Saturday, October 1, 2016

In the blink of an eye / Learn something new every day / 'Next Thursday' / Felix-Weiner Workshops Announced

In the blink of an eye
Ray Torto, one of the most well-known and respected real estate research and strategy people was in a bad car crash last Sunday.  Immediately following the accident the report was not good. As the week went on, things started looking a little better and as of yesterday, Ray was up and talking again – albeit in his still difficult to understand Boston accent!  Please join me in sending positive vibes to Ray for a speedy and full recovery.  Thanks!

Learning Something New Every Day
In the ‘you learn something every day’ category, this past week I learned that I must have been living a sheltered life for some period of time. Two people I exchanged business cards with had the title, “Director of Capital Introductions” as their job.  It got me thinking:  yes, to raise capital there need to be introductions made.  Exactly between whom does these folks make the introductions?  And, is that all there is?

My guess is that the people in these positions introduce themselves to a source of capital like a consultant, pension fund, endowment, foundation, sovereign wealth fund or rich people (i.e. family office or simply really, really rich individuals – from where there’s more and more money coming into real estate).  Then, after they introduce themselves, they ask if they can introduce that source of capital (for lack of a better expression) to some of their colleagues who will be happy to take some of their money and invest in in real estate.  Assuming that’s acceptable, then, and this is just a guess, the next introduction comes from the investment professionals that the Director of Capital Introductions has made to the investor to the investment opportunity.

My head is spinning – did I get that right?  Maybe, there’s another introduction to be made along the way to the team that is going to incorporate research, portfolio, asset management, reporting, risk management and the like into the investment.

What this is really about is my first thought when seeing the title – making an introduction is the key starting point.  I personally know as I’ve done a lot of that in my career.  And it’s interesting to see that that title, “Director of Capital Introductions” is appearing.  I’m not sure I like it, not that anyone has asked me.  Perhaps it’s that even though that is the function, I’m not positive that the title really represents what many folks really do – it’s a lot more than just making an introduction isn’t it?

Two weeks on the road
Yesterday I got back (I’m still having a little difficulty with calling North Carolina home) from a two-week, three-city trip.  It reminded me of a trip of similar length I took in Europe 10 years ago when I was working at launching the business there for IREI.  I vowed at that time that two weeks was simply too long to be on the road in one shot. 

Having said that, this was a great trip.  My partner Liz Weiner and I were first in Dallas where we conducted an in-house women’s leadership workshop for 26 women for a well-known real estate investment management firm.

Then I went on to Chicago where I had a chance to make my first visit to see the giraffes (and some of their friends) at the Lincoln Park Zoo – which I learned from a friend last night is one of only two ‘free’ zoos remaining in the U.S. I love giraffes.  I don’t like zoos.  And while the Lincoln Park Zoo is a very nice facility, the outdoors giraffe enclose was closed and under renovation – so the two of them were housed indoors. 

What that visit did do is reinforce the need for me to plan and book the African photo safari I have dreamed of for many, many years – I’ve always wanted to see the giraffes in their natural habitat and am going to take a safari in 2017.

The business part of the Chicago visit was to attend the NAREIM (National Association of Real Estate Investment Mangers) Executive Officers (EO) meeting.  This meeting takes place twice a year and is attended by very senior people on the real estate investment management side of our business.

The reason that the conversation is so open is that there are no consultants and no LP’s allowed (except for one LP that was interviewed as the last session on the second day). Congratulations to NAREIM CEO Gunnar Branson and the planning committee who did a very thoughtful job of creating the agenda.

NAREIM currently has 93 members. Their charter limits membership to 100.  If you are not a member, I encourage you to look into becoming one.  Several of the prospective members that attended this event told me that they are likely to sign up so the remaining spaces may be limited.

NAREIM also hosts a series of other great specialty meetings during the year. These include Capital Raising and Investor Relations, Human Resources, Architectural and Engineering, Legal and Compliance, Sustainability and Investment Management, Acquisitions and Dispositions and Research and Investment Management.  These are modest size groups where interaction amongst the presenters and attendees is unparalleled in the industry.  Check NAREIM out. Oh, the reason I’m not sharing any of my takeaways from the EO meeting is that it operates under the rules, ‘What’s said there, stays there.”

“Next Thursday”
I am so tired of hearing people, especially moderators on panels, ask, “So, what inning are we in?” or “When are things going to change and started sliding downhill again.”

As there is no shortage of opinion in our industry, there are a myriad of answers offered – ‘next Thursday’ being one that, while a bit flippant, suggests that we really don’t know for sure and I’m not one to pontificate. 

However, there are signs that things are changing and, just like a restaurant can’t always predict what kind of night they’re going to have, there are factors at work that suggest that we’re not really in any better shape than the restaurant manager trying to figure out, “Was it the rain or the parade or the holiday or whatever” that is behind having a slow night. 

I can tell you that my friend in the industry show no signs of slowing down their efforts to raise and deploy capital.  What is changing is the profile of the investor – more and more non-traditional investors, capable of buying institutional quality assets, are playing the game and, in many cases, winning the deals.  

One of the things that some companies are beginning to do is to ‘Think Different’ (yes, that’s the Apple advertising slogan that was created by the drummer in the first rock ‘n ‘roll band I played in  - and my longtime friend – Ken Segall).  In anticipation of things changing, it’s important to look at what was done preparing for the last downturn or the lessons learned coming through it, and think differently about what you might be doing to get ready.  It’s a very healthy and worthwhile exercise.  And remember, the folks in your firm who have never experienced anything other than a market that continues to go up may be an excellent source of ideas about what to consider doing differently this time.  Invite them into your strategy meetings – even if they don’t have any brilliant ideas, they’ll learn a lot which is a value-add for your firm and your investors.

Felix/Weiner Workshops Announced
Two weeks ago my partner Liz Weiner (I’m going to refer to her simply as Liz going forward) piloted a new type workshop in Chicago.  The feedback from the participants was powerfully positive and we’ve now incorporated that into the schedule we released this week.

The new workshop, patterned after our internal presentation coaching workshops, is an open-enrollment (people buy tickets) Behavioral Presentation Coaching workshop.  Attendance in the full-day, interactive session is limited to 10 participants (no more than 2 people from any one firm). 

We’re continuing our successful Women’s Leadership Workshop series.  In the firs 15 open-enrollment workshops we’ve had women from 75 different commercial real estate industry related firms attend.  We’ve also conducted five internal women’s leadership / presentation coaching workshops at some of the most prominently named firms in the industry.

Here’s our schedule with a link to the page where you can learn more and register.  We look forward to seeing you or one of your colleagues at one of our upcoming workshops:

Women’s Leadership Workshops...
Develop and enhance your professional presence

Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshops...
Immediately improve your presentation just one day!


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