Thanksgiving is Thursday!Up until yesterday, I thought Thanksgiving was next week. Like isn’t it usually the last Thursday in November?Anyway, I take baths regularly and some of my best thinking is done when I’m trying to meditate of sorts in the ...


OMG...Thanksgiving is this week?!! and more...

OMG...Thanksgiving is this week?!!

Thanksgiving is Thursday!
Up until yesterday, I thought Thanksgiving was next week.  Like isn’t it usually the last Thursday in November?
Anyway, I take baths regularly and some of my best thinking is done when I’m trying to meditate of sorts in the bath (is that TMI - too much information?).  I can’t help my mind from going where it wants to – vs. where I want to take it – into a peaceful state even if just for a few minutes.  The trick for me is remembering the ‘brilliant’ idea after I get out of the tub. And the idea that came to me just a short while ago was to write to you today.  
I have a coffee mug in my apartment that says, “Don’t Let Yesterday Take Up Too Much Of Today.”  I don’t know if any of you can relate to that saying but I can.  The reminder, when I use the mug is poignant as I had, for many years, thought about what could have been, what might have been, if only I had done this or hadn’t done that.  It’s draining and not very helpful.  Even before the mug message I had done a good job of putting the ‘yesterday’s behind me and only referring them for guidance – as in ‘Don’t make the same mistake again.’  And, if I do say so myself, I’ve done a pretty good job of it, not perfect mind you, but pretty darn good so I'm patting myself on the back as I sit here early on a Tuesday morning (if we don't pat ourselves on the back once in a while, who else is going to do it for us?). 
I’m going to equate giving thanks for being grateful for purposes of this column and I am grateful for many things – don’t worry, I won’t list them all (and I’ll probably forget to include some).
I’m grateful to have my health.  Yes, I’ve got some little things to deal with but it’s so sad to see folks that I’ve known over the years who aren’t as fortunate.
I am thankful that my sons, their wives and their children (yes, 4 grandchildren!) are all healthy and happy; they all like each other and they seem to like me as well.  I’m thankful that my sons are doing things in their careers that each are good at and love what they do.  I’m so proud of them.
I’m grateful for having conducted a business with a partner like Liz Weiner for the past almost 5 years.  I’ve learned a lot from her and, even though we get on each other’s nerves sometimes, we’re a good team (and our clients tell us that as well). 
I’m thankful to those in the Asheville, NC area who have made me feel welcome. - after just over two years here I've started making some friends.
I’ve been fortunate to have lived in a number of places:  Forest Hills, NY; Livingston, NJ; White Meadow Lake, NJ; Parsippany, NJ; Millburn, NJ; Short Hills, NJ; Sea Bright, NJ; N. Plainfield, NJ; San Francisco, CA; Napa, CA; the upper west side of NYC; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Around Columbus Circle, NYC and now in Arden, NC (just outside Asheville).  (I think that may be the first time I’ve written down all those places).  And, I'm grateful for the acquaintances and friendships resulting from those stops along the way.  
I’m also grateful for having had the opportunity to have worked for and alongside some terrific people in the great global commercial real estate industry.  I want to single one out here.
Many of you know Geof Dohrmann, founder and CEO of Institutional Real Estate, Inc. (IREI).  In the summer of 1998, Geof hired me to join IREI and relocate from NJ to the San Francisco Bay Area. For 10 years, Geof and I worked side-by-side (although we were both ‘on the road’ independently quite a bit).  Until joining IREI, my involvement with the ‘institutional real estate world’ had been limited to doing workouts for banks and insurance companies on the ‘real real estate side.’  Geof opened me up to a whole new community and that experience has made a huge difference in my life and my career.  Many of you who read this column have come into my life as a result of my time with IREI and the industry friends I have made along the way, across North America, Europe and Asia are very special to me.  And, this column had it's birth when I was at IREI. Thank you Geof!
With everyone being so busy and in some cases living far apart, it’s not always easy for families to physically get together to celebrate what may be the only universal, non-sectarian ‘family’ holiday in America – Thanksgiving.  With the luxury of technology, we can see each other and wave hello or throw kisses into our computers and phones.  It’s not the proximity that matters; it’s the feeling behind it all.
For those of you who read this and are in a country that celebrates Thanksgiving, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!  If you aren’t in a place that officially celebrates Thanksgiving think about starting to – just on your own, without any fanfare or governmental permission!  
We are all in this thing called ‘life’ together and we need each other now more than ever before in my lifetime.  We need to let our love for each other blanket the earth.  We’re all the same – just human beings no matter where we live, what we believe in or what we look like or wear.  Each of us can make a difference towards creating a more peaceful society.  Maybe starting on Thursday would be as good a day as any.
In the great movie, "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" the Abraham Lincoln character has a great line:  "Be excellent to each other...and PARTY ON DUDES!"
Enjoy your Thanksgiving and safe travels.
Last week from the Arboretum, Asheville, NC


Industry Legends Interview: Ray Torto // Halloween Memories from Forest Hills

Industry Legend Interview #1:  Ray Torto

I’ve been planning for some time of interviewing a number of ‘industry legends’ – those who have shaped the global commercial  / institutional real estate industry. I thought that this insight would be both interesting and also prove useful to those who are passionate about our business.

My first conversation in this series is with Ray Torto, co-founder of Torto / Wheaton research.  After Torto / Wheaton was purchase by CBRE it evolved into CBRE Econometric Advisors. 

Ray is a PhD.  However, he asked me to refer to him simply as ‘Ray’: 
From his bio:

Ray Torto advises senior executives and board members on real estate strategy, management and markets. An award-winning consultant, author, and public official, he holds an academic appointment at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and is formerly the Global Chief Economist for CBRE.

Ray has authored four books and numerous academic and professional articles on economics and commercial real estate. He is a frequent speaker at industry events and is often quoted in the global real estate press.

Ray is a co-recipient with Bill Wheaton of the 2007 James A. Graaskamp Award for Real Estate Research Excellence presented by the Pension Real Estate Association.
Steve:  Ray, how did you get started in the commercial real estate industry?

Ray: It was a little bit of a lucky break. I was working in the public sector as Commissioner of Assessing for the City of Boston at a time when developers from Texas were coming to Boston to build office buildings.  They came to me because the taxes they had to pay were based on my decision.

I was (and still am) an economist and I’d say, “Why did you decide you should build an office building in Boston?” And they had no good answer.  Nothing that dealt with the question of demand for office space.

Steve:  What year was this?

Ray:  You’re going to date me, huh J
This was 1980.  It was right after Texas (Houston, Dallas and Austin) had burst and vacancy rates were in the 30’s. Boston was building, and they were looking to Boston as the next place to build office space.  I realized they didn’t have any good answers and I also realized at the same time that the real estate industry was becoming more and more institutionalized. There were more people with business degrees in the decision making process in real estate.  I figured there were more analytical ways of evaluating whether to build or not build, or invest, and so I ended up forming a partnership with Bill Wheaton. Bill and I built a research company that analyzed the market and forecast what was going to be the future demand and supply. And I turned out to be quite lucky.

Steve:  Were your clients originally the developers themselves?

Ray:  Our first client was a developer, Cabot, Cabot and Forbes.  They hired someone to do a market study of St. Louis and paid $50,000 for it. They threw it at me saying, “This is a piece of shit. Can you do better?”  And I responded, “Yeah.” So they gave us a contract for seven cities. That was when I called Bill Wheaton because Bill had the model.  I said, “Bill, you’ve got the model and I have the contract, do you want to form a business?” Bill and I met and he said, “Yes, let’s form a business but if we do any academic papers (because we’re both academics) the papers are going to be Wheaton and Torto. I said, “That’s fine, the business will be Torto and Wheaton. And that’s the way we started. Bill always had more focus on the academic side.”

Steve:  As the Torto / Wheaton business moved forward, who did your clients become?

Ray:  We got another lucky break.  We got a one-quarter-inch write-up in The Wall Street Journal about us building these econometric models and the next thing we know we had a call from Jim Vinson.  Jim was the president of Merrill Lynch Hubbard.  He said, “What are you guys doing up there in Boston?”  And, as a cocky academic, I said, “You buy lunch we’ll come down and tell you.”  He said, “Okay, come on down.”

So we went down to New York and he listened to what we were doing and he was interested - he gave us a contract.  Then we got another contract from Prudential in a similar situation. These were CEO’s who were interested in the industry and they were thinking about what’s good for the industry and I think they thought, ‘This is interesting, what these guys are doing, maybe they’ll be successful, maybe they won’t, but I’ll throw them a little money and give them a chance to get started.” That’s why I say we were very lucky. We met some very good people along the way that were developers and investors who helped finance our beginnings.

Steve:  Part of the great story of Torto / Wheaton is the people you had there and then as things evolved when you merged or sold to CBRE some of those people have moved on to other places.  You had a great group of people.

Ray:  They were super. In fact, I think it was the way we managed them. We used to tell them, “We don’t care what time you come in, and we don’t care what time you go home, just get your work done.” We measured outputs not inputs. They all took ownership of their work, and they all took pride in their work, and so they got it done well - it was a very comfortable place for them to be together. They were all intellectually stimulated by the kinds of colleagues they had and the conversations we had all the time about what was happening in the world and what was happening in real estate.

Steve:  That philosophy that you described, “We don’t care when you come in or when you leave, just get it done’ has really gotten much more popular today especially with the millennial generation because they don’t like being told what to do.

Ray:  Well, my people were smarter than I was.  It was better to listen to them, with their ideas and I would just have questions. I would start with a question and they would come up with the answers.  That was great.  I know that for Bill and me it was a great experience.  I’d ask a question and Bill would disagree with my answer.  The next day he’d come back with a better answer, he had thought about it, and we’d move forward.  We were always growing intellectually and that’s what made a lot of the people happy to be there. There was a lot of personal growth.  It also helped that the firm was growing and the clientele was very intelligent and the clients asked a lot of good questions.  And then there were a lot of interesting issues in real estate – the beginnings of commercial real estate as an asset class. 

Steve:  The reputation of Torto/Wheaton had always been stellar.  It’s a great story. I know you mentioned that you’ve been an academic for many years and you still are. I know you mentor students as well and give them advice.  What’s some of the advice you give to students today, those that are passionate today about getting into the commercial real estate industry?

Ray:  Well, I answered your first question by saying it was a little bit of luck. The classes have guest speakers that come in – 4 or 5 during the semester – and the first question I ask the speakers is, “How did you get into real estate?” The answer in all cases is ‘luck’, ‘random’, ‘by chance.’
The advice I give a lot of my students is that if you’re interested in real estate it takes a little bit of luck – there are no 5-year plans.  When you see an opportunity that works for you, you must execute.  It isn’t just the luck – you must execute on that luck.

I have a lot of very, very serious students at Harvard and they all had 5-year plans and I try to discourage them from plans like that.  A lot of things change.  And the other thing is to try to give them an understanding about the industry.  They get to meet a lot of people and I keep telling them that in real estate everything is negotiable.  I remember a good friend of mine at a development firm and at a lunch they made an offer to him that was extremely great. He turned it down because he knew everything was negotiable and he could do better. 

Steve: I’ve spoken with students over the years and I ask them, “What do you want to go into?” and many have said ‘development.’  I’ve had one mentor in my career, a fellow named Dick Steinberg from Mall Properties. I went to see Dick and I told him what the students are saying.  Dick said, ‘You tell them that no one hires a developer.  You want to be a developer, go buy a run-down building in Brooklyn, get friends and family money and redevelop it and then, you’re a developer.” 

Ray: I had some students who were trying to develop and come up with a plan for financing development of low-income housing.  They wrote up a whole plan that eliminated the developer.  They figured that was the guy that made the most money and he probably didn’t have the best of intentions and they thought of him as someone who is a slum landlord.  They were young, liberal students and they said, ‘you get rid of that guy and we save all this money and we can have this housing.’ So I asked them, “Who is the quarterback?  You need someone who has the vision, brings in the money, buys the land and signs the contracts.”  Anyway, the point of the paper was changed. 

Steve:  You and I have lived through a time when the commercial real estate industry has become global and it’s amazing how small a world it’s become.  You mentioned that you have some international students in your programs.

Ray:  At Harvard we have, at least in my class, two-thirds
of the students are from overseas and 50% of that group is from China and they speak better English than I do!  I don’t speak Mandarin.  They’re smart young people

Steve:  Are some of those students planning on going back home to China after they’ve gotten their degree?

Ray:  They don’t look at the degree as the end of their education.  They look at maybe a year or two of experience, working for an investment manager or some agency in the United States and then a lot of them have an interest in going back and contributing to the development of their own country.  But the education isn’t just the degree.  The education is working in the industry. 

Ray on live TV panel I moderated at MIPIM one year


Halloween Memories from Forest Hills

I grew up in an apartment building owned by Punia & Marx.  It was on 64th Avenue between Yellowstone Blvd. and 108th Street in Forest Hills, Queens, New York.  Those of you not from the NYC area, who are tennis fans, may recall that Forest Hills, more specifically the West Side Tennis Club, was the original home of what became the U.S. Open. But for me and my best buds it was 'the hood.'  

Woke up this morning, early as usual (like 5am) thinking about Halloween when I was growing up (and also glad that Daylight Savings Time will not come into effect until after the kids get to trick or treat, going from house to house in the suburbs, before it gets dark.

Our trick or treating was done in our buildings.  There were six buildings in the complex - three on our side of the Safeway (yes, supermarket) parking lot, and three on the other side. The bunch of us that lived there were Goshe, Bernie, Steve L., Bruce B. and myself.  There's an old black and white photo that my mother took of a few of us, and my younger brother Jay, standing outside the building on Halloween. I believe the only one in a costume was Jay who was dressed as a pirate (do you remember that photo Jay?).

So we went from building to building, floor to floor (the buildings were only 6 stories) and either knocked on people doors saying, "Trick or Treat" (why is the word 'Trick' first?).  Some friendly ones would open their doors and put some candy in our bags.  In those days, believe it or not, loose, unwrapped candy was ok (we weren't afraid of anything back then).  

Then there are a few 'special' apartments.  One woman made a certain amount of caramel apples...mmmm!  And, when she ran out, well, they were gone.  So, even though her apartment was on the third or fourth floor, we made a beeline to her place because those apples were so friggin' good.  

Then, as we went around, if there was no one home, we put a very need 'X' on the door in pastel chalk (Note: it was easy to wipe off although I don't think we thought about that then) so that others wouldn't waste their time.  As I recall, and I'd need to get validation from Bernie or Goshe, there were a few apartments where really nasty people lived.  They'd open the door and with a scowl on their face tell us to basically 'get lost.'  If there was a Halloween version of 'Bah Humbug' that would be their line.

Of course, the most fun time was after we'd finished (we probably hit at least 3 buildings which meant - let's see, 8 apartments per floor, 6 floors in a building, that's 48 apartments - then 3, it was a lot of stair climbing but it was worth it.  We compared what we each had - although it was pretty similar, enjoyed some of the stuff and then went home.

I remember my mother saying, "You can have a little bit of the candy each night until it runs out."  However, I also recall that we didn't really follow that rule, exactly, and had stomach aches for the next few days from eating too much of the sweets.  

It was all very innocent back then.  We did so much on our own - without parental supervision.  It was a great time to grow up in New York.  After my parents moved to Livingston, NJ - in the suburbs - on the day that John Kennedy was shot (Nov. 22, 1963 - a date that pretty much everyone knows - especially right now) the trick or treating in the suburbs was completely different - house to house vs. apartment to apartment.  

I feel really fortunate to have had my first 15 years in New York.  It was diverse.  We played in the subways on rainy days (at each station our game was to run from one car to the next, going in and out of alternating doors (boy, we must have been really annoying to the 'real' commuters) and, if you didn't make it in to a car before the train pulled out, well, you had to go home alone.  

I've gotten together with a group of 8 from Forest Hills a couple of times over the past 10 years. I believe we're going to do it again in 2018. And the stories...the special!

The Forest Hills Guys


Halloween 1997 - My last gig with Nasty Ned and the Famous Chili Dogs


Professional Development Workshops / NAREIM Executive Officer's Meeting / Steve's Holiday Pizza / Drink Thing

Felix / Weiner Professional Development Workshops
Hundreds of commercial real estate industry people who have attended our professional development workshops have told us that they’ve taken away tools to elevate their presentation / conversation skills to the next level. We’ve received positive feedback from every client (a virtual “Who’s Who” of the global commercial / institutional real estate industry), and are proud (and excited) to be doing repeat business with many of these firms!

Our Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshops for capital-raising teams and more recently for individuals in other positions within the same firm (portfolio manager, asset manager, finance, accounting, etc.) are customized and unique.

And the 30 Women’s Leadership Workshops we’ve conducted - across the U.S. and in London (expanding to Amsterdam and Germany in 2018) - are especially gratifying.  Multiple hundreds of women (from more than 100 industry firms) who have attended our open-enrollment programs (participants buy an individual ticket) or internal workshops (women from one company) have provided us with some very special feedback. It’s a great feeling to know that we’re making a difference in people’s lives and careers - and they are making a difference in ours! 

We continue on our journey and are conducting workshops in New York City in a couple of weeks.  On Friday, November 3 is our Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop.  This 4-hour session is open to only 6 people.  Then, On Tuesday, November 7 is our 31st Commercial Real Estate Women’s Leadership Workshop.  Also 4 hours, it’s followed immediately by wine and cheese networking. Here’s the link to learn more and register.  If you know people who may be interested in these professional development opportunities Liz and I would appreciate you passing this along. 

NAREIM Executive Officers’ Meeting
Those of you regular readers of this column have heard me praise this meeting before.  The National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers is a unique organization in today’s world.  It has a limited number of member firms and runs events during the year dedicated to different areas of the real estate investment management business [e.g. Architectural and Engineering (October 24-25 in Denver), Legal and Compliance (November 7-8 also in Denver), Capital Raising and Investor Relations (December 6-7 in Chicago), Sustainability and Investment Management (January 17-18 in Chicago), Acquisition and Dispositions (February 7-8 in New York City), Asset and Portfolio Management (April 10-11 in Nashville)].

In line with NAREIM CEO Gunnar Branson’s theme, attending these meetings give you “A license to think in public.”  It’s both refreshing and educational, to be amongst your peers and learn that they’re experiencing the same challenge as you and what they have done to solve them.  Having attended a number of different theme meetings over the years I can personally attest to the truly collaborative environment which Gunnar champions.  Your firm does not need to be a NAREIM member for you to attend these meetings – visit their Event Calendar register.

One difference is the NAREIM Executive Officers Meeting which takes place twice a year and was recently held in Chicago.  This meeting is only open to member firms and is a “Think Tank” in the purest sense of the term. If your firm is not a NAREIM member, please look into it – I think there may still be some spots open on the roster.  I am certain your firm will find great benefit.

Steve’s 20th Holiday Pizza / Drink Thing
I’ll be hosting my 20th Virtually Annual Pizza / Drink Thing on Monday, December 4th.  As for many years, it’s being held at Joe G's Restaurant, 244 W. 56th Street (between Broadway and 8th and downstairs from the DaVinci Hotel).  The first people start showing up around 6pm and we hang out until about 9pm.

Around 50 people, pretty much representative of my diverse commercial real estate career (development, leasing, workouts, internet startup, institutional capital raising, publishing, consulting and coaching) will show up.

Here’s the deal:  you buy your own drinks and I supply the famous Joe G pizza – yes, with various delicious toppings).  No need to RSVP…just show up that night and feel free to bring your industry friends.  Liz and I hope to see you there!

On the Road with Steve Felix
Oct 30 – Nov 9: New York City
Nov. 1 – 2:  New York City / In-house client Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop
Nov 4:  New Rochelle, New York:  Mac Angels Gala honoring Paul McEvoy (DRA Advisors) and his wife, M.C. for their great work helping ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) families.  
Nov. 8-9: New York City / In-house client Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop
Nov. 14-15: Los Angeles / In-house client Behavioral Presentation Coaching Workshop
Dec. 4: New York City, Steve's Virtually Annual Holiday Pizza / Drink Thing, Joe G's Restaurant, 244 W. 56th (bet. Bway and 8th). 6pm - 9pm. You buy your own drinks - I supply the famous Joe G pizza (yes, various toppings to satisfy all!)
Dec. 6 – 7:  Chicago, NAREIM Capital Raising / Investor Relations Meeting

Elk yesterday at Cataloochee Valley, NC


INREV Meeting Takeaways / RCA Launches New Index / Question about LinkedIn and Twitter / Mac Angels Foundation

INREV Meeting in NYC
INREV is a European real estate trade association that some folks have referred to as the PREA (Pension Real Estate Association) of Europe.  Now with 400 members, INREV (European Association for Investors in Non-Listed Real Estate Vehicles), has come a long way since it's launch in 2003.  The brainchild of two industry veterans, Pieter Hendrikse and Willem de Geus, I have been a friend and member of the organization from shortly after it's beginnings.  
Last week, I attended INREV's annual U.S. meeting in New York City.  It was great to see so many industry friends and meet some new ones. I wanted to share some of my presentation takeaways with you:
  • Hedge for next 20 years in Europe: double down in Germany
  • Real estate investment / development opportunities across Europe = tourism / tourist destinations
  • Fastest growing destinations for Chinese tourists:
    • Spain
    • UK (almost tied with Spain)
    • UAE
    • Italy
    • France
  • "In my 20 years as an economist, the North Korea situation is the most worrisome event I has ever observed.  North Korea is the hermit kingdom (we don’t know anything about them).  War is truly a possibility." 
  • Audience Survey Question:  Biggest concern/challenge real estate faces today? Answer: 61% chose Frothy Property Prices
  • "Invest in cities, not countries; locations getting more and more important."
  • "Industrial is now ‘the place’ vis a vis e-Commerce space needs"
  • "Consumer confidence is key to growth"
  • Structural drivers of economy:  Technology & Urbanization
  • Major disruptor:  e-Commerce
INREV is actively seeking more U.S. institutional investors to join and offers an introductory membership rate.  If you are considering expanding your investment horizons to Europe, I highly recommend looking into INREV where you can get an immersion into what's going on in commercial real estate across Europe (including the UK!).

Congratulations to RCA (Real Capital Analytics)
Congratulations to RCA on the launch of its Global Cities Composite of the RCA Commercial Property Price Index
An excerpt from the 'overview' by RCA Founder and President Bob White:
Global commercial real estate prices grew at the fastest pace in two years in the second quarter of 2017. The Global Cities Composite of the RCA CPPI climbed 2.6% in Q2’17 and has risen 8.3% from a year ago, propelled by strong gains in Boston, Hong Kong, Melbourne and the German A Cities.
The price growth comes despite a 10.9% year-over-year decline in transaction volumes in the Global Cities and subpar results in the two largest global markets – London and New York. The clear winners with the most investment momentum, clustered in the upper right quadrant of the graph above, are the German A Cities, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Sydney.
Real Capital Analytics (RCA) bases these results on a series of groundbreaking market indices created, and form part of a comprehensive report just published.  The indices are transaction-based and utilize repeat-sales regression methodology.  The Global Cities Composite tracks 27 metro areas in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Over the past decade, approximately 46% of all commercial property transactions have occurred in one of the cities tracked by these indices.
The RCA CPPI Global Cities report is published quarterly.  Click here learn more.
Question about LinkedIn and Twitter
I can use your help.  Liz and I have been finding LinkedIn more and more helpful in getting the messages about our open-enrollment professional development workshops (Behavioral Presentation Coaching and Women's Leadership) out to the industry.  Yet, we have been very conservative about our posts - not wanting to add to all the 'noise' out there. However, Social Media 'experts' suggest you post, post, post.  LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. to be noticed.  I'm wondering if you have any reaction to those companies and individuals that appear continually on LinkedIn and Twitter.  Should we be 'marketing' ourselves more aggressively?  
Thanks for your thoughts!
New INREV CEO Lonneke Löwik whom I met when she first was INREV Director of Research and Market Information and then Director of Professional Standards between 2009 and 2014. 
J.D. Sitton who has joined J.P. Morgan Asset Management as Head of Client Strategy - Real Estate Americas
Andy Fox who has been promoted to CFO at Ackman Ziff Real Estate 
Amber Zhang who has joined The World Bank as Compensation Benefits Analyst
Mary Beth McCormick who is now Executive Director, Center for Real Estate, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University
Walt Clements now President and COO at Dean Realty Co.
On the Road...
Oct. 4-6: Dallas to conduct an in-house Behavioral Presentation Coaching workshop for one of our clients.
Oct. 11-12: Chicago to attend the NAREIM Executive Officer's Fall Meeting
Oct. 16-17:  Chicago to sit in with an industry band playing 'around' the PREA Fall Meeting.
Oct. 18-19: Dallas to conduct an in-house Behavioral Presentation Coaching workshop for one of our clients.
Week of Oct. 30: New York City to conduct an in-house Behavioral Presentation Coaching workshop for one of our clients
Nov. 4:  Nov. 4:  Attending the 2017 Gala of Mac Angels Foundation which enhances the quality of life for patients, family members and caregivers impacted daily by ALS, by providing the compassion, education and unique resources needed to manage the devastating effects of this disease.​ Honorees at this year's gala are Paul McEvoy (DRA Advisors) and his wife, M.C. To donate to Mac Angels please click here
Tentative Save The Date: Monday, December 4: Steve's Pretty Much By Now Annual Pizza / Drink Thing.  Joe G Restaurant, 244 W. 5th Street (Bet. B'way and 8th).  Starting at 6pm.  Come together with a bunch of your industry friends and make some new ones.  We usually get +/- 50 people.  You buy your own drinks...I supply the famous Joe G pizza (yes, with various toppings!).


Two Weeks in Tyalgum, New South Wales / NYC Professional Development Workshops

Two weeks in Tyalgum, New South Wales, Australia

I’ve found most people willing to share stories about themselves – if you ask them and truly listen. Many people in Tyalgum (Pop. 300) told me their stories.  While a lot of them had good ‘endings’ (although they’re still in the prime of their lives) there were many painful stories – of difficult family situations growing up, of disappointment, and of traveling around the world (or portions thereof) looking for the place that they want to call home – they have found that in Tyalgum.  I had a great time there, too!

As you can see from the photos below, it’s a very special geography and landscape. Every day started around 6:30am (as the sky just started showing light) when I walked, listening to the unbelievable birds, some talking to each other, some talking to me, some singing and one particular type sounding like it was laughing at me (or at the world in general).  Some of my new friends took me on day trips – one to Byron Beach and another to the regional art gallery. 

Tyalgum is about 45 minutes from the Gold Coast – this resort haven and lengthy beach (everything in Australia is big!) attracts folks on day trips to have lunch at Flutterbies Café.  There was a baby grand piano in one of the rooms at The Little Shop Next Door to the café, which they allowed me to play – playing piano has always been a great outlet for me.

While I’m not a huge morning coffee drinker (when I'm up I’m up - which is annoying for anyone around me that takes a while to rev up their engines), my morning ritual included a ‘Flat White’ at the Tyalgum General Store. While invented in NZ (Thanks John!) Flat White is a really popular beverage in Australia.  It’s something between a cappuccino and a latte and a nice way to start my day, sipping the coffee, sitting either inside or outside the store and writing in my journal.  It was terrific getting to meet and chat with some of the 7am regulars who stopped in for milk or the daily newspaper.  The stories I heard…

One fellow in particular I met on my first morning and got friendly with.  Curly, his nickname due to him being completely bald, seemed to do odd jobs around The General Store. He invited me one day to see where he lived.  We jumped in his pickup, with his giant puppy dog in the bed of the truck, and headed up a dirt road that I hadn’t discovered before.  On the way up he told me about the property and the history.  Then we got to his place and opened the gate – not the kind of electronic gate that movie stars and mafia people have protecting their homes – a simple metal gate (with no lock).  The property was terrific –with wonderful views.  The house, which Curly had built himself, was simple but rather elegant.  He took such pride, as he should, in telling me about how he built it and showed me the work in progress – a beautiful master bathroom with big windows looking out on the mountains. 

As a real estate guy, I was thinking about his property which is one of 21 ‘lots’ (each one being a good number of acres) in sort of a community (they share responsibility for the dirt road).  I asked Curly if there were any properties still available thinking that it might be great to own something there and one day build – but there was nothing available.  I learned that in the past four years, property prices have skyrocketed in Tyalgum and adjoining ‘towns.’  Some people have bought or built houses that are mostly vacation rentals (I don’t think Air BnB exists there!).

On the way down the hill back to town, he told me he wrote poetry and recited two or them to me…I’m shaking my head now with the emotion of remembering how beautiful they were – tears came to my eyes as I listened.  He shared with me that he had just turned 68 (we are both born in July) and that he only leaned to read and write when he was 51! A wonderfully special guy.

The music festival in Tyalgum, the genesis of my trip, was really terrific.  Most of the performers were solo guitar acts with a few bands interspersed.  The Heart Collectors, the band I met last year in the U.S. just by coincidence (are there ever any coincidences in life?), were the headline act.  One solo performer that I got to know pretty well is called Famous Will.  I loved the guy from the get-go.  He was on the TV Show The Voice in Australia and got pretty far along in the competition.

My whole experience in Australia was memorable and reminded me of how lucky I’ve been, to have traveled a bunch and meet people face2face in different countries and cultures.  While I used to feel that there could be world peace in my lifetime, I no longer have that belief – sadly.  However, we can continue to understand each other better – not through the Internet or social media or whatever – but by talking with those that are different from us, even if we aren’t able to physically visit their countries.  Only that way will we understand that we’re all just human beings - all with our own stories and simply trying our best.

Felix / Weiner Professional Development Workshops – New York City

On the topic of shameless self-promotion, Liz and I are excited to be kicking off our fall Professional Development Open-Enrollment Workshops in New York City.

Sept 25: Behavioral Presentation CoachingWorkshop / 1-5pm (Limit 6 participants). 

This multi-dimensional, interactive group workshop is specifically designed for professionals at all levels in the commercial / institutional real estate community who present:

… new business development pitches
... at internal meetings
... to existing clients
... on conference calls / webinars, etc.
… to investment committees
… at industry & networking events
… on teams with colleagues
... at annual investor conferences

Click here to register.

Sept 26: Women’s Leadership Workshop – exclusively for women in the commercial / institutional real estate industry / 12:30 – 4:30pm (wine and cheese networking immediately following the workshop)
Developing and enhancing the professional presence of women in the commercial / institutional real estate industry is the foundation of our 4-hour interactive program.

Women from more than 100 firms have already attended over 30 of our programs across the U.S. and in London.

Our dynamic, interactive sessions help you get noticed and stand out - for the right reasons. You will acquire presentation, communication and leadership skills to take you to the next level in your career - and beyond.
Through engaging exercises and thoughtful group discussions, new awareness will be raised of behavioral traits that may be detracting from your professional presence – you will leave the session with tips to avoid these pitfalls and with tools for continual self-development.
Click here to register.
Thanks for spreading the word about our workshops.
Liz and I sincerely appreciate your support!

Early morning

Flutterbies Cafe

Coolman Avenue

Famous Will

The Heart Collectors

Cafe Festival Stage

Incredible Pastries

The General Store 


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