I imagined having lunch with Rene Descartes and Jack Welch to discuss the existence, relevance, and excellence of social media in real estate. I would assume that Mr. Welsh would heed the commencement of the conversation to Descartes, if for no other reason than tenure and respect. I would expect that Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, would start by saying something thoughtful and profound, similar to his history-changing statement, “Cogito ergo sum” (I think; therefore, I am). With reference to blogging, he might hold up his iPad and say, “You are reading this; therefore, it is”.
Fundamental, unarguably clear. Now that existence was verified, and the fact that two truly profound and forward-thinking men were at the table with me, I think we could implicitly check the “relevance” box as well.
Next, I imagine a healthy dose of Jack Welch’s driven pursuit of excellence and a few strong gestures towards his uncompromising nature of competitive points of separation. I could just hear his opening salvo of, “You must change before you have to,” followed by “an organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” By the time he was finished, I expect that even Descartes’ adrenaline would be pumping—at least a little.
Then it would be my time to speak. I would hope that I would have the clarity and wisdom to simply ask a question in lieu of making a statement. Sitting with Descartes, a genius mathematician on the side and, therefore, a very rational thinker; and Welsh, a contemporary industrial magnate who is an expert in innovation and mainlining management to create a bottom-line profit, I wonder what would I ask?
After some consideration, here’s my question for the two men: “Social Media reflects more than a change of nomenclature; it is in itself a function of a broader paradigm shift in culture. Because it asks for more of a conversation than a sales pitch, how do you properly embrace the medium if the subject and audience is not yet defined?”
I think the impetuousness of Welch would lead him to answer first with the statement, “Get out and lead, control or be controlled, get the best team, your best ideas, and risk failure,” followed by a demure Descartes stating that, “One must sometimes dream, as if no one had dreamed on these matters before.”
After listening to more conversation and happily paying for lunch (the least expensive education of my life), I would expect that I would now be left with the same fundamental status that I started with: the old adage that the safest place for a boat is in the harbor, but that is not what boats were made for.
The beauty of the moment is that social media is an undefined landscape open to innovation, creativity, and definition. Excellence will be defined by the risk-takers who weather the skinned knees and those who translate their vision and innovations in to a point of differentiation. In real estate, this is currently an undefined voyage embracing its explorers.
Michael Ablon is principal of PegasusAblon, a commercial real estate development, investment and management company. Contact him at MAblon@PegasusAblon.com.