and provide a good jumping off point for accumulating the experience you need…I once talked to an architect who said the biggest skills entry-level architects need are budgeting and financial analysis!

Professional associations, special interest clubs (MeetUp.com is especially useful), and organizations can all help you retool. And so can I. I don't have any personal experience with "door reconstruction," but I can help you learn how to open more for yourself…

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