There’s nothing better than a good road trip. The prospect of hitting the road with a crammed car and all of iconic, ironic America waiting on the horizon never fails to excite me. In fact, some of my fondest, laugh-out-loud memories are from road trips. Like the cross-country drive to New Orleans when my friends somehow locked us out of the car in the middle of a torrential Southern summer downpour, and we ended up tossing a Frisbee, drenched and ankle high in mud puddles, waiting for AAA.

My all-time favorite part of a road trip, however, is the music. I have made CDs to tease and torture passengers, playlists to impress out-of-towners, and, one time, even rented a satellite radio device that had a Persian music station to appease my grandparents. For me, nothing is better than throwing together a couple hundred eclectic, genre-crossing songs, pressing shuffle, and hitting the road.

A few weekends ago, I realized just how important a diverse playlist can be when I got suckered into driving my vehicleless college freshman sister and three of her friends from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I had a mix ready to go—everything from Thunder Road-ing it with Spring­steen to drinking horchata with Vampire Weekend. The girls humored me through Ingrid Michaelson, CCR, The White Stripes, even Michael Franti, but finally told me my music wasn’t upbeat enough. Turns out their idea of a good road trip lineup consists of karaoke-worthy pop. And nothing else. I’m talking Lady Gaga (a guilty pleasure of mine, so I didn’t mind) to Katy Perry to Cee Lo Green to Britney Spears to Usher to, yes, even the Bieber. Let’s just say that by the end, I was incredibly proud of myself for having survived the six hours without deserting them at a gas station somewhere off I-5.

Moral of the story: A diverse playlist can make or break your journey. In fact, diversity is the key to any success story, particularly when the final destination is unknown.

At a recent industry conference, panelists discussing the murky future of the multifamily marketplace in light of the changes looming for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made an observation that struck me as simple yet profound: The only way to prepare for a world without the GSEs is to diversify your lending relationships today. “You never know who’s going to be the hot lender at a given time,” said John Cannon, executive vice president with Horsham, Pa.–based Berkadia Commercial Mortgage. “If I’m a multifamily owner or developer, I need to plan for what happens if Freddie and Fannie aren’t there. If you remove them from the equation, who’s going to replace them?” Good point.

Or how about in the job market? Most of the industry operations officers I speak to no longer rely solely on résumés and cover letters to hire new talent. These days, they look to a cadre of diverse sources to give them a holistic picture of the candidate: With one quick Google search, they are able to scour a LinkedIn account, Facebook profile, personal website or blog, and online portfolio. All prior to calling the unsuspecting candidate in for an interview. In other words, if you’re looking for a job and you don’t have a diverse online presence, you’re missing an opportunity to market yourself.

And most importantly, diversity is the key when a company tries to reinvent itself, as our cover subject, Hunt Cos., is in the midst of doing. (See “The Reinvention,” by senior editor Chris Wood, on page 38 for more.) After spending years as a military housing builder, Hunt is needing to diversify its operations, as military contracts dry up. So the firm is building up an affordable housing portfolio, growing a management arm, and raising an investment fund. For Hunt, diversification is the key to getting itself to the next stage of its journey.

It’s funny how a few simple changes, adjustments, and additions to broaden your base can make a world of difference. But it’s true. A little diversity can go a long way—whether you’re a borrower, a business owner, or just driving four teenage girls across a state.