Saturday, October 1, 2016

In the blink of an eye / Learn something new every day / 'Next Thursday' / Felix-Weiner Workshops Announced

In the blink of an eye
Ray Torto, one of the most well-known and respected real estate research and strategy people was in a bad car crash last Sunday.  Immediately following the accident the report was not good. As the week went on, things started looking a little better and as of yesterday, Ray was up and talking again – albeit in his still difficult to understand Boston accent!  Please join me in sending positive vibes to Ray for a speedy and full recovery.  Thanks!

Learning Something New Every Day
In the ‘you learn something every day’ category, this past week I learned that I must have been living a sheltered life for some period of time. Two people I exchanged business cards with had the title, “Director of Capital Introductions” as their job.  It got me thinking:  yes, to raise capital there need to be introductions made.  Exactly between whom does these folks make the introductions?  And, is that all there is?

My guess is that the people in these positions introduce themselves to a source of capital like a consultant, pension fund, endowment, foundation, sovereign wealth fund or rich people (i.e. family office or simply really, really rich individuals – from where there’s more and more money coming into real estate).  Then, after they introduce themselves, they ask if they can introduce that source of capital (for lack of a better expression) to some of their colleagues who will be happy to take some of their money and invest in in real estate.  Assuming that’s acceptable, then, and this is just a guess, the next introduction comes from the investment professionals that the Director of Capital Introductions has made to the investor to the investment opportunity.

My head is spinning – did I get that right?  Maybe, there’s another introduction to be made along the way to the team that is going to incorporate research, portfolio, asset management, reporting, risk management and the like into the investment.

What this is really about is my first thought when seeing the title – making an introduction is the key starting point.  I personally know as I’ve done a lot of that in my career.  And it’s interesting to see that that title, “Director of Capital Introductions” is appearing.  I’m not sure I like it, not that anyone has asked me.  Perhaps it’s that even though that is the function, I’m not positive that the title really represents what many folks really do – it’s a lot more than just making an introduction isn’t it?

Two weeks on the road
Yesterday I got back (I’m still having a little difficulty with calling North Carolina home) from a two-week, three-city trip.  It reminded me of a trip of similar length I took in Europe 10 years ago when I was working at launching the business there for IREI.  I vowed at that time that two weeks was simply too long to be on the road in one shot. 

Having said that, this was a great trip.  My partner Liz Weiner and I were first in Dallas where we conducted an in-house women’s leadership workshop for 26 women for a well-known real estate investment management firm.

Then I went on to Chicago where I had a chance to make my first visit to see the giraffes (and some of their friends) at the Lincoln Park Zoo – which I learned from a friend last night is one of only two ‘free’ zoos remaining in the U.S. I love giraffes.  I don’t like zoos.  And while the Lincoln Park Zoo is a very nice facility, the outdoors giraffe enclose was closed and under renovation – so the two of them were housed indoors. 

What that visit did do is reinforce the need for me to plan and book the African photo safari I have dreamed of for many, many years – I’ve always wanted to see the giraffes in their natural habitat and am going to take a safari in 2017.

The business part of the Chicago visit was to attend the NAREIM (National Association of Real Estate Investment Mangers) Executive Officers (EO) meeting.  This meeting takes place twice a year and is attended by very senior people on the real estate investment management side of our business.

The reason that the conversation is so open is that there are no consultants and no LP’s allowed (except for one LP that was interviewed as the last session on the second day). Congratulations to NAREIM CEO Gunnar Branson and the planning committee who did a very thoughtful job of creating the agenda.

NAREIM currently has 93 members. Their charter limits membership to 100.  If you are not a member, I encourage you to look into becoming one.  Several of the prospective members that attended this event told me that they are likely to sign up so the remaining spaces may be limited.

NAREIM also hosts a series of other great specialty meetings during the year. These include Capital Raising and Investor Relations, Human Resources, Architectural and Engineering, Legal and Compliance, Sustainability and Investment Management, Acquisitions and Dispositions and Research and Investment Management.  These are modest size groups where interaction amongst the presenters and attendees is unparalleled in the industry.  Check NAREIM out. Oh, the reason I’m not sharing any of my takeaways from the EO meeting is that it operates under the rules, ‘What’s said there, stays there.”

“Next Thursday”
I am so tired of hearing people, especially moderators on panels, ask, “So, what inning are we in?” or “When are things going to change and started sliding downhill again.”

As there is no shortage of opinion in our industry, there are a myriad of answers offered – ‘next Thursday’ being one that, while a bit flippant, suggests that we really don’t know for sure and I’m not one to pontificate. 

However, there are signs that things are changing and, just like a restaurant can’t always predict what kind of night they’re going to have, there are factors at work that suggest that we’re not really in any better shape than the restaurant manager trying to figure out, “Was it the rain or the parade or the holiday or whatever” that is behind having a slow night. 

I can tell you that my friend in the industry show no signs of slowing down their efforts to raise and deploy capital.  What is changing is the profile of the investor – more and more non-traditional investors, capable of buying institutional quality assets, are playing the game and, in many cases, winning the deals.  

One of the things that some companies are beginning to do is to ‘Think Different’ (yes, that’s the Apple advertising slogan that was created by the drummer in the first rock ‘n ‘roll band I played in  - and my longtime friend – Ken Segall).  In anticipation of things changing, it’s important to look at what was done preparing for the last downturn or the lessons learned coming through it, and think differently about what you might be doing to get ready.  It’s a very healthy and worthwhile exercise.  And remember, the folks in your firm who have never experienced anything other than a market that continues to go up may be an excellent source of ideas about what to consider doing differently this time.  Invite them into your strategy meetings – even if they don’t have any brilliant ideas, they’ll learn a lot which is a value-add for your firm and your investors.

Felix/Weiner Workshops Announced
Two weeks ago my partner Liz Weiner (I’m going to refer to her simply as Liz going forward) piloted a new type workshop in Chicago.  The feedback from the participants was powerfully positive and we’ve now incorporated that into the schedule we released this week.

The new workshop, patterned after our internal presentation coaching workshops, is an open-enrollment (people buy tickets) Behavioral Presentation Coaching workshop.  Attendance in the full-day, interactive session is limited to 10 participants (no more than 2 people from any one firm). 

We’re continuing our successful Women’s Leadership Workshop series.  In the firs 15 open-enrollment workshops we’ve had women from 75 different commercial real estate industry related firms attend.  We’ve also conducted five internal women’s leadership / presentation coaching workshops at some of the most prominently named firms in the industry.

Here’s our schedule with a link to the page where you can learn more and register.  We look forward to seeing you or one of your colleagues at one of our upcoming workshops:

Women’s Leadership Workshops...
Develop and enhance your professional presence

Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshops...
Immediately improve your presentation just one day!


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Edward Albee / My commitment to you / Behavioral Presentation Coaching & Women's Leadership Workshops

Edward Albee, playwright (1928-2016)
I woke up early this Saturday morning and as part of my daily routine, looked at the headlines of the New York Times digital edition.  I don’t generally read too many news articles, especially about politics – you can get enough of a sense what's going on simply from the headlines. I have always liked reading obituaries – feeling there is a wonderful art in writing them – and I learn about people’s lives – those that I’ve heard of and those that I’m reading about for the first time.

This morning, a front-page story announced the death of playwright Edward Albee.  Here is an excerpt from the obituary and also some notes I took while watching a never-before-seen The Last Word video interview produced by Eric Olsen, Patrick Flynn and Ben Brantley:

Edward Albee, widely considered the foremost American playwright of his generation, whose psychologically astute and piercing dramas explored the contentiousness of intimacy, the gap between self-delusion and truth and the roiling desperation beneath the facade of contemporary life, died Friday at his home in Montauk, N.Y. He was 88.

From a never before seen The Last Word video interview by The New York Times:

“I like to hold a mirror up to people and say, hey, this is the way you behave, this is who you are.  If you don’t like what you see, maybe you should change.”

“I don’t like movie music much.  I don’t like being told how I’m supposed to react to things.”

Q. What do you want to be remembered as?
A. “A useful playwright.  I think that are being merely decorative is insufficient. It’s to hold a mirror up to ourselves and to point out when we’re being useful and when we’re not, when we’re moving forward and when we’re not.  I can think of nothing worse than getting to the end of your life and figuring out that you haven’t participated in it; that you haven’t really lived it. And I think people should live dangerously.  I think they should live at the precipice, all the time, and fully.  Somebody said, I think it was in one of my plays, ‘When is the happiest time?  Now. Always, yeah, now…Always.”

Some of you may remember that the motivation when I recorded my first album of original music in 2006 was the death of a long-time friend, Dave Florendo (lead singer in Arcade Love Machine). I thought about recording my own stuff for many years and finally said to myself, “What am I waiting for?” 

I got serious about publishing Driving With Your Knees, the business memoir I am currently working on while at the funeral of industry friend Erwin Stouthamer in Amsterdam this past spring.  Again, “What am I waiting for?” Today, while writing the book, I’ve also just recently started recording the tunes for my next album, as yet unnamed.  I was going to wait until after the book was completed but a few weeks ago again thought, “Why wait?”

A thought: If you have a project of any sort in mind and keep saying, “I just don’t have time”, make the time.  Get up an hour earlier. Start with just one day a week. Stay up an hour later if that time of day is best / easiest for you.  But do it – don’t wait.

None of us knows what tomorrow (or even later today) will bring and wouldn’t it be a shame if our legacy was, “She/he was going to do this that or the other thing but, sadly ran out of time.”

My commitment to you
Since starting my own consultancy in January 2012 I have attended fewer conferences for various reasons.

Over the next 5 months I will be attending (or at least being in the same city at the same time) events sponsored by INREV*, NAREIM*, PREA*, PERE* and IMN* (I'll also be attending, for the first time, the International Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN) in a couple of weeks. As I've always felt is my obligation, I will do my best to give you some of my observations and comments from these events.  If you attend an event, and afterwards have a few minutes, it’d be great if you could send me a one or more  of your takeaways / unattributable quotes so I can share them with the readers of this column – it’ll be a win/win for us all.

INREV: European Association for Investors in Non-Listed Real Estate Vehicles
NAREIM: National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers
PREA: Pension Real Estate Association
PERE: Private Equity Real Estate
IMN: Information Management Network
Shameless Self-Promotion: Felix / Weiner Workshops
Here's the link to the workshops that my partner Liz Weiner and I are conducting this fall.  It lists our Women's Leadership Workshops - our first 16 of these sessions have attracted women from more than 70 commercial / institutional real estate industry related firms.

Also listed, are our just launched (Chicago this past Wednesday) Open-Enrollment Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop.  Modeled after the workshops we have conducted in-house for such firms as Hines, Clarion, PGIM, Guggenhiem, Forum Partners, American Realty Advisors, MesaWest, Pearlmark, RCA (Real Capital Analytics), Square Mile, USAA, Waterton this workshop has people from different firms attending.  Our pilot program this past Wednesday was a huge success (based on the feedback from participants).  

See if there's a workshop and city that makes sense to you (or maybe you have friends in these cities that would be interested):
A piece from 2006
Here is a piece I published during the summer/fall of 2006 and found it recently.  I received 35 emails from readers, commenting on this piece, telling me it resonated with them.  This week I read it and while I’m in a different place in my life, both physically (North Carolina) and personally, I thought I’d share it with you once again.

Warning: This has nothing to do with real estate. Or maybe it does.
Earlier this week I got to spend a lot of time by myself when I drove from California to Chicago to deliver a car that we had sold to my son and daughter-in-law. Covering 1,700 miles in two days gave me a chance to think about things such as the meaning of success, the really important things in life and other lifestyle issues that I had ignored while pursuing whatever business goals I had set for myself. And I just wanted to share a few of those thoughts with you.

What is success? To many people it means achieving measurable financial goals or accumulating things. I had had that idea as well. Each year I thought that if I made more money than the last year, I’d consider myself more successful. As I sit here this week and type this to you, I think I have been very, very wrong. You see, success has a price to it. You may not realize it when you start out on that path but there is a price to be paid. The question is: Is it worth it?

What are the really important things in life anyway? If you’re lucky enough to have your health (knock on wood), you’re ahead of the game. After that it’s a question of deciding what is important and where you’re going to put your energy.

For the past eight years, I’ve worked hard at building my employers’ business and, as a result, my own business within that company. Consequently, I’ve made a little more money each year. This has allowed us to be less worried than we were when moved with virtually nothing to California from N.J., pay the bills and have a little left over each week to eat out and drink some good wine.

But the success I’ve had in my business career has required me to travel a lot. Three years ago when I started doing the due diligence to determine whether the company could make a go of it in Europe, my travel intensified. Have I traveled more than I need to? Those of you who have been reading this column for a while know my travel schedule. So, yes. There’s a price to be paid for all the time away from home, for all the time focusing on my job, my clients, my colleagues. But when you are making progress, it tends to feed on itself, and it’s very hard to pull back and slow down. 

Some of the things that I realized on my drive this week were that the material gain is not really that important if other parts of your life are suffering. Even if you think that you’re paying enough attention to those at home, chances are you’re not. And when you are only home long enough to do your laundry, mow the grass and walk the dogs, it doesn’t get better; it gets worse.

I pass these thoughts on to you, as I know that many of you are “road warriors” just like me, and maybe you have had thoughts of your own about achieving the balance between work and personal lives and how to make sure that one does not suffer at the expense of the other. If I can pass along any advice it’s this: Make sure you pay attention, close attention, to your life (not your job) for as important as your job is to you, your life is even more.

Blog Archive