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Time Travel; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

I’ll bet that each of us has said, at one time or other, ‘I wish that I knew then what I know now.’ If you haven’t yet, you will. And I can promise that if I had a Way Back Machine, I would do more than catch a David Bowie show on the Ziggy Stardust Tour; I would give myself some great advice. Sadly, the best that we can do now is to submit our wisdom and musings to cyberspace.

I would tell my younger self that, as a developer, you are a CEO. And as such, you need to develop a CEOs toolbox. But what does that mean? Within our individual toolboxes are both hard and soft (as you may have guessed) tools. A hard tool would be the ability to run a proforma, whereas a soft tool would be speaking ability (or presentation skills). The difference between the two is that you acquire hard tools and develop the soft ones. I’ve found that the real differentiators in one’s life and career, come down almost solely to the soft skills (As an aside, in the near future, we will discuss how one of the primary failures of the real estate development industry is that it has shifted to hiring for and developing hard skills in its young folks rather than the ones that actually determine success).

So if soft tools are the key to growing our CEO toolbox, then logically not all tools are created equal. What are the top soft tools (or rather the key tools to hone in your toolbox)? I have observed, throughout my life, that the greatest CEOs also share certain traits in common:

  1. Communication Skills. Developers are visionaries and salesmen. Throughout any development cycle, we must present and sell our organization on a project, then our equity partners, then the neighborhood in which it will reside, then local municipalities, then our OAC team and finally, the end-user. Each of these requires us to be able to convey different yet similar visions- compellingly.
  2. Drive. Success is not generally an accident (and certainly the consistent success which development requires is not). The folks who do consistently succeed show focus, commitment and belief in their endeavors. Fortunately we developers do the coolest thing in the world, so it is easy to be totally dedicated to our profession.
  3. Get It Factor. The CEOs job is to anticipate, before everyone else in the room, where a conversation or negotiation is going. They do this by understanding that all motivations and actions are connected. Learn to view the world through the motivations of those that you encounter and you will generally anticipate their arguments and actions. Experience will do the rest.

Note that running a financial model was nowhere on the list; we can teach a monkey to handle that task in three months time. The last thing that I would say to that younger me, as I consider entering the world of development is ‘If you can see yourself doing anything else in the world- other than real estate development, then go do that other thing.’ To restore our profession to its former glory, there is no room for apathy. We need a generation of folks dedicated to sculpting the built world, who never felt there was a choice. Anyway, now I’m off to find that Delorean- Ziggy Stardust awaits.

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I wish I had known back in the day that sales skills are not limited to salespeople. And I think that applies to any career track - the ability to sell yourself and your ideas pops up in every aspect of business (and life).

  Brent Williams
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Excellent Site and Greet post.. well done..

  Property in jaipur

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