Ruminations on the Entrepreneurial Life
While we all recover from the PTSD of the Trump years, I'm noticing the relief in small ways. For instance, I'm now finding myself listening to long Audible books while driving instead of circling around news and talk news radio stations for the latest outrage, source of comfort, hope for the future. I used to devour long history books on tapes, starting with the 50 hour Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich back in 2013. The narrators voice on that one became as familiar as my wife's (and since I still look for books he speaks, and my wife and I are long divorced), his voice proved to have more longevity. The current book I'm listening to in on Roosevelt and mostly the war years. Fascinating guy and times. And writer Doris Kearns Goodwin, of Team of Rivals (lincoln) fame and others, writes well, and interestingly.
That's not fair though. I hear my ex's voice all the time. How my lunch packing skills and choices are bizarre, how the lost socks mystery that surrounds Lucas is somehow my fault, how the movie we watched over the weekend was inappropriate, etc.... I'm just joking - we have a great and valued relationship that we work on daily.
I'm also reading Britian at Bay, which is a story of Britain from 1939-42. One of the things it tries to do, as least over the first 150 pages, is give the Chamberlain as an appeaser and failure another look, and recast him as a more 3 dimensional character
A lot of you close readers are probably remarking about how 'wow, looks like Chuck got the picture thing figured out'. That would not be correct, I'm posting in my old blog and copy and pasting in my new blog, because my new blog hosted on my new website doesn't upload/fancy the HEIC format that is automatic on Iphones.
That's right, I paid $15k for a fancy new website which I love and I go to blog and celebrate my victory, and, boom, issue with photo uploads.
Couple of drone shots -
One would think that would turn me off to my web designer, who is locked down outside of London somewhere with his girlfriend and baby. But no way, in my business, life ain't perfect, and since I deal with literally 100 vendors a week, results that aren't what I wholly expected are par for the course. Vendors coming up short is par for the course. Shit not working the way it's supposed to is par for the course. But anyone in my position knows that even the best laid plans don't always work out, and typically you aren't working with the best laid plans, so the idea that it's not working out how you had it pictured in your mind's eye, well, that's just something you get used to. The real trick is not letting it go too far, calibrating the anticipated imperfection so it actually works, maybe just not exactly how you thought it might. And giving your partners a break - christ, they are a hardworking bunch. Of all the attributes that help vendors make the cut with Catskill Farms for mutual benefit, hardworking is at the very top. Everything else comes after that.
My baseball coach growing up (ages 8-14) told me that my competitive advantage will always be that I know how to work harder than other people, inherently, because coming from Lancaster PA, you are surrounded by hard-working people, small businesses, etc... Everyone seems to be industrious, and have a side hustle.
I've been also having fascinating conversations with leaders in their field this week - my bank president and I caught up, then a super interesting conversation with a client we are building a home for who is a producer at a well-known news program. Perspective and insights from a broad range of people has always kept us safe from -'owner knows best' trap many small business get caught in. Though, I do think that I know best, it's just that I know best because I'm tapping into and listening to a very broad range of market participants.
Gone Skiing, Vermont
Typically, a group of 10+ of us go to Stowe over President's Day weekend. We leave mid-day Friday, land at the Courtyard Marriott in Burlington by early evening, and gather at the hotel bar by happy hour for drinks, giddy exuberance, some Connect Four, and then dinner. Started out with my sister, nephew and myself 8 or 9 years ago, and has been ongoing and growing ever since. And can get super cold up there, with skiing below zero degrees is not unknown.
Well, didn't happen this year but my friend John and I snuck out this past week for a mid-week jaunt up north, with 1 day in Stowe.
Vermont in general, and the slopes, in particular take their Covid prevention pretty serious. This lodge is typically shoulder to shoulder hot mess of parents, kids and friends all in the full spectrum of fun and ill-temper. The lines for the food, always pretty good, are hunger games like in the need for strategic aggression. Not this year. I guess like 5% occupancy rules, strictly enforced. Eerie.
And 1 day in Killington, cut short cause our legs were screaming.
Good days for skiing. Got 3-5 inches of fresh powder on Monday and temperate temperatures for Tuesday and Wednesday. While the lift lines were unpredictable because of Covid (2 people on a lift or gondola slows things down regardless of the slope crowds), the slopes themselves were somewhat clear sailing, or clear skiing in this case. If you do much social media, there are some very frightening photos of lift lines out West.
I had never been to Killington, which I liked a lot. Big mountain, and a lot more 'easy' slopes, which I think would benefit our team a bit more - kids and some of the less adventurous skiers.
I'm surprised this picture below isn't blurry cause of the speed I was clocked at.
Time to think about breaking out the golf clubs for what I hope is a return of my mental health Monday where I social distance from the Office. As I have reported. I had to come out of retirement/pasture this past year in order to keep the ship upright, avoid the icebergs, and shovel in the coal to keep her moving full steam ahead.
And another in Killington.
Farm 59, SOLD, Narrowsburg
Farm 59 left the Ranch today, to a sweet couple whose male component had been searching and pecking and almost buying for 8 years. Then he found us, and we found a way to make it happen.
This house's first version was a cottage, over on Tuthill Road, back in the late aughts I believe, but we found a way to turn it into a 1500 sq ft 3 bedroom 2 bath farmhouse a few years ago, and then selected it for this plot back last summer.
It's fun pairing homes and land. Some land is quite versatile, and some land is quite specific. Not specific in a bad way, but just requires a certain home to really work well. And some homes need something specific to make it work to, like a sloping grade for ranches in order to make the ground floor feel well-lit and liveable. If it feels like a basement, we've failed. And we don't fail. We might get knocked around, but we get back up. I always get back up.
A few of the homes over on this section of Maple Lane are more or less sitting on rock, and are somewhat flat, so we opted to use crawl spaces instead of full basements. Worked out pretty good - still room for all the mechanicals and even nice storage, but you don't have to do that man vs rock effort that isn't fun for anyone - not the excavator who has pound through it, not us whose every move is complicated, and not the client who ends up paying for a lot of it.
It's our 3rd closing in February, and we just consummated I believe 5 new deals and 2 more in the hopper. Since my office team is so excellent, I'm focused on scouting and hiring, and my new floor scrubbing detail of punchlist and warranty stuff - 'keep you honest and humble' exercises. Plus, who knows, maybe I'll find unexpected fulfillment in paint touchups and leaky faucets and poorly installed toilets rather than selling a million dollars of real estate a week like I have been doing.
New house that just went up. You may be thinking, "Wow, I guess Chuck figured out the picture thing he was going on about in the last blog'.
That would be incorrect - I have to write this somewhere else, import the photos to that blog post, then cut and paste it to this one. Yeah, I know, you'd think I would have the ability to hurdle this one, but not yet. Still trying...