Monthly Archives: January 2013

Recap: Lessons From Legends, Tom Bozzuto

From the very beginning, it was clear that Lessons from the Legends was a different type of event. Speeches, lectures and panel discussions that provide in-depth information on opportunity analysis, alternative financing structures, etc. are important, but are also a dime a dozen. Opportunities to engage in casual discussion and interaction and understand thought processes and experiences with a thought leader are very rare. If the series continues in this fashion, I suspect that the events will quickly be viewed as “must attend” for anyone in the local real estate industry. If you weren’t there, I encourage you to watch the video below and make a point to attend the next installment planned for the spring.

I considered resisting when I “was volunteered” to recap the Tom Bozzuto event, bit thought there was real value in what he shared with the audience. I’ve spent my life engaged in the real estate industry and  I have no professional relationship with the Bozzuto family.  I have known Toby Bozzuto personally for longer than either of us would probably like to admit. He is a childhood friend of both my brother and my wife. As adults, we have spent numerous social occasions together and live roughly down the street from each other. I even coach his niece’s soccer team.

I see Toby as a friend, a good guy and someone who knows where many of my skeletons are buried. By extension, I’ve met and spoken with Tom on a number of occasions, but always in his role as a father and grandfather, at preschool holiday pageants or family pumpkin picking outings.

I was fascinated by the idea of seeing the differences between “Tom and Toby,” and the legends of real estate who were on the stage. I wondered if there would be some distinction or difference between the men I know personally and their professional alter egos. I was heartened to see that the same engaging, intelligent, insightful men I know personally took the stage last. I was comforted to know the values I am familiar with were a consistent theme of the event.

After the event, I reflected for a couple of days on the conversation. More than any one comment or question I took away several key overarching themes- vision, values and perseverance.

Specifically, I think every aspiring real estate professional should look out for the following points in the video ;

  • Every student there should have taken notes on Tom’s discussion of taking jobs with lesser pay but greater opportunity. His nod to vision and perseverance is hopefully well taken by many from a generation enshrined in the idea of instant gratification. While money is obviously important, it was never Tom’s sole objective. The path to success is neither short nor direct. Be prepared. – Tom returned to the theme of values several times. I was fascinated about the idea that it is better to create a broad framework of values for your organization than to create volumes of rules that no one will read.
  • Tom’s humility in openly addressing thoughts and projects that were less successful was impressive. We all know that mistakes are valuable lessons in themselves. Admitting them privately is difficult enough. Imagine being on stage in front of 300 industry peers and pointing them out.
  • The one specific piece of information that I found most informative was the last question regarding what Tom would do now if he was just entering the business. It was a thoughtful and honest perspective. I hope students who viewed this portion of the video understand how rare it is to get such a detailed answer and overview of how a legend thinks.
  • Lastly, Toby obviously wrecked the car and six weeks was lenient (you’ll have to watch the video to find that). As I said above, if you were not in attendance, you missed a unique event. The video should be mandatory watching for anyone who is involved or is looking to be involved in the real estate industry.

Next Lessons From Legends event: April 4th featuring Edward St. John, chairman of St. John Properties. Details will be available soon.