Category Archive for: ‘My Generation’

  • Why You Should Write About CRE

    A peaceful spot to write something . . .

    I find that I get a little push-back on writing (see: blogging) about commercial real estate. I hear excuses about “not enough time”, “nothing to write about”, “preserving intellectual property”, blah blah blah.

    Ok. Maybe those are true, but I doubt it.

    I won’t say that every other industry has embraced the blog as a viable form of information delivery, but several very mature industries have not only embraced but even openly encouraged blogs centered around the industry’s trends, challenges, and news.

    Take MotleyFool as an example. Or The Street. Both are content-rich, blog-centered sites that report and opine on the high-finance industry. It doesn’t get much more white-collar than that.

    And I would argue that the industry is the better for it. The constant flow of information and ideas from these two sites alone can change the way a person or firm operates and interacts with the financial industry.

    So, let’s bring it back home.

    Writing is wonderful and beneficial. Neato. But why should you write about CRE?

    Here are five (not-so-obvious) reasons why (and I am going to assume that you are a commercial real estate professional):


    1. Connectivity

    This may be obvious to you, but when I first started writing online I didn’t realize how much I would need to connect with the online CRE community. Through research for articles and building my social media profiles, I ran across some tremendous resources. Learning from people like Coy Davidson, Duke Long, The CRE-Apps Team, and the 42 Floors guys has VASTLY increased my knowledge base on the fundamentals of global CRE. I can’t imagine any other way that I would have been able to grow my tool kit as quickly or thoroughly as I have through gaining connections with the online CRE community.


    2. Knowledge

    This plays heavily into Connectivity, but I want to point out that through my direct research for articles I have been forced to understand concepts that I may have glossed over in business. Just taking the time to research bankruptcy has made me decently knowledgeable on the differences between Chapters 7, 11, and 13 in US bankruptcy court. It has been both fascinating and rewarding and I’m not sure I would have taken the time to study it if I hadn’t wanted to present it clearly and concisely on my site. Maybe the best way to say it is that directed research for an article is the best way I know to gain depth (as opposed to width) of knowledge in a subject.


    Tempted? I am.

    3. Retention

    One concept I have come to understand is that true thought leaders on the web don’t repackage information. They aren’t just regurgitating news from the local paper. Thought leaders create new, original, and interesting content in a palatable, concise format. To do so, they have to read, interpret, and understand the news and information that crosses in front of them. They need to gain an applicable understanding of the subject in order to present it well. I think that leads to retention (it has for me). It’s very similar to school. Remember, those advanced statistical questions you had to memorize for calculus? Yeah, me neither. What I do remember is the papers I wrote and studies I did that forced me to take the info, interpret it, and bend it to my thesis. I retained that knowledge and could discuss it today. Memorization is intellectual junk food. You don’t retain knowledge that you memorize or redeliver. You retain knowledge that you interpret and apply. So I have found that creating original content will make unique concepts stick with me for substantially longer than news stories that I retweet.


    4. Clarity

    This one goes hand-in-hand with brevity. Web-based articles shouldn’t be novels. They are brief, fact-filled, and to-the-point. The web isn’t a friendly place for rambling. So to create good content, you need to develop the ability to present ideas clearly in as few words as possible. That forces you to think clearly about the concept and find a creative way to present it with brevity. What you will find is that you will start forming opinions and thoughts through this process that are clear and concise. Think of the brightest people you know. Do they drone on and on about subjects they discuss with you? Probably not. They have clear, pithy truisms that they dispense quickly and sharply. I aspire to that. I want to present quick sharp thoughts eloquently and I find that the more I wrote and opine on my site, the clearer and sharper my opinions become. I want you to have that as well.


    5. Control

    This is an open forum. Write about what you want to write about. As long as you aren’t bad-mouthing anyone or being overly profane, spread your wings. I’m not your momma. Do what you want. As long as it pertains to CRE, rock on. How many other forums in your career allow that type of freedom and creativity? Not many, I’m betting. I find it very satisfying to know that there is a forum with very few rules where I can create new ideas, projects, or concepts for my industry. It’s a lot of fun.


    So, there it is. My 5 not-so-obvious reasons why you should write about CRE. Can you think of any others? Think I am off my rocker? Let me know in the comments!

    – Duke

    photo Courtesy SXC user Ydiot

  • Millenial Manifesto: Working Environment


    I was raised to work on multiple, varied projects quickly.

    I had an epiphany about myself and (potentially) my generation this week and I want to share it with you briefly.

    When I turned 8 years old, the pace of my life started picking up. That’s when I started playing football, basketball, baseball, and any other “ball” sport.

    Being the son of two hard-core Christians, I also went to church at least every Sunday and Wednesday and usually had some type of youth group event every week.

    I also begin reading books more regularly and began to get into a routine of nightly homework.

    The point is, I did several different things in one day. On a typical day, I might get up, go to school, have an afternoon practice, have an evening church event, do my nightly homework, and then read or watch TV until bed. That’s 6 different events in 6 different environments.

    High school was even more involved. Morning lifting for football, 6 periods of school, afternoon football/baseball/basketball practice, evening church or worship/FCA event, nightly homework, and then bed. Again, 6 different activities in 6 different places.

    Moving on to college, the schedule looked something like this:

    • Get up, fool
    • Run or lift
    • Class until early afternoon
    • 3 hours of baseball practice
    • Evening Worship Service
    • Homework
    • Family Guy with the Roommates
    • Bed

    So, by my count, that’s 7 or 8 things in 7 or 8 places.

    Something else I would like to point out is that I went to a Liberal Arts college. So I was studying a diverse array of subjects for each of my four years. I was an Econ Major, Spanish Minor, and had a pretty serious concentration in New Testament Studies and History. That’s 4 different subjects I studied heavily almost every day and that doesn’t even include the courses I took on Galileo, Chemistry of Art, Beginners Japanese, etc. The point is, my studies in school were widely varied and diverse.

    If your elementary, middle, and high schools were anything like mine, you know what this is like. First period is biology, followed by anthropology, followed by calculus, followed by English, and on and on and on. In school I jumped from subject to subject in short one hour or 90 minute bursts (and I bet you did, too). The above line-item of “Go to class” included very different experiences every hour or so.

    Ok. So what’s the point?

    The point is: I spent 15 of the first 22 years of my life learning how to accomplish great things through short bursts of intense focus. Since I only had 50 minutes every day to learn AP Calculus, I had to learn to adjust my temperament to an extreme and intense focus for a short period of time, then move on and do it in the next class/practice/event.

    Yeah. So?

    So, then I graduate from college and I am looking for a job (because that’s what you are supposed to do, right?). And guess what these employers are selling?

    It goes something like this:

    Duke, we want you to sit at your desk for 10 hours every day and do the same thing all day! Doesn’t that sound great?

    Come again?

    You are basically asking me to do the exact opposite of what I have been trained to do for 15 years. That’s like telling me to 1) take the only way you know to accomplish diverse tasks,  2) forget it, 3) do it OUR way, and then 4) be grateful for this generous offer.


    Let me out of this conference room!

    I’m not here to turn the business world on its ear, but can you see the lunacy is this? I understand that there are certain pre-existing constructs in every work environment, but asking someone to be productive in a manner that they have never been productive before is a little silly.

    I will get into ways an employer can configure the work day to play to Gen Y’s strength and productivity, but for now I just wanted to point out the fundamental conflict between the way I was raised to accomplish and the way I am asked to accomplish at work.

    Think about it this way:

    What do admissions officers at universities look for in prospective students? It’s not just about the highest test scores or grades. They (allegedly) look for the proverbial “well-rounded” student, right?

    How about employers? When McKinsey is scouring Ivy League campuses are they looking for the smartest nerd in the business school with the highest grade? Nope. They want a young man or woman who has demonstrated excellence in several areas at the same time. They want someone who is “well-rounded“, too.

    So, Mr. Employer, let me see if I have this straight. You want me to demonstrate that I have achieved excellence in multiple areas at the same time so that I can come and do one thing for you, in the same place, all day?

    Middle school was structured to get me ready for high school where a high value is placed on being well-rounded. High school gets me into a college where the admissions office heavily favors well-rounded students. College gets me ready to enter the workforce where the best employers want the most excellent students that are well-rounded. But once I enter the workforce I’m supposed to specialize at one single task all day every day and be the best at that.

    Hmmm . . .

    Am I the only one confused by this? Is anyone else struggling in this battle? Let me know in the comments and I’ll comment back.

    – Duke


  • Millenial Manifesto: Money



    Don't do it! Don't do it!

    I may be overestimating my own uniqueness here, but money really isn’t THAT big of a deal to me.

    It’s not that I don’t appreciate the value of money and I’m not trying to imply that I am somehow above the desire for money. I just try to use money as what it is: a medium.

    I don’t love money. I love travel. I love space to sprawl out in my house. I’d love to pay for my kid’s college and private high school. Money can get me those things. So I work to increase the amount of money I earn every year.

    I know that distinction may seems obvious, but I am afraid I have met too many people chasing money for the sake of having more money to believe that everyone shares my perspective.

    Along those lines, I wanted to share a bit of an insight into my thoughts on money. I’m not sure I have the exact same perspective as fellow Millenials, but I have heard enough to know that I’m not far off. So, I call this part of the Millenial Manifesto, but, as always, I don’t claim universality for my views.

    My money isn’t mine – The first thing you should know about my relationship with my money is that I don’t believe it belongs to me. As a Christian, I believe that everything that I have been given belongs to God. I’m not trying to tell you what you should believe or where you should go to church. But, I do derive my views on money from the Biblical perspective and therefore think of myself as the money’s steward rather than its owner. I have found that thinking of myself as a steward of God’s money helps me maintain perspective on the importance of “my stuff.”

    With that in mind, let me share with you my basic goals for money:

    1. Provide for my wife. My wife is the (second) greatest thing that ever happened to me and I want to be able to show my affection through trips, jewelry, and any other nice things that might show her how much I cherish her. That isn’t to say I buy every pair of jeans that catch her eye or that we need to hop on a jet to Bhutan every 30 days, but I like to show her that part of the reason I work for my money is to provide for her comfort.

    2. Provide for the brood. I don’t have any kids yet, but I plan to. If I am blessed enough to have little Dukes, I want to be able to send them to private school, keep them clothed and fed, and give them some life experiences before college that will shape them into great young men or women. Senior year at Westminster costs about $20k per year right now and in 20 years, with 3% inflation, that will be $35,070 per year. So, I need $35k in extra income, per child, to simply pay for a private education in Atlanta. Then . . .they go to college. Sigh.

    3. Give generously. I believe in tithing. 10% of every dollar I make goes to some charitable organization or my church. I’m told that 10% of $1,000,000 is more than 10% of $50,000. Gifts can change our city for the better. I want to be in a position to change someone or some organization through focused charitable giving.

    4. Save for a rainy day. My wife and I currently have 6 months of paychecks saved up in an Emergency Fund in case the worst happens. I had to bite into that a little last year when I was working for myself and we have almost completely rebuilt it. My wife and I both sleep better at night knowing that no matter what happens tomorrow (excluding Armageddon or Dec 12, 2012), we will be covered financially for a little while.

    5. See some of God’s green earth. Some of the greatest memories of my life have been hiking up a trail in the Swiss Alps, strolling the shorelines of the Oregon Coast, and gazing in wonder over the edge of the Grand Canyon. To paraphrase Meet Joe Black, I want to have some nice pictures from my life when my time is up.

    6. Live in the city. Fact: Living in Atlanta is more expensive than living outside Atlanta. I know that it costs more, but I will gladly pay the premium to live here instead of Cumming, Grayson, Kennesaw, or McDonough. If I had to sit in that traffic every day of my working career, I would go insane and assault defenseless kittens. I gotta live in town. If you care about kittens at all, don’t make me live in the suburbs.

    You did it. I saw you.

    7. Do what I WANT to do, not what I have to do. I want to get to a point in my career where I am doing what I love to do because I love to do it. Not because I need the money or because there are no other ways to pay the bills. I want to get paid to do what I would gladly do for free. Another off-shoot of this would be controlling my time. I want to get to a point where I can work when, where, and how I want so I have plenty of time to spend with family or coaching baseball.

    8. Elbow room. You probably wouldn’t call me petite. I am 6’7″ tall and about 235 lbs. Ceiling fans and doorways are my enemies. I would love to have a point in my life where I can come home to a house where I don’t have to duck under doorways, bend down to get in the water in the shower, strain my back to bend down to the sink/counter, turn sideways to get into my bed, etc. I’d just like a little more head and elbow room in my home. That probably means I need to build my own home in town (see point 6), but so be it. I don’t think that’s an outlandish request, but we’ll see.

    9. Own land. This one is pretty far down on the list because it isn’t a huge priority, but this seems to be an inherent desire of mine. I just love open space and raw land in GA. Maybe it’s because I grew up running around the pastures of my grandparents’ farm, but I love having room to roam. This is pretty similar to point 8 and may be another way of saying how I like elbow room.

    BONUS*** (This one is just in case I re-invent the toilet and become a gajillionaire)

    10. A Plane. This is my pie-in-the-sky, best case scenario. If I strike it rich and become wealthy beyond my dreams . . . I’m buyin’ a plane. Keep your mansions. Keep your Aston Martin. Keep your private island. I want a plane. After reading points 5, 8, and 9, you can probably guess why. I love traveling. I hate flying. I have never slept on a plane in my life and cross-continent trips are torture. In addition to being outrageously tall, I have broad shoulders. So, I am constantly touching the dude next to me. He usually smells. The whole experience is just terrible and I want to be able to control the entire experience for myself. So, you heard it here first. When Duke becomes a billionaire, he’s buying a plane. (Wakes up from dream. Looks around confused and smelling fat men on planes)

    There you have it. Those are my sometimes reasonable goals for my financial future. Notice that none of them compared my wealth or status to my peers. That doesn’t matter to me. What I care about is my family and our lifestyle.

    What did I miss? Do you have any of your own to add? Leave them in the comments I will comment back!

    – Duke

  • Random Thoughts


    Crunched for time early this week, so I will stay random.

    1. I realized this weekend that CRE pros are like actors. Just because you can make some money on a deal doesn’t mean you should take it. You want to be Daniel Day-Lewis, not Eddie Murphy. (Sorry Eddie! We cool?)

    2. I still need to be convinced that there is demand for a BILLION DOLLAR gambling complex in Norcross. It’s a cool idea, but Norcross? I’m from Gwinnett County, but Norcross? We’ll see.

    3. Shout out to DDR for the SetUpShop concept they have been experimenting with here in Atlanta! Basically it’s like co-working space for retailers (kinda), and apparently they are killing it with those favorable lease terms.

    4. Who’s jacked up about the Brookhaven cityhood vote? I’m ashamed to say that I have no opinion since I don’t know enough about the pros and cons. What a terrible resident I am. maybe I should write a post about both sides . . . .


    5. Decatur might as well be Macon. There is no direct way for me to get there from my home in Brookhaven or my office in North Buckhead. I know they have tons of tasty treats and may be the most walkable part of Atlanta, but I could get to the airport in 20 minutes and get on a plane to Dubai before I arrived in downtown Decatur.

    6. There has been some speculation that I am Duke Long‘s son. It is a fabrication. “The Duke” is my pseudonym that is used to preserve the liability of any of my employers or clients who disagree with my posts. My real name is Ron Mexico (and if you don’t get that joke then you ain’t from ’round here).

    7. By the way, if you haven’t checked out yet, do it. If you are under 40, it will get you jacked up about the future of tech in our industry. If you are over 40, you will probably be unimpressed and mutter something about face-to-face interaction blah blah blah.

    8. I’m only half kidding about the over 40 thing. I have found many boomers and older Gen X-ers embracing and encouraging technology as a medium to transform and streamline our industry. But I find still more in that age bracket who like to talk about walking to work in the snow, life before the internet, and reading proformas by candlelight. Personally, I love when people refuse to embrace tech changes. That clears the path for me to have an obvious advantage over them.

    9. I’m reading The Power of Habit and it’s pretty good. Look for a review in the next week or so, but after reading most of it I still submit that “He with the best habits, wins.”

    10. I just hired a virtual assistant to help manage my schedule and research tasks and she has already saved me a tremendous amount of time over the last few weeks. It’s amazing how much I can accomplish when I don’t have to focus on the stuff I hate (research, data entry, paperwork, etc.). She is selectively looking to add clients. So, if you are interested, post in the comments and I will hook you up.

    That’s your weekly dose of random, kids. Now leave Daddy alone and let me get back to causing trouble.

    – Duke

  • CRE Resource –

    Atlanta W Rooftop 04

    Just ran across this site last night and I love it. Check it and and let me know what you think.

    CRE Apps is a site dedicated to commercial real estate technology and software applications.

    Some of my favorite articles are:

    5 Must Have iPhone Apps for CRE Investment Brokers

    Rent Post: Property Management the Way it Should Be

    Ten Eight: Yelp for Office Buildings

    DropBox vs iCloud

    Need Comps? Get $5 Trillion on your iPhone

    No Siri? No Problem

    TourWrist: This App is All in the Wrist

    Photosynth for iPhone: Virtual Tours Galore

    GeoMeasure: Become a Surveyor Overnight

    PDF Expert on the iPad

    Real Estate Back of the Envelope App

    Hands on with  LinkedIn CardMunch Biz Card Scanner

    ProspectNow Mobile App

    Augmented Reality for Commercial Real Estate

    LinkedIn Real Estate Pro by Rofo

    Google Maps Floor Plans

    DocScanner App

    CoStarGo iPad App

    Loopnet Mobile App

    BatchGeo Mapping App

    360 Panorama by Occipital


    Keep up the great work and we will add CRE-Apps to the RSS feed on the right!

    – Duke









  • 42 Floors

    Check these guys out. They are taking the San Fran office market by storm using the right integration of technology and aesthetics in the website.

    I will give some more input on their model and site later, but for now I wanted to pass along some press and praise for the guys in SF:

    Washington Post Article

    SF Gate Article

    TechCrunch Article

    VentureBeat Article

    More to come.

    – Duke


  • Random Thoughts


    I have hit a wall this afternoon and need to unload.

    You get to reap the benefits.

    It’s random time!

    1. I think ABC, Fox, NBC, et al, need to stop creating CGI-heavy show concepts. Any time I see a dinosaur or magical creature in one of those shows that is VASTLY inferior to Spielberg’s creations in Jurassic Park from 18 years ago, I lose a little, er, a lot, of respect for network execs.

    2. Now I feel old. Jurassic Park blew my mind back in the day and it is 18 years old. Jurassic Park is old enough to buy cigarettes.

    3. While we are on the topic of Spielberg movies, JAWS is the scariest movie of all time. Period. If you have seen that movie, it is in the back of your mind every time you put a foot in the ocean. You may have the occasional bad dream about bleeding walls or demon-possessed children, but the threat of a graphic shark attack is always there when you are in the ocean.

    4. I don’t think I could ever live in VA Highlands. Since I’m not a single guy looking to walk to bars, it has little appeal. I love the older houses, but the roads are tiny, the parking is the worst in the city, everywhere is crowded, and it just smells like hormones. No thank you.

    5. Similarly, what happened to Decatur? That place is awesome. When I was growing up, Decatur was the putrid swamp donkey of Atlanta neighborhoods. You only went there if you had a relative who made you. Now, there is a solid collection of unique restaurants (Iberian Pig!) and cool spots to hang out. It might be one of Atlanta’s most walkable neighborhoods. What the flip?

    6. I like the idea of Jamestown’s pop-up park near John Marshall. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but it’s nice to see a huge CRE investment firm creating public green space. Seems very Mayberry, or something.

    7. Speaking of Jamestown, I saw that they got the redevelopment deal of the year in the Business Chronicle for Ponce City Market. How can you get an award for a deal that isn’t finished? You get awards for good ideas? If so, I better get some medals for those winners I am cooking up for 2025!

    8. Does any one else miss watching the X-files? I grew up watching Mulder and Scully, and I miss them a little.

    9. My boss said “if you are a developer for long enough, you will eventually file for bankruptcy. ” Hmmm. Ok. Then I won’t be a developer. I will be a real estate investor who happens to develop from time to time. Take that!

    10. The borrower really is slave to the lender. Trust me. I have first hand knowledge of what happens when creditors and debtors face off. Debtor = Bug. Creditor  = Windshield. Careful what debt you get yourself into!

    Have a killer weekend.

    – Duke

  • Goal Setting: The Ideal Day


    This may be unique to me, but I think an integral part of setting goals for yourself should include your time.

    That is, I think you should plan for what you want your ideal day to look like in addition to what you want to accomplish or who you want to be.

    Most of us focus on deals we want to do, money we want to make, or roles we want to acquire as our career progresses. But, how many of us plan for how we want to spend our time in an ideal work setting?

    Maybe the simplest way I could ask it is as follows: Suppose I were to give you $100 Million, no strings attached, and you realize that you still want to have a career. How would you spend your time in those work days?

    For this thought exercise, let’s assume that careers have more intrinsic value than the basic need to make money. People like you and I are accomplishment-oriented and, as the great JoePa noted, there is only one major life event after retirement. We don’t stop being achievers when we have a bunch of money. Think about it. Think of all the start-up and business success stories you have heard about the entrepreneur who struck it rich and made so much money that they never had to work again. How many of them actually never worked again?

    Maybe 5%? Maybe less?

    Most of us love the rush of working and accomplishing things. That basic desire may change slightly, but it doesn’t fade when we get rich. It is still there and even the one-hundred-millionaire will want to work toward some goal every day.

    So, for this exercise, let’s assume you have enough money to do whatever you want whenever you want to, but you still yearn for accomplishment and efficiency. How will you spend your day?

    Do you see why this is a crucial question to ask of yourself? If you only focus on deals, money, and titles, you will work yourself to death and ruin your health and your relationships. I think you need to build some time into every day working on your life plan, not just your business plan.

    Consequently, what are the things you would like to do every day to have an ideal life? If your life were “perfect”, what would you spend your time doing every day? I’m not trying to dig too deep philosophically, but if you don’t think about what the perfect version of your life would look like, then how do you know what to aim for?

    So, back on point, what would your perfect work day look like?

    Here are a few questions to consider . . .

    What types of things would you accomplish?

    What time would you wake up every morning?

    How many hours of sleep would you get?

    How would you spend the majority of your time?

    How much of the day would you spend in the office vs your home?

    How often would you be on the phone?

    How much time would you spend meeting with people?

    How much time would you spend with family?

    How would you fit in your exercise?

    What else would you like to spend your time doing?

    How many days per week would you work?


    All of these answers are unique to each person and no one can tell you what you “should” be doing. You have to figure that out for yourself and I can almost guarantee that these answers will change over time as your temples gray. But you MUST have a plan on how to spend your time.

    When the shadows creep in, all we have is a collection of moments in our life. The greatest regret of a dying man may be to look back at his life and realize he wasn’t intentional with the way he used his moments. Those are the times when you hear men talk about “wasting their life.” That’s just a way of saying they wasted the time they were given on this earth since they didn’t intentionally plan how to spend those moments.

    Don’t you be like that. Have a plan for your time and how you want to spend it. I bet that you will realize that there are changes you can make today in your current life stage to get you closer to that ideal day. You certainly don’t need $100 Million to make the first steps in that direction.

    Take a few baby steps today and every year for the next 5 years and I am betting that you will find yourself much closer to that ideal day than you ever imagined you could be. You may just find that the $100 Million is an irrelevant consideration and that control of your time is more valuable to you than a huge paycheck.

    Lest I be accused of being a philosopher, here is my practical application. My ideal work day and week is below. Take note of how much time I spend doing each of my activities and how I answered the above questions. That should tell you more about my priorities and lifestyle desires than any long-winded rant could. I put a few notes at the end of the schedule.

    And here it is (click to enlarge) . . .

    Notes –

    7.5 hours of sleep every night. Reading at least twice a day. Running everyday. Goal time at the beginning and end of every week. Answer emails ONLY 3 times per day. Plenty of practice on delegating tasks and organizing. Three networking lunches every week. Three afternoon lifts every week. Mentoring or coaching every single weekday. Two bible study/small group sessions every week. Date with the wifey every week. About 11 hours every week with the family in the evenings. 40 1/2 hour work week with most of my time spent on making deals, driving markets, and visiting properties.


    Seems like a fun week and, frankly, a very efficient one. Notice how my goals conform to this ideal schedule. I need to find a role in which I am a deal-maker by phone and in person. I need to develop my organizational and delegation skills. I need an office that is close to a gym and close to my home. I need outlets through which I can coach and mentor young men (or my children). I need to stick to my networking in order to know the right people to call and visit property with during my day. And on and on and on. I can glean crucial data points to aim for now that I have this written down and recorded. If this is how I want to spend my days, I can now figure out what skills I should acquire and what contacts I need to make in order to get there.

    Anyway, that’s what my ideal day and week look like. What does yours look like?

    Visit this site and download the printable hourly calendar (I downloaded it to Word for editing). Fill out what your ideal week would look like and then take notes on what you are spending your time doing. How does that align with your priorities? Can you implement any of these changes right now? As I said above, start working toward that goal little by little and you may find that you have an ideal schedule before you ever become a high-powered executive. You may even want to show this to your boss. If he or she is a good boss, they will understand what you are doing, why you are doing it, and they will help you move toward your goal.

    Use this tool and these ideas in any way you please. Let us know what you come up with in the comments and remember that your time is your most precious resource and if you don’t plan how you are using it you may look back and wonder what might have been.

    Happy planning.

    – Duke

    (Hat tip to for the great, free resource)

  • Book Review: Keepers of the Castle

    Keepers of the Castle:Real Estate Executives on Leadership & Management

    Image Courtesy

    Image Courtesy


    In Keepers of the Castle: Real Estate Executives on Leadership & Management, author William J Ferguson argues that all great leaders in real estate share a few common threads in their leadership styles. I say he argues, but really he allows them to argue for themselves. In essence, KOTC is just a series of interviews with current and former executives in the real estate industry. Ferguson writes 10 or 15 pages to describe the common threads, but just ends up re-quoting the executives he’s about to quote in depth. He really doesn’t write much himself at all. Therein lies the strength and weakness of this “book.”

    As an aspiring leader in this industry, I find it infinitely fascinating to read the advice and opinions of the champions of real estate. I sincerely treasure the wisdom they are able to share from the triumphs and failures that have spanned long careers. I am a bit of a knowledge-junkie and learning from the lessons of others is always a wise use of my time.

    On the other hand, this “book” doesn’t really read like a book. It reads like a newspaper. Because each chapter has a different theme, many of the interviewees have multiple entries in the book and each chapter has ten or twenty different mini-sections. Jim of Company A will talk for 3 pages about hiring the right people and then Tom from Company B will talk for 5 pages about compensating people. Long story short, there is no flow at all. When I say flow, I mean that there is no cohesive sense of story or purpose from page to page or chapter to chapter. It’s structured like a collection of 150 short stories.

    Again, the stories, anecdotes, and pearls of wisdom are fascinating. But the choppiness and lack of flow between each interviewee makes this a difficult and cumbersome read. You will never get lost in the world of this book as you may in a Michael Lewis book or even Peter Drucker. It’s too choppy and segmented for that and I found myself struggling to finish it.

    All in all, I would say that this book is a worthwhile addition to the library of the CRE professional. But I would recommend this as a bathroom reader or daily devotional. Don’t try and struggle through a chapter a day or you will find yourself stifled and lost.

    Plus, Ferguson committed the cardinal sin of combining the home building industry with the commercial real estate industry. That always bothers me.

    Keepers of the Castle in Two Sentences: Most of the successful leaders in the real estate industry share a few traits in common in their story. If you take time to hire the right people, compensate them fairly, treat them well, and keep the needs of the customer/client as a paramount issue, your company will enjoy success to the fullest.

    Pros: Very interesting advice, tons of big names from the industry, good ideas worth knowing

    Cons: Too choppy, segmented, and difficult to read for pleasure

    Target Audience: Aspiring real estate executives or executive teams

    This book is best for: 30 and 40 somethings in real estate who want to know 1) how to lead their organization and 2) what truly matters on the road to business success.

    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.

  • Random Thoughts


    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    I hope you enjoy ONE romantic day out of 365! (What an odd holiday . . .)

    Anyway, no time for a full article, so I am going to empty my head of this randomness and share these morsels with you:

    1. I think I may need to bring tie clips back into fashion. This half-windsor just ain’t getting it done and that little tail that hangs down behind the front of my tie just refuses to cooperate. I don’t care if they have been reserved for 80-year-olds in the past. I’m bringing back the tie clip!

    2. Along those same lines, can we bring back the word Coltish? It means playful, unruly, wild, frolicsome. What a cool word. Let’s call unpredictable people “coltish” from now on. Ready . . . go . . .

    3. Is the Real Housewives of Atlanta still on air? If so, can we cancel it? I would be willing to raise some funds to pay off the network and the “wives” so that people stop associating them with my city. The Walking Dead is a much better representation of our city.

    4. What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least TRY to do something remarkable? -John Green

    5. I don’t understand the concept of traffic. If everyone who drives simply goes 5 miles per hour over the speed limit at all times that they are moving, why does traffic even exist? Who are these brake-happy people that insist on ruining everyone else’s day?

    6. I have heard it said that you have to specialize to succeed in CRE. Can I make a career of being a generalist who simply hires the best specialists in the market? I don’t need to know everything about shadow-anchored retail in Omaha. I just need to know who does and then pay him/her for his/her expertise. Maybe my specialty can be finding specialists!

    7. I need to figure out a way to map topography in 3D. Does anyone know how to do that? Can AutoCAD handle that?

    8. Would it be possible to have a day-care and dog day-care in a non-single-tenant office building in Atlanta? I know you can do it at a corporate headquarters where the needs of the employees are met on the campus, but could you tap into a large enough market of parents and pet-owners to justify the rent you would have to pay?

    9. I have been listening to Atlas Shrugged on CD since October. Most audio books take me 2 or 3 weeks. This beast is a marathon and I am only on disk 41 of 50.

    10. I have found that I would always rather barter for something than pay for something. Maybe that is obvious to everyone else, but I like knowing that I have something of value to offer other vendors besides my (extremely limited) cash. Even if money were no object, I think I would still prefer bartering to paying cash.

    That’s my random fix for the week. Feel free to get random on your own in the comments.

    – Duke

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