A Statement On Ukraine from Kevin Maggiacomo, SVN President and CEO

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Solomon Poretsky's CRE Road Trip Halftime Update

Catching up with Solomon on his CRE Road Trip

Memphis - CRE road trip
Memphis, TN

In case you missed my blog post last week, I’ll fill you in: Solomon Poretsky, SVNIC’s Executive Vice President of Organizational Development, has been on the road this July touring nine different states, visiting as many SVN offices as he can. Bringing his whole family along for the ride, Solomon has made some progress driving around the middle of the country, from Minneapolis to Memphis to Pittsburgh and more. So far, after visiting four SVN offices, Solomon has been enjoying his #CREroadtrip experience.

One of the interesting aspects of this trip for Solomon has been seeing how each office reflects both the “flavor” of the person who leads it as well as the feel of the region. For example, just the other day Solomon was sitting in an old historic downtown Pittsburgh building, versus a week earlier he was sitting in a suburban office building in Cincinnati. But it hasn’t been all about the differences for Solomon. “What’s equally amazing is the commonalities between the offices,” he says. The SVN work culture itself is pretty much the same across the board: from downtown Pittsburgh to suburban Cincinnati, Solomon has been noticing high levels of collegiality, Advisors who are extremely knowledgeable about the local markets, and a strong dedication to bring the power of our Shared Value Network to local communities.

CRE Coaching for Managing Directors and Advisors

Pittsburgh - CRE Road Trip
Pittsburgh, PA

During these CRE road trip office visits, Solomon has been making time to meet one-on-one with each Managing Director. Much of these meetings have involved working through strategic deployment planning, helping Managing Directors find ways to touch every part of the market. Through determining how many people to hire and which territories should be covered, Solomon and the Managing Directors are able to devise the best way to grow each brokerage business. Successful office growth calls for building a brand presence in the community, which is another topic Solomon covered on his visits with Managing Directors. In order to have a strong brand, Managing Directors must find ways to recruit new talent to the industry. Solomon emphasizes the importance of creating opportunities for those who would not otherwise have a chance to make it into the CRE industry, without compromising our high standards, of course.

CRE Road Trip
Meeting with Advisors in Cincinnati

Solomon has also been spending time meeting with individual Advisors at the offices he’s been visiting. Advisors are sharing their stories with Solomon, talking about the everyday challenges they face and how they can grow their business by serving clients more effectively. Other topics Solomon covered in these talks with Advisors include prospecting strategies, time management, personal branding, client service, and the vision of a successful business. “The most exciting thing that’s happened has been talking to young people at firms and helping them figure out ways to become full-fledged brokers,” Solomon says.

Solomon even spent some time on his CRE road trip talking to competitors and educating them on the benefits of being here at SVN. Solomon says: “Based on what I’ve heard, at least some of them will be joining us!”

Follow the chronicles of Solomon’s CRE road trip right here on the SVN Blog or on Twitter @SVNIC

[bctt tweet=”So far, after visiting four SVN offices, Solomon has been enjoying his #CREroadtrip experience.” username=”svnic”]

An Advisor's Take on ICSC: Noticing the SVN Difference

Experiencing the SVN Difference at ICSC in Las Vegas

Walls, doors, whispering and winks. All of these were present at this year’s ICSC convention. Not that these are in and of themselves bad, but it was these differences that I noticed between our SVN booth and most others.

Our SVN booth was not the biggest, definitely not the most extravagant, but it was packed, well-lit, there were no back rooms for private conversations, or doors to suggest that only someone more important than me can go there.

As I walked around, almost 2 years into a Commercial Brokerage career with SVN | Cornerstone in Spokane, WA and my second ICSC, it struck me, that’s another example of our SVN Difference.

Opening Closed Doors: The SVN Difference

SVN Difference at ICSC
The SVN booth at ICSC in May.

We aren’t about walls and doors or whispering and winks. We are about visible opportunities and “sky’s the limit” access to information with our culture of collaboration.

At SVN we have regular access to our top Executives, our Managing Directors, other offices who have done what we are trying to do and world-class technology platforms to do it well. And that kind of environment is exactly what our industry needs to attract future talent.

Professionals my age want to know we have a chance. We want to know that if we work hard we will have as good of a chance as any to create a respectable income for our loved ones. That if we don’t have access to closed doors and are separated by fancy walls, we still have access to opportunity.

And that’s a big part of the SVN Difference. Opportunity. And that’s exactly the opposite of what those walls, doors, whispering and winks produce.

We are a country founded upon the value of opportunity. If I can just get a chance, don’t give it to me, but give me a chance and I will out work the other broker.

That’s what SVN does. We get all the tools, the right culture and a chance. What else can someone ask for?

To learn more about the SVN Difference, visit the Why SVN page here.

[bctt tweet=”That’s what SVN does. We get all the tools, the right culture and a chance. #CRE” username=”svnic”]

Solomon Poretsky's Summer CRE Road Trip

Hitting the Road in the Name of CRE

Inside the Ultimate Commercial Real Estate Road Trip

CRE road tripHere’s something you may not know about SVNIC’s Executive Vice President of Organizational Development: Solomon Poretsky loves road trips. He likes them so much that he decided to spend most of July touring nine different cities on what we’re calling a “CRE road trip” – and he’s bringing his whole family along for the ride. From Solomon’s hometown in Minnesota to Pittsburgh to Memphis and more, SVN’s CRE training expert will be driving through nine U.S. states with the intention of hitting as many SVN offices as he can.

Making the Most out of SVN Office Visits

So what will Solomon be doing on these office visits? The answer depends on the office itself. Overall, the goal of these visits is for Solomon to support the individual offices by spending face-to-face time with Managing Directors and Advisors. Just like Advisors are more effective when they are face-to-face with clients, as a CRE coach Solomon is more effective when face-to-face with Advisors. Seeing offices in person makes it easier for him to identify individual strengths. For example, an office might be very strong in one product type and not realize how to leverage this strength. Visiting in person can make it crystal-clear which opportunities Advisors are missing and where they need to direct their focus. Even seeing the physical property signs throughout the neighborhood is an indication of how the business is doing.

Solomon Poretsky's CRE Road TripAnother benefit of the face-to-face aspect of these visits is that Solomon is able to survey the physical setup of the workspace. Helping the Managing Directors make the best use of their office space is important, because smart setups can be conducive to creating more positive and collaborative workspaces. By fitting more Advisors in a limited office space, for example, Advisors can work more closely, making collaboration and cohesion easier. The point is to create a community, including Advisors in a way that makes them want to be there, which can inspire more productivity than if an Advisor worked in an isolated cubicle.

Though Solomon will be spending one-on-one time helping Managing Directors solve specific individual problems, he will also devote time to meeting with Advisors. Some of this face time with Advisors will cover sales skills, such as how to get the person you actually want to talk to on the phone. Additionally, with Solomon’s lead, Advisors will discuss challenges they are facing in the market, and then Solomon will collaboratively help them find solutions to those challenges. Some of the questions that may be addressed are: How do you deal with owners that are not in the area? How do you explain the impact of new developments? How do you learn what a client really needs, understanding the client so you can really help them? No matter the level of experience, all Advisors have questions. Luckily, Solomon has the answers.

Follow the chronicles of Solomon’s CRE road trip right here on the SVN Blog or on Twitter @SVNIC

[bctt tweet=”All Advisors have questions. Luckily, Solomon has the answers #CRE #CREroadtrip” username=”svnic”]

SVN Specialty Awards: Firm of the Year – SVN | Northco

Recognizing the SVN Difference with Specialty Awards

Firm of the Year 2015 NorthcoIf you read my recent blog post about the SVN Annual Conference highlights, you know that the SVN Specialty Awards recognize members of the SVN community who have distinguished themselves in 2015 by making significant impacts on the commercial real estate industry and beyond. The awards – which included Team Player of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Collaborator of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Prospector of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Firm of the Year – looked beyond production results and instead focused on culture. The winners of this year’s SVN Specialty Awards each embody traits that the SVN culture values immensely: practicing collaboration, cooperation and conscious capitalism while excelling in commercial real estate.

SVN Firm of the Year 2015 – SVN | Northco

Firm of the Year is not the same as Top Producing Firm, although it can be. But when we look at nominees for Firm of the Year, we look for firms that are using the SVN tools, systems, resources and other offices to grow their presence. From the day SVN | Northco joined the SVN organization they went to our Jumpstart training events, used the SVN Live℠ Open Sales Calls to market properties, and embodied SVN’s collaborative culture. If you’ve ever called them for help on a golf or resort proposal, you’ve experienced it. They’re big, they’re productive, they cover many different parts of their market, and they’re a great bunch of men and women. And, this year, they are our Firm of the Year.

Led by Executive Directors Frank Jermusek and Walt Van Heest along with Managing Director Cameron Peterson, Northco became a member of the SVN organization in 2014. Headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, SVN Northco Real Estate Services is a full service commercial real estate firm that has been a leader in the Twin Cities market since 1975.


The SVN blog will be featuring one SVN Specialty Award winner every week for the next few weeks. Subscribe to the SVN blog on the right-hand column of the blog homepage to stay up to date with SVN and CRE industry news.

Top Reasons to Visit the SVN Booth at ICSC in Las Vegas

RECon is just over a week away, and SVN is ready

Yes, of course SVN will be at ICSC RECon. Booth C162F to be exact! And we’re looking forward to all the networking and deal-making opportunities that are ahead.

Here’s why you should stop by the SVN booth in Las Vegas:

  1. We Share Fees – We’re the only commercial real estate company founded on the idea of compensated corporation. What’s this mean for you? How’s a 50% commission split sound on deals you do with an SVN Advisor? It sounds good to us, and guess what else? Higher splits increase demand, which ultimately leads to deals making it to market faster, and closing at a greater value. (See SVNIC EVP of Franchise Development Solomon Poretsky’s Commercial Real Estate Cooperation Report here).
  2. Over 100 SVN Advisors will be in Attendance – SVN is a network of over 1,500 Advisors spanning 500 markets in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Russia, so there’s a good chance we’ll have someone from your market to talk to. If not, we guarantee you’ll be hearing about us in your market soon. Our comprehensive commercial real estate services include sales, leasing, tenant representation, asset management, property management, corporate, consultation, accelerated marketing, and auction services.
  3. We are also a Commercial Real Estate Franchisor – Interested in joining SVN? We can make that a reality. We are always looking for more qualified real estate professionals to expand our already successful network. Become a part of our growth by joining the 6th Most Recognized Brand in Commercial Real Estate*, and branding yourself as a national firm driven by our culture of accountability, responsibility, and transparency.

Still not convinced? Come by anyway and we promise we’ll give you a reason to get excited and share what you learned about SVN with your colleagues, clients, and friends. Click here for directions to the SVN booth C162F.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!

*Based on The Lipsey Co.’s 2016 Commercial Real Estate Brand Survey

ICSC RECon 2016 - SVN Booth

[bctt tweet=”Yes, of course SVN will be at RECon. Booth C162F to be exact! #CRE” username=”svnic”]

SVN Specialty Awards: Innovator of the Year – Al Stepan

Recognizing the SVN Difference with Specialty Awards

SVN Innovator of the Year 2015If you read my recent blog post about the SVN Annual Conference highlights, you know that the SVN Specialty Awards recognize members of the SVN community who have distinguished themselves in 2015 by making significant impacts on the commercial real estate industry and beyond. The awards – which included Team Player of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Collaborator of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Prospector of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Firm of the Year – looked beyond production results and instead focused on culture. The winners of this year’s SVN Specialty Awards each embody traits that the SVN culture values immensely: practicing collaboration, cooperation and conscious capitalism while excelling in commercial real estate.

SVN Innovator of the Year 2015 – Al Stepan

Al Stepan - SVN Innovator of the Year 2015

When it comes to treating an SVN franchise like a business, no one is more of an innovator than Al Stepan. He has led the organization in investing in bringing in outside specialists to support recruiting, which has allowed him to scale his teams. He was also a driving force behind the consolidation of our Denver and Fort Collins offices, positioning them to be a regional powerhouse. These are just a couple of the examples of thinking big and applying best business practices to the operation of an SVN franchise. And it’s an innovation that we can all learn from.

Al Stepan is a principal of SVN | Chicago Commercial and serves as a Managing Director along with Michael Thanasouras and Scott Maesel in Chicago, IL.


The SVN blog will be featuring one SVN Specialty Award winner every week for the next few weeks. Stay up to date with SVN and CRE industry news.

The SVN Commercial Real Estate Cooperation Report

The Commercial Real Estate Cooperation Report Changes Everything

SVN CRE Cooperation ReportIf you read National Real Estate Investor, or follow the SVN Twitter feed (@SVNIC ), you may have noticed a recent piece that I wrote entitled, “When Brokers Cooperate, Sellers Net More.” The NREI article made a bold claim:

Deals sold through broker cooperation achieve a 9.6 percent higher price per square foot, on average, than deals that are double-ended.

In other words, everything we say about the SVN Difference, about Compensated Cooperation and about our Shared Value Network… It’s true. 100% true. Furthermore, SVN has been right about it for almost 30 years.

The NREI article gives you a taste of the argument. If you want to see the whole report that lays out the full analysis, including the stories, end notes, charts and graphs, click the image to the right.

The Best Way of Doing Brokerage

I think the most important part of this report is that the industry has proof to support that cooperation is the best way of doing brokerage... which just so happens is the way that about every other efficient market outside of the commercial real estate world works.

Believe it or not, it’s the first time that anyone has ever done this. We worked with an economics professor to check our numbers, and he did a review of the academic literature. No one has analyzed thousands of commercial deals to see if cooperation works. They’ve done it on the residential side, but never on our side, the commercial side of the business. So, at least for now, this is it.

The CRE (Not So) Secret Weapon

The Cooperation Report is a powerful tool for brokers to use when competing for listings. It provides an arrow in your quiver to support the argument that you, a cooperation driven real estate professional, the way you do brokerage, is proven to earn a higher sale price per square foot. Bottomline. There is no arguing with that. Happy hunting.

[bctt tweet=”Win that listing with this (not so) secret #CRE weapon. ” username=”svnic”]

The CRE Advisor's Guide to Surviving ICSC RECon 2016

Getting Ready for RECon 2016

As you’re probably aware, ICSC’s annual RECon is the event of all events for those in the commercial real estate industry, and an even bigger deal for those who specialize in retail. With over 40,000 attendees predicted to attend, and over 1,000 company booths, it’s a wonder how you will be able to see everything you want to see, learn everything you made the trip to learn, and network with the individuals you desperately need to meet.

Here are a few tips to survive Las Vegas this May:

  1. Plan ahead. If you haven’t already started thinking about this then go do it, like, now. The ICSC website has a list of all the attendees and booths that will be at the conference. Sit down and highlight which markets you would like to focus on, and who you want to meet in those markets. Find out if they have a booth, and schedule as many meetings as possible. Make a map of the convention center, highlight the booths you plan to see, in what order, and try not to get lost!
  2. Get the important things done first. As the conference drags on, many attendees will start to get bored or tired, and may not be hanging around for the last day and a half. Make sure you are scheduling meetings with the people you must see, and must talk to, first. Create a second “potential” list for the people you would like to speak with if you have time, or happen to run into at their booth. This way you are keeping your priorities in order, and making sure your time is well spent.
  3. Enjoy your time. There is no doubt that the conference can become hectic. Take advantage of this opportunity by introducing yourself to as many people as possible. The chances you are connected may be slim, but who knows who you will meet. RECon provides the best opportunity to expand your network and increase your business and deal flow.

Now that you’ve set up some meetings, take a deep breath and get excited for this action-packed weekend. And don’t forget to stop by SVN at booth C162F to find out what our Advisors have been up to! Click here for directions to the SVN booth C162F.

Oh, and amid all this preparation and excitement for #RECon2016, don’t forget to book your flights…

ICSC Recon Invite SVN

[bctt tweet=”Don’t forget to stop by SVN at booth C162F to find out what our Advisors have been up to! #RECon2016 #CRE ” username=”svnic”]

SVN Specialty Awards: Humanitarian of the Year – Brent & Amy Miller

Recognizing the SVN Difference with Specialty Awards

SVN Humanitarian of the year 2015If you read my recent blog post about the SVN Annual Conference highlights, you know that the SVN Specialty Awards recognize members of the SVN community who have distinguished themselves in 2015 by making significant impacts on the commercial real estate industry and beyond. The awards – which included Team Player of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Collaborator of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Prospector of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Firm of the Year – looked beyond production results and instead focused on culture. The winners of this year’s SVN Specialty Awards each embody traits that the SVN culture values immensely: practicing collaboration, cooperation and conscious capitalism while excelling in commercial real estate.

SVN Humanitarian of the Year 2015 – Brent & Amy Miller

If there was ever an office that makes community building a priority in our Shared Value Network it’s SVN | Miller. Led by Brent and Amy Miller, the group’s hard work to better their Salisbury, MD community is why we are giving them this year’s SVN Humanitarian of the Year Award. The Millers take doing well by doing good to heart and it is something that is reflected through every member of their team. We could say more, but I think that their SVN Difference video says it all. The SVN | Miller team picked up another honor at the conference, as this video won the “Best Documentary” category of our first annual SVN video awards. Check out the video below.

Brent and Amy Miller - SVN Humanitarian of the YearBrent Miller, CCIM, CPM, serves as Managing Director and Senior Advisor for SVN | Miller Commercial Real Estate with offices in Salisbury, Annapolis, Bethesda, Maryland; and Rehoboth/Lewes, Seaford, and Wilmington, Delaware. Miller specializes in the sale, leasing, and management of retail, office, and industrial property. With more than 27 years of commercial real estate experience, Miller has closed more than 750 transactions, resulting in a career brokerage volume in excess of $250 million.

Amy Miller, CPM, serves as Managing Director for SVN | Miller Commercial Real Estate & Property Management, Inc. in Salisbury, Maryland, where she acts as director of property management and chief financial officer. Miller has over 20 years of commercial real estate management experience.


The SVN blog will be featuring one SVN Specialty Award winner every week for the next few weeks. Subscribe to the SVN blog on the right-hand column of the blog homepage to stay up to date with SVN and CRE industry news.

SVN Specialty Awards: Trainer of the Year – Tomi Jo Lynch

Recognizing the SVN Difference with Specialty Awards

Trainer of the Year 2015 - Tomi Jo LynchIf you read my recent blog post about the SVN Annual Conference highlights, you know that the SVN Specialty Awards recognize members of the SVN community who have distinguished themselves in 2015 by making significant impacts on the commercial real estate industry and beyond. The awards – which included Team Player of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Collaborator of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Prospector of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Firm of the Year – looked beyond production results and instead focused on culture. The winners of this year’s SVN Specialty Awards each embody traits that the SVN culture values immensely: practicing collaboration, cooperation and conscious capitalism while excelling in commercial real estate.

SVN Trainer of the Year 2015 – Tomi Jo Lynch

Trainer of the Year 2015 Tomi Jo LynchTomi Jo Lynch grew her office the old-fashioned way. She went out and spoke to people with skills who needed help to grow their businesses. She brought them in and led them to SVN’s Broker Boot Camp (now known as SVN | Jumpstart), and she built an in-office schedule of training sessions and roleplays, taking advantage of the SVN System for Growth™. She executed and, because of that, she has built a much larger and more productive office. And it all started with training.

Tomi Jo is a Senior Advisor with SVN® | Gold Dust Commercial Associates, in Reno, NV, specializing in industrial properties with a focus on landlord representation. Her responsibilities are varied and include not only brokerage services but business development as well as overseeing and managing the brokerage team. Lynch serves on the NAIOP Board of Directors and assists the Programs committee with events and recruiting.


The SVN blog will be featuring one SVN Specialty Award winner every week for the next few weeks. Subscribe to the SVN blog on the right-hand column of the blog homepage to stay up to date with SVN and CRE industry news.

SVN Specialty Awards: Collaborator of the Year – Tony Yousif

Recognizing the SVN Difference with Specialty Awards

Tony Yousif - Collaborator of the Year 2015If you read my recent blog post about the SVN Annual Conference highlights, you know that the SVN Specialty Awards recognize members of the SVN community who have distinguished themselves in 2015 by making significant impacts on the commercial real estate industry and beyond. The awards – which included Team Player of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Collaborator of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Prospector of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Firm of the Year – looked beyond production results and instead focused on culture. The winners of this year’s SVN Specialty Awards each embody traits that the SVN culture values immensely: practicing collaboration, cooperation and conscious capitalism while excelling in commercial real estate.

SVN Collaborator of the Year 2015 – Tony Yousif

Tony Yousif - Collaborator of the YearJust being with SVN means you are a collaborator. And one could say that when you specialize in national accounts, you would naturally be a good collaborator. However, when you run your national accounts in a manner where nearly half the company writes in to nominate you, it means that you are the company’s best collaborator. As we are a company founded on collaboration both internally and externally, it’s with great pride that we present this award to Tony Yousif.

Tony Yousif serves as Senior Director of National Accounts for SVN | Asset Advisory Group specializing in the management and sale of investment properties.


The SVN blog will be featuring one SVN Specialty Award winner every week for the next few weeks. Subscribe to the SVN blog on the right-hand column of the blog homepage to stay up to date with SVN and CRE industry news.

Business Trends: Millennials Rejecting the Default

Millennials Are Rejecting the Default

… and It’s a Very Good Thing

We all know that Millennials are challenging our traditional work environments. But the big question is “why?” Why are Millennials challenging the system rather than assimilating like earlier generations? I struggled with finding an explanation other than demographics until I read a sentence written by professor Adam Grant in his recent book: Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.

“The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better operation exists.” – Adam Grant.

Millennials are rejecting the default and it’s disconcerting, but necessary and in my view, a very good thing. When it comes to the work environment, Generation X, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation don’t just represent the default … we are the default. This might be why so many of us take this personally. Why are Millennials so eager and able to reject a default that has been in place for generations?

Two reasons: technology and societal shift.

Technology. Millennials are digital natives. They grew up with technology and view everything through a technological filter. They look at our daily lives and think “there’s got to be an app for that.” It’s ingrained in them to use technology to question, dismantle, and reconfigure processes. They are rejecting the default option in search of a better way.

Societal shift. Generation X and Baby Boomers actually know people who worked 40 hours a week for 40 years at the same company, earned that gold watch and retired at 65 to play golf in Florida. We also know of people who had pensions; who were protected by unions; and for whom a single breadwinner could support a family even while working for a minimum wage. This is the default.

But, Millennials are not part of that default. Retire at 65? Not if they are still paying off their college loans. Pensions, funded 401ks, or a home with equity for retirement? Not likely. Even if we set aside monetary limitations, people are living longer. Retiring at 65 is no longer that appealing or feasible for most. The default no longer works, and this is why Millennials are forcing us to re-examine everything about our work culture.

One example of this came out of our recent SVN Millennials Career report (How Commercial Real Estate Firms can Attract and Retain Millennials) around the topic of flexibility in the workplace. According to our survey, flexibility of hours and location for work was a top five “must have” for Millennials and in fact, more men than women cited it as an important factor when choosing companies. This is quite a switch from 5-10 years ago when flexibility was a “woman” or “parent” issue. To even mention the word back then would set you on the Mommy track.

But, what is driving this new quest for flexibility? Part of it goes back to the technology filters. If technology allows us to work wherever and whenever we want, why can’t we? If culturally no one is racing to retirement and the other default rewards don’t exist, why do we have to stick to a 9-5, 5 days per week schedule? Flexibility does not mean Millennials want to work less. In fact, most want to work more, but they also want to work smarter… and to avoid rush hour. When the default is sitting an extra 30 to 60 minutes in traffic, when you don’t actually have to… why do we?

It’s not about a different work ethic. It’s about a different work style.

That’s an important distinction to make; especially because that different work style benefits more than just Millennials. Opening up the flexibility conversation beyond women and parents is a benefit to all employees, whether it’s the single employee who doesn’t have anyone to help them drop off a car for repairs or wait for a furniture delivery; the Gen X’er dealing with aging parents; or the Baby Boomer who wants to take a brief career pause or sabbatical.

If you look around, the default no longer works for the majority of us, and this is why the Millennials’ rejection of the default is a very good thing.

Please visit our SVNICorp YouTube page to see my recent keynote to learn more about the how Millennials are challenging and changing how and where we live and work.

[bctt tweet=”If technology allows us to work wherever and whenever we want, why can’t we?”]

SVN Specialty Awards: Ambassador of the Year – Alex Ruggieri

Recognizing the SVN Difference with Specialty Awards

Ambassador126If you read my recent blog post about the SVN Annual Conference highlights, you know that the SVN Specialty Awards recognize members of the SVN community who have distinguished themselves in 2015 by making significant impacts on the commercial real estate industry and beyond. The awards – which included Team Player of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Collaborator of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Prospector of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Firm of the Year – looked beyond production results and instead focused on culture. The winners of this year’s SVN Specialty Awards each embody traits that the SVN culture values immensely: practicing collaboration, cooperation and conscious capitalism while excelling in commercial real estate.

SVN Ambassador of the Year 2015 – Alex Ruggieri

Alex Ruggieri - ambassadorWhat can we say about Alex Ruggieri? Not only does he dress the part of an impeccable Ambassador – he is out there online and in person representing SVN on his radio show, at CCIM conferences and with clients around the country. Recently he’s been working with David Wilk on some leading-edge corporate service projects as well. He’s been a Partners Circle winner for four years in a row – from 2012 through this year. This is his second time winning the prestigious Ambassador of the Year award, as he also received this honor in 2013.

Alex Ruggieri serves as a Senior Advisor for SVN | Ramshaw Real Estate, Inc., specializing in the sale of investment properties and corporate relocations in Champaign- Urbana and Central Illinois. With more than 30 years of commercial real estate industry experience, he has built an array of valuable business, real estate, and banking community contacts that benefit his clients. He has secured a transaction career sales volume in excess of $500 million.


The SVN blog will be featuring one SVN Specialty Award winner every week for the next few weeks. Subscribe to the SVN blog on the right-hand column of the blog homepage to stay up to date with SVN and CRE industry news.

SVN Specialty Awards: Team Player – Steve Kawulok

Recognizing the SVN Difference with Specialty Awards

Team126If you read my recent blog post about the SVN Annual Conference highlights, you know that the SVN Specialty Awards recognize members of the SVN community who have distinguished themselves in 2015 by making significant impacts on the commercial real estate industry and beyond. The awards – which included Team Player of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Collaborator of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Prospector of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Firm of the Year – looked beyond production results and instead focused on culture. The winners of this year’s SVN Specialty Awards each embody traits that the SVN culture values immensely: practicing collaboration, cooperation and conscious capitalism while excelling in commercial real estate.

SVN Team Player of the Year 2015 – Steve Kawulok

Steve Kawulok - SVN Specialty AwardsSteve Kawulok, Managing Director of SVN | Denver Commercial has been with SVN since 2007 and under his direction, the Fort Collins office has been a top performing office for as long as we can remember. However, the fact that there were a number of nominations for Steve that came from around the country is a testament to his ability to be a true SVN Team Player. This year, Steve took it to another level when he was instrumental in building the SVN presence in Denver. To a quote one of the nominations that came in:

“His unique strong – yet soft-spoken – style made him the perfect candidate to blend the multiple Colorado offices and work together with the leaders from the Chicago SVN office to establish a regional presence in the Denver metro area. He is a real team player.”


The SVN blog will be featuring one SVN Specialty Award winner every week for the next few weeks. Stay up to date with SVN and CRE industry news.

SVN Annual Conference 2016: Highlights From San Diego

My Top 4 Moments from the SVN Annual Conference

The 2016 SVN Annual Conference was easily the best reason to miss class. As a college student and the youngest member of the SVNIC team, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to San Diego, California for a three-day commercial real estate extravaganza: #SVN2016. The SVN Annual Conference, held in the Westin San Diego, proved to be the highlight of my entire year working at Sperry Van Ness International Corporation (so far). As you can probably tell, it was difficult for me to narrow down what I thought were the best parts of the event. While I’m sure everyone had a different set of high points, here are mine:

1. Kevin Maggiacomo’s Opening Address

Kevin Maggiacomo
Kevin Maggiacomo, SVNIC CEO & President.

SVNIC CEO & President Kevin Maggiacomo kicked off the conference talking about transparency, shared values and supporting women. As it always has, the commercial real estate industry currently lacks diversity, particularly in terms of including and promoting the interests of women – SVN aims to change this. As quoted in the Globe St. article about him, Maggiacomo says: “Having more successful women on our teams will make all of us more successful and generate exponential value and more profits.” Personally, as a college student interested in business, I was particularly interested in how hiring gender-inclusive talent as well as transparency across the organization (i.e., openly sharing fees with the entire brokerage community) can result in higher profits. As I better understood from Kevin’s opening speech, implementing a shared value strategy enables Advisors to have even more “meaningful conversations.” Kevin wants Advisors to strive to have five “real” conversations per day… every day. This is something that even us interns can try.

2. Advisor Headshot Session

SVN Annual Conference 2016 Poolside Roof Deck
The background: San Diego buildings and sunshine.

The 400+ SVN Advisors and staff from across the U.S., Canada, and Russia probably didn’t expect to have a professional photographer waiting for them at the hotel poolside – on the first full day of the conference. With the help of two extremely resourceful SVNIC assistants (yes, I was one of them), the photographer shot hundreds of new professional headshots for over 150 SVN Advisors and staff within that one day. Not only did dozens of SVN Advisors receive complimentary up-to-date professional headshots to help market themselves and their businesses – it was also an unexpected networking event. I met so many members of the SVN organization while helping them get ready for their photoshoots, and I’m happy to say I have 150 new friends.

3. Diane Danielson’s Business Trends Talk

Diane Talk – Annual Conference 2016
Diane updates the full house of SVN Advisors.

Yes, Diane Danielson is my boss, so at the risk of sounding biased, I’ll say it anyway: she nailed it. Her talk, which focused largely on Millennials (me!) was spot-on. We want flexibility in work hours and location, a clear path for advancement, a conscious capitalist mission, but we still want to work hard. It seems like Millennials are often accused of being lazy, self-absorbed, and all around not the sort of people cut out for the corporate environment that their Silent Generation, Baby Boomer, and older Generation X parents worked hard to cultivate. In her talk, Diane shattered this stereotype about my generation by emphasizing our desire for efficiency. While the business trends discussed spanned more than just Millennial issues, this part of Diane’s speech resonated most with me because as a Millennial, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Click here to see a video of the full talk.

4. Specialty Awards

Everyone likes winning awards. If you don’t, I kind of think you’re lying. What makes the SVN Specialty Awards so wonderful is that they recognize more than just good Commercial Real Estate Advisors – they recognize good people. The awards – which included Team Player of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Collaborator of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Prospector of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Firm of the Year – looked beyond production results and instead focused on culture. The winners of this year’s SVN Specialty Awards each embody traits that the SVN culture values immensely: practicing collaboration, cooperation and conscious capitalism while excelling in commercial real estate. Yes, numbers don’t lie. But neither do the people – all members of the SVN organization were invited to nominate individuals for the SVN Specialty Awards. This year’s winners are a group of SVN Advisors and Managing Directors who motivate and inspire me and countless others to strive for excellence in every sense of the word. In case you were curious, here are the winners:

There you have it – my top highlights from the 2016 SVN Annual Conference. I’m sorry, professors – the experience I gained from my three days outside of class was worth its weight in California gold.

For other SVN Annual Conference news, check out the SVN Blog for additional content.

[bctt tweet=”I’m sorry, professors – the experience I gained from my three days outside of class was worth it. #SVN2016 #CRE”]

 

The New Generation of Conscious Capitalism in CRE

Diane Danielson on Conscious Capitalism & Real Estate

Towards the end of 2015 Diane Danielson, COO of SVNIC, co-led a live interactive talk for NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association to fill in for SVNIC’s CEO, Kevin Maggiacomo while he was on paternity leave. For this event, called “CEO Insight: Conscious Capitalism in Commercial Real Estate,” Danielson teamed up with Joy Hou, Co-Founder and CEO of MREN to conduct a structured open discussion about what motivates individuals, particularly Millennials, to jump into the commercial real estate industry.

Diane Danielson, SVNIC COO on Conscious Capitalism
Follow Diane Danielson on Twitter at @DianeDanielson.

First off, what isconscious capitalism” anyway? Conscious capitalism is the basis of your bottom line, as opposed to CSR — “Corporate Social Responsibility,” which is more of a program. What differentiates conscious capitalism is the “3 P’s:” planet, people, and profit. At SVN, this translates to a specific focus on diversity of all types: ethnic, gender, generational, and so on. From a business standpoint, this approach opens us up to new markets and to new employees who can offer fresh and valuable skills and opinions.

As Danielson and Hou pointed out, members of Generation Y (“Millennials”) have come to expect companies to practice conscious capitalism. In SVN’s Millennials Commercial Real Estate Survey, (results to be released later this month) 75% of the Millennial men and women who responded indicated that conscious capitalism is an important factor when considering where to work. Luckily, this value that Millennials place on conscious capitalism has the potential to work as an advantage for the commercial real estate industry. Danielson explains: “Real estate is uniquely positioned to work with communities,” especially those in need. Projects like eco-friendly “green” buildings can solve a lot of problems within communities. The conscious capitalist approach is about “people first” — building not just for profit, but to better the lives of the people in the community. Emphasizing this side of commercial real estate could be one solution to the “brain gap” problem: with senior leaders in the field approaching retirement, the commercial real estate industry will likely face an employment crisis, Danielson explained. “Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to capture these Millennials, to capture diversity.”

Conscious Capitalism in the Millennial Workplace

Conscious capitalism is just one of the many workplace preferences that will become increasingly important as the oldest Millennials, who are now 35, move into leadership roles. According to Danielson and Hou, in the next 10 years, Millennials will be in control of the money, and as the SVN Millennials CRE Survey preliminary results indicate, the vast majority of them consider “purpose” when making investment decisions. Clearly, there’s a social element at play. Our SVN CRE Survey further revealed that the traits Millennials value most highly in an employer are collaboration and flexibility in work location and hours. Younger adults don’t necessarily want to just work from home, but it’s not always convenient to go into the office. They want flexibility, which today’s technology can easily facilitate, even in the CRE industry.

With the increasing demand for highly skilled workers in the notoriously lucrative technology industry, what can our industry do to compete for the “brains” to fill the looming talent “gap”? As Hou emphasized, when looking for new Millennial hires, employers should try to convince them that what they do has purpose. This means taking away that corporate mentality of “I say, you do,” which most Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are accustomed to. Instead, the Millennial mentality is about “How do we work together?” In the dawn of the Age of Millennials, collaboration is key, and as Danielson said,”when you change your mindset, you see opportunities.”


Listen to the full audio recording of “CEO Insight: Conscious Capitalism in Commercial Real Estate” here.

To learn more about real-life examples of companies that practice conscious capitalism, check out the book Firms of Endearment here.

[bctt tweet=””When you change your mindset, you see opportunities.””]

5 Tips to Perfect the Fast Pitch by Diane Danielson

Tips for Pitching the #SVNDifference

Last month I had an opportunity to speak at #DisruptCRE, which featured a number of commercial real estate technology companies seeking to “disrupt” the industry. One of the sessions included a fast-pitch session so that companies like Sperry Van Ness International Corporation as well as venture capitalists seeking to invest could learn about a company in 45 seconds or less.

Now, 45 seconds sounds like a very short time, but it’s still enough to convey a wealth of information. Out of the 20 presentations we saw, a couple of them stood out, not necessarily because their apps and technology were relevant to SVN, in fact most of them were not, but they had perfected their fast-pitch presentations.*

As Commercial Real Estate Advisors, we aren’t pitching new business tools to clients, but we are pitching our services and systems and often within short timeframes. In any presentation, we have only the first few seconds to make a good impression and explain the #SVNDifference. In fact, we want to see how our own Advisors do their version of a fast pitch in our #SVNDifference video contest (Click here for details; entries due by November 24, 2015).

[bctt tweet=”45 seconds sounds like a very short time, but it’s still enough to convey a wealth of information through your pitch #CRE”]

Here are a few helpful hints for delivering your pitch to clients in 45 seconds or less:

  1. Analogies work. If you are trying to introduce something new and different, then you need to give people a baseline. This is why Hollywood pitches always start out as it’s “Jaws meets Twister” or “Harry meets Sally online.”

SVN Advisor Tip: Be able to describe how you can organize greater demand for a property in words and/or analogies that your clients will understand.

  1. Tell stories. If you want people to remember you, your service, or your product, tell a story about it. Here are six rules for great storytelling. And, yes, a good presenter can tell an entire story within 45 seconds.

SVN Advisor Tip: Is there a story that demonstrates how your firm has used our Open Sales Call to create greater demand and/or to sell a property faster?

  1. Differentiate from the competition. Use your stories to illustrate how your service differs from the competition.

SVN Advisor Tip: This is why you need to perfect your #SVNDifference pitch!

  1. Be able to pitch without PowerPoint or props. In 45 seconds, your verbal description needs to stand on its own, no matter the product or service.

SVN Advisor Tip: Listen to the pitches on the Open Sales Call. Make notes on which ones are the most effective.

  1. Align with their values. What does your client value? Are they tied to the local community? What is their company culture or priorities?

SVN Advisor Tip: At SVN we value collaboration, local expertise, and transparent fees to drive demand. Identify clients who do the same, and the easier it will be to make your pitch.

One final reason to really nail the fast pitch is that even if the person making the decision is excited for your service, implementation is another story. For your client to make a change, they often have to convince a lot of other people to go along with them, some of who may be reluctant. You need to help them duplicate your fast pitch internally and that’s where the tips above can help.

Looking forward to seeing some versions of our Advisors’ 45-second pitches in our #SVNDifference Video Contest!

*Just in case you were wondering, there was not a bad pitch in the whole set at DisruptCRE, but the top 45-second pitches of the day were by Raisal, Building Conversation, and CrowdComfort. Great job to those companies and all the others who presented last week.

Appreciation Is the Best Motivation

Appreciation Can Be a Better Motivator than Money

I recently read an article in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal titled “It Pays to Give Thanks at the Office.” I was instantly drawn to the title as I was just coming off three days in Dallas attending SVNIC’s inaugural Managing Director Conference. One of our breakout sessions was called “Speed Best Practices — 60 Second Tips from Your Colleagues That You Could Use to Own, Lead and Succeed in Your Business.” There were well over 100 best practices shared from offices all across the country, with topics ranging from how to write a deployment plan to how to motivate a team with sales incentives.

One of my favorite best practices was shared by a Managing Director from NYC. Each week he asks his new to the business CRE brokers for a list of the people who would not take the rookies’ calls. He would then sit down in the open cubes with all the rookies and call that list of people they couldn’t get a meeting with. Role playing and sharing cold call techniques on how to get a meeting gave this team the training they needed. He was able to demonstrate to his young team unique sales and winning phone tactics from a seasoned, CRE industry veteran’s perspective. I like to think that commercial real estate offices today are becoming more diverse and multigenerational, where collaborating and cooperating together like this team is widespread. These rookies thanked and appreciated their Managing Director and the MD thanked them for making the calls. Collaboration and cooperation is the ethos of the SVN culture today.

[bctt tweet=”Collaboration and cooperation is the ethos of the #SVN culture today.”]

So I paused when the article I read in the WSJ quoted “It’s rare to find gratitude around the workplace, but appreciation is an even better motivator than money. Bonuses get spent, titles get old but a thank you lingers…” I would agree 100%. The article also referenced Google amongst other companies today that are setting a new trend because expressions of gratitude are scarce around the workplace. Not at SVN. I am going into my 4th year with SVNIC and some of the biggest reasons I work at here are our people, our leadership, and our culture. Everyone says “thank you” and I see our Managing Directors often thank their employees. It’s a reason to show up every day, it’s a real motivator to give it your all.

The article went on with a few quotes worth mentioning. “A sense of appreciation is the simple, most sustainable motivation at work… the sense that other people appreciate what you do sticks with you.” Be specific about what someone has done and “show honest and sincere appreciation.” I have sat with this quote written on an index card for years. I wrote that “quote” down 20 years ago when I participated in the Dale Carnegie Sales Training Course after reading the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. That book gave me the tools and key principles to practice when interacting with people in business and in life in order to be successful.

Why Would Someone Want to Work at Your Office?

I have a best practice to share – or rather it is more of a call to action for all Managing Directors at SVN and in the CRE industry. Sit down and write on a sheet of paper “Reasons why someone would want to work at your office.” Then hand out a blank sheet and ask your employees to do the same at one of your weekly team meetings. Collect them, they can be anonymous, and then discuss them with your team. Save them and bring them to the next SVN Managing Director Conference or our National Conference in San Diego and share with your peers. You might all learn a new way to show gratitude in your office resulting in employee loyalty and increased sense of appreciation.

I agree that “appreciation is the best motivator.” My work and the value I bring to our team is appreciated and respected at SVNIC. For me, that is the biggest reason I get excited to go to work — thank you everyone at SVN. I know myself and all SVN Advisors are looking to recruit “culturally compatible” CRE professionals who are also looking to work in a fun, positive, motivating and appreciative office environment.

To learn more about the SVN culture, check out our Core Covenants here.

svn-core-covenants

If you’d like to join a winning team, please contact me at Karen.Hurd@svn.com or 781.812.4272 and let’s talk.

International Students Share Their Thoughts on SVN and CRE

SVN & the International Entrepreneurship Center

Our industry has a problem. The average age of a commercial real estate agent is around 60 — which is an issue as Millennials like me are starting to outnumber other generations in the workforce. And with SVN growing internationally, we wanted to know how the brand and industry resonate outside of the U.S. — so we partnered with a group of Brazilian students through Boston College’s International Entrepreneurship Center to find some answers. On Wednesday, July 29th the students presented their ideas on how to make the SVN brand and CRE industry more appealing to Millennials, from an international perspective.

International Insights: 3 Ways to Reach Millennials

  1. It all starts with the website. As tech-obsessed Millennials, the first thing we do when we hear about a company is Google it. So no matter the size of your office, you’d better have a good website. To the Brazilian students, a “good” website is one that is light on text and heavy on visuals. The students also pointed out that they need to identify with the content on the site. Quotes, testimonials, and photos of young Advisors can help solve this issue.
  2. Let’s talk money. A commission-only job sounds risky, and it certainly can be. But the students were comfortable with the idea because starting a company or similar entrepreneurial endeavors are basically commission-only until you have funding.  Due to language barriers and their just learning the business, the Brazilian students were initially confused with the SVN concept of “compensated cooperation.” Once they understood the benefits of splitting commissions it seemed to fit right in with their view of open and transparent business practices in a sharing economy.
  3. Emphasize the benefits of a franchise. Franchises are big in Brazil and can translate well in international markets. To attract Millennials to work for a franchise business, it’s important to highlight the upsides like training, tools, and independence that the franchise model can offer. As the Brazilian students said in their presentation, with a franchise “you’re on your own but you’re not alone.” You’re in charge of your own destiny, but the franchise system has your back.

If you’re ready to take your CRE career to the next level with the SVN franchise system, visit our Careers page here.

[bctt tweet=”To attract Millennials to work for a franchise business, it’s important to highlight the upsides like training, tools, and independence that the franchise model can offer. “]

Game-Changing Trends in Design and Collaboration

Each year, at our Sperry Van Ness® (SVN) National Conference, I talk to our commercial real estate advisors and business owners about game-changing trends. Game-changers occur when people are doing things (working, playing, living) differently than they used to just a few years ago. This year, we have four categories: Communication, Design, Collaboration and Distribution.

Trends in Design and Collaboration

The following video features the second portion of my 2015 talk on trends. Watch the video and read the takeaways below.

Main Takeaways in Design Trends:

1. Mobile first, mobile only. Tech engineers are no longer adapting desktop software for tablets and smartphones. Instead they are designing straight to mobile.

2. Different devices require different design elements. Desktop software can accommodate a longer attention span than something designed for a tablet, phone or watch.

3. Cybersecurity will be a key element and consideration of every new design.

4. The mass adoption of mobile technology has opened the door for innovators to bypass existing infrastructure. Uber, Airbnb, Bitcoin and Apple Pay are examples of innovative businesses that circumvented traditional infrastructure.

Mobile technology has massively altered design. Engineers are designing for shorter and shorter attention spans and developing systems that don’t rely on existing infrastructure. In underdeveloped countries, the combination of mobile adoption and lack of existing infrastructure, i.e. phone lines and banking systems, has sped up mass adoption of new business models. In developed countries, however, we are seeing slower adoption of alternative currencies (Bitcoin, Apple Pay) and lawsuits levied against new business models (Uber, Airbnb). The key for new technology to achieve mass adoption and acceptance is: access, affordability and accountability. As discussed in the video, the aforementioned Bitcoin, Apple Pay, Uber, and Airbnb are caught in the accountability stage for now.

The expansion of technology also comes with new risks. As we move towards the Internet of Things where our watches communicate with our thermostats (see Nest) as well as our banks, security will continue to become a bigger and bigger issue. New technologies will therefore be required to incorporate security protocols into all design elements.

Main Takeaways in Collaboration Trends:

1. One form of collaboration is crowdsourcing. In the commercial real estate industry we are seeing the crowdsourcing of investment funds (Fundrise, Realty Mogul) and in the case of Comstak, the crowdsourcing of lease data.

2. At SVN, we have been leaders in collaboration and here are two examples:

a. Crowdsourcing of knowledge. Our service and product councils bring together experts around specific asset classes and services, who partner on transactions and share knowledge both online, on calls and in person at our national conferences.

b. Crowdsourcing of demand. The SVN National Sales Call, where our advisors feature new properties they are marketing, is revolutionary in allowing participation by outside brokers, clients and potential clients. This is due to our founding principle that no one advisor, local firm or national company knows all the potential buyers for a property. Only when you drive up demand by exposure to the entire marketplace does a client achieve the best value for their property.

At Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, we are watching these trends to see how they affect the commercial real estate industry. Our goal is to capitalize on these trends so that our advisors are using the most powerful tools to the benefit of their clients.

To view the full speech please visit our YouTube page.

7 Signs Your Team is Functioning at Top Capacity

As COO of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, my job is to make sure everyone in our company is working efficiently, effectively and creatively to exceed expectations and delight our franchisees. As businesses like ours expand around the globe, we’re all working longer hours and tackling more projects; yet sometimes the most productive thing a company can do is put down the work and have some fun.  The following article outlines a really fun way to check in with your commercial real estate  team to see if they are operating at top capacity.

Recently we had an operations summit in Atlanta. After a long day of meetings, my team took an evening off and spent it trying to find our way out of a “challenge room.” What was clear throughout this team-building activity was that we have a group of professionals who were not only smart but also high-functioning and very fun (even when locked in close quarters).

Faberge Egg
Our “Challenge Room” prize … a fake Faberge Egg. But the real prize was the teamwork that helped us beat the clock.

A challenge room is a new trend where you actually pay to be locked in a room where you have to work together to unlock Da Vinci Code type clues in order to accomplish a mission (ours was to find a Faberge egg) and then find your way out of the room within one hour. As a spoiler alert, we completed our task and escaped with 4 minutes to spare.

While I won’t go into details, because that would spoil the fun, it was clear that our team functions in a manner of which I couldn’t be more proud, and that I have confidence carries over with them into every workplace challenge.

This experience spotlighted the 7 things you need to have a finely-tuned, high-functioning team.

  1. A clearly articulated common goal.You need every single member of your team invested in and enthusiastic about your project. But they also need to understand the end goal and the bigger picture. In our challenge room, this was literally laid out for us; but if you are leading a team, you need to do the same.
  2. An overall strategic plan.As soon as we got in the room, one of our team members announced that when we hit 30 minutes, we would use our first “lifeline.” (We had a walkie-talkie where you could ask for hints.) We all agreed and that person temporarily became the project leader. She spoke up definitively with a strategic plan that made sense and didn’t wait for me or anyone else to take charge.
  3. Empowered team members ready to take leadership as needed.Throughout any project or challenge, whether it’s growing a company, or trying to find an object in a challenge room, different skills are required at different times. Some team members may excel at deciphering riddles, while others are better at running calculations in their head. Our team seamlessly passed the leadership torch from person to person as we moved through the challenge.
  4. No weak links. With the right team you can divide and conquer and never have to second-guess anyone or spend time micromanaging. At the start of our challenge, we quickly divided up the room and thoroughly searched our areas. With no weak links, no one was second-guessing anyone else. We may have doubled back over someone’s territory, but only to approach it from a different angle. Because we trusted everyone to handle their part of the challenge, morale stayed high and no one wasted valuable time and energy.
  5. Time management skills.With a literal clock ticking down in a challenge room, there is no time to waste and everyone has to be conscious of the deadline. On any project, wasted employee or management time is unproductive and costly to the entire organization. Team members who can’t manage their time wisely become weak links.
  6. No fear of asking for help.Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a function of time management and understanding that others might have different talents and experiences. It’s also a sign that I should remember my reading glasses so I don’t have to yell for help whenever I couldn’t read the numbers on some of the locks.
  7. A sense of humor. People like to work with fun people. In today’s corporate environments, there is constant pressure. A team that laughs together, bonds together. I can assure you that our challenge room team will be laughing about inside jokes from that challenge room task for years to come.

Diane Danielson is the COO of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, a commercial real estate franchisor headquartered in Boston, MA with over 190 offices covering 500 commercial real estate markets. Find out how you can be part of our team by clicking here.

The story behind the Sperry Van Ness Monday Morning Call

One of the hallmarks of the Sperry Van Ness® (SVN) brand is our Monday Morning Sales Call. While almost all commercial real estate teams have a weekly sales meeting of some sort, the SVN call is not only national in scope, but it’s open to the entire brokerage community.  Why do we do this? Because we believe in basic economic fundamentals:

The greater the exposure, the bigger demand; the bigger the demand, the higher the sale price of an asset.  It’s economics 101.

To find out more, view our SVN Difference video.

At SVN we believe that achieving the highest and best price is always in our clients’ best interests. We practice compensated cooperation where we pay equitable co-brokerage fees on all properties to not only our own Advisors, but to any and all outside brokers.  This is where the Monday Morning Sales Call comes in.

Sperry Van Ness National Call
SVN Parke Group watches the Sperry Van Ness national call as an office in their conference room.

With co-brokerage fees motivating the marketplace, compensated cooperation guarantees that more buyers view our clients’ properties, pumping up demand, and ultimately the purchase price.

When an SVN advisor receives a new listing, it’s immediately entered into our innovative cloud-based system, creating instantaneous marketing materials and websites as well as syndication links to multiple listing services.

Qualified properties are then featured on our weekly Monday National Sales call, which is attended by our SVN advisors and other guests who are potential partners for a deal. Following the call, SVN publicizes those properties across the Internet to thousands of more potential purchasers.  The result? Here’s what our advisors have to say:

“I’ve done 4 or 5 deals … with other SVN Advisors and most of them came from the Monday morning call.”

“Sold two [NNN Investment] properties in 2012 [due to Monday morning call].”

“I’ve closed many transactions as Buyer’s broker or Seller’s broker due to the Monday Morning Call.”

“Just this week, I sent a property to my buyer, and that buyer is looking hard at it.”

By exposing listings to not only SVN advisors across the country, but also members of the outside brokerage community our advisors have more opportunities to find the right partner to close more deals.   You may think that Advisors are giving up some by splitting the commission 50/50, but they gain a lot more when they close more deals, more quickly and at a higher price.

This dedication to transparency and collaboration is something we work into every facet of SVN services from investment sales to tenant representation, from property and asset management to corporate, leasing and auction services.

To register for our Monday Morning Sales Call click here.

To find out more about franchise opportunities click here.

Sperry Van Ness is Hot on LinkedIn

One of the core values of the Sperry Van Ness® brand is that our clients get the most value when we create the most demand. It’s basic market fundamentals and collaboration at its best. This is why we open up our weekly National #CRE Sales Call to the entire brokerage and investment community and we encourage our Advisors and guests to share this information by email and social media.

Apparently, our Advisors did such a great job this week, that we received the following note from SlideShare (where we post new listings each week)!

Sperry Van Ness featured on Slideshare and LinkedIn

While our “Hot on LinkedIn” fame was short-lived, we’re hoping to make it up on the SlideShare leaderboard again!

Want to learn more about the Sperry Van Ness Difference when it comes to commercial real estate? Sign up for a call and join us on any Monday.

 

*All Sperry Van Ness® offices are independently owned and operated.

 

Five for Friday: The collaborator who puts 'multiple eyes' on listings

Neil Johnson of Sperry Van Ness/Landmark Commercial Real Estate in Geneva, Ill. talks about the benefits that come with the team approach – and the move from hitchhiker to advisor in this week’s Five for Friday.  

Neil Johnson, managing director/broker at Sperry Van Ness / Landmark Advisors
Neil Johnson, managing director/broker at Sperry Van Ness / Landmark Advisors

1. What is your geographic market and product specialty? 

The focus of my brokerage work for 15 years has been in Kane County, Ill. and the surrounding suburban areas about one hour west of downtown Chicago. As an office, our advisors handle retail, office, and industrial properties – plus vacant land. We do quite a bit of leasing, which has created relationships for some of our best investment sale opportunities.

2. What’s your latest best practice tip that you can share?

Collaboration on listings with the other advisors in my office has proven to be particularly productive. There are many benefits to the team approach, including better service to our clients.  We get the benefit of multiple eyes looking at each stage of the listing or transaction. It is also more fun to work as a team.

3. What’s been the biggest changeover on how you run your business in the past decade?

We are trying to be more selective on the quality and size of opportunities that we take on. Otherwise, it is too easy to race around chasing every small deal that turns up. We are working hard to increase our focus on investment sales, and larger lease deals, especially now that the market is picking up again.

4. What business book do you like to recommend to your colleagues?

I try to spend some time reading the Bible every day. Scripture can be helpful in addressing the challenges of  human relationships.

5. What’s a fun fact that not everyone knows about you? 

In my early 20s, I hitchhiked more than 20,000 miles, across the U.S. and Europe. To the casual observer, I’m sure I appeared to be a typecast hippie.

*All Sperry Van Ness® offices are independently owned and operated.

 

Why We Collaborate

Kevin Maggiacomo, President & CEO of Sperry Van Ness Internationa
Kevin Maggiacomo, President & CEO of Sperry Van Ness International Corp.

I’m often asked why we give away some of the (otherwise proprietary) Sperry Van Ness®  systems, tools and resources. I’m further asked why SVN is investing in the development of new tools if only to hand some of them out to the brokerage community at large. “Aren’t we aiding our competitors?” “Are we losing pieces of our differentiated value proposition in doing so?” These are a few of the questions often posed to me. 

While losing market share and eroding gross margin are obviously not the extirpative goals of the aforementioned strategy, in this post I’ll attempt to clarify why we have taken our culture of collaboration up a notch, and how doing so is facilitating growth across all key performance indicators while helping to improve the fractured state of the commercial real estate (CRE) industry. 

By way of background, SVN was founded on the premise that proactively cooperating and collaborating with our brokerage brethren – sharing our fees 50/50 in the process – is the right thing to do for the client and is the only way to ensure maximum value for a property.  Debating the merits of that ethos is a topic for another day, and last month we released the SVN Difference Video, which scrutinized the CRE industry and its asset disposition practices, and was met with strong emotional reaction. 

In terms of opening-up and creating new SVN products for the benefit of the brokerage community, we’ve rolled out the following in the past 12 months, which can be categorized and described as follows:

  • Compensated Cooperation:  The SVN Monday Morning Sales call is now open to the public.  There, we showcase new listings procured by our SVN Advisors over the previous 7 days.  Every listing includes a buy-side commission which is always ½ of what the SVN Advisor stands to earn as a matter of policy.

  • Education:  We collaborated with more than 10 commercial real estate firms and industry organizations to launch www.CREvine.com, an open resource platform for CRE professionals to acquire new skills, gain knowledge, and “level-up” their practices.

  • Marketing:  Lastly, and as a BETA test, we’ve opened up a good portion of our (now retired) OnlinePublisherTM system.  Called CRElaunch, owners and brokers alike can use the tool to create brochures and market their properties (a word of caution here – the product is in BETA and has a long way to go).

But back to the topic at hand.

We collaborate not to merely suggest that “we’re the good guys,” but because we truly believe that making the otherwise dysfunctional commercial real estate market more efficient will benefit all stakeholders, including Sperry Van Ness.

Simply put, collaborating – harnessing the power of broad horizontal networks of participants to achieve a better outcome – will drive market efficiency and liquidity, while simultaneously increasing revenue and profitability to those who collaborate.  At SVN, we’ve aggressively grown our business by subscribing to this ethos and receive direct benefit in the following manner:

  • Recruiting:  As a CRE advisory, one of our biggest economic generators is recruiting talented, ethical and productive advisors.  Our opening-up certain components of SVN has allowed us to create relationships with thousands of brokers and we’ve recruited or awarded a brokerage position or SVN franchise to a small percentage of this new constituency.

  • Retention:  Just as strong as recruiting is a vital key performance indicator of growth, attrition (of producing Advisors) can have devastating consequences for an organization.  Through thought leadership, the contemporary nature of our collaborative growth strategy, and via a transparent business model, our attrition rate is at a 5-year low.

  • Sales:  When one harnesses the power of the entire brokerage community to market a for sale asset, organized competition is generated, multiple offers are posited, the market speaks, and the highest price is achieved.  Our compensated cooperation strategy, coupled with our core covenants, define SVN while moving inventory faster and at a higher price.

  • New Business Development:  It’s tough to argue against the growth strategies of the likes of Google, Skype, and Innocentive in suggesting that their “Freemium” business models don’t create raving fans, loyal customers, and a myriad of cross-selling opportunities (each of these companies offer a free “attraction” product while simultaneously offering paid premium products).  As described above, the SVN story – rooted in harnessing the power of collaboration to affect a better outcome – has been kicked-up a notch, shared with clients/prospects, has enhanced our point of differentiation, increased our “batting average,” and reduced the cost of sales.  We are winning new listings, doing more business – all while putting the clients interests’ first.

Mass collaboration, while not ubiquitous in CRE brokerage, is now a staple of the new economy and it’s here to stay.  As the members of Generation X & Y grow to positions of increasing power and control, collaboration and Freemium business strategies will become the norm in CRE as well.  Until then, I’ll continue to invest in the creation of new products and to share some of those we previously created.

Kevin Maggiacomo is the President and CEO of Sperry Van Ness International Corp.

*All Sperry Van Ness® offices are independently owned and operated.

 

SVN State of the Company: Change or Die by Kevin Maggiacomo

Kevin Maggiacomo, President & CEO of Sperry Van Ness Internationa
Kevin Maggiacomo, President & Chief Executive Officer of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation

As President and CEO of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, my role, aside from addressing the perennially evolving needs of the organization, is to spend a good percentage of my time on strategy and “second wave growth.” Creating a real estate services platform, scaling-up new offerings like property management and auction, but also on expanding upon the disruption that our compensated cooperation model has had on the industry is where I spent a considerable amount of my time. In this post I’ll share with you why we’ve funded and embraced such an “innovation lab” at SVN, and describe why it’s an important cause.

Inspired by the Motley Fool, whose two founders I recently spent time with at the Conscious Capitalism conference, let us consider the following notion: Becoming a leading company in an industry requires the right people, and I’m not talking about at the executive level, but at every level. An appetite for change has to be in a company’s DNA.  But being an industry leader also requires a tremendous amount of imagination… imagining a different world. A world almost like the one we live in now, but more efficient.  Becoming a laggard in an industry requires a lack of imagination. And just like any industry on the planet, there are forces that will disrupt commercial real estate brokerage and we are not immune.

Change happens to industries. Just ask a newspaper publisher, or anyone who invested in that industry in recent years. We still read newspapers – in fact we read them more today than in previous generations – but we don’t read them in quite the same way. And without a bridge loan from the then richest man on the planet, even the patriarch of the publishers – The New York Times – would have filed for bankruptcy protection. Were there warnings this would happen? You bet.

Back in 1993, a man named Gordy Thompson worked for The New York Times, and his job title was “Internet Services Manager.” Rest assured that in the C-Suite at The Times, no one knew what the role included, much less understood that it was arguably the most important position at the newspaper. As the story goes, Thompson tried – and failed to deliver the following message to The Times execs: “When a 14-year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you’ve got a problem.”

Thompson was in the habit of hanging out on Internet message boards, if you remember those from back in the day. There, Thompson noticed that fans of the Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry were re-posting Barry’s columns on the 2,000 person strong Usenet so that people who couldn’t read the Herald now could. In other words, the greatest competitive threat for newspapers was the popularity of their own content.  People wanted more of it where and when they wanted – on their terms.

This same trend has occurred in the financial industry when we began facilitating our own trades online – and the list goes on. Did people stop traveling? No, they stopped paying travel agents. And you better believe there was a Gordy Thompson every time, sounding the alarm, telling the corporate executives to use a little imagination. Saying “people want what they want, when they want it, where they want it and how they want it.  And if we don’t figure out a way to give it to them, they are going to get it somewhere else.”

Innovating to develop new methods of providing Commercial Real Estate (CRE) advisory services, working towards making the opaque and antiquated CRE industry more transparent and efficient are a few of the causes which drive the SVN innovation lab’s purpose – embracing the disruptive economic forces inherent in other industries is a big focus of our leadership team. When we talk about opening up parts of SVN – our Monday Morning Sales Calls to anyone who wants to listen or the previous version of our OnlinePublisherTM (www.crelaunch.com) – we’re focusing on increasing our productivity through collaboration with the entire industry, making it more efficient in the process.  This is the Sperry Van Ness® Difference. To learn more check out our SVN Difference Video.


Kevin Maggiacomo is the President and CEO of Sperry Van Ness International Corp.

*All Sperry Van Ness® offices are independently owned and operated.

 

Technology Enabled Collaboration by Kevin Maggiacomo

The impact and the power associated with mobilizing people for a purpose are rooted in fundamental economics – they are nothing new. From electing a government official, to spreading word of and organizing an “Aquarian exhibition” of 500,000 people at Woodstock in 1969, ideating among a critical mass of people, sharing and sourcing information while leveraging the power of numbers and virality have always been present in society. Aligned crowds, we call them “smart mobs” today, are driving virtually every major trend in the global economy.

What’s new, and ever evolving, is the technology which is enabling crowds to be catalyzed, assimilated, and leveraged like never before. If we examine only the past five years, we see how rapidly the speed and power of group collaboration has increased to create value to stakeholders in ways that were previously thought unimaginable. “Technology enabled collaboration,” as its been dubbed, is in full force and effect in almost every industry on the planet. From Restaurants to Travel, and from Yelp to Orbitz, people and businesses are organizing, collaborating, sharing and peering for the purposes of lowering costs, improving quality, saving time, and even curing disease.

Another fundamental shift that has taken place over the last decade is the move from proprietary to transparent, from closed architecture to open source, from a world controlled by scarcity to one opened up by sharing. The power in business is no longer generated by those who control something, but by those who share it. I recall a friend of mine saying: “business has never been about addition or subtraction – it has always been about multiplication.” No greater multiplier exists than creating an impassioned, intentional movement based upon meeting a market driven need.

The following statement may seem counter-intuitive to many still clinging to their old-school ways, but businesses today need to understand they probably cannot control the marketplace by the uniqueness of a product or service, therefore their only choice is to empower the marketplace by adding value. Sage advice then, would be to not get sucked into the frivolity of attempting to control a market – be disruptive by opening it up.

Sustainability for businesses will be found in how quickly businesses can embrace sharing, not how long they can hold a market hostage. Few people will argue with the fact that business has, and will always be, about relationships. We can debate positional variances between qualitative, quantitative, and relational impact, but the market has ended one debate – you don’t control relationships you empower them.

Despite this movement, and hitting a bit closer to home, the commercial real estate industry seems to have been immune to the collaborative trend, and continues to operate much in the same way as it has for 20-30 years. When my firm (Sperry Van Ness) broke from the industry standard approach more than 25 years ago by adopting a set of core covenants, which gave birth to our ethos of compensated cooperation and participation with the entire brokerage community to market our inventory, we were looked at as heretics among our peers. I’m certain as time has evolved our “heretical” approach is now seen as having set the chinning bar for how the industry should operate.

The problem is that while the marketplace recognizes the benefit of the aforementioned model, the brokerage industry as a whole continues to operate with much of the same opacity, often times at the expense of the client and to the benefit of the brokerages. “Quietly” marketing properties, offering zero fee incentive for other brokers to help sell a listing, inserting eyeball roadblocks like overused registration and confidentiality requirements are still par for the course. Has any other industry been more immune to the advancements of technology enabled collaboration than commercial real estate?

When will our industry as a whole to come out of the shadows, cease with the ethereal and mercurial, embrace fundamental economic concepts like supply and demand and operate in the light of day? In the future, the market will simply not tolerate anything less than an authentic and transparent approach to business.

What say you?

Kevin Maggiacomo, CEO & President, Sperry Van Ness International Corporation

 

*All Sperry Van Ness® offices are independently owned and operated.