I just wrapped up my December Inner Circle Meetings. And guess what? I’m hearing a distinctly different story than the gloom and doom we hear in the media. And I checked in with my Inner Circle Peers around the country and they are hearing a different story as well. It goes like this:

“Bring it on.” –The attitude is one of fortitude and resolution. Sure the economy has changed and we are in a recession. But we knew that. That’s old news. We’re focused on opportunities. Lot’s of opportunities exist. One member even started a new company to address an opportunity he found. Now is not the time to panic. It’s time to make some money.

Plan for the Future but Act in the Now: There is not sense in adopting a plan to wait this out. Most are planning for a best case, worst case, and likely case scenarios. This way the figure out the plays to make in advance and execute them well when they need to. But they are working right now. Building relationships, fixing problems, making things happen. Not waiting around for the other shoe to drop.

Value Creation: They aren’t talking about lowering prices. They are talking about adding value as their strategy to retain and build business. “How can I deliver more for the same price?” and using that as their differentiators.

Streamlining: Yes they are making finding ways to cut costs. But by being rigorous, not ruthless. They are resisting the urge to implement accross the board cuts. Rather they are looking at each expense item and rigorously asking if it’s needed. If it helps build business. If it adds to the equation. If there is another way. If not, it’s gone. No expense is being left unexamined. Everything is on the table. No sacred cows. And at the same time, they are making sure they aren’t throwing out any babies with the bathwater. (this is a very different approach than the slash and burn approaches we’ve been reading about).

Now is time to market: Need I say more. Face time with customers. Listen. Make offers. Work it hard.

Talk time with peers makes a difference: The experts are in their peer group, not on CNN. They get ideas, encouragement, confidence, and accountability. They aren’t in this alone. Forward progress.

I told you it was a different story.