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Who The Heck Is William Dawes?

July 4th, 2013

On this Independence Day 2013, I thought I’d offer up a little history lesson and how we as commercial real estate brokerage professionals might learn from it.

Have you ever heard of William Dawes? William Dawes was a tanner in Boston  and around midnight on April 18th, 1775, he rode from Boston through the towns west of the city to Lexington spreading the news that the British were coming and planned an attack the next day. He was to alert the local militia leaders telling them to gather their men and prepare to meet the British troops by sunrise. He rode through the night hitting the towns of Roxbury, Brookline, Watertown and Waltham, Massachusetts and finally meeting his counterparts in Lexington.

William Dawes

Undoubtedly you’ve heard the story of Paul Revere’s famous ride, right? On the same night, at the same time, Paul Revere left Boston taking the northern route to spread the same message to the militia leaders in Charleston, Medford, North Cambridge and Arlington, meeting up with Dawes in Lexington in the early morning hours of April 19th.

The revolutionary war started on the morning of April 19th 1775 with the British army sweeping across the surrounding areas from Boston Harbor. When they reached the towns that were forewarned by Paul Revere they were met by the full militia with fierce resistance and defeated. The British troops who reached the towns that were supposed to have been forewarned by William Dawes were met with very little resistance, very few militia men and virtually marched through those towns. William Dawes had failed where Revere had succeeded.

William Dawes failed to rally the militia leaders because he had never made contact with them and didn’t know how to find them and deliver his message. He seldom strayed outside of Boston and never aspired to be much more than a simple tanner in Boston. He didn’t have a network of contacts and had never established relationships with the most influential leaders.

Paul Revere on the other hand knew everyone. He spent his life in leadership roles and was known as a person who was 100% effective in getting the job done, whatever that may be. He had relationships with a diverse group of key people in and around his community. He used these relationships to achieve great success in business. He didn’t limit himself to just the immediate area where he lived and often traveled to Philadelphia and New York to foster relationships with the groups he was involved with. He was appointed the clerk of the Boston market, he was chosen the city health officer for Boston during an epidemic and served as the Suffolk County Coroner. After a major fire in Boston he founded the Mass. Mutual Fire Insurance Co. As poverty spread through the area he organized the Mass. Charitable Mechanic Assoc. and was elected its first president. Of the 7 groups of revolutionary Whigs as they were called, Paul Revere was one of only 2 men who was a member of 5 of those groups. Paul Revere was successful in warning the colonists of the British invasion because HE HAD A REALLY GOOD DATABASE! He branded himself as a leader. Dawes took the same ride with poor results because he didn’t know the right people to be effective.

To be successful in any business, you have to generate a critical mass of relationships with people you seek to do business with. The strength of these relationships will be directly related to your ability to brand yourself as a leader in your field. Every day you have the opportunity to exert your leadership and expertise with key players in the commercial real estate industry. It’s a process that does not happen all at once, but gradually with each phone call, each meeting and each proposal. The more new people you establish relationships with each day, the faster you will develop your brand as a market leader. If you’re avoiding the phones and not meeting with your database as well as expanding it on a regular basis, you’re going to be about as effective as William Dawes. If you are focused on making direct contact with 6 – 10 new people in your database every day, getting face to face with the key players in your database, it won’t be long before you establish yourself as an effective market leader that everyone knows.

Happy 4th of July!

 

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