Perseverance in tough times

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No one doubts these are trying times for business people. As a stockbroker, my industry was being buffeted and battered well before Sept. 11, and it has continued its bumpy ride since.

“Volatile” is hardly a strong enough term for today’s markets. The fact that, thanks to technological advances, we have instantaneous knowledge about trends, hiccups and corrections often makes the situation more stressful. And with a global market, what happens in one place has monetary impact everywhere.

I am often asked, “How can we survive such tumultuous times?” “How can we make effective decisions?” “How do we keep our business healthy and our investments sound?”

In trying to reassure clients (and sometimes myself) about the present, I point to the past. History holds the key to the future, whether we’re talking about the health of our businesses, the wealth in our portfolio or world events. History offers the reassurance we seek.

I’ve been an avid investor since the age of 18, thanks to an early education in stocks from my immigrant grandfather, who came to this country with nothing but faith and determination. He established a small business, worked diligently and earned success.

One of the best lessons I learned from him was the value of time. Too often, especially in today’s world of instant gratification, we fail to learn what Grandpa taught me: That effective investment strategies — and life strategies — are based on long-term perspectives.

I’m often asked how I deal with market volatility. My tools are stamina, discipline and … ulcers. It’s not easy to hang on and have faith. But we must because history clearly illustrates that perseverance is what built our great country.

Without a white-knuckled determination to hang on to what mattered most — families, faith, conviction that they could succeed — our forebears would never have made it. During tough times, the tough got going. Without that attitude, early Americans would never have mastered the intricacies of survival.

What those who came before us did, we must do today. We need to remind ourselves that America, then and now, is a vast, wonderful country, filled with opportunity and promise. We in Northeast Ohio make an important contribution to our country’s success and to our own. We all made a commitment (and may need to remake it daily) that we would be successful as employers, employees and citizens.

If we can remember the lessons of history, do our best, treat each other well and keep on keeping on, we’ll come out of the turmoil stronger than ever.

You can count on it. Denny Juvan, an investment broker and NASD-registered securities representative, is vice president of Butler, Wick & Co., a full-service brokerage firm. He can be reached at Butler Wick’s Kent office at ( 330) 678-2151.