Thursday, September 20, 2007

Y is for Youth

Welcome to the home stretch... and I do mean streeeetch.

If you've been following along, you know that I have been running a series of posts going from A-Z. I am almost done, even though I don't know what Z is going to be yet...

It's Y time!

Youth... and real estate... how am I going to tie them together?

OK, I got it.

Again, anyone that has followed along knows that I am a car guy. Well, here's a shocker, I'm a NASCAR fan as well. While I'm not really a Michael Waltrip fan, he did something back during the week leading up to the Daytona 500 that gave me a lot of respect for him. (I can hear you asking yourself where youth and real estate are going to work their way into this little story)

As any race fan knows, teams look at rules differently that the rest of us. We see rules, and we look for ways to comply. They see rules, and they look for loopholes. The object isn't to cheat, but rather to exploit the weaknesses in the rules. I have a little bit of racer in me, too. However, I don't have the same type of risk that the racers have. If I really stretch out here, I might point out that any lawyer with a contract in front of him is thinking the same way a crew chief is with a rule book... but I digress.

Back during the 2007 Daytona 500, Michael Waltrip's crew chief pushed several rules too far. He lost points, he lost money, and he lost competitiveness. But, he lost something else. At a news conference, he was asked about his infraction, and how it would impact the future of his team for the season, as well as how it impacted him. Keep in mind that all of the teams view the holes they find in the rules to be where competitive advantage lives.

Michael Waltrip explained that when he got home, he had to explain to his young daughter what happened. Garrett at deskShe looked at him point blank (and he said she had tears in her eyes) and asked him, "Daddy, are you a cheater?" He started to tear up a little as he related the story. (maybe I'm a sucker, but I bought it) Keep in mind that MW isn't just a driver that shows up and drives the car, he owns the team. If the team is cheating, he's a cheater. He had to tell his little girl that he was a cheater, that he got caught, and that it was wrong.

I don't know about anyone else, but I think that might be a harsher punishment than a $50,000 fine.

So, I'm almost to the part where I tie this up in a neat little package.

In the eyes of a child, there is right and there is wrong. Kids don't deal in gray. If you break the rules, you're a cheater.

What about in real estate? Can we stand up to the scrutiny of a kid? When we deal with our clients, our customers, our vendors, do we deal as honestly as we can? Do we disclose the problems we find? Do we tell our clients that they need to stop looking for a way to game the system, and take the lumps? Do we deal with all parties honestly?

Forget about agency rules. Forget about the NAR Code of Ethics. Forget about HUD law. Think about your kids. Are your's the actions that you expect from your kids? More importantly, are they the actions of which your kids would be proud?

I know that my dad did things in his life of which he would not approve had I done them. However, I also know that on balance he led a life that he would approve of had it been mine. I hope that I am able to offer as good of an example for my son.

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