Tuesday, July 21, 2009

on the road....

Have things begun to turn around? I don't know but it sure feels a little like it. People are hiring (as my phone has rung three times in the past two weeks) and it seems like, "People are beginning to poke their heads out of the sand to see what's going on", as my good friend Bob White, Founder of RCA said to me tonight. And all of this bodes well for our industry. Of course, on the other side, is the brutal truth that it's very difficult to raise money for real estate related funds these days. Everyone I've spoken with in North America and Europe has pretty much the same story. And, as you can't get blood from a stone it is a time where patience is required until the institutional investors have sorted through their problems and money to be allocated to real estate has been freed up. But from times like these we all learn things. Some good, some not so good. Some of it about how people behave during difficult times (one of the key things that institutional investors and their consultants are watching carefully)....is your firm doing the right thing? For, no matter how difficult times get, doing the right thing is always, well, the right thing. And when people talk about their reputations, it's times like these when our reputations are either maintained, enhanced or damaged. So, be wise about what you choose to do or not to do as your actions will always speak louder than your words.

I'm getting concerned that we are living through a hugh sea change in communications. My concern is based on several things not the least of which is all the posters I see in the NY subway cars promoting Kindle. This week while looking at one of the posters a got the feeling that Kindle was the future of reading. How long will it take for it to replace real books? 5, 10, 15 years? I think it depends on how long it takes for each generation to get further and further away from books but I am pretty sure it will happen. I can see books being like LP's, rare items, collected by some diehards or memorbilia people looking to sell them at a profit to other collectors. But it's not just books that seem likely to disappear. Daily newspapers are in serious jeopardy right now. I grew up as a New York Times reader because my mother read it. And I do still see some people reading papers in subways, buses, airports and airplances. But I see many more who are not. I see a lot of people staring at the TV monitors in airport waiting areas listening to the constant drivel of talking heads with too much time on their hands to fill. I also see more and more people wearing earphones/headphones and listening to who knows what, mostly music I assume. But it could be podcasts of news or of business related things or just plain entertainment. So I guess what I'm saying is that at some point things we're familiar with will be extinct and I guess it's just an evolutionary thing. But I just wonder if 50 years down the road there won't be a return to the past and a resurgence of the printed book, not just as a novelty, but as something that provides pleasure, not just in what is written, but in the actual holding of the book and looking at them on a bookshelf. It's a warm feeling that I get when I look at my books and I fear that the totally digital age is a much colder one and if I'm right then that's a sad thing.

Tony Lopinto of Eqinox Partners must've been thinking somewhat similar thoughts this week as he wrote this in his blog: "I miss the Cronkite evening news, uncluttered with headlines telegraphing across the bottom and highlight balloons popping-up here and there--not to mention the political bias, which varies depending on which station you are watching. Dissemination of the news, including on the business front, has deteriorated into sound bites, screaming journalists, twitters, Facebook postings, and now, the venerable Wall Street Journal has a sports page. I guess that, now that the Bankers are rolling in big bonuses again, they can focus on yesterday’s golf match."

On Thursday I drive to Hedgesville, WV for a reunion of eight guys that grew up in Forest Hills, NY. Some of us have not seen each other for a really, really long time. Why Hedgesville you ask? Well it met a number of criteria that the survey that were taken by reunion organizer, Mike Goldfischer took. I am really looking forward to catching up with these guys and wearing our reunion golf shirts to the country fair near the place we'll be staying at. Anyway, I'm sure I'll have something to tell you about.

Photo: Franz West's The Ego and the Id at the south entrance to Central Park

on the road....
austin & waco, tx
san diego, san francisco, oakland, sacramento, ca
cleveland, oh and chicago, il
atlanta, ga

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