For quite a while, when anyone asked me what I see going on in the commercial real estate industry the answer was easy, "Uncertainty." If you ask me today, I'd suggest adding another word, "Change." While commercial real estate remains basically and old-fashioned business the world around it is continually changing. Retail shopping habits and channels change. Where people want to live changes. Where companies choose to locate their offices, warehouses and factories change. What hotels people stay in change. How people like to get around (i.e. mobility and transportation) is changing (with regular gas now at $4.39/gal and likely to continue going up, we're thinking about where we want to live...city or on a self-sustaining farm (with excellent wireless service, of course!).
The consulting sessions I've been having with my clients, "3-hours with Steve," result in getting people thinking differently about their businesses; about what changes they need to be considering; about whether they can grow their company doing the same things they've been doing. Thinking about the book, "Good to Great," suggests that vital to a company being great vs. simply good are (1) Having the right people on the bus; (2) Sitting in the right seats; (3) With the right bus driver; (4) Driving the bus in the right direction. Simple right? Or maybe not so. Those companies that welcome change and stare it right in the eye are the next generation of great companies. And, I can assure you that there are a lot of younger people out there who remind me of my generation, questioning the status quo and looking at things differently. Like this quote I've always liked which is attributed to several people: "There are those that look at things the way they are and ask 'why'? I dream of things that never were and ask 'why not'?"
After spending time with a bunch of soon to be graduating undergraduates last week at the Villanova Real Estate Case Challenge (btw, the winning team came from Lehigh University followed closely by University of Pennsylvania, Monmouth University and Drexel University) there was much conversation about finding jobs. A good industry friend offers these tips that he gives to students or perhaps anyone seeking a job.
1) Do your homework! Have a good reason why you want to work for a firm in a particular role. Companies don’t really have jobs to fill; they have problems to solve; products/services to deliver; customers to serve; etc.
2) Fill out all the company web site/internet job posting requests. This is the baseline data set.
3) Find out who the senior executives/HR contact/hiring manager might be. One/all. The more the merrier. This is a combination internet research/networking activity.
4) Write a cogent, thoughtful letter describing why you are interested in the industry/company and want to learn more. Ask for a short meeting where you can seek advice about how to get started; take the next career step, etc. (Yes, this is real work.)
5) Visit the office supply store and get really nice paper with matching envelopes.
6) Use the US mail to send it. Give the post office a little time. (They’ll tell you how long it takes your letter to be delivered.) We don’t receive much regular mail, so this improves the odds your information will be read.
7) Follow-up. Diligently, Persistently, Politely. By phone/email/etc.
"New" (to me) music term: Dubstep: 'Sounds like your computer and your lawnmower dying at the same time.' But from Wikipedia 'is a genre of electronic dance music that has been described (by another person) as "tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals".'
New Trends? De-friending on Facebook. De-connecting on Linkedin.
One more comment regarding the results of the survey I mentioned recently that was conducted with one 2011 Bachelor of Science graduating class. "What was missing was the category, "Employed and happy with what they're doing." Thanks for pointing that out John. Like with a lot of 'headline news' it's only the bad things that are sometimes highlighted.
Congratulations to my friend, Betsy Pultz, who took a senior position at s2 Financial Marketing.
Congratulations to the team from Lehigh University for winning the 2nd Annual Villanova Real Estate Case Challenge Competition.
Music update: Thanks to so many of you who have asked me what's going on with my music. Well, there is some news. After three years in the making, we will be releasing our second CD of original material by the end of April. It's called "Wait for Me" and is a collaboration with my sons Brian and Kevin and a team of fabulously talented Chicagoland musicians. There are so many new channels to distribute music these days and we're going to tap into a bunch of them. But you'll also be able to buy it the old-fashioned way: Order through me or buy one from me as I'll be walking around with a bunch of them wherever I go! Stay tuned.
On the road....
April 17-20: New York
April 23-26: Los Angeles to attend the PERE Global Investor Forum
April 30: San Francisco. Please join me in the west coast celebration of the launch of my new consulting business, Solutions by Steve Felix. It's at Blanc et Rouge Wine Bar, Two Embarcadero Center, 1st Floor. I'll be there starting at 6pm and will stay with the last person standing! Drinks are on you!
May 16-20: North Palm Beach, Florida to attend the annual meeting of The Hoyt Fellows
May 22-25: London to attend the Annual IP Real Estate Investor Forum & Awards
May 30-31: New York to attend the IMN Opportunity & Private Real Estate Fund Investing Forum
June 6-7: New York to attend and moderate a panel a the ULI Capital Markets Conference.