Craving Community

This post probably won’t be funny.  It might not teach you much.  But, I promise this post will be real.

I have been off track.

No, I’m not spending my days drinking beers, playing video games nonstop, or wandering around town like a zombie.  I just haven’t been using my time with purpose.  I’ve been half ass’ing it.  I’ve been showing up but my mind has been elsewhere.  I’ve been doing things, but my heart feels a void.  Don’t worry Jenny, these feelings are mainly around my business dealings.  I am currently investing in real estate as a means of supporting my family.  My work day consists of me sitting around in a hoodie (if I had slippers, I would be wearing them) and staring at my computer screen as I evaluate investment opportunities on google maps or the various real estate websites.  For months I cold-called property owners and while that led to one successful deal, those were some of the most painful calls I have ever made…

Me – “Hi, my name is Dan and my wife and I would like to buy your property.  Is it for sale?”

Property Owner – “NO!”

Next call…

Me – “Hi my name is Dan and my wife and I would like to buy your property.  Is it for sale?”

Property Owner – “WRONG NUMBER!”

Next call…

Me – “Hi my name is Dan and my wife and I would like to buy your property.  Is it for sale?”

Property Owner – “10 million dollars.”

Me, so excited and shocked to hear something other then “No” – “Uhhh, ok, wow, 10 million dollars?”

Property Owner – “That’s what I said, 10 million dollars.  Do you have it?”

Me – “Do I have 10 million dollars?  No, no sir, but I have…”

CLICK.  Dial tone.

When I’m not making phone calls or scanning websites, I get to hit the gym nearly every day, I don’t have to battle traffic to get anywhere, I have time to take my daughter to school, and I don’t have anyone coming over to my cubicle to bother me with their stanky coffee breath.  There is no one who can fire me, no one who can disagree with my investment strategy, and no one to give pump up speeches to about how this business is going to take on the world and that “tomorrow starts today!” (actual words I used in a speech once that ended up becoming a company joke).  It’s hard to make company jokes when you’re the only one in your company.

Looking back on my previous employment situations, I don’t miss any of the work.  Work is work and I am not someone who enjoys; creating spreadsheets, debating with business partners about why we need a new booking system, or writing up ungodly numbers of documents explaining the differences of two business markets.  I’d rather be riding my bike with friends or hiking a trail with family.  For those of you who have work you enjoy doing, I am envious.  The only work I have ever enjoyed was when I was an unpaid intern on Capitol Hill and I stuffed letters into envelopes for two months straight.  I’m not kidding, I found Zen, Enlightenment, and Jesus all while stuffing those envelopes and listening to U2’s Achtung Baby on repeat through the plastic headphones of my yellow Sony Walkman.  Since that two-month period of time while I was a 20-year-old envelope stuffing intern, all work has been is work.

I am driven by two things: building things and people.  While in the moment, I find work to be painfully monotonous, boring, and many times meaningless.  However, I absolutely LOVE looking back on a year’s worth of slogging it out in the MS Office induced trenches and seeing how much can be created by my efforts.  Making months’ worth of cold calls was brutal and I equate it to those terribly uncomfortable moments in high school (uncomfortable for me at least) when I would pace around the phone with sweaty palms for at least 4 hours (and while listening to some power ballad like “To Be With You” by Mr. Big), before asking a girl out on the phone.  However, being able to look back on those calls (the real estate ones), I see the building blocks that were painstakingly put in place to create the investment I now enjoy.  That satisfaction and the fruits of the labor make the countless number of rejections worth it.

For me, this drive to build – whether it be a business or an investment portfolio, just isn’t enough.  While there are amazing benefits to working at home and by myself, calling up landowners and banging on this keyboard in an effort to “make another buck” isn’t how I want to spend my days.  Just like Mr. Big couldn’t live without hairspray for their man-perms, I can’t live (the way I want to live) without connection to real people.

As I finish writing this post at 11:00am on Monday, December 10th, most of you are probably sitting in an office dodging the suspecting eyes of a boss that may or may not give two f’s about you.  You may find your work painful, unfulfilling, or even unnecessary.  Hopefully, there are others in your office who you can complain about things to, chat about the weekend with, or generally just be in the presence of.  In many cases, these are the people who you see more then family or friends.  They influence you and you influence them.  Without this connection, I find myself lonely in a metropolitan area of millions.

That’s enough lonely talk for now.  I’m going to go put on some pants and walk to Starbucks to get a coffee.  It’s not the caffeine I need, it’s the community I crave.