Friday, August 15, 2008


Early this morning, I did something that I usually don’t do: I sent out two large group emails letting people know about this new column that I’m writing. I had thought about waiting until September to send it out, realizing that many people are taking vacations now but thought that I would at least get it in their inbox and hope they don’t delete it before reading it. The interesting thing that came from this is reading the “Out of Office” messages that people use. Here are some samples: 1. I will be out of the office from August 14 to 18, returning to the office on August 19. Please contact _____________ if you require immediate assistance on August 14 or 15, or ___________on August 18. My comment: It is good to know who to contact but it would have been even better if we knew how to contact those people (email or phone info). REMINDER: Please make sure you give people the contact info (email/phone) that they need. 2. I will traveling out of state August 11th and will return to my office August 18th. If this is an emergency and cannot wait until my return, please contact _______________at (phone number). My comment: Maybe, coming from New York I’m too wary but I don’t think it’s good to tell people you’re ‘out of state.’ Also, coming from a journalism background, it’s always good to take the time to edit what you write (“I will be traveling…”). 3. I am currently out of the office, returning on Monday, August 18th. I will be checking voicemails and emails periodically. Please contact ______________ at (Phone number) (email address) if you require immediate attention. My comment: This is pretty good. “Checking voicemails and emails periodically” just struck me. I hope this person was on vacation and if so, as you know, I’m a strong proponent of unplugging completely otherwise it’s not really a vacation. 4. “I am away from the office until 26th August, please contact ____________ on (phone number) or _______________ on (phone number) if you require urgent assistance. Save money, energy and the environment - do you really need to print this email?” My comment: I like that we’ve been given two people to contact. That’s very thoughtful. The phrase “urgent assistance” is what jumps out at me. Many of these “Out of the Office” messages contain a similar phrase “For urgent matters”, “For immediate assistance”, “If this matter is urgent and cannot await my return, please contact”, “If this is an emergency and cannot wait until my return, please contact.” I also like the ‘protect the environment message.’ 5. “I am currently on vacation and will be back on Wednesday August 27, 2008. I have no or limited access to my e mail, therefore, if the matter is urgent, do not hesitate to contact the reception desk at (phone number) or to call me on my mobile at (phone number). Rather than getting on a soapbox about this (you’ve heard me before) I offer only this: I think we all need to begin to respect each other’s ‘down time’ people. I go back to the days before I owned a Blackberry. I was at an industry event and asked someone who was using his how he liked it. “I love it”, he said with a big smile. “But”, said I, “I don’t have that many urgent things going on where I need to be in constant touch with people.” And his tongue-in-cheek (I think) response, “I never knew how many urgent things I had going on until I started using a Blackberry. Most of us can relate to it, right?. Believe it or not, things can go on without you. It’s not that you’re not needed and not important and that people in your office don’t miss you. It’s just, like, ‘Get a Life’. And, what is urgent? 1. calling for immediate action or attention 2. showing earnestness or the desire for something to be done quickly Okay, so we have a frame of reference. Is it something that needs immediate action or attention? If not, it can wait. It makes me think of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Anyway, you get my drift. If we all have a little more consideration for one another, we can reduce stress, increase productivity and life a more peaceful life in this crazy world. As I’ve done for the past few years, I’m taking the month of August to recharge my batteries. Some people have asked me how I’m able to travel so much and I guess it’s due to being resilient and also not letting anything bother me (what can you do about airline travel problems anyway?). But this August is a little different, as I’ve left the job I’ve had for 10 years and am thinking about what my next real estate adventure will be. Having recently moved to Montreal, this is good time to explore the area and learn where the important things are (and how to get there): the farmer’s market for fresh fruit and veggies (Quebec is famous for it’s blueberries and corn); the gym and tennis club (signing up today); the train station (found it, used it, pretty easy); a good local restaurant that has good food, nice ambiance, decent prices and a friendly/professional staff (found that too and it’s Italian!). It’s also time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished in the past 10 years and where I take whom I know and what I know next. Anyway, sitting in my home office, looking out on the river flow and watching the ducks is helping me keep things in perspective: the river will always be flowing and it’s just up to us to decide whether we want to go with the current or against it. A good friend of mine once told me, “There are seasons of life. Go with them, not against them.” Today is the 39th anniversary of the start of the legendary Woodstock Music & Art Fair as it was officially called. In that summer of 1969, my brother and I were counselors at a summer camp in upstate New York, about a two-hour drive to where the festival was happening. We didn’t have TV so we didn’t know what was going on. But, having attended the first Miami (Florida) Pop Festival the year before I thought it would be similar and we planned to go on the Sunday, in particular to catch “The Band.” But our father called us and said, “Don’t go. You can’t get near the place.” For once, we listened and then started hearing about the 200,000 or so people that showed up (even though only 125,000 tickets were sold). By the way, I’m sure that there are more than 200,000 people who claim they were there, maybe in spirit more than body.

Where will I be? Sept. 10: New York for RealShares Investment & Finance Conference ( where I’ll moderate a panel called “The Influence of Foreign Banks on Today’s Market.” Sept. 10-11: New York to attend CityScape USA ( Sept. 11: New York for FIABCI-USA UN Luncheon ( where Bob White, Founder of Real Capital Analytics will be the keynote speaker ( Oct. 1-3: Chicago for PREA’s 18th Annual Plan Sponsor Real Estate Conference ( Steve Felix Montreal, Quebec

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