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Stress Less

October 4, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

We’re in the home stretch of 2013 with only one quarter left in the year. I’ve just returned from the NMHC Student Housing Conference in New Orleans and had a chance to catch up with some of our existing clients, as well as meet a few new ones. The outlook on the market remains optimistic which bodes well for WPC in the coming years. We’re also excited about the multifamily market as we continue to capture new projects in the urban infill, podium, wrap and garden style sectors. As the market improves, so is the stress of managing the labor, schedule and cost escalation issues that come with everyone being busier. Projecting project costs has become increasingly challenging and imposes stress on developers, subcontractors and our staff as they manage the muddy waters of pre-construction and budgeting. It’s this kind of stress that our clients rely on us to deal with given our proven experience and solid relationships.

Speaking of stress: in September’s blog I reported that my son, Jeffrey, decided to dive head first into a new career in construction at WPC. He took a few minutes to write a newsletter article about how he faced stress in his former career as a poker player and what it means to him now. Here is that article:

Stress by Jeffrey Forrest

As many of you know, I was a professional poker player for the last 5 years. I would spend 8 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week playing a strategic game of chance. For a long time, I was able to sustain myself and remain independent with poker as my career. I entered tournaments all around the country thanks to sponsorship from other players and experienced a great deal of success.

However, all the success came to a halt in early 2011. On a day poker players know as Black Friday, the government shut down the three major internet poker casinos, freezing 100’s of millions in poker player funds and effectively ending my poker career (although I wouldn’t accept it at the time). What made poker fun and profitable for me was being able to play comfortably on the couch at home and control the environment around me, allowing me to focus completely on the game. I was forced at this time to transition into a traveling player, paying for gas, flights, hotel rooms, food and other random expenses to compete at casinos around Florida and different parts of the country.

This is when I was truly introduced to stress. Stress is a part of the game of poker, no matter how good you are it’s a mentally taxing game. For the first few years, playing almost completely online, I was able to handle all of my professional levels of stress. If I won or lost for days, weeks or months, I didn’t feel I was affected too much in my personal life. But once I turned into a strictly live casino gambler, my life became an emotional roller coaster. The new expenses and constant travel on top of the games existing stress plus a need to make a living was not a winning combination. My days as a winning professional poker player were over.

The only way to escape the stress was to move on to something new. When I was given the opportunity to come and work for WPC, I knew it would be a positive change for me. So far it’s been exactly what I needed, I still feel professional stress but it has more of a positive energy. It’s exciting to learn how to do my new job, to do it quickly and well, on top of proving that I’ll be an asset over the long run.

I my overall point is that we can’t always tell how our mental state is and specifically how we are reacting to stress until we look back on it afterwards. I’m lucky to have learned a lot of lifelong lessons from my time as a poker player, but none more importantly then how I will let stress affect me on a daily basis. You may want to take some time and look up a Ted Talks video by Kelly McGonigal about how to recognize stress and make it your friend.

That kid is pretty damn smart and a decent writer…must be in the genes.

As we approach the end of the year, I’m sure the stress of the world won’t change much. From the political tensions both nationally and across the globe, to work challenges or personal battles, hopefully you’ll diffuse your stress in a positive way and avoid the pitfalls of letting it affect your health and success.

On a final note, October is my birthday month. I suppose it is safer to say that 2013 has been my birthday year. I turn 50 on the 25th and have enjoyed 43 birthday parties so far (7 more to go) celebrating all over the world…literally. From Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Chicago to New York, London to Belgium, I’ve experienced some amazing times with outstanding friends and family. There are a few parties left before the big Five-O and I’m sure they will be just as much fun. I am forever grateful to all those who have celebrated with me or sent your good wishes. Since I’m¬ halfway through with this life, I better figure out what I’m going to do for a living for the next 50 years. This construction thing is a young man’s game and we have some strong young leaders who will do an amazing job with our company in the years ahead. I’m sure my son will enjoy understanding what that means as he enjoys the next 50 years of his life.


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