Picking Ourselves Up By The Bootstraps, And Focusing On The Future! We Have Been Here Before!
I was watching television the other day, when a story came on that inspired me to want to write about the current situation that most Americans currently find themselves in. Month-long quarantine with business activity spotty at best.
Those of you familiar with the Jim Valvano story will no doubt recognize the title of this article as a famous, and unusually timely quote, from this North Carolina State basketball coach. The Wolfpack won an unlikely national title in 1983, and Jimmy V was tragically taken by cancer about 10-years later.
If you are not familiar with this story or the speech he gave at the 1993 ESPY Awards, look for it on ESPN in the 30 for 30 episode Survive and Advance.
In any event, this morning I was reading Newsday from back to front as I always do, when I came upon a headline that I certainly assumed was the state of the real estate market, but had not seen stated before in such plainly stark words…
‘VIRUS A ‘BRICK WALL’ FOR LI HOME SALES‘
As the owner of a title insurance company based on Long Island but doing business throughout New York, this lack of real estate transactions presents a troubling problem. But sadly, throughout the real estate industry and across every industry, the angst presented by an uncertain future is certainly not unique. In fact, my assumption would be that it is the norm, save for those few industries and companies that can sell to the people who are quarantined within their homes or who require PPE.
So what do we, as people who desire to go back to living our ‘normal’ lives when coronavirus is but a memory, do?
Curl-up in the fetal position and hope that when the dust settles we and our businesses or employers will be okay? That’s one plan.
Do we listen to the fight or flight impulses generated by the amygdala buried deep within our brain, and opt for flight? That’s another plan.
But, I don’t think so!
In fact, I challenge all those reading this to get to the end and then take stock of what could be, what may likely be and what you will be as we move forward into unchartered waters!
Some will be fine as jobs or businesses will ultimately reopen unscathed, some will potentially take a financial hit while still others may end-up being forced to look for the beginnings of the next chapter in their lives.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
We do not know what the economy and business in general will look like when the United States ‘reopens’ at some point, but it will vary by state and by regions within states.
Questions will abound!
Will workers be willing to take mass transit? Go to restaurants and theaters? Take crowded elevators? Will unemployment lead to foreclosures, bankruptcies and other financial dislocation? Will those living in ‘dense’ areas look to pick-up and move to less dense ones?
We don’t know. But we do know what we can do to control so, therefore, we need to look to the future and take control of what we can!
Reclamation, Reinvention and Rejuvenation – Financial Crisis deja vu all over again?
The Financial Crisis
For my background, I was a former Wall Street bond analyst and bond and equity trader when in around 2001 I opened a commercial mortgage lending company. We primarily focused on the small balance sector with loans under $1MM, and with those closed loans sold into the CMBS market.
Business was good, but around 2006-2007 or so storm clouds appeared on the horizon. Banks seemed to become more hesitant lenders, and in some cases refused to fund loans after a commitment had been issued. And then, Lehman failed and the CMBS market all but went away.
At the same time my wife, now a Hallmark Abstract Service partner, worked in the bridge loan arena lending money to residential builders. The builders exit plan, and her firms methodology for getting paid back, was for a home to be built and sold ideally based on a 9-month turnaround. The borrowers were not always financially strong, but the company was collateralized by the real estate. In addition the firm had a warehouse line with a bank.
It was prior to Lehman actually failing that the bank pulled the warehouse line, borrowers were not paying interest when due, and needless to say that when the s–t hit the fan this incredibly illiquid sector of the residential real estate market was not the place to be if loan repayment was your business model!
My wife and I found ourselves with no income, savings depleted, 2 of our 3 kids in college and businesses that were no longer viable.
Two Choices – Look Up or Look Down
Needless to say 2008 was an extremely stressful time, in much the same way that the future today may be for many who could be losing a business, or a career at a business either shutting down or downsizing.
Don’t give up! Don’t ever give up!
When the financial crisis hit my wife and I looked into a few different ideas for the future, even attending sales pitches disguised as seminars with the obligatory upsell at the end. We actually fell for one or two.
But because we didn’t curl-up into the fetal position and put ourselves ‘out there’, an introduction was made to someone who would end-up being a key employee in our title company.
True we knew about title through our past lives, but the moral of the story is that we need to keep moving forward.
Be active, be proactive, be curious, be strong, lead by example, look for small and large victories, be willing to ask for help and/or advice and, above all else don’t give up, don’t ever give up!
Mike Haltman, CEO
Hallmark Abstract Service
Don’t Give Up, But Most Definitely Give Back!
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