CREW Cleveland Highlights - CREW Network 2016 Convention

October 31, 2016
Written by: Liz Dunlap

Well ladies, what can I say???? WOW!! What a GREAT event.


I had never been to convention, so this was a real treat and an uplifting and rejuvenating experience.

We started with words from our CREW Network President Laura Baker. She told us a story of a forest of
redwoods. The redwoods are the tallest of the trees, but they actually have a very shallow root system. The way they stand so tall and for so long, is the fact that they grow close together, their roots intertwine and their network supports each other.

We as ladies in Commercial Real Estate need to do the same thing. If we do, we will be a forest of
redwoods. Start your forest today!!!

Amy Cuddy started our opening session. She started with the fact the ELEVATOR PITCHES SUCK!
We all hate them. Think about trying to connect with people and don’t make it an information dump. 

We jumped right into her presentation. In nature, when we feel powerful we expand. When we feel powerless we collapse. Before that big presentation or interview, s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Throw your hands up in the air and do the “victory pose”. Not comfortable making the touchdown signal and there isn’t a football game on? Try the “wonder woman pose”. Warriors would “HAKA” before going into battle. I cannot explain it. You just need to Google the “All Black Rugby Team” doing the HAKA. Build you selfconfidence. Hype yourself up. Prepare yourself for a challenging situation, task, meeting or interview.

Amy Cuddy told us and showed us how our body language plays an important roll in how people preserve us and judge us. It also affects how we see ourselves. So “expand” every a.m.! S-T-R-E-T-C-H and take up as much area as possible, even if you need to kick your husband out of the bed.

The “Break Out” session I attended was entitled “Hot Trends in Industrial Development”. The focus was
on Marijuana, E-commerce and Where does the Cloud live? Our panelists explained how commercial
real estate needs to pay attention to the marijuana industry. It is the fastest growing industry in the U.S.
These places cannot get funding, nor can they deposit their money. Lenders don’t want to be a part of it
and those that do are few and far between. Whether it is legal or not, the building owner can find
themselves in trouble even if they had nothing to do with the growing or sale.

“E-Commerce and Where does the Cloud live” merged together during our discussions. These large
Data Facilities are typically being built from the ground up, since the requirements of the structure and
equipment need to meet their very specific needs. The cost of power to operate these facilities is 2nd
only to the rent. Providers are looking for cheap power.

My second “Break Out” session was Design, Marketing and Technology Trends in Senior Housing – What
Does the Future Hold? I know I am not a millennial, nor am I boomer, but my father is in a Senior Apartment, so I could really relate to this discussion. Construction and design for senior living has come a long way. It needed to get better because those baby boomers want all the extras. In order for our seniors to afford the luxury living they want, they will need to private pay. The baby boomers are taking care of their parents now and are their advocates. They see what they like and don’t like. The baby boomers want all the amenities: pools, exercise rooms and other conveniences. Seniors need socialization and want places that promote that. They want to grow old in place, and we are seeing a trend for home health agencies as well.

It is interesting that the millennials and the seniors want the same thing; small, manageable homes. In the past they have been apartments, but we may see a trend back to smaller homes. The millennials do not want the McMansion their parents have. They will spend their money on experiences rather than a big house. The “tiny house” movement is a fad, but converting those small 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 1950’s bungalow into a 2 bedroom 2 bath home with an open floor plan and a master suite is a definite possibility for the future of some of our older neighborhoods.

My third “Break Out” session asked the question, “Are long term leases a thing of the past? How the sharing economy, technology and space use are transforming CRE. Our 3 speakers discussed how the ides of shared space and short term leases are very appealing to companies. OK, you are planning your start-up company, you know you will grow so you have a HUGE space, but you just cannot fill it up…yet. In turn, the small start-up company needs a small space in a great area, but they just cannot afford it. The companies share not only the space, but they may share equipment, phone, copiers and support services. When the host does grow, they can get as much of the space back from the sub-lease as they need. Both sides get what they want. A better quality space at a lower cost.

The short term leases are attractive to the landlord, host and the sub-lease. The landlords are usually OK with the idea, since the host is actually marketing the building. If they like what they have, the subleasers may stay and get a space of their own. The groups that are facilitating these leases make sure everything is transparent between the landlord/host/sub-lease. When participating in these short term sub-leases, know your tenant and know your landlord. It is kind of like dating. You don’t want to go thru a “break up” every couple of months.

The fact that technology is allowing things like co-work spaces, we are seeing more of them. Now people and companies don’t need a traditional office space. People are working from homes, garages and coffee houses. Shared spaces allows for more flexibility. If a business doesn’t have to worry about all the overhead items necessary to run a business, they can focus on customer needs and improving productivity.

There is a growing need to repurpose spaces. For example: law offices don’t have a use for all the law libraries. The Federal Government is reducing their hard space footprint. We are seeing a need to transform these office spaces into retail spaces.

Some of the pitfalls of a month to month lease are: you may be looking for a space with only 2 weeks’ notice, also landlords and hosts may have an empty space with very short notice. A long term lease can be scary for a small company starting out. You just put everything you have into your idea, and now someone wants you to sign a 5 year lease. The short term lease is the answer many have needed. The concept of a short term lease is not recession proof, but it is more recession resistant than a long term lease.

The General Session on Friday was another informative talk. Sallie Krawcheck talked about the importance of gender diversity in upper management. She started with some financial advice as she is a wealth management person. She told us how we need to close the gender investing gap. Women live longer than men, yet we are retiring with 2/3 the amount of cash.

Women today are the greatest economic force in the world. As consumers it is the women making most of the financial decisions. What to buy, when to buy it. A business needs to realize and understand that they need female representation in management to know what these women want, how they want it and when they need it. It isn’t going to be easy to get those management roles. Men don’t want to give up the power. Women need to take the power. How do we get women into those positions? Bring your women up. Give them non-confrontational, positive, constructive feedback. Have these conversations often. Men have always gotten more feedback than women. Allowing them to correct their course and learn from their mistakes. Management is afraid to have those conversations because…..wait for it….”THEY ARE AFRAID THE WOMEN WILL CRY”.

Seriously, that was the #1 answer.

Ladies, be a mentor. Network. Write your dreams down. Have a financial plan.


My last “Break out” session was how the real and digital works collide, and the impact on retail commercial real estate. Now a days, there is a huge premium on time. Time has become just as or even more important as cost and quality. Stores are trying to figure out how to get people back to the brick and mortar. They are rolling out the WOW factor with new fresh merchandise. Trying to create the “Shopping Experience” with events, dinners, movies and entertainment. The brick and mortar is still the cornerstone of retail business because people still want that “Shopping Experience”. Do you think your kids will want to “FaceTime” with Santa? Wait a minute…..that’s not a bad idea.

The consumers want shopping options, such as ordering an item on line while at a soccer game, then going to the mall to pick it up. Or maybe they want to have it delivered….BY DRONE. Don’t laugh, it’s coming. Another example is the way the digital age is working with retail is Scan and Go. Walmart has an APP you can download to your phone. You run into the store, grab your item, scan, pay online and go. Show your receipt on your phone when you leave. Stores are building “communities” within their stores. Circular areas, with a town hall experience which is bringing people in. “Value” has a different meaning for baby boomers and millennials. People will shop the way they want and retail providers need to provide those options. To still be around in 20 years, these big box stores need to reinvent themselves and adapt. Create Experiences. The digital evolution hasn’t impacted the footprint of the big box store. New development of these facilities have the same overall size. What they do with the space is changing. The digital age creates convenience which is turn is giving everyone more time, and who doesn’t need more time?

We closed with a leadership pep-talk from Admiral William H. McRaven (Ret.). I will be honest. I missed the first part of his talk. I came in when he was talking about decisions. Stay with me ladies, the information is going to be rapid-fire. If you made a bad decision as a leader, do not be afraid to make the next decision. Leaders need to be respected and not feared. Invest in our youth. Diversity is key! Challenge the conventional wisdom. A good decision needs input from all facets. Leaders look for people that provide value to the organization. Contribute and you will be recognized and eventually you will be running the company.

NOTHING IS GIVEN, EVERYTHING IS EARNED!!! Sound familiar?