Mike Moran, Managing Director of Cassidy Turley, tells a compelling story of how today's collaborative, non-hierarchical workplace influences office style. Recently, Moran hired two collegiate interns to "scrub" a contact list. In a traditional arrangement, Moran had given each intern his own cubicle, land line, and computer. Within hours, the hulking young men were huddled in one cubicle. Using their own cell phones, laptops, and websites "you've never heard of", the interns secured contact names, addresses, hobby and interests information, etc. for the contacts. According to Moran, the interns accomplished more in one week than the single employee who'd spent six months on the task. Moran likened this style of working to Twitter's notion of 'benching'; employees pull up a chair--any chair--to a table. There's little hierarchy, no corner office, and no privacy. The upshot? A smiling Moran says his next hires will be "hungry Gen Y-ers who know the true meaning of collaboration".
Vince Lombardi had it in spades. So do Sam Zell and Donald Trump. Resilience, the “ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change” as defined by Merriam-Webster, has become the new darling of desirable attitudes, and for good reason. Psychologists and business professors have zeroed in on resilience as a critical component of success. Thanks in part to Paul Stoltz, PhD and author of Mindset (#1 on the New York Times Book Review), the term ‘adversity quotient’ (AQ) has gained
traction in business nomenclature. Stoltz speaks of resilience as “a key factor of leadership and business success”. Stanford University’s “Resilience Project” concludes that “success comes because of, not in spite of, failure”. Apparently Harvard Business School concurs, as it has incorporated AQ Theory into its MBA and executive programs. Anecdotally, we know that property managers and leasing personnel persevere in the face of setbacks. With an optimistic mindset and ability to problem solve, these real estate professionals pursue results while others tire or become defeated. Southern California broker James Ashton exemplifies persistence. In his profile in the San Fernando Business Journal, Ashton says “I like the fact that I’ve got to call a guy 40 or 50 times; that gives me a challenge…” So, next time you think of giving up on solving a property issue or concluding a deal, consider summoning your inner Randy Pausch who said “brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something” (The Last Lecture).
What’s your story of resilience?
Stanford Professionals in Real Estate (SPIRE) hosted its inaugural Stanford Real Estate Hall of Fame Banquet on campus last Friday evening, Sept 30th. A veritable 'who's who' of real estate powerhouses filled the room to celebrate the first Hall o' Fame inductees, William Wilson III and Don Koll. These Stanford grads (Koll '55) and Wilson ('58) won't need name tags at any class reunions. Southern California-based, Koll built his company into the nation's second largest real estate manager with 150 million square feet under management. Koll Management Services was taken public in 1991 before it was sold to what is now CB Richard Ellis. Koll proved instrumental in building Cabo San Lucas into the golf and resort destination it is today.
Six hundred miles to the north, Bill Wilson developed more than 10 million square feet of innovative office space, including Oracle and Gap campuses, and the San Francisco Ferry Building (historic renovation with development). His philanthropic work included the iconic California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Wilson incorporated fitness centers, concierges and conference centers into developments long before they became commonplace. Wilson's focus on building strong, long-term relationshops stands as his hallmark. Disclosure: I worked for Bill's firm, William Wilson & Associates (no relation), for many years. He's the real deal--a visionary with integrity.
Last week's SF Chronicle headline read, ' Bay Area's traffic lull continues". Really? The article cited a study from the Texas Transportation Institute Urban Mobility Report which found that San Francisco has moved from an unenviable sixth place for time commuters spend sitting in traffic to seventh place, nationwide. The article went on to say that several years ago, Bay Area commuters experienced 74 hours per year in delayed traffic, while now it's down to 50 hours per year. The Chronicle cited highway improvements and the poor economy as culprits. I don't know about you, but it certainly hasn't been my experience during the past week as I've spent commute hours driving north on Highway 280 to San Francisco, from the Carmel coast to Menlo Park, and across the Bay Bridge to Concord, all at prime times. I may have accrued close to 74 hours of delay in these trips! That's an exaggeration but traffic, commuters and cars seemed ubiquitous. That had me wondering about the groundswell of activity that precedes an economic upswing. Could our packed freeways mean the economy is improving, putting many employees and cars on the road? That's good news for the office real estate market, where virtual offices are still a virtual thing and the tech companies swallow physical office space.
Last year I received a panicked call from a twenty-three year-old who had been hired as an assistant property manager in a commercial high-rise. Armed with a college degree, she'd already spent six mundane months answering telephone calls as a receptionist. Now, she'd been offered a chance to move into property management. It was all good until the head property manager stayed home sick and a broker called to request a tour in the building. Dutifully, the assistant unlocked the vacant suite. Peppered with questions from the prospective tenant, the assistant found herself speechless. She called me later that day. "Could I recommend a class?" Local schools offer loads of classes on theoretical real estate principles, but practical classes? Tough to find. Broker trainees can be hired into a formal training program or taken under an experienced broker's wing. For those in property management--whose leasing responsibilites are more peripheral--most rely on experience. Sometimes embarrassing experience, like the assistant's. I'm wondering what short cuts, if any, new employees can take to accelerate their leasing skills? Is it mostly dependent on a good mentor?