For those of you who don’t know this, my brother, Kevin McKenzie, authors the “Chef’s Notes” blog in AllBusiness’ restaurant section. I encourage you to read his postings on a regular basis. They range from terrific anecdotal information about life behind the scenes to musings on the pros and cons of the slow food movement and weekly submissions of his favorite recipes. Kevin is an eloquent, witty writer whose articles consistently engage. As a chef, he ranks amongst the country’s best. Sure, I’m subjective in this declaration, but it’s not bold. In his posting earlier this week, Leap of Faith, Kevin writes about being asked recently to step in and run a newer wine country restaurant, founded by a couple of greats in the culinary world. Though I’ve been asked not to mention them by name, I can assure you he is being endorsed by two national restaurant powerhouses. It’s a great acknowledgement of his time and effort spent building a deep understanding of all things food related over several decades of back breaking work.
It is not Kevin’s accolades or his cooking skills which inspire me today, rather his tenacity. Kevin has been cooking for almost as long as I can remember. I recall as a pre-teen watching him experiment on our morning bowls of cereal before we hurried off to school. His first official job was as a teenager, hired on by Peter Morton to prepare salads in the kitchen of London’s Hard Rock Café, the flagship restaurant of a now ubiquitous internationally known franchise. From there, Kevin proceeded to train with the best in the business here in the U.S., ultimately opening his own restaurant, Rover’s, in Seattle in the late nineteen eighties. His star burned bright, Rover’s receiving fabulous reviews from all who dined there, locals, peers and critics alike. Seattle, and specifically Rover’s neighborhood, was a city in transition at the time and all the “atta boys” in the world would not change the local population’s hesitance to explore an innovative and visionary dining experience ahead of its time and in sufficient number to keep it profitable. Kevin chose to sell the restaurant. Regardless, he has maintained his place of prominence in a highly competitive, often ruthless and unforgiving industry. It is truly the quintessential small business story and pertinent to each of us who embark on our quests for entrepreneurial independence. No amount of skill, knowledge and sound business practice can alter these fundamental realities. Timing and vision are everything!
In our industry, the ranks of licensed members of the National Association of Realtors® have grown by more than fifty percent in the six plus years I’ve been practicing. For some, the ride has been a grand one. With sellers’ markets spanning the nation during recent years and new construction exploding, making a respectable living in real estate seemed all too easy. However, with the exception of a few markets, the climate has shifted now. Prices are dipping, foreclosures increasing, active listings are stagnant and on the rise. There is no more important time than now to be serious about your business. This is a period during which the strongest truly survive. The good news, as my brother’s story illustrates, is that if you’ve developed the tools and discipline to stay in the game through thick and thin, the tide can indeed remain favorable. Maintaining a long term vision for your success is one key ingredient to achieving it.