Sometimes, Listen

Sometimes you should listen to your own voice when it becomes cautious or fearful. Yes, it's a fine line of when to listen to your voices that are negative or and ask for help or at least do more research. I wish there was an easy gauge to follow but there isn't.

In 1979 I was going gangbusters. My industry, architecture, construction and real estate was just booming. Everybody was doing unbelievably well. Or, it seemed. It also seemed like it would never end.

I was so full of myself, and overly confident that it never occurred to me to check with anybody to see if I was on the right path. Maybe I didn't want to hear any bad news. Maybe I didn't want to stop. Maybe I thought I was too smart to fail. Maybe, just maybe I was too anxious and too greedy.

The sad part was, in my profession of architecture, there were many good mentors. I really didn't know how to approach them. Of my many clients, some were smart, some were very successful, some were mature, some were new, some were cocky, some were flamboyant, and some were shrewd and wise. At the time, I only seemed to run with the big spenders and highly confident types. Why not? They were fun, ambitious, young and energetic. We were all going to make it big. For me, that was my glitch.

I figured if I could borrow enough money to buy the next buildable lot to get a construction loan so I could build a new home to sell, then I thought I had it made. Each house I built, sold quickly. And little Bobby Jacob thought, if I can make $15,000 per house why just build one, why not build 6 at a time. I thought that on my own. Honestly, no help whatsoever. There was a slight problem though. I owed the developer the money for the lot and I owed the bank the money for the construction loan. If the house didn't sell I owed a lot of money. Quite a lot of money. I tried to put that little info in the back of my brain, way back. I also didn't let it worry me that real estate always goes in cycles. It's always been a boom or bust. I guess I thought this boom would at least last until I got rich.

During this time, I never went to any of the quiet, mature, heavy hitters in real estate and asked for their advice. Maybe it was because I knew what they would say. Maybe they would say what I didn't want to hear. Maybe, just maybe, I should take my profit from the first house and use it to buy the next building lot with cash and proceed slowly one house at a time. Who would have thunk? If the market goes haywire, I could handle one house that doesn't sell. I can rent it or even give it away and walk away unscathed. Maybe. Well, it didn't matter. There were forces greater than my goofiness.

Well, I didn't slow down and ran it to the hilt. The market exploded in 1980. The interest rates went from 10% to 18%. I had 6 houses out there that wouldn't sell. Ooops. Who was going to rent them with the interest rates almost double. I went from owning a beautiful house overlooking the city of Portland, an architectural business, a construction company and my own office building to a cardboard box of architectural supplies, and a suitcase, and a bus ticket. No kidding, I lost it all. I really missed the 12- cylinder Jaguar.

Even after that demise, in order to feel better I would tell people," all my friends went broke. What could we do, the industry changed. Hell, the interest rates went up to 18%. Who wouldn't go broke".

What I failed to mention was that there were three or four of my wiser developer friends that didn't go broke. They saw it coming, even though they weren't sure when it would happen. They cut back and slowed down. Go figure. Sure, glad I never talked to any of them.

Oh, what the hell, I was 31 and ready for my next adventure. I really did miss my Jaguar though.

I called my ex-wife and said, "the good news is, I'll will still pay child support, but can I live in your extra bedroom, so I can hang out with my daughter?"