Jim Rohn the grandfather of all modern-day motivational speakers said, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons."
Let's recap 2020 for a minute. From January to February we had a great start. The NASDAQ surged 11% in a month to a new all time high. Then the wierdness begins. Coronavirus arrives in the US and markets plunge in the fastest bear market drop in history. Washington counteracted the market velocity by passing a myriad of measures to minimize the economic pain. May hits and the south starts to reopen only to be met with racial unrest from the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Black Lives Matter protests flourished in large metropolitan areas across the country. The contestants for the November Presidential elections enter the stage with starkly contrasting views of how to deal with the problems of 2020. Many kids are forced into a distance learning setting instead of in person education. Finally, as fall approaches in mid September, the west coast is is engulfed in wildfires and smoke while coastal gulf states are hunkering down to weather an active tidal storm season.
There have been some bright points.
In many parts of suburban and flyover America homeowners are heading to the bank as a sea of stimulus-related financial liquidity and low interest rates turned up the heat on an already hot housing market. Amazon brings much of what we need to the front door and Door Dash will even deliver dinner hot and ready.
I don't know if the good news in your household is enough to offset the bad news we are surrounded with. I recall a summer trip to New York City when my kids were young. We finished a visit at the Empire State Building on 33rd Street and started walking to F.A.O. Schwarz toy store. It was only a mile and a half but in the summer sun on the pavement in the Big Apple it felt like 5 miles. Half way to our destination my son chimed in, " How much longer do we have to go?" I replied, "We're almost there." 3 blocks later we repeated the same exchange. Another block, another complaint.
By the time we arrived, my navigational credibility was hanging on by a tenuous thread. The kids' joy upon entering the king of all toy stores overcame their tired feet. I was relieved that our persistence paid a worthwhile reward.
With city leaders enforcing stringent lockdown orders, New York City in 2020 is a much different place. Some die-hard New Yorkers are throwing in the towel and putting the Big Apple in the rear view mirror. Along the way their kids may even start asking, "Are we there yet" even if their parents aren't really sure where "there" is going to be.
Back to the small apple that we call home.
At LeConte, we've remained focused on taking every opportunity presented to us and are making plans for the future. Kevin and I bought our office building a decade ago in a post-housing crisis bankruptcy sale. It has served us well as we built our business from less than $100 million in client assets to $190 million today. We've pursued other locations and real estate opportunities in the last 5 years. This spring we equipped our team with the technology to work from home during our brief shutdown period. When we reopened, we assessed how we can help our clients now and in the future. At the end of the day, we like our profit margins more than a trophy location so we're staying in our current location.
This summer we embarked on a renovation project to improve and modernize our offices. Along with the visual cosmetic improvements, we're bringing our facilities up to ADA compliant standards and improving the functionality of our workspace. We're developing a new website to communicate our problem solving solutions to the public and provide seamless financial access for current clients. It looks really nice and I cant wait to unveil it in the near future. Internally, our team worked through the summer to re-engineer our business processes to efficiently serve the needs of our growing client base. LeConte is 30% larger than we were 3 years ago but none of our team members are working 30 harder (or longer).
The renovation project will likely take us into 2021 to reach completion. It's provided us with a mental break from the day-to-day headlines and put a bit of daylight between the messes of 2020 and the better times that lie ahead.
We decided to look to the future, take control of the things we have influence over and ignore things that we can't influence. In our mind it would have been wasteful to endure 2020 by moaning about what could have been. Instead we chose to set a course forward and adjust our sails when we need to.
Now if we can just get through the election. Hang on, just a little bit longer.