Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's Okay to Snore in Public

It's okay to snore in public,
whether you're seated next to me in seat 17C, on the Red Line to Copley,
napping during your third viewing of Les Miserables at The Met or crashing
on a city street. It's okay in the sense that it doesn't violate any known
laws. It's okay in that snoring is an involuntary bodily reflex and not an
overt act one publically and knowingly chooses as a way to bother neighboring Sarasota
to Charlotte seat mates.

On the other hand, snoring in
public may be a symptom of self
absorption and a complete lack of public awareness - like texting and driving; or cutting in line at the supermarket; or
using a TelePrompTer to speak to six-year-olds..

In the case of public sleep apnea,
it's a silent self announcement that, "I really don't care if my actions
bother (or annoy or
harm you). I am going to sleep,
and likely snore (because I'm tired
or drunk or obese) and it's all about Me.

Self absorption is far too
commonplace in our great nation. It's one of the primary causes of our social
breakdown. We think far too little of the causes of our actions and how they
may affect others around us.

I don't judge you Mr. 17C, but you
snoring really bothers me.

Milliionaires and Billionaires

If I were a billionaire, I would be confused as to why I
was being compared to a millionaire.

That's like comparing a millionaire to somebody with a
net worth of $1,000. Someone that by all
definitions would be considered extremely poor.

The difference between a billionaire and a millionaire is
vast. Consider the imagery of a pile of money. A million dollars, in
denomination of $100 bills, would rise three inches from the earth. A billion
dollars, on the other hand, would rise three hundred feet into the sky.

So, while I (as this hypothetical billionaire) don't
appreciate being targeted by the political left and misguided socialists, I
really don't appreciate being compared to those whose piles of money are mere

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The 3 Million Dollar Home for 1 Million - Or not

Earlier today, I attended a breakfast meeting and one of the highlights was a discussion about the deals that people can find in today's "market." In this case, this seasoned real estate professional shared with the group that a friend of hers recently "stole" a $3,000,000 ocean-front home in Charleston, SC for just $1,000,000. What a deal, right?

My comment was that her friend was now the proud owner of a $1,000,000 home, not a $3,000,000 one.

See, I don't understand the mentality (delusion) of some consumers (no offense, Louise). Isn't it like someone proclaiming to have purchased GM stock for 63 cents and stating that they just got a deal considering (at one time before electricity) it used to be $93 per share? Kind of. Meet the new owner of GM stock at 63 cents a share.

I have a great story that captures the true essence of my argument.

Two weeks ago, I sold a double-wide trailer. Don't let the mental imagery fool you. It was a NICE double-wide. It was actually used as a New Home Sales Center on a new construction site and it was no longer needed. I had invested close to $100,000 in upfitting the trailer - new roofing, siding, front porch, paint and furniture. Given the current market for double-wide sales trailers, I knew I couldn't get much more than $30,000.

Boy was I wrong.

I received one offer at $15,000. I took it. Cash deal. The story gets better.

The (proud) new owner was in the process of moving the trailer to his property when the trailer hauling the trailer jackkniffed. Disaster ensues. The trailer is demolished. Total loss. You can imagine my surprise when the new owner called me and calmly requested that we modify the sales agreement. You see, he was about ready to file an insurance claim for the total loss. His zaney idea was to increase the purchase price from $15,000 to $30,000. This way, he'd be able to purchase another trailer with the insurance company's money. After all, $15,000 doesn't get you too far in the way of trailers.

Here is someone who thinks he purchased a $30,000 trailer for $15,000. He didn't. He purchased a really nice, well appointed, first-class trailer for $15,000.

That's how the market works.

And no, I didn't acquiesce to his request.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Some Retailers SUCK and others ROCK

In the current economic climate, one would think that a retailer would go to great lengths to consummate a transaction. Here's a story of one retailer who avoided (lost) a sale and one who perfected the sale:

Two days ago, I entered a PUMA store with the sole purpose of purchasing a digital watch for my wife. Within seconds, I found my "one-of-a-kind" in a trendy, pink design that was clearly more form than function. The price tag? A mere $80 - an insignificant amount in the watch world, but in the retail world (and to a company who needs to sell watches, shoes, t-shirts, hats and sunglasses) a healthy transaction that took less than 3 minutes to complete. BUT, as I inspected the watch up close at the checkout, it occurred to me that the digital numbers were nearly impossible to view. The illumination was almost non-existent. The "salesperson" quipped by disclosing that he had never sold a watch at PUMA and that all of these other watches in the case looked the same. He even suggested that I take my newly purchased watch to a jeweler for a new battery as most of the watches in the display had been there for as long as he could remember.

I left the store thinking that with my technical prowess, I could easily troubleshoot the illumination problem and present my wife with her new Thanksgiving present.

Not the case.

Frustrated, I ventured back to PUMA the following day determined to leave with a functional watch. I was delighted to find a new "salesperson" behind the checkout desk; someone who was sure to know more about the pink PUMA watch. Nope. Amazingly, I was given the same suggestion of replacing the battery on a brand-new watch. For a brief moment, my mind went adrift as I gave thought to how I would handle such a situation in my business. No doubt, I would have taken the watch to the jeweler literally NEXT DOOR, paid $3 for a replacement battery, a presented the customer with a fully functional pink watch 5 minutes later.

So, I left with no watch and PUMA lost (blew) an easy $80 sale.

Not all retailers blow the sale. Some even take their customer to unimaginable levels. Here's the story of a small retailer who went the extra mile. Make that 30 miles:

My mom, Kathy, and my brother, Adam, a learning disabled adult, recently went clothes shopping in Columbus, Ohio (Short North district). They were specifically looking for dress suits as Adam wears a suit and tie to work (like me!). They discovered a fashionable boutique on High Street offering Ben Sherman designs and quickly found their one-of-a-kind. Unfortunately, this clothier's tailor had recently quit leaving no qualified replacement at the store. Because my brother doesn't drive and he lives on the other side of town, coming back to the store when a qualified tailor was re-hired wasn't a practical alternative. So, the deal was done. No suit.

But this local boutique owner wouldn't give up. What happened next is pretty special.

A few days passed and the boutique owner called my mom to inform her that he had just taken a class on how to properly fit and pin a suit for alteration. He asked for a chance to custom-fit my brother for a new suit. Coincidentally, my brother was at my parent's house nearby (and not on the other side of town) recovering from H1N1. 30 minutes later, they were back in the boutique and in the dressing room. So pleased with the service they were, they decided to purchase not one Ben Sherman suit, but two.

A week had passed while the suits were being altered and the boutique owner called my mom. "Your suits are ready," he said. "I would like to personally deliver them to Adam (on the other side of town) if that's okay."

Do you think this boutique owner has a happy customer? Absolutely. Do you think PUMA can say the same?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bankruptcy is Immoral

I know it's a bold statement, but it's a bold move, too.

First, I am very clear about the legal rights afforded to businesses and individuals as it pertains to filing for bankruptcy. Second, I also realize that some people have no option but to file. When you have NO money and no way to pay for things by which you are obligated, you are left with no other options. As a tactic, filing for bankruptcy is not immoral.

However, refusing to pay (more like re-pay) the creditors consistutes an immoral action.

I completely understand one's inability to repay a debtor in the NOW world. But what about next year? Or five years from now? Or fifty years from now? Therein lies the moral aspect. Because one who chooses and succeeds in filing is saying to the world, "I can't pay you now. Please forgive me. Oh, by the way, I am choosing not to pay you for the rest of my lifetime - even when I can afford to do so."

As more and more Americans resort to the strategy of bankruptcy, the once-strong moral fibers of this nation weaken. Future generations will look back and recognize The Great Recession was a moral one.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The New Joint Venture: Your Customers

Question to Homebuilders and Developers:

What thoughts come to mind when you think of a Homeowner's Assocation meeting? Do you think of axiety, anger, tomatoes, frustration, friction and burning torches? Probably. I've had those thoughts, too.

Last Thursday, I entered such a meeting.

But this one had the makings of being worse. I was about to inform the homeowners that the construction of the clubhouse and pool would be delayed indefinitely. Not permanently, mind you, but for the foreseable future. Financing of the clubhouse and pool had recently by de-funded by my construction lender leaving me with no choice but to postpone the December 2009 opening.

Not surprising, tensions rose; emotions erupted. Profanity ensued.

After a period of civil discussion (missing from our culture in every day America) something amazing happened. I mean AMAZING. A handful of homeowners offered to loan the money to pay for the clubhouse. Unbelievable.

Details haven't been worked out and I'm sure there will be a few. One thing is for sure: My business has a new Joint Venture. I couldn't be happier.

In these (economic) times, can you think of anyone you'd rather partner with than your customers?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How Much Do You Charge for Integrity?

I know, it's a strange question.

But it seems to me that too many people are willing to compromise their integrity. In other words, people will discount their moral values to get the deal done, to please the boss, to avoid scrutiny. Some people don't even hide their intent.

You already knew that.

Here's the interesting part: I'm seeing this (lack of integrity) trend within prospective buyers of our homes. It's strange because I come from the school of thought that the buyer is always right. It occurs to me, though, that some buyers are only in the deal for themselves. There is no reciprocity.

Don't get me wrong. I respect the fact that people are looking out for themselves. Sometimes, you are all YOU have.

What I challenge is the immoral actions these buyers will take. For example, a prospective buyer who works with a buyer's agent (without a written agreement) for weeks in search of a new home only to then exclude the agent when the right (or wrong) home is chosen, hoping that the builder will slash the price even further. That's lack of integrity.

No doubt, the economy is wreaking havoc on our pocketbooks. It doesn't have to take a toll on our integrity.

At the end of the day, if you're only left with your integrity (and literally nothing else), you'll live a life worth living.