Global Recessions: A Survivor’s Manual

By Irv Rothman

The article is an excerpt from the book “Out-Executing the Competition: Building and Growing a Financial Services Company in Any Economy”, by Irv Rothman.


Over my career, I’ve endured recessions of varying size, depth, and duration. Three of those recessions – in the early 1990s, at the start of the new century, and this most recent Great Recession, so debilitating on a worldwide scale – found me in key senior leadership roles, the last two as chief executive officer of a good-sized US-based company.

There is no executive education quite like managing through a recession. Nothing tests your leadership ability more, or your skill in juggling the myriad demands of your company, customers, and employees. There are no absolute guarantees that any business, no matter how well-managed, can emerge from a near-depression fully intact. Many will sputter and die.

But, if you manage your business intelligently, through clear eyes and guided by a judicious, analytical sense of mission, the damage of any recession can be lessened. I’d say it starts with a basic philosophy – do what you’re good at doing. Too many companies decide to branch out in directions and down paths that are all too likely to lead them to disastrous results.

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