2010 was a year that was supposed to be different than 2008 for the commercial real estate industry but I’m not so sure how much it really was. Maybe some of the positive differences were occurring outside the U.S. and not all of us is involved in the global real estate scene lest we forget: real estate is a local business. But is it really? In some ways it is and will always be. When I was doing consulting for institutional owners of commercial real estate who had either taken back a property in foreclosure or were considering it and asked me to first evaluate the potential of the property, the one thing that I told my clients was: Look, things have changed in the market since this building/shopping center/apartment complex/industrial building was built (and you financed it!). I have some ideas about how that property can be redeveloped or used for an alternative purpose and in doing that you can realize more value than by selling it as a ‘distressed property.’ But the one thing I cannot do is to move the building to a different (better) location. So, without sounding trite, real estate is not portable. Perhaps that’s what makes it a local business. But the global nature of the industry does exist in the source of real estate capital. It’s truly a global game. “Act globally, think locally” really doesn’t cut it anymore. “Act globally, think globally” is more like it, don’t you think? And it doesn’t just relate to the real estate industry. To spread peace and understanding we have to, well, “Act peacefully and practice understanding.” We need to make more of an effort to meet people from different countries and cultures; to communicate; to stay in touch (it’s so easy today) and to realize that we are all the same; we are all human beings no matter where we live, what color our skin is, what language we speak, what religion we practice (or not at all), what we eat, how we dance, what music we like or what kind of mode of transportation we use. The sky is the same above all our heads; it's the same sun we see rise; the same moon; the same stars; the same blackness. It seems so simple to me-we are all the same, we are the human race and it’s up to each one of us to accept the responsibility for the earth that we inherited from our ancestors and to leave this place better than we found it. It's a huge responsibility.
Also, let’s remember another thing: we need to make and savor our own good news; we need to find our own happiness. Look at any news media and you know what you will hear and see for the most part: bad news, sad news and only a smattering of glad news. We can’t rely on the media to perk up our day; there are some behavioral scientists that believe that reading/watching the news creates stress (I think they're right). Sadly, we can’t rely on the media for much of anything these days but that’s a story for another day. Each day we have is a blessing. Don’t forget that. I slip some days too but for the most part but I find that those mornings, no matter where I am in the world, when I get up and look at myself in the bathroom mirror and I smile at myself and say, “Boy am I a lucky guy” (notwithstanding how terrible my hair looks first thing in the morning) I go into that day with a positive feeling that no matter what happens at work or anywhere else, I’m going to appreciate and relish that day. 2010 just wooshed past us. Days, weeks, months, years pass and we look back and say, “What happened to that year? Did I accomplish any of those things that meant something to me personally or just work? OMG, ‘time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin into the future” (Fly Like An Eagle, Steve Miller Band). The lyrics to this song say a lot more than just this line. So in writing this to you it’s also a reminder to myself to make sure I don’t let any day, week, month or year slip away without doing something for myself. It’s not selfish. It’s important because we’re the only ones who are responsible for our own happiness. Yes, all of this is connected even if it sounds rambling but then again this isn’t the first time you all have put up with me rambling (and it won’t be the last!).
Some very sad news received early this week. Keith Barket, Managing Director of Angel Gordon, died last week of complications from peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare form of abdominal cancer. He had been diagnosed only just after Thanksgiving. Keith and I did not know each other well but we did know each other. Only a few months ago we had a nice chat at an industry event where he was a panelist. He grew up in the real estate industry and was considered by many to be one of the smartest guys and shrewdest investors in our business. He was 49. Very sad. So young.
For 2011 I’m going to share a marketing secret: we’re considering using Eric Estrada as our spokesperson!
Please accept my sincerest and bestest wishes to you and those close to you for a healthy and happy 2011! As always, I appreciate your support of OTR.
On the road...
Jan. 12-14: Laguna Beach, CA to attend IMN’s Eighth Annual Winter Forum on Real Estate Opportunity & Private Fund Investing.
Jan. 26: A quick trip to Chicago
Feb. 1-3: Dana Point, CA to attend IREI’s Fifth Annual VIP Conference.
These are my views and not that of my employer.