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Monthly Archive for: ‘December, 2011’

  • Best Practices: Stop Projecting

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    Fair warning . . . I’m about to wax philosophic for a minute.

    If that wishy-washy philosophy/psychology junk isn’t your particular cup of tea, then feel free to move on to TMZ and check back here tomorrow. If you are interested, then let’s chat about human psychology.

    I have noticed a bit of a disturbing trend in the people I know (including myself); we project ourselves onto others. More specifically, we try and project our strengths, weaknesses, habits, and skills onto other people or what we think other people should be.

    I find that this idea often comes with the word “should.” Whether stated or implied, the idea that someone SHOULD be some way or SHOULD have some skill is a damaging idea and, frankly, it is incredibly condescending.

    Think about it. If you tell someone what they should be or what they should do, you are implying “I have it all figured out and I’m going to tell you how everything should be.”

    I will admit that there are some (more or less) universal “should”s. You should wear clothes to work. You should not violently attack your coworkers. You should mercilessly mock Tim Tebow. These are all universal “should”s.

    But, more often that not, “should”s are highly subjective. The examples that come to my mind sound like this:

    “Eh, he’s just a number-cruncher and ARGUS-jockey.” Do you hear the implied “should’ in there? This is basically saying, for this person the be more useful he should be more outgoing/client-friendly/deal-oriented/etc.

    It works for the opposite scenario.

    “You know, he would be a decent manager, but he is really just a schmoozer.” There it is again. This poor fella should be more analytical/hard-working/focused/numbers-oriented/whatever.

    Do you see how both of the above statements are implying an ideal worker? There seems to be some ideal candidate that has X amount of networking ability, Y amount of analytical proclivity, and Z amount of work-ethic. What are the values of X,Y, and Z? Who is qualified to make that call?

    Hopefully you realize that those values are highly subjective. Many people have been very successful in our industry with very small X values and very high Y and Z values. Others have made millions by ignoring Y and focusing on X and Z.

    The point is that there is no universal formula or fool-proof set of skills that guarantee success or even just simple value in a CRE pro. Everyone has a different combination of X, Y, and Z and they each have crucial roles to play. Don’t try to assert that there are absolute values for any of those variables and that someone without your required minimum value of that skill is somehow lacking or underachieving. I’m not buying that snake oil.

    Along those same lines, have you noticed how people assume that their exact skill set (i.e. their exact balance between X, Y, and Z) is the best way to have success and anyone who doesn’t match that set is not on par with “the best of us”? I have.

    This is the business equivalent of fat people calling skinny people “anorexic”. Or short people calling tall people “giants”. Non-athletes calling athletes “dumb jocks”. Young people calling old people “grandpa” or old people calling young people “kid”. It’s as if all of these people are saying “What I am is perfect. If you are different then you are obviously wrong or lacking in some way.” If you aren’t tall, young, and athletic, then you are terrible.” “If you aren’t experienced, smart, and analytical, then you are terrible.”

    To bring it back to CRE, try this: “If you aren’t extremely gifted at modelling deals, then you are going to struggle in our business.” “If you aren’t a gifted networker, then you will have trouble finding and closing deals.” “if you don’t know the inner workings of the construction industry, then there is no way you can build a building.” None of those statements are necessarily true. They may be true sometimes, but none of them are even close to universal.

    Do you see how you could restate the above statements about any skill set? You could apply that to any situation. That is what makes these comments so silly. Everyone has different skills, talents, and proclivities and they each have a role to play in doing deals and running properties. Don’t be foolish enough to think that there is only one way to do things or arrogant enough to think that your way is the only right way.

    So, here is the great news in this: If you can realize that you have a particular set of skills that are suited to a certain part of our business, it is actually an incredibly freeing epiphany. You don’t have to be all things to all people because there are people who are better than you at certain things and those people actually enjoy doing those tasks more than you would anyway. Not everyone likes what you like and is good at what you are good at. Let them be great at their thing. You be great at yours.

    I think it is tremendous news that there are people who are great at the things I am not. There are people who love to do the things I hate. That means I can outsource all of those things and just focus on what I am good at and what I like (which will eventually be the exact same things). To me, that is awesome.

    So let the analytical people build, twist, bend, tear down, and rebuild the numbers on the deals.

    Let the lawyers work on title issues, legal entity structuring, and all the legal pitfalls that can blow up a CRE transaction.

    Let the construction workers pour the concrete, bolt down the steel, water-proof the roof, and finish the dry-wall.

    Let the acountatnts count the beans and save you money on your taxes.

    Bottom line – Let everyone do what they are best at and appreciate their unique skills and talents. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out how everyone should be better. They are who they are. Use that to your advantage or I will.

    The commercial real estate industry is a trillion dollar industry and there is enough room in it for all of us to use our talents and preferences to achieve something special. Don’t project yourself and your talents onto others as if your particular set of skills is the only useful set that matters. Everyone is great at something and their skill set is just as crucial to our business as anyone else’s.

    – Duke

  • Random Thoughts

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    Happy December to everyone!

    Another article on goals coming tomorrow or Monday, but for now I’m gonna dump some thoughts on you . . .

    1. Congrats to Cousins on landing Promenade II. $174 psf is a fairly high number, but that location is stellar.

    2. Also, congrats to Clark Gore on the position at Cassidy Turley. I know Clark and he is a great man and a gifted leader. All the best at CT!

    3. Given #2, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cassidy Turley and Avison Young are the two brokerage powerhouses in the Atlanta market in 10 years. I’m sure CBRE has enough staying power to remain a major player, but look out for AY and CT.

    4. You know how in the 50s we were projected to have flying cars by now? What happened? Why am I still using the stupid road? There is a much greater supply of air than asphalt. Just saying.

    5. If we had a high-speed rail system in place, I would want DIRECT connections to: Charlotte, Knoxville, Nashville, Birmingham, New Orleans, Tampa, Jacksonville, Savannah, and Charleston (screw you Columbia!).

    6. I wish Sarah McLaughlin would quit making me sad about abandoned puppies and kittens. I know they were torn from the wreckage, but frankly, Sarah, I don’t have the space or money to adopt another furry friend

    7. Self-storage properties are selling like hot cakes right now! Everyone who downsized or chose to rent instead of own has needed to store their extra stuff, so SS properties are highly occupied and cash-flowing. By the way, did the phrase “selling like hot cakes” come from the Depression or something? Who sells “hot cakes” today? IHOP or somebody?

    8. UGA can beat LSU. I’m not saying they will, but they certainly CAN.

    9. I can’t get a handle on Africa. I can think of intriguing investment opportunities in South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, but (other than maybe Cape Town and Johannesburg) I can’t think of a market on that whole continent that is intriguing and stable enough to merit a long term investment.

    10. You know, after having looked at a couple hundred land deals, I still don’t have a great idea for what raw land is worth. Determining highest-and-best use for land is very tough and I have trouble reconciling the values between what a spec buyer would pay and what an end-user would pay. I suppose you price the property based on an end-user buying and then prepare yourself for the price a spec buyer would pay. No?

    That’s your random thought nourishment for the week.

    – Duke

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