Scott MacDonald ran his consulting company, Shopping Center Solutions LLC from his home in Houston, Texas, and then Del Mar, California, for years. He traveled the world as a trouble shooter and fix it guy for clients including Morgan Stanley’s Real Estate Funds platform.
As described in his new book, Saving Investa, he worked through issues in Turkey, and China where corruption was always a concern. “At a conference in France, a Turkish competitor in the shopping center business came up to me and complained that a company owned by my clients in Turkey was operating dishonestly and unethically. ‘Are they paying bribes to officials?’ I asked, fearing the answer. He replied, ‘Bribes are not unethical; everyone pays bribes.’ … What is unethical in business clearly differs by culture. On a project in Mexico, I asked a colleague how we could obtain a favorable tax valuation for a proposed development project. He replied, ‘I go to the senior tax assessor’s home on the weekend, and we drink some tequila. I notice that he likes to watch football but his television is small. So I buy him a big television and send it to him as a gift.’ I replied, ‘We cannot do business that way…. Is there another way?’ ‘Not that is effective,’ was the reply.”
Scott’s last major consulting assignment was a trip to Sydney, Australia, in 2008 for one week to assess what was happening at Morgan Stanley’s recently acquired $6.5 billion property company there. He remained in Sydney for more than five years, working to save the Investa Property Group.
Scott started his career working on a factory assembly line in Cicero, Illinois. He subsequently became CEO of several companies and provided strategic advice for many others. He distilled his lessons learned over his long and varied career in the new book. A few of the 25 critical lessons described in the book and applicable for home-based businesses include the following.
1. Don’t expect anyone to give you anything.
If you need or want something, work for it. You will appreciate it more and not be indebted to anyone.
2. You make your own luck.
A former football coach at the University of Texas used to say, “Luck is the result when preparation meets opportunity.” I can’t improve on that saying.
3. Being successful is more than just working hard.
It is being organized, planning, and working smart as well as working hard. It is choosing to focus effort where there is reward. When I was in elementary school, I recall singing a song with my friend, John Kilbourne, in front of the class., as part of some requirement. One verse went, “19 tons and what do you get, another day older and deeper in debt.” The song was about coal miners who worked hard but never made enough money to pay their bills.
I have met many people in my life that worked hard but never made much money or achieved satisfactory career objectives. Working hard is only part of the equation of success.
4. Losers have the best excuses.
Winners find a way to succeed despite the roadblocks and unexpected difficulties. People who are unsuccessful often reach for excuses. When you hear someone making an excuse, you are probably dealing with a loser.
5. No matter how important the project, life is too short to have to deal with assholes.
I had a “no asshole” rule at Center America and subsequent companies. If someone cannot deal with you professionally and ethically, just pass on the deal and move on. There will be other deals. I may have lost an occasional deal but overall my companies enjoyed good success and reputation, which led to other and better opportunities.
Saving Investa: How An Ex-Factory Worker Helped Save One Of Australia’s Iconic Companies by Scott MacDonald was published by Next Century Publishing November 1, 2016, and is available in book and eBook formats at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
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