One of life’s greatest experiences occurs when one has a chance to share the success, wisdom and knowledge of friends. So it has been with our friend Stefan Swanepoel and his newly published book Surviving Your Serengeti. Released at the end of last month the book is already gracing a number of “best seller” lists and promises to be one of the best offerings from this year’s literary harvest.
Stefan is indeed a friend of the American real estate industry. His annual trends report has become a mandatory desktop reference for all serious brokerage and association executives. His presentations and briefings provide valuable information and navigational guidance for hundreds of industry managers and agents. He has been active in many NAR programs most recently participating in the popular Game Changers initiative.
Moreover, Stefan is also a dear friend and confidant to many of us engaged in assisting the industry through executive and consulting relationships and activities. He always has time to listen to a new idea, ponder a hopefully brilliant insight or to consider possible solutions to an age-old challenge.
With this latest contribution, Stefan has gone far beyond the boundaries of his previous efforts, bringing the industry a creative and innovative tool to assist with one of its most pressing challenges. Anyone with credible expertise regarding today’s real estate industry will tell you that our industry is in the most dire financial, professional and market condition perhaps in its entire history.
In the final analysis, how successfully the industry weathers this crisis will come down to the quality of the leadership it is able to field during these historic times. Surviving Your Serengeti is all about leadership in crisis and confusion written and presented by an author who has an intimate knowledge of our industry, its history, its current environment and its awesome potential.
In creating this timely contribution to the REALTOR® culture Stefan has drawn upon the wisdom he has gained from a lifetime of helping individuals and organizations prosper and succeed. But even more importantly, he has aligned these pearls of wisdom on a solid gold chain comprised of his intimate knowledge and love of his native Africa.
The result of this process is more than a book, and greater than a story. The journey through its 170 pages starts as an important read, evolves into a journey, morphs into an experience and finally emerges in the reader’s heart as a burst of hope and renewal.
One of the most unique perspectives of the book is the emphasis that Stefan places on the family. Throughout the book points out that families can be successful in providing for the needs of their members by adopting the same cultural and operational objectives as businesses. It is an interesting concept that becomes more and more obvious as the story line emerges.
The book has a special meaning for the boomer generation, even as many of its members experience the frustration and anxiety of seeing how their personal and professional potentials might have been enhanced by the artful incorporation of the tsunami of new but often confusing knowledge and wisdom that they are experiencing through a day to day exposure to the Internet and social media. For this group the message is simple. Take another look around.
This time, stop the mindless charge and take the time to understand, appreciate and, yes, respect those with whom you share your space. Appreciate your unique role and the role of others in the greater scheme of things. Don’t abandon your life experiences and collected knowledge to become a person of “today” but rather enrich them with these new jewels to become a “person of the age.” Your reward for investing yourself into these simple steps will be the ability to reinvent yourself and to realize an entirely new potential in your professional, personal and family life.
So what do we do with this amazing contribution to our awareness and potential? Once we realize that the Surviving the Serengeti experience is all about our industry, our lives and the people we have committed to help, the answer is simple. We need to do everything possible to ensure that our industry is providing the best leadership possible. An effective way to improve the leadership resource is to improve the efforts we make to train our leaders. A great next step would be to provide each member of your leadership team a copy of Surviving Your Serengeti signed with an appropriate message of motivation from you.
Schedule a leadership team interactive session that will provide each member an appropriate setting and opportunity to share their impressions of the book and how it impacted their thinking about the role and responsibilities of leadership. Facilitate a discussion that explores which leaders are playing out which roles in your organization’s leadership sphere of influence. Is your organization enjoying the full benefits of having all the animals represented in the book? If not, initiate an effort to complete your leadership team and to ensure that your employees, managers, agents and members are receiving a full value proposition from your leadership program.
This is no ordinary time for our industry. But it is an extraordinary time to provide the benefits of enlightened and focused leadership. Surviving Your Serengeti is the right message at the right time.
Stefan has woven these important lessons around a very simple story of self-discovery and vision. He has organized the adventure and its lessons around seven skills sets demonstrated by key animals that co-exist within the Serengeti environment. At the risk of suggesting that things are not all perfect, I feel driven to point out that, in producing this wonderful experience for his friends in the real estate industry and for individuals and organizations throughout the world, Stefan has inadvertently added another skill set to the equation.
Skill number 8 is generosity. Our lives will be forever enriched by Stefan’s having taken the time, passion and caring to share the story. All of us can use this effort as the ultimate example of generosity.
In conclusion let it be known that I have now added yet another item to my bucket list. How could anyone have experienced Surviving Your Serengeti without having an overwhelming desire to experience the real Serengeti on a trip led by Stefan. As I prepare to go, I wonder if I can convince him to requisition and procure an adequate supply of diet coke?