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Climb, Conserve, Confess!

Recently I read Rumsfeld’s Rules by Donald Rumsfeld. One of the primary rules he learned in pilot training is that if you are in an airplane and get lost, you need to “Climb, Conserve, and Confess.” I have been thinking that this rule could easily apply to our business and our daily lives.

Climb: How many times do we feel that the project or transaction we are working on has major problems and is about to crash? Maybe this rule should remind us to step back, look at the big picture, and consider all of the reasons we have this problem.

In an airplane, you climb to see farther and determine where you are or what is happening. In the real estate business, that might equate to moving beyond the day-to-day details and pinpointing the real issues to solve. Make a list and start fixing them systematically. Or it could be that the project or transaction cannot be saved or fixed—so how do you go about terminating it completely? So often, time is lost chasing something not worth chasing. Forcing decisions to be made methodically is usually best for everyone, and time saved today eliminates time spent later because of not having made a decision.

Conserve: When our project or transaction is stalled, it is time to conserve. Review all costs that can be cut, find ways to make sure the downside risk is minimized, and see if there are some smart strategies to just keep things from getting worse.

In an airplane, one needs to conserve fuel. In our business, we need to conserve cash, assets, and relationships. This might mean you need to buy some time so that your issues can be improved. That could include leasing below market but covering some costs so your daily losses are manageable. Maybe it means suspending daily costly advertising and time until market improves. In a transaction, one may need to build reserves, find less optimum sources of revenue, sell preferred positions to strong investors, or consider discounted sale/buyback or other solutions that could take away anticipated profits but eliminate chance of total loss. Conserving where you can is a sensible strategy.

Confess: This is probably the biggest rule to follow. Confession is hard for us. However we need to first let all parties and partners know what is happening. Your bankers or lending partners need to know what the problems are. Bankers and lending parties kept informed are easier to work with long term. We have to be honest and straightforward in the relationships involved. If problems occur, communication needs to increase, not decrease, with all potentially affected.

This is hard but essential!

One of the big confessions could be within our Society of Exchange Counselors. Be open to asking for help. One of the biggest assets we have in our toolbox is access to some of the most creative minds in our industry. A Society member or guest asking for help at a Marketing Session gets a sincere audience. It might be in a “most motivated” session or a private conversation or phone call. Usually one finds many offers and ideas to assist, probably because the person he or she is talking with remembers having been in a similar position when a society member helped.

“Climb, Conserve, Confess” is a good rule for each of us to remember!

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