Each week, I select a few articles that rise above the fray and hopefully help you on your journey in the CRE world. They pull from one of four "corners:" corporate real estate, technology, management science and anything positive. I welcome your comments on these articles.
Over the past few years, I’ve participated in about a hundred panels. Over the past couple of decades, I’ve listened to—or, let’s be honest, endured—hundreds more. Most of them had one thing in common: They sucked.
I could write a whole book about the panels that have gone wrong in particularly strange or hilarious fashion: the one where the moderator fell asleep. The one where the opening statements lasted longer than the time allotted for the whole event. The one, high up on the 10th floor, when the acrobatic window washer stole the show.
These exotic horrors notwithstanding, I disagree with Leo Tolstoy: Every unhappy panel is unhappy in some of the same ways.
You know the scene. First come the long introductions. Then five people give opening statements of steadily increasing length. After that is a “conversation” in which the panelists talk past one another, sticking to the same old points they have made dozens of times before. This is followed by a few incoherent rants from the angriest members of the audience (question mark optional). Finally, a polite round of applause, which is anticipated with the same resigned longing as the saving bell on the last day of school.
It doesn’t have to be like that. At their rare best, panels can actually be fun and informative.
When Lawrence Fink speaks, executives listen. Not just because he is CEO of BlackRock, one of the largest money management firms in the world, although that certainly has something to do it with it. Rather, over the years Fink has become renown for the advice he dispenses in his much anticipated annual letter to CEOs. In 2018, for instance, he set the investing world on its head when he told CEOs that their companies need to do more than just make profits—they also need to contribute to society. Granted, Fink said this with the might of $6 trillion in assets under management behind him and the very pointed observation that if companies want to receive backing or support from BlackRock they will take heed of his words.
But Fink’s letter last year and the one this year was seen as more than just marketing or one executive expounding on the issues.
Fink set off a debate in offices around the world about the company’s purpose and what it owes society—a debate that arguably has helped lead to a renewed corporate commitment to environment, social and governance issues.
This year’s missive was of a similar theme: “Stakeholders are pushing companies to wade into sensitive social and political issues—especially as they see governments failing to do so effectively,” he wrote. This indeed is a current trend that Fink is highlighting, which is what thought leaders do.
I sometimes think that if you could look in the safe behind Jeff Bezos’ desk, instead of the sports almanac from Back to the Future you’d find an Encyclopedia of Retail, written in maybe 1985. There would be Post-It notes on every page, and every one of those notes would have been turned into a team and maybe a product.
Amazon is so new, and so dramatic in its speed and scale and aggression, that we can easily forget how many of the things it’s doing are actually very old. And we can forget how many of the slightly dusty incumbent retailers we all grew up with were also once considered radical, daring, piratical new businesses that made people angry with their new ideas.
This goes back to the beginning of mass retail. In Émile Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames, a tremendously entertaining novel about the creation of department stores in 1860s Paris, Octave Mouret builds a small shop into a vast new enterprise, dragging it into existence through force of will, inspiration, and genius. In the process, he creates fixed pricing, discounts, marketing, advertising, merchandising, display, and something called "returns." He sends out catalogs across the country. His staff is appalled that he wants to sell a new fabric at less than cost. "That’s the whole idea!" he shouts. Loss leaders are nothing new.
In an annual rite of passage, over a million Americans will enroll in their first economics class in the fall, and as the field of economics has evolved, these introductory classes are changing, too.
Many economists these days view what we are teaching not so much as a specific subject matter but as a set of analytic tools that are relevant beyond the relatively standardized production and pricing decisions of the business world. This perspective has led modern economists to study families, education and health, much as they study business strategy, politics, and finance.
This broader ambit for economic reasoning provides an opportunity to make introductory economic courses more useful to more students, exploring how these ideas can inform the thousands of decisions they confront each day.
This approach requires a shift in vision. As an undergraduate, I was taught from the perspective of a spectator in the nosebleed seats watching the economic action unfold below. But economics is more useful if we teach students to see themselves as protagonists on the economic playing field.
The millennial workforce is often tagged with the misconception of being easily distracted and unmotivated. Thus, a challenge which most businesses face in unlocking their true potential. They yearn autonomy, and if one applies the paradigm to the way they like to work, it becomes quite obvious why they love the idea of coworking spaces.
Inherently collaborative and flexible by nature, coworking has observed many new trends and unique practices over the years. They are the new hub for India’s ever-dynamic millennials who seek an adequate/ ideal spectrum of work and play amalgamation. Organisations today are striving to make their workplace the ideal environment for employees to flourish, and coworking spaces have proved to be an ideal propeller in workspace productivity and collaboration.
Led by the emerging Gen Z population, the workforce of India has gradually evolved and so have workspaces where desks are no longer limited to its primary utility and every employee desires a holistically driven workplace.
With a relatively conducive working environment in place, modern offices in the form of coworking spaces are more responsive to workers’ needs and are not confined to physical locations amidst emerging mobility solutions provided by leading players in the segment.
Your success blesses others. I wish you a great a hugely impactful week!