Friday, June 8, 2012

"Core is just a moment in time" / ULI Capital Markets Conference / How to run a successful panel

I've been having some very interesting new business development conversations lately with real estate companies who are thinking about what they'd need to do to get into the institutional real estate fund management business. 

Yesterday, apropos of that,  I moderated the closing panel at ULI's Capital Markets Conference in New York.  You and I have both been to enough conferences to have seen that the closing panel is quite often populated by enough attendees to sport a baseball team (for those not familiar with baseball, that would be nine!).  However, yesterday, our room was full to capacity (120+).  I first thought it was because we had such a great panel.  Then I thought it was because I was hosting the session :-)  But the real reason was a combination, which also included the topic:  How To Raise & Manage A New Fund (although we also discussed more than just the commingled fund structure).  The number of people in the audience who raised their hands when I asked 'How many of you are in the market now looking to raise capital?' was way more than the majority.  

It was a great session (based on feedback we all got after leaving the stage) due to the experience and willingness of my panelists to share openly, and without self-promotion, what they know:  Claudia Faust, Hawkeye Partners; Jennifer Morgan, Kirkland & Ellis; Bill Cisneros, GTIS Partners and Tom Mizo, HFF.  Thanks you guys.  

The formula for a successful panel session is pretty simple:  A topic of real interest to the audience, a good moderator, experienced panelists and making sure to give the audience ample opportunity to join in the discussion (I allow and encourage questions at any time).  

Oh, one more thing:  the entire conference was really good.  Why?  Here are just some of the people who spoke there:  Steve Furnary, Clarion Partners; Jacques Gordon, LaSalle Investment Management; Tom Arnold, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority; Joh Kukral, Northwood Investors; Steve Kohn, Cushman & Wakefield (who is a very good moderator); Ron Kravit, Cerberus Capital; Lee Neibart, AREA Property Partners; Wendy Rowden, Jonathan Rose Company; Gil Tenzer, Contrarian Capital; Doug Cameron, CRL Senior Living; Robert Byron, Blue Vista Capital; Chris Merrill, Harrison Street; David Maki, Heitman.

A few interesting comments I heard this week at various stops along the way:

  • "Are U.S. pension funds really Sovereign Wealth Funds?"
  • "Being a core asset is only a moment in time."
  • "Looking solely at IRR is a poor measure of things."
  • "There are unintended consequences of every decision we make."
  • "We are in a world of turmoil.  World events are affecting this country.  We are really scared."
  • "The world wants to invest in the U.S."
  • "More institutional investors are trending towards direct relationships with real estate operators to get away from the double promote."
  • "Lenders are not comfortable underwriting to retrofit benefits."
  • "Value-add is all about buying 'under-loved' assets."

You've probably experienced this too:  the wonderful thing about attending an industry event is running into someone you haven't seen in many years (although this can also happen when you bump into someone on the street).  This happened to me yesterday at the ULI conference and we're going to get together in a couple of weeks and catch up on the past 20 years or so.  

Cool & new:

(1)  recently launched, this is a website that, while it offers a lot more, is designed to become a commercial real estate industry specific Linkedin.  I got a drive-through from with the architect behind the design of the site and it's definitely something worth checking out. 

"Felix...Wait for Me."  After playing my new album for two of my former bandmates last weekend they told me how I should answer the question I get asked most:  "What kind of music is it?"  The answer: R&B.  Please check us out on iTunes (search 'felix wait for me').  Thanks.

Something I've noticed:  When answering a question, too many people start of by saying, "I think...."  I think (woops) this is an attempt, conscious or sub-conscious, to soften their response and perhaps not sound like a know-it-all.  Maybe I'm totally wrong.  But if you're answering a question, about something you know about then you don't 'think' you 'know.'  I don't know when this started. Maybe it is really part of "How to Talk Like A Valley Girl" (see tips below):


    • 1
      Speak with what linguists call a high rising terminal. That means end your sentences with a rising intonation. It's as if you're asking a question with every statement you make.
    • 2
      Say the word "like" at least once in every phrase you say. For example, "She like totally went to the store."
  1. 3
    Use the words "totally" or "way" in place of the words "very," "really" or anywhere in the sentence where it can add some emphasis. For example, "The milk is way creamy."

    On the road....

June 25-29:  New York for new client meetings.
Sept 10-12:  Paris to attend the GRI Europe conference
Oct. 14-16:  Houston to conduct a class in "Improving Your Presentation Skills" for one of my client firms.
Oct. 22-24:  Los Angeles to attend the PREA conference.
Nov. 7:  Washington, DC to speak with a group of real estate students at Johns Hopkins University about careers in real estate.
Nov. 8 & 9:  New York to attend the PERE Forum

Interesting view of The Chrysler Building I took from the Sentry Conference Center  at  730 Third Avenue

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