Think like the “Godfather”


 This economy is bad.  If you listen to some of the business experts, the economy is the worst we have seen since the depression, with no end in sight.  However, let us look at it a little differently.  I am reminded of a scene from the movie “The Godfather”, where Clemenza is in the basement with Michael Corleone.

Clemenza: You know, Mike, you’re gonna turn out all right. You take a long vacation, nobody knows where, and we’ll catch the hell.
Michael: How bad do you think it’s gonna be?
Clemenza: Pretty goddamn bad. Probably all the other families will line up against us. That’s all right. These things gotta happen every five years or so, ten years. Helps to get rid of the bad blood. Been ten years since the last one. You know, you gotta stop them at the beginning.


No, I am not looking to “hit” somebody, the main point being these market corrections happen and with regular frequency.  Let’s take a look back in recent history, 1987, 1990, 2001-3 and now 2007-9. During these periods there was turbulence in the market and the economy.  The market went down and then it corrected itself.  When the market went up to unsustainable levels, it corrected itself.   These things happen, for better or worse, the economy “resets” itself every five or ten years. 








Graph 1



Graph 2



Take a look at these charts, what do they tell you?  I am by no means an economist, or a market expert, I can barely tie my shoes, but from what I can tell, “These things gotta happen every five years or so, ten years. Helps to get rid of the bad blood.”  The problem is, for one reason or another, we never see them coming.   When the real estate market was soaring from say 2002 to 2007, most people thought it couldn’t or wouldn’t collapse.  Same with the technology bubble in 2000.  But it did and the market/economy will always correct itself, whether to the upside or the downside.  Then the cycle will begin again.  The good news is that, from what I can tell, is over the next five to eight years, if we follow history, we should see astronomical growth.


So what are business leaders supposed to do?  I hate to tell you this, but the downturn is old news, it is here and it is going to stay for a while.  If you are one of the very few who saw it coming and prepared for it, good for you.  For the rest of us, we need to deal with the present and plan for the future.


Not to beat a dead horse (sorry for the obvious Godfather pun) but let’s look to our old friends the Corleone’s.


Michael: Tom, wait a minute, we’re talking about a crooked cop mixed up in drugs. We’re talking about a dishonest cop who got caught up in the rackets and got what was coming to him. That’s a terrific story. Now we got newspaper people on the payroll don’t we, Tom?

[Tom nods]
Michael: Well they might like a story like that
Tom Hagen: They might, just might.
Michael: It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.


Get your message out. Go back to basics and grow your core competencies.  Speak with your clients and remind them why they hired you, what you do, and how you can help them not only now but when the economy gathers steam.  Most of us got caught with our pants down, when the economy tumbled.  Do not let it happen again.  Prepare for the future upturn and get your business in order.  Speak with anyone who will listen and tell them what you do and how you do it better than your competition.


Now is also the perfect time to look at your processes, procedures and people.  To echo an overused cliché — “think outside the box”.  Do you have the right people in the right roles?  Is there someone you can bring in to strengthen your business?   If everyone is laying off, why should you?  There is a lot talent available for someone with the foresight to look.


Can we improve our internal recruitment functions?  Having been in the Executive Search world for over ten years, and owning my own search firm, I have lived thru this before.  When the market improves everyone will be looking for talent at the same time.  The supply for hard to find professionals will diminish and the cost for their services will increase.  The law of supply and demand is hard to fight.  Spend some time to look toward the future, and be confident with plans.  What happens if your business grows by 20% what type of people will you need?  What industries will drive the next upturn?  Are they your clients? 


Do you have the right technology? How do you deliver your products or services?  Is it the right time to upgrade, with this market can you find better products, cheaper?


Do not get me wrong, I understand that the business climate is very tough.  I am not advocating throwing money around.   But this is the time to live in the present and plan for the future.  Don’t let the economy get in front of you, keep it close and ride the upcoming wave.


Mark Maiellano is a Business Development Manager for Talent Retriever.  He has over twelve years in the Executive Search market, owning his own company for ten years focusing on Investment Banking and Private Equity.  He can be reached via email at


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