Friday, November 28, 2008

Craziness and Gratefulness

“The bottom line here is that there’s going to be a lot of money going back and forth.” I heard this on the streets of New York on Wednesday and figured I’d share it with you as it seems to be the definitive statement on what will be happening in the world over the next 12-18 months. What the guy who said it meant or what he does I have no idea but it sounded as good as anything I’ve heard lately.

The annual Top 14 Restaurant and Hotel Food Trends from international restaurant consultants, Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co. has been delivered. Here are a couple of their views. I’d be happy to send you the full pdf. Just email me ( and put “Food” in the subject box.

• Dust off those meatloaf recipes. Tough times are here.
• The bistros are coming, the bistros are coming.
• It’s comfort food time again.

I’ve been reading about the real estate service companies who are creating groups focused on distress. As someone who spent a fair amount of time turning around distressed assets, working out distressed loans and selling blended distressed portfolios (the blended part were the good assets), working out problems is not a skill that automatically appears when you change the title on your business card or create a new business unit. It’s a relatively small community of us that have real workout experience. One of my peers in that area is Ted Leary of Crosswater Realty Advisors. Don’t get me wrong, there are others. But you need experience to handle problem assets and loans and experience has to come from somewhere; it’s just that a lot of experience this time will be gained on the lenders or distressed owner’s dime.

Does this ever happen to you? You’re somewhere and you see somebody that reminds you of somebody else you know that you’ve either been thinking of calling or weren’t but now there is? It’s happened to me a number of times but several times in short order recently. Fascinating how the mind works, isn’t it?

Leadership Lessons: Here are some of the ‘headlines’ from a book called “I Wanna Tell You A Story” written by a UK friend of mine , Trevor Gay:

1. Never, ever assume.
2. Be humble, you are still learning: you can learn from anyone. You are a role model-think about how you want to be remembered.
3. “Make it up as you go along” works as a strategy sometimes. Policies help and act as a guide but sometimes you just have to get on and ‘do it.’
4. Actually you don’t know all the answers-you can always learn; beware especially of those old well-established systems that everyone is comfortable with-don’t protect them blindly.
5. The best way to gain power is to let go of power. Your front line staff knows all the answers. You cannot possibly know the dynamics and relationships as well as your staff. Learn to let go.
6. Know what it is that you do…. and more importantly, know how you can prove it.
7. You are as powerful or as weak as you believe you are. Strive for change and improvements…No one should be punished for trying too hard.
8. “Walking the talk’ means getting your hands dirty. You never lose the responsibility of making sure the job gets done. Your credibility is linked to how dirty you are prepared to see your hands become.
9. Never underestimate how powerful you are perceived to be as a manager. You hold the key to the joy or grief of many people and you probably do not realize it. Respect that power and use it to make the job of your staff easier.
10. Cherish the basics. When you begin your leadership journey as a junior member of staff, cherish the experience you gain in doing the basics well. Your ‘old’ bosses may appear pedantic-but you will remember that detail when you are a leader and just how important detail can be.
11. Take responsibility personally as a leader. Small thing to you may be a big thing to someone else.
12. You don’t need to shout. People know when they have made a mistake.
13. Rules are made to be stretched….and sometimes broken.
14. Decisiveness is both listening and doing. Decisiveness is about listening respectfully and then setting a clear direction.
15. Make up your own mind. Don’t always believe what you hear about your bosses. Make your mind up based on how they treat you.
16. Always be ready to change your plans. Never make assumptions about other people’s motivation and when you make plans be prepared to change them.

News Item: Edna Parker, a former Indiana schoolteacher who was certified as the world's oldest person, died Wednesday at a nursing home in Shelbyville, Ind. She was 115, a former schoolteacher and ate a lot of meat and starch over the course of her exceptionally long live. Parker especially enjoyed eggs, sausage, bacon and fried chicken. Parker, who credited her longevity to various factors, including education, remained relatively free of health problems in her last years. According to family members, she took few medications and at 113 could still walk. The reason I include this is, and I haven’t shared this with hardly anyone, I plan and believe I will live to 120. Why? Because there is too much to see and experience and I need all those years. It’s also because I really have no interest in dying and feel that with the right attitude I can avoid it for many more years.

Final thought: We need to be kind to each other. In this world of growing craziness and uncertainty we can help things by being more considerate of each other and putting ourselves in the other persons' shoes. Tolerance and patience have never been needed more. And the gratefulness that this week's Thanksgiving in the U.S. has reminded us of (as a number of you have written me about) need to be a part of our daily lives.

Thanks for reading my blog and passing it along.
Many of you know that my life is built on people, on community, on collaboration and on sharing. This platform gives us all a chance to connect and reconnect. I am grateful for and sincerely appreciate your support, suggestions and contributions.


Photo: Many people say the ‘crane’ is the national bird of the real estate industry. Walking to my office the other day I glanced up to see one of these modular construction cranes above me. Sadly, this is the type of crane that has collapsed a few times in recent past in New York, killing several people. When you look up at it like this, it’s amazing that it can stand at all, don’t you think?

Where I'll be:

Dec. 1-5: New York (Dec. 1 getting together with some of my friends in CRE journalism and P.R. for a holiday drink).
Dec. 6: Cathedral of St. John Divine to hear their newly refurbished organ. Click here to see their real estate initiative .
Dec. 8-12: London and to moderate a panel at the Reuters Real Estate Global Property Outlook 2009 on the 9th (Invitation only).
Dec. 15-19: New York
Dec. 20-Jan. 2, 2009: Montreal working from home in between the holidays.
Feb. 19-20, 2009: Chapel Hill, NC to attend the Kenan-Flagler Center for Real Estate Development’s Annual Conference and Real Estate Challenge Case Competition.

Mar. 10-13: Cannes to attend MIPIM, host the second annual MIPIM Summit TV show and attend INREV's Annual General Meeting.
Mar. 25-26: Washington DC to attend PREA's Spring Conference

Note: These are my personal views and not that of my employer.

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