This January began like most others—we were making plans for the year, establishing budgets, organizing our databases, and setting goals. Until one phone call from a colleague changed everything.
Actually it was a text message that said, “Please call. Emergency.” My mind immediately went to potential work crises (and what I could have done to cause them). Was a building on fire? Did we offend someone? Did a big deal die?
Unfortunately, the emergency was much worse—a sudden tragedy had befallen our colleague’s family, and his father passed away abruptly and unexpectedly.
The events that followed in the two weeks since have made a lot of us at KDC re-order some of our plans and priorities, but they also confirmed one of our overarching goals.
First, there was a tremendous outpouring of support from the real estate community. All of us received countless calls for updates, condolences, and offers of help. It is always heartwarming to be reminded what good people we are fortunate to work with every day.
Secondly, several of us from KDC attended the funeral this past weekend, and although it was a tremendously sad event, it was also incredibly instructive. The church was packed to the gills—a standing room-only crowd with even the choir loft overflowing. The service was poignant, and multiple speakers extolled the virtues of our colleague’s father. They talked about his values, his listening skills, his work ethic, his compassion, his relationships, and his faith. What principles he imparted to his sons, the bond he shared with his siblings, the lasting friendships with college buddies, and his lifelong love affair with his wife. Scant mention was made of the deals he executed, the companies he worked for, or the many successes he had in his career.
And finally, we were totally blown away by the number non-KDC folks at this funeral. People from CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, and JLL that had worked on a deal with our colleague, gone on a trip with him, or worked with him in another capacity. But why did they sacrifice a weekend to fly out to a funeral for a man they had never met? Because of relationships. Our colleague has such a strong relationship with the many people who attended this funeral from afar—which was neither easy, nor cheap to get to—that they never even gave it a second thought. It didn’t matter when or where the funeral was; they were going to be there.
And that was what had me re-thinking my plans and goals for 2018. I hope I can build, create, and nurture such strong relationships as those. I hope I have a standing room only funeral too (although I hope it is in 50 years or so). And I hope my career is not a huge focus at my funeral either. Sure, I take my work seriously and I am passionate about growing our business. But the lesson I learned this weekend is that what really matters are the relationships with the people in your life. If you take care of them, the rest takes care of itself.
Colin Fitzgibbons is senior vice president of development at KDC.