Scary Times Success Manual

Scary Times

Well, it’s hot as Hades in Charlotte, but the economic outlook is cold and damp.

If you’ve ever worked or talked with us, you know we help our clients make wise decisions when it comes to difficult or complex real estate transactions.

Sometimes those transactions need to happen during significant economic downturns. (And we’ve been in business since 1991, so we’ve seen a few market downturns.)

Now, last month was important because people who thought the current inflationary period was just a blip faced the reality of a significant Fed rate increase.

The past few weeks have seen decisions for expansion shelved, residential developments tabled, and overworked real estate service providers like architects, engineers, and construction professionals come up for air.

So, where does that leave you?

Well, in times like these, we’ve turned to the wise words of Dan Sullivan at The Strategic Coach.

Dan happens to be our mentor, and his classic essay, “The Scary Times Success Manual™,” offers eight takeaways that are especially important in times like these:

  1. Forget about closing the deal; focus on creating value. Most people don’t like being sold at the best of times. So during scary times, they turn off, hang up, and slam shut. What people want instead in times like these are solutions that help them eliminate dangers, capture opportunities, and reinforce their strengths.  
    When you focus on providing these three solutions, sales will naturally follow.

  2. Forget about your business objectives; focus on serving others. Uncertain times drive people into themselves, making them feel isolated and helpless. The best strategy is to go in the opposite direction by expanding your connection with others—focusing on helping them transform negatives into positives.

    The more you focus on others, the less you worry about your situation. As a result, you will become a source of confidence for your colleagues, your clients, and the friends of the firm.

  3. Forget about your losses; focus on your opportunities. Inflation has a nasty way of quickly wiping out those things you once took for granted. Unfortunately, some leaders get stuck in a cautionary way of thinking. They buckle down and keep their noses to the grindstone. A better strategy is to focus on new ideas, energy, tools, and resources.

    You have a great opportunity to achieve far more than you ever did in the past.

  4. Forget about your difficulties; focus on your progress. Most of what we’re reading lately points to uncertainty for business leaders over the next 90-120 days. The difficulties you encounter will either defeat you or reveal unique strengths to you (no pressure, right?). But like the awesome racers on the Cardinal Classic Cycling Team, and just like your physical muscles, you always get stronger from working against resistance.

    Treat this whole period of challenge as a time when you can make your most significant progress.

  5. Forget about the news of the day; focus on today. This is an excellent time to ignore all those experts who never saw the present circumstances coming. This year I’ve been on a news diet: I get news from one source only, in an abbreviated format, and only for a few minutes every morning. Instead of getting sucked into “infotainment,” I consume snapshots of news that I can use to respond in a way that keeps me on track for the larger goals I have set for myself and my business.

    Focus on what you can do in the next 24 hours, and you’ll be the only expert on the future you’ll ever need.

  6. Forget about getting back in control; focus on your responses. When things are going well, people have the illusion that they are actually in control of events. That’s why they feel depressed when things turn sour—they think they’ve lost control. Conversely, the most consistently successful people know they can’t control events. So instead, they develop creative responses to unexpected events.
    While things are uncertain, this is an excellent time to focus all your energies on being creatively responsive to all the unpredictable events.

  7. Forget about what’s missing; focus on what’s available. When the economy changes for the worse, many desirable resources go missing—including information, knowledge, tools, systems, personnel, and capabilities. These deficiencies can paralyze many people, who believe they can’t make decisions and take action. A strategic response is to take advantage of every resource that is immediately available to achieve as many small results as possible and to make as much daily progress as possible.  
    Work with every resource and opportunity on hand, and your confidence will continually grow.

  8. Forget about your complaints; focus on your gratitude. This is one of those times when you must make a fundamental decision: complain, or be grateful. When things become difficult, your mindset has more impact on your behavior than ever. Complaining only attracts negative thoughts and people; gratitude allows the best thinking, actions, and results to emerge.
    Focus on everything you are grateful for, communicate this, and open yourself daily to the best possible consequences.

These 8 takeaways have enabled Cardinal Partners to last a long time… We hope they help you navigate whatever lies ahead with competence and calm.

Real estate transactions can be fraught with frustration and pitfalls.

Sometimes the hardest part turns out to be working with your broker, the person who is supposed to help you through the complexities. Veteran commercial real estate broker and client advisor John Culbertson discovered that brokers’ interests aren’t always aligned with those of their clients. He realized there was a better way to advocate for clients and get the deal done.


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