Several months ago, after American Pharaoh won the Triple Crown, I started to write this blog. What prompted me to do so was the thought that I had witnessed one of the great feats in all of sports, while, at the same time, being removed from working on a deal by someone who didn’t even know me. I reconsidered writing this blog after seeing the movie “The Big Short”. Now I am sure you are wondering what all of this has to do with each other, but, reading on, I think you also will make the connection.
In essence, American Pharaoh winning the Triple Crown without wearing blinders symbolizes, at least to me, that the horse was not restricted in his view of the track; therefore, allowing him to see everything around him clearly. Now how do I relate this to being removed from a big deal? The answer is simple. I had started to work on this transaction with the Chairman of a business. One day, he called to say that his parent company had turned his real estate search over to the real estate department. He gave me the name of the Director of Real Estate, who, interestingly enough, I tried to reach out to several times (via email and telephone). He would not communicate with me, even though I have 50 years of experience and have quite a wide view of the track – in this case… the real estate market. Now, I am sure there were several other factors, probably the biggest of which was the firm he chose was very large and “safe”. That said, there is an old Chinese proverb, which translated says, “An old horse knows the road”. What really bothered me was the fact that this gentleman wouldn’t even take the time to talk to me (even though he was asked to by the Chairman) and furthermore, that he clearly didn’t feel that my 50 years of experience had any value. American Pharaoh could see the entire track whereas this Real Estate Director was approaching this particular situation wearing his personal blinders.
Fast forward to the movie “The Big Short”. Again, how does this relate to American Pharaoh not wearing blinders? Actually, if anyone sees the movie it will not be difficult to relate the two. Three disparate groups who identified a failing in the housing market went to the big banks. The bankers they went to laughed saying these groups didn’t know what they were talking about; yet, they said they would be glad to take their money, and created vehicles to short the housing market because they thought the idea was so stupid. The point here was that the idea wasn’t stupid knowing in retrospect what the final outcome was, but more importantly, that the major institutions didn’t look and see what was clearly happening right in front of them…they were either too arrogant to think that “small guys” might have a valuable perspective or more likely they were wearing blinders. I often think that many big corporations get mired in their own “bigness” and only those with great peripheral vision are able to navigate through the ups and downs of our economy.
It is my hope for all of my friends, clients and anyone else reading this, that in 2016 we all take off our blinders and see what is happening around more clearly. Furthermore, BIG does not equate to good and SMALL does not equate to bad, but EXPERIENCE is ALWAYS key.