The other day, I was standing in the front yard of a house I am redoing in Fayetteville. A woman from down the street came walking up to me, saying, “Mark, Mark— I have a question for you.”“What’s that?” I asked, expecting her to be one of the many people from the neighborhood who were telling me thanks for the complete rehab I was doing of a dilapidated white vinyl-sided, 1895 two-family rental that I was converting back into a single family house for resale. “You’re not going to put cedar shakes on that house, are you?” she asked. I told her “no, it wouldn’t have shakes but it would have number one western red cedar shingle siding with lapped corners.” She then went into a tirade on how that would “weigh down the whole block,” and that it wasn’t consistent with some of the arts-and-crafts houses on the block (most of which either have or at one point had cedar shingles on them!). I told her the house wasn’t arts and crafts anyway, but more of a Victorian-era mish-mash. She got more adamant with me that shingles would weigh down the block and that she preferred the white vinyl siding that was on there. I finally got exasperated with her and told her I was sorry but she sounded goofy. She kept talking and said her husband was glad that I “at least used wooden windows.” Then she said she wouldn’t have to look at it anyway, as “Fayetteville was turning into Tampa” (whatever THAT means), and they’d be moving soon. The wacky thing is that I already have a half-dozen folks interested in the house and when it sells, it will most likely establish a new per-square-foot record for the area.That will be a point of comparison when her house is appraised and a seller will be more likely to pay her more for her house (which, incidentally, needs plenty of work and has a back/side yard full of junk!). In any case, I was so blown away by this woman that I didn’t respond to her the way I’d like to have. I should have asked her who appointed her the head of the architectural police or why she didn’t buy the place when it was on the market. I did tell her that if I could, I would buy every house on the block and probably put shingles on most of them. Then, I went home for lunch and told my whole family about the incident. The point of my story is this: You cannot let one crackpot ruin your day. Many of my workers and several of the neighbors told me I should have really told this woman off. I’m glad I didn’t do that, though I wish I hadn’t said she “seemed goofy” to me. No matter how capable you are at what you do or how good your intentions are, there can always be critics. Don’t let ‘em stop you!Originally published 9/03/2007
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Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.
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