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What I’m Thankful For | By: Multiple Speaker(s)

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What I’m Thankful For
By Vena Jones-Cox

Yes, it’s Thanksgiving, and yes, it’s a bit hackneyed to use this opportunity to do the obvious and give thanks for stuff. But, although I hate to go all Oprah on you, we should all stop every day and think about the things we’re grateful for.

I have a lot to be thankful for in my personal life; however, I’ve notice that a sort of pall has settled on the real estate investing community since the elections. We’re all concerned about the (inevitable) increase in taxes, health insurance costs, regulation, and interference in our businesses. Thus, rather than focusing on what’s awesome for me personally, I’d like to give thanks for what’s still awesome in business and in the world.

First and foremost, I’m grateful for the election. No, I don’t like the outcome, but I’m thankful that I live in a place where we HAVE peaceful and free elections at all. I am very aware that I easily could have been born in one of the many places where leadership is determined by violence, and I’m thankful that I live where I can completely disagree with all my neighbors about what the outcome should be, and still go to sleep knowing that, no matter who wins, I won’t wake up in the morning with a gun aimed at my head for picking the wrong guy.

Although America seems to want to slide toward socialism and all the bad things that come with it, I’m grateful that we still have massive opportunity in this country. In other places, you are what you’re born to. Here, you are what you decide to be and work for. Don’t like what your parents do for a living? There’s no law or tradition or reason that you can’t do something completely different. Born a Lutheran but want to be a Buddhist monk? No one’s going to stop you. You’re a woman who wants to be a rehabber or a black guy who wants to be the president? Go for it. If you have the gumption to get a Ph.D. or start a business or invent a widget or run for office, the training and resources and opportunities are all there for the taking. Yeah, there are barriers to be overcome—of money and prejudice and access to resources and who you know and judgment by others and and and…but it’s so much better than other times and places, where people were shut out of doing things just because. Here, the only limits are native talent and drive and willingness to climb a few walls. Incredible.

And speaking of opportunity, I’m grateful for the rule of law. This may seem like an odd thing for a Libertarian to say, but, let me remind you, Libertarians are not anarchists. Without common law and the right to freely contract and an organized system for enforcing those contracts, none of us would be “in business” at all. In India, starting a business involves a complex system of bribes to various bureaucrats. In Mexico, it takes a full year to close on a piece of real estate, because their system of ownership consists of pieces of paper in boxes in people’s houses, and it takes that long to determine whether the “seller” is really the “owner”.
I’m also thankful for REIA groups. What an amazing thing that anyone would EVER get it into their heads to organize and run a group that teaches their competitors how to better compete with them. And to work year after year finding speakers, writing a newsletter, booking meeting rooms, rounding up vendors, coming up with new programs and topics, and the hundreds of other things, large and small, that have to be done to make these groups function and grow. In what other industry do so many people share their secrets of success so freely with so many? My hat is most definitely off to all group leaders, past and present, and to all the known and unknown visionaries who put the good of the industry above their own personal gain when starting these things in the first place.

Finally, I’m super-grateful this week for my staff. I fully understand the challenges of people who work in small businesses, and that they get many of the downsides (health insurance? HAH!) without many of the advantages (you don’t feel like working today? Too bad!) of being the owner of that business. I also know that there are a LOT of people out there who have a sense of entitlement about their jobs, or who are strictly “I’ll work from 9-5 and I’ll do what you tell me to do, but not one thing more”.

My staff has to put up with a lot—I’m a terrible “petter”, I have a terminal case of entrepreneurial ADD (“Hey, I just got a wild hair up my butt to do something we’ve never done before, go make it happen.” Later: “What in the world are you working on? I gave up on that 2 days ago.”), and I’m often out of the office for weeks at a stretch. Yet not only do they “soldier on”, they go above and beyond, all the time.

For instance, last week, all on their own, they came up with perhaps the most brilliant plan ever: that we give our most recent “charity check” to the Cincinnati Zoo. What’s so brilliant about that, you ask? Well, for a $1,000 donation, the zoo lets you wash their elephants. And there’s little I’d like to do more than wash an elephant. And they know that. So, yes, they’re amazingly awesome and definitely on my thanksgiving list this year.

Reprinted with permission of Vena Jones-Cox. To get more free articles and tips, subscribe at

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