Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This Was How They Rolled

At Homepath Products we tend to concentrate on the horizon, a habit that’s part of the fabric here and one that helps us envision what the future may hold for homeowners. It’s a component of the value we bring in preparing homes for what technologies soon may come. An internal compass but not a crystal ball. Important lessons come from the past. We’re mindful of this and take note from those who came before us.

A recent Op-ed piece hinted at deeper than obvious economic woes – the first real suggestion that we’re headed for a third depression. Economics, the dismal science – depressing, perhaps – but read on.

I follow many economists, gathering diverse opinion on matters of finance, business, policy, and history. In this case the author is Paul Krugman, one who I often read for logic that proves prescient. Consistently, he shares historic lessons and encourages policy favoring jobs creation and deflation avoidance as opposed to a focus on immediate deficit reduction and the distant threat of inflation. This, of course, comes at the cost of deficit expansion during a time of already ballooning national debt. The Krugman approach (and that of many other smart folks) is counterintuitive. Why spend when the national debt is already so great? Proposed alternatives suggest paying down national debt immediately (while important for discussion, the alternatives are rhetorical, parroting what we've heard for decades) They fail to acknowledge that tax revenues are generated by those who are employed...and at the moment we have eight million who are unable to contribute. The question of reducing national debt comes down to timing. Krugman, borrowing from policy lessons of the 1930’s, points out that avoiding deflation is a short-term survival tactic that eventually shifts to managing inflation – well into economic recovery, as more people are gainfully employed and the lifeblood of a growing economy (personal spending) begins in earnest. Tax coffers grow as a result. Getting there is the challenge. Krugman’s article is one Nobel economists opinion and this blog post is no intended endorsement – rather, we ask: “What if this recession becomes a depression?”

They Endured the Depression But Were Never Depressed

Please indulge me as I share some family history.

My grandparents, typical of their time, lived and operated frugally, preferring a cash over credit-based lifestyle. You may find similar characteristics in your forebears.

Moderation in all, rarely consuming more than necessary nor want for “things” over experience with lasting memories. A contented lifestyle as the world around them accelerated. Products of the Great Depression, they lived many hard-knocks stories, learned well, and shared their wisdom freely. They relied on themselves and their families to get through difficult times and succeed they did. Their wisdom a bequest of sorts.

Perhaps it was youthful ignorance. Maybe just the context of growing up in prosperous times where lessons of the past seemed irrelevant. Having experienced only periodic recessionary hiccups, I heard but didn’t listen. Now, I’m all ears.

Hailing from England and the United States, my grandparents endured difficult economic cycles, fought distant World Wars while family sought refuge in the London Tube system, subsiding on rations – times of true need followed by lasting prosperity. They acknowledged difficulty but chose optimism to pessimism, knowing that progress was created on the foundation of positive perspective. They endured the depression but were never depressed.

This Was How They Rolled

My grandparents witnessed widespread adoption of the telephone, the emergence of private transportation, jets coming of age and the space race. At first wondrous curiosities and eventually meaningful tools. Navigating colossal change, they actively determined needs versus wants and prioritized their decisions. Mundane?, perhaps; Spontaneous?, infrequently; Pragmatic?, surely; Successful?; yes.

Life during their time brought radical change. They adapted to some and chose to ignore others when no “need” was identified. They felt social pressure to do well for their community and endeavored to help improve it. They were civilian in the Middle English sense of the word – abiding by the law and striving, always, for civil discourse over polarizing bias.

They were sports enthusiasts. Ferocious competitors who enjoyed victory but with compassion. They felt no joy in vanquish, knowing that lopsided contests produced no winners. They handled defeat with dignity. They sought betterment in themselves, never reaching their ideals, accepting the imperfection of others in exchange.

They felt entitled . . . to common courtesy, all else was privilege to be earned. They wished to make a difference.

This was how they rolled – with no need for elective courses on ethics, morals or integrity.


Durability and Adaptability = Wiggle Room

Computers, streaming video, email, texting, smartphones and Twitter were not part of their lexicon, nor was rebooting a PC, healing a computer virus, or the frustration we feel when electric power fades. Interruptions were opportunities for them.

On first glance it’s as though times were uncomplicated – it’s never that simple. The world around them changed dramatically, and like today, the pace of adaptation was daunting. Their lives spanned times of plenty, economic decline, then growth and finally prosperity. They worked hard always, endeavoring to keep scarcity a distant memory, cognizant that excess was insidious and wild overcorrection an inevitable result. Living under these terms shaped their decisions.

They built things and bought things with lasting value – shunning the emerging lifestyle of convenience and disposability. The notion of buying a smartphone today only to replace it with a newer, faster, sleeker model in twelve months would leave them aghast.

They always kept room to maneuver. A trait learned through hardship that seemed intuitive. Wiggle room. Living so created options, the flexibility of choice, and awareness that adaptability ensured survival.

This is How We Roll

At Homepath Products we live by common courtesy and earn all else, striving to learn from the past while preparing for the future.

We provide the eXapath™ in-wall cable pathway system, enabling architects, builders, and remodelers to enhance value for their clients. Ours are infrastructure products of durability that serve the needs of adaptability. eXapath integrates seamlessly in energy conserving construction providing a means for the building to adapt as generations of modern electronics come to market. Wiggle room for home and building owners who know that times will forever change and that lasting structures must keep pace.

To learn more please visit, feel free to call at (860) 767-1122 or email us at

We look forward to serving you. A privilege we know must be earned.


  1. Mike,

    The is a beautifully written post that expresses some deeply profound sentiments. It struck a few very personal chords with me, actually. Although I don't think I am that much older than you, I was born very late to older parents. Both my grandparents managed to successfully raise families and get by during the Great Depression, by living by the same values and principles as yours. And my own parents transitioned from teen agers to young adults during the depression years, ultimately spending their early adulthood in war service.

    So much of what I know and appreciate of what folks went through during this time came to me directly from my folks. (I never knew my grandparents, actually; all had passed on before I was born). And like yourself, it took perhaps a certain amount of life experience before I fully appreciated these lessons. But like you, these same values are at my own core, and guide me in how I conduct my life. (Especially loved your metaphor of an "internal compass", BTW. That one really hit the nail on the head, as far as I'm concerned).

    What I admire about you as an entrepreneur is that you're fully committed to your values and guide Homepath in a manner that's totally consistent with that value system. And further more, you write and evangelize on these points, which is to be commended, because you're truly leading by example and getting the word out at the same time.

    I think that you and I and a number of others are very much focused on a shared vision out there on the distant horizon. We might have started from slightly different beginnings, but we're all ultimately on converging paths. And it's a great honor and privilege to have become acquainted with you as a fellow traveler on this journey. :-)

    So please keep on rollin' and may you and your family have a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday!

    - John

  2. John,


    Like you, I believe there are many more who share similar values and sense that the business world is ready for heightened transparency. I'll go so far as to say business needs to travel a similar road.

    As a neophyte blogger I find transparency and the ability to share thoughts through social media enlightening and fulfilling. From discussions with other informal writers around the web it comforts me to know that fear grips them too when the "publish" button is selected. However, each time I "click" and a bit more of me slips out...comments and responses like yours validate the journey.

    I greatly appreciate them.

    Thanks and enjoy the Fourth!


  3. Wonderful post, Mike! You've tied together some important ideas in this article - frugality, economics, expectations, and adaptability.

    One thing I'd to point out, though, is the assumption that underlies so much discussion of economics. That is, economic growth, not the current stagnation, is the aberration. I like to quote economist Kenneth Boulding in this matter:

    "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

    The sooner we're able to have a real discussion about abandoning our insistence on economic growth and establishing a steady state economy, the better.

  4. Hi Allison,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I was unaware of the Kenneth Boulding body of work and I'll surely look into his teachings more deeply.

    If interpreting the quote correctly I agree that "exponential growth" is an aberration and unrealistic in any long-term sense. Having said that, I also believe intellectual capital and inventiveness are powerful drivers behind life enhancing technological innovation and catalysts for economic growth (not necessarily exponential). The theories of "creative destruction" from Joseph Schumpeter may interest you.

    By the way, I thoroughly enjoy the information you're sharing through Energy Vanguard ( up the great work.

    Thanks again for contributing.



  5. Mike- Great article, but one spot really stuck out to me; purchasing durability and lasting value.

    It amazes me everyday that I, too fall in to the trap of wanting the next greatest thing. Yet we, like you guys, encourage our customers to "buy in" for the long haul. I'm concerned about the balance between the two, especially in the building industry. Is it possible to have a home that will last a lifetime without sacrificing the latest and greatest?

    I'm reminded of so many houses that still have shag carpet. That awful orange, green, and blue seemingly fragile weave has stood the test of time, amazingly. Yet nowadays, a basic pile looks worn after 2-3 years.

    Hate to sound cliche' but, they just don't make 'em like they used to.

    Enjoyed the read- Nick

  6. Hi Nick,

    Thanks for the excellent coment.

    I know the feeling. So many cool new gadgets with a seemingly endless pipeline producing them. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of technology, but I've become more discerning out of sheer lack for time. It seems personal productivity drives many of my tech purchases, it's where I perceive value.

    The other bit that I find curious is the short-term versus long-term perspective of people in general. I don't know whether it's learned or innate but it seems to be somewhat polar with most.

    Many of our customers are oriented for the long-term and see value in things that stand the test of time provided they retain high utility. Others, who tend to focus in the near-term, are often less interested in what we have to offer. Different strokes for different folks, right?

    Personally, I favor the long-term...fortunately for me my awesome wife thinks in the short term and prevents me from tripping over things directly in my path:-) I'm truly a very lucky man.

    Enjoy the weekend.



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  8. You're an insightful and talented man, thanks for the great article and its one I will read again and share with others. Paul Lesieur

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  10. Hi Paul,

    For those readers who are unfamiliar with "The Paul", he is Paul Lesieur of Remodel Crazy fame and a true hero in my estimation. (see )

    When I think of "thinking outside the box" The Paul often comes to mind and I'm honored to have him read and comment on this blog.


    Thanks – I've enjoyed each of our numerous conversations and know that your extended family can relate to the tale above. I sense a trend in our country, a shift to a simpler, more austere, model for personal living and hope that is projected in the post. I believe the time is right for most to revisit fundamental values and to form a habit of asking the question "What's the right thing to do?" instead of "What's the quick and easy way to move ahead?".

    Are you with me?

    Thanks again for commenting.


  11. Great article Mike, not much to add that wasn't said by John & others. I like how you tied the past, present & future together. As Winston Churchill said - “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” It's great to see how others learned from history, but are not so paralyzed by it, and utilize those lessons & thrive because of it

  12. Sean, thanks for commenting.

    Winston Churchill is a favorite of mine. Despite his storied career he had a unique talent for inspiring oratory sufficient to persuade an entire nation to keep up the fight. It worked.

    Never give up!

    Thanks again,


  13. I was going to use the Churchill quote, but Sean beat me too it. So I'll use another famous speech of his that sums up the lessons I learned from my grandparents who lived through the depression -- and migrated from Oklahoma to California during the dust bowl: "Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!" (He made that speech at a commencement address of Oxford graduates.)

  14. Michael,

    Right on! I find similar lessons shared by many and all are formative...I'm grateful.

    Thanks for commenting.


  15. Great article Mike, You're an insightful and talented man. I agree with Sean. History is the foundation for the jump. Do not ever forget the history but we should not be fettered by history. Be assured with a better future and never give up

  16. Sammy,

    Thanks for commenting. I couldn't agree more...learn from history to improve the future...full speed ahead.