• Book Review: Startup Nation

    Startup Nation – The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor & Saul Singer

    Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic MiracleImage Courtesy

    I full admit that I’m a startup junkie. I love to hear the rags-to-riches stories of entrepreneurs who had great ideas and then the guts to follow through on making something special. It’s the quintessential American capitalism story and I get my monthly fix in Inc and Entrepreneur magazines.

    So it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I read a good deal about startups. Entrepreneurship, venture capital, and the art of creating something from nothing are just fascinating, in my opinion. Oddly enough though, I got this book recommendation from David Birnbrey of Shopping Center Group.

    (When I am meeting with industry veterans to pick their brains and look for wisdom I almost always ask for good book recommendations. Startup Nation was Birnbrey’s recommendation.)

    I usually expect books that are country-specific to be overly patriotic or home country propaganda. This wasn’t like that. Startup Nation is basically just an examination of the culture created in Israel that has pushed this tiny nation to be one of the top 5 most innovative cultures on the planet.

    The author asked, “How can such a tiny country with such limited natural and human resources become such a technology and innovation giant?

    A large part of the answer, it turns out, comes from the IDF. The Israeli Defense Force is the national military that protects this small nation from hostile neighbors. Senor found out that the IDF culture is one of improvisation and questioning authority.

    For example, he found that in an air raid all planes and pilots will know the main objectives of the mission and do what is necessary to accomplish those objectives. If one plane is shot down or fails to hit a target, another plane will carry out the bombing run with the remaining explosives it has on board. Seems logical, right?

    Well in the U.S. Military (and apparently most national militaries), all planes are to stick to their objectives and ONLY their objectives. Any deviation from the prescribed flight pattern will lead to reprimand and possibly disciplinary action. Not so in the IDF.

    The IDF has created a system where you are encouraged to go “off-script” if it will lead to accomplishing the major objectives of the mission.

    The IDF also encourages questioning superiors.

    If you disagree with the judgment of a superior officer, question him or challenge her respectfully. The IDF seems to believe that leaders should have accountability to those they lead and apparently it’s not uncommon for privates to go over the heads of captains when they disagree on decisions or actions.

    So the IDF actively promotes a culture where all servicemen and women are asked to consider the broader goals of the military and to actively question authority. Senor argues that this culture leads to a fantastic startup culture once these soldiers enter the private business market. Since all adults in Israel are required to serve in the military, it’s easy to see why this mentality pervades the entire adult population of Isreal.

    While the IDF argument was my favorite theory, Senor provides ample resources and supporting arguments for why Israel has become so innovative. Be sure to check out his argument on why Charles DeGaulle was responsible for the rapid ascension of Israeli weapons technology and why Intel owes much of its chip-selling success to Israel.

    The reason I am including this book in our Commercial Real Estate Bookshelf, is that I think it is crucial to understand innovative culture. If we aspire to be next-generation leaders in the commercial real estate industry, then we had better gain a firm grasp on creating innovative cultures. If we do not innovate, we will be passed.

    So, if you aspire to inspire, then I recommend reading Startup Nation and taking note of how the leaders described in the book use deliberate and intentional practices to create environments conducive to some of the best work on the planet. If you can replicate that type of environment, there is no telling how far you and your company can go in the business.

    Happy Innovating!

    Startup Nation in Two Sentences: The tiny middle-eastern country of Israel has become a global hotbed for innovation and technology startups. This culture of innovation can be attributed to a national culture of questioning authority, improvisation, and a few other key historical events that have forced the Israeli people to innovate or perish.

    Pros: Solid arguments on the foundation of innovation, Good historical examples, Easy read and interesting anecdotes

    Cons: A bit redundant at times and can seem like an Israeli tourism magazine ad

    Target Audience: Those who aspire to create an atmosphere of innovation

    This book is best for: Business leaders looking to replicate an innovative culture

    Overall Rating: ♦♦♦♦ (out of 5)

    Here is the Amazon link to buy this book:


    Ratings Guide

    ♦ = Not worth your time

    ♦♦ = May be worth your time if it is specific to your industry or interests

    ♦♦♦ = A decent book and worthy addition to your library depending on your interests

    ♦♦♦♦ = A great book and an excellent addition to your library.

    ♦♦♦♦♦ = One of the all time classics. A must-read for anyone and everyone.

  • Commercial Real Estate Bookshelf

    “The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” – Mark Twain

    We wanted you to have a page to show all of our book reviews in one place. Here you will find our take on everything from commercial real estate to decision theory to general business and anything else that may be of interest to commercial real estate pros.

    Don’t see a book you’re looking for? Let us know in the comments and we will read it and review it!

    Commercial Real Estate

    The Real Book of Real Estate by Robert Kiyosaki

    Keepers of the Castle by Ferguson


    Psychology & Decision Theory

    The Black Swan by Taleb

    Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman

    Blink by Gladwell

    The Power of Habit by Duhigg

    Tipping Point by Gladwell

    Nudge by Thaler – Coming Soon

    Resilience by Zolli – Coming Soon

    General Business

    Good to Great by Collins

    How to Win Friends and Influence People by Carnegie

    Execution by Bossidy & Charan

    Atlas Shrugged by Rand

    Startup Nation by Senor – Coming Soon


    Periodicals & Trade Magazines

    Atlanta Business Chronicle

    Wall Street Journal

    Commercial Property Executive – Coming Soon

    Shopping Centers Today – Coming Soon

    Urban Land – Coming Soon

    Developments – Coming Soon

  • Best of the APJ

    Atlanta is THIS big!

    Since we have a few hundred articles posted on the blog section of the APJ, we thought it may be nice to have one place where we gather all of our best work. So below we have created an all-encompassing guide to our best article series. Enjoy!


    Commercial Real Estate Bookshelf

    Your guide to all of the books we have reviewed on the site that pertain directly and indirectly to commercial real estate.


    APJ Guide to Commercial Lending

    The ultimate resource for anyone wanting information on the commercial mortgage market in Atlanta!

    APJ Guide to Careers in Real Estate

    Everything you need to know about starting and growing your career in commercial real estate here in A-Town.


    APJ Building Profiles

    All the facts and photos you need of some of Atlanta’s coolest commercial properties

    APJ Executive Interviews

    Exclusive interviews from the leaders in commercial property in Atlanta.

    Basics of Commercial Real Estate

    New to our industry? Welcome to the family! Get started here on the basic topics covering property types, financing, and much more!

    Guide to Commercial Real Estate Websites and Blogs

    Starting your own CRE blog or website? Well we have tools, tips, and best practices all in one place for you!

    APJ Commercial Real Estate Technology Guide

    The place to find out about the best software, mobile apps, and gadgets in the CRE world!

    Millenial Manifesto

    APJ rants on a misunderstood generation.
  • APJ Morning Links 9.7.12

    Multifamily market improvements signals overall real estate health improvement.

    Public transit improvements means more jobs.

    What happens now for the new Falcons stadium?

    Deals in CRE are always harder than typical real estate. Why?

    Technology helps to have data readily available for CRE transactions.

  • Lessons from My First Foreclosure Auction

    On Tuesday of this week I was lucky enough to be able to attend a foreclosure auction on the courthouse steps. Actually, I had enough time to maker two auctions: Cherokee and Dekalb.

    For those of you who don’t know, every state has different foreclosure proceedings and the state of Georgia has its foreclosure auction on the first Tuesday of every month. They are located on the steps of the county courthouse in the county where the mortgaged property is located.

    So, I was there on Tuesday participating in these auctions. Here is what I noticed:

    There are good attorneys and . . . less good attorneys.

    Most of the people reading out the legal descriptions and conducting the auctions are attorneys employed by the lender. Some of them are patient, articulate, and conducive to a great auction. Others mumble, are impatient, and just want to leave. The good ones tend to get higher prices. The bad ones just annoy everyone.


    Most of the buyers that have success are institutional.

    You can tell after about 2 minutes that most of the major bidders are large equity funds from out of state. They put down their cell phone numbers when they win a bid, and you see mostly LA and NYC area codes. That would be discouraging to me if I were a small town, local bidder.


    Most of the work happens before the auction.

    All you get from the attorney is the legal description of the property, its address, a description of the mortgage, and some legal jargon about the nature of the auction. You have to know a ton about the property before you ever step foot on the courthouse steps. Otherwise you will have no idea what you are bidding on or what is a fair price. You may have thought this auction was a single day of work. No sir. It’s weeks of homework and research.


    There is a price-ceiling for most buyers.

    I didn’t hear much action above a certain level. That price “ceiling” is different for every county, but once you go above it there are zero bidders. For example, let’s say the ceiling is $300,000 in Forsyth County. If the lender has an opening bid of $350,000 on the property, I would anticipate ZERO competing bids. Maybe the ceiling is $350k or $200k in Fulton. I don’t know. What I do know is that there is a ceiling in every county and it would be interesting to analyze what those numbers are . . .


    Many of the bidders have rules.

    After the first bid, you will figure out that many of the institutional bidders have limits and thresholds to what they are permitted to do. Some are only allowed to increase the bid $100 at a time and ALL of them have specified max bids that they aren’t allowed exceed. It’s actually kinda annoying, but if you can figure out who they are and what rules they have to follow, you can probably run circles around them.



    Quite an interesting process. It’s incredibly inefficient and confusing, especially compared to Florida (who uses an online auction like eBay), but it is certainly interesting.

    If you ever go, drop me an email at Duke(at) and I will give you a few tips that I can’t share with the world right now. I am always happy to help (as long as you aren’t bidding against me!).

    Happy hunting!

    – Duke

  • APJ Morning Links 9.6.12

    The Good News? Lending to CRE investors for multifamily projects is increasing. The Bad News? Construction Lending is decreasing.

    What is urbanism? Does it really exist?

    Another list to ponder: Top 10 High Yield Mortgage REITs

    The Beltline will open, and soon, according to Atlanta Beltline officials who have set a dedication date.

    The cloud can hold lots of data. How does that work in the context of CRE?

  • CRE Sites: Finding Images

    Everyone loves a striking image

    If you follow web publishing and copy-writing, or if you surf the internet, you’ve probably noticed that most major online sites, blogs, and e-zines have high-quality images in their articles. Actually, an entire segment of the web is dedicated to great images, graphics, icons, and other visual displays. (Think Pinterest.)

    So, if your site is going to be successful, you probably need to have some evocative and interesting images on your site and throughout your blog posts. But unless you are an amateur photographer, you probably don’t have a library of thousands of license-free images stored on your computer.

    So, this article will help you find the images you need to make your commercial real estate website flourish under an array of great images.

    Let’s start with the basics –

    You  MUST credit any photo that you use that isn’t yours.  I can’t stress this enough. Some photographer somewhere created that beautiful/intriguing/amazing image and you need to give them credit.

    You can put a small comment at the end of your article or directly under the image itself (i.e. image courtesy Flickr user ABCDE), but whatever you do, make sure you credit the rightful owner of that image.

    Many images are not allowed to be reused for commercial use. You want to look for images that are published under a “creative commons” license. That basically means that you may use the image as long as you credit its original owner. Several sites will allow you to sort by license type and will save you the time of sorting through thousands of useless images looking for that creative commons license.

    Where to find these images, you ask? Well . . .


    Sites for Free Images

     Searches – Google, Bing, and other Search Engines

    Good place to start

    Probably the simplest way to find images for an article is to Google them. Unless you live in a cave, you probably know that Google will allow you to search for images the same way you search for websites or articles. Simply type in what you are looking for under the “Images” tab, sort through the results, find an image with a creative commons license, and you’re good to go.



    Be sure to look for “creative commons”

    Yes, there are other photo-sharing sites on the internet. But Flickr is still king of the castle as far as I’m concerned. Flickr has millions of great images from millions of unique users and the great thing about Flickr is its searchability. It will allow you to search images by keywords and then filter the results by those with a creative commons license. Very easy and effective and one of my favorite ways to get images on the cheap ( . . . free).


    My favorite site for “free” images

    These are two sites that have royalty-free and creative commons images that you can download. As I said before, you still need to credit the user that uploaded the image (i.e. its owner), but there are thousands of high-quality images here. I tend to use SXC more than MorgueFile, but both have plenty of great images that are available. Be sure to pay attention to the fine print to the side of the image you find for attribution and  credit.


    Sites for Paid Images

     Getty Images

    If you can afford it, it’s the best

    The creme-de-la-creme of image sites. This is where the pros shop. Pretty much all of the greatest photographs and images on the planet are here. But be warned, you’re gonna pay for them. There are millions of the best images ever created or captured, but expect to pay $50 minimum for a decent-sized image. For promotional materials and game-changing publications it is probably worth getting a Rolls-Royce quality image. This is the place to do that.


    iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Dreamstime

    The affordable version

    These are just three of the other paid-image sites and three that I have used before. I prefer Dreamstime because they seem a little cheaper than the other two, but you really can’t go wrong with any of these three options. They are much cheaper than Getty, but will not have the quantity or quality of Getty either. One observation, several of these sites tend to use points instead of dollars. That is, you pay $10 for 15 points and then Dreamstime charges you 12 points per image of a certain size. Maybe they think you are more open to spending points than dollars, but it all seems the same to me.


    Other Resources


    Best screenshot tool I have found

    One of my favorite free resources in called Jing. Jing is a screen-capture and video software that is free. The cool thing about Jing is that it is quick and easy to use. You just click the Jing button, drag across the image you want to capture, save it, then use it. Piece of cake. And it’s free! Give it a try and see if I’m lying.


    Those are the resources that we at the APJ have been using. Have you found any more? Please let us know in the comments and we will update this list as we get feedback from our readers!

    – Duke

  • APJ Morning Links 9.5.12

    The headline says it all: Top 10 CRE Stories for the Summer.

    CRE is not just all brick and mortar. Open park space can be a valuable asset.

    The Beige Book from the Federal Reserve notes positive movement for Atlanta’s commercial market.

    Apartments are seeing increase in occupancy and increase in rents.

    Are skyscrapers becoming a thing of the past in America?

  • APJ Morning Links 9.4.12

    Going green is not always friendly on the checkbook. Here are some of the challenges and advantages.

    High tech is going urban. New York and San Francisco are some examples.

    Leasing can be time consuming and cumbersome. takes the work out of leasing.

    Urban change presents challenges. Here is how national government deals with the problems.

    Simon Property Group vs. General Growth Properties: Round 2

  • APJ Morning Links 8.30.12

    Makeover for 400 and Lenox Rd interchange? Yes Please!

    Is the contract with Park Atlanta working? What changes need to be made?

    Midtown will be getting a new tenant: Suntrust Banks

    CMBS got through this summer far better than last.

    Location, Location, Location and Communication, Communication, Communication are keys to CRE.

    No Twitter Messages