Friday, June 16, 2017

The Friendly Skies / There’s a signpost up ahead…maybe! / An interesting 'stretch' assignment

June 16 2017

The Friendly Skies
For the vast majority of the +/- 3 million miles I’ve flown in my life, I have made an effort to not do any actual ‘work’ during the flights.  I’ve considered it a break – although since Wi-Fi is available in the friendly skies it’s tempting to get online and, well, work. 

Today, as I fly from across the U.S. (east to west) I am online and thus able to publish this column.  Today’s flight takes me from North Carolina to San Francisco for just one business meeting – as you can imagine, it’s an important one as I’m flying back at about 1 in the morning tomorrow. 

As we were waiting to takeoff, I thought about some interesting experiences I’ve had on planes: the time my row partner, an elderly woman, asked me if I was a priest (something I took as a compliment); the first time (pretty recently) that a female flight attendant actually flirted with me (maybe others did but I was oblivious); the time I sat next to baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and we talked about everything except baseball except for the last 20 minutes; chatting with two people who I kept in touch with for years (many years back I started wearing earplugs immediately on boarding and rarely, if ever, have conversations anymore).  There are a lot of other experiences I’ve had…as I’m sure have you.  As those of you who’ve traveled for a number of years know, it’s not like it used to be – actually, is anything?

There’s a signpost up ahead…maybe!
With us being just a few days short of the half-way mark in 2017 (can you believe how fast time is flying?) have we really experienced the ‘change’ that’s been predicted in the commercial real estate industry?  Yes, prices to buy properties are at record highs; cap rates are somewhere near record lows; huge cross-border capital is still flowing.  However, and that’s a big ‘But’, almost everyone is speaking about caution moving forward.  It’s like believing that something bad is going to happen but you don’t know when, right?  What will it look like?

Could this be a sign?
On May 31 Bloomberg reported this:
Foreclosure is looming for a 56th-floor apartment overlooking Central Park, the first such seizure in the Manhattan neighborhood known as Billionaires’ Row because of its sky-high property prices.

An auction for the 3,466-square-foot (322-square-meter) condominium in the One57 tower is scheduled for June 14, PropertyShark said. The unit has a $20.9 million lien on it, plus interest and costs. The four-bedroom Unit 56C at 157 W. 57th St. is also listed for sale by Platinum Properties, with a price tag of $22.5 million, and has been on the market for 548 days, according to StreetEasy.
Or, rather than being some type of early warning about coming changes in the commercial real estate market, is this just an example of a rich person stretching too far to buy an apartment? I’m not sure but sometimes there are subtle indicators of things starting to change.
In any event, the top researchers in the commercial / institutional real estate industry are pretty much on the same page...CAUTION! and, it resembles something that my former colleague at IREI, Geof Dorhmann, ends his editorials with:  “Be careful out there, it’s a whacky, whacky world!”

An interesting 'stretch' assignment
Since my partner Liz Weiner and I started our Professional Development Coaching business almost 5 years ago, we’ve found that our work calendar seems to coincide pretty closely with the U.S. public school calendar:  September through June.  This year appears to be no exception as what is probably the last ‘corporate’ work we’re doing is next week and it’s a very interesting ‘stretch’ assignment for us. 

A global real estate investment manager is having an off-site (coincidentally very close to where I live in North Carolina).  There will be 260 people attending from across the U.S. and Europe.  The final formal activity of the two and a half day event is the morning of the last day when we’ve been allocated 3 hours to work with the largest group for us so far.  We have been given a clear mission of what our client would like to achieve during that session. And, they’ve also given us a tremendous amount of creative latitude (and support) to be successful.  

Liz and I have pulled out some fun exercises, games and theatrical opportunities to achieve the goals.  Some of these come from summer camp dramatics experienced years ago, others come from the very creative mind of my partner.  As we’ve described our plan, our client “Loves it!” which makes us feel really good.  We’ve worked closely with the event manager at the hotel who has been a terrific ally and, with the session coming up next Thursday, we’re pretty close to being totally ready to rock.

This resembles something we coach many of our individual clients about:  accepting and seeking out ‘stretch’ assignments and opportunities in their jobs.  Yes, sometimes they’re daunting or even frightening.  “Can I really do this?”  Well, you never know until you try.  Remember the saying about letting your reach exceed your grasp?  It’s a way for you to grow, to show your stuff to your boss / manager and to feel good about knowing that you can do things that you never thought you could do before. 

As Liz and I next week experience a physician heal thyself moment, we’re both very excited and have some anticipation jitters.  Our client, who we’ve known for many years, has shown tremendous confidence in us…and that really helps.  Stay tuned!
** all my industry friends who had a son or daughter (or grandson, granddaughter, niece, nephew) graduate from college this spring. It's not an easy job market and for those graduates who want to enter our wonderful industry of commercial real estate, it'll make you feel good if you can help them land an interview, an internship or a job. 

Think back to what it was like when you were just starting out.  Was there anyone to help you?  Over the years, I've had a few folks ask me, "Steve, why do you feel you have to offer to help almost everyone?"  My answer, "Because I remember when I needed help and there was no one around to help me."

On the Road...
Sometime over the summer: New York City for a special recording session where some of my industry friends will lay down tracks on my forthcoming album, "Light of Day."  This album, like my first, "Felix...Finally" will be done as a fund-raiser. Stay tuned for the name of the charity.

Aug. 22-31:  Tyalgum, New South Wales, Australia:  My first trip to Australia prompted by the "O Heart Festival" headlined by my friends The Heart Collectors.

Oct. 4 - 7: Munich, Germany to attend ExpoReal.  Thanks to my good friend Brad Olsen for inviting me to his legendary dinner during the conference.

Oct. 11-12: Chicago for the NAREIM Executive Officers Meeting

Felix/Weiner Professional Development Workshops:
Look for our fall schedule coming soon:
  • Women's Leadership Workshops
  • Women's Leadership Workshop 2.0
  • Capital Raising Roadshow Prep
  • Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshops
  • Moderator and Panelist Coaching (just in time for Fall conference season)
  • Investor Conference / Annual General Meeting prep
  • And others...

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