As I spoke to Charlie O., our largest client, who owned five large shopping centers comprising over one million square feet of real estate, I know that what he was most interested in hearing about was our strategy to lease his current vacancies. But I couldn't help myself.
“Charlie,” I said, “The internet is going to change a lot of industries. It is this generation’s steam engine and it is destined to give rise to pseudo trains, railroads and a host of entrepreneurial engines that we cannot yet imagine.”
“Interesting,” he offered. What else could he say? It was 1993. “Now about my vacancies…”
I didn't know it at that moment, but the credits had officially started to roll on my career as a real estate entrepreneur.
Five months later, on the fortnight of starting my third real estate company with my long time business partner, I had the epiphany that lead me to essentially start over in the very nascent internet space.
When I say nascent, let me set the time. The web browser had not yet been created. As such, Netscape had not yet been born, there wasn’t the VC-driven plethora of riches that we have come to know and love. Heck, my dream gig was in multimedia. Dot com wasn't even a twinkle. The term didn't exist. I knew literally no one in a VC-funded startup.
In terms of specific job prospects, I had none. What I did have was faith. Faith that if I was true to myself, I would accomplish my goals. Faith that, maybe not tomorrow, but soon enough, the cream would rise to the top.
And my personal truth was telling me that no matter how successful I was becoming in real estate, the bottom line was that I was in the wrong body of water for me personally and no amount of snooze buttoning this reality would make it less so.
Lest I paint a false picture, the transition was not seamless. Overnight, I went from running a company with hundreds of clients and offices spread across the bay area to a junior sales person.
I went from six figures to about $30k but I knew that taking the plunge would not be easier tomorrow when I was locked into a lifestyle and my ego was even more intertwined with my then-current professional velocity.
The irony is that within six months I was promoted from junior sales to a regional sales manager, and within three years I had started my first high teach start up.
Two years after that I had my first real liquidity event, and two years after that, I had my first breakout liquidity event.
I have often looked back on those times, the path that I chose and the seemingly little data that drove me to take the plunge, and one thing stands out. Amazingly, once I took the plunge, I never looked back.
So if you are a would-be entrepreneur or someone just trying to make a material change in your personal life, what is the moral of the story from My story? It is this:
- You are one year from being able to manifest great change in your life. Take the plunge today, and twelve months from today you will truly be 'in the game.'
- You are just three years from feeling truly competent and unquestionably 'belonging' in whatever body of water you choose to swim in.
- You are just five years from being on 'top of your game,' an expert and a role model that others look up to.
This premise is liberating because it means that real, life-changing change is in your hands, it is workable so long as your are patient but dedicated to working towards clear, tangible and achievable milestones that are harmonious with your personal truth, whatever it is.
Commit and ye shall find your path. Honest.