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THE Universal Business Truth You Must Know

Designers aren’t lofty

I love my dad.  He was a single father for much of my life and I’ve always adored him.  He’s an incredible artist with a variety of skills mastered.  I remember as a child watching him paint every night.  I didn’t understand his art until adulthood, but I admired it nonetheless.  For much of my life, he was a graphic designer working on marketing campaigns you’ve all seen before and years ago, he began work as a designer for a national sign firm and has since become the senior director of design.  So, let’s just modestly say he has an eye for design.  Better than I ever will.

Most people assume that artistic designers are lofty, dreamy people not oriented with savvy business skills, and those people would be wrong.  My father told me a universal business truth that I want to share with you.  It has stuck with me since I was 13 (and he’ll be shocked to read that I remember it)- on a triangle, only two sides are available to lean on in business.  You can turn it any which way and one point is always in the air, left out- you can’t have it.  Then he illustrated it (in a much sexier way than I’ve mustered up):


What the concept means to real estate

Although he probably learned this in college from some top economist (and my dad’s one of the smartest people alive, I even got in a fist fight in 3rd grade over my dad being smarter than everyone else’s), I still attribute this concept to him.  So, in all transactions I know that no matter how badly you or a client wants all three, a triangle only allows two, so remember:

  • You can have a quality product quickly, but you’ll sacrifice cost.
  • You can have an inexpensive product quickly, but you’ll sacrifice quality.
  • You can have a quality product inexpensively, but you’ll sacrifice time.

So, if you want my quality services rendered quickly, it’s going to cost you.  If you want my quality services inexpensively, it will be in my time frame, not yours.  If you just want a quick, inexpensive product, it won’t be as high quality as it would if you’d given me more time (or… you knew it- money).

So, thanks dad for being my inspiration for teaching us the universal business truth that transcends all businesses!

Originally published on my personal blog on December 11, 2007. Please don’t read the comments where my dad talks about a fetus tail.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Ian Greenleigh

    July 16, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Yeah, he got it from MY dad. There are no shortcuts; sad but true. I think you’d like a book I just read, filled with these type of genius tips–and it’s not self help! It’s actually pretty dirty and incredibly entertaining: Robert Evans’ “The Kid Stays In The Picture”. Trust me, he knows more than just making movies…probably more about LIFE than anyone I known of.

  2. Benn Rosales

    July 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Ian, that’s so crazy, an older man sitting across from is not more than 30 mins ago was reading that book.

  3. Ian Greenleigh

    July 16, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    That older man was me! Now I’m confusing myself. It’s seriously good. Like crazy good.

  4. Steven Noreyko

    July 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I’ve always heard it this way:

    “Fast, Good or Cheap. Pick any 2”

  5. jsheehan200

    July 16, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I used to use a slight variation on Steven’s usage:

    Good and Cheap not Fast
    Good and Fast not Cheap
    Fast and Cheap not Good

  6. maczter

    July 16, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I was also taught “Good. Fast. Cheap. Choose two.” years ago by one of my favorite professors.

    Related to this, he also told me a story about a carpenter friend who, when asked by customers how much it would cost for him to fix or build items, he would say $X. $Y if you want to watch.

  7. Missy Caulk

    July 17, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Amazing what we learn and remember from our parents. Those little comments that pop back in our heads and tie into live issues.

  8. Ken Brand

    July 17, 2009 at 9:16 am


  9. Matthew Hardy

    July 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I used to do consulting with large design firms who wanted to introduce those newfangled computer thingys to their work. The best understood exactly what you’re saying Lani. The “lofty” ones never seemed to understand the term “deadline”. Your point applies well to the base-level understanding an agent should have with their client.

  10. Lori Luza

    September 15, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Very wise words!

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