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[IMGCAP(1)]NEWPORT BEACH, CA-The value of building a solid foundation–one based on knowledge, sound leadership, strong character and solid business principles–is key to creating opportunities for the future. So said speakers at Buchanan Street Partners’ 8th Annual Real Estate Summit, held at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort in Newport Beach. This year’s event was titled, Rock Solid: Foundation for the Future, and speakers Stuart Varney, an economist and business/financial journalist for FOX News, and Michael Josephson, an ethics consultant, echoed that title’s philosophy.

[IMGCAP(2)]“In tough times, does character really count? Can you afford not to be ethical when economic survival is at stake?” was the question Josephson posed to the audience of more than 700 real estate industry professionals. He explained that the only assets that cannot be diminished when the worse case scenario happens in our economy are imagination, intelligence and integrity. Integrity, he said, is the most valuable asset, and is the most threatened in these tough times.

“I look at this period of time as involuntary character boot camp,” Josephson said. “But when the sun comes out, how solid are we?” He continued that although the vast majority of people are fundamentally decent people, “if we don’t start modeling that ethics is a necessity and not a luxury, the kind of problems we are witnessing today will be small potatoes compared to what can happen in the future.”

Josephson advised insiders to look at the bigger picture in their business practices to come out better on the other side. “There’s a difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do,” he said. “None of us want to run our business as a risk-management strategy. The risk is too great.”

Following Josephson’s presentation, FOX News’ Varney pointed out that until the fall of last year, for the past 25 years, America was the best performing of the industrial economies. “Out of 100 quarters, only five quarters have we had flat or negative growth,” he said.

The financial landscape has been shifted. Where we are now, Varney said, is that “our public policy has been geared towards wealth creation and now it has shifted to wealth redistribution.”

In a quick 10-minute summation, Varney recapped the cascade of how we got here, using headlines from the beginning of the fund meltdowns, to Iceland’s bankruptcy, to when 2 trillion euros set aside as a rescue fund for Europe. But he ended on a positive note, with the assertion America will be first to get out of this mess. “We will be the first out of this mess, and we are the only ones who can be first,” he said, “so give yourselves a round of applause.”

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