From Jerry Mason, a real estate investment veteran, OSU alum, and long standing supporter of entrepreneurial education at OSU.
We are all born with the spirit of entrepreneurship; it’s the imagination to see what could be and the desire to do things our own way. Whether we are part of a team or an individual, when we mentally and emotionally take ownership of a project or effort (big or small), we get the thrill and trepidation of the venture.
It’s exciting and scary at the same time. It’s the difference between a 9 to 5 attitude that watches the clock closely and those who say, “I’ll do whatever it takes” without watching the clock and with no regrets for the time and energy gladly given. It’s enjoying the adrenaline of the challenge on the way to the “thrill of successes and the agony of defeats” all the while remembering you can fail many times, but you aren’t a failure until you quit.
That’s the spirit of entrepreneurship. Whether you are on your own or part of a team in a large organization, the attitude and spirit of one entrepreneur is the same.
Personally, it’s the story of my adventure and ultimate success in the investment real estate business. It required a lot more staying power and flexibility than I ever expected.
I stumbled into investment real estate after graduating with my business degree from OSU in the 1960’s. Most of my peers went to work for major corporations, unless there was a family business, a natural progression at the time. The word ‘startup’ was years away from being in our lexicon.
A friend suggested I take a real estate class that his brother was teaching to help me get out of my downer. I ended up developing more than a passing interest and then got a real estate license. I sold homes in a subdivision for three years which couldn’t sustain my enthusiasm. Looking around I became fully engaged in preparing myself for an investment real estate career. The rest is history. An associate and I started what evolved to be Westland Partners LLC. I couldn’t believe how much more focused and hard working I could become and with no regrets. There was no place to hide. I was all in. This was my show.
My business partner and I kept raising to the occasions and taking our hits as well. Our successes were growing faster than failures but seldom as fast as we expected. How many times did I revisit the concept of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Later in my career I explain to people that I associated experience and wisdom with scar tissue. I am now 77 years old and still in the game of creating substantial value for clients and myself. It still lights my fire.
People who know me well say I am an over-achiever which only means my imagination and expectations are greater than the substance of myself. I tell them “who needs enemies when I have friends like you”. Woody Allen said it well in the course of an interview that was reviewing his successes. He said “Hell, 85% of success is just continuing to show up”.
So, pay close attention to the types of things that ignite your imagination and then your fire. The most important thing is to just start. One thing will lead to another as opportunities open windows and adversity knocks you off course. It’s called adjusting to new realties. We are all different and times keep changing but we all still have an entrepreneurial spirit within us. Let it out. There are as many different ways as there are people. It’s your story to write, but you have to show up.
I still have posted on my office wall “Life is like a grinding stone. Whether it polishes you up or grinds you down depends on the stuff you are made of”. There were many times I asked myself: am I a lump of coal or a diamond in the rough? The answer wasn’t always the same.
In your search for things that are worth your time, energy and resources, pay close attention for the things that excite your imagination and then light your fire. A career is too long a time to work at things that don’t renew your spirit. Things that don’t engage our imagination grind us down and destroy our natural entrepreneurial spirit.
It’s never too late to engage.
OSU Business ‘65
Investment Real Estate
OR, WA, AZ, ID, and Barcelona Spain www.westlandinvestors.com