About Robert Bailey
He pointed to the headline. I could see he was amused. “Do you know about this?”
It was the first article I’d ever had written about me—and it was on investing. I had made some money. I decided to open a brokerage account. A classmate’s father introduced me to the elegant and charming Georgia native, Tommy Ward. He was a top-floor EVP at Merrill-Lynch in Greensboro. His office window was a lens on Guilford County.
To this day I don’t know why he was so patient with me. I suspect I amused him. If you read the article you will see that the reporter made me sound quite rich. “Rob now has holdings in four companies.”
I read that about myself and well… I got hooked somewhere between the newsprint and living within my own dream.
This early fascination with investing, and a foray into state politics, carried me to business journalism. Journalism took me to real estate investing. Real estate to brokering, both commercial and luxury residential.
The concept of capital flow led to institutional investors. This included foundations, pensions, trusts, union funds, high-net-worth and family offices.
It did not take me long to become bored with traditional returns. What interests me are asynchronous returns.
Doctor Johnson noted, “Where everyone thinks alike, no one thinks very much.” I understood and appreciate this. And I have seen too many readily accept less than they might achieve.
But such returns occur only through risk and conviction.
Today—my private equity clients seek this to survive and grow. My adrenals have become used to it. Shooting the pier (surfing under the pier, between the concrete pilings at full speed) on my 7′ 2″ surfboard atop a 15-foot Huntington Beach wave helped. I was 21.
Coming out the other side? One of the best moments of my life. I won.
Now talking with business ‘masters of the universe’ about their copy I get a similar feeling. I’m dry and unscathed by any razor-sharp barnacles but I have to be direct to make the copy work. The client’s business is the real client.
I will say what others have said: You’ll enjoy the writing process (see testimonials).
It’s very productive for us to know about each other. I find the strongest results come out of collaborative work with individuals, the decision-makers.
There is one other not-obviously-relevant experience: Construction.
I have built and renovated homes and participated in large commercial development. The point? Bringing a design idea to material existence requires accuracy, political savvy, money-sense, and flexible thinking. I have these in abundance. Please don’t think we won’t need them.
Creative business solutions come from unusual places.
If we are going to beat expectations, following the pack is ill-advised. Financial and marketing disciplines elude many groups, including surfers. A proud achievement is as co-founder of Surfrider Foundation’s New York City Chapter. For a time it was the fastest-growing chapter in the world. And then, many of the new members were NYC-based investment bankers from Africa and Australia. It aligned my two worlds!
I have done what I thought was right whenever possible.
Even with a Master’s in Journalism, I returned to campus to study finance. Another right thing: In a 24-hour period, after eighteen years with Teddy, we got married and baptized. It looks like the marriage might take.
I buy copies of important books to share with people I meet. I have ended relationships that I felt were unhealthy for my family or me. That’s who I am.
In the summer of 2017, I completed my first script, “Pride.” The story is based on the true story of a corrupt lawyer and legal system, in this case, in New Haven. The Wall Street Journal is still tracking the prosecution.
The screen-writing process was among the hardest jobs I’ve taken on. That is because the writer must master dialogue to drive emotion and action and any suspense or twists. But I completed and registered it with the Writer’s Guild. I expect a producer to want it someday, I hope that’s soon.
Now I am working on another script and another novel. But what makes these self-assignments relevant to you is my commitment to writing and communicating.
Scripts take time, but the same patience and persistence also make for the best copy. I always plan to spend part of my client conversation discussing the process. There are two reasons for this. One, without this discussion the client may not appreciate what I have learned and am applying for their benefit. And secondly, some clients become excellent partners in the creative process.
One final belief.
I have been working with several clients for years. Their businesses are moving ahead in ways they never dreamed. But I did.
When I do my job as a copywriter—my clients imagine their business in new and fertile ways.
I suspect that is partly from having lived in Brooklyn. It’s a tough place with very solid, very generous people. My biggest lesson from Graham Avenue is the importance of reciprocating loyalty and kindness.
It was self-evident. As I fit in with the close-knit Italian families, they looked after me in new and surprising ways. Badda-bing.
Reciprocation of good intentions as a habit makes for good neighbors… and way-better business.
That applies to any neighborhood. And to every business.