You have to look to the future, not the past.

Ted was a wizard at negotiation.

He had been with the company for twenty years, rising through the ranks by consistently cutting one lucrative deal after another. He ran circles around everyone else in the room, convincing even his toughest opponents that their best bet was to throw in with him. Let’s grow the pie before we slice it up, he told them.

So when he needed reinforcements going into a big meeting with a customer or competitor, I was happy to volunteer to be his lieutenant.

I was the…

Lots of investors have made fortunes in real estate by just relying on their gut feeling about what was or wasn’t a good investment.

But we mere mortals have to be more careful than that. We can’t afford to waste time, and we can’t afford to lose money. We know we can be bullied and blustered into doing the wrong thing. We know that slick marketing can pull at our heartstrings. So instead of relying on horse sense or good luck, we do hard work.

We do due diligence. We read through boring annual reports and economic forecasts. We pore…

Work with people who love to learn.

I had mixed feelings about taking on clients from China because I have long had concerns about China’s humanitarian and environmental policies, and I didn’t want to be part of a problem. I wrote about that here.

But as I worked with them more closely, I noticed something very different about them. They loved to learn.

I first noticed it when I gave a group of Chinese investors a tour of a manufacturing plant. It was a very average American operation. Nothing especially inventive or state-of-the-art about it.

But my guests were wide-eyed…

I didn’t deserve this.

I’m not a healthcare worker or a first responder. I’m not 65 and I don’t have a high-risk medical condition.

But when I took my elderly mother to get her first dose of a COVID vaccine, the clinic offered me one, too. Maybe because it was already thawed and they had filled all their appointments for the day and it would go to waste otherwise. I don’t know. But I heard a doctor on TV say when you’re offered a vaccine, take it. So I did.

And even though I didn’t bribe anyone or jump a…

Hard truth: you’re the least valuable player in any game you play.

It doesn’t matter who you are. You could be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Ever played chess? The whole game boils down to keeping your king safe.

But even though it’s the most important piece on the board, it’s the least valuable, too.

All the other pieces can do cool things. They can jump several squares at once, or slide across the board. …

I recently landed my first client in China.

I wasn’t sure at first if it was the right fit, since I have long had concerns about China’s humanitarian and environmental policies, and I didn’t want to be part of a problem. Using your talents to bring Chinese goods and services into the United States — or helping Chinese businesses make real estate investments here — comes with real responsibility.

So we asked each other lots of questions to make sure we were the right partners. And little by little, it became clear that we were on the same page, even…

This way to failure.

It was the deal of a lifetime. But one mistake ruined it.

The company spent millions doing its homework. Its experts combed every inch of the property to make sure everything checked out. At stake were $200 million in profits.

Things were looking great until one of its employees got lost there. The property was way out in the middle of the desert, and the company’s geologist got a late start. In the long shadows of sunset, all the dirt roads started to look alike and he couldn’t find his way out. …

Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto
Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto

It’s not every day that someone discovers a planet.

For 76 years after its discovery in 1930, Pluto was the 9th planet from the sun.

So when the discoverer of Pluto came to my hometown to give a free lecture, my high school physics teacher said, “I don’t care if he’s as boring as watching paint dry, I have to go see him.”

In spite of old age and infirmity, Clyde Tombaugh was anything but boring. He was funny and charming. He regaled us with the story of how he hunted the elusive little planet, how he was the low…

A coyote and a badger can teach us a lot about teamwork.

You’ve seen a dog do it a million times. It slaps its front paws down, crouches forward, and wags its tail. You know right away…it wants to play!

Coyotes do it, too. And not just with other coyotes. In fact, a wildlife camera hidden in a storm drain recently filmed a coyote playing that way with a badger.

Coyotes and badgers are two notoriously sneaky and surly animals. But this odd couple appears to be having a great time. The coyote seems to leap for joy, playfully urging his squatty new friend to follow him on an exciting adventure.


So close, and yet so far

I went to Hawaii for a convention, and it almost cost me my job.

This was the view from my hotel room: one of the prettiest beaches in the world. But I never even set foot on it. Instead, I was on my feet in the convention center basement, 12 hours a day, making sure my booth ran smoothly.

The stakes were high. My company was hemorrhaging market share because our competitors had outmaneuvered us on product quality. While we relied on our brand name, our competitors were innovating and doing things better.

This convention was exactly where we had…

CJ DiMaggio

Investor | CMO, | Engineer | Explorer

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