As a free-spirited, dreadlocked design student, I never imagined I’d end up working in-house for a fiscally conservative, publicly traded company. (In those days I ran with a DiscMan, holding it flat in a desperate attempt to keep the CD from skipping) And yet, after a few years living the creative life in an ad agency job, I was ready for more structure and strategic thinking, so I seized the opportunity to work for a best-in-class commercial real estate development company.
Over ten years later, (my DiscMan long gone) I still work alongside many of the amazing people who were there when I started. A large part of my job involves developing marketing strategy to support our dealmakers - the sales team - as they work big deals with high stakes. I’ve learned many things by partnering with this crew over the years, and as my focus on ultrarunning expands, I realize some of the greatest attributes they demonstrate have rubbed off, and are making me a stronger competitor all the time.
In real estate development, it can take years to bring a vision to life. Designing, presenting and redesigning architecture. Working and re-working numbers. Meeting with community members, municipalities and neighborhood groups. Selling the vision to potential tenants. The level of detail and steps necessary to meet an end goal is daunting - which is exactly what I thought when I signed up for my first ultra. The end goal excited me, and the training plan was straightforward, but its duration and requirements were overwhelming. And yet, I achieved it by following the prescribed plan, one step at a time. Meeting a goal requires focus, determination and patience. Don’t lose sight of the vision, and remember why you started.
…but Be Relentless
“Time kills all deals” is a common phrase around my office, a motivating statement that underscores the importance of urgency if there’s progress to be made. Let a conversation linger too long and a prospect will move on. As a competitor, there are many feats I’m dying to achieve, but without a plan, they’ll remain a dream. Ask the question, “If not now, when?” - then answer it with confidence.
Appreciate Your Team
A bell rings in the office signaling the signing of a new deal, inspiring cheers and high fives. Construction on a new shopping center is complete, and there’s a party for the community, a party for the development team, a party for the dealmakers, parties for the engineers and architects and construction crew. I realize that no goal - not even completion of a solo ultramarathon - is accomplished without my people - friends and family who train with me, cheer me on, listen to my gripes about blistered feet, and feed my hanger. So yeah, when long periods of hard work culminate in the successful completion of a goal, there should be an effing party, and everyone deserves an invite.
Success is a Learned Habit
Success in commercial real estate is tangible and easily measured in things like returns, occupancy and income. You either make your numbers, or you don’t. Either outcome deserves evaluation, and may require some strategic adjustments, but there’s no personal struggle involved. This lesson has simplified my entire competitive outlook greatly - to compete successfully in any endeavor, set a realistic goal, work with determination to achieve it, evaluate the outcome, and move on. You’ve got many more accomplishments ahead of you.