I just got back into town after spending four days in my old stomping grounds of northern California. The San Francisco peninsula to be more specific, about halfway between San Francisco and San Jose. My wife and I lived there for six years after grad school until we moved to Michigan.
The occasion was my wife’s 30 year High School Reunion.
I think you get the picture.
While she and I did get the chance to sneak up to Napa for a day, for the most part I spent my time with the other husbands that had been cast aside for the weekend. Calling it being cast aside may be a bit harsh, as we did get to play golf at a country club where the membership fee is $425,000.
I hadn’t been back there in a few years, and as we husbands were sitting by the pool at a $2.6 million, 3000 square foot home smoking Cuban cigars and drinking 18 year old scotch I realized that our two states were worlds apart. I think that’s called a blinding flash of the obvious.
How far apart? Well the town we were in made Bloomfield Hills look like Madison Heights – not a single home had sold for less than $1.5 million in over two years. I saw three Ferraris in three blocks driving down the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco. The husband of my wife’s best childhood friend is in the process of buying a Lamborghini because he thinks Ferraris are too common.
THAT far apart.
And yet – do you know what the other husbands all wanted to talk about? Even the guy buying the Lamborghini?
My real estate business and the real estate market here in Michigan. Too funny.
So that’s what we talked about. All the foreclosures, the difficulties that the automotive companies were having, the union contract problems, the tax increases. And all the opportunities that these seemingly unfavorable situations present.
Do you know what struck me first? Their open-mindedness. We had barely gotten into a discussion on how bad things were here before they all recognized what a buying opportunity it is. They immediately focused on the upside potential, and that’s all that mattered to them. I have to tell you that I’ve been talking to my brother here about this now for three years and he STILL refuses to see it. Unfortunately he’s like most of the people here – they focus solely on coming up with lots of reasons NOT to act.
To be blunt, that’s why California is California. There’s an excitement and vibrancy that I feel when I’m there, especially in Northern California and Silicon Valley in particular. An anticipation that great things are about to happen. And that’s what I miss most about the place. People are always looking for opportunities; they’re always looking for the next great thing, and they always keep their eyes open. Nothing is impossible, and they know that the next great thing is right around the corner and they want to be part of it. It’s impossible to convey the feeling with any accuracy at all – you need to be there and feel it to really understand.
For a long time after I moved here I tried to convert people to thinking that way. I failed pretty much every time. So I decided to stop banging my sword on a rock and change my approach instead to seeking out other people that already think the same way and hang out with them.
I found that it’s a lot more fun that way.