Recessions: A Huge Opportunity for Top Managers

By Thomas MacIntosh  |  

4.2 min read

Recessions: A Huge Opportunity For Top Managers

Contrarian Thinking for Top Results

A contrarian thought: recessions are a great time for top managers.

The world is full of contrarian thinkers. There are, however, two types of contrarian thinkers.

  1. Contrarians who are correct.
  2. Contrarians who are not correct.

The difference between these two categories is easy enough to understand. In the first category of thinkers are the type of people who make legitimate observations about where society’s common held ideas of the world have gone wrong. Their plans are backed up by data or history, and are often proved to be correct in the long term. Take, for example, Ray Dalio’s ideas on radical transparency. Many conventional thinkers balked at the idea of letting go of traditional subordinate rules in favor of a truth-oriented workplace. Dalio’s success creating and growing Bridgewater Capital into one of the world’s largest investment firms has proved the legitimacy of these ideas.

The second group simply makes claims that go against society’s general-held ideas, regardless of what the data says.

One of the top contrarian authors, and in fact, one of the top contrarian business books many of us at Predictive Success have ever read is Grant Cardone’s ‘The 10X Rule.” In the book, Cardone legitimately writes, “do the things other people call ‘unreasonable’”.[1] Cardone’s contrarian nature on marketing, sales, and leadership are legitimatized by Cardone Capital’s overwhelming success.

Another one of Cardone’s major points in the book is to expand when others contract. He uses this in relation to marketing dollars, arguing that as competitors lean out in tough times, the ROI of each dollar spent on marketing becomes more valuable, as the marketplace is less crowded.

This strategy works in hiring as well.

The Value of a Dollar

When recession hits, companies generally panic and look for ways to save money, which often means laying off employees. The issue with this strategy is that people make up the backbone of a company, and are thus the ultimate determinant of a company’s success. Laying off top talent in difficult times is akin to throwing your crew overboard when the storm hits.

As every other firm reduces their R & D team, the observant manager realizes this is the time to push for a breakthrough, as it will rocket the firm to the forefront of the industry.

Cardone explains that he pumped more money than he ever had in to marketing efforts during the 2008 recession in order to take advantage of the economies of scale that presented themselves. This investment paid dividends as he and his company were essentially left alone to capture clients no other firm was going after.

Investing in employees during a recession is similar to this tactic. It is these employees who will steer the ship, putting the right people in the right seats becomes paramount. Companies seem to always cut talent-based programs when the waters get rocky. Programs that identify and nurture top talent are thrown to the wayside. In-house sales training gets cutback to a pep-talk from the sales manager. Wouldn’t the worst of markets be easier to navigate with top talent leading the way, and a cohort of well-trained sales people to continue the momentum?

Even more important than retaining employees and talent-programs is inspiring these employees during the rough period. The employee who loves their job, their team, and their company culture, and who is confident in their job, is going to show up every day with the mindset of “let’s find a solution.” Recessions are where your true Cultural Champions shine.

A famous example of having the right people at the right time is Apple. On its deathbed, the company brought Steve Jobs back to right the ship, leading to the introduction of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, all within 9 years. This innovation led to the company being the most valuable enterprise in the world on August 1, 2019, long after the premature death of the first ever Apple Genius.

When recession hits, top managers say:

  1. What talent do I have?
  2. What are their strengths?
  3. What buttons do I need to press, and levers do I need to move, to inspire these employees to be the best versions of themselves at work?

How Top Managers Find the Right Buttons to Press

When times get tough, the best of the best turn to the one piece of advice that never lies in order to figure out what each employee needs to succeed: data. One of the top-used, and fastest growing software for this sort of data is The Predictive Index®, which provides personalized data on how to hire and inspire the best talent in the marketplace. To see what buttons you need to press with your team, email Lauren Danes at and mention this blog.


[1] Cardone, Grant. The 10X Rule: the Only Difference between Success and Failure. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011.

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