NASHVILLE—OLA attendees heard different views of the current economic situation from two speakers at separate sessions on Nov. 7. Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal offered a macro view based on a national perspective, and Hedley Lawson, Aligned Growth Partners and Vision Monday’s editor of the Business Essentials e-newsletter presented a micro view focused on practical issues facing lab owners and managers.

Introducing Moore at Friday’s general session, incoming OLA president, J. Larry Enright, observed that “2009 is going to be a rough year.” He noted “since Wednesday, the Dow has dropped by 10 percent, which was the biggest two-day drop since Oct. 1987.”


Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal (l) and Hedley Lawson, Aligned Growth Partners and VM’s Business Essentials Editor.

Moore focused most his remarks on the results of this week’s historic presidential election. “I’m a Republican, but I think what Barack Obama accomplished was incredible,” said Moore. “By electing a black president, we’ve moved into the post-racist future. It’s possible that he’s a transformational figure. He could be the Democratic Ronald Reagan.”

Moore predicted that the key to Obama’s success will be “whether he can control the liberals who are running all those Congressional committees.” He cited Bill Clinton’s presidency as a winning formula for economic success, noting that “a fiscally conservative president and a Republican Congress is a good combination.”

Looking back over the past 40 years, Moore had harsh words for the fiscal policies of presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter, calling them “the four stooges of the American presidency.”

“Richard Nixon was impeached for all the wrong reasons,” remarked Moore. “He took the U.S. off the gold standard, and implemented wage and price controls.”

Moore warned that Obama’s plan of cutting the tax rate would hurt rather than help the economy. “All around the world, countries are cutting their tax rates,” he said. “The U.S. is the only country in the industrialized world that is raising its tax rate. There is no way this story can have a happy ending.”

 Despite the seriousness of the economic crisis, Moore was somewhat optimistic, pointing out that “we’ve lived through these crises before.” He noted that we are living in the midst of a technological boom which could create “untold wealth.”

“Barack Obama has an awesome opportunity to be an extremely successful president, but he’s got to keep inflation under control, not raise capital gains and dividends taxes and support free trade. If he does all those things, we’ll have prosperity in the future.”

Whereas Moore offered a view from the treetops, Lawson delineated challenges and offered solutions for today’s wholesale lab owners. In his session titled “Human Capital Leadership for Your Lab’s Success,” Lawson said, “Today’s topic is very relevant because we are in the midst of a difficult, unusual and somewhat inexplicable financial crisis.”

His session focused on how lab owners can re-evaluate their lab business, especially during tough times. “Traditionally, in bad times, when people reevaluate their business, it usually results in huge cuts and layoffs. But I want to talk about other options which will help you reorganize your business and optimize its profitability.”

Lawson touched on how important HR is to a company. He used Best Buy, the electronics retailer, as an example of how the corporate world has come to respect and re-evaluate the value of HR executives. “Best Buy recently made their current CEO the head of HR. The reason they did that is because he had a really good understanding of the company’s business strategy.”

Lawson said, “Today, HR managers aren’t just administrative people anymore. They need to have an understanding of the big picture—sales, marketing and finance—so they can help you as a lab owner or manager shape your business strategy because they have all the legs of the stool.”

Lawson advised that in this new economy, the strongest competitive advantage you can have is organizational excellence. That attribute falls to everybody in the company, not just HR people.

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