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Kay: Enter the new year with confidence

Entrances matter when it comes to rooms, relationships, probably some other things I haven’t thought of, and what I want to talk about – new years. So don’t cower your way into this particular year. Swagger. Yes, as any good etiquette expert would advise, get those shoulders back, walk tall and look boldly ahead with confidence.

There I go again being all full of promise and wide-eyed as that energetic 12-week old kitten running around my house. Some of you think I must be a youthful, cockeyed optimist who wouldn’t know a recession if she saw one. A reader named Paul has such a perception. He e-mailed me last week to comment on my column about why you need to hold purposeful conversations with people about your career. He wrote:

“I can only assume that you are a bright, outgoing, bubbly, twenty-something from a well-to-do home. We are very happy for you! However, the other 75 percent of us income earners probably came from self-doubting parents who raised us with the mind-set that you find a job, work hard, give 120 percent, and retire with a gold watch. … The reality of the current world slaps you back to drain the energy and drive from you.”

I hate discussing age. It makes you seem, well, old. But let me just say that you and I are from the same generation, Paul. And while it can be reassuring to sound the alarm to fasten your seatbelts because it’s going to be a bumpy year, I choose not to – even at my age.

In fact, I’ll go further and promote the philosophy of a self-employed business person from our generation who never knows where his next paycheck is coming from, who told me he’s entering 2009 “full speed ahead.”

His inspiration is a scene from the 1966 movie “Grand Prix,” in which actor Yves Montand plays a world champion race car driver. Montand’s character describes what he does when he sees the yellow caution flag that’s raised after an accident on the raceway. “It indicates to drivers, ‘caution, slow down, there’s been an accident.”‘ But Montand says, “That’s when I accelerate.”

When I asked him how he will be accelerating things in 2009, he says “I’ll be working on many new fronts. I’ll be looking at what greater value I can provide my clients. I’ll be trying out new ideas, working longer hours and doing more work on speculation. I have a software idea I want to find funding for. So I’ve made a list of everyone I know who can help, who would want to be involved and people I have access to who have money and might want to invest in an innovative business idea.”

He says, “I can cut my expenditures and be conservative like others or look at how to position myself to take advantage of the fact that everyone is cutting back their budgets. So while others are being pensive, cautious, paranoid and worried, I’ll be going full speed ahead. I’m playing to win instead of playing not to lose. It’s a big difference in attitude.”

So take your pick. Keep your head down and enter 2009 with trepidation. Or muster your strength and grab hold of a new mind-set with the rallying cry that won a Civil War victory at Mobile Bay: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

Andrea Kay is the author of “Work’s a Bitch and Then You Make It Work: 6 Steps to Go From Pissed Off to Powerful.” Send questions to her at 2692 Madison Rd., #133, Cincinnati, OH 45208; www.andreakay.com or www.lifesabitchchangecareers.com. She can be e-mailed at: andrea(AT)andreakay.com.

AP-NY-12-31-08 1346EST

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