I’m sorry. I don’t care how much technology is available to us today whether it’s email, texting, Skype, Video Conferencing, Twitter, Facebook whatever, there is no substitute for meeting people face2face. Don’t you agree? I have believed in this since early on, at some points, paying for trips out of my own pocket to sit across a table from someone involved in a deal I was doing, just to look into their eyes (of course this was before all the technology mentioned above but not before airplanes J). There is so much to be gained by shaking someone’s hand, looking into their eyes, having cocktail or breaking bread with them. I read somewhere that when two people meet, a first impression takes four seconds! I truly believe that. Go and meet people face2face: it’s worth the effort.
With all the financial modeling, engineering and technology, we are the lucky ones: real estate remains still a people business and I am grateful to share that world with those of you who are in it as well. We are a global community. We have responsibility. And we have the opportunity to do things differently this time around. We should be embracing the change (as they say) and perhaps remembering those simpler days when people’s handshakes meant something. But to shake someone’s hand you need to be there in person. And, if you are going to be someplace where you see that I will also be, I’d love to meet you. I have met a number of readers of this column over the years and a few of those connections have resulted in true friendships. I am very lucky. Feel free to reach out. My mobile number is 646.886.9535. I look forward to it.
I hear fewer and fewer people talking about how difficult things are in our industry. Perhaps it’s like, “Well, if we just soldier on and don’t talk about it, things will get better.” We all know about self-fulfilling prophecies, right? But more than just using cosmic energy, things are getting better.
Witness what Matt Slepin of Terra Search Partners, wrote in his newsletter this week: The headline is that the glut of talent is fast coming to an end and a normalized environment will return. Definitely focus on retaining your best talent through bucks, benefits and opportunities. If you are looking to hire, there is still a window to find talent on the street and with bonuses recently paid (and promoted interests still underwater); strong people ready to make their moves out of the firms where they played in the last cycle. For those seeking opportunities, this will be a far superior year (certainly anything is better than the last several). Continue to follow the advice we’ve been suggesting during the downturn for staying in the game, but if you are talented and hungry, things should come together in 2011. Is this a real turn in the fundamentals or just pent up demand driven by abundant capital and human nature? I think probably some of each and we are indeed a bit ahead of ourselves in this swing.
Bob White, Founder and President of Real Capital Analytics (RCA) spoke before the U.S. House of Representatives this week on the state of the commercial real estate industry. While much of his presentation was a primer of sorts, I offer his conclusion to you with Bob’s kind permission (actually he doesn’t know I’m doing this but I think it’s okay J
Recent improvements lead to cautious optimism in the commercial real estate industry but meaningful risks remain. Many of the improvements are very recent and have not been very widespread.
• Space Market Issues:
· Depressed rents and high vacancies, but trends stabilizing
· Largely dependent on economic activity and job growth
• Capital Market Issues:
· Credit conditions and investment trends improving
· Overhang of distress
· Looming maturities
Of course, those of us who operate in this industry each day know this stuff; it’s good to know there are some folks in Washington who want to learn more about it.
In an inflight magazine I found an excerpt from a book called, Good Boss, Bad Boss by Bob Sutton. The excerpt is titled, “Lead the Way: Earn the admiration and respect of your employees with these simple workplace strategies.” It’s good stuff. I’d be happy to send it to you (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A friend in The Netherlands sent me these Chinese proverbs. I don’t know if they’re truly Chinese Proverbs but I tend to believe people. I had stored them away and found them this morning. I think you’ll like them:
· 1. With money you can buy a house, but not a home (SF suggestion: listen to Tom Wait’s “The House Where Nobody Lives.”)
· 2. With money you can buy a clock, but not time.
· 3. With money you can buy a bed, but not sleep.
· 4. With money you can buy a book, but not knowledge.
· 5. With money you can see a doctor, but not good health.
· 6. With money you can buy a position, but not respect.
· 7. With money you can buy blood, but not life.
· 8. With money you can buy sex, but not love.
Hotel of the Week: The Suites of 800 Locust, Des Moines, Iowa. Formerly the Des Moines Club. My first stay this week. Very nice. Friendly people and a grand piano in the lobby that they encourage people to play. I don’t have a real piano these days and I played for an hour the other night. For those of you going to Des Moines to visit Principal or Aviva or Allstate or any of the other companies located there, I highly recommend this place.
Apartment search. A friend of mine’s daughter is starting a PhD program at UC Berkeley and is looking for an apartment. If you have one (or know anyone who might have one for rent to a responsible tenant) please let me know and I’ll pass the info along. Also, don’t hesitate to forward this on to someone who may have ideas. Thanks.
Photo: From the air, Chicago to New York, early this morning. Absolutely breathtaking.
On the road....
Feb. 18-22: New York
Feb. 24: Columbus, OH
Feb. 27-Mar.1: Santa Monica, CA to attend NAREIM's Senior Executive Officer's Meeting (National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers).
Mar. 16-17: Washington, DC for the PREA Spring Conference
Mar. 30: New York to attend IMN's inaugural Real Estate Investment & Search Consultants Congress
Apr. 13-15: Venice to attend the INREV Annual General Meeting
May 12-14: North Palm Beach, FL for the annual meeting of the Homer Hoyt Fellows.
June 9-10: London to moderate a panel at the PERE Forum-Europe.
These are my views and not that of my employer.