While our second-year students were in Chicago for the ULI fall meeting, our first-year students were busy meeting with some heavy hitters in the local real estate community. Patrick Kassin shares some choice tidbits on his blog about the students’ tour of Stadium Place with Kevin Daniels, and Lei Wu writes in with an account of her conversation with Bob Wallace of Wallace Properties. Past, present, and future MSRE students would do well to take note of the valuable insights which Lei learned and wishes to share with other young professionals entering the field.
Thank you to all of these talented mentors for so generously sharing their time and wisdom with our students!
A Mentor’s Tips for Real Estate Industry New Professionals
Contributed by Lei Wu, November 10, 2013
Bob Wallace and I met at a NAIOP mentoring event on October 23, 2013. During our brief conversion, I learned that Bob is the CEO of Wallace Properties, which has been an influential real estate company in the Puget Sound region since the 1970s. Its projects are regular features on news media, such as the Puget Sound Business Journal. As successful as he is, Bob seems very down to earth and humble. I yearned to learn about more about him and his recipe for success. Maybe there is an ingredient or two that a newbie like me could borrow right away, which would start me off on the right foot. As swarms of mentees surrounded him at the event, I decided that a separate meeting with Bob later would be the way to go.
Bob generously agreed to meet with me on a sunny Friday morning. Our one and a half hour conversation was filled with stories of fun and wisdom. The recipe that I was looking for emerged through these stories. The two biggest ingredients that I have heard from these stories are: 1) focusing on your strengths and 2) giving back to the community.
Focus on your strengths. Between two potentially good career options: healthcare management consulting and real estate, Bob made the decision to focus on the latter early on. As Wallace Properties developed into a full-blown commercial real estate company over the years, focusing on strong areas allowed the company’s reputation to develop concurrently with growth. However, the areas that Bob has delegated for outside help are probably as significant as opportunities he has taken on. For example, Wallace Properties does not provide residential property management because this area is not regarded as one of its strengths. What does it do for its own multi-family properties? It hires good residential property management companies.
Give back to the community with what you are good at. “I sort of understand finance and real estate. Those are areas in which I have tried to give back to the community.” Bob’s efforts in a list of diverse community organizations show the point of his words. One example is his involvement as the past chair of the Major League Baseball Public Facilities District, also known as Safeco Field. Another example is Bob’s efforts with Puget Sound Air Transportation Commission as its chair. A quote that Bob used in emphasizing his point is ”we spend too much talking with ourselves.” You do not have to be a chair in order to get involved meaningfully in a community organization. Bob noted a success story about a young professional, who has been active in community organizations. Apparently, her active community involvement has helped her get to know and work with people. Not surprisingly, she does very well in her professional career.
Now, I have shared my learning from one mentor. I hope you can put it to good use in your future successes.