How to sound smart? Write a post going against conventional wisdom.

Sounding really smart online can be quite easy at times but the single easiest way is to post an opinion going against conventional wisdom on a topic. The Bull during a Bear market will always get attention. Saying that open plan office can hurt productivity will catch the right ear. Pointing out that email can be too much of a good thing is always provocative.

Blogs are handy devices for putting ideas out into the world and honing your voice (especially if you aren’t trying to do it for a full-time job). They provide a (relatively) safe place to practice with an idea. Take 4 paragraphs and try to defend a topic that you are seemingly decided on…..it’s fun and interesting.

The secret to this is that there is no such thing as a black and white topic. When you get to an edge of a subject (always the most interesting place to be) you suddenly start to see all of the exceptions, unconfirmed truths, half-hidden lies, misunderstands, bad statistics, and low visibility situations. In these exist the chance to stake out new ground and explore an area that most people may think is resolved.

Conventional wisdom is never 100% right. It can’t be because it is trying to be truth to too many people applying it in too many places. Pointing out where conventional wisdom fails is both public service and good reading.

Thank you for 2016! I’m looking forward to 2017.

I have a feeling that 2016 will go down as one of the cornerstone years of my life. There are a number of people that I owe thanks to as well as some that I probably could have done more with. But life isn’t possible without having areas to improve on.

But Box Thoughts isn’t about that, this post is for those of you who have stuck with me, joined over the year or even just occasionally pop your head in for a random post. I know I say that I write for myself, and it is true. But more and more often I find myself appreciative for the audience that I am slowly building here. I am appreciative for the random words of encouragement, thanks, and recognition.

I would likely still be writing even without the acknowledgment. There is something rewarding about no longer seeing weeks with traffic of zero like I had a few years back. I do not actively promote or seek out an audience since Box Thoughts is primarily a work of personal effort. Yet somehow an audience is developing despite that.

So thank you.

Thank you for stopping in and giving me a little extra reason to do more. Hopefully, you will get even more in 2017. I’m putting together some plans that could give that little bit of extra content to push some bigger CRE ideas forward.

I hope everyone has a great New Year! Take care and I’ll maybe see you here again throughout 2o17.

8 most visited posts from Box Thoughts in 2016

2016 was a great year here at Box Thoughts. There were some ups and downs but overall I think the content was our best yet and sets a really high bar going into 2017. Here are 8 of the most read posts during the year.

Just received my @geteero (3 units for home) and set them up in ~10 total minutes.

Naturally the top post in 2016 had nothing to do with real estate although it does fall firmly into the future of technology. Earlier this year I pre-ordered and then received my home eero mesh wireless system. I have to admit to loving it still and recommend that you check it out or Google’s new competitor.

Communication is different on phone vs. email vs. text vs. IM

An older post – from back in 2013! – rising back up in 2016. Just goes to show that my fascination with the importance of communication is not misplaced. I’m happy to see some of the older posts continuing to rise to the top, especially when they are on topics so near and dear to me still!

Test your skills with fivethirtyeight.com’s The Riddler

The Riddler! Still the best way to test your statistical/math/logic mind every Friday at 8a Eastern. Sometimes it’s way (way (WAY)) over my head but it’s still a good reminder that I have more to learn.

If you don’t know your personal 2 year plan take some time to think through it today.

I am a big believer in planning for your future. The experiences you get today will form the basis of what you do tomorrow. It should never be explicitly about improving your resume but more around improving your ability to do different things in the future. Two years is a good window to plan within so that you can actually make the goals achievable without looking too far out.

My thoughts on the Brexit and its impact on CRE.

2016 was a crazy year and in many ways the crazy kicked off with the Brexit vote. In case you were under a rock, Brexit was the vote in the United Kingdom where they voted to begin the process of formally leaving the EU. It’s going to take some time for the impact of this decision to really be felt but the next two years will tell us a lot of the exit continues to move forward.

Why I dismiss most “Big Data” surveys out of hand.

There are few buzzwords that I hate more than “Big Data.” It’s shorthand for everything from “more data than fits in my spreadsheet” to “my really cool software does something I don’t understand” to “we process lots of data for unknown reasons” to “we actually have a metric-crapton of data and have plans to actually do something productive with it.” But really very, very few companies are effectively using actual big data yet. Most still just use “lots of” data.

Real Estate is the anti-zero sum game

I love corporate real estate. This is another older post, this time from 2012. CRE is the ultimate physical reflection of business strategy being executed. Only in real estate can you both improve top-line revenue, reduce bottom-line costs and improve employee retention and productivity. Get real estate right and business can take off. Get it wrong and you can actually hurt your future.

What is important to me – thinking through change.

2016 has been a good year for me. I’ve learned a lot about myself, what I want to achieve and learned a lot about management and leadership along the way. Change is often status quo, knowing how to deal with it is important.

Apologies for the absence. Hopefully back to our regular scheduling (which often includes absences I suppose…)

Had some things going on the kept me from posting but should be back to a normal schedule. Thanks for sticking by…..there were several weeks that actually had more visitors than I had when actually posting regularly! Hope you stick around for the new stuff too.

I don’t know what to write at the moment.

It’s an awkward feeling – writer’s block. Comes out wrong the things you want to say. Nothing right as it should be.

Two weeks now (more?) and I’ve been struggling with what to put here next. What do I want to talk about that I haven’t covered in enough detail yet? Do I go with some old, favorite posts? Do I not worry and just not put anything? Indecision has led me down the “do nothing” route and I don’t like it.

Let’s see if getting this one out can get more going here in the near future. Problems bad are.

Raise up a glass to celebrate another time based milestone: 5 years of BoxThoughts.

5 years ago I made a decision to try blogging again. It was to be my third attempt at writing online on a regular basis. I can still remember it clearly sitting in the Atlanta office at the time. All I was looking for was an outlet to ensure I could clear my head at the end of the day.

My first real post was the very next day talking about CRE Integration. Surprisingly enough this is still the topic I deal with the most on any given day. Talk about a buzzword: Integration. I could mean anything to anyone. Yet it is the Holy Grail of the CRE space. Everyone wants it. I have to say, I wouldn’t be ashamed to post this same post again tomorrow.

Reading through my original posts at the time I kept things simple. Posts were shorter, thoughts were more condensed. I hadn’t yet gotten to the point where I could readily expand on an idea with ease. There was a struggle to get out deeper thoughts. Reading through those first two paragraph posts (I found a pattern that worked for me quick) the thoughts are right. There is not anything there that I take issue with. By simply still being here 5 years in the future it is proof that I found something that worked and discovered a process that let me really carry through on the concept.

I am now at just over 1,000 posts (200 per year on average which is a hell of a hit rate if I do say so myself). Site volume is low at only 10k views and 4,902 visitors but I do have a significant number of people that read via other means.  Primarily I have a large number of email subscribers which I have no visibility to participation. There are a large number of people that send me notes via email or LinkedIn though so a silent following seems to have formed. However surprise is still the most common reaction from coworkers and colleagues when they find out I have a blog – and that I’ve had it for years. Advertising has not been something I have put any effort into at all.

At this point I do need to give a shout out to Duke Long and the recognition he has given here. I can honestly say that he is likely the only external marketing I have received but it is well appreciated. If you are in any way associated with CRE and don’t read his blog start now. It isn’t your typical writing and it isn’t your typical insights. You may even get offended at some of it but all of it will make you think.

Hopefully I’m adding value to a lot of people I don’t know but even if I’m not this blog is one of my proudest achievements. I regularly look back at some of the ideas that started here and became something real and it puts a quick smile on my face.

Why I don’t write about real estate markets.

Most commercial real estate blogs have a significant focus on local markets. Is the cost of real estate going up or down? What is going on with vacancy rates? What do you need to know for executing the best lease in the current market? Where are the demographic trends heading over the next 12 months? How can I save you money on your next lease?

None of these questions are going to be answered here. Why? Because in my opinion they don’t add a whole lot of value for the common person within CRE. There are surprisingly few blogs that really focus on the day-to-day fundamentals of what real estate means to a business.

Executing leases is a big part of the service provider and even corporate world but the reality is that this action is fairly rote. It’s where the money is but it isn’t where the business value is. So what if you save $1.00 a square foot on the lease if the building is poorly located, the design will not promote collaboration and the space is twice the size of what is really needed. Great lease but you’ve failed the business.

The lease is a few months of work while the operations will be several years. I’ll choose to focus on the several years side every time.

Same for most CRE Technology – most of it focuses on those few months of activity while ignoring the several years side of the equation. Sure, a system to help with leasing activity is important and adds value but it isn’t a game changer. It isn’t going to make the business 10% more productive – it may help save money this year though.

Too often the service providers in real estate forget about those several years you need to live in the building – or simply don’t understand what it means to you to live in a particular building. Hopefully I’m helping you understand the greater part of real estate, which often has very little to do with the market or the lease.

PS: When saving this post I noticed that in 5 years I have never even created a category for “Lease,” that’s how little I write about it.