This past May I participated in altMBA, an intensive, 4-week online workshop designed by Seth Godin for individuals from around the world who want to “level up and lead”.
The 4-week sprint, conducted entirely online through Slack, WordPress, and Zoom, included 12 project prompts (3 each week) covering topics such as goal setting, business models, decision-making, empathy, change agents, leverage and constraints, opportunity costs, and boundaries. Each prompt built off the lessons learned in the previous one.
It was the most challenging 30 days of my life. There was an overwhelming amount of reading and many ways to interpret the prompts. However, the coaches urged us to “trust the process” and be willing to be vulnerable.
Before I dive into the specifics of what I took away, I wanted to talk a bit about why I chose apply for the program. I committed because I felt stuck in a rut. I joined Atlas over 6 years ago, directly out of grad school. It was my first real job in real estate and I was ready to tackle the world.
Since then, the company has grown rapidly, I’ve learned a lot, and my responsibilities have increased. I have the autonomy to run with my own projects and create value beyond my job description. It’s a role most young people in the real estate industry would die for.
However, there are moments where my motivation wanes, days where I go through the motions, getting my work done, but lacking the creativity and drive needed to do meaningful work. I wake up with little energy and enthusiasm for work and leave at night excited to do something different. It’s an awful feeling.
I committed to the altMBA to regain my hunger, bring about change within my organization, to level up in my career, and to make a ruckus. Reflecting on the program 3 months later, I can say accomplished just that.
Here are some of my main takeaways and how I’ve applied them to my work.
Goal Setting is an Art
Everyone recognizes the importance of goal-setting. Without a destination, the journey is always longer and more tiresome, so mark a spot on the map. During the altMBA, we used Zig-Ziglar’s template for creating effective goals.
When setting goals, it’s important to identify the most challenging obstacles and detail specifically how you’re going to overcome them. You also need to clearly understand why you’re excited about your goal and what will keep you motivated when things get tough. And anything worth doing always gets tough!
I’ve since set several professional goals for myself, following the Zig Ziglar framework to help me achieve them. I’ve determined the viability of launching a direct investment platform, mapped out our ideal operating partner, and put together a 12-month plan for the blog. With each goal, I determined what’s in it for me, the obstacles I must overcome, the skills and knowledge required, who will help me, my action plan, and the specific deadlines. This process has helped me stay focused and enabled me to overcome the hard parts.
The Value of Empathy / How to be a Change Agent
My single biggest takeaway from the program is that “empathy is the currency for change.” Without understanding all your emotions, and those of others, your worldview, their worldviews, your drive, their drive and their journey’s, you’ll be heading to an empty destination. By understanding other’s worldview’s, one can better understand the reasoning behind the choices they. This video on “outrospection” is particularly powerful.
Building off the importance of empathy, the altMBA taught me how to be a change agent within my organization. It’s important to understand the goals of the decision-makers and align what you’re trying to achieve with those goals. By establishing trust and tapping into the world views of the decision-makers, you can bring about real change.
When I pitch a new deal or company initiative, I first think about the goals of the decision-makers and how this new deal/initiative will be viewed by them. Will it align with their goals? If not, is there another way to pitch it?
Recognizing Your Assets, Removing Boundaries, and Changing the Narrative you tell Yourself is key to your Success
When thinking about what can make your company successful, start by listing out your assets, both tangible and intangible; for Atlas it’s access to capital, a strong track record, intellectual capital, passionate real estate professionals, relationships, creative thinking, strong balance sheet/liquidity, recurring fees etc.
What are the boundaries you choose to live with? Do you have to only focus on 1 asset class in 1 specific market? Can you only do deals below $10M? Do you really lack the experience and track record to partner with institutional capital providers? Are you unqualified for that job? The internal narrative that you tell himself is what creates some of the boundaries that shouldn’t exist.
What is the narrative that you tell yourself? You have 2 kids and a mortgage so you can’t take the risk of doing your own deals. You’re too old to make a career change. You don’t have the experience to apply for that job. You’re too junior to make that pitch.
If you can change the narrative, stop living in your current worldview, and remove boundaries, you can accomplish more than you expect.
The Importance of Community
As an altMBA alumni, I join the ranks of a diverse group of talented professionals who seek to help others without the expectation of getting anything in return, who care about the world around them, and who will continue to make a ruckus.
Real estate is all about relationships. Find your tribe and do everything you possibly can to ensure they’re successful. In return, you’ll be successful.
The altMBA has changed me in many ways, but now the real work begins.