In 2016, my dad unexpectedly and quickly passed away. Every year on the anniversary of that day, it is an incredibly tough day. It was exceptionally hard to review this blog that I originally posted one month before he died.
However, as I read it now, I smile. And as I see more and more generations of commercial real estate experts in my travels, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit this blog.
“Dad, I will never work in commercial real estate!”
Yes, those were my exact words to my father as I packed up my beat up, white TR7 and left my parents’ house in Stony Brook, NY — headed to Durham, North Carolina to attend Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business back in the fall of 1985.
You see, my father, who had me reading leases when I was in my pre-teens — insisted understanding leases was a great way to understand business. Ha! – what did he know that an 11-year old didn’t? Then he had me work as a gopher, runner, general garbage collector for the various projects he was consulting on — before once again insisting that it’s better to work for yourself than be an employee.
Well, now I was much smarter – I was a college graduate, headed to Duke to get my MBA, and this time I knew (or at the very least had a strong feeling) that I knew more than my dad. So, off I went. I got my MBA, and then landed a consulting job in New York City — proving him wrong! Who the hell would want to work in commercial real estate? I had a Duke MBA and was working with a top-notch consulting firm in the biggest and best city in the world.
Well, that was until I realized I was nothing more than a pathetic employee, a number, and had a hard ceiling on my income…like, forever. Not only that, but my work was BORING!
Damn, perhaps my dad knew what the heck he was talking about after-all?
Within 15 months, I left that job in New York, and headed to Florida to get my real estate license and become a commercial real estate agent of all things! My first job was a runner for a startup CRE firm, making less than half of what I was making in New York — and I LOVED IT!
Over the next 30 years I would occasionally fall back into the trap of leaving CRE (COO of a telecom firm, CFO of a law firm), only to realize that this CRE thing was best for me. I certainly learned my lesson to never be an employee again.
And yes — for every year of my professional career, except for the past 2, my dad was the first person I would call when I needed advice. Turns out he did know what he was talking about, and was always smarter than I. My father was a wonderful man who led a phenomenal life. I miss you, Dad.