Sam Zell

Forbes - - CONTENTS -

the grave dancer: vul­ture leg­end, reit col­lec­tor

There were many times in my life when I would have liked to fol­low the herd. In­stead, I have al­ways fol­lowed my gut—and some­times it’s been re­ally lonely. In 1991, I was stand­ing in the lobby of a bank, and they had agreed to sell me an of­fice build­ing at 50 cents on the dol­lar. I kept look­ing over my shoul­der and won­der­ing why there were not all sorts of peo­ple wait­ing in line be­hind me. Af­ter all, this was an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity. Maybe I was wrong? But I thought it through again and de­cided that I knew what I was do­ing, so I kept go­ing. By 1994 all those peo­ple were there in line, but the bulk of the op­por­tu­nity had passed. When you look at The Forbes 400 list and take off every­body who in­her­ited money, what’s left are peo­ple who went right when ev­ery­one else went left. Con­ven­tional wis­dom leads to medi­ocrity.

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