Defrag Blog

Macro, Micro - does it even matter?

by Eric Norlin on Jan.23, 2008, under general

I opened my feed reader this morning to find an interesting post from Brad about how he doesn’t pay attention to the “macro” side of economics (ie, the whole wall street, stock market, machine). Brad says that he’s never been a “macro” guy, and never will be.

On the other side of the fence, I *am* a “macro” guy. CNBC is on right now. Its a “habit” (addiction?) that I established back in the late 90s, and one that I continue to this day. I used to work in financial services (as a stock broker), and that probably plays into it, but even more so, I’m simply fascinated by “marketplaces” — and the sheer complexity of our current public markets is something that I love. When I was working the mid-shift for a certain government agency in the mid to late 90s, my obsession began, and I fed it by going to a pretty small public library and proceeding to read *every* book (literally, from A to Z) that they had in their finance section in about six months (let’s just say the midnight shift was usually slow).

I worked in that industry until about a year-ish prior to the dot-com crash, and actually had the good fortune (luck) of advising all of my clients to go to bonds or money markets (or out of stocks) before the market crashed. Barely anyone listened (the three that did - yes three - all contacted me a year later to thank me).

In any case, my single biggest takeaway from that whole experience was that the macro swings happen. That sounds stupid, but the natural human tendency is to believe that when the “market” is up (and everyone’s making money — whether in the silicon valley or the real estate market) that things will *always* be that way. Hence, the “pain” of a down market.

Knowing that you can’t avoid the swings only means that on both a personal and professional level you must be prepared for them. That’s it. Its really just that simple.

So, what does all of that mean for tech companies in our current environment? Not much. Sure, some aspects of doing business will be tougher. But, hey, did anyone really get into the “tech game” because they wanted a risk-free existence? Of course not.

The problems that we’re trying to solve with technology remain. Defrag’s problem-set (addressing information overload) remains. And, despite the drop in people’s portfolios, or a crunch in the credit markets, it is still up to all of us to solve them.

I’m not trying to minimize the pain that individuals feel through all of this - not at all. All I’m saying is that even a “macro” guy like me agrees with Brad when he says the “day to day” stuff in the markets is just “noise.” Put that aside, focus on doing good business, and trust that markets (over time) always cycle. In fact, the “cycle” is the only thing you can count on.

One side-note to this: As I wrote, I realized that Brad and I have actually never had a conversation that lasted more than 45 minutes — about anything. In fact, my main point of interaction with Brad is via email and his blog. Ya gotta love this “internet machine” that we’ve all created. ;-)

1 comment for this entry:
  1. Marie Bjerede

    I love this: “My main point of interaction with Brad is via email and his blog”

    So my main (almost only) point of interaction with you both (outside the Defrag conference, itself) is via your blogs. It is remarkably interesting, I think, the degree to which reading a thoughtful author is like having a dialog with a thoughtful conversationalist. A colleague and I share the opinion that both are akin to “running someone else’s code in your head”. As though your brain is nothing but OS. The quality of the interaction is measured by “who you are” while running that code. This is how words inspire.

    On the internet, the confluence of insightful treatment of emerging ideas with the public, real-time cross-pollination of diverse perspectives bring the experience of an author from that of art & literature to that of conversation and rhetoric. It is richer, I think.

    The question for me is, how do you find the best (for you) conversations? The ones that help you become who you want to be?

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