Saturday, April 4, 2020

A friend who has made a difference in the commercial real estate industry: Paul Michaels

A friend who has made a difference in the commercial real estate industry:  Paul Michaels

Paul has been with Invesco Real Estate (IRE) since its inception in 1983. As Director of North American Direct Real Estate, he is responsible for leading IRE’s North American business.

Previously, Paul served as Director of US Portfolio Management responsible for portfolio strategy for institutional pension fund clients. Paul is currently Chairman of IRE’s US Direct Investment Committee and has responsibility for portfolio design and investment process for several of IRE’s separate account clients. He has 35 years of real estate experience including both debt and equity transactions in industrial, multifamily, retail and office properties.

Paul holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance and Real Estate from The University of Texas at Austin.

How Paul and I met?
We met at the NAREIM (National Association of Real Estate Managers) Executive Officers Meeting in 2014. Having both been around this great industry for a while we realized that we knew a bunch of people in common. As I’ve mentioned to younger people in the industry – that right there is the importance of networking. While it’s important to network with people in ‘your generation’ it’s equally important to meet those of us who have been around a while. Most, if not all, ‘veterans’ like meeting the younger people as they have the same passion for the commercial real estate industry as we have had.

Paul retired this month after 38 years at Invesco. As everyone who knows Paul will tell you, he is very humble. Due to the virus situation, Paul was unable to say goodbye to his colleagues in person. But when he shared his email to his colleagues (and some of their replies) I asked if I could include that here.

We agreed that feedback from people who he has worked with over the years would add more depth to what Paul felt was important to his success. I’ve included the farewell email he sent to his Invesco colleagues along with excerpts from a few of the very touching email replies that served as guiding principles for the long career that Paul loved.  

Paul’s retirement email to Invesco colleagues
Well after 38 years, this isn’t exactly how I had hoped my last week at Invesco would be.  What I will regret the most is not being able to say goodbye to many of you in person.  But I’m sure I will have plenty of free time, so I would always love to grab lunch, a drink after work, or just chat on the phone if you have the time.  I often reflect on what an incredibly lucky person I have been based on a few simple decisions in my life.  The first was deciding to marry my wife (it did take a little arm twisting), and a close second was accepting this job opportunity as a very young college graduate.  I never imagined the joy I would get from my career in the years to come.  I can only hope that I am able to experience the same enjoyment during my retirement.

I’ve attached my new contact information in hopes that I can stay in touch with many of you.  In the meantime, please stay well and wishing you much happiness in the years ahead. 

Happy trails to you
‘til we meet again
And keep smilin’ until then…

Excerpts from his colleagues to Paul's retirement announcement email:

Thank you for everything you’ve done for the company, but a special thank you for taking the time to reach out to me on an individual basis several times a year for a birthday lunch or a catch up. It’s rare for someone in your position to do that, and it went noticed by everyone at the firm.
as my boss you trusted me with valued clients and taught me the Invesco ways.  And you were patient when I was a bit stubborn at times. Finally, you gave better annual reviews than I have experienced in all my 36 years. Thoughtful, organized and constructive whether or not I liked everything you had to say.   

But much more important than the professional relationship is the friendship you have demonstrated over the years. The personal relationship dwarfs the professional. You always made time for me.… and the time you made for me has always been noticed. You have always been a great boss, mentor and friend and you will be missed.
I've always admired your convictions in investments and your strong adhesion to them, in what sometimes seemed like the sole person to question a stance...Invesco has been a better place with your leadership, and I will reflect on your ideas and arguments going forward even without your presence here. 
Our firm will never be the same after your retirement, but the culture and values you helped establish will remain as reminder of the impact you had on this firm!
 It’s very bittersweet to see you go. I’ve watched you literally be the backbone of Invesco in the time that I’ve been here…I don’t know a more dedicated and focused person. You may not know this, but I’ve learned quite a bit from you. The main thing….”pay attention to the details.” Whether it be as small as snack diversity or some high-level decisions regarding a major project, you taught me that the details matter on both ends of the spectrum.

I’ve only come across a few people in my life that impacted my professional sense and work-ethic paradigm and although you didn’t know it, you became one of those individuals.
I just can’t let this “Invesco milestone” go by without giving my heartfelt comments about you to our entire organization.

I don’t think it is fully appreciated how “instinctive” Paul is as an institutional real estate investor.  Given his acumen, he could have easily taken the “glass half full” approach in his role as head of the North American Investment Committee, but he, to the firm’s (and client’s) great benefit, took the much harder role of risk assessment and probabilities for mitigation. He saw (or chose to see) investments in the context of historic market cycles, and therefore, the long-term probabilities for returns to be resilient while remaining pragmatic in prudently growing client portfolios. We all owe you our gratitude for this role done well for so many years.

I know many of us, myself included, have stories of Paul’s compassion for our families as we have periodically encountered the inevitable rough patches in life. Paul, I hope that this aspect of your career and your character brings you the great pride and joy you deserve.
Your integrity stands as a mark for all of us. Because of your influence I know we are a better firm than we would be otherwise.
You are a special person and leader in the organization. I really liked how your actions showed how much you cared about everyone professionally and personally. Thank you making special one-on-one time with us in accounting. I hope I can continue the leadership that you set as an example.
You are a very effective leader, consistent and fair. As a bonus, you have a very enjoyable personality and are a pleasure to be around. You built a wonderful business in Invesco Real Estate and a lot of us here owe you a large debt of gratitude and thanks for creating such a wonderful environment.  
I have always considered you a mentor, an unbelievable and brilliant real estate executive, and a good friend that I can confide in who I know has a heart of gold.
Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt 22 years ago!  It’s been a pretty darn good ride.
We’ve all learned a lot from the way you approach the business and I’ve always referred to you as the consummate, client first, fiduciary. I hope our clients appreciate how well they had it!
I have thoroughly enjoyed the short time that I have gotten to work with and learn from you. I can only hope that one day I will have half the investment intuition and acumen that you have shown me at the helm of this organization and sitting before our shared clients. I’m very proud and humbled to be a part of what you have built and hope to help carry this torch forward.
It definitely won’t be the same without you around. If I had to pick one thing where you had a significant influence on me it would be NO BS. Working with you I came to understand even more clearly the value in playing it straight, not giving half-baked answers and following up. I’ve given that advice many times over the years to our younger colleagues….

Here are Paul’s answers to the ‘usual and customary interview questions’ 
Q.  How did you get your start in commercial real estate?

A.  A friend of mine signed me up for an interview in one of our real estate classes in college. Real estate was not necessarily my main area of focus at the time.  But it was my only job offer upon graduation, so away I went…..

Q.  Looking back on your career is there one thing you wish you had done differently? If so, what and why?

A.  I could probably write a book (or two) on things I wish I had done differently.  But towards the top of the list would be being more patient and understanding around people, especially those who had different views and opinions than my own. 

Q.  Who have been the most significant influences in your career? How? Why?

A.  David Ridley, the founder of Invesco, took a bet on me when I was young and naive.  He was a great mentor and manager of people.  Never shy to chew me out when I went astray, but also extremely supportive and provided me with great career growth opportunities during the 30 or so years that we worked together.

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