One thing I’ve learned many times over with approaching or ongoing energy efficiency projects with clients, mostly end users, is that when the decision maker is replaced for whatever reason – the guy took a different job, retired, moved to a different place in the company – you name it, it is time to pull over to the side of the road.
The most common thing a new guy (androgynously) does upon taking over the helm of whatever ship he’s driving is say no, to everything. I’m not sure why this is but I think it possibly has something to do with ego and ignorance and I don’t mean these in a negative way.
I believe the inherent egotistical component of people has to do with power and control. Since many times new guy doesn’t know much about the job at all (ignorance), the first way to grab power and control is “NO”, in particular to spending – anything. Even with a contract or agreement in hand with the previous guy holding that position, it is smart to assume the initiative is not safe.
I can understand their situation but it’s frustrating to start all over building the relationship and some folks will just refuse to do that. But what really ticks me off is when the new guy is cornered and should be committed to a contract, they have selective memory of the process of how the deal was made, selective fact adherence, or they select which rules or contract provisions apply and which ones don’t. In other words, they start making things up, tell half truths, and change the rules after the buzzer sounded. People don’t do deals. People do deals on behalf of their organization, which remains the same regardless of employees coming and going.
Then there are new guys who join an organization we may have worked with for quite some time and for whatever reason treat us like gougers and con men and they never soften. I don’t know whether they expect hourly rates lower than the guy who changes tires or they just don’t like the way I dress or my accent. Fortunately, I can only think of one instance of this quite a few years back but it stuck with me.
The flip side of all this is the key to growth. That is, individuals with whom we build relationships may move up the ladder, hire us for different/additional services, or better yet, they move to another company and now we gain a new client while we maintain great relationships with folks with the former employer as well. And they have other clients and business partners we spread to as well.
Business is ALL about relationships. As I said in an earlier post, people who screw others over, even competitors, are really damaging their organization; the reasons of which can fill another post.
Last fall I ranted about the Federal Reserve’s “Quantitative Easing” or QE2, a.k.a. printing $600 billion (as I recall) to buy short term treasuries to drive down interest rates and juice the economy. I said in the long term it would either lead to high inflation or a ballooning deficit with soaring interest rates to lure real cash to finance the debt, or economic malaise or some combination of all of the above.
The short term result (first two quarters of the year) is growth ground from over 3% year over year at the time of QE2 to virtually zilch now. Now what’s the plan? More of the same gimmicks. Now the fed, led by the great Bush-appointed Ben Bernank, is going to sell short term bonds it bought with the money it printed in QE2 and buy long term debt with those proceeds to drive down long-term interest rates – e.g. mortgage rates. Some are calling it QE3. This purportedly will firm the still plummeting housing market. It will not. The cost of money isn’t the problem. Catching falling knives is the problem. People stuck in underwater mortgages is the problem. No confidence in the puppet master is the problem.
It’s a bit difficult to find a job when you can’t move because selling your home requires writing a $20,000 check, which you can’t do because you have no job. Others with money and no financial problems don’t want to buy in a falling market. So what’s it amount to: people who are not in trouble can refinance at lower rates and save money. Good for them but this won’t do squat for the economy.
Meanwhile, the President announced another round of term-formerly-known-as-stimulus and tax increases on the wealthy.
The DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average) reaction to each of these plums on the day of their announcement:
QE3: Minus 400 points, or about 4%
Term-formerly-known-as-stimulus: Minus 300 points.
Per last fall’s rant, the entrepreneurs and institutions that drive the economy are not lab rats. We think and reason and we look at past attempts at similar gimmickry and the results, all of which are terrible. We are essentially living the Japanese experiment 1990-2011; humongous borrowing and negative real interest rates while treading water at best.
Moral of the story: (1) “This time” is never different. (2) A bad idea on a grander scale is not better than the less grandiose earlier one.
Dreadful Electric Car Sales
In other news, electric cars don’t seem to be selling as intended. Nissan, headed by the (formerly) great Carlos Ghosn who saved Nissan from the collapse, targeted 25,000 in sales of its pure-electric Leaf this model year, which is apparently the calendar year. Through August, it is almost a quarter of the way there. Could it be that one can buy starter “luxury” vehicles like Infiniti, Mercedes, Lexus vehicles for the same price, no government subsidies included?
Earlier this week I read that the Chevy Volt “electric” car (with a so-called on board gasoline engine for recharging the battery when needed – i.e. a hybrid) can go 1,000 long ranges (on gasoline) through mountains and whatnot at an astounding mileage of 36 mpg. Great – This $40,000 gem performs as well as a $14,000 Toyota Corolla. It’s pretty clear why the government is shoveling billions to subsidize these vehicles: they are terrible ideas.
This week’s great headline from Treehugger.com, “World Energy Use to Increase 53% by 2035, Despite Facebook Changes,” made me laugh.