ULI San Francisco Blog

Stellar Crowds at Learn From the Best XI!

Learn From the Best celebrated its 11th incarnation on November 8th, 2012, hosted by the San Francisco Young Leader’s Group. The event was held atop the city on the 45th floor of 101 California Street, courtesy of Hines. The evening featured prominent leaders of the San Francisco commercial real estate scene who charitably offered their evening as mentors in support of the rising young real estate professionals of San Francisco.

Notable dignitaries included Marc Perrin of Starwood Capital Group, Jackie Safier of Prometheus, David Cropper of TMG Partners, Thomas Enger of UBS, John Rahaim with the City of San Francisco, Dan Kingsley of SKS, Jeanne Myerson of The Swig Company, Gregory Vilkin of MacFarlane Partners, Sean Jeffries of Millenium Partners, Bob Nibbi of Nibbi Brothers, Michael Schall of Essex Property Trust, Jeff Weber of Eastdil Secured, and Stephen Wilson of Avalon Bay.

The sold-out crowd rotated between tables for intimate and straight-forward discussions of the state of the industry with individual mentors. Eleven young professionals matched themselves to a mentor of their choice stationed at each round table. The groups then rotated three times to among the tables and mentors though out the course of the event.

Each attendee got the opportunity to learn the path of success from several of the best in the business, to gather market insight from these industry leaders, and to become better professionals. Discussions at each table were lively as YLG members plied the leaders with insightful questions and commentary.

Guiding themes provided to every round table helped stimulate the dialog but little encouragement was needed for the gathering. Self-help books were unnecessary for the career climbers and job seekers alike that listened to advice from those that have succeeded. Text books were set aside as the battle-hardened practitioners recounted stories straight from the front lines. Not only were success stories shared, but groups had the opportunity to learn from the mistakes – and hard lessons – of some of the best practitioners in the industry. Participants even peered into the crystal ball of the market’s future as mentees heard unedited insight from the practitioners making the markets.

The evening was capped by a hosted networking event with food and beverage as participants swapped stories of what they had learned earlier in the evening. Here are a few of the memorable tidbits of advice that stuck with some of the participants:

  • Demographics are shifting – get ahead of the changes
  • Make sure there is an immediate need for whatever you want to do, then get out and do it
  • Don’t be afraid of the details. To be successful, you must be versatile with high level strategy as well as have firm control of the weeds
  • There are a lot of sophisticated and knowledgeable people that are passionate about the city on both sides of any entitlement debate
  • The Bay Area is a great market to be in – and it won’t crash as hard as it did last time around
  • This is a time to own the product types you believe in while maintaining flexibility with plenty of working capital and appropriate leverage
  • Do your homework and speak your mind. How else will your company know what you are capable of?

Don’t worry if you missed this event this year. This series has been a cornerstone of YLG and ULI programming for over a decade with high expectations for the next edition. LFTB XII will be a must-attend event next year and beyond.

Authored by: Evan Schwimmer, Starwood Capital Group

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