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I had the honor of being the commencement speaker at the UC Irvine School of Business in June. I spoke about expecting the unexpected. I like to take a counterintuitive approach to business and life. I told the audience of 4000 students, faculty, and parents that regardless of how detailed your plans might be, your actual career will probably turn out very different than you expect – it certainly did for me. I went on to say that being too rigid with your plans might cause you to miss the very thing you were destined to do. Hmm, maybe a little corny, but nonetheless I thought that was a pretty insightful thing to say…and I believe it…I think there is a life we are all destined to live – a life most people miss because they are too busy doing other things. I also believe opportunities usually come when you least expect them. John Wooden, widely considered the greatest basketball coach of all time, said “be quick but don’t hurry”. I always thought that was a cool idea, and I think it has many applications beyond the basketball court. As a former basketball junkie and father to a college player, I tell my son, “Be patient and let the game come to you, but when you feel the momentum going your way, go hard and don’t let up”.
People in business like to talk a lot about the importance of never giving up and being relentless…I agree that “grit” has a lot to do with success, but I also think it’s important to use that grit when you feel the wind at your back – when you feel the momentum. I don’t believe in forcing things. We’re taught that when things get tough, we need to keep our heads down and just keep working. That sounds admirable but I also believe when things feel forced, it’s probably time to pivot. More importantly, when your head is down, other opportunities may be passing you by. We all know when we are on to something – when things feel just right. That’s when to pour it on. That’s when to be relentless. For me it was NAHREP. I’ve started a lot of businesses and have been called one of those serial entrepreneurs, but with NAHREP it was different. I knew I was on to something big and nothing was going to keep me from making it happen. When I started NAHREP, I was a mortgage broker. Being in the mortgage business is a fine career, but it wasn’t my passion. I am grateful that I was willing to try something new when the idea for NAHREP came around, because not only did NAHREP become something big, it led to L’ATTITUDE and L’ATTITUDE led to L’ATTITUDE Ventures, which are even bigger.
They say patience is a virtue and in business, it’s pretty rare. Everybody wants everything now. I say, let the game come to you, but when you feel the momentum, go hard and don’t let up!