ctually, the whole story begins in failure. The year was 1988 and I’d enjoyed a successful career as a real estate attorney at the firm of Farris Warfield & Kanady. One day a new client named Steve Turner walked into my office and wanted my assistance selling an apartment complex he owned in Cincinnati. It was New Years Eve or maybe a few days before. We all went to Cincinnati to close the deal—which was proving very difficult—and we didn’t get it done. The very first deal we worked on together failed.
My 30 years of experience in representing many clients taught me the difference between clients who really appreciated what you did and those who simply paid you for your work. And then of course, there were those other few people who didn't pay your work because they didn't stay clients very long!
But I developed an affection for a handful of clients. One of them was the Steve Turner family. And the opportunity was presented to me by Steve Turner to go into business with him with MarketStreet Enterprises, after years of representing his family. He had a great interest in leaving a legacy of making a positive impact on the urban development of Nashville, but it was vitally important to him to do it in a commercially responsible manner, which meant ultimately he wanted to make a profit on it so it could sustain itself.
As Steve recalls in his book Steve Turner’s Little Book of the Common Good, “It wasn’t easy to recruit Joe, and it was even harder to convince his wife that he should give up a lucrative legal practice to go into business with this crazy guy who wanted to bring New Urbanism to Nashville. I remember for his first paycheck I got a wooden box and filled with Susan B. Anthony silver dollars, all shiny and new. It looked like a box full of gold, and I told Joe to carry it to his wife and tell her, ‘See, this guy Turner is for real.”
I still have that box and I give a dollar to each grandchild each year with the requirement that they have to sit and listen to me tell them about the qualities of hard work and perseverance that make us successful. Struggle until success is an important lesson and you’re never too young to start learning it.