Tribal Thoughts: Change your thoughts and change your world

What things inspire you to be a better person, spouse and employee?

Can these inspirations lead to a better understanding of your place in the community?

How can you use your knowledge and experience to benefit your current situation, and how do you continue to learn and grow?

These are the questions that have been running through my mind over the past year—a time of reflection and growth. I had experienced a variety of clashing emotions and had to talk myself into seeing the glass half-full many times.

One thing I know about myself is that I am a goal setter who is not afraid of doing whatever it takes to accomplish the task. This doesn’t mean that I will step on someone’s back to get there. A better choice is to use an internal pep talk. That can take many forms, for example:

Lead by example.

Optimism and creativity build strong foundations.

There is a bright side to every situation.

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

Helping and mentoring others is a necessary and selfless act that only improves when it is returned.

Doing something positive for another person creates immediate gratification.

When others see the passion and love of life you possess, it radiates.

By having these internal conversations, you will continue to evolve as a person, and that evolution will be seen and felt by your peers. It is contagious and it creates community.

 – chantele

616 Development 10-10-13

Chantele was born and raised in Portland Oregon, a city with many comparisons to Grand Rapids. After spending some time in Chicago, she moved to West Michigan and has spent the past 15 years working in property management and investment real estate in Grand Rapids. 


Chantele has 2 grown daughters, and lives with her husband and a spoiled cat in Byron Center.

Creation over competition.

“Ask yourself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.”

– Sheryl Sandberg.

Here at 616, there are a handful of mantras we use which we’ve lovingly dubbed “Derekisms”. They’re ideas and sayings that are meant to get us out of our own heads, to pull our vision up out of the small and menial, and instead, to consider new solutions, new perspectives – new horizons to explore.

“Creation over competition,” is my personal favorite, because it changes the conversation from one that’s focused on destruction to one that’s seeking innovation.

If the crash of 2008 has taught us anything, it’s that we could all use a little reinvention from time to time.

Yesterday, the competition was working nine to five across town. Today, it’s working around the clock and around the globe. In order to survive, you must be the best in the world at your niche.

You could waste time trying to be the best in an entire industry. You could waste time trying to beat out the competition. OR you could spend your time forging a niche for yourself and creating something entirely new. Something which delights your customers, your community and yes – even your so-called competition.

A recent Forbes article, “The Surprising Reasons Why America Lost Its Ability To Compete“, soul-searches US corporate management for a bead on where our “edge” has gone. The answer, it seems, is simple: we’ve stopped innovating. We’ve turned all our attention to short term profit, while neglecting the mission, vision and customers behind the business.

When profits trump innovation, we stop creating. And when we stop creating, the engine stalls.

The article quotes Nobel Prize winning economist Edmund Phelps, saying “There is a need for a wider embrace of the old ethos of imagination, exploration, experiment and discovery.”

Competition works against others, as a negative force; creation enacts positive change. Instead of pouring negative energy into beating out the competition and outwitting customers, why not channel positive energies into creating something everyone can enjoy?

– marjorie

Operate in your strengths.

You cannot be anything you want to be—but you can be a lot more of who you already are.”

– Tom Rath, StrengthsFinder 2.0

A common question I receive is whether or not we own, or partner with, the bars and restaurants in our mixed use redevelopment projects. The quick answer is “no”.
Our business model, both internally and externally, depends on our Tribe and the people we work with being subject matter experts in their respective industries.

Internally, every person in our Tribe understands their strengths and daily aims to operate in them over 90% of the time. Externally, we look for our tenants to be experts in their industries, such as Barfly Ventures owner Mark Sellers, who we trust to be the very best in the world at what he does: operating successful bars and restaurants.

Too much of the world tries to be great at too many things, only to find themselves average at many. I want to be the best in the world at creating community via urban-residential-infill. I don’t want to be the best in the world at construction and retail; I would rather partner with other companies and experts who are the best in the world at construction and retail. Details are not my forte, so I surround myself with detail oriented people who help protect my vision. Inadequate doesn’t begin to describe my lack of expertise in owning a successful bar, so why would I put my energy there?

If I can trust a great operator to run the ground floor of our developments, and they can trust me to keep the upper floors full of happy patrons, we will be successful.

Invest in your Tribe. Help them find and focus their natural strengths towards your vision. In addition to moving your mission forward, they will be far more productive and fulfilled.

Bulls make money, bears make money, and yes, pigs do get slaughtered.

– derek

Coffee is for closers.

“Put. That coffee. Down! Coffee is for closers only.”
– Blake (played by Alec Baldwin, Glengarry Glen Ross)

Glengarry Glen Ross is a 1992 film about selling real estate. The salesmen in the film live in the not-so-golden age of old school sales – or, more accurately, informational leverage. They close deals by only sharing with clients information which helps them make the sale and witholding the rest, leaving clients at the mercy of the salesperson’s knowledge of the market.

Luckily for clients, times have changed.

In the modern era of limitless information, these old fashioned broker tactics of brokers wedging themselves into deals by witholding information are no longer sustainable. Information has become ubiquitous. Clients are savvier, and they’re less likely to fall prey to an opaque and pushy sales pitch.

Clients are looking for long term value, and if you won’t offer it, they’ll find someone who will.

When our office first opened, I put this quote on our wall as a daily reminder to our Tribe – not to leverage information, but to constantly add value.

Today, we don’t make money by witholding information; we make money by freely educating, by creating value, by innovating and by providing long term fiduciary responsibility.

Equip your Tribe with the information they need to freely educate and create value, and clients won’t be able to imagine life without you.

Stretch to Expand

“Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.” – Dag Hammarskjold

Lately, Grand Rapids has been considering some pretty big changes: a $27.5 million project to restore the Grand River; a massive overhaul of the Arena District; there’s even been discussion of burying downtown’s behemouth freeway 131 S-curve.

Change never comes easy, and there’s been plenty of pushback. Here at 616, our mantra in the face of change is “Stretch to Expand”. Our world is evolving every second, and if we want to be one of the greatest cities in the world, we need to have the courage to talk about strategies for creating urban density – even if they scare us.

The quote above is one of my favorites, because it’s a reminder to keep our eyes up and not focus only on singular, short-term issues. The current decisions our city is facing are not the “horizon”; they are incremental steps towards becoming a model city.

You can’t expand without stretching. There is a difference between taking a step blindly and taking a step with eyes wide open.

– derek j. coppess