Ernie Banks died last week. He was 83. Ernie was a Hall of Fame baseball player who played his entire career for the Chicago Cubs and played in 14 All-Star games. He is considered one of the true greats of all-time. The stories written about Ernie talk about what a special guy he was - I too have my own Ernie Banks story.
It was the mid-1980’s. I had boarded a flight from NYC to Los Angeles and was sitting in the last row of First Class. The only open seat was next to me. I looked up and Ernie Banks walked onto the plane. I had been an avid baseball fan growing up and recognized him immediately. He walked down the aisle and took his seat, at the window, right next to me!
After takeoff, he and I started talking immediately – about this, that and the other thing. I didn’t tell him I knew who he was and we didn’t introduce ourselves to each other.
I was dealing with some issues in my personal life at the time (what else is new?). Ernie was not only a good listener, but also encouraged me to tell him the entire story. During the course of the five plus hour flight we enjoyed a couple of cocktails and gabbed away – he gave me some good suggestions on how to work through my challenges.
As the pilot announced we were descending for landing, I said that my boys would be thrilled if I could bring home his autograph. He reached into his bag and pulled out two different black and white promotional photos – and personally autographed them for each of my sons. When the flight landed, we shook hands and parted ways.
But that’s not the end of the story. A week later, I pick up the phone. “Hey Steve, it’s Ernie Banks. I just wanted to check in with you and see how things are going.” I’m sure there are many others who have experienced the sincerity of this man. I’ve never forgotten that moment in my life. What a special guy!
IMN’s Opportunity and Private Funds Investing Forum
The fabulous Montage hotel in Laguna Beach, CA was the scene of IMN’s Opportunity and Private Funds Investing Forum last week. (Btw - the sale of the Montage was announced just yesterday). More than 900 people attended. As you know by now, I’m always interested in emerging areas in commercial real estate – whatever they may be. In that vein, here are a couple of my discoveries at the event:
I spent some time chatting with CEO Jeff Wilson who is the chief architect behind pereview. This platform was developed when Jeff was Technology COO at Archon Group. While their placeholder website simply states, “The Operational Platform for Real Estate Investment Professionals” they will be replacing the “Coming Soon” message soon.
Co-Founder and CEO Tore Steen described the CrowdStreet crowd-funding model to me. Tore gave me a passionate overview of their business. With the commercial real estate crowd-funding sector heating up, it’ll be interesting to see how many will survive. No matter, I salute all the entrepreneurial spirit so visible today in our industry.
I had a few terrific networking experiences with people I was meeting for the first time: two family offices, a few ‘niche’ investors and other service providers. It’s truly one of the benefits of attending this event…the eclectic mix of attendees, exhibitors and speakers.
IMN’s next Opportunity and Private Fund Investing Forum will be held in NYC on June 15/16. I look forward to seeing you there.
Tips for Moderators and Panelists
We coach moderators and panelists. As a public service, I’m offering the following ‘tips’ from our toolkit:
- Must maintain some type of control – when panelists are allowed to self-promote, their statements get longer (and the audience is often bored)
- Implore panelists to keep answers short
- Don’t refer to panel as ‘you guys’; especially if there’s a woman on the panel
- Keep your questions short. Not a time to show how smart you are. The panel is about the panelist - and the takeaways for the audience - not you.
- Be engaged when panelists are speaking – not looking down and reading your notes
- If you’re going to ask the panel pre-arranged questions, make sure they know they’re going to be called on first – and are ready to answer.
- Remember: your allegiance is to the audience, not the panel, but also to help the panelists look good
- ‘The tricks we have done that have worked.’ Tricks is not a good word to use when investing is involved
- If you ramble you might bore the audience and don’t look good yourself - keep answers short and on topic – you will look better. Think about the audience
- Speak enthusiastically - if you believe in what you do, be proud of it and show some enthusiasm; if you sound bored with your role, then the audience will be bored listening to you
- Be mindful about making comments about politics or other potentially controversial topics - you can only harm yourself - there is no ‘win’ in this
- Consider asking yourself a question, out loud, and then answering it. This is good when the moderator doesn’t ask a good question or doesn’t ask one that allows you to say what you came there to say.
RCA European Capital Trends – 2014 Year in Review
RCA (Real Capital Analytics) recently released their European Capital Trends - 2014 Year in Review. With the kind permission of RCA, I’d like to share with you a few of the highlights from that report:
- Both the full-year 2014 and the final quarter set new post-crisis records. Investors transacted €213.1bn during 2014 and €67.7bn in the final quarter.
- Cross-border investors - particularly those from outside of Europe - continue to set the pace, with domestic investors taking the smallest piece of the pie since 2007 (53% of overall volume).
- While 2013 closed with a bumper fourth quarter, the pattern of European activity was much more even throughout 2014. This was not uniform across all countries and metros, with some showing a strong end to the year and others slowing.
- Globally, 2014 marks the second year in a row that Europe has outpaced Asia Pacific and North America in terms of year-over-year growth, highlighting the opportunities investors see in Europe as well as rising economic concerns about parts of Asia Pacific and the strong competition for assets in the United States.
Random stuff I’ve recently heard
- “It’s the things I don’t see that I’m afraid of.” Global Head of Real Estate Research and Strategy
- “Super Zips” – I head this term for the first time. “Super Zips” — a term coined by American Enterprise Institute scholar and author Charles Murray to describe the country’s most prosperous, highly educated demographic clusters. On average, they have a median household income of $120,000, and 7 in 10 adults have college degrees.
- “The war for talent is driving workplace innovation.”
- “For every Facebook employee that leaves to go to Microsoft there are 31 Microsoft employees that leave to go to Facebook.”
- “We preached a solution but did not live it.”
- Tuesday late morning is the best time to send a ‘mass’ email
- “Everybody’s ‘Yelping’ – people want to get agreement about things
- “Wellness in office space has become a recruiting and retention vehicle.”
- “I don’t really know how many people work in our office." CEO of a large real estate services firm to an audience at an industry event.
Felix / Weiner Consulting Group Update
It's not just WHAT you say, but HOW you say it that makes the difference!
Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women's Leadership Workshops
Thanks to everyone who has attended and been so supportive of our Women's Leadership Program. Like our previous workshops in New York, Chicago and London, our workshops last week in Houston and Dallas attracted women at all levels working for well-known commercial / institutional real estate firms.
Based on the enthusiastic response, we have added additional workshops in Chicago and New York. New to our calendar are Los Angeles and Miami. Please visit this site to learn more about these workshops and for registration information.
Behavioral Presentation Coaching: Open-enrollment workshops
We will shortly be announcing cities and dates for our presentation coaching workshops. Professionals from various firms in the commercial / institutional real estate community will participate in interactive workshops designed to elevate presentation and communication skills - to both the internal and external client. Stay tuned!
David Sullivan joining Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers as an officer in their business development group
Phil Barker starting up a U.S. real estate secondaries business at CBRE Capital Advisors.
On the Road...
Feb. 17 – 18: NAREIM Research & Investment Management Meeting, Chicago, IL. Learn more and register here
Feb. 19 - 20: University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Real Estate Challenge (I've been invited to be a judge!), Chapel Hill, NC. Invitation only. Learn more here
Feb. 21-23: Family visit – Asheville, NC
Feb. 26: Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women's Leadership Workshop, New York City. Learn more and register here
Mar. 16 - 17: NAREIM Executive Officers Spring Meeting, Miami, FL. Learn more and register here
Mar. 18: Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women's Leadership Workshop, Miami, FL. Learn more and register here
Mar. 26 - 27: PREA (Pension Real Estate Association) Spring Conference, Washington, DC. Learn more and register here
Apr. 27: Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop: Open-enrollment. Los Angeles, CA
Apr 28: Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women's Leadership Workshop, Los Angeles. Learn more and register here.
Apr. 29 – 30: PERE Global Investors Forum, Los Angeles, CA. Learn more and register here
May 5: Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women's Leadership Workshop, Chicago, IL. Learn more and register here
May 6 - 7: NAREIM Accounting and IT Meeting, Chicago, IL. Learn more and register here
May 8: Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop: Open-enrollment. Chicago, IL
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