Archive for the ‘Anecdotes’ Category

Best Question to ask at Job Interview

According to Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local, there comes a time in every job interview when the interviewer asks, “Now do you have any questions forme ?”  This is a terrific opportunity to impress the interviewer.  Kerpen addes that the most important question you can ask is, “How will the work I’ll be doing contribute to the organization’s mission?” 

We further recommend that you couch this question by articulating your value proposition.  For example, you might frame the question as the following: “My Argus and Excel skills are advanced based upon the significant amount of transaction-based work that I have been asked to do over the past couple of years.  How might these skills contribute to your overall mission?”

Entering an interview armed with these types of questions surely will distinguish you from other candidates.

ACG Seeking Experienced Asset Managers in Atlanta

ACG has two new openings right now for seasoned Asset Managers based in Atlanta, Georgia.  The positions require 6-8 years of experience and a very strong ability to negotiate leases with minimal oversight.  Value-add experience is a big plus.  Please give Todd Zeldin a call at 404-653-0049 or send your resume to to apply for these positions.


What Not to Wear

What is the most embarrassing “clothing mishap” you have ever had? Being red-green color blind, I am quite sure that I have unknowingly dressed in unusual combinations, although my garanimals really help to avoid such situations. I remember returning from a business trip and receiving an upgrade to first class (back in the days when not everybody was a frequent flyer and first class seats were more readily available). After completing my dinner I went to wipe my face and instead of grabbing my napkin on my lap I grabbed my tie. I did not realize what I had done until my tie had some spaghetti sauce on it. I noticed a guy in the aisle across from me trying to control his laughter and I immediately dropped my tie and then burst out laughing. It wasn’t one of my most proud moments.

If you have a story you’d like to share with us about a clothing mishap, please share.

Companies Post Bogus Job Ads

Over the past couple of months I have been trying to place a couple of analysts. I have found that several companies are posting ads online but in fact are not actually hiring folks or it is taking many many months to make a decision. Although it is entirely possible that there was an initial intent on hiring somebody at one time and the market has simply not warranted such a hiring today, companies should do a better job updating their own websites and their job postings to ensure that they are not misleading candidates. Perhaps companies want the “perception” that they are bucking the industry trend and are actually expanding. From where I sit, however, it frustrates candidates to send resumes in direct response to job opportunities and never to hear a response back from the company. Isn’t it hard enough to search for a job full-time without the false promise that some jobs don’t even exist?

Jobs Rescinded: New Market Trend

Over the past few weeks we have had two companies alert us that the jobs they were looking to fill have now been put on hold indefinitely. Although it is entirely possible that these two instances do not reflect market sentiment, recent market turmoil coupled with poor employment growth might suggest that the commercial real estate industry is stagnant and perhaps is contracting. ACG has seen an uptick in the number of portfolio due diligence assignment requests over the past 60 days; however, employment growth is not necessarily correlated with transaction growth as prices have clearly increased for class A buildings over the past twelve months.

Understanding how this impacts firms like ACG might be difficult to digest. For now, candidates responding to job ads might find a systemic delay or general lack of interest in their candidacy. Keeping sharp Argus and Excel skills will surely make candidates more competitive in the marketplace.

Ever Wonder if a Week-Long Boot Camp was Worth the Investment: Part III

My ARGUS Boot Camp Experience (Part 3)
Every day we learned new concepts that built on what we had learned earlier in the course. I was impressed with myself when, on day two, I found myself building models without having to use a mouse. Probably my favorite parts of the course were the case studies. ACG gave us custom case study workbooks which reinforced the real world application of the software. Every day, we’d build models based on these case studies and each time we’d learn something new, like modeling complex reimbursables (which actually was covered in several case studies). Every time we did this, it reinforced what we had learned in previous cases, and they got more complex. By the end we were actually given a completed ARGUS model and told to find the flaws. This was a very gratifying exercise. I demonstrated that in a relatively small amount of time I had gained the skill set required to audit a model and understand where to look for errors and specifically what are the most common errors made.

As I’m sure it’s clear now, I had a great experience with the ARGUS Boot Camp. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about ARGUS, financial modeling or just real estate investment and management concepts.

Ever Wonder if a Week-Long Boot Camp was Worth the Investment: Part II

My ARGUS Boot Camp Experience (Part 2)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Prior to taking this course, I had ZERO ARGUS Experience. I knew it was an industry standard in property/portfolio evaluation but I had never had the opportunity to use it. That changed very quickly.

Boot Camp was an intense experience. The entire course focused on the practical use of the software. On day one we jumped right in by building models; learning how to create Rent Rolls, building Market Leasing Assumptions, adding Expenses and more. What added to the experience was the instructors’ focus on making sure we understood the principles behind the application. It made the course about more than just a financial modeling program; it was about understanding real estate investment fundamentals. For instance, the first day we learned how to model fixed and variable expenses while having a discussion on understanding this important difference. This instruction was reinforced with homework (yes, there was homework… but it was never overwhelming). The whole class and the instructors would come in the next morning and discuss the homework assignments together. They used it as an opportunity to make sure we understood the previous day’s concepts. The instructors structured curriculum and the time contributed to each topic around our classes needs.

Ever Wonder if a Week-Long Boot Camp was Worth the Investment: Part I

We recently received the following summary of the experience one of the participants had at our Boot Camp and wanted to share it with the rest of the world….

My ARGUS Boot Camp Experience (Part 1)
My week-long ARGUS Boot Camp concluded yesterday and I can’t believe how far I’ve come. There were major concerns the class wasn’t going to happen due to Snowmageddon 2011, which hit Sunday night. I was impressed how Todd quickly reached out to me (and apparently all of the other participants) to coordinate a start day/time that allowed for everyone to safely get to the class. My first observation upon arrival was the small class size, five people plus the instructors (Kristin and Todd). This seemed to be an intentional decision to ensure that everyone felt involved and received the attention they needed. It was hosted at the ACG training facility in Midtown, Atlanta. Every student had a workstation which included a collection of ACG custom training materials. Kristin was the lead instructor day one was and she was awesome. She knew ARGUS inside and out but her teaching approach focused less on the technical aspects of the program and more on its practical use. Her ability to take complex modeling approaches and break them down to easy to understand steps helped make the course a success.

Money Raising at a Feverish Pitch

Our clients are anticipating lots of transactions in 2011 as evident of their fundraising activity. One client of ours is raising a $3 billion core fund. A second told me that they are seeking core portfolios to place $1.5 billion in 2011 and another $1.5 billion in 2012. And a third reported to me that over the next 24 months they would like to place $2.0 – $2.5 billion to purchase core assets. Of course all of these numbers are dwarfed by the 2007 activity of such transactions as EOP but they are in and of themselves a telling sign that the transaction market is returning. I estimate that we will see a busy Q3 and Q4 this year with the employment market returning to some normalcy by Q1 2012.

One employee’s story

An employee of mine was trying to get started in the real estate industry with no experience (as do all of us at one point in time). He desperately wanted to break into the market and came to me with hunger and determination in his eyes and applied for our internship. I took one look at him and his resume…and sent him packing. But the little guy wouldn’t go away, he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He asked me what he need to do in order to get the internship. I told him to read William Brueggeman (see suggested reading posts) and learn Argus. Sure enough, the next week he walked into our 1-day training course for Argus with the textbook in tow. My trainer identified him as having excellent analytical training and to reconsider my application. So…we did. The irony of it all is now he is the head trainer, teaching all over the country to MBA students and our clients. You never know how your efforts are going to reflect your character. Always put 100% of yourself forward and good things will happen.