Sunday, October 4, 2009

On the Road-Baby Steps

This past week I moderated a panel at PERE's CFO Forum in New York. Just by coincidence (really) the panel I was assigned to was titled, "The CFO and Compliance Officers Role in Fund Raising." Given that in my 'new' job I am directly involved in fund raising and interacting with our compliance group, it was not only a subject I have become intimate with but it was great to hear the panelists and the audience's comments. Clearly, the word compliance is not just referring to legal but also to transparency and 'good behavior.' Panelists talked about their investors paying more attention than ever to quarterly reports. One panelist said that at the end of each quarter, one of his investors calls him, like on Sept. 30 for example and asks, "When is the report coming out?" He said he told that investor that he usually actually likes to wait until the quarter ends before closing the books! But what it points out is the intensity with which investors are 'watching the store.'

Everyone I talk with is feeling that we're taking baby steps towards the 'thaw' of the real estate industry. That's the good news. But most everyone agrees with what I've been saying for some time that there are going to be problems in commercial real estate next year when the shit starts hitting the fans in the regional commercial banks across the country. One friend that I had lunch with yesterday believes that it will be nowhere near the severity of the 'RTC" days and I tend to agree. But as we've all been learning about lots of things in recent years (maybe forever), 'you never know."

The first "OTR Where is this? photo contest generated a robust response. Some folks even got more specific than "Where" but included "What" (Belvedere Castle, Central Park, NY). There were some interesting responses (Scotland) and one very funny one ("Quite clearly a recent replica of my house in Park Slope, with some variation.") But it seems like we're having some fun. So, going forward, as I find suitable 'subjects' I'll run this again. This week's winner has already received his prize. I was also reminded that because OTR is read globally that I need to be aware of differences in time zones and will respect that next time. This coming week I expect I will find some suitable photo-ops as I take a leisurely drive from NY to CA; well, as leisurely as it can be taking Route 80 all the way and staying in Best Western hotels (which I've found are not only good bargains but clean and, when I've needed them, are dog friendly). But I will be making one important stop to visit my grand son, Sean who turns four months tomorrow. This grandpa thing is pretty amazing.

On the subject of "Just Do It" my friend, David Lynn, PhD, Head of ING Clarion Partners' Research & Investment Strategy Group (with contributions from his colleagues Tim Wang, Matson Holbrook, Bohdy Hedgcock, Jeff Organisciak, Alison Sauer and Yusheng Hao. This is a very good piece of work which anyone who is serious about our industry, whether a veteran or someone just starting out, can find value in. As stated on the dust cover, " Part One offers an overview of real estate markets, forecasts and trends. Part Two presents examples of specific active strategies in private equity real estate investing. This would be a good gift for someone you know who is passionate about entering or advancing in the business. It is also an important book to have in your company's library. Nice job David et al.

A good friend of mine forwarded this to me and I wanted to share it with you:

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written.
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It 's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone for everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."
"Its estimated 93% won't forward this. If you are one of the 7% who will, forward this with the title '7%'.
I'm in the 7%. Remember that I will always share my spoon with you! Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves."

Les Dundes is credited with starting a trend of wearing sneakers (running shoes to my Canadian friends) with a business suit when walking to work (he told me so himself and I believe him). Over the years I've seen that habit wane with males but increase with females. I passed an older gentleman walking down Park Avenue this week-dressed to the nines-and wearing sneakers. It made me think of Les who had many firsts in the publishing industry and to whom I was introduced late in his life. But he worked up until age 90 which is also when he passed away, he gave me some good career advice and also was an animated, memorable and inspirational character.

It was reported today that a scene of Babe Ruth at bat, along with eight seconds of footage of Ruth playing the outfield, was found by a New Hampshire man in his grandfather’s home movie collection. My grandmother, Ruth Silverman, was very proud of the fact that "I touched Babe Ruth." Her father was a huge Yankees fan and took her to games. At one game she got close enough to touch "The Bambino". It was something that she always remembered and she always told us that story around the time that baseball season started every year and each time we reacted with "Wow", as if hearing it for the very first time.

OTR "Guess Where?" Photo Contest #2: So, where was I standing when I took this photo?

On the Road.....

Oct 10-16: Truly OTR across America

Oct 19-23: New York

Oct 20: New York-Shannon Corey at The Bitter End

Oct 26-29: Beverly Hills, CA for the PREA Annual Convention

Nov 12: New York-Joan Osborne, B.B. King's

Nov 17-18: Frankfurt-INREV Investor Platform/Committee Meetings

Nov. 18-19: London to attend IMN's European's Opportunity Private Fund & Real Estate Investing Forum (I'm moderating a panel on 11/19 called "Project and Entity Level Workout Plenary" which is cool given that I've done a lot of workouts).

Dec 7-11: London (Special event TBA)

Real Estate Personality of the Week: Bob White of RCA was on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer this week. You can stream the video here.

Restaurant of the week: Markt, 676 Sixth Avenue, New York. A busy place with great mussels. The scene is pretty cool too.

These are my views and not that of my employer.

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