When I was the editor of my college newspaper I instituted some major changes. One was the actual way the weekly paper was printed, another was recruiting a cartoonist that I came upon in the cafeteria, increasing concert listings and music related stuff and opening up the opportunity to work on the paper to anyone, rather than the small clique that had run it for years. Those of us on that team put our hearts and souls into it every week just like when any of us is involved with something meaningful to us. But in walking around the campus I had the feeling that not enough of the students were reading the paper or if they were reading it then they didn't appreciate it. So, one week I made a unilateral decision to not publish. My purpose was to see if anyone missed it. Well, one person clearly did: Barry Dancy, the Dean of Students, who called me on the carpet for it. I won't bore you with the results of that inquisition but merely bring up the story to show how much times have changed.
Why didn't I just run a survey asking students all the usual survey questions? Today, everywhere you look, including sometimes in this column, people are looking for others to respond to something. Do you 'like' this photo, book, movie, pizza joint, rooftop luggage carrier? If elected, will Obama or Romney be better for your business? Do you agree with this statement or opinion? It seems we're constantly looking for validation or interaction or connection. We should: we're human. But why have we become such a needy society? Don't we trust our own opinions or what or who we like?
I can't seem to turn my brain off and always think about how things can be done differently. Just because something has always worked doesn't mean that there's not another way. But 'new' requires taking chances, setting yourself out from the crowd, being labeled 'different.' And doing things differently doesn't always mean it will work or it will be successful (whatever success means). That's why I'm excited when I can share something with you about someone who is doing something differently or something new or something that could change the status quo. And, even though the underlying business of making money from real estate is still pretty much the same as it's always been (Buy low, sell high!) there are those who have changed the way we do things and others who will change things.
But you know what I mean. It's the people who get an idea and aren't worried about failing. Their gut instinct is that they believe that what they've come up with will be something that others will find useful, even valuable. And when you have an idea, it's good to bounce it off positive-thinking people. Not 'yes' people. You know who they are. They're the folks we know who have a 'can-do' approach to life and who, when they hear your idea, will give you their honest opinion.
As always, one of my missions with this column is to be your eyes and ears at the events that I attend and share what I'm hearing with you. You, gratefully, have sent me your thoughts as well. It's a wonderfully special dialogue that has been established and flourishes through this weekly space. That's why I'm excited when I meet or am introduced to someone who is doing something new, different and exciting.
Robert Frost, great American poet, wrote The Road Less Taken. I read it when I was a kid and it made an indelible impression on me. It's not for everyone but it has worked for me. And, when I soon have the opportunity to tell you about some new things that I will be doing, it will make all the difference.
The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
On the road...
July 10-13: Lansdowne, VA to attend the NCREIF Summer Meeting
July 14-17: Boston
July 18-26: New York
Sept. 10-12: Paris to attend the GRI Europe Summit
Sept. 18-19: Chicago to attend the NAREIM Human Resources Council Meeting
Oct. 3-5: Special event in Europe...stay tuned!
Oct. 14-16: Chicago to attend the NAREIM Fall Executive Meeting
Oct. 17: Chicago, DePaul University to speak with students about Careers in Real Estate
Oct. 18: (t) Chicago/Uni of Chicago to speak with students about Careers in Real Estate
Oct. 22-24: Los Angeles to attend the PREA Plan Sponsor Conference
Nov. 7: Washington, DC/Johns Hopkins University to speak with students about Careers in Real Estate
Nov. 8-9: New York to attend the PERE Forum
Kevin Norton, Director of Investment Management, Archdiocese of New York
Jeroen Verheijde, Senior Vice President-Capital Raising-Clairon Partners.
Alex Jeffrey joining PruPrim.
Thanks to all of you who have bought or checked out our new album, 'Wait for Me.' It's available on iTunes (search 'felix wait for me'). I've signed up for this interesting service that helps match up songwriters and bands with people looking for material for TV/Movies, etc.