Get Off the Escalator

escalator

I spent the majority of last week scribbling a mountain of notes, largely unreadable to anyone but myself, as I sat among a group of 23,000 or so colleagues at one of the largest annual real estate conventions in the country. Being a perpetual learner, it’s the kind of event I look forward to as it gives me a chance to revisit my business, feel guilty about the things I know I need to improve, and gain insight from other successful operators in my field.

But despite absorbing a tremendous amount of knowledge from the myriad of  speakers, panels and well-crafted presentations, the most pervasive experience of the week had little to do with entrepreneurial improvement, but rather was a revelation of human observation.

I’ll explain.

As the doors opened at the conclusion of the week’s first segment, I was carried out into the corridors of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center by a sea of departing peers in a furious rush to beat the crowd to the next event. Looking down the quarter-mile walkway I clocked the line for the descending escalator already backed up by a swarm numbering in the several hundreds.

Now if you’re anything like me, lines have always presented themselves more as a challenge than an obligation, so I instinctively began searching for an alternative route to make my way to the mezzanine. After a few moments of exchanging ‘excuse me’s with a handful of attendees, as I fought sideways against the masses, I stumbled upon a not particularly well-hidden exit door and proceeded through into the stairwell beyond, hoping it would be at least somewhat less packed than the bottleneck up the hall.

To my surprise, I found the set entirely empty, trotted down a single flight, and washed out just few feet from the first arrivals, trickling down from the restless mob above.

Thinking little of the ordeal, I patted myself on the back for a mediocre display of heads-upery and strode quickly on to Ballroom C.

But as the week progressed, and I made a habit of circumventing the obstruction in this manner, something became undeniably apparent. I assumed that luck had granted me a sporadic token of its acknowledgment and that by the time I took the return flight up for the afternoon’s final offering the stairwell would be packed to the gills with other convention goers lacking the patience and willingness to share personal space for fifteen minutes for the luxury of having the stairs move for them.

I was wrong.

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Why you’ll never make enough money…

money

I think we can all agree the most miraculous usable feature of our smartphones is the built-in argument settler. I mean, can you imagine a world in which you can’t immediately prove to your buddy how stupid he is for thinking Miami is the capital of Florida, or that Michael Jordan is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer?

It would be chaos.

But while the ability to access an ever-expanding database of information at any moment from the palm of your hand is impressive, the mere existence of the world’s most frequently accessed directory on all things relevant is, in and of itself, downright crazy beans.

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Opportunity is the most expensive commodity you can buy

 

There’s an old financial adage that lays out the groundwork for long-term prosperity by asking the subject to take every dollar he spends eating out and, instead, invest it. (If you skipped your morning Starbucks and put that money into a total market index fund, in thirty years you would have fifty-bajillion dollars!)

It’s a valid point to make about financial prudence, but often it’s met with arguments regarding quality of life versus monetary saturation. And the counterpoint¬†about enjoying the money one earns in a reasonable and responsible fashion as to find a sense of daily fulfillment holds a certain validity as well. But it would be foolish to overlook the underlying theme of that analogy. That is, if you want to get to where you wish to go, you’ll be required to make sacrifices.

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