NMHC Emerging Leaders Update: The Three Secrets to Thrive in Business

Los Angeles Speaker Series: Avanath’s Daryl Carter on the Secrets to Not Only Survive But Thrive in Business

With more than 28 years in commercial real estate under his belt, Carter cast a retrospective look at his successes and near failures and came up with three qualities that the industry’s next generation of leaders needs to possess to be able to handle whatever the market throws at them—for better or worse.

Patience. “Inevitably patience wins the day,” Carter said. “Inevitably whatever you think will happen is going to take longer and it’s going to happen in a different way [than envisioned].”

For those who maintain patience, tenacity and flexibility, it’s likely they not only survive but thrive in the fiercely competitive and often fickle apartment industry. Because at the end of the day, “it’s not about how good your best deals are; it’s how good you salvage your worst deals,” Carter said.

That was the painful lesson learned following the financial market collapse in September 2008, which blew up his handshake deal to refinance a bridge loan of which he had guaranteed 20 percent. There was a moment of panic, for sure; Carter described his first workout meeting as going “incredibly bad,” with the bank telling him he needed to sell all his assets, put his house on the market, take his kids out of private school and sell his wife’s jewelry.

Tenacity. “You never know what door is going to open,” Carter said. Keep knocking.

“I’m 6’ 7” and everyone else was 5’ 10”, but when they put me in a chair, they were all taller than me,” he recounted.

But like a scene out of Pulp Fiction, Carter remembered that just because he was at the wrong end of a proverbial gun didn’t mean he had to do something stupid. Patience, tenacity and flexibility allowed him to work through the situation little by little.

Flexibility. “As an entrepreneur building a business, you have to be comfortable saying you know things are going to come together, but you don’t know how—and be good with that,” he said.

“I personally lost $20 million, but I lived to fight another day,” Carter said. “It was meant for me to have that experience because what I learned in the process has allowed to make double that on deals going forward.”

Chicago Speaker Series: “Astounding” Change in Industry Makes It Tougher to Break Out
The dramatic evolution of the apartment business means it is harder to succeed than it was just 20 years ago. That was the message of a distinguished panel of industry leaders to NMHC’s Emerging Leaders at a May 22 Speaker Series event in Chicago, Ill.

Panel participants included Gary Kachadurian, chairman of ARA, which also sponsored the event; Greg Mutz, chairman and CEO of AMLI Residential; Tom Moran, chairman of Moran & Company; and Steven Fifield, chairman and CEO of Fifield Companies.
When I started, “you didn’t need brains, you just needed money,” said Mutz. “My core competency wasn’t real estate; it was that I could raise money. If you controlled the money, you could hire people with brains and get in the game and succeed.”

“We went public with just 8,300 units, and it was unbelievable how unprofessional we were compared to today’s standards,” said Mutz.  Echoing that theme, Kachadurian told attendees that back in the 1980s, “we kept track of traffic with hash marks. And I knew a guy in the 1980s who, if renters didn’t pay the rent, he’d take their door off.”

Fast forward to today and the transformation of the industry has been “nothing short of astounding,” said Mutz. Property management is more professional; firms are paying attention to HR, their people and their residents.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is the financial nature of the industry. “Our business is a financial business,” said Fifield. “It just has a manufacturing component called leasing and development. But I spend most my time raising money.

So what does it take to be successful today according to these industry stalwarts? “Make sure you are passionate about what you are doing,” advised Moran. “I started as a lawyer doing taxes for Arthur Anderson and never thought I would be in real estate. But once I backed into it, I loved it. I still work 50 to 60 hours a week because I am a transaction junky and I have a passion for what I do.

“Never lose sight of the details,” offered Fifield. “You can’t pass it off to an analyst who works for you, no matter how high you go, never lose that fundamental granular touch or your technical skills.”

“We didn’t have fancy computers when I started; we did our analysis by hand, and I can still do IRR by hand,” he added.

Clyde Holland, CEO of Holland Partners, will headline the next NMHC’s Emerging Leaders Speaker Series in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 19.

The Vancouver-based company is poised to develop more than $1 billion worth of apartment communities in high-demand urban rental markets such as Denver, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle. Before starting Holland Partners, Holland served as the West Coast Group Managing Partner for Trammell Crow.

Join us on Sept. 19 as NMHC Emerging Leader Committee Member Chris Riley of Greystar Real Estate Partners moderates a fireside chat with Holland that will explore how he went from working as a truck driving hauling produce in the Santa Rosa Valley to a career that includes developing or rehabilitating more than 25,000 units and is approaching $5 billion in total transaction volume.

Coming to OpTech? Stay for the Speaker Series Featuring Greystar’s Stacy Hunt (Dallas, Nov. 13)

Our last speaker series of the year will be held in conjunction with NMHC’s annual business Operations and Technology (OpTech) Conference and Exposition.

If you are coming to Dallas for the conference, or even if you aren’t, join us for a one-on-one chat with Stacy Hunt, executive director of Greystar’s Management Company and a member of the Operating Committee for Greystar Real Estate Partners. Hunt helped build the firm's management portfolio through the opening of regional offices in Arizona, Florida and additional offices in Texas.

We’ll talk to Hunt about the leadership roles he’s had in various industry organizations, why he continues to base his approach to apartment management on personal contact in today’s digital world and his advice to those looking to become the next generation of industry leadership.

NMHC Annual Meeting: Special Emerging Leaders Registration (Jan. 21-23, 2014)

NMHC will once again offer a special Emerging Leader registration option for our 2014 Annual Meeting, Jan. 21-23 in Boca Raton, Fla.

This special registration allows member firms to send one young leader who might not otherwise be able to attend given the existing meeting registration caps. Unlike prior years, this year’s Emerging Leader registrants will have access to the entire meeting, including a special reception the first night.

To qualify, attendees must be under 40 and have at least five years of industry experience. Because of space limitations, however, only 200 Emerging Leader registration spots are available, and they are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.