Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year-End: 2008

Paul Summer of J.P. Morgan Asset Management Global Real Assets is one of the most creative guys I know. The holiday card, which Paul created for their group this season is something special. It’s digital, short and, well,let me share the text with you. Picture a leather-bound book……

Cover: 2008-2009: Turning the Page by Hedda Nuff and Gladys Over
Page One: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Page Two: OK, so it wasn’t the best of times…But as we turn the page on a dickens of a year, let's get down on our knees and give thanks we're still on our feet.
Page Three: Every end brings forth a new beginning. Wishing you a healthy, happy
and prosperous new year. May your troubles only last as long as your resolutions

Well said Paul, well said.

I woke up this morning and felt the need to write to you as we start a new year. I thought about how my 2008 went and what is going on in our industry right now with people losing their jobs, whole business units being cut and more people fearful that they may be fired early in the new year. And I went to Wikipedia, a resource that I rarely rely on and found typed in the word ‘friend’ to their search engine.

“Friendship is a term used to denote co-operative and supportive behavior between two or more people. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship, which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection and respect along with a degree of rendering service to friends in times of need or crisis. Friends will welcome each other's company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism. They will also engage in mutually helping behavior, such as exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship. A friend is someone who may often demonstrate reciprocating and reflective behaviors. Yet for many, friendship is nothing more than the trust that someone or something will not harm them.

Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:

* the tendency to desire what is best for the other,
* sympathy and empathy,
* honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one's counterpart
* mutual understanding."

I’ve always been good at helping others and up until recent years it has been difficult for me to let others help me. But I’ve learned over the past few years in particular that it’s okay to accept help as the balance of giving and receiving is the healthiest approach to life. After all these years in the real estate industry I’ve developed a pretty good ‘sixth sense’ about people and my instinct is pretty darn good. I am grateful for having so many ‘friends’ but also ‘connected acquaintances’ in my life. In 2007-2008 I’ve learned who my true friends are and to them I am forever grateful. I’ve also learned that when you have an instinctive sense that you can’t trust someone, don’t ever doubt it because sooner or later they will prove to be who you think they are.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is this: a lot of our industry friends and acquaintances are and will be going through difficult times. I would guess that all of us have gone through career challenges at one time or another in our own lives. And while we may not have an answer or be able to pick up a phone and find someone a suitable position, what we can do is spend some time talking with people, listening to what they’re thinking about and, well, being a friend. In 1995, as I was working my way out of a job doing workouts for a large commercial bank in New Jersey, someone in that bank, who I didn’t know very well, turned me on to the phrase ‘transferable skills.’ Given what is going on right now I think that we need to help coach our industry colleagues to think about how to transfer their skills and look in directions where there may be opportunities that they might not have thought of. We can all be coaches, nay, friends to each other and it pretty much starts with just being willing to take some time to meet with someone. It’s a small world and getting smaller. Not only will you feel good about trying to help someone, they will not forget you.

My band, “Everyone” used to have the song “Carry On” (Crosby, Stills & Nash, written by Stephen Stills) on our setlist every night we played. It was a song that was written about a broken relationship but I thought of it just his morning and while I recommend listening to the whole song (I’m going to do it as well) I offer this simple phrase:

Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice but
To carry on

Let’s let 2008 be a reminder of what’s really important in life and as we ‘carry on’ never forget that we’re fortunate to have each other.

Happy New Year!

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