On Monday (11/12/12), I met a young man in his 20's. I'll call him "Alan." He looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. His shoulders were stooped, his head hung down and he was staring at the floor, as a scowl gripped his face. "What's the matter," I asked. He slowly turned to me and in a soft, low voice he asked, "Do you really want to know?"
"I do want to know," I answered, "Or I would not have asked you that question." "It's Obamaca," he replied. "What's Obamaca," I asked.," He said "Obamaca" is President Obama and that he was just re-elected for four more years. Alan then claimed that because of the president's re-election, he has no future.
"Obama," he explained, will give everything he and other hard working people earn, to people who don't earn it at all and as a result, Alan insisted he no longer has an incentive to work. He had hoped to make a fortune, but that opportunity thanks to President Obama will no longer exist, yet even if it did, all the money he would have made would be taxed away from him.
Alan referenced listening to conservative talk radio and it was clear from his comments he despised President Obama and saw him as an evil man, one intent on destroying America.
I looked Alan in the eyes and with a burst of enthusiasm told him he is a young man with a world of opportunity in front of him, if only he would view the world in a different light and stop obsessing about President Obama. The president won't make or break his future, he will.
I told Alan I was indifferent as to which of the two major presidential candidates was elected. That there is enormous opportunity in every economy under every president, however good or bad he may be.
I explained to Alan in 1974 when I was about his age, I started a computer leasing company right after Watergate and that company, because of an outstanding group of employees, went on to become one of the biggest computer leasing companies in the U.S. This was at a time when we as a nation twice had long gas lines, a recession and so many other problems, including "stag-flation," which is a stagnant economy and high inflation.
I told him I wasn't concerned for Presidents Nixon or Carter and didn't spend my time blaming them, but instead built a business.
I told him that soon after Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, Paul Volcker, the head of the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to 20%, the highest since the U.S. Civil War (1861 - 65). This could have been death to a financial firm such as ours but instead it caused us to be more clever, and to access the credit ratings of our Fortune 500 clients to borrow money at their rates rather than ours, if we could have borrowed money at all in those tough economic times.
Instead of being defeated, we prospered.
In the early 1980's, when for two years President Reagan implemented huge tax credits to spur on corporate America during those bad times. while the president thought that would somehow reduce the national deficit, my partner and I disagreed. We thought it would skyrocket the deficit which is what it did.
But instead of getting upset about what we couldn't change, we worked with our Fortune 500 clients to trade among them those tax credits and as they prospered, we made a lot of money.
I strongly urged Alan to turn off conservative talk radio and any other negativity during working hours and to focus his energy on becoming a success. When we finished speaking, he actually had a slight smile on his face, his shoulders were no longer stooped and it was as if a ray of sunshine had lit his life.
I hope he becomes an enormous success and someday will offer similar advice to some young person who needs to hear and feel those words to make a success out of his or her life.