Moving Toward a Groovy Future

By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

In a time marked by political upheaval and controversial and indecisive military actions, the U.S. economy takes a sudden dive, resulting in massive stock market losses and unemployment around or above 10 percent. That description could apply to 2006-2010, says Forbes Magazine Publisher Rich Karlgaard, but it could also refer to 1972-1976.

In his Entrepreneurial Excellence presentation today at the 2010 REALTORS® Conference & Expo, Karlgaard compared the two eras. As with the early to mid-1970s, the past few years will likely be remembered as a rough patch for the United States, politically and economically speaking.

However, if you’re wondering if the good times are really over for good, as many people did back then, take heart. Although the first half of the 1970s was a turbulent time, Karlgaard said, in retrospect we can see that it was also a period of substantial economic restructuring, and a great time for entrepreneurship: FedEx, Southwest Airlines, Microsoft, and Apple were just a few of today’s major companies that started during that decade. 

Today, there are indicators that point to a more positive future, such as global economic growth and strong balance sheets for U.S. companies. Consequently, it’s a good time for individuals and organizations to position themselves for the turnaround by exploring fresh approaches to how they do business, Karlgaard said.

“The ones that are doing the right stuff now will prevail, and the ones that act defensively will not,” he explained.

Here’s some of the “right stuff” that you can do to prepare for future success, according to Karlgaard:

1. Great design, whether it’s in retail spaces or on Web sites, can simplify complex systems.
2. Speed, which entails being in the right place at the right time with the right product or service.
3. Intelligence, which means coming across as the smartest, most capable provider in your field.
4. Engagement involves participating in conversations and — just as importantly — listening.
5. Effective internal communication, which is often the main distinction between a high-performing organization and a dysfunctional one.
6. Authentic external communication that creates an ecology of people who support and promote what you do without any direction from you.
7. A brand that is three-dimensional and fulfills promises to your consumers at every touchpoint.
8. A purpose that provides a strong moral foundation under everything you do.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at

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