Founders Message: Timing by Roland Hopkins of NYREJ

Roland Hopkins, NYREJ Roland Hopkins, NYREJ

Someone recently asked me why I decided to publish a commercial real estate trade newspaper on January 17th, 1963, and if I had any tips on starting a new business. The answer to question two can easily be answered by purchasing a copy of The Alphabet to Successfully Selling Yourself And Ideas – a book I wrote several years ago for my new employees and anyone else’s new employees. There is nothing original in the book, but includes everything I had learned way back in the beginning when I knew nothing (swallowed my pride, realized and accepted the fact that I knew nothing) and slowly began learning by humbly asking questions of successful business people, and then shutting up, listening to their answers, and then following their advice. The book contains 27 tips (one for each letter in the alphabet–I think there are 27 letters in the alphabet) that I had learned and helped me succeed.

Getting back to answering the original question–I had the background of a disc jockey, spinning records late at night on a college radio station (fun fun fun), and then making a living for several years in Portland, Maine as the morning man disc jockey (5:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.) five days a week. More fun, fun, fun. When the opportunity arose for me to start a publishing business I had to humbly admit that I knew nothing about publishing or selling, but I was young and ignorant, and was aware that most businesses had successful trade newspapers or magazines, so why not commercial real estate? Mine, as a radio announcer, had been Cashbox and Variety, both weeklies reporting about the music and movie industry.

Then someone told me that it took a new business one to three years to make it – or not. After the first year my company was broke, but I wasn’t going to give up until after the third year. I mean – didn’t someone tell me that new companies succeed between one and three years? So here is the most important thing I learned and that no one has any control over. Timing and luck. I don’t believe in luck, so we will talk about timing–something that we can’t control but can certainly take advantage of. On January 17th, 1963 there was one industrial park in New England. Newton 128. There were no nursing homes and no condominiums. Only one skyscraper had been built in Boston (25 stories) in the past 25 years, and some intelligent developer was beginning to remodel apartment properties (Bermanizing). There was no Prudential Center (it broke ground one year later). It was the old Back Bay Rail Yards. And most important – urban renewal was just blossoming in Boston and then slowly followed in smaller cities and towns (economic development commissions). It all happened in the next three years, and I obviously wrote about it, and it made the publication successful. I have to confess that I knew nothing about the excellent timing and if I had launched the newspaper three years earlier it would have failed.

PS – Dale Carnegie, Earl Nightingale and Bob Lewis did teach me how to make friends and influence people, a course that should be taught in every high school and college. Or, just read The ABC book.

Roland Hopkins is founder of the NYREJ, Norwell, Mass.