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Experience vs Youth

If you are having surgery, do you want a young doctor with jet black gelled hair or do you want one with little gray hair? My guess is you, like me, would opt for experience versus age. I believe it is that same way in the financial areas. There are many young whippersnappers (I have met most of them) with all the right education and pedigree but like surgery, when it comes to your money, you want experience.

The two most sought-after financial leaders in the US today are Jamie Dimon-(68, yr. old JP Morgan Chase Chairman) and Warren Buffett, (93 yr. old Berkshire Hathaway Chairman.) In the hotel world, It is Bill Marriott (92 yr. old Executive Chairman of Marriott.) Sure, they have many young folks working on their teams but when it comes to pulling the trigger on an important financial decision, leaders opt for the experience of the older more well-seasoned advisor.

Youth is be admired but it is important to have your advisor be someone who has weathered a few downturns. Those downturns are where the gray hair came from, and the experience of those cycles is critically important when you are making decisions today. You don’t want an advisor who has never gone through a down cycle and only knows up markets.

For all the older people reading this blog who run companies, don’t ever overlook your value to the enterprise and to the client. As Warren Buffett would say, you’re never too old to lead. KT

All gave some, some gave all

Many of us have seen or heard the phrase, ‘all gave some, some gave all’ usually around Memorial Day weekend. The man who coined the phrase was Howard William Osterkamp who was a Korean war veteran and purple heart recipient. Memorial Day was first celebrated in 1868 just after the end of the civil war to honor fallen men and women who died while serving in the US military.

All over the world are graveyards with US fallen men and women who died to protect our freedom. Many young folks today do not quite realize how blessed we all are to live in America and to some, the holiday has just become a punch line. For those who served, and families of men and women who came home in a flag draped coffin, they will never forget.

I served in the Navy for five years but was never in harms way. It was peacetime. Yes, I served, but never in the way hundreds of thousands of our men and women served while continually in harms way. I am not even qualified to pay honor to those lost lives.

To give you some perspectives, 214,938 service members died in combat during the civil war. 53,402 died in combat in WWI. 291,557 died in combat in WWII. 33,739 died in the Korean war and 47,424 died in Vietnam. Over the last 100 years there have been many many smaller conflicts where US service members died but these numbers will you give some perspective of the sacrifice many made that allows people like me to post a blog while sitting in my office in complete safety.

As you go into this weekend, maybe pause and remember those who paid the price and who ‘gave it all’ so we could have the opportunity to celebrate Memorial Day. KT

Selling Hotels

I was asked in a meeting yesterday what words of wisdom I had for the young real estate agents in the room. I thought about my first week as a hotel broker (May 1990) and shared the story.

I went to a friend of mine that sold hotels and was the head of a hotel group. It was very small at the time with only five brokers and two assistants. I wanted to learn how to sell restaurants (that was all I knew) and he told me he didn’t know how to sell restaurants but would let me see if I could learn how to sell hotels. I can remember (34 years ago) that exact meeting and the exact words said.

So, I showed up the next Monday and he hadn’t told any of the other brokers I was joining. I think he wanted to see if I showed first. Ha. Well, I did and was given a small office with a phone. No training, no support and very little further advise. Sink or swim, so I jumped off the high dive.

After three or four days of not having one conversation about a hotel, I got in my 1988 chevy and was determined to get some people to talk to. I pointed the chevy south down I-75 and over the next day, stopped and when in 132 hotels and ask for the owner. When I came back to the office, I had a stack of names and some people to talk to. I started selling in May of 1990 and by the end of the year (8 months) I had sold seven hotels and won the national rookie of the year award for hotel brokerage.

As I look back on it, it was that road trip that flipped the switch for me. If I hadn’t made that trip, I don’t know how long I would have lasted. Unlike today with all manner of ways to communicate, back then, it was only phone, mail or face to face. That was it.

We can’t go back to a simpler time, but we can choose to be simple (old school) with our time. That is what I told all the young real estate agents yesterday. Who knows, maybe one will keep it simple and build a business. KT

Barbara (Bobbie) Phillips

Bobbie Phillips was my mother-in-law and she passed away one year ago. In a world where many married children complain about their in-laws on each side, we never had that problem in my family.

I could write for 10 pages about her, but I will keep this to the point. I was fortunate enough to be loved by two mothers, mine, and Elaine’s. As far back as I can remember, when we would see her, she never called me Keith. She always said, “hey son.” I am not sure she ever understood what those two words meant to me. It meant I was loved as a family member.

The most kind, thoughtful, and pure-hearted person I know is my wife, Elaine. Her mother was a close second. See, that is where my wife learned to live life like she does. Our two daughters are just like their mother, kind, thoughtful, wise, and pure-hearted. How we raise our children and the examples we set does in fact have an impact on the people our children become.

When Elaine and I were dating (started in high school) I was just a kid who had left home and supported myself. Many times, just barely making it. Bobbie Phillips would always have food for me every time I went over to Elaine’s home. She knew. I cannot express what that one kind gesture from her mother meant to a young boy who could have gone either way in life. It was her example that made me want to be a better man and showed me how life was done. Not one time did she ever talk badly about life and the issues she endured taking care of her husband for 11 years after his accident. She simply never complained out loud.

She was dearly loved by all her family and also especially by me. There are not enough adjectives to really tell the world the kind of woman she was but If you looked up the word ‘mother’ in the dictionary, it should have her picture beside the word. KT

Expiration date

This past weekend Elaine and I got together with her siblings and spouses to commemorate her mother’s passing one year ago. After lunch and conversation, we all went to the graveyard to put flowers on Elaine’s mom’s grave, her brother’s grave and her grandparents’ grave. I know it is a little morbid, but we also looked at our own gave plots where we will be when the good lord calls us home.

As we walked around graves, there were many we knew well. People we knew for years, leaders, our teachers, deacons, friends, and families all around us. I was stuck by one thought – the human mortality rate is 100% and we all have an expiration date. I do not care how important you are or how much money you have, we will be buried the same way and if you are a believer, we will all be judged the same way in the end.

I looked at some graves that were recent and others were older, and many were several generations ago. I have often said that our influence really extends to two generations. Our children and grandchildren. Beyond that there is of course love, but very little influence. The best I can tell, we get one shot to leave behind the example for our children and grand children to follow. In some sports you have instant reply, in golf you have mulligans, in basketball you get five chances to not foul out, in baseball you get three strikes, in football you get four attempts to get a first down. In life we only get one swing at the ball and there are no do-overs and no second chances. We are one and done.

Hopefully, many years from now someone will be walking past your grave and remember you for being a good man and or a good woman. Wouldn’t it be great if they could also say that you were honest, kind, trustworthy and reliable? Notice I did not say wealthy. We spend so much time trying to be this or that when the real truth is, death is the great equalizer. Next time you see a graveyard, think about what you want to be remembered for and I hope it is for the right things. KT