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Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Real Estate...and Other Things of Value
with Yossi Feigenson

The images of crumbling conglomerates and the collapse of several multi billion dollar institutions are now firmly etched in our consciousness. I’m no economist but one thing has become clear to me; many of the old ways of doing things have gone and will be replaced by a new ways. We have witnessed it in the big corporate environment and it’s now trickling down to the smaller domain of businesses.

The untold story

For the most part we don’t hear about the smaller companies; brokerages, law firms, retail chains, and individuals who have now come face to face with the reality that business as they knew it has begun to change.

Here’s an illustration: A successful attorney, been working for 30 plus years. He has a degree from an Ivy League School, worked up the ranks in a large firm. Then he went into private practice with a group of attorneys. They’ve been successful through all the ups and downs of the market gyrations of the past. They never had a need for marketing or self promotion. Being busy with clients and caseloads was a privilege that came with the territory. They’ve never known a day without non-stop work. That is, until now. It’s as if a plug got pulled somewhere and the flow of activity has short circuited.

Stories similar to this are being told across the spectrum of many industries. The rules have completely been changed. Methods of doing business that have worked for so many for so many years don’t seem to work any more.

A recent story in the NYT sheds some light on how law firms are downsizing and dealing with the new economy. Over 10,000 attorneys have lost work in the past six months - in NYC alone - and still, there isn’t much work for the remaining attorneys. The article goes on to say “While the legal industry is hardly battling the existential threat that is facing, say, the newspaper trade, Big Law – especially in competitive New York – is facing a potential paradigm shift as fundamental as the one that has hit investment banks and the auto industry”. And I have heard this myself from many of my attorney friends.

This huge paradigm shift that has occurred in big business is also being experienced by each and every sales person out attempting to make a sale. A sales person of any industry is ultimately his own micro business within the structure of the company. So many things are changing in the way business is being done. So much of what we are accustomed to is simply gone.

Do you stay or do you go?

People are now faced with a serious dilemma. Do you continue along your plotted path or do you look for something else? When an individual has been educated, trained and spent what in some cases can be a lifetime, in a particular area of endeavor it’s not that simple to shift on the fly. It is rare that such a transition can be successfully accomplished. (I recently saw a story of an investment banker who got his massage license after being laid off by one of the huge firms. But that is the exception rather than the rule) It’s foolish and impractical to suggest to a substantial segment of society to go into entirely new fields.

In “The Dip”, a very popular, small book by Seth Godin, he suggests that it’s important to know when your business isn’t working any longer and, to have the courage to quit while ahead. (He maintains that “winners DO quit – when necessary -) This phenomenon of “The Dip” is reverberating throughout our entire economic system.

In some instances there may not be viable solutions to continue in an enterprise. As we’ve seen, that some of the big companies simply had to go. For others, the answers lie within the individual company or person. For a person, their age, career, skill sets, family situation, and financial circumstance will all be factors in determining a direction to follow. For a company, its assets, client base, products, personnel and capital will be some of the factors. To determine your own situation would require some real soul searching and stock taking of all of the components that make you what you are, and what you want to be.

Opportunity lurks, but how to find it?

Yet, as has been so often repeated throughout literature, business philosophy, from mom and dad that opportunity comes from the darkest situations.

Just a few quotations:

  • A light will shine more in a dark room.
  • It’s always darkest just before dawn.
  • "The art of living is always to make a good thing out of a bad
    Economist, E.F. Schumaker
  • One man’s tragedy is another’s comedy.

I have recently attended several lectures delivered by leaders in their respective industries – namely real estate and finance- , and the common theme they discussed were that times of chaos and turmoil are also times in which new opportunities are present. Finding them, identifying them and pursuing them are the challenging parts.

Look deep within

The first and possibly most important thing to do is take a serious snapshot of everything you do. You will find the things that have been working, and things that haven’t. But the real surprises lie in the hidden, uncovered, untapped and unexplored areas that you are now forced to bring to the surface. As an individual you can uncover talents that have been lying dormant and begin to explore and incorporate them into your professional and business life. As a business you begin to find new approaches to marketing, product development, expenses, and overall brand reemphasis.

We all have a lot to figure out, and sooner or later we will figure it out. In conclusion I will leave you with a quote from one of our great presidents: “If we could first know where we are going whither we are tending we could better judge what to do and how to do it.” Abraham Lincoln; House divided speech, 1858.

For more information, please visit Yossi's TNNW Bio.

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1 comment:

Bill Doerr said...

Yossi . . . your article reminds me of two more great quotes from fellow New Yorkers::"The future ain't what it used to be" -- Yogi Berra and "Life is what happens while you're making other plans" -- John Lennon.

Good read on the change around us. Life isn't certain but it is dynamic. If we can take your advice to keep our eyes and ears open to what opportunities are all around us, we will do alright.

Thank you for the perspective and encouragement.

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