Sitting in New York dialing out to the west coast and sounding like the expert on their street names and development projects has always been a bit of a head scratcher. For the last three years I’ve run the west coast sales business for Floored. After getting acquired by CBRE, the largest commercial real estate firm in the world, in January, my job became even more complex, integrating into the gigantic network of CBRE real estate experts out west. The new role required a lot more broker interaction, market knowledge and a genuine hustle to get involved in the hand-to-hand combat of real estate deals. So when I asked my boss if I could do a temporary stay in Los Angeles and work from the shoreline, he was incredibly supportive – he told me to go give it a shot!
Take the 10 to the 405 to the 101: From Subways to Freeways
You learn quickly how to replace Subway reading time with rolling calls and audiobooks. You avoid the 405 and the 101 between 7-9am like you would the G train in Brooklyn. The over-workers of the NYC rat race burn out and the burn-outs of LA end up under-working. The two worlds are not all that different, it's an adaptation of a similar routine. I found my over-priced coffee shops to satisfy my coffee-snobbish behavior, I swapped Williamsburg bridge pathway runs with boardwalk beach runs and I swapped swiping a metro card for swiping my credit card in parking meters and machines. LA is just the other side of the coin from NYC.
CBRE's iconic historical renovation project of an old masonic temple in Glendale, California
Blending In: The Broker Life
My main objective coming out West was to meet as many people as possible: brokers, owners, marketers, company leaders and to learn as much about West Coast real estate as I could. I had five weeks to accomplish this and not a second to spare. I immediately gravitated toward our brokers - the fast moving, hectic, chaotic, strong personality and strong-willed professionals that they are as the source of action and excitement. I worked out of our numerous LA offices and studied the differing behaviors in each office. I noticed the dress code, the walking pace, the lunch duration, the working hours and the varying coffee habits in each office. I observed the ways the brokers interacted with their teammates, the way the leadership interacted with the brokers and the way the supporting roles of research, client services and marketing bolstered the brokers' capacity and company brand. I pitched alongside the brokers, I ate lunch with the brokers, I overheard the excitement and the gripes of the brokers, I traveled with the brokers and I saw the highs and, inevitably, the lows. I knew that in order to work effectively with them, I had to see all sides of the business so that I could understand their world.
Ground Breaking of Ivy Station, Culver City's long awaited Transit Oriented Development
Helipads & Hard Hats
To live their world, I had to gain the market knowledge. While in LA, I got an opportunity not just to read about the real estate, but to actually experience it's sense of place. I witnessed a ground breaking of one of the most highly anticipated transit oriented development sites in LA. I got a chance to tour a high rise office tower with a helipad alongside knowledgeable brokers and architects discussing the potential capital improvement options for the property. I put on a hard hat and toured new development sites with the developers who walked me through the construction zones pointing out all the nuances of the projects.
We started on the 20th floor of a high-rise in Miracle Mile. It was a meeting of the minds. The property manager, the new owner, the brokers and the tag-alongs (myself). The lead broker was off to the races, asserting his dominance over the group and directing the attention to the itinerary of hotspots. We ventured to the outside of the lobby; the glass-line should be extended the broker advised. Similar successful projects had made these types of renovations and the value of these types of buildings sky-rocket. Walking the pedestrian plaza we gasped at how much potential there was here and what type of vendors could help liven the gathering space. We walked vacant space in the building, we walked sublet space in the building, we toured the luxury residents of the building and we learned of a secret amenity to the building on the roof. An hour tour had opened the eyes of opportunity to the new owner --- a little work and the darling would dazzle.
Building The Bones
Even Hollywood needs Real Estate
I toured an iconic redevelopment site with a client that’s taking an old movie studio and re-developing the lot for creative office use. The studio once shot Gone with Wind and many other famous titles that pre-date my existence...I attended broker events, networking functions, coffee and lunch meetings with clients and helped craft the leasing and sales story of many of their assets with Floored’s technology. All of these moments and experiences contributed to shaping my understanding of the region, the projects, the stakeholders and the community of Southern California real estate.
🙌🏽 Santa Barbara 🙌🏽
We threw the bikes on the back and cruised out to the outer edges of Goleta. We clipped into our roadsters, sent a few remaining emails and headed southward along the coast. J toured us around Santa Barbara, showing us the amazingly beautiful landscape of SoCal's favorite coastal getaway. We powered up the hills to Hopes Ranch, through UCSB's campus to the surf break, and up and over Montecito for a solid 45 mile ride. We rewarded ourselves with dolphin sightings in the ocean, local brews from Fig Mountain Brewery and flatbreads at The Lark. A chance to ride the country-side and spend the weekend with a few work buddies really fused and completed my experience by getting a taste of the perks spawned from the hard labor of CBRE over on this coast.
The Experiment = Successful
Although the temporary west coast experiment was…well…temporary, and I am resettling back into New York City, the experience was just a tasting menu - there’s still a lot more left to learn and see. Joining a new (and much larger) organization like CBRE is a big challenge and comes with tremendous change – especially coming from a smaller group like Floored, with its center of gravity in New York City.
Santa Monica Creative...
...Office Wall Art
While daunting at first, the opportunity to branch out and explore a new environment, especially the mothership of CBRE, was an incredibly fulfilling experience. As Sam Zell explained in his new book "Am I being Too Subtle," anyone can take a meeting in an office but the best way to get to know someone is to visit them in their organic environment and watch as they interact on their home turf. I couldn't be more grateful for my 5 week opportunity and ecstatic for the future 🙌🏽🙌🏽.