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The Real Estate Philosopher

The Best Idea I Have Had Yet

Jul 18, 2022

I was reading a very interesting book – called Mind Power, by Michael Agugliaro – which I really liked.  It gave me ideas on how to improve my life but did it efficiently without a hundred fifty extra filler pages of excess verbiage – he just got right to it, and I thank him for it. 
He mentioned the idea of thinking of what your business would be like in ten years – one hundred years – and (even) one thousand years.  This seemed a bit far-fetched, but I paid attention when he referenced one company that had been in business for almost 1500 years.  No, that is not a typo.  It did indeed last for close to 1500 years. 
At this point, I stopped reading the Mind Power book and tried to imagine what this company could have done.  What could last so long?  What could it be?  I knew as I was reading that this information would likely be exceptionally valuable, as what this company did would give me insights into what would make my law firm last (maybe) or what would make your real estate business last (maybe).  
Stop here – and think about what this business could be – for a full minute – go ahead – and see if anything comes to you ….
Okay – I did this and admit that I hit a blank wall – I couldn’t think of anything, but maybe you did.  Happily, it doesn’t matter whether you or I thought of anything, as a good philosopher is just as happy getting ideas from someone else as thinking of them himself.  Indeed many of my best ideas came from others. 
The company is called Kongo Gumi.  It is based in Japan and started in 578 AD.  It lasted till 2006 when it hit some troubles and was finally acquired by another company, and it now operates as a separate subsidiary.  The company does only one thing: It exclusively builds temples and shrines.
Think about it.  Once you develop a Power Niche (yes, that is the word) building temples and shrines,  the longer it lasts - it becomes basically a lock.  After 100 years in this same unchanging business, why would you retain anyone else if you were building a temple or a shrine in Japan?  They have 100 years of expertise and know everything about building temples, how to make the parties who retained them look good, and know everything about the underlying (Buddhist) religion.  In the end, why would you want to explain to your congregation why you were going with someone else, as doing that would have a lot of downside and no upside.  And if you wanted to build temples and shrines, where else would you work?  So they would always attract the best people.  As long as they aren’t too piggish on pricing – which would attract competition – there is simply no reason for anything to ever change. 
So consider how you might apply this to your business?  The answer is simple – you would pick a sliver of the world – the non-real estate world – and have your real estate business cater exclusively to that sliver.  And yes – sorry to beat the Power Niche drum too much – but that would be a plain old Power Niche.
You probably can do this a lot more easily than you think.  Consider projects you have done that were significant and successful.  What tenants were there?  What third parties (not in the real estate world) were involved?  And think about whether you could market yourself as having expertise in that industry; if so, you would be developing a Power Niche – and bingo, you will last for another 1400 years!
Bruce Stachenfeld, aka The Real Estate Philosopher™

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Real estate
Peter Drucker
Michael Porter
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Creating Value
Capital Providers
Five Forces
Peter Thiel
Seth Godin
Uniqueness Challenge

As the Chairman of Duval & Stachenfeld – a law firm in mid-town NYC known as The Pure Play in Real Estate Law – I am inviting you to join The Real Estate Philosopher™. This will consist of my thoughts and also thoughts of friends and colleagues.

It will not be published in any traditional media – it will go only to friends of our firm. The purpose here is very simple – to put forth thoughts in the real estate world that are different, provocative, and challenging of accepted wisdom. Hopefully, nothing said here will be mainstream thinking.

You may be wondering how I am qualified to write on these topics since I am “just” a lawyer. However, I have an unusual place in the real estate world. As the Chairman of The Pure Play in Real Estate Law (one of the largest real estate law practices in NYC), I interact with an incredible number of real estate players. This ranges from small real estate shops with nothing but a gleam in their eyes, to some of the largest real estate institutions in the world, and everything in between. This gives me a unique and global perspective and allows me to act as an amateur philosopher in the real estate world. This has always been my hobby and it is what I love doing.


Bruce Stachenfeld
a.k.a The Real Estate Philosopher™

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