Monday, March 11, 2013

Building a billion-dollar enterprise, 17 - Notes from a really big day

I first started writing this post Wednesday evening, March 6....

I am at Los Angeles International Airport, awaiting pickup. Netbook plugged into the wall, phone plugged into netbook. Which I only mention because it was almost impossible to say that at either Pittsburgh International or Chicago O'Hare, much to my surprise and disappointment.

Anyway, about Monday.

The meeting with Joe Ciotti went well; we're not going to meet every week, but he does understand that I would like frequent contact. I think six-and-a-half years as a newspaperman strengthened my ability to get things done on a short schedule, but may have actually worked against my ability to stick with any given process for more than a week.

At lunch with Joshua Devine, I learned that he loves to write, and asked if he would be willing to write a piece for Homewood Nation. He gladly said yes. Yay! HN will never fulfill its potential by remaining a one-man operation. I gotta develop a program or a system or an org chart or something that makes it more inviting for others to contribute. Especially in February (more on that later).

With my first two meetings, I got behind schedule (gotta get better at both scheduling and being on time - sigh. Now's the time, Elwin. It's too late to do it sooner, and you can't afford to wait til later.). Consequently, missed Ashton Armstrong. Consequently, may have blown all chance whatsoever of any involvement by the Save Race Street Committee in this season's Love Your Block program. Pissed at myself and way embarrassed to write it, but gotta keep the narrative clear. Or rather, get better at keeping the narrative clear.

This is where I talk about my own psychology for a moment, for the sake of understanding the work to be done. I have a tendency, a quirk, whatever you want to call it, that works like this: 1) I promise to do something. 2) For whatever reason, I don't keep the promise. 3) I get so caught up in shame that instead of connecting with the person/people to whom I made the promise into order to resolve the matter quickly - WHICH I KNOW IS THE MORAL AND EFFECTIVE THING TO DO - I go silent. Not only is that no way to build a billion-dollar enterprise, it is no way to build a simple human relationship.

So now I need to 1) communicate with Ashton, and 2) communicate with the Committee. And I need to do both from L.A., because I'm not getting back to Pittsburgh until Saturday, and this can't wait that long.

And I need to devise a tool to kick me out of that pattern when I see it emerging again. I simply cannot afford it.

The culture of a business reflects the character of its founder. I gotta get better at living the culture I want to create.

Finally, the meeting with URA people and OBB people had a mixed result. On the one hand, I gained a better understanding of the process for acquiring a property from the URA - mainly because real estate coordinator Susan Malys gave me a document that lists the steps. I like documents that list steps of a process.

On the other hand, it did not produce either of the outcomes that I had anticipated -

...this is where I was interrupted, and the next 2.5 days were pretty much nonstop activity. But what I started to say was something like this:

I had expected that Monday's meeting would produce a clear signal either to move forward in planning the acquisition of 1015 N.Homewood, or to forget about it. What it actually produced, for me, was answers that led to new questions, which led to a conversation that still continues.

I think I can summarize the current state of things thus: in order for me to have time to put together a plan for the building, and the financing to carry out the plan, the demolition must be delayed or prevented. In order for the demolition to be delayed or prevented, the URA must see that I have a plan for the building and the financing to carry it out.

Quite the pickle, eh?

Next: what happened in Los Angeles.
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