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Best Practices: Limit Your Weaknesses

Everything you need to know about business you can learn from baseball.

In baseball, when I am coaching young men that are just starting to learn the game I always try and focus on their weaknesses. If a player is a decent hitter, decent baserunner, decent fielder, but poor pitcher, I always start with working on his pitching.

I could focus my time on making him an excellent hitter or baserunner or fielder, but my theory is that when players are young they aren’t going to have a great idea about where their future lies in the game. A boy may be an infielder at 6, an outfielder at 10, a pitcher at 12, and a catcher at 15. There really is no way to know when a boy starts playing. So, I try and limit the weaknesses of each player so that he has the basic skill set necessary to compete at whatever position he ends up playing when he reaches the pinnacle of his career.

The same logic applies to real estate. Let’s assume that every businessman or woman wants to be as successful as possible when they reach the pinnacle of their CRE career. Let’s further assume that no one can predict exactly where they will end up in this business when they first start working in CRE. Most people have trouble predicting their life status and preferences in ONE year. Trying to predict one’s future employment in TWENTY years is nearly impossible.

Working with those assumptions, I think of most CRE professionals as young baseball players. They have skills and preferences but they also have glaring weaknesses and only a vague idea of their final career path.

So, my advice is the same to both parties: start off with limiting your weaknesses and, as time passes, work on increasing you strengths to fit you specialization.

For a ballplayer that means learning to hit, bunt, run the bases, field infield, field outfield, pitch, etc. As the player gets older I may focus him on outfield and hitting or hitting and pitching.

For a CRE professional, that means getting to know the lending market, the investment sales market, tenant rep, landlord rep, property management, asset management, property acquisitions and dispositions, development, etc. A basic understanding of the entire real estate pie will help the young professional to better grasp his or her slice of that pie.

The general idea is that there will be decades of work ahead in which to specialize. At the beginning, learn everything you can about all aspects of our industry and that strong (and wide) foundation will make you better prepared for the niche you eventually choose.

– Duke

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