Friday, July 10, 2009

On the Road

We are in times of reinventing ourselves and discovering transferable skills. Things are not what they used to be in so many ways and especially service companies in our industry are looking high and low for some way to generate revenue. Some have chosen to open 'workout' shops but I'm not so sure there are that many real real estate workouts in the market yet. More of the 'workouts' involve institutional investors (LP's-Limited Partners) and their GP's (General Partners) whose romance that flourished and grew over the past say 10 years or so has lost it's bloom. The realization that in some cases values need to be written down to Zero (yes with a capital Z) is not easy to stomach but what it is it is and these are not times to be fooling oneself. Discovery of clauses in documents is another wake-up call for investors in commingled funds as during the hey-day, when investors were asked to say 'yes' or 'no' to commiting huge somes of money in the blink of an eye, a lot was overlooked or just deemed 'this will never happen.' But happen it has and as we all know about contracts, from our cable contract to our cell phone contracts, there are penalties for early termination (and other things) and the learning is not easy.

I believe that one of the most important words in the english langue is 'Patience' (with a capital P) and we're going through economic and business times that require a lot of it. Patience is also important in all aspects of our lives and, at least from what i've found, lack of patience not only causes us to make wrong decisions but also don't give things a chance (what about "Give Peace A Chance?) to evolve. As we enter the second (and last) half of 2009 it appears that those who proclaimed that we should just write-off 2009 (way back in 4Q08) may be right. but the write-offs that are involved in making things right again are what have a lot of CIO's awake at night. intuitively we know that things will improve, where the patience comes in is that we don't know just when and it's taking longer than we would like and i'm not so sure that the U.S. government, for all it's good intentions, is keeping it's eye on our problems but is distracted by too many external world problems (how about us focusing our time and resources on our own country for a chance and let the rest of the world fend for itself while we solve some of our huge internal problems). But even in times like these, and perhaps especially in times like these, those entrepreneurs who have the guts to start new things may find success, some in distressed opportunities. Other companies, large and not so large that are looking at the changing landscape and changing with it will also find success albeit in different ways than they originally thought. Clearly, this period that we are living in is a significant era (aren't they all?) and the media doesn't let us forget that 'news' is just that: something new to be pounded on and reported on in an over-the-top way but only for a very short time....until the next new thing happens. The media exhibits no patience and for my money they don't exhibit much character or integrity anymore. But just because they've fallen into an abyss doesn't mean that we have to follow them. We need to think for ourselves and not follow, we need to be leaders and good examples and we need to be patient for there is some peace of mind coming down the road and we don't want to miss it when it pulls up along side us.

one of these weeks i'm going to write a whole column on snipets of conversations i hear while people are on their mobile phones and i happen to be walking by. i don't consider it evesdropping as that connotes standing at a door with a glass to your ear and covertly listening in to a conversation. it still continues to amaze me at how unaware people are about what's going on around them or who might be standing nearby (does anyone really know?) when they're talking loudly on their mobile phones. first of all, perhaps people don't realize how powerfully sensitive the microphone in these phones are and you can, unless there's a huge amount of background noise, speak in fairly quiet tones and still be heard perfectly. so soon i'm going to start noting those little phrases i hear (you know what i mean as you experience the same thing) and just jot them down and write them hear. i think it'll be amusing but also enlightening as one day i'm expecting to hear someone talking about me to someone else or even better get some hot tip about a horse running in the sixth race at saratoga.

restaurant of the week: famous dave's bbq, madison, wisconsin (there are a few other locations as well). old photos, memoribilia hanging all over and, from what my colleauges told me, pretty excellent bbq. btw, here's a trivia question (i found the answer above the urinal at dave's): at the 1911 indianapolis 500, what was the average speed of the winner? multiple choice (courtesy of the series 7 and 63 exams that i recently passed). (a) 75mph, (b) 82mph, (c) 113 mph, (d) none of the above.

i had breakfast this week with an industry friend that i originally me through this column and while i feel like i've met a number of you through this medium (as many of you have told me you feel about me) there are only a small group who i've had a chance to have substantive chats with in person and/or continuing dialogue. but this to me is what has made this column so special. the chance to 'meet' people who may react or respond to something i've written and have taken the time to reach out to me. i feel very fortunate to be able to connect with you each week and look forward to hearing from you from time to time.

Upcoming travels (dates being coordinated as we speak):

these are my personal views and not that of my employer.

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