I thought I would call your attention to two completely unrelated items that caught my eye this week . The first one is a photograph of Barack Obama that appeared on the Huffington Post the day after the election. When I saw Obama take the stage in Grant Park in Chicago after being elected I noticed his bearing seemed completely different. I noticed relief and exhaustion on his face. The authors of the Huffington Post story saw power, joy, grief and fatigue. It’s a powerful image of Barack Obama’s finest moment to date. Here’s what the authors had to say about Barack Obama as he took the stage after being elected President of the United States.

When Obama took the stage, we saw a man embodying a complex array of feeling. He looked tired, of course, and who wouldn’t be? A ten-year-old in the room, who hadn’t heard of the death of Barack’s grandmother, said “He looks sad.” It takes a deeply integrated person to let his grief be visible on a night of overwhelming victory. This is a key to his personality, and bodes well for the future of his presidency. It takes enormous strength to let your vulnerabilities rest so comfortably in yourself that they can be readily seen.

There was one emotion we’re glad was missing from Obama and the crowd in Grant Park: any sense of triumphant glee. We couldn’t help wondering if it would have been present in McCain’s supporters had the tables been turned. John McCain had to silence a few boos and jeers from his audience, but by and large they just looked sad, tired and meek.

Finally, we were deeply moved by Obama’s body language at the end, in the easy way he brought forth the other members of his and Biden’s family to share the stage. He seemed to melt into them, as if he knows deep in his bones that none of this is really about him as an individual ego. There’s a huge difference between needing to be the center of things and simply being in the middle of things. Somehow, despite all the adulation and glory (as well as the relentless attacks mounted by the other side) Obama still knows what he’s known all along: he’s one of us.

The second item is not nearly filled with the gravitas of the first item. This week in Kappa, Illinois a young golfer named Curt Hocker had…wait for it….5 holes-in-one in one week, including two in one round. According to a Golf Digest study, the odds of making one hole-in-one range from 5,000 to 33,000 to 1 but making 2 in one round the odds skyrocket to 67 million to one. Unbelievable. But here’s where the story gets a wee bit sticky for me. Hocker, also recorded 2 double eagles in the same round earlier this summer. A double eagle is three under par on one hole. For example, in order to score a double eagle on a par 5, one would need to hole out in 2 shots. It’s not impossible but check out these odds. Getting 1 double eagle is quoted at 6 million to one. There is no quote for two in one round. Here’s more perspective…Between 1983 to 2003, there were 631 aces on the PGA Tour but just 56 double-eagles – and never more than 6 in one year. Curt Hocker, congratulations but I hope you don’t mind if I am a little bit skeptical.

When you look at this photo, you won’t see sad. But for me, this is so completely sad that I have a difficult time looking at this photo. I won’t give you the complete details here but I believe there is an article being published in the next week or two that I will link to that will tell the whole story.

Here’s the nut and bolts of what happened: in 2004, my business partner and I purchased the red sandstone building on the right. (Here’s a link to the original story) While we knew we had bought one of Scotland’s most iconic buildings, we weren’t developers. We brought the building to a developer and as the years have passed, it has become apparent that the developer knows nothing about real estate also. What started as a great opportunity, one that I dreamed of long before we purchased the building, has turned into a sad tale of mismanagement, ego and greed. Very sad, indeed.

Photo Hunter

The Old Course, The R & A, Hamilton Hall

The Old Course, The R & A, Hamilton Hall


Today marks the one year anniversary of my retirement. I can honestly say that I hate not working. I have kept busy but I feel like I am not building accomplishments and I am very accomplishment driven.  I have talked to a few companies about going back to work but my resume (click under my photo on right to view) makes some back off a bit. It’s funny (not ha-ha funny) that success can be an obstacle. We all strive for it and then it becomes a hurdle. People sometimes think…what will be the next, great thing you will do? Under their breathe they are saying, “but you won’t be doing it with me.” It’s odd, really.

As you get older, your skill sets are your skill sets. You can be wildly proficient at them but don’t expect that you will be moving from investment banking to brain surgery. If “lawyer-ing” is your gig, it’s likely to remain so. You won’t drop everything and start teaching micro-biology.

I did drop everything to move from investment management, which I know a fair amount about, to real estate development, which I knew virtually nothing about. I learned a lot about real estate development but I learned a greater amount about people.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Get it in writing
  2. Make certain that the money is as big as the mouth
  3. Buildings are the manifestation of a developer’s ego
  4. If you’re the new guy, you’re always the new guy
  5. If you’re not family, never, ever go to work at a family business
  6. Borrowing is good when the economy is good but otherwise refer to #2
  7. If there’s a laundry list of firings at a business, expect that there’s trouble at the top
  8. Get your money up front. Never take a back-end participation when you have no control
  9. Look at a company’s failures before you look at their successes
  10. Expect that you will need to retain a lawyer and a forensic accountant





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