Intro by Skip Cohen
I've shared this a couple of times over the years, but with what would have been my Dad's 100th birthday coming up, now's a perfect time. My Dad passed away almost seven years ago, but his birthday was on Halloween. This is going to be the kick-off of "Ralph Week."
It's funny, when I was a kid, he was in the wholesale candy and tobacco business. I had access to a full warehouse of candy, but nothing tasted as good as what I collected with friends every Halloween. So, between trick or treaters hitting the doorbell every few minutes and me heading out with friends, he never had a focused birthday until we were older.
In 2010, just after we moved to Sarasota, I talked him into write a couple of blog posts. He wrote the piece below for me that November. I love the relevance - there is no expiration date on running a good business, building trust with your clients, and creating a brand based on integrity.
When Dad started in business just after WWII, he didn't have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or for that matter, the Internet, but he did have a telephone. He didn't go to any conventions to network, but he did have time to meet people and 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.
He started out in the lumber business; moved into the vending world with candy and tobacco and into his dream of commercial/industrial real estate when he in his early forties. He loved bringing people together to build things that lasted, and everything he did was always on foundation of integrity and good business sense.
Right up until he passed away at 93, he still did a lot of his business on a handshake. He might have slowed down physically as he got older, but he never compromised those standards my grandfather taught him many years earlier. So as you think about 2022 and into the new year, everything he talks about is right on point! Pay attention to your business, and keep an eye on your competition, but don't get so obsessed with what everyone else is doing that you lose focus on your own marketing plans.
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!
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