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You've Heard of the Purple Cow, but Have You Seen The Purple Tree?

One of the most frequent questions we get is how we come up with show topics. So we thought we’d give you a peak behind the curtain and show you how we arrived at today’s show idea.

We were eating!

That’s why today’s show topic is really … I can’t believe I ate that whole thing! Plop … plop … fizz … fizz!

Mary-Lynn recalled …
We were at a family diner. I started reminiscing about when I was a kid. There was this restaurant that we would go to when we went to visit my grandma. It was called the Hen House. The outside looked like a big red barn. The inside had a country décor and a fun little gift shop that my sister and I would always visit after eating. They had games and books and candy …

George added …
We’re showing our roots here. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it (which is likely most of you), the Hen House was a Midwestern chain. Sort of a smaller version of Cracker Barrel.

I have a book by William Dooner, the guy who started the Hen House chain. And to me, the most memorable thing from his book is when he talks about the purple tree in the forest.

Hence the subject of today’s show!

The Purple Tree

Dooner says to picture yourself walking through a lush green forest. In the middle of it, you come upon a tree that is painted purple. You keep walking, but you can’t get that purple tree out of your mind. Most likely, your impression is negative … because it doesn’t fit. Why someone would paint that tree that color?

Mary-Lynn …
When I heard this story, I wondered if this is where Seth Godin got his idea for The Purple Cow. Because I’d never heard this purple tree story before, but I’d definitely heard of the purple cow.

We can’t speak to Seth Godin’s inspiration, but they are different concepts. William Dooner said to look for something that stands out because it doesn’t fit. It probably leaves a negative impression. Seth Godin encouraged us to purposefully not fit in so that we stand out. By doing that, we make a positive impression.  

In either case, purple tree or purple cow, you remember it.

So, as it applies to real estate, the purple tree in the forest means properties that may be run-down, out-of-the-way, unused, underused … that sort of thing. What Dooner did with the Hen House chain is a perfect example (see, we’re about to make it all fit … you were starting to doubt us, weren’t you?).

The $10 million purple tree

He saw this vacant land next to gas stations along the interstate. It was ugly, smelly, littered with junk, no landscaping. A purple tree. 

This land had never been used commercially. At that point in time, there often wasn’t any place to eat when you stopped to fill up with gas. So Dooner had a bigg idea – he invested $15 thousand to start a restaurant chain on that unwanted and unused land. He later sold that chain for $10 million!

Beyond real estate

We highly recommend Dooner’s book. It’s called How to Go from Rags to Riches in Real Estate. It’s a must read if you’re interested in real estate investing, but this purple tree concept goes beyond that.

Think about customers nobody wants to serve, employees nobody wants to hire, jobs nobody wants to do. Maybe one of those is your purple tree! So look around today … where do you see purple trees?


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(Image by Mailjozo)