Saturday, February 2, 2013

NAREIM Meeting / Davos / Brazil Night Club Fire / Gregg Felix

NAREIM Asset Management and Acquisitions Meeting

On January 31, 2013 I was in Dallas to moderate two panel sessions at the NAREIM (National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers) Asset Management and Acquisitions Meeting.  It was a treat for me as I was able to meet dedicated professionals and work with a group of knowledgeable and well-spoken panelists.  Both panels focused on challenges and opportunities: the first was Asset Management and Operations; the second Acquisitions and Capital Markets.  

As I frequently do when moderating panels, I asked everyone in the audience to briefly introduce him or herself so everyone knows who is in the room and so I may learn if there is someone that can contribute to the conversation. 

I’d like to share a few of my takeaways:
  • Retailers:  Everyone is closely watching bookstores, office supply stores, Best Buy, Sears, JC Penney and Kmart as their futures seem uncertain.
  • Cheap debt is allowing some retailers to sustain their operations.
  • More bidders on prime properties in gateways markets than in years 
  • Leasing upticks heating up activity in secondary markets 
  • Challenges of buying office buildings without definite job growth in sight
  • What impact will the gradual return of CMBS (Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities) have on the commercial real estate landscape?

Davos – The World Economic Forum

This annual meeting in Switzerland took place on January 25-27, 2013.  As described on their website, “The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.”

Although not in attendance, I poked around their web site to see what was being discussed.  I pulled a few quotes from the “Blog” section that got me pondering subjects I normally don’t think about:
  • Real opportunity exists for organizations to step up and create the conditions and commitment needed to encourage and foster innovation in their work environments. And there’s a tremendous upside if we get this right: we can better retain talent, remain more competitive into the future, and more positively affect society.”  Barry Salzberg, Global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited
  • “We can only be resilient as a society if the building blocks of that society – individuals and families – are resilient. The consumer and technology industries have an important role to play in developing the innovations that will help people bridge the gap between aspiration and reality to achieve a healthier and better lifestyle. If we can tip the scales in favor of the healthy choice, we can make a meaningful difference to society as a whole.” Pieter Nota is CEO Philips Consumer Lifestyle 
  • Imagine if we created a method where a candidate could learn, benefit and improve on their existing skill set, whether they got the job or not.  What if we created a process that removes the innate structure of rejection as seen in traditional recruitment and instead gives every applicant powerful development opportunities, regardless of whether they get the job? In a world with 75 million unemployed young people, it’s time to break the cycle of recruitment, to change the employment game to one where the rules are actually fair. Together, we can create systems of training, insight and feedback that ensure every candidate that applies for a position gains value from it, and that every employer has access to brilliant, ever-improving talent.”  Rajeeb Dey, founder of Eternships.

This is big stuff. It made me reflect on how important it is to take time away from our daily routines, go to our quiet place and just think. It’s so easy going day-to-day doing what we need to do, what we have to do. But, being busy sometimes is a way to avoid thinking – I did this for many years.  A long-time industry friend told me at breakfast this past week that he doesn’t mind his 40-minute drive to work because he uses it as private time - no radio, no phone calls.  Where do you do your best thinking?  Where do your best ideas come from?  And, what do you do with these ideas?  

Brazil Night Club Fire 

When I read about the fire in the Brazilian nightclub that killed 235 people last weekend I remembered all the nights I spent in nightclubs and bars while playing in a rock and roll band.  We never gave one moment of thought to things like, "Where are the exit doors?" or "What happens if a fire breaks out?"  We simply did not think about those things back then as we were too caught up in playing music and hanging out with our friends. 

It’s human nature that after a tragedy like this, people pay more attention to their surroundings. There are a number of unanswered questions in this case. For example, was the occupancy limit exceeded? Were there enough clearly marked exits?  Did the club manager understand the band’s plan to use pyrotechnics?  Having said that, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and not rely solely on others to protect us.  Be aware of the situation.  Be proactive.  If something doesn’t feel right or smell right then it’s usually not. Trust your instincts.  Take a minute to look for the exits when you arrive remembering that, like on airplanes, they may be behind you.  Perhaps we need more emergency training provided to employees of venues that attract crowds like theatres, supermarkets, schools, hospitals, shopping malls and night clubs. 

Tragic incidents like this will have long-lasting impact and the lessons learned may result in steps taken to save lives.  It’s not healthy to live your life in fear of an impending disaster. Being aware and living with eyes-wide-open is a good rule for all to remember and share with others. 

Gregg Felix 

On Sunday, January 27, 2013 I watched my youngest brother, Gregg, and 149 fellow "intellectually challenged" individuals bowl in the Over-30 Special Olympics Bowling Tournament in Southern New Jersey. 

When Gregg was born the phrase the doctors used was “brain-damaged.” "Mentally retarded" was commonly used. Last week I learned that people in Gregg's community are now referred to as "intellectually challenged," certainly a more politically correct sounding definition. 

Many of the bowlers, including Gregg, stood at the foul line and threw or pushed ballsdown the alley.  It doesn’t matter how you get the ball down the lane; if you roll it in the right direction, and it doesn’t fall in the gutter, the pins drop. All participants got an award; the score didn’t matter.  Gregg bowled 90, 108 and 87. Everyone received a ribbon and the first, second and third place teams got a medal. There was celebration with abandon. The enthusiasm, evidenced by many high-fives combined with people rooting for one another (even those on different teams), was totally refreshing.  

My brother is a happy person and has a job at an Occupational Therapy Center.   Gregg has been living in a group home for many years as he cannot live on his own.  He was institutionalized when he was very young; a decision made by my mother, which my father begrudgingly agreed to.  It was difficult for me as a child to understand why Gregg didn't live at home with us.  He has the music in him like his two brothers and sings in a choir.  He's also very social and introduced me to people he's known for years in this program, either as employees or volunteers. I guess networking is in our genes!  

I have thought to myself many times how it could have been me that was born with a disability. It’s all so random.   And, once again, as I spent quality time with my brother, I closed my eyes and remembered how easy it is to take things for granted.  It’s powerful to see things from a different perspective and appreciate what we have. 


  • David Lynn joined Cole Capital Management as Chief Investment Strategist.
  • Marcus Segui is now Vice President with Grupo Acero in Bogotá, Colombia.
  • Carl Esser joined CBRE as Real Estate Manager for The Shops at Houston Center.

On The Road…

Feb. 20 – 21: IPD (Investment Property Databank) U.S. Real Estate Investment Forum and Launch of the PREA / IPD U.S. Property Fund Index, New York, NY

Feb. 28:  Asset Management Roundtable, New York, NY

Mar. 14 – 15:  IMN's Bank and Financial Institutions Special Asset Executive Conference on Real Estate Workouts, New York, NY

Mar. 17 -19:  NAREIM (National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers) Spring CEO Meeting, Santa Monica, CA

Apr. 1 – 5:  Client and other meetings, Chicago, IL

Apr. 9 -10:  PERE (Private Equity Real Estate Magazine) Global Investor Forum, Los Angeles, CA

Apr. 28 – May 1:  CRE (Counselors of Real Estate) Mid-Year Meetings, New York, NY (To include jamming with the CRE Rock ‘n Roll band, Sound Counsel).

May 16 - 17:  Hoyt Fellows Annual Meeting, North Palm Beach, FL

June 4 – 5:  PERE Summit (Private Equity Real Estate Magazine), London, UK

June (Dates TBD): ULI (Urban Land Institute) Real Estate Capital Markets Conference, San Francisco, CA

Sept. 10 - 11:  GRI (Global Real Estate Institute) Europe Summit 2013, Paris, France   

Oct. 20 - 23:  CRE (Counselors of Real Estate) Annual Convention, San Francisco, CA

Nov. 5 - 8:  ULI Fall Meeting, Chicago, IL

All content in this blog is created for informational purposes only. Content, which includes all text, photos, video and graphics is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company or individual.  Steve Felix makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or other information as a result of following any featured link to or from this site.  The intention of this blog is to do no harm in regards to injury, defamation or libel. What is written or shown is not to be taken as fact or absolute.  Steve Felix will hold himself harmless for any errors or omissions in this blog’s information; including but not limited to external link information, translation or interpretation of content or incorrect grammar or punctuation. 

Blog Archive