Lessons Learned (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Jul. 21, 2014 12:00 am  

One of our best additions to the pages of Arkansas Business in our redesign three years ago has turned out to be the weekly Executive Q&A. It’s a good way of getting new voices into the paper, voices largely unfiltered by editors because the Q&As are usually done via email and we publish the answers largely as written (though sometimes abbreviated because of space constraints).

Unsurprisingly, the most interesting answers tend to be the most candid. In many of the Q&As we’ve asked business, industry and government leaders to share their best and worst decisions or what lessons they learned from the Great Recession — officially long over but still prompting painful memories.

In an unofficial summer break from sharing our opinions in this space, we’ve decided to share the insights of some of our executives. They’re better than ours anyway.

Ray C. Dillon, president and CEO of Deltic Timber Corp., July 21, 2014: “Lessons learned at Deltic from the Great Recesion were: 1. Expect the unexpected. 2. Operate as if you are going out of business everyday. 3. Protect the balance sheet.”

Diana Wright, founder of The Right Solutions, a nurse staffing agency, Feb. 17, 2014: How did your company handle the downturn? “I forged relationships with current employees and told them I would not lay them off and promised them our loyalty in return for theirs. Almost every employee stayed with me during the downturn, so that when things turned around I had a full staff of experienced employees, better processes and a more solid foundation in 2011 to skyrocket to over 100 percent growth. Because I had a plan, we not just survived but thrived. We started the Great Recession debt free and continue debt free.”

• Gov. Mike Beebe, Dec. 23, 2013: What was your biggest career mistake? “In general, I think the biggest mistake you can make is repeating missteps you’ve made before.”



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