Dad, I will NEVER work in commercial real estate!

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Yes, those were my exact words to my father as I packed up my car and left my parents’ house, 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 I did go off and get my MBA and then land a consulting job in New York City, proving him wrong!   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.

Damn, maybe he knew what the heck he was talking about.  Within 15 months, I left that job in New York, headed to Florida to get my real estate license and become a commercial real estate agent of all things!  Over the next 25 years I would occasionally fall back into the trap of leaving CRE (COO of a telecom firm, CFO of a law firm) to only realize that this CRE thing was best for me.  I certainly learned my lesson never to be an employee again.

And yes, over the last 25 years he was the first person I would call when I needed advice.  Turns out he does know what he is talking about.  Now if only my two teenage kids would realize I know what I am talking about as well, or at least have a strong feeling I do.

Happy Father’s Day, dad.  Thanks for all the great advice.

4 Responses

  1. I’ve been in commercial real estate over 35 years and my 31 year old son joined me two years ago after being in product sales 8 years. There are a few times I wouldn’t wish it on anyone and times when it is absolutely the best profession known….! Thank you for your story with your dad.

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