Knowing when to wait

In 2008 The Exploration Group was commissioned to help a start-up construction firm find investment capital to redevelop Philadelphia's abandoned row houses into sustainable, green, low income housing. It was a great concept and made lots of sense environmentally and economically. The firm had connections in the city and had a leadership team that knew the business. Everything was perfect, but ...

It was 2008. It was housing. It was a new business in search of capital. We all loved the idea and believed in it. But it was 2008, remember?

Last fall I was reading about Roald Amundsen, the great Norwegian explorer who with his team of fellow explorers were the first expedition to reach the South Pole in 1911. They were in a race with the great British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott to reach the "last great undiscovered" place in the world.

Reading about Amundsen, people tend to focus on his methodical training, his learning from others, and his life time of experience. But the part of his journey to the Pole that stands out to me was the beginning of the trek. Amundsen wanted to get a jump in order to get to the Pole first so he left several weeks before the weather had fully broken. He thought the head start would help him. But he found bad weather. After four days his team turned around to wait for the weather to let up. Then he set out for a second time on the trek that changed the world.

Sustainable housing that renews properties and has low energy costs made sense. Right idea, wrong time. The macro events in the economy overpowered a great idea whose time had not yet come.

Sometimes the best way forward is to wait until the time is right.

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