What did RCA say this week? "Mixed signals coming from the marketplace in Q4.... some energy in the volume numbers for office and retail.....but increasingly clear that buyers are feeling less pressure to do deals in the near term.....the shifting sentiment reflects in part an improving distress picture as liquidations continue to outpace new inflows, suggesting a cyclical change and the likelihood of increasing opportunities ahead in the new year....investor patience is also visible across most sectors....strong sales for regional malls and urban assets have sustained momentum in the retail sector....2012 volume trends could prove the opposite of 2011, with slower activity earlier in the year giving way to stronger investment in the second half of the year, with sales easily pushing ahead of 2011 levels."
A question posed to me: "To do an internship do you have to have a degree?" Given that most summer internships don't pay, I don't feel that you need a degree (actually if you have a degree and are looking at internships it's probably more of a way to get in the door in the hopes of being offered a job sooner rather than later). One of my sons got an internship between his junior and senior year at MTV. They liked him. They said, "When you graduate we'd be happy to have you join us." He did and it launched what has become a successful career in TV.
This week I attended "Nuts & Bolts of Institutional Real Estate 2.0" sponsored by NCREIF (National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries). The content was both deep and broad and presented by leading industry thinkers. One of the highlights for me was the opening presentation by Blake Eagle, the "father" of NCREIF. In walking us through the the history of institutional real estate investment business he also reminded me of a number of events that occurred in the past 30 years in the commercial/institutional real estate industry. He's a wonderful story teller. From a networking standpoint, I met a number of younger industry professionals including representatives of six pension funds. Some of the attendees came from firms which encourage their people to take advantage of educational opportunities like this: Cornerstone, Prudential, Clarion, Aberdeen, Henderson, Morgan Stanley, Apollo, Guggenheim, Stockbridge, UBS and a number of lesser known names as well. I would highly recommend you looking into future NCREIF educational programs as they are not only opportunities to learn but also to meet new people; people who will grow up with you in the industry. Connections. Relationships. So important. NCREIF puts on a good event-chock full of learning and sprinkled with some fun.
On that note, last night I got to go to my first ever comedy club. Laughter is so contagious but the bar has been set high as the place was Second City. I'd heard about this club for a long, long time via the connection with some of the former 'students' whose names are carved (not really) into the desks: Belushi, Akroyd, Murray, Radner, Curtain, Morris and Fey. This current troop is also really talented. Being a comedian is not an easy gig as I witnessed once when the Robin Williams 'died' (in stage terms) in front of a huge audience in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. He just couldn't connect with the audience. He knew it. We knew it because he told us, "Help me, I'm dying up here." It was a sobering moment that I'll never forget partially because it's relevant to business as well. We all have an audience we need to connect with. Many, or perhaps, most of the time it's connecting with one person but often it's with multiple people. And it's not always a matter of making a sale or getting a job; it's a matter of building relationships. I've been re-reading some stuff that I've saved over the years. One of them reminds us of why people choose to do business with others: They like us, they trust us, we do what we say we're going to do, we communicate openly....the list goes on. But the foundation of all this stuff is that in some way we've connected with them. And connecting starts with a first impression which I believe takes no more than 4 seconds-the time it takes to shake the other persons' hand and look into their eyes. 4 seconds! And, remember we have only one chance to make a first impression.
Can you believe it's December? We are so seriously close to the end of another year it's almost unfathomable. Where the heck did 2011 go? Some of the conversations I've been having are with firms that are getting prepared to hit the ground running hard at the start of 2012. We continue to be a positive, optimistic thinking bunch and more and more adaptable as well. What I mean by that is I don't hear much talk about waiting for things to return to 'normal.' We won't see that normal again for some time, if ever. I don't like the phrase 'new normal.' I prefer to think in terms of "What it is!" But, given the uncertainty with global economies, geo-politics, employment, you name it, I'm not sure we know "What it is", as well as, in the words of the aforementioned Robin Williams is prone to say, "What it was."
Summer Internships: Thanks to those of you who wrote to tell me that your firm does hire summer interns. Here is another firm that has a slot for a summer intern:
1. Zapolski Real Estate, Napa, CA
Some feedback from the Advice to the Real Estate Students thing I mentioned last week:
1. "My advice, figure out how to get into the industry, take any job you can get and put in 60 hours a week, be the first one in and the last out of the office every day. As the industry runs up, senior management will start to look for talent to start new ventures. There is typically little young or mid-level talent after a bust, those that have stayed in the industry get the first calls."
On another related note, a long time friend and supporter of OTR, Albert Livingston, sent me a link to an excellent piece on "Careers in Commercial Real Estate."
Congratulations to my friend David Slifka who started this week as the head of real assets at the YMCA Retirement Fund.
Also, congratulations to my former colleague, Tim Zietara who is now Chief Investment Officer at Doral Property Finance.
A Family Affair: We have two more additions to the Felix family. Twins, Edie & Benjamin. Edie is the first girl in our family in a long, long time. Very exciting stuff.
On the road....
Dec. 12-16: New York
Jan. 18-20: Laguna Beach, CA to attend IMN's Winter Forum on Real Estate Opportunity & Private Fund Investing.
Jan. 25, 2012: London to attend and moderate a panel at the Thompson Reuters Global Property Outlook 2012
Jan. 30-Feb. 1: Scottsdale, AZ to attend IREI's VIP Conference.
These are my views and not that of my employer.