Easy vs. Simple

Recent events in my professional life have led me to contemplate the critical distinction between Easy and Simple.

Anyone who is a parent can probably remember a half dozen instances per day in which their kids try to do something the easy way, and they wind up having to go back and do it over again... whether it be math homework done sloppily so the child can fly out the door to play with friends, making a bed by just pulling up the bed spread and leaving the sheets (and sometimes clothes, toys and other stuff) hidden underneath, or the famous jamming of all the toys under the bed or into closets, instead of putting them where they really belong.

Naturally, this EASY and immediate solution gave each of us as children something my Dad used to call Instant Gratification. The problem of course arrived when once we had been discovered, and you got that call at your friends house when the ill fated announcement came from your friend's mother: "Jake - your mom just called... you need to go home."

Weren't those the longest walks across the street? I have to laugh remembering those times... knowing I was done for, and feeling pretty queezy as I opened the front door.

I have had more than my fair share of long walks back across the street, both as a child and as an adult - in my personal life and in business.

There are other types of long walks aren't there?

Remember breaking that special something that your dad had told you a dozen times was NOT a toy? Or getting into trouble because you were goofing off and your brother got hurt, and even though it really was just an accident, you are going to have to face the music?

We all have to face the music... and on the surface it is never EASY, right? Maybe...

I hope that this post is as much or MORE for me than any reader... but it seems to me that some lessons we can glean from a lifelong worth of evidence is that most of the time, the EASY WAY is pretty hard in the long run... and that really, the RIGHT way might require more work, but is usually SIMPLE.

Simply clean your room like your parents asked you to, and do it right - and be done. SIMPLE.


Jam your clothes, toys, books and junk under your bed or in closets and drawers... leave the house 15 minutes sooner... pretty EASY... until you get called home in 30 minutes and have to start over, and now you can't play anymore. HARD.

In my own real estate dealings, I have certainly been guilty of the same faults.

In 2003 to 2007 it was EASY to gather "investors" together who could use their credit and little or no money to build homes on spec. Many of these investors were requesting to do 2, 3 or 5 homes at a time.

I had long lines of people ready, willing, and anxious to participate in building homes we could sell and split profits. At the time, we imposed what I allowed myself to believe were "standards" of integrity. (Only 1 owner occupied home at a time for our building clients, requiring clients to review and sign all bank draws, all checks from banks cut directly to subs instead of to our company, blah, blah, blah.)

Growth as a home builder in Utah was EASY. We promptly grew from a few homes per year (built with an artistic eye and a personal passion of my own for quality and stylistic consistency) to 20 to 30 homes going all the time.

Allow me to point out for the sake of the soap box that I was working very hard through all of this... at no point was my job EASY, it was hard work! But, today... with the benefit of perspective it was hard work that came too EASY. Too few of our homes had committed buyers. Too many of the Realtors we employed were similarly addicted to the EASY way (stick a sign in the yard and wait for the paycheck).

In the end, Wallstreet has told the tale of the result of EASY STREET.

The story does NOT end with Wallstreet.

The story ends when my son stops pulling his bedspread over his sheets instead of really making his bed. It ends when he musters up the courage to tell me he got carried away and scribbled crayon all over his sisters wall.

For me the story ends when I look at myself and decide to do things RIGHT and SIMPLE, and stop looking for EASY.

EASY today is "Blame the Economy", "Blame the Builder", "Blame the Banks", or "Blame Everybody". I have lived the story of the current economy first hand. It is very EASY to get lots of sympathy in the current market.

I have personally witnessed countless stories of grown men and women tell about all of their business knowledge and experience, and how much knowledge they have about Real Estate, economy, and investing... and 1 year later, these same people blame their Builder (in some cases me), the Realtor, the Appraiser, the Bank, the subs, everybody. It is so EASY to blame... but so hard to learn real lessons.

By no means is it SIMPLE or EASY to take responsibility when the ship is taking on water, headed into a storm, and the crew is bailing... but I have found peace in RESPONSIBLE.

Your feedback is welcomed.

This post would not be complete if I did express gratitude to & honor several individuals who, despite terribly frustrating and life altering circumstances brought to pass by the events described above, whether as home owners or speculative investors maintained professionalism and set an example for me of taking personal responsibility: D.&C. B., D.&M. M., C.&K. F., B.B., D.B., J.H., B.G., K.&A. K., M.&S. R., S.&C. T., M.&B. D., J.&A. A., R.A., R.&L. J., D.H., B.H., R.H., K.C., B.&B. B., R.H., and others.

I want you all to know that I wake up everyday and go to work, doing my best to be my best, and some of the best experiences I have had have been your quiet votes of confidence, well wishes, forgiveness and understanding. I wish it had gone differently for all of us.

My truest wish for all of us, for myself and my children is that we can seek and find happiness, and never stop learning or getting better. Keep life simple - but not EVER settle for going the EASY WAY.


Working Hard or Hardly Working...

Doesn't everybody gets caught in the trap called life?

One minute you are 18, graduating high school, celebrating the world that is your acorn, and being celebrated by parents, grandparents and loved ones... then you wake up one day 12 years later (like I did today) and you wonder if anything you do matters.

So Amanda and I are working hard to push for a big check this month... and we have rented the house and are moving by the end of the month into our new house. I am so excited I can't sleep, and it can't happen fast enough. Home Depot has been my number 1 destination (a minimum of 2 times daily for the last week) and I am only about 50% of the way done with Home Depot.

("Excuse me sir, did you know you can save up to 10% on your purchase today by opening a Home Depot account?")

The fascinating observation for the week, is that early in the week I set some specific goals for my business that will require some emotional risks and a small risk of failure... accomplishing these goals is the true WORK that I need to accomplish right NOW.

I have now procrastinated this REAL work, in favor of a lot of other work. Work on the new house, work on consulting others on their business, work in several other capacities. I have been working so hard that I am physically and mentally exhausted, yet the very work I MUST do - which would require far less exertion, and likely yield far greater results is postponed until the last minute.

Over the weekend, I listened to a speech by a great man named Thomas Monson. He has led an incredible life. He cautioned, "Pile up enough 'Tomorrow's' and you'll wind up with nothing but 'Empty Yesterday's'".

I worry I have been bumped out of the groove. So tomorrow I will do the stuff I have been putting off and keep chasing the dream!


The Importance of Learning Something From Everyone

It has been said that "A wise man learns from his mistakes".

Naturally a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others.

There is however a more important concept than looking at the mistakes of others, and learning what NOT to do. The greater truth is that if we are hungry to learn we just might be able to learn What To Do which, if we can discipline ourselves trumps learning What Not To Do.

I think that there is a quote that basically says "In life, you will get results comparable to the people you surround yourself with". (That is a lousy attempt at the quote, so if someone finds the quote, please let me know! I did look for the quote, but after 30 minutes of searching for it unsuccessfully, I got distracted and suckered into taking an online IQ test - that then required me to subscribe $20 per month just to get my test score - which I did'nt pay - and all I proved is that I don't have a quote, and that my IQ must be pretty pathetic.)

Another similar quote: "It is not WHAT you know but WHO you know." Perhaps this blog may demonstrate that it is not solely who you know, but also WHO WE LEARN FROM.

Think about it. Suppose you grow up surrounded by gang members & drug dealers. Statistically it is highly likely you will become one, and either serve time, get shot, or something bad will happen. Conversely, suppose you grow up going to a private school where everyone graduates high school and gets a 4 year degree in college. Statistically you would be highly likely to achieve the same outcome.

Naturally there are remarkable stories of individuals who, despite their own life's circumstances and upbringing, defy the odds and go on to achieve greatness. We could look at hundreds of examples... from Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Buffet, all the way to Daddy Warbucks (You know... the self-made millionaire, whose shaven head and affection for the curly red-headed orphan Annie proved to all of us how great he was!)

I am confident however that in each such remarkable story, there was a desire to LEARN and grow... and that an extensive interview with such remarkable individuals would demonstrate that they learned critical lessons from their humble beginnings, and also went about their lives seeking additional learning opportunities from others.

Wasn't Albert Einstein the first guy to say, "I know that I don't know". Being aware of our own lack of knowledge is one part of an important equation to growth, but a desire to learn from others is a second, probably more important one.

Nothing can be as frustrating as being surrounded by those that believe they know everything. My brother Dave does a "bit" about a guy who knows everything - even before you tell him. Surely we have all experienced a such a conversation. It is remarkable to realize how stuck these individuals are. (Maybe some to some that know me better, I am just such an individual... I hope not!)

Allow me to present a formula that I have found to be valuable in learning from others:
  1. WATCH & LISTEN. Allow myself to observe what is taking place.
  2. THINK. Sounds like a novel concept, right? Consider the perspective of the individuals I am observing. (Include Myself)
  3. ASK QUESTIONS. This may include literally asking the other person "Why did you do that?" or "What is it you would like me to understand from your request?". Asking question may also come later in introspection... "How did that person know to do ___________?" or "How did that person react when _________" and so on...
  4. CONCLUDE & TAKE ACTION. Sometimes learning can be a guessing game, but take the lesson the best you can understand it, and put it into action. Taking Action includes things like writing it down, talking with someone about the thing you learned or observed, setting a goal to duplicate a pattern, or deciding to manage your time better, etc.
  5. PRACTICE. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly, at first... and worth doing well after practicing.
In many ways, the very blog you are reading is just that... perhaps the only value being rendered is to me, the author... but it is valuable to me. I find myself not only putting many principles I write about into action, but am constantly on the lookout for things I can learn and write about.

Imagine that if you put this principle to use, what a collection you would have after some practice.

  • What I learned from my Mom: Don't be afraid of who you are, because everyone else might be... LOL! I can talk to any one at any time about anything, and I never have to be afraid.
  • What I learned from my Dad: No matter how bad things get, it won't last. No matter how good things get, it won't last. Don't quit. Tell the truth. Work hard. Put your family first.
  • What I learned from Jarvis Webb: People do what benefits them, first.
  • What I learned from Brandon Osborne: Don't let anybody push you around. Who cares if you get beat... you will command respect and respect yourself if you stand up.
  • What I learned from Jimmy Dunn & Family: What true friendship is. How to love people, no matter what. How to see the best in everyone we meet. I learned that I was worth loving.
  • What I learned from Matt Kennedy: How to talk to women. How to find humor in everything.
  • What I learned from Ed Scholz: Just do what I am supposed to do, and who cares about everybody else. Everybody is imperfect, even the ones who think they are perfect. I learned what I hope Heavenly Father is like.
  • What I learned from Louis Scholz: Don't get myself dirty, or I will regret it. Stay clean.
  • What I learned from Daron: You can never do a good deal with a bad guy.
  • What I learned from Dan, Jay, Dave & Marion, Kenny & Amber, others: Forgiveness & Mercy.
  • What I learned from Cameron Foster: Believe in people. Believe in who they are. It helps them be their best.
  • What I learned from Bryan Miller: I had to learn true friendship again. It doesn't matter where you come from, what matters is where you are going. You can accomplish a lot, with very little effort simply be deciding to do it.
  • What I learned from Bryce Blanchard: Be the best at what you do, The Best. Every positive has a negative, and every negative has a positive... and you have to see both before you are even in the game. Hold your cards, aka keep your mouth shut. Negotiating.
  • What I learned from Spencer Hunn: Never stop believing in what you do. Be a good person. Never stop doing what you do best.
  • What I learned from My Wife: Love. Patience. Service. Charity. Laughter is the most beautiful sound on earth. Don't do dumb things to distance myself from the people I love, or I will feel lousy about it. Not every problem has to be solved on my schedule. I have a very long way to go!
  • What I learned from My Children: There is a God, and he loves each of us... personally and individually. No one is forgotten.
I could go on forever, and so could you. Now: Let's PRACTICE!

Please write me and let me know a lesson you have learned from someone, that pops into your mind... or anything else. Make your own list.

"If" by Rudyard Kipling

Allow me to credit Bryan Miller for first introducing me to this poem. It has given me a lot.

There are many parts of this poem that could be discussed... but as a piece of art, I'll leave it with you and let it stand alone. I encourage you to read it often and give yourself time to contemplate it and let it inspire you into action!


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!