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Don't Flip
Episode 929th April 2022 • PowerPivot • Leela Sinha
00:00:00 00:11:56

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…Okay, everyone, I'm probably going to piss someone off with this. This is your heads up. Ethics are a long game and flipping houses is not it. Pick a business that doesn't make people homeless.

Transcripts

Leela Sinha:

Okay, everyone, I'm probably going to piss someone

Leela Sinha:

off with this. This is your heads up. Ethics are a long

Leela Sinha:

game. When I first started coaching, approximately 1

Leela Sinha:

million years ago, I wanted to use the word "pleasure," I

Leela Sinha:

wanted to talk about pleasure, I wanted to talk about the ways

Leela Sinha:

that we bring pleasure to each other, not sex, but pleasure.

Leela Sinha:

Pleasure, the pleasure of grass between your toes, the pleasure

Leela Sinha:

of warm sun on your face on a cold day, the pleasure of food

Leela Sinha:

when you're hungry. I had a chemistry teacher in high school

Leela Sinha:

who used to talk about the pleasure of getting to pee when

Leela Sinha:

you need to pee. Like, basic, basic pleasure. And I wanted to

Leela Sinha:

talk about the ways in which connecting to our own pleasure

Leela Sinha:

makes us good leaders. I had a website. It's called The Power

Leela Sinha:

of Pleasure and Leadership. Well, the first problem I ran

Leela Sinha:

into was that I couldn't actually use the word pleasure

Leela Sinha:

for pretty much anything; every time I tried to create like a

Leela Sinha:

Facebook group with the word pleasure in it, it got flagged

Leela Sinha:

for being I don't know, racy? Because I wanted to talk about

Leela Sinha:

grass and bare feet? It took a long time, it took about twelve,

Leela Sinha:

ten years maybe? Ten years from the inception of my business, I

Leela Sinha:

started noticing that a lot of people were talking about

Leela Sinha:

pleasure that a lot of people were talking about a lot of

Leela Sinha:

things that I had tried to talk about and found that nobody

Leela Sinha:

wanted to help me talk about them. In fact, when I first

Leela Sinha:

started my business, I consulted some marketing experts, because

Leela Sinha:

marketing wasn't a thing I knew anything about. And they all

Leela Sinha:

told me that I had to get the word pleasure out of there,

Leela Sinha:

because it was too scary. It was too hard for people to handle

Leela Sinha:

that. They wouldn't hire me, they wouldn't be able to talk to

Leela Sinha:

their friends about me it was going to make it impossible for

Leela Sinha:

my business to grow. Maybe I should have known better, but I

Leela Sinha:

was struggling. So I took their advice and redirected and

Leela Sinha:

refocused and re-everythinged. But pleasure has never gotten

Leela Sinha:

out of the root of what I do. And so now when I see businesses

Leela Sinha:

cropping up that are about pleasure, and leadership or

Leela Sinha:

pleasure in business, I think, uh huh. Yeah, I guess I was just

Leela Sinha:

a little ahead of the game. I still talk about pleasure. I

Leela Sinha:

mean, that's really what intensives and expansives, the

Leela Sinha:

whole framework, that's what that's about, is about being

Leela Sinha:

able to create a workplace where you feel good about being at

Leela Sinha:

work, where you aren't miserable being at work, where you're

Leela Sinha:

excited to be at work, I mean, come on, right? And that seems

Leela Sinha:

like it should be obvious. And in this year, 2022, third year

Leela Sinha:

of the pandemic, it, it seems a lot more obvious than it was

Leela Sinha:

back then. But sometimes it's a long game. Sometimes you have an

Leela Sinha:

idea, and it's too early for it. Sometimes you have an idea, and

Leela Sinha:

you have to wait for enough other people to have the idea at

Leela Sinha:

the same time. Sometimes you have an idea, and you have to

Leela Sinha:

wait for a less marginalized person to have that idea out

Leela Sinha:

loud first. Yeah, when first to market is not an advantage.

Leela Sinha:

Because of who you are, or how you show up. That's, that's

Leela Sinha:

tricky. But I'm off topic, because what I want to talk

Leela Sinha:

about today is the way that we have to think about ethics as a

Leela Sinha:

long process, we can't just think about what's ethical in

Leela Sinha:

this moment although that's important, we also have to think

Leela Sinha:

about the long impact, the long term impact, the long reach

Leela Sinha:

impact. So imagine the impact of the ripples that go out from the

Leela Sinha:

stone, not just the first two ripples, but all of the ripples

Leela Sinha:

that go out from the stone into the pond, and then from the pond

Leela Sinha:

to the shore. And from the surface of the water down, and

Leela Sinha:

the impact of that stone landing in the water. And traveling

Leela Sinha:

through the water and ending up on the soft muddy bottom of the

Leela Sinha:

pond. You know with the kind of mud that squishes between your

Leela Sinha:

toes. But to have that kind of relationship with the rock in

Leela Sinha:

the pond and the ripples in the mud. You have to spend time with

Leela Sinha:

the pond, you have to know the pond you have to walk across the

Leela Sinha:

pond when it's frozen or dangle your toes in it when it's warm

Leela Sinha:

and still in the middle of summer when nothing seems to be

Leela Sinha:

moving, but it's a little relief from the heat. You have to know

Leela Sinha:

what that mud feels like between your toes. Or know that you

Leela Sinha:

don't want to know what that mud feels like between your toes.

Leela Sinha:

You have to you have to know that there's that one fish that

Leela Sinha:

swims through the middle but never quite close enough for you

Leela Sinha:

to tell what it is. And then there are like at least two

Leela Sinha:

frogs that grow and live along the edge of the pond but you've

Leela Sinha:

never seen them, you've just heard them on a summer night

Leela Sinha:

walking home slapping mosquitoes. You've got to know

Leela Sinha:

the ecosystem of the pond. And so when I see

Leela Sinha:

people in my neighborhood, I live in the Bay Area, and every

Leela Sinha:

week it seems like somebody else is gut-rehabbing a house. And by

Leela Sinha:

gut-rehab, what I mean is that they take everything, all the

Leela Sinha:

woodwork, all the walls, sometimes even the floors out of

Leela Sinha:

the house, they rip everything out of the house. And then they

Leela Sinha:

put in new, usually less well constructed. I've never seen one

Leela Sinha:

constructed better, less well constructed walls, mouldings,

Leela Sinha:

everything. They rearrange the arrangement of rooms, they

Leela Sinha:

change the heights and shapes and designs of the ceilings,

Leela Sinha:

everything is different. And then they put it on the market

Leela Sinha:

for a few hundred thousand dollar more than it was when

Leela Sinha:

they bought it. Because that's the whole point. They're trying

Leela Sinha:

to make a profit. They're flipping the house. This is not

Leela Sinha:

a rehab, so we can live in it situation. This is a rehab so

Leela Sinha:

someone else can live in it situation. And it's a nightmare.

Leela Sinha:

I worked briefly in a fine woodworking shop. And I can tell

Leela Sinha:

you, the construction they're doing in there is no good.

Leela Sinha:

They're cutting corners, they're cutting costs. They're doing

Leela Sinha:

everything they can to improve their profit margin and get in

Leela Sinha:

and out of there as fast as they can. Because the way these

Leela Sinha:

projects work is they get these short term what are called hard

Leela Sinha:

money loans, where they can get the money on a very high

Leela Sinha:

interest rate to buy the house cash and rehab it. But they have

Leela Sinha:

to sell the house before that loan comes due. Because once it

Leela Sinha:

starts coming due the payments are astronomical and it will

Leela Sinha:

sink them almost immediately. So they're under a lot of pressure

Leela Sinha:

to meet their deadlines. And there's so much wrong with it.

Leela Sinha:

First of all, the houses they're doing this to were mostly built,

Leela Sinha:

in my neighborhood, they were mostly built in the 1910s.

Leela Sinha:

They're arts and crafts houses. This means that they have solid

Leela Sinha:

plaster walls, beautiful mouldings, high ceilings, and

Leela Sinha:

not just any kind of high ceiling but often coved

Leela Sinha:

ceilings. And they have all kinds of interesting ventilation

Leela Sinha:

and cooling built into them. And let me tell you why this matters

Leela Sinha:

because a well built solid old building is way easier to heat

Leela Sinha:

and cool than a modern building. Not because the insulation is

Leela Sinha:

better, often that's the thing that really ought to be

Leela Sinha:

improved, is the insulation. But because the shapes and designs

Leela Sinha:

and airflow are all built without additional heating and

Leela Sinha:

cooling in mind, or with very little. So you have things like

Leela Sinha:

transom windows, clerestory windows, coved ceilings are

Leela Sinha:

actually less echoey, than flat ones. The most echoey room in my

Leela Sinha:

house is my office. This building was built and rehabbed

Leela Sinha:

in the 1910s and 1920s. And my office is the only room that has

Leela Sinha:

a flat ceiling. It's also the worst echo. There are all kinds

Leela Sinha:

of reasons, all kinds of thought, all kinds of craft that

Leela Sinha:

went into these buildings and when we rip it ou--, of course,

Leela Sinha:

if it's destroyed, it's destroyed. If it's rotted, it's

Leela Sinha:

rotted-- but when we rip it out, when it's perfectly good. We're

Leela Sinha:

disrespecting, we're disregarding, all of that

Leela Sinha:

careful craft and thought and handwork that went into it. We

Leela Sinha:

do not know better, and especially most of these

Leela Sinha:

flippers do not know better. It's not like somebody's coming

Leela Sinha:

in having deeply considered what the best alternatives to those

Leela Sinha:

old systems are. They're just tearing out the old systems and

Leela Sinha:

replacing them with brute force. And brute force is pretty much

Leela Sinha:

never the right way to do something. Pretty much never,

Leela Sinha:

unless someone's dying, which no one's dying. These houses don't

Leela Sinha:

need to be gut-rehabbed at all. They don't need to be

Leela Sinha:

gut-rehabbed, they probably need some paint, they probably need

Leela Sinha:

some plaster fixing. Maybe they need a new piece of woodwork

Leela Sinha:

here or there. After a while things here tend to get dry rot.

Leela Sinha:

But you're never going to get that quality of work back in a

Leela Sinha:

house. Unless you're a multimillionaire and you have

Leela Sinha:

all the time in the world. You could have that quality of work

Leela Sinha:

if you simply didn't destroy it. And the dumpsters that they fill

Leela Sinha:

with materials... there are other options. There are other

Leela Sinha:

ways to do things that don't involve so much distruction.

Leela Sinha:

There are small upgrades yes that are useful and important

Leela Sinha:

like insulated windows, but the insulated windows can look like

Leela Sinha:

the old windows or you can insulate the old windows in some

Leela Sinha:

cases, it depends what you're dealing with. It doesn't, it

Leela Sinha:

doesn't need to be like that. But the problem is that these

Leela Sinha:

folks are not thinking about long term ethics. They're not

Leela Sinha:

playing the long ethics game. They're playing the short profit

Leela Sinha:

game, and that's a different game. It is, in fact, a game and

Leela Sinha:

not a way of life. I would say that ethics, I said ethics are a

Leela Sinha:

long game, but what I really meant was ethics, are a way of

Leela Sinha:

life. Ethics are a thing that we do all the time through

Leela Sinha:

everything. And we should not be, we should not be gutting old

Leela Sinha:

construction for no reason. And your profit motive is not any

Leela Sinha:

reason also, you're pricing people out and for why? Leave

Leela Sinha:

that house on the market for someone else. Pick a business

Leela Sinha:

that doesn't make people homeless. Ethics are a long

Leela Sinha:

game, and flipping houses, is not it.

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