Do you see opportunity or merely the problems?

Sam Zell, is a multibillionaire.  He made most of his money in real estate investments and is considered a big time entrepreneur.

Mr. Zell’s latest big move was to take control of the Tribune Company by taking it private.  The stock of the public company had recently taken substantial price falls as most newspaper companies have.  The investing public believes that newspapers are a dying breed but Mr. Zell sees opportunities.

This past week, Mr. Zell came down to speak to the Orlando Sentinel (owned by the Tribune) employees in the middle of their corporate parking lot.  He told the employees that he wanted to create a corporate culture based on entrepreneurial rewards providing the benefits to those who contribute ideas that build your profits.  “My head is focused on the future,” Mr. Zell told the employees “it does not turn 180°.”

During his speech to his new troops, Mr. Zell said the company would reward success.  He set up his new company through an employee stock ownership plan. Although he maintains a large amount of Tribune stock and the right to buy more, he clearly has intent on rewarding the employees.

The interesting point to all of this is the lesson it teaches us.  Here, is an experienced entrepreneur in the real estate business looking at another industry and seeing great opportunity in what many believe is a dying industry.  It is a solid example of someone who sees opportunity when others merely see problems.  This has always been the assets of of successful entrepreneurs..  While this is an example on a very large scale,  the lesson applies to all of our businesses.  We must constantly be on the lookout for un-performing products or services, and consider how they can be altered or rejuvenated to increase our bottom line.  It is, as always, the fortune at our feet that we must not overlook.