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Enjoy Your Meal, and Save a Song For Dessert

Helen Chorley, investor and former investment banker, presents a few thoughts on standing out in property

I hear that in the UK, al fresco dining tables are open once again. Oh how I should have cherished more those wild, spontaneous, aperativo moments a few weeks ago here in Malta, where a new total lockdown was abruptly enforced again in March. It’s a small island really, and with the (mostly) beautiful weather year round, you really feel it when all the best spots are shuttered down and quiet. Anyway, we all know how that goes. So here we are, all dressed up and nowhere to go.

My favourite restaurant here sits on the ramparts of the old city in Valetta. It's called Capo Crudo and is perched above the sea, with enchanting views of Manoel Island. I bring all my visitors here just so I can come and be here again. The best bit, aside from the freshest sea food and sharpest cocktails, is that the whole roof retracts, so that you're sat in a swanky restaurant (actually affordable) in the beautiful open air. This gives it the gift of being both spacious and social. Sometimes you want to be near people, but not near enough to be bothered by their conversation!

In property, I think many of us crave a similar balance. It’s after all an industry where the restaurant is always full, but there’s usually a few voices you hear well above the din. Sometimes that’s jarring; a constant distraction while you tackle crusty bread with cold butter. Sometimes though, you want in on that conversation. It’s intriguing and engaging, and it seems to be speaking to you. You’re glad that they spoke loudly, and that you are positioned well enough to hear.

A waiter in Manhattan once recounted that a large, bearded man came in on a Friday night and sat himself at a table with three beautiful guests. They all ordered the steak. They were well-behaved and enjoyed their meal immensely, particularly the large fellow. He loved it so much that he insisted he sing for the chef, to express his satisfaction. Since he had been such a delight to wait on, the waiter agreed to retrieve the chef from the kitchen and brought him over. The man then stood up, and in the middle of a packed restaurant, began to sing. People were first stunned, then thrilled as it turned out to be none other than Luciano Pavarotti.

I think many of us would love to be able to do this. To be able to naturally engage people with our own unique talents, and for it to be always well-received, or at least positively remembered. To be the Pavarotti of Property! There’s a free tagline for someone in need of one. What’s difficult though, is that there’s a fine line between having a voice, standing out, engaging the crowd; and being ‘that guy.’ Or girl. I have often tensely wobbled along this tightrope of visibility myself, left leg flinging itself out to rebalance me. And I’ve clean fallen off a few times too. There’s probably a couple of people reading this who remember those moments, and others who stepped forward to catch me.

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