Friday, December 23, 2016


On the Road
Everyone I have talked to since September has agreed:  2016 has totally flown by!  I used to think that it was just older people that felt time slipping through their fingers but when my sons, years ago as pre-teens mentioned the speed as well, I knew it was something to be reckoned with.

This has been both a really good year and a year with some challenges.  The business Liz Weiner and I started almost four years ago is growing thanks to the support of some of the leading institutional / commercial real estate industry firms. For that encouragement we thank you!

Our 17 Women’s Leadership Workshops across the U.S. have attracted women from 87 different commercial real estate industry firms.  We have also gone in-house on five occasions to conduct these workshops for between 14 and 48 women.  

The two new workshops we are launching in 2017 are open enrollment Behavioral Presentation Coaching (BPC) and Moderator/Panelist Coaching (MAP).  Our handpicked friends have received the ‘pilot’ BPC and MAP exercises very well.

Perhaps those of you who attend industry events, and those of you who are moderators and panelists, will agree that there are some techniques to being an effective moderator and memorable panelist that just aren’t taught.  We aim to change that!

In February we are taking our workshops across the pond to London and Amsterdam. You can find out more here

One of the difficult parts of 2016 centered around the death of my good friends Dolph Schayes, one of the top 50 greatest players in National Basketball Association history and Erwin Stouthamer, founder of Composition Capital.  Just like the 2003 death of my long-time friend and band mate Dave Florendo inspired me to record my first CD, so Erwin’s death got me to hire a professional editor to get serious about finishing and publishing my first book, a business memoir titled, “Driving With Your Knees.”  Standing at Erwin's funeral in Amsterdam got me thinking, “What am I waiting for?”

This joyous holiday season where many of us will get together with family and friends also signals the end of another year.  It’s a great time with all the holiday decorations, parties and people generally feeling happy.  

For some, the start of the new year brings the famous ‘New Year’s Resolutions.’ I don’t know about you but I’ve been somewhat successful in keeping to some of those resolutions over the years - others need on-going attention and work.  I am not giving up on being a better me!  

My three-week road trip that ended last Saturday took me to London, Los Angeles, Chicago and finally New York City.  In my conversations it was a bit surprising that there isn’t as much ‘year-end deal-closing urgency’ as I have both experienced in my career from time to time and expected to hear bout.  2016 has been a very good year for the institutional / commercial real estate community so it’s not like some of those years where people couldn’t wait for it to be over. 
There does continue to be conversation about what the short-term future will bring to our industry and the world at large and as we start seeing how the new U.S. President is handling his cabinet and key advisor appointments it becomes clearer and clearer that things are not at all clear.  As much as we like having some control over our destiny, we simply don’t know much right now. 

A few of my friends, both in and out of real estate have been separated from their jobs within the past 30 days.  Having been laid off the week before Christmas myself, I know how that feels and am trying my best to help those friends connect with their next adventure.

As I sit at my desk in my apartment in Arden, NC writing this to you today I am most grateful for being the healthiest I have been in a number of years.  In 2016 I successfully dealt with a couple of health issues and used the power of visualization to get me through it – that and having some wonderful healthcare providers on my team.  It was a bit scary going through this stuff but in November I was congratulated by both my primary care physician and a specialist both of whom helped me make it through the issues.  I am also grateful for the health and happiness of my immediate family - my sons Brian, his wife Bridget and their sons, Sean and Gavy and Kevin, his wife Marissa and their children Ben and Edie.  I am so proud of them and am thrilled to be a Grandpa - four times over!

What that leads me to is something I’ve pontificated on for many years:  Life is short.  Don’t keep putting things off that you’ve wanted to do.  Do one thing each year that is on your list of important things. None of us knows what the rest of today, let alone tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that will bring. 
Please accept my sincere and best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season and New Year to you and your families.  Enjoy the time together as we hopefully all get to unplug – for real – at least for a few days and hopefully longer over this special time of the year. 

I look forward to catching up with you somewhere ‘on the road’ in 2017!
The Year in Pictures 2016
Yes, there are some happy photos in the powerful grouping of New York Times – The Year in Pictures 2016  – The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, U.S. athletes competing and winning at the Olympics and a few others.  
Sadly, most of the photos are of terrible things:  mass murders, people attempting to flee their countries, children suffering, irreplaceable structures being destroyed, terror in the faces of so many, people starving and people seeking asylum and freedom somewhere, anywhere.  There are also numerous photos of the president-elect of the United States at various stages in the campaign.
What’s wrong with this world? Why is there so much violence and hatred around the world?  So much suffering?  What’s wrong?  Can anything be done?
I used to believe that the key to peace on earth was people meeting face2face and communicating with each other, even if they didn’t speak the same language.  It would be a way for us to appreciate that we are all the same, human beings and that all people need to respect others – even if they don’t agree with their politics, religious practices, etc.  That sadly seems now to have been a pipe dream of mine and I’m even beginning to doubt myself. 
Rockefeller Center, New York City

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Almost Annual Pre-Holiday Pizza + Drink Thing / Women in Private Equity Forum / London / Michael Humphreys / Rogue One

Stuff coming up soon
Just wanted to give you all a head’s up about some upcoming events in New York City.
My Almost Annual Pre-Holiday Pizza / Drink Thing - NYC
I’ve been hosting this event for more years than I can count.  It’s always a treat as people from all facets of commercial real estate stop by – pension fund folks, property management folks, investment managers, research people, you name it.  It’s a really casual affair.  

Here are the details:
When:  Monday, Dec 12 from 5:30 – 9pm
Where:  Joe G Restaurant, 244 W. 56th Street
(Between Broadway and Eighth Avenue; downstairs from the DaVinci Hotel)
How:  Just show up! No RSVP required.

You buy your own drinks and I supply the famous Joe G Pizza.
Hope you can stop by for a while.
Felix / Weiner Professional Development Workshops - NYC

Wednesday, December 14:  Tech Industry Women’sLeadership Workshop

Thursday, December 15:  Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop

Friday, December 16: Women’s Leadership Workshop

Women in Private Equity Forum – London
Last week my partner Liz Weiner and I were in London. We were invited to attend PEI’s (parent of PERE) Women in Private Equity Conference.  It was an interesting program and we unexpectedly ran into a few women from the real estate side of private equity. 

There was a good amount of discussion about ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) issues.  The letter ‘D’ is not in the acronym but diversity is clearly a subject being brought up more and more by public pension funds as they evaluate which manager they’re going to do business with.

A woman on one panel said that her company pays for the expense of bringing her baby (and nanny) on her business trips.  Who would have imagined that your child would be accumulating frequent flyer miles that early in her or his life!

Out of 80 attendees there were 5 men plus me.  If you’re a man based in London I’d recommend attending next year’s event! You’ll gain some real insight into some of the challenges women in private equity face.  Thanks to PEI for the invitation.

I hadn’t been in London for a while and got the chance to catch up with some old friends.  There is some very interesting stuff going on in our institutional real estate world across the pond.  Some of what I heard needs to be kept in the vault for a little longer but other things can be mentioned.

Meetings we had were with folks from bFinance, Benson Elliott, Patrizia, LaSalle Investment Management, Forum Partners, Valad, Rockspring, First Avenue Partners, CBRE Global Investors, PGIM and AXA. It was like old times! It was great not only to see folks I’ve known for many years but also to meet some people for the first time – even with all the technology available today there is still no substitute for meeting people face2face!

Liz and I will shortly be finalizing dates to take our Women’s Leadership Workshop and Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop to London and Amsterdam in early 2017.

As you might imagine, there was some discussion about the U.S. Presidential Election – but not as much as you might think.  The Brits have their own stuff to deal with – as does a good portion of the world.  People are hunkered down, working on those things that have year-end deadlines and some of the ‘current events’ simply serve as distractions. 
We flew Norwegian Air and for the first time were on the new Boeing Dreamliner.  A very, very nice aircraft and Norwegian offers some pretty reasonable rates on the routes they fly.  Check them out!

Sad news - Michael Humphreys (1960 – 2016)
While in London I got the news that Michael Humphreys, founder of the consulting firm, Courtland Partners, died unexpectedly at 56.  Michael and I didn’t know each other well but it’s widely known that he is one of those few who learned the ropes at The Townsend Group and then launched his own consultancy.  He was an out-spoken leader in the industry who developed a very successful business. To his colleagues whom are industry friends I send my condolences. 

While it’s bad enough when someone who has lived a long life passes away, it’s really bad when someone, like Michael, in the prime of his or her life and career, dies. 

Those of you who’ve followed me for a while probably remember that my first album of original songs, Felix…Finally, was a project I undertook stimulated by the death of a long-time band mate and friend.  Dave died of aggressive cancer just a few months after our reunion concert in 2003.  Then, last April, Composition Capital founder Erwin Stouthamer’s passing got me serious about the business memoir I’ve been diddling around with for more than 15 years and led to my hiring a professional editor (Note:  the book, Driving With Your Knees will be available in July 2017 to celebrate my birthday). 

I bring up my activities only to suggest that you think about those projects you’ve wanted to accomplish in your life or those places you’ve wanted to visit or whatever it is that are part of your life dreams  - and take action on one of them…soon.  There’ll be nothing worse than getting to the end of the line and having regrets.

Star Wars – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The next movie in the never-ending Star Wars saga opens on December 16.  I cannot remember seeing more promotion of a movie, ever.  Every place I’ve been in the past month seems to be promoting the event – with Gatwick Airport in London offering a ‘flight simulator’ experience!  Disney, who owns the Star Wars brand is an incredible (and to a degree, obnoxious) marketing machine.  Talking with one of the ‘booth’ attendants in London the other day he said, “A lot of die-hard Star Wars fans are not happy with what is going on.”  Regardless, my grandsons Sean and Gavy are really, really excited about going to see Rogue One on the day it opens.  I will be seeing it as well as I continue to improve my knowledge of Star Wars so I don’t get my butt kicked so badly by those boys when we play the Star Wars Trivia game I bought them!

To my friend Rob Bilse who recently joined Patrizia as Head of North American Fundraising.

Restaurants of the week:

Halepi, 18 Leinster Terrace London W2 3ET; Terrific authentic family-owned Greek Restaurant

The Fish House of Notting Hill, 29 Pembridge Road
Notting Hill W11 3HG
; Yes, you can get Fish and Chips all over London but this is one of the best.

Osteria Basilico, 29 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill Gate; London W11 2EU; simply first-class Italian food

ULI, 5 Ladbroke Rd, London W11 3PA; Beautifully prepared and presented Asian cuisine - Just opened 3 months ago. 

On The Road…
December 6-7: Los Angeles coaching an investment management client

December 8: Chicago to attend (and facilitate a discussion on Trends in Investing) at NAREIM’s Capital Raising & Investor Relationships Meeting

December 9 – 17:  New York City

December 12:  My Almost Annual Pre-Holiday Pizza / Drink Thing (see above)

December 14:  Technology Women’s Leadership Workshop - (18 person maximum; 4-hours; $479)

December 15:  Behavioral Presentation CoachingWorkshop - (6 person maximum; 4-hours; $679)

December 16:  Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women’s Leadership Workshop(18 person maximum; 4-hours; $479)

January 18 2017:  Laguna Beach, CA to conduct our Women’s Leadership Workshop in partnership with IMN

January 19-20:  Laguna Beach, CA to attend IMN’s Real Estate Opportunity and Private Funds Forum

January 23:  Los Angeles to conduct our Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop 

January 24:  Los Angeles to conduct our Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women’s Leadership Workshop 

January 26:  San Francisco to conduct our Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women’sLeadership Workshop

January 27:  San Francisco to conduct our Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop

February 2017:  London, UK to conduct our Commercial / Institutional Real Estate Women’sLeadership and Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshops

February 2017: Amsterdam, The Netherlands to conduct our Women’s Leadership andBehavioral Presentation Coaching Workshops

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day / Peter Lewis on the Koala Bear / Leonard Cohen

Veterans Day
Today in the United States is Veterans Day, a day on which we take a moment to remember those men and women who served their country in pursuit of peace and the American way.  November 11 was chosen as the fighting in World War I ended when an armistice between the Allied nations and German went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of "the war to end all wars." (Source: Veterans Affairs website).
My father, Manney Felix served in the Army Air Force during World War II. While for many, many years he did not talk about that experience, it finally came out that his time in the Army had the most lasting impact on his life. When we finally pulled him out of his shell, he shared many stories of his experiences - in hindsight, he wanted to tell us, he just needed a little prodding to be able to do it.  
Thank you to all those men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States.  It's sad that there is still so much fighting going on between people and some countries in the world today.  It's sad that there's so much anger, so much hatred and so much bigotry.  I have long felt that the only way for us to find a path to peace is to understand each other better.  There is no better way than to talk with people who are different from you, face to face about something or about nothing.  What you'll realize is that inside we are all the same, people, human beings seeking many of the same things out of life.  
Even if you're not as fortunate as I've been, to be able to travel to many countries and meet and talk with people on their own ground, because of the wonderful diversity in the United States, you can find people of other countries, races, religious beliefs and all other things that make up the wonderfulness of difference, right here.
Maybe today, as we take a moment to remember and appreciate those who served we can also take a moment to think about these words, written by Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti) and recorded by several others before The Youngbloods version in 1968 became an anthem of that generation.  The lines of the chorus are the ones that were the most poignant then - and it appears that we need that same feeling right now - Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another, right now!
Peter Lewis on the Koala Bear
Many of you remember Peter Lewis.  I first met him when he worked for MIT and oversaw their real estate investing program.  Peter was, if not the first, one of the first significant size U.S. institutional investors to start investing outside the U.S.  I remember once, many years ago, when Peter was on a panel at an industry event.  He was asked a question from an audience member.  "So Peter, I assume that your goal in investing in real estate outside the U.S. is to find juiced-up returns, right?"  Peter replied: "That's always nice but the goal is diversification.  You see, real estate goes in different cycles in different parts of the world at different times."  Time has proven Peter to be totally right.
Peter died on March 2, 2013.  Why I'm writing about him today is that I just this week found an email Peter wrote me on November 6, 2005, about something I had written in this column.  I thought you would enjoy it as much I did.
Hi Steve,

It was good to see you at ULI, however brief it was.  I don't know whether you can use this in your "On the Road" feature, but perhaps you'll find it amusing.  I was totally exhausted when I had the following crazy thoughts:

At the end of an exhausting week that included two separate trips, both without avoiding direct flights, but including two conference panels, numerous meetings, and generally being on all the time, sometimes the simplest, nondescript things assume undeserved attention.

Such was the case when I spotted Koala Kare Center in an airport restroom. Punchy from lack of sleep, I thought about the product name and imagined the convenience if I had decided to travel with my pet koala and nature had called.

I don’t often take her on business trips.  She doesn’t like traveling if she’s not in the main cabin even though she's from down under. It’s both claustrophobic and cruel to place her in my carry-on, and my clothes don’t always arise in pristine condition. Her claws are even sharper than the last one inserted by counsel in a recent document draft and her communications via “bellowing” can make the nights unbearable.  Add to that the difficultly in finding hotel atria with eucalyptus trees and you get an idea of the added complications. On the other hand, few other real estate professionals travel with a koala and there is a certain power in the first impression. 

As a baby, she was certainly popular with all the Cub fans in Chicago.  And then there’s the convenience of her pouch to carry CDs and boarding passes! I may take her with me more often now that I know that airports truly care.That means stocking up on koala diapers which are difficult to find at your local Wal-Mart, which tends to favor pandas.  She can run as fast as a rabbit, which has led to some hare-raising experiences and she sleeps for up to 19 hours a day, perfect behavior for many conferences and presentations.  But travel excites her and she is probably looking forward to a future trip to a namesake designation like Kuala Lumpur.

Leonard Cohen (1934 - 2016)
Leonard Cohen died yesterday.  He was 82.  Just last month he released a new album and I read a wonderful piece about him in The New Yorker magazine.  

More than 2,000 recordings of his songs have been made, initially by the folk-pop singers who were his first champions, like Judy Collins and Tim Hardin, and later by performers from across the spectrum of popular music, among them U2, Aretha Franklin, R.E.M., Jeff Buckley, Trisha Yearwood and Elton John.

Songs like "Bird on a Wire", "Suzanne", "So Long Marianne" and "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" have become very well-known tunes. But the song that he became most associated with is "Hallelujah."  Here's an incredibly moving concert performance of "Hallelujah" which has been viewed by more than 41 million people!

On The Road...
November 14-18:  New York City including attending the PERE Summit on Nov 15/16.

December 5 - 7:  Los Angeles to conduct an in-house Behavioral Presentation Coaching program to a well-known real estate investment management firm

December 7- 8: Chicago to attend the NAREIM Capital Raising and Investor Relations meeting

December 12 - 16:  New York City for a few reasons...

December 12:  My annual pre-holiday Pizza/Drink Thing where a broad array of commercial real estate folks gather to hang out.
When:  December 12 from 5ish - 9ish pm
Where: Joe G Restaurant, 244 W. 56th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue and downstairs from the DaVinci Hotel.
What:  You buy your own drinks and I supply the famous Joe G pizza!

December 16: Felix / Weiner Women's Leadership Workshop (our 17th one!).  

January 18 - 20:  Laguna Beach, CA to attend the IMN Opportunity and Private Real Estate Investing Forum

January 18:  Laguna Beach to conduct Felix / Weiner Women's Leadership Workshop - in partnership with IMN (Note: you don't have to be registered for the IMN event to attend out event).  

Friday, November 4, 2016

General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. - On Leadership

I recently got access to an old hard drive and have found some wonderful stuff – photos, things I wrote but had forgotten, etc.


I don’t know when I wrote this but thought, as we head towards the end of 2016 you might find this interesting.


On Leadership

When General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. was he was Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command, he was the top person on an organizational chart of 810,000 people!  After he retired, I had the opportunity of being the audience at an industry event where General Schwarzkopf was the keynote speaker.  I don’t know what I expected but he was as down-to-earth as could be.  I liked him very much and felt fortunate to be there. 

I vividly remember him walking out on the stage – without being announced and starting like this:

”My wife and I have two dogs.  An 80-pound German Shepherd and a 12-pound Dachshund.  We’re very proud of our German Shepherd as he was chosen to be a ‘pin-up’ on next year’s Purina Dog Chow calendar.  If I asked you, “Which of our two dogs is the leader in our household?” I can probably guess what most of you would say. What my wife Brenda and I observe is this:  When our 80-pound German Shepherd looks out, he sees a 12-pound Dachshund…and he believes that’s who he is too.  When our 12-pound Dachshund looks out, he sees an 80-pound German Shepherd and believes that’s who he is.  Who’s the leader?  It’s all a matter of perception.”
Many of you are leaders and aspiring leaders in your company but can you imagine what the General’s challenges must have been?

Here are some of my takeaways from his speech.  I thought you might find something that resonates with you too:

1.           Great leaders are ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

2.           Perception is reality:
a.           Think of yourself as a leader.
b.           Management is not leadership.
c.            Leaders lead people.  They do not lead organizations.

3.           The Challenge of Leadership:
a.           To get people to willingly do what they ordinarily would not do.
b.           It’s not always the person who thinks they’re the leader (by title) that is the leader. It’s the person people turn to in time of crisis.

4.           The ingredients of leadership:
a.           Competence
b.           Character

5.           In times of crisis leaders lead by example.

6.           We all want to be led by someone who is special; someone who is respected by their organization, someone who makes things happen.  Someone who takes responsibility.

7.           The true rewards of leadership come from leadership itself…not from fiscal, physical or tangible rewards.

8.           No organization will ever get better until leadership is willing to admit that something is wrong.

9.           Leaders focus resources on what is broken

10.       Leaders establish goals for their organization.  But goals are only meaningful if:
a.           Everyone understands them
b.           Everyone understands his or her role.

11.       Leaders stay focused on the one goal they have before them.  Goals can always be changed later.

12.       Leaders focus talent and resources on what’s really important.

13.       Leaders focus their organization on the goal.

14.       Standards?  Set them high. Successful leaders establish high standards of performance.

15.       Leaders let people understand what is expected of them.

16.       Everybody goes to work to succeed.  Success is establishing standards and meeting them.

17.       Failure is contagious.  Success is infectious.

18.       Leaders reinforce success in their organization.

19.       Leaders also accept mistakes.

20.       Leaders establish a ‘latitude to learn’ in their organizations.

21.       Great leaders don’t tell people how to do their jobs.  They empower people.  They give them the authority and the resources to succeed.  They let them use their initiative.

22.       The General’s Rule #13: When placed in command, take charge; make something happen, take responsibility.

23.       Washington, DC is the only place in the world where you can run for 10 miles in a straight line and still be at the scene of the crime!

24.       The General’s Rule #14: Do what’s right.

25.       Great things can happen when you do what’s right.

We all know people who we look to for leadership.  What are the qualities that we see in them?  Do others see those same qualities in us?  How do we know?  Have we tried to give people that work with us a chance to grow their own leadership qualities?

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