Guest Post by Craig Huntington
In my book Risk: A Road Worth Traveling, I talk about the fact that risk is an inherent part of any venture. No one can identify every pitfall that a business is going to face, no matter how optimistic the outlook.
Much like life itself, the business environment is a malleable thing. Change is the only thing you can count on without exception. Change is what makes new products and new ideas great. But change is also the thing that can throw an unexpected wrench into the machine and knock your well-planned strategy into the dead zone.
What you do in these times of crisis is really what defines you as a businessman or businesswoman. It’s what defines your character. And it’s your character that defines your destiny.
What kind of leader have you become? Have you satisfied your definition of effective leadership by taking action, by getting down in the trenches and making things happen, by setting the best example possible? Has your willingness to take action and lead in a proactive way fostered habits that will see you through even the most trying of times?
It’s relatively easy to be a good leader when times are good and everything seems to be falling your way. But tough times bring out either the best in a person or the worst. And, tough times are inevitable.
My first experience with a failing bank was back in the mid-1990s. The name of the bank is not important, but this happened while I was still charging ahead with my property management company, Huntington Property Services. In those days, the FDIC insured all deposits up to $100,000.
It was key at the time to make certain that none of my homeowners associations had more than $100,000 in any one bank, just as a precaution. No one ever expects banks to fail. However, it’s a terrible misnomer that banks are somehow sacrosanct or inviolate. They're not. We've seen enough examples of that in the last two years. Banks are run by regular people. They make mistakes just like any businessman or businesswoman, and sometimes those mistakes can be catastrophic.
Unbeknownst to me, one of my account managers had deposited $200,000 from one of our customers in two different branches of the same savings and loan, thinking she had fulfilled our requirements of placing no more than $100,000 in any one bank. When the S&L in question failed, this particular homeowners association stood to lose $50,000.
I was at fault. Even if this honest mistake on the part of my account manager – and it certainly was– I was responsible. The old adage “the buck stops here” applied in full in this case. I broke out the company checkbook on the spot and wrote the association a $50,000 check. That was a lot of money then. It’s a lot of money today too.
It was an expensive lesson. I never again took for granted the state of the economy, or relaxed in the face of good times. Good times require the same amount of diligence as hard times; they require the same focus and the same work ethic.
The minute you begin to take for granted your good fortune might well be the very moment when you should be most prepared to deal with adversity.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that you shouldn't enjoy your successes. You should. But taking your successes for granted is not the same thing as enjoying your successes. You don't want to be blindsided. You want to be prepared, diligent, and ready when adversity strikes.
And strike it will.
CRAIG HUNTINGTON began his career in association management in 1980 when he founded Huntington Property Services, a full-service property management company specializing in homeowner association management in Southern California. Craig has been President of the Channel Island Chapter of Community Association Institute (CAI) and has served on the Board of Directors for the Nevada, Central Arizona and Utah CAI Chapters.
Craig is also a well-respected and distinguished industry and motivational speaker. He has been presenting managerial, leadership and motivational presentations for the past 20 years and has developed a comprehensive collection of presentations on a wide range of subjects. Currently, Craig is President of Alliance Association Financial Services, a division of Bank of Nevada that provides services designed for homeowner associations and management companies.