Saturday, January 17, 2015

NAREIM Acquisitions and Asset Management Conference / IMN's Opportunity Fund Conference / A Short Visit To Napa, CA

NAREIM Acquisitions and Asset Management Meeting

National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM) President and CEO Gunnar Branson has a wonderful way of starting out each of NAREIM’s meetings:  “When you’re hear, you have a license to think out loud.”  It’s a great concept…and it works.  NAREIM has a corner on the market of moderate size meetings allowing for true audience interaction.

This past week was NAREIM’s Acquisition and Asset Management meeting at The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco attracted representatives of companies from the US and Canada including:
  • AEW Capital Management
  • AICI
  • Aviva Investors
  • Bailard
  • CBRE
  • Columbia Property Fund
  • GE Asset Management
  • Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP)
  • Inland Institutional Capital Partners
  • Intercontinental Real Estate Corp
  • Invesco
  • LaSalle Investment Management
  • Lazard Asset Management
  • Lowe Enterprises Investors
  • Manulife Real Estate
  • MetLife Real Estate Investors
  • PCCP
  • Piedmont Office Realty Trust
  • Pine Tree Commercial Real Estate
  • Principal Real Estate Investors
  • Prudential Real Estate Investors
  • The Brookdale Company
  • UBS 
  • USAA Real Estate Company

There were two ‘break-in’ sessions (where attendees gathered around tables to brainstorm on a topic).  As for the panels, one of my favorites was when my two friends, Bill Hughes, Global Head of Research and Strategy for UBS and Chris Hartung, Director at Lazard Asset Management, gave us their thoughts on opportunities and threats ahead from the economy.  What’s beautiful about listening to Bill and Chris is that they’ve been around for a while – what they say comes from 'real' real estate experience, through multiple cycles – and not theory.

Here are a few comments I found interesting and want to share with you:
  • “The war for talent is driving workplace innovation.”
  • “For every Facebook employee that leaves to join Microsoft, 21 Microsoft employees leave to join Facebook.”
  • “Wellness in office space has become a recruiting and retention vehicle.”

Check out NAREIM’s calendar of events here.

IMN’s 12th Annual Winter Real-Estate Opportunity and Private-Fund Investing Forum

We’ll be attending IMN’s conference in Laguna Beach, CA this week (Jan. 21 -23).  This is the first of three Opportunity and Private Fund Investing Forums that IMN holds each year – Laguna Beach, New York and London.  In partnership with IMN, we are providing moderator / panelist / speaker observation, evaluation and post-event coaching recommendations to a select group of members of sponsoring firms.  If you’ll be attending please let me know; maybe we can catch up and say hello.

Commercial Real Estate Women’s Leadership Workshops
  • My partner Liz Weiner and I are pleased to announce that we are bringing our Commercial Real Estate Industry Women’s Leadership Workshop to Houston (Jan 26) and Dallas (Jan 29).  The feedback we have received from previous workshop participants is overwhelming positive.  Here are some of the testimonials:
  • “Great program – I would recommend to all the women in my network”     
  • “Fascinating and eye-opening discussions!”     
  • “ matter what stage in your career it’s relevant”     
  • “Very empowering, stimulating”
  • “The various topics allowed some real gems to bubble up for me”      
  • “Good insight and thought provoking”
  • “Appreciated the casual, collaborative atmosphere”   
  • “Helpful lessons...would be beneficial for all levels of women”
  • “From the point of view of a female and male...Much of the advice was gender neutral”
  • “Great tips to better present myself with peers and management” 
  • “Great networking... opened my eyes to topics hadn’t previously thought of”       
  • “Brought to the surface all the issues I felt were stopping me from moving ahead and learning I wasn’t alone”
Our workshops are attracting commercial real estate women from all levels - the feedback has been great!  We have been told that not only are there tangible takeaways from the coaching that result in positive change, but also the sharing of experiences results in greater understanding.

Here are  links to learn more about and register for the Houston or Dallas  workshops. 

Dates to be announced soon:  Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, London.

A Short Visit to Napa, CA

I lived in Napa for almost 14 years.  This past week, for the first time since leaving in August 2012, I stopped by to meet with a couple of commercial real estate industry friends.  There was more evidence of the August 2014 earthquake than I expected to see.  

In downtown Napa, some of the historic buildings were still closed and under repair.  Some of the businesses had to relocate to temporary quarters while buildings they had occupied were repaired and deemed safe.  Like many events, when the media leaves it’s easy to forget what the tragedy left behind – same was true of the situation where I lived in Long Beach, NY following Hurricane Sandy.  That area, which I also visited recently, has still not completely recovered – more than two years after Mother Nature flexed her muscles.

One bright spot on my Napa visit was experiencing the Napa River Inn for the first time.  Proprietor Harry Price and his exceptional team have created a world-class hotel experience, smack dab on the Napa River.  

Like with many things, when you live somewhere you don’t necessarily take advantage of all there is to experience.  But when you’re visiting, like a tourist, you notice things that you may have overlooked – or never realized were even there.  The Napa River Inn gets extremely high ratings on and is attracting more and more European and Asian tourists.  If you are planning to visit Napa Valley I encourage you to consider ‘Harry’s place’ in downtown Napa – it’s also a few steps away from some excellent dining establishments including Angele, Celadon and Morimoto.  

On the Road...
Jan. 21 - 23:  IMN's Winter Forum on Real Estate Opportunity and Private Fund Investing, Laguna Beach, CA. Learn more and register here

Jan. 26:  Commercial Real Estate Women’s Leadership Workshop, Houston, TX.  Learn more and register here

Jan. 29:  Commercial Real Estate Women’s Leadership Workshop, Dallas, TX.  Learn more and register here

Feb. 17 – 18:  NAREIM Research & Investment Management Meeting, Chicago, IL. Learn more and register here.

Feb. 19 - 20:  University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Real Estate Challenge (I've been invited to be a judge!), Chapel Hill, NC. Invitation only.  Learn more here

Feb. 21-23:  Family visit – Asheville, NC

Mar.3 - 5: NCREIF (National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries) Winter Conference, Phoenix, AZ.  Learn more and register here

Mar. 10 - 11:  National Association of Real Estate Research Professionals (ARERP) meeting, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Mar. 16 - 17:  NAREIM Executive Officers Spring Meeting, Miami, FL. Learn more and register here

Mar. 26 - 27:  PREA (Pension Real Estate Association) Spring Conference, Washington, DC. Learn more and register here

Apr. 29 – 30:  PERE Global Investors Forum, Los Angeles, CA.  Learn more and register here (Tentative)


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In Memorium: Ashlee Emerson Lambrix

Ashlee Emerson Lambrix

Last night, when I landed in San Francisco for the NAREIM Acquisitions and Asset Management meeting, I opened my phone and saw an email from a former colleague with some very upsetting news.  “As you probably heard already, Ashlee died last night…she had been battling cancer for a couple of years.” I was very appreciative that I got the news, and terribly, terribly upset – and hadn’t known anything about what Ashlee was going through.

Ashlee and I met 10 years ago when she first interviewed for an assistant research position at Institutional Real Estate, Inc.  I liked her right away and could tell she had great potential.  This would be her first post-college job.  The director of research and I both felt Ashlee could be ‘the one’ to fill the role and, uncharacteristically in a way, we took her out to lunch with us right after the interview to get to know her better.  That experience sealed our decision:  she was offered the job and accepted. 
Ashlee showed enthusiasm and hunger to learn the industry.  When the opportunity arose to appoint a new head of data services, even though Ashlee had only been in her position for a few years, she was chosen.  I remember during one of our ‘mentoring’ sessions around that time she said to me, ‘Steve, do you think I can do this job?  There’s still so much I don’t know about the industry.’  I encouraged her and was always a big fan of hers.  She did the job – and more.  Ashlee took that position to another level and, over the years, developed more and more confidence. She was a breath of fresh air in an industry that sometimes gets a bit too full of itself, and as she got more and more ‘client facing’ - regardless of her lack of ‘real real estate’ experience - people loved her.  We, her work colleagues at IREI, loved her too.  She had something that you can’t teach people – a smile that immediately engaged anyone she encountered and she possessed a maturity beyond her years.  People just liked Ashlee.  Ashlee was real. 

After I left the company in 2008, she and I kept in touch every once in a while.  We saw each other at a couple of conferences and had a chance to sit together and catch up. Sitting in a hotel room this morning writing this, I’m struggling with how long it has been since the last time we either saw or spoke with each other - I’m feeling very, very sad.

In November 2014, the piece below was posted on a site called - a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for Sarcoma and raises funding for Sarcoma cancer research by completing a team run across or around countries.

Ashlee Emerson Lambrix is a 32 year old, beautiful and vivacious young lady. Knowing her you would not believe that she has been fighting cancer for over two years and continues to fight each and every day. In May 2012, Ashlee was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma. This cancer is so rare that only 120 in one-million children will be diagnosed each year. Only a handful will be diagnosed over the age of 20. Ashlee fights this awful and aggressive cancer with the support of her husband, Scott, and 4-year-old son, Hudson.

After her initial doctor giving up on her success, she began to interview multiple doctors in Southern California. She was looking for a doctor to fight her fight with her! She ended up at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. Though this doctor is willing to try everything to help Ashlee, his location is not ideal for her and her family. Ashlee had to fly down from Northern California on a bi-weekly basis to receive treatment. During these weeks she has to leave her husband and son and miss out on special events such as, Hudson’s first field trip at school and birthday parties. Knowing this is the right choice for her and her family does not make it any easier to leave them and miss out on such precious events.

Ashlee continues to fight her battle, her strength, determination and persistence is what is helping her through this. Several doctors, and medical employees have met Ashlee and continue to say, “I have never met a patient who has cancer, works full time, flies down to LA, and is a full time mommy and wife.” This is how we know Ashlee is strong and will overcome this terrible disease. It is with her strength and our confidence in the Lord that we know she is fighting a battle that she can win. We know God has a plan with this, and we continue to see what He has in store. We have witnessed first hand the power of prayer and know that Ashlee is lifted up daily in prayer.

You may have met Ashlee.  Perhaps, some of you also didn’t know what she was dealing with.  In times like this we sometimes gravitate to the philosophical - her battle is over and she is at peace.  To me – it’s a bunch of BS.  Ashlee has left this world but I think she is probably already setting up a database to track lots of information about the real estate in Heaven to offer insight to the ‘higher authorities’ which will help them add-value to their ‘property’ portfolio!  She’s probably also already connected via social media ‘in the cloud’ as well!

My heartfelt condolences go out to her husband Scott, her son Hudson and the rest of her family and colleagues.

32 years old.  So much to live for.  Life just ain’t fair!

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