One of my more significant roles since “re-purposement” is co-managing Reynolds Senior Village, a 55 and older mobile home community in Toledo, Ohio. My co-manager and partner, Tony Falzone, is a spry young 84 year old, with over 50 years experience developing and managing mobile home parks. Tony was one of my first clients and I have worked with him for close to 40 years. I have been involved from in a high level capacity with many of him real estate ventures. But, this high level would be more from a numbers or structure standpoint. You ask me about the bottom line or structuring a deal and I am all over it, but, what the heck do I know about poly coating sewers?
Tony has been a great teacher and I have tried to be a very good pupil. These last several months I have gained knowledge in areas I never though possible. Dealing with inspectors, concrete foundation requirements, managing the utility companies and a barrage of other details. I should share that our Park is a complete renovation. It is being “re-purposed” just like me! My Mom, recently asked me, “What are you doing?”. I tried to explain some of these activities, but, finally said, “Running a business”.
My learning started out slowly. This is where frame of reference comes in. While I had some understanding of real estate construction, sales and management, I had never had it to this extent. My reference points merely came from observation and conversation with my friends and clients. Even with the start of my accounting firm. We started and ran a business, but, this was a professional service firm, not a down and dirty in the mud type of operation. I mention this, the mud part, as recently we had a water line break. Our guys had to dig down, how many feet?, to find the water main. I say this as a question, because, I had no idea!! 3 feet, 10 feet? I could guess, but, I didn’t know. Turned out, it was 6 feet. How thick does a concrete runner for under a mobile home have to be? 6 months ago, clueless, today, I am a pro! Just this week we were talking setting homes on piers versus runners or pads, did this make sense?, again, how would I know. We did some research and nope, doesn’t make sense.
I am very fortunate that while I didn’t have much of a reference point, I have spend that last 40 years, learning how to learn. Learning how to make an educated guess, based on my experiences and observations, and then to follow up with research and inquiry from experts. I just didn’t know these things, yet.
I coach learning often. I very much enjoy discussing this with younger business people and students. As part of this I bring up the concept of a frame of reference. Our formal education really was all about this. Building foundations of knowledge that one could then build off from. While I didn’t know it at the time, it all makes sense to me now, perhaps because I know have a frame of reference.
Think about what you are encountering and learning. Do you have the right starting point and do you have the right destination for the knowledge you are seeking to acquire? Having this perspective accelerates your learning and allows your to say with confidence, “I just don’t know it, yet!”.