"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

Success Theater

success theater fake success

When a culture cares more about optics than reality, when you put too much emphasis on presentation versus performance, when you care more about how you look outside than who you are inside… you’ve entered the surreal world of success theater.

Success theater carries with it the seeds of its own destruction as energy and effort that should go into fixing things instead is squandered on frills and showy gestures designed to distract from underlying fundamentals. In 2018, the Wall Street Journal ran an article on the fall of GE headlined ‘Success Theater’ Masked the Rot at GE, stating that GE’s culture “disdained bad news” and that it’s CEO didn’t like hearing or giving bad news. Sadly, at one time GE was US’s highest valued corporation; more recently their stock FELL in period when S&P 500 rose over 200%.

It takes courage to deliver bad news and it takes equanimity to absorb disappointing, even distressing, information and to keep your focus forward and solution-oriented, to stay cool, calm and collected. As an investor and senior leader of an organization, I know how challenging it is to avoid displays of dismay or frustration when receiving bad news. Even when an emotional reaction is generalized i.e. not directed at the bearer of bad tidings, it is still not an experience that anyone anticipates with joy! I’ve often reflected on the need to up my EQ and display a calmer composure (emotional labor!) in order to ensure that others feel comfortable and at ease bringing me important information, good or not so good.

Closing Quote:

“When we demand our leaders to be virtually perfect, we in effect require they lie to us in order to meet an impossible standard; often one we ourselves could not meet if we were truly honest with ourselves. Best we simply allow others to be human and applaud sincere, authentic efforts at redemption, renewal, and growth.” – NSC

Potemkin Village: any construction (literal or figurative) built solely to deceive others into thinking that a situation is better than it really is. The term comes from stories of a fake portable village built solely to impress Empress Catherine II by her former lover Grigory Potemkin during her journey to Crimea in 1787.


As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

Staying Open

open minded sign

To maintain the civilized dialogue
which is essential to a functioning democracy,
avoid responding with ad hominem attacks
on those whose views differ from yours,
allow others their say.

When you treat others with respect,
you maintain credibility with the undecided
and make it easier for the more moderate in the other camp
to stay open, to perhaps forage a working relationship with you.

Attack the “others” relentlessly, hurl angry words and epithets
and you incentivize them to circle the wagons and close ranks,
hindering the very progress desired.

If you want to be listened to, first listen.
If you wish others to change, be open to change.
For who among us can afford to cease learning?

Closing Quotes:

“It is hypocrisy to claim to want to give hearing to other views but be shocked and offended to discover there are other views.” – William Buckley, lightly edited

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” – John 8:7

“What others do and say is their Karma, how you respond is yours.” – Zen saying

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

Questions for the Chair, The Sequel

Conference of Champions logo

1. What made you decide to go into business?
I grew up poor; no a/c in Miami or car poor, utilities, water and electric turned off poor, evicted poor. I actually lived with my mother, brother, and sister in a car for a week and did NOT like it. I saw business as the way out, the best way to create prosperity in my life so as to have the resources to ensure that poverty would never manifest itself in my life again.

2. What was the hardest part about your start up process in property management?
Finding/training good people.

3. Did you start with business loans?
I started with owner financing. I had no capital, it was all bootstrap. The first couple of dozen single-family homes were all low/no down deals, the stuff you see on late night TV info commercials.

4. What is the most challenging part from an owner standpoint?
Risk Analysis! Trying to see all the shoals, rocks and reefs, and storms ahead!

– We face a rising interest rate environment thus Refi’s will no longer allow us to pull capital out without sharp increases in debt payments with potentially rising cap rates as well.
– Historically, this is one of the longest economic expansions ever albeit a slow one. Is there a recession/slowdown around the corner?
– Will inflation come back?

5. What is your biggest regret?
Not having my son earlier in life.

6. What is the best piece of advice you were ever given with regard to business?
I’m sure I’ve been given some great advice which fell on deaf ears. My father was the major role model in my life; he was the kindest, gentlest, most altruistic, patient man I’ve ever met. I can only remember him raising his voice once (quite the feat for the single dad raising 3 rambunctious, head strong kids). I do remember feeling great remorse having been the source of the provocation! However, I do not remember him ever giving me unsolicited advice; his life was his sermon. Gainesville is not a business town, I had no mentors building the business, books were the closest.

Closing Quote:

“The difference between an entrepreneur and a professional business manager,
generally speaking,
is one of attitude.

The entrepreneur, especially when starting out,
knows that he is operating on the threshold of success or failure.
A single mistake can ruin him.
He can’t afford that single mistake.

He has to reach a certain market,
make a stipulated amount of sales and
earn enough money to carry him forward.

While others leave the office at five o’clock,
he stays behind and works to solve those problems that beset his business.
He takes his problems home with him.
He lives his business twenty-four hours a day.”
– “Managing”, Harold S. Geneen, 1910-1997

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier