Open marketplace: What business options should look like.
In my life beyond LCT Magazine, I get to dabble in a bit of small-town politics as the president of my homeowners association, which binds 368 homeowners via common boundaries and monthly dues. The humbling position, which I’ve held by pure fluke since May 2012, caters to a side of my brain distinct from the set of synapses that enable me to edit this magazine. I chair meetings with a gavel, reconcile conflicts, speak publicly, and try to fulfill the most challenging task of all: Lead.
The one thing my HOA role has in common with this one is writing a bi-monthly column for the community newsletter. At first, I worried I wouldn’t have enough to write about, but I soon learned that an HOA can produce drama, news and intrigue just like this industry. In my last column for the HOA, I listed ways residents could help the neighborhood by staying alert, and at least report or question things out of kilter: Torn-up mail, deck chairs thrown into the pools, rotted trees, busted lampposts — all typical nuisances in a community.
To borrow a page from my HOA, there are also plenty of actions members of this industry neighborhood can take to stay alert and keen in 2016 — the New Year’s motto I wrote in my last HOA column. Staying keen requires some skepticism, alertness and common sense. So I’d like to reach into my grab bag of useful things I learned (or at least remembered) in 2015 to stay sharp:
Question all-or-nothing mindsets: No doubt the world and historical period we live in are deeply troubled, but some of that perception stems from a ferocious, fear-driven approach to solutions. In our industry, we often hear dire warnings of time running out before Uber kills us all. Check out the details and facts on the ground instead of adopting radical mindsets. Uber is a formidable challenge, but not a death sentence. Take what they do and do it smarter, better. Support efforts to highlight safety problems and classify all those drivers as employees.
Don’t get angry, just wonder: That’s an old German proverb in dealing with difficult people: It’s better to stay calm and wonder why someone acts so erratic instead of erupting in anger. Bemused detachment calms nerves, lowers blood pressure, and restores peace of mind.
Notice your mistakes: If a competitor is one upping you or your company, chances are there’s a grain of creativity or skillfulness you could borrow from that competitor. Learn from innovations and successes that might make you look inferior. Some of the best ideas in life are simply “borrowed” and then applied. Got an app for that?
Nothing is inevitable: Except death and taxes, of course. I’m thinking of driverless cars, a topic I’ve been reevaluating with a good dose of skepticism on my blog. Always be suspicious of people who claim a lock on all truth related to a topic. Driverless cars may not be inevitable after all: What if we don’t want them? What if we prefer to be in control? What if .32% of the accelerators get stuck? Most Americans hated the 55 mph speed limit, the $1 coin, the betamax tape, New Coke and My Space. Choices always trump inevitable predictions. Which reminds me, weren’t we all supposed to be on the metric system by 1980?
Nix the naysayers: LCT re-entered the Atlantic City, N.J., market three years ago during the city’s low point of casino bankruptcies and financial problems. The city became the media’s favorite municipal fiasco, and even some industry members joined the chorus badmouthing the place. Three years later, the city has started coming back, and we found a much better venue for our LCT East trade show. The show succeeded and we got more attendees and praise than expected, despite the headwinds and howls from detractors. We look forward to seeing even more attendees next year. That’s what you call hope based on achievement. [Look for an article in next month’s issue about an Atlantic City tour operator making a go of it].
Historical comforts: I won’t repeat any of the clichés about knowing your history, but in a Presidential election year, when politics always turns stressful, history can be a source of comfort and wisdom. Not to mention a serious chill pill. Those who appreciate and understand history are less susceptible to — sound familiar? — all-or-nothing patterns, anger, competitive or unequal resentments, inevitable despairs, and negative naysaying. Current events could be worse, if you consult the historical record, and bad situations can get better, too, although not all at once. That concept applies to this industry, too.
I’ll never make any predictions or resolutions, but the odds and the advantages will favor those who keep it keen in 2016.