SVN Honors Our Vets – Jerry Dawson, CCIM of SVN | JCDawson Global Real Estate

In honor of Veterans Day, we sat down to interview a few of our SVN military veterans to learn more about their background and why they believe the commercial real estate industry was a good match for them. 


Jerry Dawson is the Managing Director at SVN | JCDawson Global Real Estate in Bowie, Md.


Jerry’s Military Background:

“I was a Navy officer and my designation was service warfare, which meant that I was aboard ships as an engineer, as a navigator, and a ship driver, leading divisions on an aircraft carrier.”


What attracted you to work in the military?

“I went to school at the Naval Academy for my undergraduate degree, so that was part of my commitment after graduation, to serve in the military. I didn’t have any military background in my family, but it seemed like a great opportunity at a great institution to do a lot of things I had never really thought about doing.”


What brought you from the Navy to a commercial real estate career?

“I started working in commercial real estate managing commercial properties in New York City. A few graduates from the Naval Academy who were a couple of years ahead of me worked for that company and put the opportunity on my radar. They talked to me about their positions, and it seemed very interesting – again, something else I had never done before. It was a good opportunity to explore my professional horizons and do something different. Running a property is like running a business – you’ve got income and expenses, responsibilities, and a team of people – and that’s what I wanted to do.”


What military-training skills do you think might be transferable to a successful CRE career?

“For me, it was the leadership training. That, and understanding the importance of following through on a mission, leveraging resources, and many other skills that a business person would need to be successful.”


How does the culture of SVN resonate with the culture/values in the military?

“I think the one thing that there is some parallel to is teamwork. In the military you are always working as a team. You never really accomplish anything on your own. SVN also emphasizes teamwork.  Acknowledging that team, and understanding how that team works together, in my opinion, is critical to commercial real estate. Transactions don’t happen without coordinating with a team, whether it’s within your SVN office or third-party professionals like attorneys, engineers, etc. In addition to the team concept of SVN’s culture, it’s probably the collaboration piece of the culture.

“The fact that we all try to grow is something at SVN that parallels the military environment. Being able to reach out to people and get support on projects or answers to questions is what you do in the military. You need to figure out how to get things done. You don’t always have the answers. It means finding other people to do that sometimes. SVN provides that culture and environment.”


How might commercial real estate be a good career choice for a military veteran?

“I think it all depends on the individual. I can’t say that it works for everybody. This particular aspect of commercial real estate is very entrepreneurial, and you have to be comfortable in that environment. There are other aspects of commercial real estate, just like in every industry, that may attract different people for different reasons. Commercial real estate is a little different in that regard. There’s a space for everyone, it’s just finding the right space for each individual to be passionate and focused.”


If you are currently in the military or a veteran and considering a career in commercial real estate, please visit our career pages at svn.com/careers-with-svn. Our managing directors would like to hear from you.

Top 3 Things that Keep #CRE Leaders up at Night

Recently I was asked to speak for the Society of Exchange Counselors at their marketing conference in Burlington, VT, where commercial real estate brokers, principals, developers, owners and investors were in attendance. I have adapted this talk for the SVN Blog so that our readers can find out what I think are the top 3 things that keep #CRE leaders up at night.

I know, because I talk to dozens of #CRE leaders every single day that there are 3 things that are always top of mind.

  1. Deal Flow
  2. Growth
  3. Happy Clients

Today I am going to show you how SVN can drive a lot more deal flow to you and your local market.

I am also going to tell you some exceptional ways how SVN is helping our Advisors grow.

Lastly, I will share how the SVN Difference has proven time and time again that our model of open communication, collaboration and sharing of information not only within SVN’s Shared Value Network, but the entire CRE community, yields a 9.6% higher price per SF on average on deals involving broker cooperation compared to deals that are double ended.

How does SVN do this?

Well, with regard to Deal Flow – Our advanced technology tools and marketing platform help Advisors be able to automate processes that in the past have been manual, labor intensive and time consuming, preventing more deal flow.

Growth – We all want to talk about this and know it’s important. SVN knows it’s important to you… and how it impacts your bottom line. SVN helps drive this growth in various ways: through SVN’s System for Growth which is our online training program, our award winning marketing platform powered by Buildout, recruiting assistance, education, product councils, deal making calls, national and regional seminars and conferences and more. Outside of training and recruiting tools that SVN provides, I personally help different markets grow through the relationships I have and the global marketing reach of SVN.

Happy Clients – Everybody wants a happy client. I want happy clients – don’t you? SVN knows how important it is to create amazing value for you as Advisors and your clients so they want to do multiple future transactions with you again. How? It’s the people at SVN who put clients’ interests first – it’s our culture. We’ve found in an independent study that deals sold through broker cooperation achieve a 9.6% higher price per square foot, on average, than deals that are double-ended. SVN is the only CRE firm in the country that invites outside CRE firms and their clients to a live open sales call each Monday morning and I invite you all to join.

SVN join the svn live call-01

The SVN Difference is a difference that will drive increased deal flow, growth and at the same time create a happier client that will want to do more transactions with you and send referrals to you in the future.

[bctt tweet=”SVN is the only #CRE firm that invites outside firms and their clients to a weekly live open sales call” username=”svnic”]

SVN Advisor Gail Bowden Named 2016 Woman of Influence

Advisor Gail Bowden Recognized by Real Estate Forum for her Contributions to the CRE Industry

SVN International Corp. (SVN) recently announced that Gail Bowden, Senior Investment Advisor with SVN | Commercial Advisory Group in Sarasota, FL, has been recognized as one of Real Estate Forum’s 2016 Women of Influence. The 23rd annual list recognizes top performing female professionals in commercial real estate whose track record of achievements have helped shape and influence the traditionally male-dominated industry.

SVN Advisor Gail BowdenReal Estate Forum, a leading publication in the commercial real estate industry, chose this year’s impressive winners from a pool of more than 300 high-caliber nominees. Bowden earned her spot on the coveted list due to her exceptional transactional volume and contributions to the industry. With over 30 years in CRE, she has cultivated a strong reputation and list of accomplishments that have contributed to a career sales total of over $200 million. Bowden recently ranked as the 3rd top-performing SVN Advisor on a national level and ranks among the top two percent of SVN commercial real estate Advisors in the United States.

“It’s a great honor to have been selected as a 2016 Women of Influence,” says SVN Senior Investment Advisor Gail Bowden. “One of my ongoing life goals has been to inspire and empower other women; to instill in them that there are no barriers, the glass ceiling has been shattered and the path has been created to achieve even greater success. In my opinion, true success is measured by our ability to pay it forward, give back through mentoring and philanthropy.”

Beyond her success on the CRE playing field, Bowden donates much of her time to industry and community organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, SPARCC (Safe Place & Rape Crisis Center) and helping SVN launch the Women’s CRE Forum (WCF) earlier this year. WCF is a dedicated platform providing education and mentorship to new and established female commercial real estate professionals with the goal of increasing and strengthening much needed female leadership in the real estate industry.

“Here at SVN we experience Gail’s hard work and commitment everyday and can’t think of anyone else more deserving of this achievement,” said SVN President and CEO Kevin Maggiacomo. “Serving as an example and mentor to many in the industry, Gail has been instrumental in launching the Women’s CRE Forum. Part of SVN’s Shared Value Network initiative, the forum serves as a tool to help further promote gender balance in commercial real estate.”

Bowden and her fellow winners are featured in Real Estate Forum’s August issue, as well as on GlobeSt.com. They will also be honored in an awards ceremony on October 5th at the joint RealShare New York and RealShare Investment & Finance cocktail reception.

[bctt tweet=”One of my ongoing life goals has been to inspire and empower other women – Gail Bowden #CRE” username=”svnic”]

SVN CEO Recognized as Top Commercial Real Estate Leader

Kevin Maggiacomo Named as a Best CRE Boss for Promoting Diversity

Kevin Maggiacomo Best CRE BossIn case you missed the July issue of Real Estate Forumthe magazine recently announced SVN International Corp. President and CEO Kevin Maggiacomo has been named a 2016 Best CRE Boss for his efforts promoting diversity throughout the commercial real estate industry. The annual awards recognize inspirational and innovative CRE company leaders who exhibit ambition, financial prowess and people skills while also leading by example.

Chosen from over 100 highly qualified nominees, each featured leader was given a title that best corresponds with the individual’s leadership qualities, professional reputation and presence in the industry. Maggiacomo was selected as a 2016 Best CRE Boss in “The Diversifier” category for his continued dedication to improving gender and ethnic diversity in both SVN and the industry overall.

“We place a very high importance on diverse thought at SVN; it is a message we consistently communicate loud and clear,” says SVN President and CEO Kevin Maggiacomo. “Being recognized as a diversifier shows me that the industry is listening, and that a much-needed shift toward gender-balanced leadership and empowerment is underway.”

One of Maggiacomo’s main passions is spreading the message of diversity in leadership. Starting with his own company, Maggiacomo gender-balanced the SVN leadership team in 2014, has testified in front of the Massachusetts legislature on behalf of a Women on Boards bill, spoke on “Awakening the American Dream,” in his highly viewed TedX talk and most recently joined former British Prime Minster Tony Blair at the Closing the Gap conference speaking on the importance of diversifying leadership boards.

To learn more about diversity’s role in the innovative SVN platform, visit our Franchise Opportunities page.

[bctt tweet=”We place a very high importance on diverse thought at SVN; it is a message we consistently communicate loud and clear #CRE” username=”svnic”]

Happy 4th of July from Kevin Maggiacomo

Celebrating Our Nation’s Independence

Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. It celebrates the birth of a great nation founded by men and women who understood the meaning and value of disruptive thinking, service, honor, leadership and above all, freedom.

As we approach this 4th of July holiday, I can’t help but think of our founders and framers, and the sacrifices they made when they fought to establish our nation’s independence. Those thoughts of respect and admiration in turn led me to think about of our troops overseas currently fighting to protect our way of life and preserve our freedom.

Enjoy this special weekend, relish in the blessings of freedom and independence, but also do your part and work hard to appreciate it.

For those clients, colleagues and SVN family members who find themselves working or serving during this holiday, our gratitude and thanks go to you as well on this weekend of remembrance.

I wish each of you a safe and happy 4th of July weekend.

To read more of Kevin Maggiacomo’s blog posts, click here.

[bctt tweet=”Enjoy this special weekend, relish in the blessings of freedom and independence, but also do your part and work hard to appreciate it.” username=”svnic”]

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.””]

8 Problem-Solving Tips for Leaders from The Martian

Leaders on Earth and Mars: To Infinity and Beyond?

If you have read the book The Martian by Andy Weir or seen the Matt Damon movie version, you can’t help but wonder, “Would I be able to survive alone on Mars?” Fortunately most of us won’t be stranded on a planet forced to solve problems that have life or death consequences. But, as leaders, we face a number of seemingly insurmountable problems that need solving on a daily basis. Here are eight tips that can help us all become better problem-solvers – and leaders – at work.

1. Reframe the problem

The bigger the problem; the greater the anxiety. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when juggling many problems at the same time. The first step is to stop thinking about them as problems. Instead, reframe them as challenges. This entails more than simply substituting the word, but seeking out the challenges within your problem. (Warning: SPOILER ALERT ahead).

In The Martian, Mark Watney, the main character, was traveling in a solar-powered vehicle across mars when he ran into a massive dust storm. This was an enormous problem. The dust blocked the sun he needed to power his vehicle. Instead of focusing on the problem, i.e. the dust storm, he found the challenge: he needed his solar panels to receive more light from Mars’ sun. By focusing on how he could get more solar energy, he eventually found a way to navigate out of and around the storm.

2. Break the big problems down into manageable steps.

Along the way to solving any big problem, there are always smaller steps. While it helps to understand and communicate the desired end result, focus on the first step. Steps are smaller and less anxiety provoking. For Watney on Mars, there was a point when he needed to find a way to get from one small airlock back to the main one. That was the big problem. But before he could even think about that, he needed to buy some time. The first step was to fix his Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suit to preserve his air. If he focused on the bigger problem and not the more immediate first step, he would never have made it.

3. Surround yourself with experts.

While Watney had a lot of time and problem solving by himself on Mars, whenever he had communications with Earth, he took their advice … at least most of the time. There were occasions when he went with his gut because as he noted, he was now the world’s expert at surviving on Mars. Regardless of your expertise, the best teams contain diverse experts who not only know their expertise but also their limitations. See 7 Signs Your Team is Functioning at Top Capacity for tips on how to build a team that works well together.

4. Science the sh*t out of it.

This is the most famous line in the movie (although it does not appear in the book!) and it applies to even us non-scientific types. The scientific method works by testing, observing and measuring; in other words, actual facts. Lay out a plan that helps you test and observe the possibilities. Facts are not as subjective; they help extract the emotion so you can handle the pressure and make the right decision.

5. Learn from failures.

If you are sciencing the sh*t out of the problem, that means you will be having one little failure after another. [bctt tweet=”Don’t dwell on failure. Reframe the failures as learning events.”]

6. Know when to switch to plan B

Any leader can come up with a Plan A and even articulate the plan to the entire team. A good leader will also have a Plan B in mind. A great leader will know when to abandon Plan A and switch to Plan B. This is never easy because a lot of time, money and resources may have gone into Plan A. Stakeholders may be personally invested in Plan A and leaders are only human and can get attached to their own plans. But if you are learning from failure and sciencing the sh*t out of it, it will be easier to identify when it is time to switch, plus you will have the data to stand behind your decision.

7. Be an optimist.

If you are stuck alone … on Mars … you need to be an optimist. The same goes for leaders, even when they don’t know the answers. If leaders are not optimists about their own businesses, then who else is going to be? Read more on 5 Reasons Why Optimists Make Better Leaders.

8. Keep your sense of humor.

In The Martian (book version) the astronauts’ psychologist opined that of all the astronauts to be left behind on that mission, Watney had the highest chance of survival, not due to his expertise as a botanist and engineer, but due to his sense of humor. In 2010, the New York Times covered research that connected humor to creative problem solving. As a leader, you don’t have to be funny. Trust me, if your team is under pressure, almost any chance to laugh off nervous energy is welcome. Humor is bonding. And it opens the door for the much funnier members of the team to chime in.

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Do you think you have what it takes to be a leader in the commercial real estate industry? Visit the SVN Careers page here.

SVN COO Among Women of Influence in Real Estate

Diane Danielson Earns a Spot in Real Estate Forum’s Women of Influence Issue

Diane Danielson, Chief Operating Officer of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation was recently named one of Real Estate Forum magazine’s 2015 Women of Influence. In their July/August 2015 issue, Real Estate Forum highlighted 51 of the commercial real estate industry’s most distinguished and successful women, chosen from a pool of more than 350 highly qualified nominees.

Women of InfluenceOne purpose of the magazine’s list was to recognize the positive effects that a diversified management team can have on a business. As Real Estate Forum author Kristian Seemeyer points out, “In commercial real estate, women have long busted down the doors of the ‘Old Boys’ Club’ and are quickly filling up top decision-making positions. It may take some more time to achieve full parity, but this year’s roster of powerful female CRE professionals are proof positive that women are thriving in the business, and are paving the way for generations to come.”

Like many of the influential women featured in the Real Estate Forum article, Diane did not always work in commercial real estate. She started out as an environmental attorney in Boston before transitioning into various different roles within the local CRE sphere, including sales, marketing, and business development. Then, in 2003 she briefly left the CRE industry to launch her own company, the first online social network for businesswomen in the U.S. This experience in the tech field influenced Diane’s return to the CRE industry, when in 2012 she joined Sperry Van Ness International Corporation as the Chief Platform Officer. In this role, Diane was able to draw from both her CRE and tech backgrounds in order to design the company’s technology and sales platforms. She was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2013.

Diane influences the CRE industry on a daily basis by serving as a thought leader in our community. From her SVN blog posts to her social media tweets, Diane continuously offers valuable advice and insights as a woman who didn’t need an invitation to the “Old Boys’ Club” in order to succeed in CRE.

For more information on women in commercial real estate, download our report here.

SVN Women Minorities


[bctt tweet=”In commercial real estate, women have long busted down the doors of the ‘Old Boys’ Club’ and are quickly filling up top decision-making positions.”]



The 2015 Managing Director Conference: Top 3 Reasons to Register

2015 Managing Director Conference in Dallas, TX

The Sperry Van Ness® Managing Director Conference only happens once a year, so now is the time to register. At MDC 2015, Managing Directors will have the opportunity to experience the latest SVN tools and systems and learn from renowned commercial real estate speakers. By collaborating on projects and seminars, Managing Directors will make lasting business connections that are critical components of running a successful brokerage.

Top 3 Reasons to Attend the 2015 Managing Director Conference

1. Networking. Emails and phone calls can only go so far. In an industry built on interpersonal connections, face-to-face conversations can go a long way. Do you think a Managing Director would be more likely to collaborate on a deal with someone who reached out via email or someone she bonded with over coffee and bagels? With breakfast, lunch, and a surprise dinner experience included in registration, MDC 2015 offers countless opportunities to connect with your peers in the industry.

2. Experience. Like networking, relevant experience is gained through real-life situations. Everyone who attends this conference is experienced in his or her own way, since they are owners of brokerage businesses. This is a chance to compile all of this collective experience in one place and learn from it. Two days of training and networking is all it takes to gain valuable experience and connections.

3. Learning. With a full roster of engaging speakers coupled with multiple seminars and training sessions, participants can learn a lot from attending MDC 2015. By sharing best practices with other Managing Directors, participants are also able to learn from their counterparts in offices across the country. Need help managing those pesky Millennials? Not sure how to leverage SVN tools? Having trouble building your brand? MDC 2015 has you covered.

Register for the 2015 Managing Director Conference now by clicking here.

2015 Managing Director Conference

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.

SVNIC Exhibiting at the 2013 CREW Convention & Marketplace

The 2013 annual CREW Network Convention & Marketplace will be held October 9-12 at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, Tx. This 3-day event offers industry professionals access to top speakers, educational sessions, leadership training and industry exhibitors.

Sperry Van Ness International Corporation will be an exhibitor at the marketplace event at this year’s convention. This event is dedicated to networking, doing business, and sharing innovative ideas. In attendance from SVNIC will be Diane Danielson and Karen Hurd.

CREW Invite


















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

Finishing Well by Kevin Maggiacomo


The following are excerpts from a note I sent to the SVN Advisor base this morning. I thought that others may find some of the content useful, and I am posting herein as a result. Enjoy.


SVN Advisors and Staff:


While having the courage to start something is an admirable quality, having the tenacity, the dogged determination, and the sheer will to finish well is a quality possessed by all true champions. Let’s cut to the chase – entering the race is easy, fast starts are a dime a dozen, but finishing victorious as a champion is what everyone strives for but few achieve. My question is this: where will you be at the finish line in 2012?


The interesting thing about a year in time is we all have the exact same opportunity – 365 days. If you break down the 365 days, you’ll see you also have the same 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, and 86,400 seconds in a day your peers and competitors have. The question you need to answer for yourself is this: are you satisfied with what you’ve accomplished this year?


The realization I’d ask you to consider is a simple one: While summer is over, the year is not – you still have more than 90 days to compete and win business. So, will you finish well, or just stand on the sidelines and cede opportunity to your competitors? One of the greatest myths in the commercial real estate business is if a deal isn’t scheduled to close this year by now, it simply can’t happen. Let me say this as clearly as I can – THIS IS A NOT TRUE. Based on my having observed 12 years of pipeline activity at SVN, I can guarantee you between now and the end of the year all of the following things can occur:


1. Some of the deals you hope to close by year-end won’t. You can either mourn the inevitable, or work hard to ensure there’s enough volume in your pipeline to more than offset any year-end slippage that occurs.


2. Not all deals that die remain dead. Transactions previously considered dead opportunities can have life breathed back into them, but only by those Advisors who remain engaged.


3. New opportunities will go full lifecycle from list to close by 12/31/2012. You can either find and win this new business, or let one of your competitors do so.


Stay engaged, don’t quit, and keep working. Those who stay focused on items #2 and #3 above won’t need to spend time mourning losses covered under point #1 above.


A trusted advisor of mine has always told me great companies beat their competition to the future, because their leaders understand how to pull the future forward. I would encourage you to build a 90-day plan in which you both beat your competition to the future (go win new deals), and in which you pull the future forward (pull deals from Q1 ’13 into Q4 ’12). To that end, I offer the following suggestions to help power your plan:


The most successful Advisors help clients reach their goals by using their experience, knowledge, and work ethic to close transactions, not explain why they can’t close them. New listings will be acquired, and transactions will be closed before year’s end – will your deals be among them?


With less than 30 days remaining before we enter Q4, what are you going to accomplish with the last 90+ days of the year? It’s been said that mediocrity rests while excellence remains in tireless pursuit of the objective. Will you stay the course and finish well, or will you let others win the prize? It’s your choice – choose wisely.

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


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


Technology – Value Add or Brain Suck? by Kevin Maggiacomo

My new iPhone 4s arrived finally arrived this past weekend. My oldest son and I opened the package with much anticipation and we immediately dropped what we were doing to configure the device. Among the many new features made part of the 4s is Siri – the speech recognition device which, as Apple advertises, “Understands what you say, knows what you mean, and takes dictation.” So, gone are the days when I have to manually type a query into Google to search for a nearby Sushi restaurant, find directions, or, get this – type to text or email. From now on, all I have to do is talk. So, over the weekend I dictated and had Siri read aloud roughly 100 text messages sent and received. I quickly grew so accustomed to iPhone dictation that I became annoyed when I had to manually type an email on my Mac later that evening. On one hand, I felt more efficient, on the other hand I questioned if I was simply becoming lazy…


Separately, as a CEO, I am constantly striving to predict the future and react to it in advance. Not only with respect to positional real estate strategies, but also in terms of adopting (and creating) new intellectual technologies – which extend mental capabilities and enable us to gain more information faster. So as a fan of applications in this category, I’ve researched and adopted as many CRE and non-CRE of these intellectual technologies as anyone. I use Dragan Dictation to dictate most of my laptop writing, regularly use Loopnet to create space surveys, view comps, and get a read on the market. SVN Advisors are LoopNet power users and many are subscribers to CoStar, including their CoStar Go iPad app, which allows you to take real estate data into the field, where you can even view detailed tenant information, including lease expiration dates without having to charm past building security or receptionists. And all of this has me thinking – are the convenience applications mentioned above changing the way I learn, eroding at certain skill sets, and making me less knowledgeable?


While I can say with reasonable certainty that my IQ remains the same since becoming an early adopter, my ability to easily become immersed in the analysis of raw research data has eroded. In addition, my typing skills aren’t what they used to be and my spelling skills, thanks to auto-correct, have gone from good to average. For those of us in CRE (or any other field for that matter), what role have research products played in the reduction in the amount of market research that we retain? Posed another way, are the CRE practitioners of yesteryear, who had to physically walk building floors, drive every property in their area of focus, conduct live courthouse research, etc., more knowledgeable than we brokers of today?


Are we becoming dependent upon these resources because we’re lazy, or because we need to in order to remain competitive? I’m not making a value judgment here, I’m just asking you to do a gut check – Do you use technology to advance your learning, or to fill a knowledge gap? The distinction between the two is subtle, yet important.


The human brain is malleable. It is capable of being reshaped and while I don’t know the answer to the above questions, I do know that my mind now approaches learning a bit differently. My mind now expects to receive information the way that Loopnet feeds it to me – instantly, and with little effort. I have made it a personal challenge to add to my cognitive skills rather than replace them. This has required me to slow down in the short run at times, but in the long run I feel as if I’m expanding my knowledge base, not shrinking it.


So, I ask – has our “encyclopedic knowledge” of CRE markets and beyond become artificial intelligence? Are Loopnet/Costar and the like making us stupid, or are we better off? I think the answer largely depends on approach and motivation. Thoughts?

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


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


The Radicalization of the Norm by Kevin Maggiacomo

With less than 100 days remaining in 2011, I want to pose the following question: “What will YOU do differently in 2012?” You cannot simply repeat your 2011 performance in 2012 and expect the outcome to be any different. My message is a rather simple, yet important one – the market doesn’t matter, but YOUR actions do! Accepting the norm accomplishes little more than sentencing yourself to mediocrity, while radicalizing the norm creates opportunity even when markets don’t seem to be sympathetic to your cause.


While commercial real estate markets are certainly not static, I’m always surprised at the numbers of people who operate as if they were. As the landscape around them changes, rather than understanding and adapting to new market drivers, many just prefer to pretend as if it’s business as usual. However, it is those who adapt to the fluidity of the market who become innovative market leaders, and who thrive during even the toughest of market conditions. Likewise, it is those who refuse to change with the times that push themselves into irrelevancy, and eventually become self-inflicted casualties of the weeding-out process.


What is not so obvious is that during times of adversity come the greatest opportunities. Those who thrived during the past few years understood this principle, and as a result, they will likely be the ones who lead the way in 2012 as well. Successful companies adapt their business models, re-engineer their business practices, and implement new strategies and tactics while their peers sit on the sidelines wondering what went wrong.


Rather than talking about constricted capital markets, successful companies seek out the investors and lenders still doing deals, and restructure transactions to fit the changing guidelines of active capital partners. Rather than complain about transaction bottlenecks, the smart players work with institutions and special assets groups to work around and through the logjams. Rather than work with brokers replete with excuses about why they’re not successful, they find brokers who focus on outcomes and not excuses. They key to success in down markets is to participate in the present while looking toward the future, but refusing to allow yourself to live in the past.


So some chest pounding now – not to advertise, but because I think it’s relevant:


At Sperry Van Ness we’ve led the charge to radicalize the brokerage industry. Since our inception we’ve done business differently than other brokerage firms. From pioneering an open-source brokerage model, to being the first brokerage firm to mandate 100% social media adoption, to being the first to have an in-house auction firm, to being the first to adopt a cloud-based business platform, we have focused on doing business based upon where the market is headed, not where it’s been.


At Sperry Van Ness, we realized several years ago that traditional business models could not service non-traditional markets. When our competitors were cutting back as they adopted the bunker mentality of watch and wait, we were growing, and we did it based on a debt-free, profitable business model. It was clear to us that we needed to continue to adapt to the needs of our clients, and that together, we would not only survive the challenges of changing markets, but we would thrive amidst them.


My encouragement to you as we enter 2012 is to refuse to buy into the negative rhetoric. Don’t settle for working with advisors who offer excuses, engage professionals whose work demonstrates they value your relationship as much as they say they do. Don’t tolerate brokers who embrace the status quo, but look for those who shatter it. Look for business partners rather than vendors. Find those firms willing to serve you, regardless of whether a commission exists or not. Look for those willing to embrace change, those who innovate, and those who radicalize the norm.


If you haven’t experienced working with a brokerage firm that embodies the ethos I’ve described above, then I invite you to contact us and experience the Sperry Van Ness difference for yourself.

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


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


Freemium by Kevin Maggiacomo

How do you feel when you get something for free? Does the hair stand up on the back of your neck as if you’re being set-up for a bait-and-switch, or do you feel like you’ve received something of value at no cost for which you’re appreciative? If you’re anything like me, I’ve experienced both of the aforementioned scenarios. In my opinion there is definitely a right and a wrong approach to “Free.” In today’s post I’ll examine “Freemium” offers and how they might play a part in redefining the commercial real estate industry.


The reality is that nowadays most of us are accustomed to receiving certain services (information and data) free of charge, and on the surface, with no strings attached and for nothing in return. Not a marketing gimmick like “Buy two get one free” (which is often the same as marking down a 2x marked-up product by 50% if you buy two), or the classic ad supported online newspaper and content model, but an increasingly important economic model whose genuinely free offerings are changing the ways in which consumers use (and purchase) products and services.


Coined “Freemium,” by venture capitalist Fred Wilson (@FredWilson), the word is a portmanteau, which combines the words “Free,” and “Premium,” to describe a business model which follows one basic principle: Give a core product away for free to a critical mass of consumers, and sell a small percentage of them a premium product.


Not Gillette, which practically gives their blades away for free, charging through the nose for their razors, or cell phone companies “giving” away the phone and charging for a data plan and two year commitment, but something, which, according to Peter Froberg (@PeterFroberg), a growth consultant with whom I work, “can be used in and of itself, without necessarily buying something else.” He likens the model to the fruit stand operator who offers free, sweet, sliced apples to entice his customers not to buy apples, “that’s fake free,” he says, but to buy pears instead.


For most, the Freemium model best resonates when discussing Skype. To date, Sykpe’s free VoIP product has provided more than 1B downloads, and provided more than 16B call minutes of “Skype-to-Skype” calls. During that same time period, “Skype-Out” call minutes, Skype’s premium product, has accounted for only 2.2B of those minutes. A low percentage, of paying users, indeed, but enough to generate $21M in operating profit in 2010 (a big swing from their $352M growth related loss of 2009). Other emerging Freemium companies which feature ten’s of thousand’s of users include Evernote, Boardsuite, Linkedin, Pandora, Google (not exactly an “emerging” company), and more.


Closer to my (industry) home, we find that LoopNet has been operating with a Freemium model for years – Free to post, free to search but with a paywall over Premium Search (access to newly listed properties), and Premium Lister access, which features more prominent portal placement and access to leads. Like them or not, the Freemium model has served them well…they are a profitable, $750M company recently acquired by CoStar.


Hundreds of businesses, most of which are in technology or in the Web 2.0 space are utilizing Freemium models to generate profits – giving something away for free, and charging for another, often completely different product in the process. And in the course of my researching the Freemium space, it occurred to me that commercial and residential real estate brokers alike have for years been operating with a Freemium model.


Peruse any national brokerage’s website, and you will find an abundance of free, well written subject matter, like market overview’s, reason’s to buy, reason’s to sell, and so on (at SVN, we just released our annual “Top Market’s To Watch” report). For some of the same reason’s I’m blogging, which include strengthening my personal brand, establishing credibility by demonstrating my ability to think critically, these companies work to create valuable content and strengthen their brands in the hopes that the reader will buy something else – their premium products.


However, just as Freemium is emerging as a legitimate business model supported by empirical data, I’m hearing more about the brokerage best practice of charging for everything one does – no more free advice, abstracts, surveys and reports. So for those of us who are CRE practitioners, I ask you – Is the aforementioned “best practice” yet another example of the brokerage industry operating in the stone ages…a little slow on the uptake, or does the Freemium concept represent what leadership and strategy advisor Mike Myatt (@MikeMyatt) refers to as a “next practice” capable of creating a disruptive change in an industry prone to herd mentality? While I believe there to be truth in the old saying “free is a very good price,” I’d be interested your opinions – please do share.

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


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