Show mood driven by the survivor mentality

There’s a different mood at this year’s Detroit auto show. Upbeat to be sure, but calm, more restrained than bubbly. I haven’t seen anything quite like this in 30-some years on the auto beat. It seemed familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Then I got it. Everybody gathered here in the Motor City has the attitude I saw in my parents and their generation: Depression survivors.

That’s today’s auto industry. Those who survived the Great Recession -- and there are far fewer of us -- are stronger, more resilient.

We’ve learned the bitter lessons of severe business hardship. How to slash costs. How to cut capacity yet keep investing in the future. How to lay off hard-working people.

We don’t scare easily.

Like the generation that grew up in the Depression.

Late 2008 and 2009 taught us a brutal lesson. But we’re still here. And like my parent’s generation, the skills we acquired during the desperate years will be valuable the rest of our careers.

After 2009, is anything likely to make you panic, to paralyze you into inaction?

We’re all combat veterans.

So make the most of that attitude. It was certainly expensive.

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