Intro by Skip Cohen
Last year I shared one of my Dad's guest posts here on SCU. I've talked him into writing two so far. This was the first, published on my original blog in November, 2010. I ran across it while cleaning up some files this week and loved how relevant Dad's experiences from business, starting over 70 years ago, are to the challenges we deal with today.
Having moved to Sarasota almost three years ago, so Sheila and I could give him and my mother a hand, we get to spend a lot more time together. There's a never-ending stream of conversations about business. Today's business meaning of words like trust, integrity, confidence and creativity have never changed, even though the way we communicate today has.
When Dad started out in business he didn't have Twitter or Facebook or for that matter the Internet, but he did have a telephone. He didn't have a lot of conventions to network, but he did have time to meet people, talk to potential clients. He didn't have workshops to go to, but he did have books to read and ideas to share with his associates over lunch.
Dad's going to be 92 this year and still does business on a handshake. He might be slowing down a little physically, but he's never compromised those standards my grandfather taught him so many years ago. As you think about 2014, everything he talks about is so relevant! Just pay attention to your business and stop worrying about everybody else.
I have been happily retired for many years, and unemployed for almost twenty. I am not a plagiarist, but I must quote my father who spent the last months of his life writing advice to his children:
“Conduct your business in an upright manner and remember, the most important thing in one’s life is to be honest with one’s self. Maintain the high standard and dignity that your business requires. Do not go into deals hastily and be visible in your business as much of the time as is possible. If you take time to play, do it away from your business, because your livelihood needs all the attention you can give to it.”
Early on, I concluded that the best testimonials came from my many friendly competitors. We didn’t really compete with each other, in the true sense. True, we were in the same field of endeavor, but we all knew we were there to help each other. Happily, the “tough competition” fell by the wayside.
I remember giving Skip driving lessons and I told him, “Watch the left front fender…..the rest will take care of itself!” I’ve found this is really true of everything in life.
An old axiom says, “If you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.” That is all part of reputation-building. I found that, sadly, in the field of real estate, truth is hard to come by for many. In our case, it was a major building block in the reputation which we enjoyed, and helped us to thwart the competition.
Goodwill is all of the above, plus a lot of caring for your clients as well as your competitors. If life is a give-and-take situation, giving is the more important of the two. The taking will come with time and be far more appreciative. Just remember – you heard it here!
Ralph Cohen, Founder and 1/2 the Creators of Skip Cohen!