The Lost Generation: A Young Man’s Guide to a Young Man’s Dilemma

A couple days ago I offered an opinion that the flight to experience is going to lead to a lack of leadership in our industry (and in many industries) at some point in the future. Young people simply are not being given the opportunity to fully develop into industry leaders because they are being passed over or ignored in favor of their more experienced competitors.

The full article is here:

Well that’s a fine theory and it is probably true, but so what? What is a young man to do about?

You probably aren’t going to change much by arguing that things should be different or asserting that NOW is the most crucial time to be developing young leaders.

And whining about is just going to annoy everyone around you.

So what should you do?

Well, I like to think I am a fairly bright young fella, but to suppose that I have the right solution for everyone that faces my same challenges strikes me as arrogant and presumptuous. So, to be fair, all I can really tell you is what I am doing about it.

Let’s start with what I am NOT going to do:

I am not going to whine, complain, and moan about how unfair life is and how everybody is an idiot, blah, blah, blah.

I’m not going to ask someone else to fix it.

I’m not going to go around blaming the world for letting this happen to me.


I have learned that there are two types of people in the world and I will illustrate those two types with the following hypothetical scenario:

Two guys are crossing the street together without really paying attention to the traffic. The first guy is crossing the street and suddenly looks up and sees a Mack Truck bearing down on him at 60 mph only a few yards away. This man promptly freezes, pees in his pants, reviews his entire life, bemoans his cruel fate, screams for help, and then . . . . BANG.

The second guy runs the freakin truck over.

I wanna be that second guy. Life can kick you around if you let it. I’m gonna kick back.

In this case, kicking back or fighting back has nothing to do with size or strength or ability. It is simply a choice. Choose to take the kicks or choose to fight back. Most people will just take their lumps and mindlessly complain about the market or politics or whatever. I am making the choice to just ignore all that and do something about it. It may hurt me financially and it may even ruin me financially, but you better believe that I am going down swinging.

So, that brings me back to my current course of action. Yes, I will be passed over for positions that I would be great at in favor of someone with more experience. Yes I will be looked down upon because of my age. Yes my phone calls will be ignored or go unreturned because of my age and relative “importance” in this industry. All of that will happen to me over and over and over again. It’s gonna happen. I’m fine with that. Like the two guys and the bus, there is going to be a collision. Take the blow or deliver the blow.

So my plan is to go out and try several things on my own. I am trying to buy a couple properties. I am looking into developing an apartment complex. I am finishing my license and taking some listings. I am working on a land assemblage for a retail deal. I am driving the market. I am looking at a mixed-use deal in the mountains. I am analyzing hospitality deals in Europe. I am looking at land in Central America. I am talking to everyone who will meet with me. I am listening to what they say and trying to learn from their wisdom. I am reading every book I can get my hands on that deals with business practices, leadership, and CRE.

Quite frankly, I am sure that I am going to screw some things up and make some bonehead moves, but that is all part of the process. I would much rather go ahead and take my lumps and learn lessons the hard way now than have to learn those lessons or make those mistakes when there are a few more zeros at the end of my deals.

Actually, messing it up is half the education. I heard someone say that an expert in any given field in just the person who has already made all the mistakes you can make in that particular industry. So, through this process of buying, building, selling, and financing property, I am going to acquire tools like modelling for acquisitions and for development, county building codes and policies, community politics, handling the construction process, hiring property managers, dealing with problem tenants or problem properties, obtaining debt and equity financing, and I am sure there are dozens of other lessons that I will learn that I cant even think of right now. That is the beauty of the process; I don’t have to make millions and become independently wealthy. I just need to learn the process and its pitfalls and be ready when the big paychecks and investors start rolling my way.

I believe my most fundamental advantage in this market is simply time. I know what I want to do and where I want to do it. Now I am just figuring out the “how to do it” part. If I start now, then I have 40 years ahead of me to figure it out. So I am sticking my nose in deals, hustling after potential investors and basically just feeling my way through the process of creating a successful CRE platform.

If it turns out that I am best at owning property, then that’s great news and I will charge off in that direction.

If it turns out that I am best at building properties, then that’s great too and I will start developing that platform.

If I am best at selling property, then that is splendid and I will start my brokerage platform.

Whatever the outcome ends up being, the only way I am going to truly discover that answer in this market is by doing it myself. How many CRE companies could you see saying, “Son, I want you to help us develop this deal, I want you to help us buy that deal, and I want you to help us broker the other deal.”? Probably not many. So, that’s why, in my spare time (evenings, weekends, holidays, etc), I am just running head first into my own deals.

I am not going to sit back and hope for the perfect job or just pray to get lucky and find someone who will load me up with tons of responsibility. I am just taking the knowledge and contacts I have now and trying to figure out how to work CRE transactions.

Should you do the same? That’s not a question I can answer, but either way there is a Mack Truck bearing down on all of us. The question you need to ask yourself is what are you going to do about it?

– Duke

Leave a Reply

    No Twitter Messages