I am an actor by training and I spent many years on the stage. I am always amazed at how much of my previous career is transferable to real estate. There are some basic rules to improvisation for example. The most basic rule is the ‘yes’ rule. You have to say ‘yes’ to the given circumstances. It’s all about acceptance. It goes like this. If you are on stage, and the improvisation begins with your partner saying, “I am so cold, I wish it would stop snowing”, you cannot reply, “what do you mean? It’s an 80-degree summer day.” Without this rule every improv would be about insane people. The ability to accept (or in the case of improv, the requirement to accept) opens everything up to discussion, and therefore improvement, enlightenment and discovery. There are things you can control, and things you cannot control. When you can accept that, and employ the ‘Yes’ rule, opportunities will be illuminated, which is way better than being insane.
Now I want to talk about crowd sourcing. I’m not really sure what crowd sourcing is. I think it might mean a lot of things. I read an article in the New York Times by Emily Badger about Amazon and “Superstar Cities” and I think the overarching point of the piece was planned, spontaneous crowd sourcing. It goes like this. If you want to open a successful deli, open up next to another successful deli, because that’s where the deli people go. I can’t remember where I heard that, but I imagine it was from a sweet old Jewish guy who owned a successful deli in New York. Oh, how I wish there was an authentic Jewish Deli in Seattle. There are a lot of people in Seattle who claim there is one, but I have yet to find it. This is an example of a circumstance I have to accept…unless I open a deli myself…but where?!
Another thing a lot of Seattleites claim is that the waterfront project and the new tunnel are going to ruin the city. When the subject comes up the conversation often turns to parking, and traffic,, and bike lanes. These conversations can get heated. Some people are inconsolable. It doesn’t take a lot of research to find that these conversations and fights have been going on in Seattle for more than century. The Bogue Plan of 1911, which included a rail road tunnel to the east side, city wide public transportation, and Mercer Island as a public park was voted down. In 1968 another transit package gets on the ballot. It got 50.8% of the vote but needed 60% to pass, and was voted down again in 1970. Then the 90s came with the Seattle Commons, a central park in South Lake Union with a 20-million-dollar boost from Paul Allen, voted down and referred to as a ‘techy ghetto.’
Ok, let’s get back to the ‘yes’ rule. Spontaneous crowd sourcing works when businesses employ the ‘yes’ rule. Tech companies open up near other tech companies because that’s where the tech people are. And they feed off each other and grow because of the sharing of parallel ideas. What Seattle thought would become a ‘Techy Ghetto’ actually becomes a luxury resort and benefits all around. (One Caveat. Read 10/24 Blog )Seattle will continue to grow and values will continue to rise because Amazon is a magnet for the industry and will be for decades to come. The abundance of high paying jobs will not diminish. The new headquarters is growth, not relocation. And parking? Well, we’re not playing Monopoly. It isn’t free. Get over it.
And public transportation? Say it with me. “Yes please.” The more we ride the better it will get. Accept it, discuss it, improve and be enlightened. As I said before, I believe the boom and bust curse that has plagued Seattle for so many years has been broken. Maybe because Seattle is learning to say yes? But we need more. I know you’re sad to lose your 60 mph view from the viaduct but say yes to the waterfront park and a picnic with a view you’ll have time to savor. It’s time to get ahead of these projects before it’s too late. Getting a piece of Seattle now will be a great and enjoyable investment. Our real estate market is constantly changing, but I think it goes without saying that the “yes” rule has to apply, and when it does, opportunity presents itself. So there
A note on last Wednesday, So There
Look what happened to the stock market the day after elections.