Friday, June 15, 2012

Reinventing Yourself & Your Company / Franny's Pizza / Moody's RCA CPPI / Bice Ristorante / Rate Your Boss

I’ve reinvented myself many times in my real estate career and lately I’ve been having conversations with a number of people and companies who are thinking about how they can reinvent themselves. 

On the individual side, it’s about both finding job opportunities and finding something you really like doing.  Some go back to school to get a new degree, let’s say Masters in Real Estate or M.B.A.   It’s reasonable to assume that these folks were in the real estate industry in one, way, shape or form and wanted something different.  So they invest the time and money to get this next degree, one of the steps on the stairway to re-invention heaven.  Then they’re ready to come back into the workforce and, oh no, they can’t find a job.  Why?  Employers want to and are able to find people who fit nicely into their job box.  Someone who has done exactly what they’re looking for someone to do and they’ve done it before.  Many employers consider that a much ‘safer’ hire. 

But there’s a lot more to think about when adding a person to your team and I challenge you to look holistically at the person who has taken the time to reinvent themselves and consider whether they bring something to the table far beyond that of simply done that particular job before.

When companies want to reinvent themselves it’s equally challenging.  The industry sees them a certain way. But they want to be seen differently.  Well, we’ve all seen cases where companies, both in our industry and outside, have reinvented themselves.  And it takes a good idea, a plan, the team to execute it, the investment of some money and, what I believe is most important, patience.   When a supermarket company has a successful store they use the analogue process: finding something that is similar to something else.   So, one piece of advice that I give to firms looking to reinvent themselves is to look around and see who has done it before and learn from them.  Decide what you want your firm to look like and then start behaving like that.  And, while it's not that simple, perception is reality.  But, you’ll still need to be very patient.

When an internationally famous restaurant consultant suggests you go out for some pretty good pizza, the immediate answer is, "Yes."  Last week, my good friend (and international restaurant consultant), Michael Whiteman took me to Franny's on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.  I have always loved pizza and could probably eat it every day.  When we got there it was crowded but we managed to get a table even without a reservation.  Michael told me that Franny's is considered one of the top-10 pizza places in the U.S.  Without rambling on let me say this:  it is!  

The Felix Consulting Group: Someone once told me that if you don't toot your own horn once in a while there's no music.  So, I got an email from someone I met at the ULI Capital Markets Conference a couple of weeks ago.  He said, "On the elevator down, after the final ULI Panel (the one I moderated), someone remarked:  "If only all the other sessions had a moderator like the last one.  It was great...he involved the audience, he asked intelligent questions and everyone was engaged."  Five other heads nodded in agreement."  Moderating panels is something I love doing and I get good reviews.  If you're firm is running an event and you're interested in considering the value to the audience of having a knowledgeable, independent, third-party as moderator, host or facilitator, let's talk.

The Moody's/RCA Commercial Property Price Indices (CPPI) report was published this week.  These measure price changes in U.S. commercial real estate, based on completed sales of the same commercial properties over time, known as the “repeat-sales methodology.

Notable Observations and Themes 
  • Apartment prices were down 1.2% in April after increasing by 37.4% from their January 2010 trough. 
  • Industrial saw the only gain among the property sectors in April at 1.1% and was the biggest gainer over the last quarter at 3.9%.
  • CBD office in non-major markets was the first sub-sector to bottom, 31 months ago, but it has yet to gain traction, retracing only 7.5% of its peak-to-trough decline.
  • Suburban office in major markets has seen a significant setback to its nascent recovery, falling by 14.4% over the last 5 months. 
  • Prices of non-distressed properties in major markets have recovered to 90.9% of peak levels in nominal terms. Distressed transactions are showing price recovery in major markets, up 27.8% from the trough 19 months ago, while distressed transaction prices in non-major markets continue to languish, essentially flat since Q4 2009. 
What and where are you buying today?

I got an interesting survey in the ‘mail’ this week: It's called “How do you rate your boss' performance?”

1.  Behaves professionally towards employees.
2.  Encourages employees to excel.
3.  Communicates a clear vision of success.
4.  Is willing to undertake the hard jobs.
5.  Expresses values and personal beliefs in work.
6. Sets a good example for employees.
7.  Earns the trust of employees.
8.  Deals capably with workplace conflicts.
9.  Is open about own strengths and weaknesses.
10.  Delivers on promises made.
11.  Acts in an ethical manner.
12.  Performs well under pressure.
13.  Does not let emotions get in the way of decisions.
14.  Motivates employees during adversity.
15.  Listens to employees work concerns.
16.  Is even-handed in dealing with employees.
17.  Is open to suggestions and new ideas.
18.  Finds a way to show appreciation for a job well done.
19.  Is collaborative and works well with others.
20.  Looks for ways to improve leadership skills.

Maybe at least or more important than the way the employee rates the boss is the boss looking at this list and would I rate myself?

In 2006 I spent a month in Monrovia, Liberia working with The MacDella Cooper Foundation, which helps needy children.  Since then the foundation has made great strides including building and opening The MacDella Cooper Academy: Free boarding school for orphaned and abandoned children.  They're having another one of their very cool events and I thought some of you that will be in the Hamptons might like to go.  The DJ Universe & All White Party/July 14/15 Prospect Avenue/Southampton.  If you’re interested let me know and I’ll forward the invitation to you.

  • Mike Everett, CIO at Sage Hospitality Resources
  • Byron Carlock, global real estate leader focused on the U.S. at PwC 
  • Tom Calahan, investment associate at Aviva Investors

Restaurant of last week:  Bice Ristorante:  7 E 54th Street, New York (212.688.1999).  My review of this place is simple:  Things Done Right.  It's amazing how few restaurants really get it.  This place, where I've been to about six times, is always on top of their game.  The staff is friendly and professional, the room (and sidewalk dining) is welcoming and the food is very, very good.  Perfect for a business lunch or dinner and a hangout for commercial real estate people.  You never know who you may run into.  

Please check out our new CD of original tunes which is now available on iTunes (search 'felix wait for me').  And, yes, the cover photo is from the Summer of 1982.  With the guitar is my son Brian, formerly co-leader of the touring jam band, OM Trio, who produced the album and played keyboards and  now is an assistant professor of music at UNC-Asheville.  On drums is my son Kevin, formerly a member of the band, "Fear of Sheep," who wrote the words to "Me Who Sticks Around" and "Robot Mannequin" and is a producer of TV reality shows. More photos here.  Thanks.

On the road....

June 18-20:  Chicago 
June 21:  New York for client consulting/coaching sessions
June 28: New York to attend the invitation-only Asset Management Roundtable
July 11-13:  Lansdowne, VA to attend the NCREIF Summer Conference
Sept. 10-12:  Paris to attend the GRI Europe Summit
Oct. 14-16:  Houston to conduct presentation training classes for one of my clients
Oct. 22-24:  Los Angeles to attend the PREA Fall Conference
Nov. 5-10:  New York for client meetings & other stuff
Nov. 7:  Washington, DC to speak with real estate students at Johns Hopkins University about careers in real estate
Nov. 8 & 9:  New York to attend the PERE Forum

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