When one door closes, somewhere a window opens.
Within 24 hours, one bookstore requested copies of all of my books and another bookstore asked me to take back the ones they hadn’t sold. The books won’t even have to come into the house. They’ll stay in the car until I run an errand past the welcoming bookstore. Those two doors swung almost in unison.
Over the two weeks, my largest stock holding, DNDN, has risen about 20%, finally heading back towards my guesstimate of the buyout value of the company, which is a low evaluation considering the company’s potential. Just as that window opened, a big door slammed shut as my second largest holding, AMSC, dropped 40% overnight.
History and lives advance in slips and starts. Even the seasons are having a rough time progressing today. It’s April. I live near sea level, and it’s snowing outside. Spring’s advances have been swung back by a last blast of winter. Don’t worry. The rest of the area is outside this weather bubble. The Seattle area has a weather phenomenon called the Puget Sound Convergence Zone, which is a mobile micro-climate that leaves everything else dry except the slice of land beneath it. Five miles north and five miles south of here it’s sunny, or at least not snowing. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s gloomy here and now.
The Dismal Decade was one massive vault door slamming shut opportunities, unless you were a part of the military-industrial complex. With such a large door shut for so long, it can be hard to even remember where the windows are.
I think we’re heading into a better decade. We’ve all lived under a dark cloud for too long, but I think the storm is breaking. I don’t expect a golden era free of drama and trauma, but I do see progress. The general fight against disposable plastic is gaining traction, but the tsunami washed lives and entire cities into the ocean, and even if we did everything right, it is estimated that it will take decades or generations before sea birds are no longer accidentally feeding plastic to their chicks. A lighter looks like a fingerling, but neither the parent nor the chick can digest it. (Go check Midway Journey for a professional, artistic and informative description of how our plastic is ending up on Midway Atoll in the Pacific.)
Typically, I am an optimist, and like I’ve said before, sometimes I use this blog to convince myself of positive possibilities. If I can’t find solutions in the media, it’s time to create a new media. That’s why writing can be powerful. Something new can be created without much more than creativity, time, and in this case, a computer.
Some of my friends continue to pass through dark times, but even a few of them have been surprised to find that side businesses are drawing in useful revenues. I’m not as surprised. Entrepreneurs frequently fare well if they work at it long enough.
Books have inspired me, and one I haven’t mentioned much is The Millionaire Next Door, by Stanley and Danko. A favorite quote is:
“Interestingly, self-employed people make up less than 20 percent of the workers in America but account for two-thirds of the millionaires.”
Self-employed people have a power. When a door closes and they can’t find an open window, they might just get out a sledge hammer and make a new door.
Another, more recent, book is Freakonomics, by Levitt and Dubner. Near the end they point out that many successful people, whatever success may be, frequently achieve it through persistence. That persistence succeeds because it lasts long enough to give doors and windows enough time to open. The other trick is to then recognize the draft and see it as a good thing.
For too long it seemed that everything was doors closing. Things are opening again, but it is like airing out a house during a Seattle spring, long-closed doors and windows are opened for a few minutes, or an hour or so, but quickly shut again as another front moves through. Eventually though, I know that summer will arrive and there will be days when every door and window are opened and the breeze is welcomed in.
Until then I’ll make sure the heat’s on, cook up some comfort food, and maybe wash the windows so I can see what’s coming. I kid you not, but the snow’s stopped. The wind has died. And there’s a hint of sunshine on the far hill.