Discover more from 1929 - Newsletter and Podcast by Tom Levine
I Got Lucky: Life Lessons And Why I Write "1929"
How History Repeats, and Why Real Estate Incomes Are Coming Down
The Doors Open Wide
Even during a pandemic, visiting a hospital regularly, it was clear that I had gotten lucky.
It didn't matter that each time I stepped onto the sixth floor, the sign in front of me made it clear where I was. Each time I turned the first corner, I saw a waiting room "full" in Covid terms (every 4th seat taken), with people and problems more significant than mine.
Women in their 20's in wheelchairs with closely cropped hair. Elderly in wheelchairs struggling to maintain an upright position. Age spots, sickness, and a desire to live all clearly apparent. Thankfully, no children in need were seated in the waiting room, not in this wing.
Twenty-five visits to the sixth floor over 15 months of Covid life in Los Angeles. Each trip solo as a “no visitor policy” was in place to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
I hadn't lost my hair, gained or lost excessive weight, had generally maintained my level of historical cycling fitness, and visually, others would never know I had any reason to visit the hospital.
I Was Lucky - Treatment Worked Completely
Still, wearing masks and face shields to visit excellent physicians during Covid wasn't how I would have chosen to spend my time. Yet, given the alternative, hail to the blue and yellow, to the loyalty and selflessness of UCLA's nurses, admins, and doctors.
How did I get here?
To the ex-girlfriend who steamrolled me - again, the fourth time is a charm. Thank you for passionately bestowing upon me the chance to be a father even though nature had a different plan. Letting me feel and wonder of what might be. Thank you.
To the manager who believed in me, promoted me, moved my career to New York City. During a time of personal crisis and the death of a dear friend at her own hand, you could have easily given up, but you didn't. Thank you.
To the guy who bad-mouthed me during bonus time and after a five-year reprieve has once again become a good friend. The lesson will never be forgotten; watch what you say in the restroom. You never know who is standing next to you at the sink and who is about to exit a stall. Thank you.
To all the friends who came together last week to commemorate the passing of our former colleague by his own hand, I look forward to speaking with each of you in the near term. Thank you for your friendship. Time marches on. Let's get in touch.
Why write this newsletter, and why choose the name 1929?
Why 1929? Yes, that 1929. The year of the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. I fear history is repeating itself.
The Roaring ‘20s Once Again
The Roaring ‘20s, the Great Depression, World War II, followed by 50 years of unparralled growth and prosperity. There is hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Over the last 10 years, I have had hundreds of conversations with friends and acquaintances searching for the "next gig," the next phase in the life/job cycle.
The conversations follow a similar map, I've done this job, had this identity for 10, 15, 20 years, and now it's over.
How will I ever support myself and my family and make it to some sort of peaceful retirement?
I'll never replace the income and forget about our former lives' stature and intellectual challenge earned along Wall Street and trading floors.
It's true. The income will almost assuredly not be replaced. That time is over.
If lucky, one will make 1/2 or 1/4 of the previous compensation. The money is just not there in teaching, owning pizza parlors, accounting, management at Lowe's, and for those who do find work in our old industry - you are the lucky ones possibly making fifty percent of peak income.
So Why 1929 And Why Write This Newsletter?
After so many similar conversations with people searching for the next phase, worried about how to survive the change emotionally and financially, specific recurring themes appeared.
What was lacking was a simple or even complicated solution of transitioning at 45 plus years of age from a very high-paying, prestigious career to something else.
Ageism, sexism, racism probably play a minor role in the transition difficulties, but it's more than that.
The world has changed. Jobs are gone. Skill sets are different. Technology has replaced labor.
Yet, we still have to eat. So I have set off on a quest to answer some of the transition questions.
In future writings and podcasts, I will interview a labor economist, an organizational psychologist, numerous friends, and former colleagues, all with the idea of finding common ground to make it easier for the next person.
The 2020s and Real Estate Compensation
I have reinvented myself, and a portion of my income is now derived from real estate brokerage and consulting services. Therefore, not only do I stand to suffer from the coming reduction in income, but I also will garner the wrath of other real estate professionals for highlighting the inevitable.
With the full chest of integrity, crime fighters Eliot Spitzer (NY Attorney General and lover of socks) and Rudy Guiliani, we in the securities industry faced the dual firehoses of increased government scrutiny and regulation in the late 1990s - early 2000s.
Twenty years later, the real estate industry is facing the same dual attacks - government scrutiny and regulation, as well as technological advances forcing change.
The lobbying power of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) can only be weakened by the existing (and future) lawsuits attacking anti-competitive practices.
What naturally follows is job insecurity and income reduction. All that is left is for the reality to sink in and real estate professionals to adjust.
There is no way around it. The industry will lose jobs, and most who remain will make less income.