Lost and found: Surviving real estate reality

You’re thinking, “Not another Top 10 things to do to survive in ’09 list!”

Relax. That’s not my style. I’ll offer two simple ideas below.

But first:


I am a big fan of the show, which follows the fate of a group of people stranded on a remote island following a plane crash.

But I could care less about the Island, time travel and all the hooks and secrets woven into the story lines. What grips me most is what unfolds as the layers of each character’s personal onion are slowly, agonizingly, frightfully, peeled away.

Jack Shephard is a charismatic doctor and natural “take charge” guy. He commands the entire group’s attention with a passionate plea at the onset of the first season: “To survive,” he says, “we are all going to have to work together”.

Jack emerges as the appointed leader. Over the course of the show’s five seasons his decisions are carved from a strong and stubborn point of view. He never comes to grips to the realities the Island presents. And despite numerous opportunities, fails to let go of preconceived notions that blind him to the true nature of what his experience is all about.

John Locke, another survivor, was wheelchair-bound when Oceanic flight 815 took off. He was an otherwise regular guy with a regular job — the antithesis of Jack. Laying on the sand yards from where he was thrown from his crashed plane, John discovers his feet move. As do his legs. Almost instantly, he recognizes something about his new situation Jack never does. As a result, John’s path is completely different, and more meaningful.

I often wonder what type of Lost character I would be. How I might play out if I were ever dealt the type of hand that faces the castaways.

Would I lead? Would I follow? Would I continue to apply an old set of beliefs to a new set of circumstances? If so, how long would I persist in the face of obvious signs that those beliefs were useless?

Most of the survivors follow Jack. The obvious choice. Few, if any, follow Locke. And why would they? He never presented himself as a leader of any kind. Their choices determine how their lives unfold. Some, including Jack, must wait until it is almost too late to realize they followed the wrong person.

What it takes to survive

Two simple ideas:

Mark Burnett, the British producer of the hit show Survivor, believes success does not depend on where the pot of gold resides or finding the right path to get there. For him, what’s most important is the companions with whom you choose to take the journey.

Watch Survivor and you will see that played out each and every season. Alliances form. The strong ones prevail. And yield a winner.

Mark explains that no matter how focused your eye may be on success, if you are surrounded by stubborn, “stupid people” who don’t get it, they will drain you of your energy and derail your attempts to win.

Perhaps your stupid people are your agents, your broker, your employees, your boss, your association executive — anyone who, as Burnett says, is an “energy sucking loser that acts like a cancer in your organization”.

Mark would tell you that the only way to survive an ordeal like the one we are all facing today in real estate is to fire, detach, gravitate away, shuck or let go of all the “stupid people” around you.

It’s not the classiest statement, and it sounds better with his English accent, but it’s the truth.

Les Stroud is a Canadian filmmaker and survival expert who drops himself into remote locales with only his wits, a knife, a harmonica and two cameras. In order to survive, Les shifts his thinking completely and uses the natural elements around him in creative ways.

Out in the wild, Les survives alone for seven full days living off whatever the land offers him.

What would Les would do to survive inside the wilds of the real estate business? What would he do if he ran an MLS, a brokerage, or a legacy technology firm? What would he do if he were an agent trying to survive in the barren desert of today’s market?

He’d look for sustenance in unfamiliar places. Source water from faucets that may not appear as such. And stop trying to milk the dried up udders of a dead value proposition.

Good companions and fresh eyes.

Most in our business are in survivor mode right now. Lost. Strewn across the sandy beach of this island called real estate. This is real. Hard. Depressing.

But it is not hopeless — if you find yourself some powerful new alliances with folks who see things just a tad differently.

– Davison

Twitter: 1000wattmarc