How Professional Setbacks Created a Personal Transformation with Harold Dawson, Jr.
In 2008, Harold Dawson, Jr. was at the top of his game professionally. He was managing three quarters of a billion dollars in development and had nearly 40 employees. Then came the crash of 2008 and everything changed. He lost nearly everything, dropped down to three employees, and had to totally remake himself in the business world.
In this podcast, he talks about that journey, what he learned about himself and success, and how he used the circumstances to take a long, hard look at whom he had become.
Now with COVID-19 and the loss of a best friend and business partner, he’s experiencing his second great awakening. He talks about giving up the illusion of control and predictability; how to find the opportunity in adversity; and why he believes the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn might be the greatest skill set anyone can have.
Join Harold and Quint as they talk about how to get off autopilot and really engage in life and work; how to manage bitterness, anger, disappointment, and fear; and why this quote from Viktor Frankl changed his life: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
The podcast is filled with resilience hacks, necessary mind shifts (new ways to think about things) and tactics to help manage the uncertainty and change we are experiencing and begin the personal transformation to help create a life worth living.
Harold can be reached at email@example.com
Resources: Calm App; Omvana App; Emotional Intelligence Mindfulness Handbook Harvard Business Review (2017)
Resources: Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations (Translated); Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic And The Obstacle Is The Way
Quint Studer 0:03
Well, I am so thrilled to have Harold Dawson Jr. On the podcast today, talking about a busy leader. This is one busy leader. And just to give a little background information about 10 years ago, I got involved in a project in my hometown of building on an office building. I had never done that before. And a person that worked with me Andrew rathfelder, good friend still works with me. I’m had experience up in Atlanta with with Harold Dawson. And he said, you know, you really should work with with him and his company. So we brought him down to Pensacola. And since then he’s done an office building a big apartment building, another office building. And of course, what’s really neat is he’s does offer sort of products on his own. Interesting enough, because of my affiliation up in Cincinnati with both Trihealth and the Cincinnati Reds Harold had been up in Cincinnati. So sort of neat when somebody, you know that thing, or somebody mentioned somebody, but then somebody else mentioned somebody, and then pretty soon somebody else mentioned somebody. And so I’ve been really privileged for the last 10 years to work with Harold. Ironically, though, I think as you get along, you start learning more and more, because I think at first it was all about, you know, work. And also I will tell you, I though I knew about his father, I didn’t know as much as I did. And I also didn’t realize, I think I didn’t put two and two together my own ignorance that when we started was really a rot had been a rough time in the real estate business, because they were the whole recession of eight and nine. So Harold, tell us a little bit about the history of your company. If you want to talk about your father, please do. So I know that was a big influence on you. And the fact I think what you called it and these are your words, the professional pivot that your company had to make, and you had to make if you don’t mind?
Harold Dawson 1:59
No, I appreciate it a Quint. And, and you’re right. I mean, dad had a tremendous influence on the real estate industry and had a tremendous influence on me professionally. And obviously, you know, he was dad, to me, he obviously made a tremendous impact on the real estate industry in Atlanta and the southeast, and really around the country. His focus was on fair housing was on integrating the industry, which primarily primarily was dominated by white males. And, and so he blazed a lot of trails for a lot of young professionals. But But you’re right when we met, and it’s been a, it’s been a tremendous relationship professionally, and personally between us. But when we met, we were really just coming out of the Great Recession. And it truly decimated the industry. And we were not immune to it. It really culminated in 20 years of my work, in real estate in the real estate industry. And essentially, you know, without sugarcoating it, you know, really lost everything. I would say in Oh, 08, 09, we probably had three quarters of a billion dollars of development that was ongoing, or recently completed.
And post recession, we lost all of it.
Absolutely. All of it, you know, decimated this. In fact, I ended up losing my own home. So things that I never thought could happen, happened. And, and I’ll I’ll recount to you my last business meeting with my dad, he came to the office, really, for the last time, I would, I would say it was probably in in 2010 and 2011.
And I really was at wit’s end, he came in with mom, and he and mom would always come to the office together. She was definitely the boss, but, and I sat down with him. And for the first time in many, many years, I told him, that I didn’t know what to do.
I said, I’m really at a loss. I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to hold on to these assets, not sure if the business is going to keep running.
And I was, for the first time kind of humbled myself with him.
You know, we had a typical father son relationship, which we can certainly get into at some point, but really humbled Myself to him really, for the first time in a long time and said that I really don’t know what to do. Do you have advice? he said.
He said, Well, Harold, I have now I’m in the midst of a cancer battle.
And my third bout with cancer, and they said, Your mom is battling Alzheimer’s.
And he said, My hands are really full right now. He said I, I made a significant investment in your education.
You’ve been to some of the best schools in the country. You’ve had tremendous experience. And he looked at me straight in the eye and he just said, Uh, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
Now, the emotion at the time, Quint, I would imagine would just easy to say it was anger, disappointment. But probably, it was the last professional advice that my dad gave me. And by far the best professional advice that he had given me.
Because I think for the first time, I realized that for many years, sometimes success breeds automaticity. a kind of a mindlessness, you’re on autopilot. And I think for many years, I have been on autopilot. You know, I’ve been a little removed from the deals, you know, it’s doing more business development. And I think my dad was really saying, Harold, you put in many years of learning how to fly, sound to turn off the autopilot, and, and get back to flying.
And that really began the professional pivot.
And so, you know, we went from maybe 30/40, people down to about three.
And, you know, fortunately, I had learned how to work, there was a quote by Martha king that that reference, oftentimes, and he would say, you know, if you, if you’re a lot in life is to become a street sweeper. And sweep streets, like Michelangelo painted, you know, street sweeps like Leontyne Price saying, at the Met Opera, street sweeps the way, Shakespeare wrote poetry. And, and what he was really saying is that, whatever you do, do your best, work hard. And things will turn out. So I really went back to the basics. And we downsized, we moved, we started, we could no longer do development, we had to start doing fee business consulting advisory business. So from a big developers perspective, that’s quite humbling. But you do what you have to do, and you realize that Yeah, that’s right. I actually do know how to do business, I actually do you know how to make money. And, and, and so that’s where I’ve told you that we kind of went back to the basics. And right around that time, shortly thereafter, are you and I met.
Quint Studer 7:51
I think to Harold and I’m reading into this, so I can be entirely wrong. But you were in your family business. So the pain of you weren’t only losing, at that time, your business, you were possibly worrying about the legacy of what your father had done to not that he wanted it to be. But there had to be some extra pressure on you, throughout this whole process to deliver more than the nor, you know, it was tremendous pressure. And, you know, you’ll love this one is that, um,
Harold Dawson 8:27
What a tremendous lesson it was, I mean, essentially taken 10 years to claw back. Fortunately, as I alluded to, you know, I had a really strong work ethic, and I was willing to do what was necessary. Fortunately, unfortunately, my motivation was bitterness, anger, and, you know, anger and bitterness, frustration really is tied back to fear. So, if there was ever a chip on someone’s shoulder, you know, it was on mine, and I fueled myself motivated myself. You know, the way I guess Tom Brady talks about him being picked in the fifth round. And so unfortunately, and I have to just admit that I was very angry. Over a decade I was bitter I was focused on what had been done to me and why me, I was comparing myself with my peers. Oh, it motivated me and, and the results are positive from a professional perspective. I don’t know if they were positive from a personal perspective, but you know, as I look back at that period, professionally as a positive is that you know, if you think about Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrists with a Holocaust survivor. And he said, when you determined that you can no longer change your circumstances, you’re challenged to change yourself. And so the professional pivot was successful. And, and we built a business again, you know, I got to experience what dad experienced in the 1960s, building a business from scratch. You know,
Quint Studer 10:30
I, excuse me, I tell people all the time, like you inherited or not inherit, but you’re working at a company, they’ve been existing. And when I grew up, I used to tell people that came on later. You’ll never you weren’t there from the beginning. And the people that are there from the beginning, experience, something that no one else will ever experience, you know, the the worrying, am I going to make this payroll? How are we going to do this? And then essence You’re right, you you got to do it your dad had done is build the company almost from from scratch.
Harold Dawson 11:04
Absolutely. I had the benefit of a brand that he had created. And and, and I think I had had added to that. But but no doubt. I mean, it was it was a day by day, week by week process. But yes, it was it was positive, it’s possible. And again, a lot of it was just being willing to change, being willing to humble myself, be willing to go back and just do the work and not being afraid of working.
Quint Studer 11:41
Yeah, I think too. I talk about the fact that it’s hard. But sometimes we have to it’s a paradox, you surrender to win. Yes, sir. You know, coach me, tell me what to do. You know, I bet I hit my Waterloo when I was 31. And and until that time, I don’t think I was teachable. When people were telling me things in the back of my head, I’d be thinking why it wasn’t right. But you don’t understand if you are in my situation. And then you have this moment of clarity, where somehow you just become teachable. And we’re all things happen. And so you talked about your professional pivot, can you talk with our listeners a little bit through your, what I call what you call the unexpected the personal pivot?
Harold Dawson 12:25
Yeah, it’s, and I would imagine, Quint, that all of us face it at some time or another, many faces many times. And I had gone through, it sounds like you to to a period of my life where things just worked out. And those positives, were, you know, whatever you touch turns to gold. The challenges that most of us are, don’t really understand where to the credit goes. And so it’s easiest to look in the mirror and say, well, the credit obviously goes to me. And so, you know, for a period, I really thought that I had some obviously, it was an illusion. But I had some illusion of control, predictability, I’m pretty sure I know how things are going to work out. And I know that I have a pretty heavy hand in it. And, and unfortunately, really in the past four years, you know, I was hit with three major orthopedic health scares for I ended up having three surgeries over a three year period. And, and I never really had anything like that before and a cat came out of the blue freak accidents, but one right after the other. And it it sideline me but also really threw me off of my game, in terms of how I felt about myself. As you know, athletics has always been a big part of my life, you know, training working out. It’s really a stress reliever has been a stress reliever for me. And like many things, testosterone but bass, so I certainly it gave me a lot of self affirmation and self worth to know that I could run this or lift this or jump this, I can no longer do that. During this same period for your period, I had the opportunity to sit down with and have dinner with one of my former senior management team. We had a really superb group, diverse group, strong, pedigreed, but more importantly, tremendous integrity work ethic, when we, you know had 40 or 50 people and so I had the opportunity to sit down with my former Director of Marketing. And so she was commenting, she said, Hey, I was back in Atlanta and I had the opportunity to sit down with our old team. And we had a great time. And we were talking about old times and, and Hara, we were talking about how you would holler at us and curse us out and how you were so mean. And, and, and it was really they were, they were laughing. And it was, it was all good. And she said, Yeah, that was really something else. And, and I kind of chuckled, but it really hit me hard. That that was what they were, you know, we built huge projects, hundred million dollar projects. And there, were counting of the times were of me ranting and raving. So that left an indelible mark. So this is as I’m recovering from multiple surgeries. And then of course, as we both know, you know, our dear friend, and you know, my former business partner, john, my slack was diagnosed with, with cancer. And, and john was running all of our construction efforts, he was our VP of construction. And I want to say within three or four months of his diagnosis, he passed away. So all this is happening personally, and I think I’ve mentioned to you the memorial service for his home, his homeboy memorial service, was probably one of the most impactful events that I’ve ever witnessed in my life. And, and two things in addition to the fact that John that did have an opportunity to spend a lot of time talking and conversing as he was dying. But I realized that that memorial service of what you were an integral part, there was so much I didn’t know about him. And everyone that spoke talked about how John made them feel.
And I knew how he made me feel. And so when you think about the, and I thought a lot about it, at the memorial service, the Maya Angelou quote, it said, you know, people will forget what you did and forget what you said. But they’ll always remember how you made them feel. And at that point, I realized that I hadn’t really thought about that. Maybe hadn’t thought about that all my life. And it kind of hit me that I needed to refocus less on myself and less about anger, and less about fear, and really more about love. And I know that may sound strange to some of the listeners, what does that have to do with business. But as you know, I’ve shared with you, I don’t really view, business life, or work life as a balance, because that implies their opposite. But the things that go on in life are the things that go on in business. You know, we deal with ups and downs and opportunities and challenges. And it’s replete with relationships, we deal with people every day. And so they’re symbiotic. And you can transfer things you learn from one to the other. And so, yeah, that was the personal pivot. And I’m very much still on that, on that journey. And that in the midst of that pivoting
Quint Studer 18:37
right now, I think, yeah, and for the listeners, John, Myslak was an extremely close personal friend of mine. And the fact that I got the phone call, on a Friday, after he had been diagnosed with stage four, colorectal, liver cancer, you name it, it was there. And he called me crying, and said he just didn’t want to die. He’s 53 years old. And we did get him the best treatment in the world, we really did. And unfortunately, on June 30, of last year, he passed away, in fact, on Sunday at 530, and a group of guys are going to meet his gravestone and sort of have a bit of a meeting. But Harold and then we’ll go right back into lessons learned is, was really when john john and i talked almost every day, and I’d go over to his house, and we thought he was going to recover and then it just went south. And you know, we’re just hoping of hope some miracle is going to happen. And he shared a couple things with me here that were really interesting. He talked about two people, you and his father. And he talked about that, even though he hates what he’s going through. What he really is grateful for how it brought him and his father in a closer relationship. And it brought him and you and a closer relationship and he talked about What you had shared and he didn’t go into detail, but it meant so much to him. And when he was dying, like the last 24 hours, he said to me, Quint, he’s so glad he could tell people he loved him. And he said, Don’t miss the opportunity to tell people you love them. And, you know, I’ve been doing that since his passing away. And I got to be careful, because some people look at me like, I’m just a nutjob, you know, I was on a board of directors of a large healthcare system. And I joke, I looked at the CEO on the way out, and I said, Hey, I just want to say, I love you. And he said, Your Oberst here, you know, it’s just like, what do we got? What do we got going on here? And, you know, I think he was right, I think he was right. I talked a lot about employee engagement. But I know you’re going to get into the pandemic a little bit, I almost think we have to take employee engagement to employ love. And if you love somebody, you do give them a tough message, you’re telling them spinach in their teeth, you’ll take risk with somebody you love. Because you want them to be better. You’ll even let some people you love, have pain, just like in a way your father loved you. So you’ve got the skill set to do it, you’ll figure this out. And by him not giving you the answer. He gave you what you needed. What was you had to figure figure it out. And I think the other thing that I want to talk about the pandemic and lessons learned is this whole thing of fear, because I think you’re so right, my cousin al Sensex written a few books that he’s written and haven’t been published, but they’re on fear. And he all really talks about we so much times, live a fear based life, you know, I’m afraid of being embarrassed, I’m afraid of losing, I’m afraid to take in a risk, I’m afraid of what people will think I’m afraid of making that tough decision. So I’m glad you brought up fear, because that’s not talked about a lot. And I think people also think certain people don’t have fear. But I think sometimes the higher up in an organization you go, the more fear you have, because you have more responsibility. So talk about the pandemic, and then talk a little bit about lessons learned.
Harold Dawson 22:14
So, you know, what’s been interesting about the pandemic is, you know, kind of two years, but in earnest a year into this personal pivot, you know, this, this journey that I’m on.
We were hit with a pandemic. And it has been tragic, it’s been gut wrenching. But it’s given me for the first time an opportunity to look at disruption. And really what I call personal disruption, versus the great recession of Oh 809, which was really professional disruption. And I imagined it was a confluence of many things. And maybe over the past year, 18 months, I’m actually beginning to learn a little bit to change a little bit is that I really viewed it as well. If I’m really in lockdown, and of course I’m in, I’m in South Florida and we’ve had our challenges that’s related to the pandemic. But I said, if I’m really in lockdown, if I’m really in quarantine, if I’m really sequestered, in my home, steer as it is as uncertain as it is, you know, what do I have, and have a lot of time. And, and so I basically said, I want to take the advantage of this time that I have. And it may sound bizarre, but I have we established like many families have a zoom call every two weeks with the five kids and my sister and brother in law. I have spoken to my sister more in this pandemic.
Then I did in the previous 10 years.
And not that we were a strange, we’re just very busy. And she’s type A and I’m type A and she’s a very successful attorney and very sick. we’ve, we’ve, we’ve connected and reconnected and told stories of my childhood. To the kids, we’ve laughed, like we did when we were seven years old. Christina, my wife and I took a Christian based couples counseling class on zoom with 90 couples. an eight week class that opened up a new world of communication with us. I’ve read four books. I don’t think I’ve read a non business book. And maybe
I’m embarrassed to say maybe eight or nine years to just show you how really myopic I was, and driven in terms of, you know, the business. And I’m very proud to say that I, because I’ve been such a gym rat. I ordered exercise equipment I’ve lost. I’ve lost like 15 pounds Quint? And, and all those things seem very superficial or silly. The point is, is that,
no, there’s a lot that you know, you can look at things, your perception is everything. And you can be productive with your time, or you can squander it. That’s all we really have is time. And so what I really tried to do and what I really tried to impress upon my kids, and of course, the whole time, we’ve been working remotely. But what I really tried to impress upon my kids was to take advantage of this opportunity. I focused on relationships, I focus on my kids, the five of them collectively, and each of them individually.
Quint Studer 26:21
Tell a story, Harold, about your kids, because I thought when you and I had a little bit of a conversation about three weeks ago, you’ve always felt you had a good relationship with your children. But all of a sudden, they’re telling you things like I like you better now or, you know, talk a little bit about that. I thought it was fascinating.
Harold Dawson 26:40
Yeah, absolutely. I, you know, going back to for john, who I truly believe I our relationship has grown, it continues to grow. And, and so john for many years to try to get me to meditate, and try and try to get me to, to do yoga with him. And and it wasn’t that I was just dismissive Quinn, I really would just, I would just laugh. I just thought it was laughable. I thought I had no place. Not only did I have not have any place in business, but I thought I had no place in my personal life. Needless to say that I am an avid meditator. And, and Christina and I have been doing yoga on a regular basis on zoom, zoom yoga and, and, and YouTube yoga. But the kids have watched this and, and what this journey has really enabled me to do is to be vulnerable. And, and I don’t know, I don’t know, I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert at parenting. But I’ve got five kids. between 24 and 27, a blended family and three girls, three, two girls and three boys. And the girl started sending me books of with pandemic, about God about love. And and so they said, Dad, we’re so impressed with what you’re doing and how you’re really reinventing yourself. And so we really wanted the opportunity to read some books along with you about love and about and about spirituality. And the fact that they felt safe to in to think that I would actually read a book and read it with them.
It just speaks volumes to the fact that our relationship is really blossomed. And instead of waiting for them to change or for my kids to grow up, I think they were patient enough to wait for me to grow up. And so there’s a you know, there’s a to kind of transition to some of the lessons learn.
Alvin Toffler, a futurist and author you know, said that the, the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that that cannot read or cannot write, but rather those that know cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. And so, you know, that’s through these two events, you know, my professional personal pivots. You know, it’s really what I’ve seen and experienced really has to do with being resilient. And, and we, we view resilience, as you know, how do you handle adversity, tragedy, trauma, failure loss, but resilience is really a way of life. life? And. And that’s really what I’ve learned from the professional and personal pivots. So, if the thought is, how do I survive?
Whatever it is?
How do I adapt? How do I then advance? How do I proceed? And then just kind of off the charts, you know, how actually, do I thrive in the midst of this, of whatever you’re going through. And, you know, resilience has been studied by brilliant minds. And they really determined there. Maybe three variables at play. One, as you would imagine, is genetics. You know, you’re predisposed to be even tempered, and even keeled and relaxed and mellow or, you know, argue, more apt to be very intense. You know, very emotional. But, you know, they’ve determined that, yeah, that’s a variable, but that’s a pretty minute. That has a pretty insignificant factor. The other is environmental, especially focused on relationships, those relationships that you have early on parental grandparents, nurturers teachers, but the biggest factor, they say is that resilience, you know, you can learn it, you can practice it, you know, every day. And, you know, it’s a, you know, you think, I guess, the quote from Aristotle that said, you know, we are what we do, we repeatedly do, right, so excellence, therefore, is not a single act, but rather, it’s a habit. So of excellence can be an habit. being resilient can also be a habit. And so, you know, between some things I learned on my own, but a lot of things that challenges tragedy. John Myslak has taught me is that, um, yeah, they’re actually some resilience hacks. You know, they use the new lexicon vernacular, you know, yeah, there’s a workaround, you know, maybe, maybe I’m not, you know, Mr. Cool, or miss cool, you know, maybe I didn’t have the greatest, most comforting childhood, maybe I wasn’t gonna get the nurturing that I need it. But I can figure this thing out, I can figure this, this resilience thing out. Because the unexpected, it’s always going to be there. And good, delusional, if you think it’s not. And still really there, there may be three areas that I know, you know, about the where, you know, resilience can be built, practiced, exercise trained learn.
One is through mindfulness.
One is through a gratitude practice. And one is through, you know, if you if you want to really look into it. It’s a 2000 year old Roman philosophy called stoicism, right. So all three are really interrelated. And I would say, I’ve kind of fallen into all three, I incorporate probably all three into my life. I think my favorite is probably my gratitude practice. You know, and which I’ve really gotten going on over the past three months. But again, in examining myself, I realized that for the better part of 15 years, I’ve kind of complained. You know, some of it is innate and natural, and some of it is learned, and what I mean, but
Quint Studer 34:13
I say, Harold one of my comments is because I’m at that habit of complaining at the stop, I say, complaining the meals, like oxygen to some people, it’s so natural. So
Harold Dawson 34:21
yeah, it is very natural. And it’s a and one of the things that when you the formal education I had really promoted promulgated a critical thinking. Critical thinking is great. Critical Thinking can oftentimes lead to critical perception. Critical perception can oftentimes lead to just criticizing. criticizing, obviously, it can just lead to just complaining all the time. A gratitude practice is more than just it’s more than just being happy or or seeing the glass You know, half full versus half empty, you know, it’s really taking the time every day, I have a, I keep a gratitude journal. So every day I wake up, and I try to fill a page, not from a burdensome perspective. But I try to fill a page with 10 to 15 things that I’m really grateful for. Where I really examine my life. Some can be just conveniences things that we take for granted. Electricity, air, water, a roof over our head, doesn’t always have to be, well, this happened or I got this deal or one this, I’m grateful for times, I get a chance to have a WhatsApp or text exchange with the kids. At times, I’m able to sit down and watch a a half hour, you know, comedy show with Christina, looking out the window, Santa woodpecker packing on a palm tree outside. And so it’s more than just Oh, Harold, this is about just being happier. No, it’s about opening your eyes, to the limitless possibilities rather than directing your eyes, to the finite and to the, to the lack and the scarcity. And so again, this kind of goes back to fear, a perspective of love. And what emanates from love is appreciation, gratitude, empathy, or fear, which is really about scarcity and lack, and what I don’t have what you’re taking from me. And so that’s been a really powerful had a powerful impact on me, so that in the face of a pandemic, it’s not, it’s not delusional, you acknowledge what’s there, you acknowledge the challenging parts of it. But you also say, you know, what does this give me What? What’s the opportunity, what’s the silver lining. And I think that’s an amazing attribute that contributes to resilience, mindfulness, or mindful meditation, which is really what I have practiced. It’s really about being present.
And being in the moment in the here and now.
But most importantly, it is
it’s about seeing things a new and saying things with a beginner’s mind, a child’s mind. So I’ll use since I’m sitting in the kitchen, I’ll use a prop. And so, you know, if you think of, if you think of this funnel here. So we typically go into situations that we meet people. And we’re carrying a lot of baggage as you know, quite. So we’ve got preconceptions, we have biases, we have prejudices, we have the know it all syndrome. We have our thoughts and minds made up. And so when we are getting information, which would be like liquid or water, all of those things that we have the baggage, the trash in the in the brain,
Harold Dawson 38:35
taking that information and trying to pour it into this side of the small side, this the small side of the funnel, right? So what mindfulness does, is it allows you to perceive things with as, as they really are, and allows you to take in so much more information. And then then figure out what you want to use and what you don’t want to use. And so that’s why you know, there are hundreds of clinical trials and people much smarter than you and me and study mindfulness. There’s a there’s in fact a, a Harvard Business Review handbook that you can pick up anywhere. That is a they call it emotional agility on mindfulness, and it explains all the benefits of mindfulness for for business, but I really just use it again. I really view a life work integration versus you know, opposites and trying to balance them. So when I do it, I just do it to life. And what I’ve found is that my mindfulness practice has resulted in greater clarity greater memory, the ability to see solutions where wouldn’t otherwise see them the ability to, you know, process information at a much faster rate. And, and that’s been really beneficial. It’s also really helped me focus on being nonreactive.
And so again, yeah, I mean, it’s just a big difference in responding and reacting. And so, you know, I’ve, that’s really benefited me and, and then a final thing, which is really interesting, that’s a, that’s been around for years and, and many of us have, if we haven’t heard, or remember, when we were in school, reading or hearing about the Roman philosopher, Seneca you know, everyone knows his most famous, you know, quotation is that no luck is where preparation meets opportunity. And, and shortly after his death, a few years after his death, there was a famous Roman Emperor, maybe the most famous marker, so it really is, who wrote and kept a journal. And it was all about the practice of stoicism. And stoicism is mindfulness, and a gratitude practice all rolled into kind of pragmatism and practicality. And he just basically looked at it in terms of things happen. Instead of labeling them good and good or bad, they’re all each of them are replete with challenges and opportunities. And recognize them for that. accept things as they are, and proceed accordingly. Have temperance, and moderation. You know, don’t overreact. The thing I like about stoicism one of the factors that stands out to me, and and I’d be interested in your perspective on it. Because it is so applicable to business is, is the need and the use of a pre mortem. So, so not, you know, to avoid a post mortem. So post mortem autopsy after things have failed, and you kind of let’s, let’s regroup, and, and let’s see what what went wrong. The pre mortem is basically about, we’re about to launch something, a new product, a new service, let’s all sit down and figure out how it could go wrong and why. And then let’s use that information to tweak to have contingency plans to do whatever. And so it’s really just an acknowledgement of control is an illusion. But there’s really no need to be unprepared. You and I have both been in situations, as have, I can guarantee you every one of your listeners, because it’s a premonition, and it’s a, it’s a train wreck in slow motion, the person that’s getting ready to do the presentation that has everything perfect. And turns, turns things on whatever technology it is, and it doesn’t work. And it’s and it’s a it’s a mistake, to go in thinking that things are gonna work exactly how I want them to work at all times. And it’s not about being negative. It’s simply about just saying, Well, something could happen. So let me then prepare for that. Let me just be prepared for anything. And so again, this is something that according to Marcus releases journal 2000 years ago, and he’s in charge the entire Roman Empire at the time. Just a little basic things like that we literally can apply to our lives every day. So again, this isn’t magic. It’s not necessarily anything spiritual, although it could enhance your spirituality is certainly not a religion, it may enhance your religion, it certainly has the possibility of enhancing your relationships, but really what it is is just a new paradigm on how to look at things and and really addressing perception. They say that observation. people confuse observation and perception. You know, observation is saying things how they are, and perception has whatever biases, judgments that you want to put on them. One is enlightening, and enabling, and the others restricting and constricted. And so that’s really what this is. And so that’s really what resilience in my mind and my humble opinion is about is You take the cards that you’re dealt, and you play them the best you can. You don’t throw them down, you don’t give up. You don’t try to cheat. But you, you figure out like, Okay, if this is what I’m given, let me work with it. Let me play this hand. And let me play at the best that I can. And that’s really the some of the things that I’ve learned through the professional pivot. The personal to that. And again, this journey that I’m on, which is ongoing, so I’m not sitting here talking as if I’ve made it and I’ve, I’ve, I’ve figured out figured everything out, and I have the answer, it’s really just an issue of, Hey, I’m gonna go on a journey. I’m sharing some things with you. I’ve made some mistakes, and some things have gone, right.
Quint Studer 45:47
I’ve learned from them all, and I’m trying to be a better person. And that’s really what Carol too is. It’s that whole idea is that we live in a life of scarcity or abundance, which you hit. And I think for our listeners, as we wrap up, got as you were talking, I was thinking of so many cool things, you know, like when you talk near the end there, you know, when something goes wrong with putting everyone together, and we talk about, you know, that post mortem autopsy without blame with a little blame, we can’t help ourselves. And then, but when something goes, right, we don’t sit here and study it and create what I call it success plate. So when we go into our next project, we say, gee, that last one, he factors of when it goes, right, and when you were talking, I was thinking as people are listening, they could say, Wow, this guy used to spend so much time on business, like he was all business. And now he’s yoga, he’s meditating, he’s taking courses. I mean, my gosh, his business must be just going down the tubes, because he’s spending all this time on fixing his inside. But I think when we get our inside, right, our outside gets better. And I know a little more than anyone else. You’re having a pretty good year, business wise right now.
Harold Dawson 46:59
Yeah, the bit our business is, is better. Now it’s been 10 years, it’s almost back to where it was. And, and the difference is, is that I feel much better. I feel, I feel like I actually have some semblance of knowing what I’m doing, I’m closer to the projects, I’m closer to the people that work with me. And I’m very self aware of what’s happening. So as I said, and as you allude to, it’s all integrated. And, you know, there’s an axiom that if you don’t go with them, you’re destined to go without. And so the 56 was all these are things I’ve, I’m learning, like I’ve learned in the past 36 months. So, and they’re things that I’m, you know, as you start to look back, these are things that are taught at the best business schools. Mindfulness is, is a is courses, in college and in business schools. Mindfulness is their mindfulness practices, and in some of America’s largest and most successful companies, you know, this is, it’s not far fetched, it’s not crazy. And the beautiful thing about a mindfulness practice is that you can tailor it, there’s so many resources, if you want to focus on the business side, if you want to focus on the spiritual side, whatever it is, but there’s so many resources that you can draw from the even the gratitude practice I talked about, there was a July 2016 Forbes article. So a full Forbes article on gratitude. And how that practice benefits business. So So yeah, it is funny, I do sound like I sit around all day doing yoga and, and meditating. But in fact, I’m still very much a, a very, very hard worker, I’m still very close to the deals, because we there are only about seven of us. And, and again, like I said, we were, you know, 40 close to 50 people. But this is what I like, and I feel I’m happy. And my wife is happy and my kids are happy and and so I think that a happy life can help you with a successful business and vice versa. No,
Quint Studer 49:36
I think to her elders we talked about because I’m a meditator. For years, I was told to meditate. And I told him I didn’t have time. I didn’t have time I didn’t have time. And and then one day Somebody said, Well what if the instructor comes to your house and works around your schedule, and they took every excuse away from me? So because it brings clarity but going back then I want to give you something your night now. Be aware of, because you’re just recently in a very competitive process on a large project could be up to a half a billion dollar project. And you’re, you partner with them at Smith, who many people might recognize from his football career. And, and you lead the team in very, very aspects, and I sort of was close to it. And they had judges, you know, evaluators, some of the community people, and of course, very competitive base base, and you’ve got the agreement, the master development agreement. Now, when you ask the people that did the process, and these were professionals that looked at your capital, you know, they looked at all the right buttons, you check, you know, do they have the experience? Do they have the capital financing, do they have the capabilities, but what I heard over and over again, is why you got chosen it because one, your authenticity, to your honesty, and three, because you looked upon it as not a project, but something to make the life of people in the community better. You elevated it from a commodity to an experience. And, and and i think that’s, that’s what I go back to my own lesson. That’s when I quit worrying about what I was getting. I got more, you know, I quit worrying about me, I became a better it’s just, it’s just, I just have to sometimes do the opposite of what I feel like doing. And then it ends up being a lot better when I go against my instinct, but then you build those habits. You’re right. So I’m just so um, I’ll tell you my last john myslef story because you talked about him always. I he loves the car, you know, he was a big baseball fan. He loved the St. Louis Cardinals. And I were at my office when I’m at home, there’s Cardinal, some reason a Cardinals, a real common occurrence. And, and you might not be aware of this because it just happened this last weekend. Randall Wells was a very good friend of his father’s and his Randall and john golf done a golf tournament every year as partners. And last year because it was so soon after John’s death, jack, his son who golf, he’s about 19 just couldn’t do the golf. So this year, Randall called jack, and said, jack, do you wanna golf? Your dad and I always golf done this tournament? Would you want to partner with me? And jack said yes. And before he went out there, Louise, John’s wife, got it, went to his golf bag and took a ball that john had used. On his last round he ever golf, though he was alive. JACK took that ball with him and hit a hole in one. Wow. Isn’t that just an unbelievable? Oh, yeah. Great. And that’s the deal where you’ll say, I know it sounds crazy. But the John’s with you as much now as he ever was and, and so? Absolutely, yeah, you’re such a gift. If I was listening to this, I would be I gained so much tips, again, tips on how to handle failure, again, tips on how to handle on pivots, I got tips on how to reinvent yourself, which is possible, I got tips on the mindfulness. And I think I will agree with you as we end is, in this pandemic, I tell everyone, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t come out of this better than before. Because you’ve had you don’t have an excuse, you don’t have time to read a book, or you don’t have time to build your skill set, or you don’t have time to audit your business a little bit. Right? Are you one of those that are taking advantage of it? So you’re a dear friend of mine?
Harold Dawson 53:47
Well, you know, I feel the same way I appreciate I appreciate the opportunity to, to be able to sit and visit with you. And and if there any nuggets that help people, then I’m certainly happy about it, you know, like I said, it’s a it’s it’s my journey and just want to share and thank you for giving me this opportunity to do so. And and even just on your last statement about the the project that we got, it’s um, you know, dad used to always say about what he was selling someone a house, or building someone a project, you know, he would essentially say, you know, real estate has the opportunity to change the trajectory of people’s lives and how people feel about themselves. And and, you know, when I joined the company, his company in 9293 and in problem until they died, I was pretty much focused on I need to make as much money as possible. And so it’s kind of come full circle that. You know, dad would say, you know, the money will come Don’t don’t focus on that and You hear that but few people do it, including me. But yeah, this kind of pivot this this personal pivot, it has nothing to do with working hard. It has nothing to do with competing hard, it has nothing to do with. It doesn’t take anything away from that it doesn’t lessen. You know all this mindfulness and everything, it doesn’t take your edge away. In fact, it may make you sharper. But what it does, it allows you to see the world and see opportunities to really benefit people. I think if you benefit, you can benefit the world, your community. Ultimately, it’ll benefit you. And that’s a it’s a, it’s a neat way to live. It’s been a neat way to transition to and like I said, I’m I’m a novice, but I’m learning and continue to be open. And
Quint Studer 55:54
I think that’s what people want to talk to Harold, I tell the story of a guy I know quite well was quitting drinking. So he went to a recovery meeting. And he had about 24 hours sobriety. And everybody went around the room and one guy had 10 years, one guy had 15 years. And one guy said, well, I’ve got 72 hours and that’s the guy he ran and talked to without eating, because he’s at 72 hours.
Quint Studer 56:54
Thank you and Harold, thank you so much for being on the podcast for your I’m gonna put you on my gratitude list today. Okay,
Harold Dawson 57:01
that’s great. It’s great. Now I’ll do the same.
All right, thank you. Thank you.