Learning and improving throughout your career

For over 30 years, I have had the opportunity to work within some of the most well respected companies in commercial real estate. Each has its own way of doing things – their own sets of processes and procedures.

I have heard comments ranging from “No one does it as well as we do,” to (and, pardon the French), “We suck. We are so inefficient.” However, in a majority of those cases, the opinions are diametrically opposite of the realities of the situations. The best companies in this industry (and, likely in any industry, but I can only speak for real estate) are those that are never satisfied with their performance. They are always looking for a way to do something better.

A few year back, we worked with a company that was very satisfied with its performance administering its temporary tenant program. They had a staff of 11 for about 5,500 agreements per year. We came in, and after about a month, helped them get it down to 1.5 people. They were thrilled. But, at the same time, one of our clients (who was never satisfied with their performance) was administering nearly 50,000 agreements per year with the same number of people – 1.5. Even then, they were looking to do better. They were not satisfied and were looking for ongoing improvement and, because of that approach, could run circles are the “no one does it as well as we do” company.

In another instance, early in my career, a client was getting ready to put in an offer of the shopping center that my wife and I had done our grocery shopping at for years. As far as I was concerned, I knew that center like the back of my hand. It was shaped a bit like the big dipper, with all of the retail facing out (the pot portion of the big dipper was a truck service area) with anchors on either end, and the grocery store in the middle (at the bottom of the pot).


We walked the center a few times. He stopped on one of the passes. I was thinking that he was going to talk to me about his offer strategy. But instead, he said, “Jack, what you basically have here is three separate centers that have to be considered individually.” And, he went on to share some other words of wisdom about the center – the one I had known so well and yet had never seen it the way he had. He showed me that I would be learning and needing to improve throughout my career.

In that same vein, even the International Council of Shopping Centers (the ICSC), in its 61st year, is revising both its educational and certification programs. You might think that after all that time, they could sit back and rest on their laurels. But, like other great companies, this organization is looking for ways to improve. Look for great things over the next year.

And, think to yourself, that if the ICSC can seek to learn and improve after 61 years of serving the industry, you can make the same effort yourself. It pays off!


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