Value Prop – Velocity


What do Bruce Lee, Isaac Newton and Buddy the Elf have in common?

As the Head Cheese at Verv Projects, I get to grease hands, do the dog and pony show, sip martinis, and play golf. (Ok, so the latter two clichés almost never actually happen, but they make my role in the professional world sound minutely cooler.)

Every time I do the dog and pony show and pimp the talents of my Verv elves, I’m asked by our  prospects some version of this question: “What makes Verv better than the other guys?”

For the past five years, I’ve slow-danced with the persons(s) sitting across the table from me through my version of Are you Experienced. Jimi’s version and mine aren’t dissimilar:

If you can just get your mind together

Then come on across to me

We’ll hold hands an’ then we’ll watch the sun rise from the bottom of the sea

Come, Mr or Ms Developer, come across to me… We are experienced. Sheit, we’re very experienced. We’ve done nothing but real estate, day in, day out for 13 years. But what does it really mean to you?

Welp, two things for sure: Velocity and Vision.

Projects in today’s most successful  companies operate in nanoseconds. They adapt, scale, and meet consumer expectations on the fly and in real time. Wrongly or rightly, velocity is the currency by which we all measure our wins/losses on a daily basis.

The fast shall live, the slow shall die.

Your very existence as a land developer is about risk analysis/mitigation. After years in the development process, a project is suddenly thrust into the position of being ready to go to market. Which means you need a team that knows how to get shit done, and get shit done fast – and on budget. After 13 years in the real estate trenches, we’ve seen all the scenarios, we know all the pitfalls; we can telegraph the punches coming at you (Bruce Lee style).

That’s the vision. Not just because we’ve seen it all before: the constrained budget, the staging of a site, the planning of a sales center, the creation of assets, campaigns, and engagement plans. We also see what you’re trying to achieve from a monetary perspective, a community perspective, brand perspective, and market adoption perspective. You’re aiming to inspire a feeling, a sense, a better way of living for people. It’s like a gravitational pull – and we know how to create it.  

(Wait, did I just drop Hendrix, Buddy the Elf, Bruce Lee and Isaac Newton in the same blog?)

Velocity is measured as distance/time. At Verv, we cover huge distances in short periods of time for our clients, all the time. What impresses me even more about the Verv Elves is the intangible element of grit holding each other accountable, being comfortable with discomfort, and getting shit done.

The Jolt

I grew up with a rather absent dad and a very present mother. Maybe it was a different time men were often found in the garage, focussing on things like cars, beer, darts, and lawn cutting. My dad was around, but spent more time in his own head than outside of it, engaging with the nuclear structure.

My mom, on the other hand, was ever-present, readily availible in mind, body, and spirit. She would give her shirt to me, my friends, or anyone else within arm’s reach if they needed it. The constant pusher of swim meets, tae kwon do sessions, cultural experiences, sports gear, mix tapes (later CDs), and all the other aspirational things two young fellas could want. My mom wouldn’t hesitate to jump in the car and drive 70 kms to take my brother and me to a beach, library, art gallery, or ski hill.

Until today, I’d always chalked it up to my mom being a maritime hippy-dippy caregiver who wanted the best for her kids. To some extent, we as primates are genetically hardwired to want better for our offspring than we had. It’s a simple part of the human experience, and the essence of the American dream: your offspring shall be better off than you.

I look back now and realize there was more to it than the provision of things we wanted and experiences we would (albeit later) cherish. Fuck, we all know the most rewarding things in life aren’t accoutrements, bank roll, or even mere experiences. The most valuable things are much softer, and have been baked into all of us since we climbed out of the oceans. Connection, presence, absorption.   

Back to today. I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past three days catching up with long-lost family and exploring the small towns and fishing villages of Nova Scotia’s eastern shoreline with my oldest daughter she’s 10. It’s been idyllic, adventurous, captivating. Tonight, as a full moon rose over the atlantic horizon, we were running around on a soft sandy beach, tripping each other, throwing rocks at the waves, taking slow-motion video on my phone.

Chasing my daughter down the beach towards the car, wind blowing her hair, it was one of those surreal, fleeting moments were my binary self was lamenting, “This will likely never happen again.” She stopped, turned around, read my mind and said: “Thanks Dad, I really liked being with you today.”

It was at that moment I figured out what my mom was really up to.