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It Takes One Idea Followed by Action To Succeed when Others Fail.

From: C H Ngoh
Date: 13 May 99 15:50:08 PDT

In 1939 on Chicago's North Michigan Avenue, in an area now known as The Magnificent Mile, office space was going begging. Building after building had empty floors: one that was half-rented was considered lucky. It was a bad year for business and NMA (Negative Mental Attitude) hung over Chicago real estate like a cloud.

You heard such comments as, "No sense in advertising, there just isn't the money around," or "What can you do You can't fight the times." Then into this gloomy picture came a building manager with PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). He had an idea. And he got into action!

This man was hired by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company to run a large building on North Michigan Avenue which they had acquired in mortgage foreclosure. When he took the job the building was only ten per cent occupied. Within one year it was 100 per cent rented, with a long waiting list. What was the secret? The new manager accepted the problem of no-demand-for-offices as a challenge rather than a misfortune.

Here is what he did as he explained in an interview. I knew precisely what I wanted. I wanted to have the promises 100 per cent occupied with choice, substantial tenants. I knew that under the prevailing conditions it was likely that the offices would not be rented for possibly several years. I therefore concluded that we had everything to gain and nothing to lose by doing the following:

1. I would seek out desirable, prospective tenants of my choice.

2. I would stimulate the imagination of each prospect. I would offer him the most beautiful offices in the city of Chicago.

3. I would offer him these superior offices as a rental no higher than the one he was now paying.

4. Furthermore, I would assume responsibility for his present lease, provided he paid us the same monthly rental under a one-year lease.

5. In addition to all this, I would offer redecoration without cost to the tenant. I would employ creative architects and interior decorators and remodel the offices of my building to suit the personal taste of each new tenant.

I reasoned:

1. If an office were not rented during the next few years, we would recieve no income from that office. So we had nothing to lose by going into such arrangements as are above described. We might come out at the end of the year with no income, but we would be no worse off than we would have been if we had not acted. And we would be better off because: we would have satisfied tenants who would in future years supply dependable rentals.

2. Furthermore, it is as established custom to rent offices on a one-year basis only. In most cases, there would be only a few months left to run on the old lease of me new tenant. Promising to assume these rentals was therefore not too great a risk.

3. If a tenant should vacate at the end of this year, it would be comparitively easy to rerent in a well-filled builing. The redecoration of his office would not be money lost, as it would have increased the equity value of the entire building.

The result was marvelous. Each newly redecorated office seemed to be more beautiful than the one that had preceded it. The tenants were so enthused that many expended additional $22,000 in remodeling. So at the end of the year the building which had started off only ten percent rented was 100 per cent rented. None of the tenants wanted to leave after his lease expired. They were happy with their new, ultra-modern offices. And we gained their permanent goodwill by not raising the rents at the expiration of their first one-year's lease.

We would like you to think back over this story. Here was a man faced with a most serious problem. He had a giant office building on his hands that had nine empty offices in it for every one that was occupied. And yet within a year, his building was 100 per cent rented. Now right next door, up and down The Magnificent Mile, there were dozens of office buildings standing idle and practically empty.

The difference of course was the mental attitude which each individual building manager brought to the problem. One man said, "I have a problem. That's awful!" The other said, "I have a problem. That's good!"

A man who seizes upon his problems as opportunities in disguise and scrutinizes them for them for the good element that is going to be there, is the man who understands the very core of PMA. The man who develops an idea that can work and follows it with action will turn failure into success.

Time after time the pattern repeats itself: problems and difficulties turn out to be the best things that could have happened to us-provided we translate them into advantages.

As you recognize, the problem which the building manager faced occurred during the Depression. Things were still plenty tough in 1939 when he solved this problem. But they had been much worse.

Now the economics problems of the nation and of the world arose as the result of the Depression. Depressions nations. But it is not necessary to sit idly by. There is no need to be beaten and tossed to and fro by the cycles of life. You can meet the problem of cycles and conquer it intelligently. In so doing, you can often acquire a fortune.

Source : Internet newsgroup