The nessBusi downBreak: Transformers Edition

New ways to save, the push for cyber-security stars, and states that help businesses flourish. Also: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE.


Last Thursday, I saw Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Obviously, I opted for 3-D.

Full of morphing robots, extensive battles and stunning visuals, the movie (for readers who didn’t grow up watching the cartoon series) tells the story of a group of good robots (Autobots) and a group of bad ones (Decepticons). Shockingly, they have differing views and do not get along.

Each robot can operate as either a vehicle (Optimus Prime -- the leader of the Autobots -- is a big rig) or an upright robot capable of doing battle with swords or other weaponry. I enjoyed it.

But why am I telling you about this? I’m telling you because the Transformers have, for lack of a better term, a tagline: More than meets the eye. That's a useful phrase to remember when surveying the current economic landscape. Perhaps a video will help get us all on the same road.

That idea of appearance versus reality is what we’re dealing with economically.  The markets are presenting difficulty, but cooperatives have to see the opportunity that resides within the trouble. Here are a few problems and possible solutions.

  • Smart Savings: WalletPop offers some simple ideas for saving money in the back half of 2011. From better budgeting to turning off lights, the suggestions are easy and effective. The Breakdown: All members hear are problems. Whether it’s at their job, at home, or on the news, the incoming stimuli generally center on what needs to be fixed or improved. Instead of adding to the list, you should share stories such as the WalletPop one that offer solutions. And then examine your products and services. Are you really helping members save as much as you can?
  • Cyber Job Opportunity?: The L.A. Times reports on the influx of demand for cyber-security experts in light of recent hacks. Protecting data is a big business as company spending has kicked up 10% per year since the middle of the decade. The Breakdown: First of all, where does your security rank? Is your member data secure? How do you monitor incoming threats? Without strong security, you have nothing because you don’t have member trust. So make sure security is a priority in your cooperative. Also, maybe some of your members have technological expertise. Let them know about this story and how this sector of the job market is presenting considerable opportunity. Along with keeping their info secure, helping a member find a job is a great way to engender loyalty.
  • Business As Usual in the VA: USA Today released its annual study of the states that are most conducive to business. Virginia took the top honors, and as a native Virginian, I’m proud. The Breakdown: Why did Virginia take the gold? That’s what you need to understand. How are the high-performing states different from yours? What can you do to change it? Make sure you are taking advantage of all of the opportunities your state has to help your cooperative flourish. Or find ways to make business in your state better. Members are depending on someone to change things in your local economy. It should be your cooperative that leads the resurgence.

Unlike the Transformers’ shift from vehicle to robot, the change from hardship to prosperity doesn’t take 10 seconds. But that doesn’t mean it's not possible.

Check out the preview for Transformers: Dark of the Moon below. The highlight of the movie for me personally was watching Shockwave (a massive worm robot and, as you might guess, a Decepticon) wreak havoc on a building in Chicago and then meet his fate at the hands of a flying Optimus Prime. Pretty exciting.

More importantly, the sequence reminded me that even when things look bad, there’s no reason to quit. Just think of your members’ problems and the tough economy as Decepticons. Who's going to save them from those guys? You.