Building Bridges By Banana Bread

A little over a year ago, I was given the chance to interview for a life changing job as a regional director of marketing and training for a national company with an excellent reputation.  In my eyes, at the time, I immediately saw it as a chance to sit at the grown-ups table, something I'd been longing to have for the last 2 or 3 years.  I wanted that job so much that I prepared for the interview by looking at all the existing marketing for the portfolio of communities that I would have been put in charge of, printing off apartment ratings, printing off poor pictures here and there, phone shopping the communities to see how the leasing consultants did and even shopping 5 of the communities that were closest to me.    I went in and interviewed with the big guy and we had a great chat and connected very well.  The only problem is that I was just too young both in age and in professionalism at the time, and despite all of my mental prep work, emotionally I wasn't ready for that position.  I recently met the gal who was selected for the position and I must say, the hiring choice was dead right, and though I was let down at the time, I've never regretted the experience or having the chance to connect with the person at that company.

One of the questions that he asked me in my interview had to do with how would I, a very young person in their professional career, convince senior regionals to come around to my ideas for marketing and training.  It was an incredibly valid and excellent question, because the longer we work somewhere and the longer we do things a certain way, the harder it is to turn that ship of thought around.

Today, an contact on twitter reported that she was sure her market surveys from her comps weren't true and that she didn't know why, if she always gave out the truth when they called, they would make up numbers when they talked to her.  Again, the boat has been going in the same direction for years, playing covert games to psych out other leasing agents, it's going to take a while to turn it all around.

My answer to bot h situations is the same (though one in a figurative and one in a quite literal sense):

"Build bridges by banana bread"

My mother, who I'm sure would be a shrewd business woman if she ever left the world of academia, once told me that it's hard to slam the door in someone's face if they're carrying coffee and banana bread.  If you have new ideas, or a new way of doing things, you're going to need to soften the initial blow of telling someone that they way they've been doing things for the last 40 years, or even 40 days, isn't going to work anymore.  You're going to need to make friends.  You're going to need an ally.   Banana bread helps accelerate this process.

New ideas are vital to any industry, and especially to property management in a time when it's economics by Cybil, but the success of that new idea or path greatly depends on how we present it to those who have walked the road before.  You must be careful not to insult the wisdom and experience of these people.  Recognize their knowledge and don't dismiss it as, "what got us in to this mess," but rather embrace the good parts of what they've done and try to show them that without their foundational blocks, these new ideas couldn't build in to skyscrapers.  Remember to take your banana bread with you.

Heather's Book List

Why, "One Out, One In," Doesn't Equate