Beware Of Generalities

When someone springs the words “always” or “never” on you, watch out. There’s a good chance they don’t know what they’re talking about. Here are three yardsticks you can use to make up your own mind.

Do you question generalities? I have to smile every time I hear another self-proclaimed “expert” going on about how bad the real estate market is. There’s no question that investors who got caught out of position took a hit when the pricing and mortgage bubbles popped. Those are historical facts supported by data, but this is where the so-called gurus get off track. What those data points DON’T support is the false assumption that everyone should stay out of real estate.

Generalities like that can come with an opportunity cost that’s worse than any bubble. Here’s an important thing to keep in mind. In any market sector, boom or bust, there are always GOOD deals and BAD deals. Just because some people bought in at the peak and bailed out at a loss doesn’t mean real estate is always and forever a bad investment. That would be like using traffic statistics to argue that no one should ever own or drive a car again.

The reason that real estate went sour for so many people is that their focus shifted from VALUE to MONEY. Real entrepreneurs always keep their eye on value. They make it their business to know where it is and when it will move. They don’t make emotional decisions when the crowd is chasing a quick buck and they don’t allow generalities to steer them away from genuine opportunities to add value. They have a trustworthy system in place to evaluate opportunity and to act on it logically when it shows up.

Will Rogers said that people change their minds through observation, not argument, so there’s no point in challenging people with strong opinions. Evaluate the situation for yourself through an entrepreneur’s eyes and quietly make up your own mind. A false assumption will usually crumble under one of these three tests:

  1. The Authority Test. Does this person have a history of adding value to things as an entrepreneur, or are they trying to discourage you just because a “friend of a friend” got burned by an uninformed decision?
  2. The Logic Test. Will the assumption hold up when you apply it to a different context? Keep the car example in mind, because human nature hasn’t changed much since the “flat-worlders” were in charge of science.
  3. The Data Test. Are they looking at all the facts, or are they just selecting the ones that support their opinion?

I’ve been an entrepreneur for most of my professional life. Nothing gives me more career satisfaction than seeing someone catch that entrepreneurial spark and turn it into a thriving business. I work with partners I trust who look at ALL the data and make authoritative decisions based on VALUE. I’m fortunate to spend my work day helping people put a system in place to do that for themselves.

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Michael Hamburger

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