As I sat down in July to draft my third Development magazine column, which typically covers association news or recognizes the success of one of our conferences, my mind was distracted by a tragic accident that occurred on June 30 in my home market of Dallas. A small private aircraft crashed shortly after taking off, killing all 10 people aboard. Two of those killed, Steve and Gina Thelen, were local friends in the real estate business. Steve was managing director at JLL and was a successful, well-liked and respected tenant rep broker in our market.
I knew Steve and worked with him often, as he represented many tenants in Granite Properties’ office buildings and joined us for numerous broker golf outings. My family and I also had the good fortune of being neighbors with Steve’s family for a time. Personally, the shock of this tragedy is surreal, perhaps because Steve and I are the same age, shared both a business relationship and a friendship, and have similar family lives. Regardless, it’s incredibly unfortunate and has caused me to reflect on our many relationships in the business and what’s truly important — our families, friends and living a meaningful life while we have the opportunity.
As I have traveled around the chapter network this year, a common theme has surfaced. During nearly every visit, I’ve made it a priority to talk with Developing Leaders (DLs) in the chapter, our members who are 35 years of age or less. Because they’re newer to NAIOP, they can be unaware of what NAIOP offers outside their local chapter, and I’ve enjoyed sharing conversations about our research, courses and events that can help build their careers.
The DLs I’ve met are ambitious and enthusiastic, and one message is clear: They are looking to NAIOP to prepare them for long-term CRE careers, and they want opportunities to hear from the generations who have come before them. It might be hard to admit, but my peers today are labeled as “veterans” or “seasoned” for a reason — we’ve experienced enough cycles of prosperity and perseverance over the years to have earned those characterizations.
Sharing our wisdom and war stories is a meaningful way to help shape the industry for decades to come. Blending this knowledge with their optimism is powerful. It helps our industry create effective spaces that support economic growth and enhance communities. Isn’t that a legacy we’d all like to leave behind?
As an organization, we find ourselves in this fortunate position, as so many groups are struggling to engage younger generations. DLs are the fastest-growing segment of NAIOP membership, and from our legislative work, both locally and federally, to education courses and research that help these members navigate their careers and businesses, NAIOP is uniquely positioned to support their careers from the first day on the job through retirement.
I encourage each of you to initiate conversations and build relationships with the DLs in your chapter. If your chapter doesn’t have a mentorship program, which is an excellent platform for this type of relationship-building, I’d encourage you to start one. NAIOP makes it easy for chapters by providing an online program that supports your efforts. Contact our membership team to learn more.
This summer, we are surveying our DLs on the issues that matter to them: What do they see as the biggest industry threats? Where is the next wave of opportunity? What is their outlook for the future of CRE? We also want to know about their NAIOP experience, asking how the association can better support them now and prepare them for the future. This effort is being led by Jason Ting of Ting Realty in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jason is an ex-officio member of the NAIOP executive committee, representing the Developing Leaders and sharing their perspectives with our leadership. I look forward to seeing the feedback from our DLs and sharing that with you later this year.
Three-quarters of my year as chairman has nearly passed, and I hope that my contributions thus far have had a positive impact on our association. Certainly these conversations with DLs have prompted me to think of ways to connect with rising leaders in our industry and association. Every so often, and sometimes in tragic ways, we are reminded that life is short. So let’s be good to one another, work hard to give back to our industry, and help the next generation of leaders in every way we can.
Gregory P. Fuller
President and Chief Operating Officer, Granite Properties, Inc.
2019 NAIOP Chairman