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We’re about to embark into 2019 and we thought it would be a great opportunity to rebroadcast our episode with Dr. Roger Firestien.
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Eric Worral: 00:06 Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of RentPrep for landlords. This is episode number 238 and I’ll let you know upfront that this is a rebroadcast from episode number 141 when we had Dr. Roger Firestien in the office to talk about setting a vision for your business. I thought this would be perfect timing this time a year heading into 2019 to talk about vision and bringing that back up again and uh, we also are off a little bit at the office here with the holidays, so just kind of wanted to take it easy on ourselves with the podcast as well. We may have a rebroadcast up for next week as well, but I’ll make sure that it’s something that’s going to be a great piece of content for you just in case you missed it. So without further ado, I give you Dr. Roger Firestien.
Roger Firestien: 00:46 The poorest person in the world is not the one without money, but the one without a vision. Hey, what’s going on landlords?
Eric Worral: 00:57 This is Eric here at the RentPrep offices and we’re here with Steve White and we also have a special guest in the office today. His name is Dr. Roger Firestien. Roger, you want to say hello?
Roger Firestien: 01:07 Good afternoon everybody. Hello? Hello?
Eric Worral: 01:10 Yes so Dr Roger Firestien. He is a creativity professor. Uh, he has a pretty much pioneered creativity in many ways. He has been in the uh, how long have you been in the game for?
Roger Firestien: 01:21 I don’t really want to say with 40 years.
Steve White: 01:23 So we invited Dr Roger here today. His pedigree, his credentials are incredible. He has worked with companies such as Disney, AT&T, Clorox, the Los Angeles Times, farmers insurance, General Electric, general mills. The list goes on for about 100 more companies. He is also the senior faculty member at the International Center for Studies and creativity at Suny buffalo state and codirector of the I4 studio at the Innovation Center powered by the Buffalo Niagara Medical campus. And we asked Roger onto the podcast today because we thought he could give some really interesting insights on vision and creativity and problem solving. So welcome to the podcast again, Roger.
Roger Firestien: 02:04 Thank you. It’s a delight to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Eric Worral: 02:12 So, a, Roger, anything that I missed there as far as your introduction?
Roger Firestien: 02:15 No, I think you’ve pretty much got it. Thank you Eric. And we’ve known each other long enough to know that uh, that might sound a little serious but we have a lot of fun doing what we’re doing. So…
Eric Worral: 02:23 yes, yes we do. I actually, at a former job, a client of ours gave us a book and I read the book, had a question on one of the creativity principles in it because I found it was just really short read called why didn’t I think of that? And uh, he actually had included his email in the book and I just emailed him, had no idea when I did that, that he was actually local to the buffalo in New York area and he replied back and said, you want to get coffee? And I was like, absolutely. It’s not. Everyday you get to sit down with a professor of creativity, especially with somebody who’s pioneered a lot of these principles. I had the opportunities sit down with Roger and go through one of his visioning sessions and I thought it would be really interesting for landlords because being a landlord, you’re pretty much an entrepreneur and I know Steve, you know, you’ve spoken to a lot of entrepreneurs and landlords over the years and you can probably see how they’re one and the same at times.
Steve White: 03:09 Absolutely. And I thought, you know, just meeting Roger today is my first time meeting and we’ve had a great conversation before we jumped on this podcast. And uh, you know, he brought up a really, really great point and it’s kind of what we’d lead the show off with, was having the right vision. And he made a great point that I thought really connected well with landlords that, you know, you don’t want to have a property that you wake up at three in the morning and think about and, and landlords really something that we talk a lot about, especially on the podcast as landlords have to have the right vision in place to know the right reasons why you’re doing something and to kind of keep you on track. And uh, I thought, you know, Rogers is a wealth of information to help landlords sort of establish that vision and creative ways to I think to execute on that as well.
Eric Worral: 03:55 So Roger, one of the companies that we had mentioned here that you’d worked with in the past is the Los Angeles Times. And from my understanding, you actually helped them set the vision for the entire company.
Roger Firestien: 04:05 Yes, I did.
Eric Worral: 04:05 Can you describe what that process was like and now why they called you out to work with them?
Roger Firestien: 04:11 Yes. I’ve done a lot of work with the Los Angeles Times and the time smear families of companies a number of years ago and the president and chief executive officer was in a number of those sessions. She was impressed with the creativity methods that I used with the folks that are working in the organization and she asked me about the whole process of visioning. I’ve done work in the whole area of visioning sincerely, 1980’s. I’ve done it personally. I’ve worked with athletes, I’ve worked with actors, I worked with musicians. That’s kind of how I got started in this because my background is in music and it was really interesting and I’m going to digress for a second. As I was going to music school, I remember one time, um, I was a guitarist and one of the things that you do is that you do juries and so you play in front of your professors. Well, a friend of mine was a very good guitarist and he was wonderful a practice times, but when it came time to go in and do that jury, he just fell apart and I just remember him. He kind of went off the off the deep end, it kicked his guitar case down the hall and I asked him later, I said, what, what happened there? And he said, well, you know, I’ve got in there. I got really nervous and I didn’t have a picture of what I wanted to do. I didn’t really have an image of what I wanted to do.
New Speaker: 05:20 So I started to play around with the whole idea of imagery and pictures and and that was in the early, late seventies, early eighties. So back to the Los Angeles times when I worked with the Los Angeles Times, Kathryn Downing, the, the CEO at the time, asked me to come and work with their senior staff to help them create this vision for the future. Now oftentimes, when you think about working with a large corporation, you really think about looking at the numbers and you think about looking at the at the black and whites. Well, the way you begin a visioning process is you don’t use words. You draw pictures because a vision is a picture. And so I asked the chief executive team to draw a picture of what the organization was going to look like five years out into the future. The thing that they had to do about this, there was one restriction, they couldn’t use words and this is difficult for them because they’re in the words business. All right? And then after they do the picture, they talked about the picture, then we put words to it, and then from there we created a vision. The words that created the came from that and when they described their picture, in addition to that, we then had, I trained people within the Los Angeles Times family of companies and they went out and they worked with employee groups to create their vision of the future for the paper. We then brought those combined visions of the future together and then we had a large meeting where we built that into what their senior staff had with the people throughout the organization. Did as well move this paper forward incredibly. Now what a vision is is all it is really is just a picture of where you want to be. Somewhere out in the future, but it’s not just a picture in association with a vision, it’s how does it smell, how does it feel? How does it taste? What are you doing? How are you interacting with the community? Who are you serving? Who are you not serving? You know, what is your gut feel like when you’re living this vision? And so that whole thing combined really creates that compelling vision for the future. It has to be something that’s compelling. It has to be a bit of a stretch. It can’t be business as usual.
Eric Worral: 07:16 That’s amazing. Just to listen to that. One of the things that coming up in my mind is listening to you talk about this is I think landlords are very future focused people in general. I think they are people who do keep a vision in mind because to uh, you know, take maybe 20, $30,000 to buy a property down, just to get a little bit of that income back. I mean, you have to have a good sense of the future. It’s definitely something that I think, uh, that I thought about my own business as being a landlord, but I never really thought about it and the way that you just described as far as creating a compelling vision. I’m just being able to really be able to see what’s going to be out in the horizon. What would you say as far as what are the benefits, if you were to think of this as far as a landlord, like creating a compelling vision versus just saying, Oh, I want to have 20 reynolds in 10 years.
Roger Firestien: 08:05 Yeah, Eric, that’s a really, really good point and I want to come around to that from another angle. I have friends who have taken houses that have looked like a shambles and they have turned them into beautiful, beautiful properties because they have some skills to do that and they also have this vision to be able to see what this property is going to be like. And for a landlord, I think that’s a real spatial skills so you can kind of see what this space might look like before you can do it now. That’s in a real tangible way, you know, you buy a piece of property, it got it. You make a magnificent. I don’t have that skill, you know, other people around me are beautiful at that so they can see a property, they could go, boy, we’re going to do this and this and this and this and this and this and this, this, this, and really make it a beautiful property. That’s on the tangible level. Eric, which you talked about as far as the vision for the future is concerned, is that one of the things that we find is that when you create a vision for the future, particularly with a business that in that vision of the future numbers are not there. So in other words, what you don’t want to say is that we want to be a billion dollar company by 2019. Right? And I’ve worked with organizations like that. I’ve come in after they’ve established a vision like that. I wasn’t involved in that process and they’re not really great companies to work for because they’re working for the cash that working for the money. What you want to do when you create a vision is you want to create what does your organization or what’s the value that you give to the community, but what’s also the value that you give to you and, and when you create that vision of something that’s exciting, that’s moving you forward, that you not only love, but other people want to be involved in the money will follow. And so when I’m working with clients and they’re saying, well, we have to do a budget or we have to bring more people in, I’ll say, that’s great. That’s all going to come after that vision.
Roger Firestien: 09:49 So to speak about that for a landlord, you really need to have this compelling vision of the future. That’s what’s it gonna look like, not just the numbers are right, not just I’m going to have 20 houses, or 25 houses because you know what, when you have 20 houses, you’re gonna want to 30 houses and they’re going to want 40 properties and they’re going to have 50 properties. Well Great. So you’ve got all these properties and well, how do you sleep at night? You know, and so that’s really what it comes down to is what does it feel like, and I’m also going back a lot to feelings about this. What does it feel like in your gut and you know, in your gut when you have, when you’re on track with the vision, it’s like, boy, this feels right. Let’s go over that. And you get very energized around that. And then when you go through those tough times, like um, when Steve said, when somebody, you know, the 3:00 in the morning, wake up a, you know, there’s a problem with my property or you know, I’m waking up and going, I don’t know if I should have this property or not. When you have those tough times, that’s the vision that pulls you through. Nothing out does that. But that compelling vision.
Steve White: 10:44 Yeah, it’s excellent. So a lot of the things that landlords are going to be looking for when they’re creating their vision, like you mentioned, is how do they feel? And so are they involving their family in that? Are they kind of looking at it in terms of my time with family? How does this make me feel in terms of my own freedom? So I’m trying to remove money from the equation, right? And we all know that sometimes money can create that freedom, but if we’re, if we’re removing that, this is just purely, I’ve built a life that I envisioned I really want for myself and of course it’s going to include things like time with family and things like that. Right?
Roger Firestien: 11:16 Right. And oftentimes the question that people ask when you’re creating a vision for the future, particularly if a personal one is like, what would you do if you knew you could not fail? And so, and that just takes a lot of stuff away. Well, you know, then people begin to go, I do this or I do this, or I’d do this or I do this. And if you look at at visions, if you look at inventions, if you look at the microphone and the computer that we’re working on today, they were once just ideas in someone’s mind. They all, they all, they were, and somebody had the vision to carry that through to make it the magnificent product that it is. Same Way with being a landlord, you know, you’ve got this that, you know, I’d like to own some properties. Okay. And I’d like to create some passive income from that and, but then what builds on that? It’s just like any other business and in an organization it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And so it does Steve come down to that question of, you know, do I want to spend all of my time managing properties all of my time dealing with property issues or do I want to structure organization where then I do that sometimes or also one of the big things too is, and how much freedom do I want to have? And freedom is really crucial for entrepreneurs because entrepreneurs go into business because they like to be free. You know, they don’t want to ask somebody, you know, can I take today off, you know, they don’t want to say to someone, well, you know, you need to be here from nine to five or 8:30 to 5:30. You know, I’m not gonna do that. I’m going to be here from nine to 12 or 1:00 in the morning and then I’m not coming in the next day, you know, because I’m on a spurt and that’s a beautiful thing about being an entrepreneur where you can really push towards when you have that energy, you go for it and when you need to lay back and recharge, you can do that as well. And if we take a look at how people work naturally, it’s really not very natural to be working consistently a defined, you know, you need to have that break in there. You need to step away and sometimes it’s not five days in a row on two days off, maybe it’s three days on and four days off or, or interspersed throughout there. You need to step back. You need to get that break. You need to get that perspective so that you can check vision.
Steve White: 13:14 Yeah. It was interesting. You know, you were mentioning entrepreneurs as myself, as an entrepreneur. My family often, you know, has this misconception, I’m the business owner so I can just do whatever. Yeah. I get to leave whenever I want and I work one day a week or whatever, so I kind of draw a connection with this vision to, to also help manage success and as that might sound crazy, but for somebody who has had some success or you know, for landlords who may own a bunch of properties, I think it’s also important to keep that vision in mind for your own happiness because you can, you can travel down that path where you’re just working too much. You’re there’s no stop, there’s no quit. And I think for a lot of entrepreneurs you sort of have that, you need to have that innately, that sort of drive. But having the vision and to see the bigger picture also might help you to sit back and enjoy some of those things in success that you’ve had. Right?
Roger Firestien: 14:05 Right. I mean success are not just numbers. I mean because you know, when I was doing a lot of traveling, I was traveling a lot and what you do in my business is that like a client calls, you know, and you’re, you’re booked. I mean, and so I was in airplanes alot, I’m a million mile flyer on American who was on US Airways, um, but when, when a client calls you really do need to do your best to be there. And so, and oftentimes people will say, well, you know, you don’t have to do that. You work for yourself. Well, yes you do. Okay. Because you do have payroll to make. You do have bills to pay you, you have to pay your own mortgage and stuff. So there is that involved. And so if the idea that an entrepreneur has ultimate control over his time is not real, right? You know, you have things that you have to have done uncertain times. The beautiful thing about the entrepreneur is that you can decide how you’re going to get your work done. So instead of saying, you know, I really got to push this through today, well, can I wait a day or you know what? I really want to have these three days off. So I’m going to push through and get this stuff done now so I can make that time. So your time management and your ability to have more free time, time for you to recharge or what I know most entrepreneurs do is that when they’re not working, they’re thinking about the business. You know, that’s the beautiful thing about having really that control over your time and being a landlord a really allows you to do that.
Eric Worral: 15:24 Well, I think a lot of this is interesting too because um, I think about if you’re being. If you’re a landlord and you hadn’t really given serious thought to your vision, but you want to grow your business. If you really define what that vision is down the road and how it’s gonna make you feel and like kind of use it as a litmus test in some ways to when you have to make a decision then. So if you had a kind of a certain date in mind or maybe just, a feeling that you want to be left with, with your business 10, 20 years down the road. Maybe when you come to a crossroads and you have a decision in front of you, you might be able to make that decision a little bit easier because you kind of have something to compare it against rather than just kind of walk in blind.
Roger Firestien: 15:59 Absolutely. When we’ve talked about creating a vision, we talk about two things. What is the vision so you’re going to do it was the vision so you’re not going to do and so when you have opportunities that come your way or a property that comes your way and it doesn’t fit your vision, it’s very easy to let it go. Right? Instead of saying, well, you know, there’s another property there and it looks good and maybe it’s going to work for me. Well, no, if it doesn’t match with my vision that I’m not going to spend the time to work on that and I have to tell you that’s when I’ve made those mistakes. It’s like that’s not comfortable and that not me. So yeah. Eric, to your point, exactly a vision towards what you’re going to do, what you’re not going to do, and what’s the picture of where you want to be out there in the future.
Eric Worral: 16:37 How important is it to revisit your vision or sort of a, you know, go back and see exactly what that vision was and is it important to structure a new one or are you always working on that original vision?
Roger Firestien: 16:50 Well, I think, you know, as visions, as people grow, visions grow and change. You know, as I was coming up through the years, you know, my vision was while I went to my visual did have numbers based to it and it drove me crazy because every year it was like, okay, I need to get a bigger number or bigger number and a bigger number. And for me it was like how big are the audiences and how big is the fee going to be? And then now what? I’ve switched that around and as I looked at what I really in this business for and really in the business of loving what I’m doing and doing the work, envisioning and creativity that I’m doing, it’s really changed and so one of my recent visions is, do I do excellent, exciting work and creativity with the people that I love that now there’s a number of things that are kind of crazy about that in a visions. First off, when people talk about visions and organization love very seldom comes into that, but the fact of the matter is, if you don’t love you with you doing, why are you doing it? You know, and if you don’t really have a love for your business or what you’re creating or the people that you’re doing that with, why bother? Right? So that, and the thing about that is putting that out there. What that’s done for me is it’s brought people into my life that I ever worked with in years that are saying, hey, let’s work on this project together. Or, Hey, I’ve got this coming, or I just made a decision not to accept the job because uh, it was coming up too fast and I really wanted to devote the time working with my students at the university rather than flying off to the west coast to do a five hour gig and taken three days in my life for that. So that really helps to make the decisions and then you can let that rest. Okay. I’m done. Had made the decision on that. All right. As opposed to saying I should have taken that job, there’s a, it’s going to pay me really well. I like it. Squeezed that in. You get to a point in your life where you say there’s going to be other opportunities coming down the pipe.
Steve White: 18:30 So it’s excellent. Roger. So let me ask you, as a landlord that’s listening right now, what’s some of the steps that they can take to help create their vision and to be successful?
Roger Firestien: 18:38 Well, Steve I am really glad you asked that. And as a matter of fact, what there’s going to be an addition to this podcast is what I’m going to outline right now, um, you can actually get from the website and go through this whole process because there’s an actual process revisioning and it works whether you’re in any aspect of the industry. So first you need to begin to ask some questions. So what are some things you’d like to do better? What opportunities might be on your mind? What might be some wishes in relation to your life that you’d like to accomplish? Then you look through those and then you select your vision. And a vision should be compelling. It should be exciting. It should be something you’d be willing to work on. It should be something that stretches you. In other words, maintenance is not a goal. I tell folks that should sparkle at you or even jump off the page at you. So then once you’ve selected your vision, rewrite the vision in the first person present tense as if you’d already accomplished that vision. So you will want to use words like I am or I have when you creating a vision. Never say I am going to because your brain doesn’t understand that. Now, the interesting thing about this is when you phrase your vision like I am where I have, and you think about what your life is right now, what we call your current reality, what goes on is there’s tension that’s created with that because your brain says, oh no, you don’t have that yet because here’s where we’re at right now. That tension is a good thing, and the thing that resolves that tension is choice. Everyday we have a choice to move the direction of our vision and you’ll move in that way or to move in the direction of your current reality and you stay pretty much the same. So that’s the third thing is to rewrite that vision. The first person present tense, and then you need to check your vision. And this goes back to what we talked about earlier. Make sure you have some personal responsibility for it. Make sure you’re visioning for yourself, not for somebody else to change their behavior. Make sure you have some desire to do it, that you believe it can be possible, the to accept that vision. Once you receive it, okay? Oftentimes people are much more interested in the process of pursuing as opposed to said, hey, I’m living the vision now and we put all that stuff together. That’s what we call it intention. So when you have some intention around that, then that’s where your power is at. And then describe that vision in the first person present tense, and at this stage of the game when I want you to draw up your vision, and this is what I talked about with the Los Angeles Times, what is your official look like? And drawing ability doesn’t matter. All right? Oftentimes people say, well, I can’t draw. I can’t draw very well either, but stick figures and colors. The more colors you have, the more stuff you have in it. The more you explain it, the better you’re going to be at that. And then what I find helpful also is then to compare that vision with your current reality. So what’s your picture of your vision look like and then draw a picture of your current reality looks like and then when you compare those to ask yourself what’s stopping me from moving from my current reality to my vision and we asked ask yourself what stuff in me about five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 times the answer to that is then going to give you the specific steps that you need to move toward your vision and that is essentially the vision process and and as I mentioned, we’ll have this available with this little graphic that will walk folks right through that whole visioning process that will be able to for you with the CEO of the see exactly and do exactly what I explained.
Steve White: 21:50 I don’t think it’s a stretch, Eric, maybe tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m sort of drawing a parallel here with a lot of work that we do with landlords. So a lot of landlords will come to us by a background check, get the background check on a prospective tenant and then say, what do I do with this? Right? They don’t really know. Okay, great. I got all the data here. I think for in that situation, a landlord is creating that vision of what they see as a, as a perfect tenant in their mind and that person may have. It may be something as simple as they’ve never been affected or it could be, you know, they seem like really great people and they, you connected while you’ve got that great gut feeling or whatever it is. But when we deal with landlords that come in without that vision and are sort of expecting us to make, you know, to give them the answer, which we don’t, they’re sort of left feeling helpless or without any type of direction. So I’m sort of drawing that parallel there. Even just to create something as simple as, you know, does your vision include how well your business is running or how you’re managing it and those things are going to determine the type of people you want in there. And that’s going to help determine the types of decisions that you might make. And that’s going to help give you that gut check that you were talking about. So if something’s not sitting right with you, if, if that person doesn’t align with what you feel is your vision for you know, how you’re managing your property or what type of people you want in that property, then you’re going to get that sort of twinge or gut feeling
Roger Firestien: 23:13 Well, steven that’s a really great point because what I described to you is sort of the general overall visioning process, but I think what you can do, and this might be the next product that we come up with here, is developing a vision map for what landlords want to create when they’re working with their tenants. And some of those questions I asked here that are really general. You could make a bit more specific and build that in and so when you use it as a checklist so that when your landlords are screening attendant, they can go through this checklist and say, look, does this tenant match my vision of who I want to be in my property? So wow, that’s a great blend, great build.
Eric Worral: 23:50 And it’s great stuff. I, like I said, I, I feel like there’s a lot of parallels there and for landlords, a lot of times you’re going off your gut, so I think it’s really important to understand what your vision is or what you want out of something. Otherwise those gut checks might not be completely in tune.
Roger Firestien: 24:06 Right And a vision guides action and when you know what that vision is, then you can begin to really take action on that. And the vision, as I mentioned when we started out, it’s not verbal, it’s not words, right? It’s pictures, it’s feelings, all right, and when you have those things lined up, then we’ll you know yourself. I mean, when you feel good about a project, you have a lot of energy around it. When you feel lousy about a project, you put it off forever. Same thing with when you’re working in a business, when you’re working with, with tenants and stuff, if you’ve got a tenant that’s that you feel good about, you’re going to make sure that that tenant is working out well and everything works out well, so it, it all has to line up.
Eric Worral: 24:40 It’s excellent. Yeah, and as far as the, uh, the resource Roger was talking about, we have an infographic that will have for you on the website. Yeah, you can just go to the resources section on our website down to the podcast and you can find this, this is episode 141 I believe. I’ll have to double check on that. I kind of doing that from memory, but just look that up. You’ll see a roger fire steam and I also, you can check out Roger’s website, RogerFireSteam.Com as a r O, g e R F I r e s t I e n and I definitely recommend you check that out. He actually has some free resources on there as well. Uh, he actually has that book that I mentioned earlier, uh, and the, uh, episode here. Why didn’t I think of that? Uh, he’s got a free copy of that on there. I definitely recommended because what it does is it’s a very short read that, uh, you can kind of just reframe your thinking on how you approach problem solving. We were kind of laughing earlier about deferring judgment. Uh, that’s, uh, that’s something you learn in that book that I was definitely very helpful for you. So, uh, I just want to take time here to just thank you, Roger for stopping by the office and get my pleasure. Thank you so much. Yeah, yeah, we really appreciate it. And, uh, anything you have, Steve,
Steve White: 25:48 I think I’ve caught myself a couple of times just totally off guard sitting here, totally engrossed in everything Roger saying and so it’s great. I really feel like a, for landlords that want to have that balance in their life, I think that setting a vision is so important. Critical. Uh, so I urge you to go to the website, check it out, start to work on your vision, and I think you’ll be shocked how things start to fall in place. You’re,you’re not fighting against the current one more when you know what the outcome should look like. So, great stuff, Roger.
Roger Firestien: 26:21 Thank you very much. A real pleasure to be here today.