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Spring is nearly here.  Students are finishing their exams and heading to summer jobs or co-op jobs.  Some are graduating into the Real World.  And high school students are about to choose where they will spend their next four or five years.  It is a time of change, excitement and a bit of fear.

Many people have trouble dealing with change because, in my opinion, they misunderstand it.  Change is common; disruption is annoying.  So, learn to accept change by preparing to be the disruptor instead of the disruptee.

At the recent Toronto Real Estate Forum, Frank McKenna noted that Airbnb is now the world’s biggest hotel company and Uber is now the world’s biggest car company.  People are worried about the decline of the once-dominant manufacturing sector because the number of employees down, but output is up.  As he concluded: the Stone Age did not end to end because of a lack of stones.  It ended because there was a better alternative.

In the real estate industry, it may seem difficult to be entrepreneurial these days.  It does not have the same cool factor as writing code for a new killer app.  Currently, a lot of capital is looking for investment in Canada.  So, a sledgehammer approach to investing is very popular with large investors: buy almost anything.  A sledgehammer approach works for investors only if it produces a good cash flow over a long term: buying anything overlooks some opportunities and leads people to pay “too much” because it fails to maximize the value in others.

If you look past this, many changes are evident.  For example, using video drones in marketing, Big Data analytics leading to smart buildings and smart cities or new opportunities in new locations.

To think about change seriously, I suggest following some advice from Stanford University’s DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar.  Lots of people learn how to pitch a new idea and to explain why it would be good for an investor.  It may be better to ask (at min 30), who should not invest in this project?  Provocatively, this logic also leads some investors to argue on your behalf.  Or, for an established company (at min 41), ask the leaders about the most effective way to kill their own company (as if they were a competitor).

Good luck to everybody with changes in your future.  Good luck to the people about to graduate; we hope that you look on your time at Guelph fondly as you learn lots of things about the Real World.  Welcome to the next cohort of students.  We will introduce you to things you never considered before.  You will find lots of ways to contribute and to become the next generation of leaders.  The simple advice to everybody is to “expect the unexpected”.  The better advice is to prepare to take advantage of the good opportunities and learn to ignore the bad ones.

PA

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