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How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars

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By Kim Ades

RISMEDIA, Dec. 5, 2007-How do you refuse a billion-dollar offer for a little company that you just started a few years ago? Some possible answers are:

a) You are already a gazzillionaire and another billion means nothing.
b) You have sheer guts.
c) You suffered a temporary loss of sanity.
d) You have powers that allow you to see into the future.
e) You are blessed with incredible foresight.

Let’s talk about Mark Zuckerberg, the 23-year-old Facebook founder who dropped out of Harvard to build a company. A 1.6% share of his little company was just sold to Microsoft for $240 million.

Last year, he could have sold his company to Yahoo! for over $1 billion, but he didn’t want to. With the Microsoft deal, the company is now valued at about $15 billion, with his piece alone at about $3 billion. In hindsight, this was an extremely savvy business maneuver, but really it was a decision that was made with incredible foresight.

How do you turn down $1 billion? You can only make that kind of decision, and have the kind of guts it takes to turn down that kind of money if you believe with every fiber of your being in what you are doing. Zuckerman and his two partners-his roommate at Harvard, Dustin Moskovitz, and his prep school buddy, Adam D’Angelo-have ultimate belief in their creation, and in its “off the charts” potential. They have complete faith in their concept. So much so, that they could turn down $1 billion.

Facebook represents the new blueprint: the innovative platform for interactive, social networking. It’s about vision. It was easy for Zuckerberg to turn down the original billion because he wasn’t anywhere close to reaching his goals.

For him, it wasn’t the right deal. He commented to Forbes magazine that he didn’t care about being a CEO of a company; that he “just wanted to build cool things.” And in response to declining the billion dollars last year he said, “I’m here to build something for the long-term. Anything else is a distraction.”

Wow. “Anything else is a distraction?” Let’s apply this to our real estate careers. Hey, let’s apply this to our lives. There are some very big talking points in this success story that might read: Here’s what happens when you have ultimate faith in what you do, and the decisions you make, when you truly enjoy what you are doing and greet each day with pleasure and passion, and when you stick to your plan, working on it everyday without distraction. Ultimately, this brilliant multibillion-dollar deal underscores one indisputable fact. The young man behind Facebook made a decision to own his life. Have you?

In our real estate careers, we are asked to make buy/sell decisions all the time; it’s the foundation of our business. Sometimes we have to have the guts to walk away from an offer because it just doesn’t meet the criteria, and sometimes our “hole-in-one” deals fall through. If a multimillion-dollar deal fell through, would you:

a) Immediately head to the bar and ask the bartender to leave the bottle?
b) Know that although this is disappointing news, another deal-likely a better one-will come along soon, and you continue to move forward with your other prospects? (OK, you are allowed one drink on the house!)

What do we have to do to empower ourselves with the insatiable strength of mind that leads to ultimate success in our real estate careers?

This is what you need to know if you are going to turn down $1 billion and come out on top: Own your life.

When you live in alignment, and take responsibility for the choices you make, when you live each day with focus, and make choices that are aligned with your dreams, hopes and visions, then you will own your life. For Zuckerberg, it was about taking the right deal, and $1 billion to sell his company outright just wasn’t what he was looking for.

The right deal allowed him to keep his company, allowed him to keep living his dream and continue to fulfill his passion with no distractions. He made a decision that what he wanted to accomplish in his life was more important than $1 billion. It’s easy to make decisions that serve you if you are aligned with what you ultimately want to achieve and you don’t waiver from that platform.

What does your life have to do with the choices that you make? This one is not a multiple choice question. The answer is simply: “everything.” Own it.

Kim Ades, MBA, is president of Opening Doors and Frame of Mind Coaching.

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