The real estate industry is confronted with the task of attracting and developing the next generation of leaders. Now more than ever, current market forces and economic trends reinforce the need for confident and versatile leaders who will strategically address the physical, economic, and environmental issues facing cities and communities. These multidimensional challenges require innovative solutions that increase our capacity to collectively “maximize” the built environment and reflect a need for responsive and active leadership.
My tenure as a National Urban Fellow at ULI has offered me unparalleled access to accomplished real estate professionals and immersive real estate experiences. Yet some of these interactions and opportunities have left me admittedly intimidated by my view of the industry. With my time at ULI nearing its end and no formalized plans for my next professional endeavor, I decided to meet with a colleague to explore strategies for pursuing a career in this field.
This otherwise casual experience reminded me that unbridled emotions can easily distort perspectives and hinder progress. Because my educational background and professional experience are both in other industries, anxiety and fear caused me to question my ability to successfully further my career in real estate. My colleague’s insights made me realize that I intrinsically minimized my capabilities and was unknowingly wasting time. Focusing on what I thought were irrelevant experiences prevented me from embracing and highlighting their value.
Real estate has a unique multidisciplinary nature. While some members of the industry require specialized technical skills to succeed in their roles, others engage roles that focus more on softer analytical skills. Once I unbiasedly evaluated my values and past experiences, I was able to recognize my extensive knowledge of the utility and function of mechanisms that drive the industry. The meeting with my colleague became a catalyst that inspired me to strategically refine my focus and develop a plan of action for pursuing work in this industry.
A single step or action can often provide all the necessary momentum to propel your life and career forward. Persevering in spite of my angst reminded me of how potentially detrimental a moment of self-doubt can be. Wasting time navigating self-imposed limitations only delayed my ability to transition and elevate my career. Leaders must be skillful in their ability to identify, evaluate, and address challenges, both real and perceived. Challenges, like shifting demographics and market-driven volatility, are an ever-present eventuality for real estate professionals.
Drivers of this industry cannot abruptly retreat when markets tighten or projects fall through; instead, they must learn from these moments and evolve. The recognition of a challenge is a definitive moment for leaders because it creates momentum and has the power to define one’s legacy. However, the challenges we face are often self-imposed impediments to our continued success. Realizing your intrinsic value through personal development is a regularly overlooked opportunity that has tremendous personal and professional implications.