While I typically like to write about commercial real estate tech in this blog, sometimes I just like to write about my experiences and observations in business. My new journey running several startups in the CRE tech space has really taught me a lot about myself, running a business and more specifically, my observations about the tech sector in general.
This particular blog, though, is about assholes. A topic I know a lot about having been working as an entrepreneur for almost 30 years. Damn, every time I see “30 years” it blows my mind to think how fast it has all gone.
When I first launched my PR firm in the early 1990’s, I was desperate to succeed. I didn’t graduate college and I guess that sense of insecurity always propelled me to prove something to myself and to others. Over thE years, I busted my ass and eventually was fortunate enough to build something really successful with the help of many really talented people.
Along the way, I always tried to be fair, respectful and of course, ethical in everything I did.
And... I worked with a lot of assholes!
Really nasty people. Both hugely successful ones and not so successful ones. People who treated other people like shit, pushed the envelope in regards to ethics and who were not the type of people you would want to associate with on a personal level at all. I can’t tell you how many times I would be meeting with clients who openly discussed destroying people. Their competition, former employees, their partners, etc. Brutal. It was win at ALL costs! And perhaps I just convinced myself that, “That’s the way business is done”.
Looking back, I now see that I was an asshole too. I was guilty by association. I honestly believe that. I represented them and they paid me a lot of money. But their morals and values were not what I would ever want to emulate. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t everyone that I did business with. I had also met many amazing people and many are still my friends to this day. But it was a lot of them that I would meet or interact with. And if they were willing to meet my fee, I would represent them and do their media spinning.
When I left the PR business a few years ago to launch a new career in tech, my number one goal was to NOT work with assholes. I made sure that I only employed the highest caliber people, people that I had deep admiration and respect for. And I did just that and feel so blessed every day to work with my team.
One of the things you realize working in tech, is that for the most part, people are really kind, cooperative and win-win. (Although there are some issues with gender equality and the way women are treated, but I think that issue is at the forefront now of how the industry needs to evolve). It’s what really motivates me to help try and build this CRE tech ecosystem into something meaningful, sustainable and profitable for all those invested in and working in it.
Now, I am not living in some sort of utopian idea of a fantasy business world. I get business is tough, competitive and cutthroat. But I also see now that it doesn’t have to be unkind or cruel. While I have met a few people in this tech journey that clearly didn’t reflect a sense of honesty or integrity, for the most part, it’s been an amazing experience. Perhaps it’s that in tech people are used to collaborating, working tougher and sharing ideas. Perhaps it’s just that I am older now and much more selective of who I work with, support and mentor. Whatever the case, if you’re an asshole, please don’t call me :)
I am not someone who watches TV. I prefer an old fashioned book or a new modern podcast. And my choices of content are not typically about business. I consume anything spiritual (Buddhism is my tribe), motivational or hard stories of survival and triumph. Stuff I can learn from. People that I can get inspired by.
One of the podcasts I listened to the other day was about business and it really struck a chord with me. It was on the James Altucher Show, a popular podcast that I sometimes listen to and the guest was Marcus Lemonis of the TV show, “The Profit”. While I don’t watch this show, I was aware of him, seeing his billboards in NYC and other promos. And this particular podcast blew me away. He talked about his mission in life to help people, specifically small business owners, and his commitment to being kind to people along the way. His number one rule of business -- “Don’t be an asshole!”. I friggin LOVED hearing that.
And so in the spirit of trying to help encourage people to “not be assholes” and to be competitive while being kind, to be ambitious while being a teamplayer, and to be someone that positively supports people while pushing them beyond their own boundaries, I share this amazing podcast in the hopes it inspires you as much as it did me.
Enjoy and hopefully be inspired!