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

When Life Pushes Your Hot Buttons

red-button-med-1.jpgFor a long time, I tried to keep my cool by attempting to teach everyone around me not to push my buttons. Avoid my hot spots, please? Do it my way, please? This may work reasonably well at the office if you’re the CEO (don’t want to upset the boss, do we?), and if you manage to always stay in Four Seasons hotels and travel first class. But it does not work too well with children, your spouse, or in most of the real world. Nor, it turns out, is having a controlling mindset much help in finding true peace of mind.

So after a while (and a lot of stress; either I was a lousy teacher or the world wasn’t interested), I gave up trying to teach the world (or at least that part of it in the vicinity I frequented) to not push my hot buttons.

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Dealing with Business Risk

tightrope1.jpgReal estate development (versus acquisition of existing rental communities) is a major part of what I do.

There is out there the saw that real estate developers are risk takers at a level that would make riverboat gamblers look like little old ladies attending Sunday morning church. That may be true of some. In this most recent real estate cycle I’ve seen stretches that boggled my mind, including two projects in my hometown that started but did not finish.

Personally, I’m risk averse. Very risk averse. A banker once told me he had never seen anyone who had acquired so much real estate while maintaining so low a risk profile. I took it as high praise.

How does one manage risk in business?

Strategically:

– Maintain an adequate liquid reserve. (All mine is in certificates of deposit and money market accounts. Dull, boring, low paying, but safe.)

– Keep your debt long term and fixed.

– Watch your cash flow. (I do use high leverage but with positive debt coverage ratios. It helps that residential rents and occupancies have historically been more stable than commercial rents. Caveat emptor: The past is an uncertain guide to the future at best.)

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Asking Effective Questions

question_mark.jpgNot all questions are created equal. An effective question is one that is

– Open ended (difficult to answer yes or no), and

– Requires the responder to THINK (eventually you will be forgiven).

That is think as in “to use the mind to consider ideas and make judgments, to imagine or understand something or the possibility of something.” (From Encarta® World English Dictionary.)

Examples of effective questions:

What is your goal? Your desired result? Your intention? What do you want to accomplish?

How will you know when you have achieved it? How will it feel? Look? What will be different? Better?

What are the specific steps required? What is the pathway? What resources are required? Whose help will you need? How do you intend to get it?

How does this belief/behavior serve you or others? How does it make your life better?

How can you use this experience? What is the lesson to be learned? How can this feeling/event be re-framed to better serve you?

What are you best at? How do you do that? Where do you need help?

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