Property Management Blog

Embracing Change and Creativity


Bob Preston - Thursday, October 8, 2020
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The following blog post is a time stamped, full transcript of Episode 46 of the Property Management Brainstorm show. The episode was recorded October 1, 2020 and published on the Property Management Brainstorm Podcast. The audio version of this podcast can be found at this link of the North County Property Group website, as Episode 46 -Creativity in Property Management: Property Management Brainstorm Show.


Bob Preston:                     01:10                    Welcome brainstormers to the property management brainstorm show. This is Bob Preston, your host broadcasting from our studio at North County Property Group in Del Mar California. If you're new to the show or you haven't subscribed before, please, we know you want to subscribe to all these episodes. So you have ongoing access and notification for all the great episodes that come your way from our show in the future. And if you'd like what you hear or you like what you've previously heard on the show, please pay it forward with a positive review. It would really help our show. It would make our day and also encourage more great guests to come on the show. So you get great content on a regular basis. I'd like to start the show with a hypothetical question. Is property management, a creative business in our business of being a landlord and managing rental property? Is there an open book as a landscape for innovation? I'm guessing that there are a lot of listeners today who are landlords and many would say not many property managers I speak with are still utilizing old school ways of doing things and the same processes they've been using for years. But from my perspective, I would have to answer all contraire. I believe that in this business we call property management, we are undergoing a paradigm shift with lots of room for creative thinking, innovation and new ways of approaching how we run our businesses. I have with me as a guest today Nir Bashan to offer his insights on how we can and should be embracing change and creativity in the property management industry. Hey, welcome to property management. Brainstorm. Great to have you here today. Hey, a good place to start is if you can tell our listeners a bit about yourself, your book, The Creator Mindset, that would be fantastic. And how you came to be a thought leader in the area of creativity. 

Nir Bashan:                       03:00                    You know, it, it's a really interesting story. So, I spent a lot of my childhood in Los Angeles in recording studios from about the age of 14 onto about 21, really? And I work. Yeah, isn't that crazy? And I worked on, you know, at first it was all the local bands, you know, like, uh, like the guy next door had a band, you know, he was in high school, I was in junior high and he was like, Oh, we're going to the recording studio and I'd sit in the back. Right. And it started that way. And then towards the end of, um, that type of work, I mean, I work with people like Rod Stewart and these famous musicians. Isn't that wild.

Bob Preston:                     03:29                    That's crazy. My daughter has a garage band. She's 15. I got to turn you on to some of her music. Yeah.

Nir Bashan:                       03:35                    So here's the thing, right? When you're in a band or, or you're making music or you're DJ or something, it's only as good as what you can record so that you could show people what you've done. If you're just playing live, which is fantastic. You know, you can't replicate that experience every time you can't get the band out and, you know, book a show and all this stuff, so you need to record it. And that's what led me down that road. Cause I was in band and then I wanted to record it so I could show my friends how cool it was, you know? So I ended up working on these really great albums and I noticed Bob that no matter how amazing the musician was, uh, they were no different than you or me. So, they would come into the recording studio, uh, with, you know, a notebook and sort of an approach to creativity that they could replicate. And they worked on a method, a system of having creativity and they were able to replicate it on demand. And I thought to myself, that's a very interesting thing. You know, you, you, you kind of fall in love with these stars, uh, but they're just like us. And then later I worked in Hollywood and I worked with real stars, right? Real movie, you know, celebrities and this and that. And they were the same thing. They had a technique to replicate. And so I borrowed a bunch of things from Hollywood and from music and a bunch of things from corporate America and different fields. I've worked, I've property managed for eight years, a multifamily property. And, you know, I've had a, a business where I was doing furniture, refinishing in Los Angeles. So I've had a lot of different sort of fields that I borrowed the best of the best from. And that's how the book came about. I started writing down a recipe of how to repeat success, no matter what it is that you do.

Bob Preston:                     05:22                    Codified creativity. Is that a fair way to say it? Or is that too, I guess, mathematical to apply to something like creativity?

Nir Bashan:                       05:29                    No, absolutely. It's really a technique that codifies creativity, it's a doing sort of thing. I'm not a theorist, I'm not a professor or something like that. This is real world knowledge that can help anybody look at a situation and solve problems creatively.

Bob Preston:                     05:49                    One thing I like about your background is that you were a property manager before or in property management. So today's episode, I don't think is specifically about property management. It's really about working on your own creator mindset and being creative and how that could be applied really in any industry. It just so happens today. We're talking about property management, right? So are there different levels or types of creativity? For example, I mean there's artistic creativity like your actors or your musicians. There are, there's probably organizational creativity. Like how can I make my business organized properly to maximize income and our revenue and our profitability, and then there's creative approaches to actually running your business on a day to day basis. So how do you define creativity and maybe more importantly, what is the creator mindset?

Nir Bashan:                       06:34                    It's a very, very good question. So Bob, I feel that, you know, uh, art and music and painting and sculpture is just one tiny little slice of the whole of creativity. I believe that creativity is much bigger than what we tend to think of as being, uh, creativity, which is art or music or something like that. And for me create the creator mindset is really a system that can solve any problem that is not, um, analytical in nature. So we've gotten really good over the years, Bob of seeing things in an analytical way. We love our P& L sheet. We love Excel. You know, we can look at vacancies and we can look at, you know, occupancies and get, you know, yeah, look, I have the numbers. I feel really good, but what happens is in any field, but especially in, in, in property management, um, those numbers don't always give you a complete picture of what's going on. It could be that, you know, a building is, you know, in bad repair, it could be that, you know, the prices are too high. There's all kinds of factors that can go into why those numbers don't mean what they mean yet. We're so in an amazing.

Bob Preston:                     07:49                    Word in this industry, or KPI's right, you've probably heard the term key performance indicators and that's the way a lot of property managers run their business only on KPIs. Right?

Nir Bashan:                       07:57                    Definitely. And for me, those numbers are not the full picture. So we have two parts of our brain, one part of the analytical and one parts, creative, uh, one part takes care of, you know, one plus one equals two and all that stuff. And then the other part, you know, like my son, he's three and a half, we order a toy on Amazon, right. And the box comes and he literally takes the toy out of the box and plays with the box for two hours. Right. That's we, you know, so we've lost that sense of problem solving. Looking at a box as a magical castle and you know, a great escape of the world to do something wild with we've lost that sense of creativity. And what ends up happening is we go through school, we get older, we get out of the military, whatever our path is. And we discover that we are bereft of problem-solving skills, right? We, we look for the, because that's what we were taught. We look at KPIs, we look at all of these analytical constructs and we still wonder why they're not working, why they're not giving us a complete picture, why they're not allowing us to solve problems fully. And for me, I've found over and over again, no matter what business from property management to manufacturing that, unless we activate the creative part of our mind in order to solve problems in a different and new way, we're forever stuck in the old way of doing things. 

Bob Preston:                     09:28                    Do you think that's part of becoming an adult almost right? Like you get taught to, Oh, you got to get a job, you got to pay the bills. You got to make your mortgage, you have to get married, you have to have, you know, two plus kids. And like you get sort of squeezed into this, maybe more narrow mindset as you try to accomplish things in your life. I mean, do you, do you find that?

Nir Bashan:                       09:47                    Absolutely. I think it's, it's, it's a sort of a societal construct which tells us, Hey, you know, if you do it this way, then you'll be successful. But the problem is is that yeah, it works. And I'm, I'm not advocating at all for people to abandon the analytical mindset because I think it's really good. I'd like people to add creativity on top of that mindset and, you know, sort of unite the different powers of the, of the mind in order to solve problems better. Listen, what I believe is that analytics will take you 50% of the way there literally 50% of the way there. And you know, that means that yeah, business is going to work a, uh, um, a company is going to do okay, a professional's going to get, you know, uh, to a certain level, but the different between excelling and doing amazing in your business or your career or what not, is the lack of creativity that you add on to the analytics. So for me, it's about balance and bringing two portions of the mind together in order to do way, way, way better than you're currently doing. Yes.

Bob Preston:                     10:56                    So there are a lot of people in the industry who are pushing and advocating things like analytics, AI, you know, track your KPIs, efficiency, ratios, all this kind of stuff, but are we, to your point in danger of losing that creative side of things and how do we as property management companies, then now that we recognize this, Hey, we have this other 50% we need to unleash, how do we do that? What's the key.

Nir Bashan:                       11:20                    So I work with companies all the time. I'm a consultant mainly I also do, you know, webinars and keynotes and stuff like that. Um, which I really enjoy. And I work with companies all the time, Bob who bring me in, right? And they go, okay, Nair, we have a piece of machinery, right? And it's, it costs this much money and it does this, you know, manufacturing or whatnot and what we need you to help us do. And your, your creative, what we need you to help us do is get 0.0, zero, zero, 3% more efficiency out of the machine. I'm like, why? They're like, well, because if we're able to get more efficiency out of the machine, then you know, down the line we save, here we go, 2% on the, when we ship it. And then it arrives at the customer. We've made, you know, 4% more. I'm like, okay, what is the customer buying? They're like, well, this is a, you know, this is a part that needs to get made. And I asked, I started asking questions and the questions are not, how can we get 0.4, zero, zero, 4% more efficiency? The question is, what is your relationship to the market? What are you really doing? And I worked with this particular company a while ago, right before the, um, right before COVID-19. And you know, what we ended up finding out was that instead of looking at, you know, maximizing the 50%, right by 0.0, zero, zero 4%, you'll never get past the 50%. You're at 50% at best. I mean, that's, if you're an analytical monster, right. If you've been at best. And so I started to ask them, well, what did this product really mean? And leadership started to come around to the idea that they weren't really in the manufacturing business, Bob, they were in the trust business because they built parts to a tolerance that work was so defined their customers, aerospace, aviation, we're buying part from them because they wanted to trust the brand and trust how to use it. So, what I ask you and your listeners who are in property management is what business are you really in? And that business that you're in is far more powerful, identifying who you are and what it is that you do taps into the creative side. And that's far more powerful and far better for your bottom line. Then just looking at an efficiency, uh, technique or, or whatnot. So I asked, you know, Bob, you own a very successful property management company. There's no way in God's green earth that you arrived, where you are because you fell into it. There's a reason you're doing what you're doing.

Bob Preston:                     13:53                    Absolutely. My background, you shared a little of yours. And some of my listeners know this. I mean, I came out of Silicon Valley, right? I mean, you know, that was kind of the, you know, the guru mentality and whatnot. But I moved back to San Diego in the late nineties and jumped off the Silicon Valley treadmill. And, uh, I tried to hire some property managers, quick story here, couldn't find anybody. I mean, they were using sticky notes and spreadsheets, you know, and all this kind of stuff, and I'm going, you got to be kidding me. You know? And so I started managing my own properties. And what I found is to your point is this interesting collaborative process of basically helping people solve problems. I mean, that's how I view what we do every day. That's what drove me into property management. So, you know, the Simon Sinek thing, that's kind of my why, right? Why I get up and do this every day. I just happened to be in property management. Cause I like to help people solve their problems. And this is an industry chock full of the opportunity to do that on a daily basis.

Nir Bashan:                       14:43                    That's right. And that, that gets you excited and that's kind of your, your creative DNA. So I believe that we're all born and I, in the book, I talk about studies where babies are solving problems before language skills take place, where they're able to creatively look at a bottle and a cherry on go, Hmm, okay. If I shake the bottle or move it, we're gifted with these amazing creative problem solving potential. And then as we get older, exactly, like you said before, married 2.2 kids, a mortgage and you know, all of this stuff, it takes us away from where we are. But if we're able to look and at our career, look at why we are in property management and say to ourselves, why am I really doing this? The answer that you give, the answer that your competitor gives, the answer that your listeners are going to give are going to be as unique as they are themselves. No two creative answers are ever going to be the same. And that answer to that question is your market differentiator. And it is why somebody is going to engage with you rather than engage with someone else. And instead of spending all of this time and money and effort, trying to efficient, you know, get a process more efficient, or look at the spreadsheet and figure out why there's a vacancy here. Or, you know, this place has been occupied for, you know, 10 years and it's rent control. And we cannot, we only get 2% a year or whatever problem it is. Start to look at why it is that you're doing what you're doing. And in that you will find a wealth of information of how to market yourself, how to get to the next stage, how to present yourself to the business in a different way. So on and so forth. And those things are, are where the real advancements are that now tapping into that 50% of reservoir, that's just sitting there waiting for you to cap.

Bob Preston:                     16:33                    Yeah, that's really powerful in that way. I've talked on some of my episodes about the growth of the business and how in the early days it was so different, right? I mean, I started the business in my spare bedroom with a couple of people who wanted me to manage their properties. You know, now the business has grown to the point where we do, we have a lot of things that we brought in for helping our efficiency, but every now and then I'll walk around the office or I'll talk to somebody and I'll observe the way they're doing something. And why are you doing it that way? And they'll say, and they'll say, well, that's how you taught me to do this, you know, five years ago or something I'm like really, okay, we still have these Bob legacy ways that are floating around in the business that nobody's really stopped to think, you know, is this still a smart way to do this? Or might there be a better way with these resources we have available to us? What's the secret recipe to stepping back from this, looking at things, maybe in a bigger picture,

Nir Bashan:                       17:24                    The technique I call the concept idea and execution and you grab a pen and I do this every day and it is literally a way to manufacture creativity. The concept is the biggest way of thinking of what you do. It is the sky high satellite view. But the idea is the middle level view. It's kind of like the street level. You know, you could see maybe to the end of the block, but not much further, that sort of thing. And the view is the electron microscope view, right? That's where you see atoms interacting. You can't tell no matter how hard you try what those atoms are building, and that's where you and I I'll admit it. Uh, and a lot of people spend most of their careers. We spend our careers working in our business and not on our now, if we're able to look at the idea and then look all the way at the concept, we start to realize that what we do is maybe a service to others. It may be, you know, a way to, uh, better our community and better who we are as people and, you know, sort of lift up the level of standard of living. Once you're able to tap into those different elements, you're able to separate yourself from, you know, waiting for the plumber to arrive, to do the certain tasks into a bigger, bigger picture idea. And that bigger picture idea will then allow you to say, okay, you know, let's start to get created. Maybe it is, I'm doing a ton of plumbing related work. Maybe I North County property group should now acquire a small mom and pop with three trucks, bring them into the fold and start to provide those services myself. Maybe it is now I'm getting creative, right? Maybe it is relooking at our business and our billing model. I did a lecture for a, uh, disaster restoration company. Uh, Bob, this is now February right before, uh COVID. And I told them that they should do a, you know, they should look at their billing models. Somebody came up to me afterward and was like near my father started this company and blah, blah, blah. If it ain't broke, why fix it? I said, cool. Are you happy? Like happy? Huh? I guess nobody has really asked me that. I was like, yeah. Do you like coming into work? I'm like, no, no, it's a business. And it works. I'm like, dude, you should be like super happy. You know, it's your dad's legacy. Right. And he's like, yeah, I guess I lost a little bit of touch with that. I said, okay, what, what, you know, what are you thinking about doing? You'd be like, well, you know, when you said the billing, uh, changing our billing model, I just laugh because why, why on, why would we do that? And I said, okay, why not? And he's like, well, you know, we're industry standard, whatever, three and a half percent profit that's are you happy with that? He'd like, well, absolutely not that that's something that we need to work on. I said, okay, what is your, um, what is your current billing model? And you'd be like, well, so it's a lump sum. And I have 17 pages that goes out to the client, they sign and we come out and do the work. I'm like, have you ever read the 17 pages? He's like, yeah. And like 83, I'm like, do you think that your customers read it? And you're like, no. Well, how would you know? I'm like, can I call three customers that you sent it to? He was like, absolutely not near me not calling my customer. So we got into a little bit of a, uh, of an engagement, a consulting engagement. I called the three customers. Right. They were like, absolutely not. I just signed and looked on Yelp to see what the review was or whatever. I was like, okay. Would you be willing to be our Guinea pig to look at a new system? And the customer said, sure. So what we did again, we got creative. The property management business is ripe for creativity. It is ripe for change. And it's, there's so much hesitation there that I don't know why it exists and I'm on a mission to banish that kind of stuff. But anyway, we did an all a cart billing model, all a cart in disaster restoration. What heresy, like you ever does that. And so the Allah cart business model, if you added all of it up added to about like 13 or 14% more than the lump sum that they charged since 1983. Okay. And if you just added one line, yeah, there was a loss of money, but we found that we rolled this out in an entire region and we found that most people go for the lower item, you know, the, whatever fixing this or that. And then when they see the way that the company behave, they see the interaction with people, which is incredibly important. People run businesses, not businesses anyway. So when they saw, you know, people did a good job, they put the little booties on, you know, when they got into people's homes and all of that stuff, people loved it. And most customers ended up going from one item on the oligarch to the whole damn thing. And we ended up increasing the revenues by an amazing amount. What are your listeners thinking about right now in their business that they can maybe change radically from the way things have been done, you know, property management, what did it, we take 30%, 15%, 20% of the rents or whatnot. And we kind of move on our day, well, start thinking and getting a little bit more creative. What can you do? That's completely different than the other person to maybe start with a lower charge, introduce yourself, your company, your employees, your philosophy, your way of life, your creativity, into that potential opportunity, and then grow it by doing what it is that you know, that you're really good at the business of property. Management's incredibly ripe for change.

Bob Preston:                     23:05                    Yeah. And I guess the trick to that would not just be check building, you know, like, would you like fries with that? Right. My first job, by the way, was that McDonald's right. And we were always taught to ask that, right. Would you like fries with that? How about a, you know, I'm a milkshake, right, right. Supersize. Yeah. Actually I think the key to that is doing things to add value, right? So are there things you can build onto your normal service, maybe that you've been doing it that way for 30 years, that adds value that somebody would want, right? Because you're already in the home or you're already working with the tenant or you're already working with, you know, these different aspects of the property that allow you to kind of bolt on other things that you can do at the time.

Nir Bashan:                       23:43                    What an amazing opportunity, you know, what a lot of people squander it and that's infuriating to me. Like they tell me near I'm trying, I can't grow my business. It's like, what opportunities are right in front of you that you're not totally looking at every milestone and leaving no, you know, no rock, no stone unturned. What are you just stumbling through? One thing I talk about in the book that your listeners can do today to become more creative is the value of little victories. There was an ice cream machine salesman many years ago who wanted to sell a bunch of ice cream machine and his analytical construct was volume. So I'm going to get a list. I'm going to call work the phones, whatever. And I'm going to get a lot of people to buy machines, but any analytical business hits a 50% sort of roof. Um, and then it starts to kind of, kind of, you know, squander and his business did the same thing, but he noticed that there was a restaurant in California that kept ordering these machines. And so he showed up one day, there was a line around the block. He waited and he had, you know, the best cheeseburger he's headed this entire life. Like this cheeseburger, the best thing ever. And the guy's name was Ray crock. And the restaurant was, have you guessed it, your Alma mater McDonald's right. So what little things, loads, little victories are happening along the way, those little breadcrumbs that are happening in your property management business, that you're like steamrolling path because you're working on your one year or your three year or your five-year, which if I'm going to guess is probably volume. It's more property. It's more, more, more and more okay. Fun. Those are good things. But what are the little breadcrumbs telling you that, you know, are you really getting a lot of plumbing work? It may be time to integrate with a small mom and pop or joint venture with another group to drive the prices down a little bit, to maximize the quality of service. There's so much creativity that can be applied. It's right there in front of you just got to look at the little breadcrumbs.

Bob Preston:                     25:48                    And Emma came in March, right? Covert we're doing this show in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic felt kind of like a SmackDown, you know, like, man, I mean, I was really, I was really scared for a couple of months and it put us in crisis mode and I think Winston Churchill said, you know, never waste a good crisis. Right. And I didn't realize it at the time, but we started changing all these procedures and the way we did things, uh, basically for the safety and security of our tenants, our property owners and our, and our staff changed a bunch of things. And then I think it was a couple months later, three months later, I'm kind of like, wow, we're doing really well as a company when I was just three months ago, scared to death almost. Right. I didn't even know if we were going to survive.

Bob Preston:                     26:31                    And so sometimes I'm wondering if a crisis can actually help push people into things that I don't know if it's was the creativity or we were forced to do it, but some of the things we implemented, like self-showings, right? Super innovative thing. Okay. Here's a code, give us your driver's license. You know, go show yourself and then snap a picture of yourself, putting the key back in the lock box and everything being locked up. So we've done some things like this, and we're never going back. I mean, these are, these are things we've implemented that will never change. I'm kind of curious how other companies are reacting to the crisis right. Of the pandemic and what you're seeing in the market today,

Nir Bashan:                       27:02                    What I'm seeing is companies like yours who are doing amazing work, changing the paradigm of a showing into a key, take a picture, text it, you know, uh, and texts it when it's back with your driver's license. And I'm seeing companies that have just been stuck, you know, just like what happened, you know, we're crawling in the fetal position we're giving up. So it's either you constantly change and you constantly grow or you kind of get defeated by, by the environment. And it is critical that every company today not stop because of the crisis. It's listen, this is going to pass at some point and there'll be a new crisis or a new something on the horizon. I, um, I laugh because I have employees who were born in a time and are working now in a time where they've never seen a hard time. They don't remember 9/11, they weren't born. Then they don't remember the Gulf war or Vietnam or anything like that. They weren't around, you know? And they, they think that [inaudible] is like the worst thing they had ever. They're like, Oh my God, we're all going to die. Like it's going to be, yes, it's a serious thing. And it's really, really horrible. And everybody has to be safe. And where are your mask and social distance. I'm not knocking that at all. But I am saying that in the grand scheme of things, like humanity's been through a couple of things, right? We've been through a couple of things and it's not, when this thing will, you know, if it will end it to when it will end and what the next thing will be a company that saves vibrant is one that continually innovate, not just waiting for a crisis to hit the idea about putting a driver license in the key and self-showings is incredibly innovative, but do not stop there. What else can we do to continually innovate so that when the next crisis hits, you're already ahead of the curve and you're already doing things a little bit different, a little bit smarter, a little bit more creative, and that'll help you write out the storm way better than just throwing your head back and saying, you know what, I've, I'm doing everything that I can and living with, whatever it is that you're doing, you know, that you did yesterday.

Bob Preston:                     29:07                    I like to pick up on something that I heard you say, you use the word innovation or innovative there's creativity, and then there's innovation. And I'm kind of wondering if they're the same thing or if they're different. And then I guess the other point I would like to make is the reason we're able to do things like self-showing is that there's now technology available that allows us to do that. You know? So it's kind of this interesting blend of creativity, innovation and technology. What's the difference between creativity and innovation? Is there a difference or are they the same thing?

Nir Bashan:                       29:33                    Yeah, it's a good question for me, Bob creativity is the grander sort of idea and innovation at the of innovation is we're going to get an app. It's the execution really? We're going to get an app and the app is going to allow us to do this, that, or the other thing, creativity is not dependent on an app or technology or any AI or anything like that. Creativity is the power that powers all of those ideas. And the once the creativity gets into an idea form that is replicable and working, then it becomes an innovation

Bob Preston:                     30:08                    Using this self-showing as an example, by the way, that's the only one, you know, example, right? There's tons of stuff we did. All right. The creativity was, Oh my God got this crisis. We've got to figure out a way to make it safe for a prospective tenant to go see a property without going in and being afraid that they're going to be around somebody who might have COVID-19. So what can we do? Right? And then this technology is available that allows for self-showing. So getting the right lockbox code and having the platform in place to be able to do that, provide somebody with a code that's kind of the innovation side of it or the implementation. Okay, cool. What about company culture? Does company culture play a role in driving creativity within an organization?

Nir Bashan:                       30:47                    A lot of people that I work with think it's a top down approach, right? That once the leadership gets creative, everybody else will, but there's an amazing value in establishing creativity in all parts of the organization. I get this a lot. Bob people think, Oh, you know, we're going to have near come in and near, it's going to help us start a department. We're going to call it the innovation department. And that's it. We're done. We've checked the box.

Bob Preston:                     31:11                    We got this apartment. Let's go. And then everything's going to be better.

Nir Bashan:                       31:14                    Yeah. Right, right. Which is, which is cool. I mean, that's, you know, it's a standard analytical approach to problem solving. We need such and such department. That's going to do such and such work, let them go and do it. But that doesn't really work with creativity. Creativity has to be embedded in the entire organization. I'll give you a really good example. There was an engineer many years ago who came up with a technology that was able to take pictures and record them on like a, like a tape, like a two inch tape machine. And they, you know, you could play them back and everything. And they were, you know, the first digital pictures ever created, and the guy works at a company called Kodak and they literally looked at that innovation and threatening. They were like, Oh, nobody would ever, ever want to take a picture digitally.

Nir Bashan:                       32:04                    People want to hold pictures in their hand. And they want to feel film and you know, the whole deal. And they squandered away a creative opportunity because the culture was not set up to appreciate and champion creativity, no matter where it comes from, you have egos that get involved. You have, you know, people's personalities that get involved in conflict of whose idea was it and this kind of stuff. But what I advocate is for, uh, an environment where ideas can be generated no matter where they come from within the organization. And it's not just enough to have those ideas, it's then celebrating and championing those creative ideas to some form of innovation that we can act upon

Bob Preston:                     32:45                    An interesting topic. Like how do you create that? I'm going to say work environment, but it's more of your company to be inspired, to think creatively. And I guess that's what I am trying to get at here with this next question is, okay. It's one thing for me as the CEO of North County property group to take the time to step back and think creatively. But is that something that I should expect from my team or the people that are doing things the Bob legacy way from five years ago on a daily basis. And I try to correct all those things by the way, but there are still some things that I watch people being very methodical with their approach that are kind of slow and maybe there's new ways of doing things. Should I expect my team to be able to all of a sudden think creatively and break out of that mold and come in with new ideas when we have our staff meetings,

Nir Bashan:                       33:27                    The short answer is yes. The long answer is that there is no way Bob, that you're going to able to do it all yourself. There's no way I've worked with a lot of businesses, you know, sort of capped at that two, 300 employees sort of range. And there's someone usually at the head of the company who's like near. I'm really great. And look, I've done all of the things and it's been great. And you know, the staff is not creative. They're not feeling that they're participating in that because the owner or the leadership team feels like, you know, if they're not doing it, nobody will. Um, it's a mistake. We have to integrate creativity into the different forms and factors of the company. Now you need to do that and not just expect it magically to appear it. Creativity is a tool like any other, you give, you know, your property manager, it's trucks, so they can go out to the property. All of that truck is a tool, right? And creativity is the same thing. It's just a tool. Once you learn how to do it, and you, you sort of embed it into different parts of the organization, then you need to nurture it as it starts to come up, you're going to get some really bad ideas. And that, that happened, like, you know, we need a different, uh, Karen K-cups, you know, we, we only have this Colombian flavor, but I want Kona and you're going to get that idea. So, okay. That that's going to happen

Bob Preston:                     34:47                    Pong table. Right. I mean, if we had a ping pong table, we get all the money.

Nir Bashan:                       34:51                    Yeah. More creative. Yeah. But you're also going to get some golden nuggets, right? You're going to get, uh, a staff member. Who's going to say, you know what, I want to do this initiative. They're going to do the research. They're going to present you like a package that really is ready for you to sign or write a check for, or collaborate with other companies and stuff like that. Um, when we empower our staff, not just leadership, but our staff to become creative, their relationship with the vendors that provide this or that service, then become a little bit more special. And they'll say, you know, in a weekly meeting, or you can write it down and put post-its up. And then, you know, once a week kind of visit those posts, sits with a team. However, it is that you organize your meetings and your communications. I've seen people do it over email, but once you sort of get this participation, you're going to receive a bunch of ideas and nurturing them and nurturing those relationships that you cannot possibly do all yourself. That's why you have a staff enabling them to think more creatively about how to prop a solve problems. It's going to elevate every aspect of your company.

Bob Preston:                     36:01                    As I'm listening to you speak about that, those processes and expecting more from your employees or putting them in a position where they can be creative. I think of the word delegation, right? If you're not delegating to your people and encouraging that level of creativity, you're, you're always going to have this sort of, um, hub and spoke type arrangement, right? You're you, as the leader of your business is going to be that hub in the middle and all your people are just going to come. Everything's going to run through Bob, right. Are going to run through near. And that's how it was in the early day with my business, right. Everything ran through me and it got to the point where, you know what, I can't do this anymore. So you sort of have to start as a business leader to let go of things delegate. And you know, it was interesting when the pandemic hit. And I was speaking with one of my daughters on the beach the other day. And she was telling me that when the epidemic hit her owner, just the owner of her business just came in and took over like, Oh my God, you know, this is what we're going to do, freak out mode. And maybe that was necessary. And I saw myself a little bit and what she was describing, right. Where all of a sudden they were meeting by zoom instead of, you know, staff meetings. And there was a sense of the need to control things. And maybe that crisis mode, like I talked about was good in some ways, because it forced us to do some things differently that maybe needed to happen anyway. But what I found is, and I heard this from my daughter too, is that okay? Two, three, four months later, we had lost some of that freedom within the organization for the people to be creative and inspired feel like they're empowered. So it's interesting. Are you seeing that happening in perhaps in the COVID-19 era?

Nir Bashan:                       37:29                    Oh yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. So a lot of, of, of business owners, especially in those small cap kind of businesses are, you know, taking complete control and you know, what we're losing is the ability, the autonomous ability of the staff to do their job. You've hired them for a certain reason. And it's incredibly difficult to let go because most businesses have no system to capture the creativity. They think, Oh, you know, creativity, the leadership or an owner sort of mentality. And unless the owner or leadership comes up with it, our employees are just, you know, they're doing payroll, uh, they're you know, getting invoices out, they're not created. And it's a mistake. I'm sorry, it's a complete mistake. What you do is you lose that power to empower those staff members, to come up with great ideas that make your life easier and their lives easier and their processes and all of this stuff so much easier when we rest on success. Uh, which is another technique that I talk about. We enable a sort of marketplace, uh, and that is stagnant and is not growing. So we need to one learn how to become creative. It's the concept idea and execution. I taught it to one person before and I've taught it to 1700 people at a conference before. It's an easy technique. It takes, you know, five minutes to learn in a lifetime, the master, right? Like it's like chess or something. You need to teach people how to become creative one. And then two, you need to foster that creativity at that comes up lose sort of getting different K-cups for the character and, you know, start to elevate the relationship with that particular, uh, um, real estate group that you tend to manage all their new building. Right? Hmm. Maybe something's going on there. That's kind of interesting. And you know that employee who wants to take on more responsibility, take on more tasks, maybe it's time to put that employee as the liaison with that real estate group. And maybe it's time to build that relationship a little bit better. Um, you know, that stuff that you can't do, Bob, you need staff to do that. A lot of companies wonder why they're doing everything right. And yet they've, they've hit a roadblock. They can't grow, they can't get to the next stage. And that's because you have an owner or a leadership model that is handling innovation and creativity, and you have a staff model. That's just doing grunt work. If you approach your business in that way, I promise you, you will never get past that 50% barrier. Never. You need to empower your staff. It, you know, right now I have a staff of three I've had staff of up to, I don't know, six, 700 people before. And my staff of three is pretty much autonomous. I embedded some of the principles of creativity in them and I let them go and do it. And yes, of course there's mistakes. And yes, of course there's errors and stuff like that. But you know, I've grown during a, uh, an international pandemic when, you know, most of my work is consulting and speaking, um, you know, doing that kind of stuff because I let them go and they come up with creative stuff and they go and try it and it fails and they try something else and it failed. They try something else. And Whoa, that works. How did that work? You know, let's, let's explore that a little bit more. You guys do it. I'm not doing it. The know what you did. How did you do that? Go for it, you know? And then let them grow and constantly offer them a path. You know, if we're able to secure this bit business, you will get more money. You will get more of this. A lot of people think employees are only motivated by money, but that's completely false. Some are motivated by praise. Some people want to be included. They want that sense of like, Oh man, North County, you know, we're changing the world. We're going to grow, you know, from San Diego to LA and then, you know, to Vegas and then Phoenix. And like, they want to be part of that, that mentality. Some people want money. There's different things that you can use to motivate, um, different staff members. But I'm saying that if we don't embed creativity throughout your organization, and then let people make mistakes, which is an amazing creative tool. If we're constantly controlling and not letting other people fail, you're going to stay at 50 people with three trucks in North San Diego. I'm sorry.

Bob Preston:                     41:49                    It's kind of that, that 50% of your capability level you were talking about before, what's the trick. Um, or what recommendation would you have for people trying to implement these creative themes throughout their company, in the zoom, in the zoom area?

Nir Bashan:                       42:03                    It's a little bit harder, but the zoom era gives you new potential that has never been there before. Right? So, uh, you know, maybe the staff is happier now that they're home and they don't have to spend, you know, two hours commuting on the freeway to work. And maybe there's certain things that you can use to your advantage there. I do. I just started a thing where I do coffee with near cause I usually, you know, do a keynote for hour. Now I'm doing coffee with what's coffee with near 15 minutes a day where I get on your zoom, your company, zoom. And I sit there with a cup of coffee, and then we talk about a creative principle that day. And some people join. Some people don't, it is sloppy to say the least and what people end up getting at the end of the week.

Nir Bashan:                       42:44                    It's like some little tidbit or tool or trick or technique that they can apply to become more creative at work. That's just my thing you might say to yourself, you know what near, yeah. I'm going to try a cocktail hour every Thursday, between four 30 and five, I'm going to have a drink with everybody. We're not going to talk about work at all. And everybody needs to mention what they're passionate about or a high and a low of the week and so on and so forth. There is amazing creative potential. We just got to get off our ass and do it. I mean, there is nothing in my book, in any of my principals that is get rich quick. If you just fix this one thing, your business will grow exponentially. There's thousands of people that promise that I don't promise that there's, you know, it's work and it should sound familiar to you. I mean, you built your company from nothing to where it is now. You didn't do it by sitting on your ass at home, watching TV. You did it Bob, by going out there and doing it. And for me, I think we've kept ourselves and we need to go beyond that cap.

Bob Preston:                     43:45                    One of the things I noticed kind of mentioned how I took over a kind of my elbow swinging a little bit and I did it. I admit it. And then I noticed this people were kind of slipping a little bit into maybe what I would call a bit of mediocrity and it was astonishing. And I'm like, wait, I got to do something about this, man. Cause I, if I accept this mediocrity that I'm endorsing it just kind of one of, and I'm not going to let that happen. And so one of the things we started doing is just, you know, then the zoom era is just having, cause we're missing that coffee pot interaction that you get when you're in an office and that can inspire the friendships and the interactions and get people connect. So we just started having a morning huddle, we call it, it's kind of like a morning standup. Usually it takes 15 minutes, gets everybody up, ready to go by nine o'clock in the morning. And it really has helped. I got to say kind of in the zoom era, Hey, this been a really fun conversation. I'd love to keep going. I always like my guests to tell a story about themselves. You've already told us several. I think that maybe you've got something you can share with us that has defined your life, your business, or your approach to creativity. You've got something you can share with our listeners today.

Nir Bashan:                       44:48                    I'll, I'll, I'll share an embarrassing story, but I love it. Do people like embarrassing stuff. So when I was in Hollywood, I owned a production company and we had several employees and you know, a couple of products. And what I did was, uh, I sold a movie to universal and felt that I had hit the Apogee of my career. Right. I was like, ah, I've arrived. And, uh, it's really embarrassing, but I literally got so complacent and so comfortable because of that sale that I literally didn't do anything else afterwards. I felt like I've arrived. Um, we had vendors and partner companies, and even, even the employees who work at the production company, he had a bunch of good ideas. They were, you know, uh, creative. They were like, we'll do this, we'll do that. We'll set up this auxiliary service. We'll do pop up. Cause it was a movie about cooking. They'll do pop up, you know, cooking where, uh, people win a contest. And you know, you have a famous chef show up to your house and make, you know, a really great meal in your crappy apartment or whatever. And so we, we had this amazing system that works, where creativity came, uh, to, to, you know, become a part of the company. And I was the one that killed it. And what it, what ended up happening was I crashed the company in a ground fire and really good people who were depending on me for salary and their kids and, you know, uh, healthcare and all this stuff. And it was a really dark time. But Bob, it was one of the best thing that's ever happened to me. I got to tell you not then, but now, um, because sometimes like, you know, a forest and, you know, with, with all the fires in California and in Oregon and Washington, sometimes, you know, things need to burn in order for the soil to become rich enough, to sort of sprout new seeds and new grow and businesses and careers are no different. And what I learned by that failure was way more important than what I would have learned had the company have stayed on course. Um, and I encourage your listeners to look at some of their failures instead of, you know, going, Oh God, I never want to be there again. Um, which is okay, but you need to learn something from those failures that you can take and then sort of use in your new business and in your new sort of career that enables you to learn. And I think we live in a society today that so afraid of making mistakes and yet those mistakes hold the key of wisdom and value and creativity that can be used in the future. So that's my embarrassing sort of story about how I failed miserably by not even listening to my own principles and how, you know, maybe your listeners can start, uh, thinking back and going, yeah. You know, I really screwed that up and what did it really teach me? And what can I do about it?

Bob Preston:                     47:47                    Cool story. I think all of us probably have points in our life where maybe it's regret or you reflect on points of failure. I mean, you know, these things happen in life. If you can learn from them and take that as inspiration for doing it different the next time, I think that's really important. Hey, you've been a great guest today. You've been very conscientious about not pitching your book. So I'm going to ask you to do that. Tell us about your book.

Nir Bashan:                       48:08                    It's called the creator mindset. It's a, it's a 92 tools to unlock the secrets, innovation, growth, and sustainability. It is a six year Odyssey for me. Uh, I wrote it once and then I met an agent who's in litter, literary agent, you know, in books. And she literally told me to throw it in the trash. The first time I talked to her, I was like, are you serious? He's like, yeah, throw it in the trash. It sucked. Like, how do you know? He didn't even read it. She's like, trust me. It sucks. You need to start over. I need, I need you to write an outline and all this stuff. And it was brutal probably about a failure. Um, and, but she was right. She was totally right. And I rewrote it. That was like about three years ago. And then it took me another three years to rewrite it. And we got four offers. We got McGraw Hill. And in, in this day and age, you know, we got three major publishers that wanted to publish it. And one sort of minor publisher. I went with the McGraw Hill because they were really excited about it. They have a pretty robust business department and they were very excited about it. And we went with them. It really is a how to book. I'm really tired of these books about the why I think why it's very important. And it's literally, I think, half of one chapter in the book and then the rest of the book, it's techniques, it's little victory that the value of making mistakes, it's a, how to not get complacent. It's how to make manufacture creativity so on and so forth. And it's meant to be, you know, one of those business books that you look and you kind of Mark the page and you highlight and you return to later, so on and so forth, the book is doing really well, Bob and I'm so grateful that people are interested in it. We have an online community at my website. You can join, you can ask questions, it's moderated. So no weird Viagra ads or anything like that. Um, and it's, you know, it's kind of, it's been fun. So thank you. So, so very much for having me, I love doing this and I love helping people become more creative.

Bob Preston:                     50:10                    This has been fantastic. So I'll put a link to it in the episode notes. And, uh, I suppose it could be found on Amazon as well and other places,

Nir Bashan:                       50:21                    No, all, all the stores have it. Um, all anywhere you buy books, has it been translated into two. You know, the audio book is coming soon. That's going to be really exciting. And, um, yeah, it's kind of a cool thing.

Bob Preston:      50:34     Cool. I'm going to get it. And I can't wait. I've got a clarity break weekend. I like to go solo up into the mountains once a year, and I'm going to do that next weekend. Hey, I'd love to keep going today. This has been fantastic, but in the interest of time we have to wrap up. So as we wrap up today, I'd like to make another quick plug to our listeners. Please give us a, like, if you pay it forward, then we can get more great guests on the show like nearby Shawn. That concludes today's episode. Thank you so much for joining the property management brainstorm show. Until next time we will be in the field, working hard for our clients to maximize property income and maintain top tenant relations. And we'll catch you next time.



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