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Why Isolation Is Not The End Goal For Those Looking Into Properties


Isolation should not be the end goal for those looking into properties or the real estate industry. This is a common thing that many people think about, but it's not always true. To truly enjoy your property and make it into a home that meets your needs, think about what kind of isolation you're looking for, what access you need, and how much space will satisfy those requirements.
The episode goes into more detail about why isolation isn't always what someone needs when looking into properties.

Why Isolation Is Not The End Goal For Those Looking Into Properties

This is leading me to the big statement. The big statement perhaps is the concept of the American dream, owning your own home, having your big hub too. That's a symbol that you've made it. It is perhaps the wrong symbol because it's taking us away from the idea of community. People would say, “I live in the Beverly Hills ZIP code,” or the Atherton ZIP code or whatever. You answer any country. There's always a ZIP code where you're at, and you’re a part of the community.


You're not part of a community. You're a buying status. You have a big mansion. You hobnob with a few people, but there's no real community that way you are forced to do it when you're a student. I'm assuming if you're a student, many people can relate to the idea of the dorms. That's the opposite of the American dream because you don't have the wealth and the luxury to forge your own place. Those are the best years of people's lives.


Whereas we have another crisis happening with senior people living alone, bored and lonely. Loneliness is affecting the mental health of many people, and COVID also brought us to the front. The idea of communities perhaps of what we value in society takes us away from community. We are an individualistic culture, the West as a whole, some parts more or less than others. America at least and perhaps the UK, individual societies versus more Asian and rural societies.


It has gotten a lot worse with technology use. People spend an average of three hours a day on non-business stuff on their smartphones.


Is three hours a day good or bad? Should it be higher or should it be lower?


It should be lower. I use my technology fairly liberally, but I make sure it’s after I exercise and do a bunch of other stuff. I still question its role in my life. It makes it far easier to be alone. It wasn't that easy or that interesting to be alone back in the day. I don't think that virtual is a replacement.


Going back to urban design, the way cities where you're walking and going to bump into people. Whereas in certain societies, we're in our car.

Being amidst nature is healing for the soul.

For me, this is not esoteric. I did a spreadsheet and I'm happy to share it with you. I've lived in 38 different housing situations. I've lived in some pretty nice single-family housing. Ask around. I go to some nice ZIP codes. I've also lived on a kibbutz on the Lebanese border. I've traveled up and down the Nile and Egypt. I've been to Thailand, Singapore and New Zealand. I have a basis of comparison.


Here's where I get on my high horse. It’s like, “Don't tell me that a McMansion is as nice as this other thing because I've been to both of them. One is a lonely, isolated experience.” I see your apartment and that's a sensibly sized apartment. It's got a nice amount of fenestration and cement floors. One of my big things is efficiency. It's luxurious to have a comfortable apartment.


I had a friend who lived at the Richard Meier building at the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. He said, “You could never get the heat right because one side of the building was connected to the thermostat. On the other end, we get this blazing sun.” There have been numerous studies that have shown that most people who have these glass units close the drapes 70%, 80% of time. People don't look at ceiling views because there's too much light.


What happens is in society, we work hard, buy a bigger house, get a promotion, work even harder, and buy a big house to keep up with the Joneses. We inherently get lonely and you're craving something different. You eventually burn out and you go through a midlife crisis, and then you go for two years and travel a little around the world while you're doing the opposite.


I don't think people dream of leaving their McMansion to go stay in another mansion. They want something different. They want to get back to normal. This is why Airbnb is popular. People want to be more in rural nature areas and cabins. Nature is healing for our soul. It's a symptom of the society we live in and what we value. We're getting taken away from nature by buying things that our ego wants rather than what we need and our soul needs.


My startup is a function of the midlife crisis. I had a famous divorce. My wedding was in The New York Times. We'll go into it and touch on the PropTech world heavily in AI. I had my McMansion. I had my dwell micropatterned apartment, which for me was my McMansion. I made it. I had this embodied vision. I wasn't just talking the talk. I put my money on the line and built it out.


I overlooked Prospect Park and had all these things together. Going into onto a deeper level, we're looking for these external things to say that we’re a success versus these outcroppings of our success. Something that flows from our success, we're looking for the outside to ballet. You can have nice stuff but that's not success and that's definitely not power. That's what people want. People want to feel power.


I've never made a lot of money, but I've always had a lot of power because I did manage to live and develop a lot of strong relationships inside and outside the industry. What is the definition of success? I have a whole esoteric side to me. I didn't go to college. I went to an ashram and rode my bike across the country. I'm interested in the definition of success.

Power comes from developing strong relationships in and out of your industry.

My father passed away at 67, and he was a success. He was an early tech pioneer, early days, three common Nobel, the amount of stress that he went through. People didn't see him break his back in the airport in 1987 and was laid up. They don't think about the fact that he died of cancer at 67 being in airports for twenty years.


I'm far more circumspect about what defines success. One of the main things it's done to me that’s far more relatable than some of the esoteric stuff is running. I'm a runner. I run around 40 miles a week. A daily run is as much of a practice for me as any yogi. I've practiced a lot of yoga. The applied principle is meditative. It's not about excess, it's about performance and aligning our body to our movement, which is the essence of what's wrong with our built environment. There's so much excess.


Much of it has little to do with moving anything forward, serving our basic needs, connecting, or being healthy and stuff like that. Going on a deep personal journey. This might sound like an airy fairy and stuff like that. I don't know if you're a serious runner. If you talk to any serious runner, they get it fairly instantly. Developing that personal relationship.


These communities already exist to be clear. This is the shortcomings of co-living and something that you touched on. Co-living is for single people who are new to town. For me, that's not enough. I need a little bit more granular segmenting there. I get along with a lot of people but I don't necessarily like hanging out with a lot of people. I don’t want to live around a lot of types of people. I value people who appreciate work.


That's a fundamental thing with running. You understand that if you get a goal, you have to do stuff. You have to do something besides buy some. This goes back to our intrinsic motivations. They have a lot to do with health and being as healthy as we can, not just this baseline thing, which is what so many people fall into. There's an analogy between real estate and the body. I talked about this with my runner friends all the time. It's like, “If you guys knew how good it feels to live like this, you’d be like, ‘Sign me up.’”


That’s not how most people think. Most people look at Instagram, these fake versions of people who are deeply often insecure putting it out there so they get more likes and ego gratification. You see that and you get this keeping up with the Joneses feeling where, “I need to be happy.” As human beings, we defer our happiness for a later point in time. When we get it, we're disillusioned. Human nature has no limit to its wants, greed, and what we think we need.


Ultimately, it takes a crisis or a situation to take us out of our environment and make us realize this isn't living. This is burnout, stress, and tiring. You gave the example of your father who was successful and worked hard. You can look at your father as one example of a great role model. On the other hand, what you have to do to achieve that is unsustainable. We've got to find a balance somewhere.


I almost lost it. In 2009, I couldn't keep my proverbial ship together. I knew I was going down the same route as my dad, being a successful dead 67 year old, whatever it gets me. That's not success to me. I don't think that needs to be the cost of success.

Money can simplify people’s lives.

To make all of this actionable, we've talked a lot about philosophy. How can we take action so that we can live better lives? I'm supposing outside of doing something radical like knocking down your home and buying a plot of land and living in a tent, what can we do? I know we can. You've been on numerous national documentaries, the minimalism side of things. Any actionable advice that you could share with our readers?


I definitely am going to do a little plug for Ron House. It's about making it easy. Essentially, when you have what I call an additive market economy where everyone's trying to get a piece and trying to create market segments for housing or restaurants or all this stuff. Instead of trying to simplify, which is what people want, they want fewer steps. They don't want more steps. They don't want maximized revenue streams in their lives. They want minimal ones.


It's a revolution, folks. You're in here. Saving people money and simplifying people's lives can be super-duper profitable. It can provide a lot of value to people's lives, like, “I don't need all these things that I thought I needed.” Making it structurally easy, giving people a place to go and a place built around a real community, which is running. You do suffer together. It's egalitarian. All you need is a pair of shoes. People of all different incomes are mixing together.


The thing that matters is your performance. Your performance is always great adjusted. No fluff. I ran 523 miles in 2019. I paid for it, but I paid for it in grit. When you have that on your side, it feels good. I have 35 Instagram followers. I don't care. I get to enjoy great health. Make that easy. To readers, go find a run club. Much of this stuff used to be handled by religion. People used to have churches and temples and they'd go to me, they would do stuff, and they would make stuff.


I'm not saying we need to bring those back. Many of the religious bodies are irreparably polluted to have any credibility. That fundamental need for Congress and the fundamental need for breaking bread, singing and dancing, where is all that stuff? It's missing. It needs space. Practical stuff, go find a run club. Most towns have them. You're going to meet nice people.


All of a sudden, people don't do a whole bunch of stuff when their body is not used for performance. I always use this thing, don't put regular in a Ferrari. All of my good habits are a function of its impact on performance and generally, it's around running. Some of it is around mental clarity that the running instills when I'm not running, which is most of the time.


David, thank you so much for coming on the show. It's been a pleasure.



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About Zain Jaffer:
Zain Jaffer is an accomplished executive, investor, and entrepreneur. He started his first company at the age of 14 and later moved to the US as an immigrant to found Vungle after securing $25M from tech giants including Google & AOL in 2011. Vungle recently sold for $780m.
His achievements have garnered international recognition and acclaim; he is the recipient of prestigious awards such as "Forbes 30 Under 30", "Inc. Magazine's 35 Under 35," and the "SF Business Times Tech & Innovation Award." He is regularly featured in major business & tech publications such as The Wall Street Journal, VentureBeat, and TechCrunch.

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