Friday, September 7, 2012

When Life Serves You Lemons / Connecting the Dots at Cornell University

Here's a terrific piece that somebody sent me recently and I want to share it with you:

When Life Serves You Lemons...

Exactly a year ago, one of my best friends received an offer from a company he has worked at for 13 years. Take a drastic cut in pay or be let go. He chose the former.  After a year, we talked about the changes this decision has made in his life, and surprisingly, most have been good.

Instead of spending money at fine restaurants, he and his wife cook special meals together and eat by candlelight at home. Instead of his kids spending time in their rooms watching TV or on the computer, they spend the majority of the time in the living room, watching the one tv he now owns, as a family. Every Friday night is either game night or movie night. He rides his bike to work more often than not, and as a result, he has lost 22 pounds. He packs his lunch, which is almost always more nutritious than what he was eating before and certainly less expensive. His family spends time hiking, camping and going to parks rather than the cineplex or the arcade.

The whole family has been reading more and they were very surprised to find out that their local library also has quite the selection of DVDs.
Instead of going out to bars with friends, he invites them over for wine and dinner. He said that they actually had better conversations since they didn't have to scream over loud music. They grow their own vegetables, and I can attest, they are more delicious than anything I can get at the market.

I asked him if it's all good, he said no. He worries about the mortgage payments and college tuition for his sons. However, he said the monthly bills are more manageable now that they have changed their lifestyle.

So when I asked him what the biggest difference was since his salary got reduced, he said he was happier.

Alzheimer's Walk:  Lynn Kehoe, of ORG Portfolio Management, is a long-time good friend and industry professional.  Her sister, Nancy, is participating in a fund-raising walk to help find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease.  If you can, please donate something.  Every little bit helps.  Here's the page.  Thanks.

An amazing story and wonderful movie. "Searching for Sugar Man."  It is a tastefully done documentary about an almost unbelievable story.  I will say no more.  Please try to find it.  If it's not at or coming to a theatre near you, at least go to this website and read the story about the musician, Rodriguez.  

  • Dietrich Heidtmann (The D-Man) who joined AXA Real Estate Investment Managers as Global Head of Investor Relations & Capital Markets based in Paris.  
  • Bob Shau who is now with Aramco, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company 
  • Kiran Patel has joined Cordea Savills as Chief Investment Officer 
  • Scott Dwyer sho has joined Heitman as their head of European Portfolio Management
  • Douglas Kinney who has joined The Carlyle Group's fund-raising team.

Yesterday, I delivered a keynote presentation to the students at Cornell University's Baker Program in Real Estate.  The talk, which I call, "Careers in Real Estate:  Connecting the Dots" was the first one in this seasons' tour.  The global diversity of the make-up of the class of first and second year graduate students fascinating and wonderful.  I love it because the only way that we're going to understand each other better is to interact one-on-one.  We are all the same.  We may look different.  We may sound different.  But we are all human beings.  That this program is not only providing a great launching pad for people's careers in real estate but also for helping bring the world closer together, one person at a time, is something to salute.  

Okay, what were the students most interested in? Well, as you would imagine, they asked me what the job market in the commercial real estate industry was like today.  I emphasized how important it was to do something to differentiate themselves from other job candidates as it's very competitive.  But I also spent time talking about getting to know yourself as each type of job in our broad and wide commercial real estate industry is more suited to certain people more than to others.  They asked me some excellent questions that gave me insight into the mind of someone who has gone back to school, in most cases, after working a few years, to get an advanced degree which they expect will enhance their career opportunities.  These are all hard-working and deep thinking young people.  I have had the privilege of meeting many bright, focused and very enthusiastic young real estate professionals who will hopefully get the break they're looking for.  In that regard, please let me know if your company has a summer internship program so I can pass post it in this space for the benefit of all the students who read this column. 

A nice welcome at Cornell University
Last Friday, after publishing OTR, I had a great day at the U.S. Open tennis tournament. I hadn't been to that event in a gazillion years.  What a spectacle!  Amazing.  But what was really cool was that the friend who invited me to join him and his wife had some very, very good seats.     Maybe you saw me on TV :-)  I had no idea that Novak Djokovic was so tall (he's 6'2") and such a great showman.  I had planned to start playing again after a bit of a layoff but watching those matches (we also got to see Maria Sharapova) I am pumped-up to find people to play with (and, lucky for me, have my first such opportunity on Sunday!).  

Dutch/U.S. Real Estate Trade Mission Update:  My Dutch partners and I have decided to delay the launch of this event.  While we have gotten some excellent interest from U.S. firms who want to meet Dutch capital sources we realized this past week that we needed more time to make sure that the first one of these is a huge success. I'll be announcing the new dates shortly.  Thanks to all of you who reached out wanting to know more about it.  

Mentorship Thing:  I am 'this close' to announcing the launch of my Mentorship Breakfast series.  Mentorship is something close to my heart and these events are designed to  bring together mentor level people together with mentee (that's a funny word isn't it?) candidates.  I have lined up sponsors in New York and Chicago to host the breakfasts.  They will be invitation-only, 10 mentors and 10 mentees.  I will be "interviewing" a prominent industry person but because it'll be a small group it'll really be more like a facilitated discussion, sharing ideas.  This is very exciting for me as bringing people together is one of my passions and no matter how many or how few years anyone has been in the industry, we can all learn from each other.  Stay tuned!

Quote of the week:  "Life is service.  The one who progresses is the one who gives his fellow man a little more, a little better service."  E.M. Statler, Hotelier.

On the road...
Sept. 13:  Los Angeles to host the RCA Breakfast Briefing.  Special guest panelist:  Lee Menifee, Managing Director-Research & Strategy at American Realty Advisors
Sept. 14:  San Francisco to host the RCA Breakfast Briefing:  Special guest panelist: Asieh Mansour, Ph.D and Head of Research (Americas) for CBRE
Sept. 21:  Boston to host the RCA Breakfast Briefing.  Special guest panelists:  Mike Acton, Director of Research for AEW and Josh Scoville, Senior Vice President-Research at Hines.
Oct. 14-16:  Chicago to attend and moderate a panel at NAREIM's Fall Executive Meetings.
Oct. 17:  DePaul University, Chicago to deliver my "Careers in Real Estate:  Connecting the Dots" keynote presentation.
Oct. 18:  University of Chicago-Booth School of Business to deliver my "Careers in Real Estate:  Connecting the Dots" keynote presentation.
Oct. 22-24:  Los Angeles for the PREA's 22nd Annual Investor Real Estate Conference
Oct. 25-26:  Amsterdam to attend and moderate a panel at PERE's Global Investor Forum
Nov. 7:  Washington, DC.  Johns Hopkins University to deliver my "Careers in Real Estate:  Connecting the Dots" keynote presentation.
Nov. 8-9:  New York for the PERE Summit.

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