Challenges Will Always Be With Us. So Should Solutions

Back Commentary Feb 1, 2022 By Winnie Comstock-Carlson

This story is part of our February 2022 print issue. To subscribe, click here.

There’s certainly been plenty in the news to create varying levels of panic, but I’m not the panicking type. Hysteria can sometimes be as contagious as a disease, but perhaps the antidote is to turn the challenge upside down and see where the blessing, or the opportunity to grow and learn, might be.

We’ve probably all seen the photos of the trains whose packaged contents were ransacked by thieves, leaving a sea of debris along the tracks once the thieves had helped themselves. I’m not sure what’s happening to humanity, but the last couple of years have turned life a bit topsy-turvy.  

COVID’s ruthlessness has impacted many areas of our lives, and the supply chain disruptions have added tremendously to it.  These are seemingly overpowering challenges for the public and businesses alike, but each also inspires solutions. As businesspeople, those potential solutions should dominate our thinking and our moods because we are the answer.

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

H.L. Mencken declared that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. This isn’t quite true if you’re old enough to remember Watergate, Enron and ultimately, Bernie Madoff. Even so, I’d like to counter that by reminding all of us of something Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Actually, those words were front and center on each of my publisher’s letters for our magazine’s first 25 years. I’m reminded that those words were the motto I built this magazine on, so I’m adding them back to this page … starting with this issue! I think we can all use some enthusiasm, because it’s what built many of our companies and the quotation is just as true today as it was 25 years and more ago. In fact, enthusiasm and optimism are keys to life and business success. Worry and hand-wringing never lead to solutions.

A human tendency is to take some things for granted when we know we shouldn’t. We know we should get regular dental and health checkups, take our car in for service, check in on our family and friends, and make sure our lawns don’t get overrun with weeds. We’ve been publishing Comstock’s for 33 years and are dependent on our writers, art department and advertisers to keep the issues coming out. This is something I’m reminded of daily when I interact with all of our team, but something I thought I’d never encounter was a lack of paper to print the magazine due to the supply chain shortage. The supply chain issue made many of us realize what we’ve taken for granted now that we can’t get it.

About six weeks ago, our printer called to say they only had enough paper to print our January and February issues, meaning the supply chain challenge was going to be hitting Comstock’s.  I didn’t panic, but I did start thinking about solutions. It suddenly occurred to me that maybe I could get a number of printers in town to work together, each printing a group of pages with the paper they had in stock, then we’d pull them all together when we went to bindery. We always need to think as creatively as our minds will allow. Thankfully, before that idea was launched, the paper problem was resolved.  

In this issue of Comstock’s, we take a look at the red-hot housing market. Talk about short supply; some sellers are getting 100 people fighting to buy their homes. They’re bringing cash and offering to buy, no matter what repairs need to be done. They probably don’t realize that for some, it could take months to order a stove or get other appliances delivered due to the shortage.

The COVID pandemic has made our food chain shortage very clear. You all remember the early days when shelves were bare in supermarkets and people were hoarding toilet paper. Lack of food was something we thought we’d never have to experience in the United States. The pandemic prompted many people to not only expand their gardens but to also start their own farms. 

People want to supply food that’s locally grown. Statistics show many farmers in California are nearing retirement age, and someone needs to replace them. In this issue, we explore several farms and agencies in the Capital Region that have programs to train the next generation of farmers. Farming is a business, from buying land and supplies and operating a payroll to knowing what to charge for what you grow.

Let’s all look at solutions. To all the serious observations, I add this thought: Remember, when things look their darkest for business (or for life), how bright the day was when you founded or joined your company or when something miraculous happened in your life. Enthusiasm and optimism — along with strategic thinking, a solid business plan and surrounding yourself with smart, can-do people — are what created your success, and I can assure you, will continue to. 

Winnie

Winnie Comstock-Carlson
President and Publisher

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