We come to the end of another year, and I don't think most of us will lament the passing of 2013. The economy is recovering, but with all the alacrity of a couch potato considering a marathon. Congress seems intent on puncturing optimism at every turn. What recovery we've had has been largely jobless, and the prospects for full employment anytime soon are as dim as the mid-winter sun.
Such are the grim reflections sitting at my desk as winter sets its grip on the Northeast, where I live. That's a good enough reason to get away from the desk for a while. The best antidote for melancholy, I've found, is other people. The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' recent conference in Denver proved a sure path out of a funk. (I'm off soon for the annual National Industrial Transportation League/Intermodal Association of North America/Transportation Intermediaries Association annual confab in Houston, where I trust I'll find additional insights from some very smart people.)
Most people I talked to in Denver conveyed a well-tempered sense of optimism. No Pollyannas among that group: They understand the challenges facing their businesses but were largely upbeat about their personal and business prospects. The Young Professionals in particular—a segment of CSCMP members still early in their careers—are a talented, well-educated, driven group of individuals who give the lie to portraits of millennials flopping for eternity in front of the TV in Mom and Dad's basement. That's not to downplay the very real challenges young people face in starting careers in a tough economy, but meeting such a buoyant group renews hope.
I also had a chance to spend time with a far more seasoned group, meeting with a large number of folks that we have recognized as Rainmakers or interviewed as Thought Leaders in these pages at our annual Rainmakers & Thought Leaders dinner. (Incidentally, let me again thank sponsors Descartes, TranzAct Technologies, Jones Lang LaSalle, and Vanderlande for sponsoring our get-together.) I've known many of those people for many years. They have seen their share of economic and career ups and downs. The overall impression I got from them can best be summed up, I think, as "We're going to be all right."
Which reminds me: We open nominations for the 2014 Rainmakers on Jan. 1. The process is simple: Drop me a line with the name, title, affiliation, and contact information of your nominee along with a brief statement of why you believe they deserve the honor. We will recognize the 2014 honorees in our July issue.
Finally, best wishes for the holidays and for a healthy and prosperous 2014.