Tuesday, March 14, 2017

NAREIM Executive Officers Meeting / 3 Tips for Panel Moderators / 3 Tips for Real Estate Students / Ping Pong Anyone? / LIfe's too short...to hold a grudge

NAREIM Executive Officers Meeting

A couple of weeks ago I attended the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM) semi-annual Executive Officers meeting in San Diego.  Thanks to NAREIM CEO Gunnar Branson for the invitation.  I want to share a few take aways from that meeting with you:

“Consolidation is not anything new.” (Both LP and GP)

“Manager consolidation is driven by the number of managers that investors want to manage.”

“We’re going to hit the proverbial again and things will fall apart.”

“We’ve added younger people to our investment committee for a different perspective.” 

“Succession planning is critical to the whole process.” More institutional LP’s are looking at an investment management firm’s succession planning as a key point in determining if they’ll invest (or continue to invest) with them.

“What clients want from you is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”  During the last ‘downturn’ some investment managers did not come forth with the ‘bad news.’  Some of those firms are no longer around.  

“Niche investment strategies:  drivers more demographic than economically driven.”

I’ve written about these NAREIM Executive Officers meetings before.  What makes them special is the open dialogue amongst very senior people in the industry.  That’s partially due to the fact that, with the exception of an occasional ‘guest panelist’ in the form of an LP, the audience members are pretty much all on the same side of the tracks – everyone learns from each other.

3 tips for panel moderators 
1.  If there is someone on your panel who talks a lot and is monopolizing the conversation, don’t go back to that person again with a follow up question – they’ll just get more air time.
2.  Don’t refer to someone in the industry by their first name only.  Not everyone knows who you’re referring to and they likely won’t raise their hand and ask.  Use both first and last name – and company affiliation if appropriate.
3.  As a moderator, when an audience member rambles on too long, others in the audience get bored and tune out.  Moderators must manage both the panelists and the audience members.

3 tips for students seeking CRE internships and jobs

Over the years, I’ve talked with many university real estate students about careers in real estate and how it’s all about ‘connecting the dots.’  Statistics show that +/- 75% of jobs are landed through relationships (vs. submitting resume through a company’s website or a job posting site).  That statistic doesn’t surprise me one bit – except for one, all my jobs have been gotten through relationships.

Even though there’s some big snow falling today in parts of the U.S., the school year is winding down and students getting more and more focused on a summer internship or a full-time job.  Here are 3 tips that you may find useful:

1.  Think about your audience: When you reach out to an executive at a firm you’re interested in, think about how many emails / resumes that person receives every week.  Think about what can differentiate you from the others.  My recommendation:  be bold.  Don’t just say, “I’m Steve and I’d graduating from FDU’s MBS program in May and I’m looking for a job.”  That’s mundane.  How about something like this, “Hi Geof.  I’ve looked at your building (name the building) and I have some ideas about what I call ‘opportunity income’ lost.  Do you have some time next week for me to stop by and talk?”  Intriguing?  You bet.  You can also make believe you are a consultant to the company and get the other party interested with some thoughtful comment.  Bold?  Yes but may be worth considering.
2.  Use it before you lose it: When you graduate you’ve lost the opportunity to contact someone and say, “I’m in the BPC graduate real estate program and we’re working on a project.  Do you have some time next week for me to stop by and talk for about 15 minutes next week?” 
3.  Be the ball:  When you do get an audience, don’t simply ask if they have a position.  Talk about their business.  Do your homework on the company and on the individual you’ll be meeting with.  And, don’t forget to bring some good questions…everybody likes talking about themselves and, believe it or not, there are some egos out there in the industry.

Ping-Pong Anyone?

My good friend Karl Smith, now retired from years at Russell Investments and a serious world traveler, and I played our annual ping-pong match last week at the Wang Chen Table Tennis Club in Manhattan.  Okay, they and others may call it Table Tennis but I will always refer to it as Ping-Pong.  .  We had a lot of fun (I lost!) After the match, over dinner, an idea took shape.  How about holding a commercial real estate industry ping-pong tournament in NYC sometime in the Fall.  Would there be enough interest?  So, I thought I’d ask:  who of you would be interested?  Karl has a bunch of great ideas about how we could run it.  Let me know and if there’s enough excitement, we’ll do it!

Thinking about things

As you’ve read here and elsewhere, the industry has lost a bunch of influential people recently.  I’ve always enjoyed reading obituaries – not in a morbid way but I’ve found it’s a great way to get to know about someone’s life – to learn things about them that I didn’t know.

There’s an exercise in the book, “Type-A Behavior and Your Heart” that suggests you write your own obituary.  See how it sounds; How do you see yourself?  How would you like people to remember you?  It’s part of author Dr. Meyer Friedman’s philosophy of Things Worth Having vs. Things Worth Being

When I read this book, over the summer in 1986, during a time I was recovering from what ended up being a misdiagnosis of a mild heart attack, it changed my life.  As a Type-A person, that doesn’t mean I adhere to all the ‘rules’ all the time – I have to catch myself but, at least I am aware. 

Dr. Friedman’s ground-breaking book connects Type-A behavior with heart attacks.  In the spirit of those of our friends who have recently (or at any time) left us due to a heart attack, I offer these

3 questions to ask yourself in an honest self-assessment (there are a lot more in the book):
  • Do you suffer from 'Hurry Sickness' - living your life by a stopwatch, not a calendar?
  • Do you desperately strives to accomplish more and more things in less and less time?
  • Do you hurry the speech of others, not being able to inject what you have to say – or finish the sentences of other people?

Unless you establish new habits meant to supersede and replace my old ones, you will not free yourself from the Type-A illness.

And, remember: life is an unfinishedness – there’s most always tomorrow to get something done.

If you recognize yourself at all, read the book!
Life's too short to hold a grudge

Some of you who have been reading this column for a while know that from 1998 – 2008 I worked for Institutional Real Estate, Inc. (IREI).  During those years, Founder/CEO Geof Dohrmann and I were a great team – the company flourished and expanded.  In the summer of '08, as sometimes happens when two strong-willed people work closely together, we parted ways.  It was not under the most pleasant of circumstances and for a number of years we didn’t speak.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen each other at one industry event or another and have been cordial with each other.  A couple of weeks ago, I saw that Geof was a speaker at an conference I was attending.  I decided in advance that I was going to greet him as if it was just like the old days, that nothing had happened.  There must have been something in the air that morning because we reconnected, just like the good ol’ days - it was just time - and we both recognized it.

We admitted to each other that back in 2008, both of made mistakes – hey, these things happen.  And we also agreed that we really were a great team.  Working with Geof gave me a special opportunity, among other things, to launch this column.  It also gave me the change to learn from him and expand my horizons. For those opportunities I have always been grateful.  I don’t know if our interaction was necessarily ‘burying the hatchet’ but it was a monumental moment for us both.  Life’s too short to hold grudges…

On the Road…

April 10:  Career coaching workshop for students at A-B Tech, Asheville, NC

April 17 – 25:  New York City

May 1: Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of my father, Manney Felix who died in 2009 at age 92 (probably eating a healthy portion of bananas and sour cream - one of his favorites)

June 25-27:  IMN Real Estate Opportunity and Private FundInvesting Forum, Newport, RI (I’ll be moderating my signature panel – “Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head – A Day in the Life of an LP” (thanks to Steve Glener of IMN for the enhanced panel title!)

First 4-Grandkid Sleepover at Grandpa's (Note construction project on table)

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