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> A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma


by Chuck Tanzola, CPMR

“It’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma…” In an October 1939 radio speech, Winston Churchill used this phrase to describe a situation that was difficult to comprehend. (At the time, he was analyzing the early events of the second war to end all wars.)

That same phrase could describe our industry today — at least as far as I can tell and hear. Conflicting signs and rapidly changing events make it difficult to comprehend what is really happening. Read one report and you’ll hear about the slowing orders, increasing schedule push out requests and cancellations by customers. Read another report and you’ll be overwhelmed by the growth forecast of specific industries or ongoing product and supply chain shortages due to record demand.

Are we entering (or already in) a recession-induced major slowdown? Or are we in a strong economy? The answer is yes — depending upon who you ask. Is what we are seeing the normal, cyclical variations of our market; or is it uniquely attributable to one or more systemic changes in the industry? The answer is again, yes, depending upon who you ask. All this uncertainty leaves us with a conundrum. What do we do? Is this a time to pull back and conserve cash; or is it a time to invest aggressively? Once again, depending upon who you ask… well, you get the idea.

Of course, answering yes to both apparently alternative options is a bit tongue in cheek, but the dilemma of determining what is happening and what to do about it is real. How do we deal with that? It is in these times of ambiguity that we need to rely on principles that have proven true time and again. For this reason, I appreciated the “Things to Remember” presentation by the TTI Family of Specialists at their recent EDS Executive Briefing breakfast. Paraphrasing from my notes, they spoke about the need to be there for their partners; to win and grow together while maintaining a spirit of appreciation, gratitude and humility. These solid, core guiding principles have built a strong foundation and served them well. Their message at EDS was that even in times of uncertainty (maybe especially in times of uncertainty) they will not deviate from them.

Speaking of EDS, universally, the feedback from attendees has been overwhelmingly positive. EDS 2023 was outstanding in many ways. The Rat Pack was back (as was the industry!) And, I didn’t hear people comment on the elevators once during the week (except for when the power went out in the Mirage, of course.) Yet while I applaud the EDS Show Corporation for the way the Summit was managed, I realistically believe that it was not specifically the traffic management around the elevators nor even the Connections Café lunch options that were the primary causes of the positive reports. From everything I hear (or see posted on LinkedIn), EDS affirmed that it is the associations we have that make a difference.

The lesson of EDS confirmed for me something I have always believed to be true — proximity determines impact. The closer we are to people (or they are to us), the greater the influence we can have. This is true all the time — whether the market is stable or rapidly changing. What to do in times like these? Make sure you are staying in touch — social and digital media is fine, but nothing replaces proximity!

As always, I can be reached at ctanzola@ and welcome your comments and feedback. How was your EDS experience? If you attended, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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