Friday, November 5, 2021

Takeaways from CRE Conference Season

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Every year, about this time, the commercial real estate industry congregates for conference season - a time to gather, learn, and network. 2020 found us attempting to accomplish this virtually. I’ve embraced virtual meetings in a big way but conferences just don’t work. Sure. The learning sessions are ok but the real fun of a convention is passing someone in the hall on the way to dinner and inviting them to come along or grabbing a quick cup of Joe with an acquaintance from another market. Lost when conducted virtually are these chance encounters. 

Annually, two or three of these decorate my docket - the Lee & Associates Summit, Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) and another. The “another” this year was the Commercial Real Estate Influencers (CREi) Summit. But others such as NAIOP, CCIM, Crew Network, ICSC abound. If so inclined - one could bounce from one to another for the entire month. But two - this year - were enough! 

What’s in store for our industry in the years to come is the subject of this column.
Diversity. Commercial real estate brokerage has been a male dominated industry for decades - and once was tightly held among families such as the Daums, Dunns, Cushmans, Beitlers, Klabins, and others. Akin to an apprentice program within trades - our craft was passed to the next generation - primarily males. But that is changing! I say, Bravo! It can’t happen soon enough. Half the participants in the CREi Summit were women and minorities. Slotted among the leadership team for this event were several women who have made themselves quite famous through social medial marketing. Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network incoming president, Barbi Rueter from Tucson, Arizona along with Casey Flannery from Memphis, Tennessee presented at the SIOR conference. SIOR Global CEO, Robert Thornburgh has signed a pledge for our organization which can be found here. I look forward to the days ahead when our business reflects the world.
Futurists. There were speakers galore in both of the gatherings I attended. Generally, these are folks who have taken down Bin Laden, scaled Everest without the aid of oxygen, or a similar super human feat. Motivation is the theme. Gained from their experiences are applications to our business. Certainly, some of my deals this year have been tantamount to a K-2 summit attempt - but I digress. This year, however, found our attention peaked - sorry - toward the future. David Nour has written a new book, entitled Curve Benders. I found the story of Amazon’s rise to prominence especially intriguing. You see, we all plateau in our careers. Finding a way to bend our “curve” upward is the challenge. Southern California’s own Mick Ebeling of NotImpossible Labs. “Commit and then figure it out” is Mick’s mantra. Please look into some of the “impossibles Mick has made possible”. Truly mind blowing!
Story Telling. Everything is so much better when a story is told. I suspect many of you are like I am when I say - stories are memorable when they inform, educate, or entertain - oh yeah, and they’re not too long. Sure, I can tell you I closed a tough deal similar to the assignment we are discussing. But, if a story is weaved into the fabric - the experience is forever with you. Bolstered by a beautiful baritone voice and riveting stories - Phil Darius Wallace ranks within my top three of BEST speakers I’ve ever enjoyed. Still within my psyche are his descriptions of the lovely eagle and the chicken who didn’t realize her potential. You see, the chicken had been told her entire life she was a chicken - when in fact she was an eagle. My, what soaring goals she missed laboring under someone’s opinion of her.
Wow! What an incredible two weeks. But, I’m happy to be home and invigorated for the months ahead.
Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104. His website is

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