As the year 2023 winds down, many in the real estate industry try to find some time over the next few weeks for education, introspection, and self-improvement. Along those lines, I’m always on the lookout for good reads and the following are five books that I have personally read in 2023 that I would recommend:
1. Am I Being Too Subtle by Sam Zell: The business community lost an icon when Sam Zell died in May of this year. His life story is phenomenal. Amongst many of his accomplishments, his real estate investments morphed into Equity Residential which when it went public in 1993 had 23,000 apartments under its control. If that wasn’t enough, he also formed EQ Office which was sold to The Blackstone Group in 2006 for $36B.
“Am I Being Too Subtle” was his catch phrase that he would use after being very clear and direct with people. It was his attempt to add some irony and humor to the situation. Throughout the book he talks about integrity, hard work BUT also a lot about risk and reward. He shares deals that went well (most of them), but also some that didn’t turn out so well. The book is a great story about a person that was a contrarian investor not because he just liked going against the tide, but because he had a great gift for seeing what others did not.
One of my favorite lines from the book is, “Everybody wants to look at how good a deal can get. People love focusing on the upside. That’s where the fun is. What amazes me is how superficially they consider the downside. For me, the calculation in making a deal starts with the downside.”
2. Atomic Habits by James Clear: I marked this book up a lot and I will be re-reading it before the end of the year. We all know the power of both good and bad habits. It is how to break the bad habits and create more good ones that is a key to success. This is a lifelong challenge for all of us.
“Habits reduce cognitive load and free up mental capacity so you can allocate your attention to other tasks.” This book will help you understand the importance of habits, increase your awareness of your existing habits, guide you on how to form better ones, and how to break the bad habits.
One example I have recently implemented is “Temptation Bundling.” I love to wake up in the morning and drink a cup of tea. I also have recently started writing in a gratitude journal which is not something I initially wanted to do, but felt it could contribute positively to my overall quality of life. I decided to use Temptation Bundling whereby I can’t have the cup of tea until I write in the journal. It is working.
3. Independence Day by Steve Lopez: Many of you might recognize the name Steve Lopez as a prolific journalist who spent most of his career working for the Los Angeles Times. Independence Day is Steve’s one year journey exploring whether he will or won’t retire at the end of the year. “Retiring” is something that just about everyone thinks about including me. Steve’s book takes you through his meeting and interviewing people from all walks of life to better understand their decisions to work forever, retire forever or some hybrid of the concept. It gave me some clarity on the fact that I will likely keep working in some capacity for many years to come. I enjoy working way too much especially compared to so many other options that exist.
I will not ruin the ending of the book and tell you what Steve decided, but for anyone considering retiring or even just changing courses in life, this book takes you through the many emotional, social, financial, and other considerations to think about before making such a critical decision.
4. Hidden Potential by Adam Grant: For full disclosure, I am a big Adam Grant fan. One of the reasons I related so much to this book is it made me think about the hidden potential that has been revealed by many of the members of the Progressive Real Estate Partners team. None of our team members are from a privileged background where they either came from significant financial means and/or have a significant real estate background, but they are all achieving significant success. I would like to think that I have had something to do with helping to unlock their hidden potential.
The book explores both anecdotally and analytically the fact that there are many who on the surface may not seem to have the aptitude, ability, or likelihood to succeed based upon their situation. In the chapter that discusses the college application and hiring process, Adam writes, “It’s a mistake to judge people solely by the heights they have reached. When we confuse past performance with future potential, we miss out on people whose achievements have involved overcoming major obstacles. We need to consider how steep their slope was, how far they have climbed, and how they’ve grown along the way.”
5. Smart Brevity by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen & Roy Schwartz: This book was recommended by a long-time friend and client. I am still not sure if there was an underlying message. This book is about Saying More with Less. Smart Brevity is, “a system and strategy for thinking more sharply, communicating more crisply, and saving yourself and others time”. Suggestions are made for how to accomplish this goal with email, meetings, speeches, social media, and more. Done!
I hope you found this list helpful and welcome any of your recommendations too. You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, on behalf of the entire Progressive Real Estate Partners team, we wish you great health, much wealth, a pleasant holiday season and a fantastic 2024!