YPG Update

While I would normally update our members on what YPG is doing, that is not the case right now. In- person events are uncertain, and plans for how we move forward are changing each day. I am thankful for the committee members who are committed to YPG and its future. It reminds me how valuable participation in YPG and NAIOP SoCal is right now.

I recently took over the role of YPG Chair from Brooke Birtcher Gustafson and I would like to recognize her for her leadership and sincerely thank her for her guidance and friendship.

As I begin this new commitment, it is during a time of historic societal change and unprecedented economic challenges.

YPG was created 15 years ago to help recruit new members as well as encourage greater diversity and youth in the chapter and industry. With each new class we strive to make that happen. Brooke and I represent progress in that effort. But we have so much more to do to effect real change within our chapter, industry, and the communities where we all work and live.

I volunteer and teach with REAP, and YPG has been in conversation with the founder of Project Destined for a potential collaboration.  REAP—the Real Estate Associate Program—is now widely acknowledged to be the most successful diversity initiative in the commercial real estate industry. Project Destined teaches minority teenagers how to invest in real estate. These organizations provide a platform to encourage minority youth to pursue real estate and share with them our lessons in “how I did it.” It’s a way to make a connection, and that is another reason YPG is so successful.

One of the webinars during the chapter’s Recovery and Resiliency series included YPG Alumni and Developing Leaders who shared recessionary lessons from the last down cycle that could be applied today.

John Drachman, co-founder, Waterford Property Company, shared, “Sometimes you have a tendency to believe that it is only you going through this. But then you realize that we’re all going through this together and everybody has their own stresses they’re dealing with. Connecting with people, talking to people, and increasing your network is helpful because we’re all in this together.”

Anthony DeLorenzo, executive vice president, CBRE Capital Markets, added, “If there’s one secret, it’s that the industry is very small. Don’t be afraid to expand your network. There’s no one I’ve ever emailed or placed a phone call to and just tried to grab a coffee or quick conversation with them that hasn’t agreed to meet or talk.”

We now need to expand our ability to make connections beyond not just our industry peers, but into minority communities, high schools and colleges. We need to assist in providing minority students that may not have access to our network, with the guidance and resources to get from point A to point B so that they can pursue a career in commercial real estate.

Sadly, we all heard the news of Dr. Wayne Strom’s passing on April 2 due to complications from the Corona virus. He retired following a dynamic 40-year career as a Professor at the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and as one of the founders of the school’s executive MBA program. He impacted many careers during his exceptional life as a professor, executive coach, and civic leader.

He was beloved by all and was one of the architects of the YPG Program. His unique and intentional process assisted each of us in our understanding of our own personal composition. Many of us saw him as “the closest thing to Yoda” because of his zen-like aura and simplistic statements about life. He will be missed dearly, and we are discussing creating an award or scholarship in his memory.

In closing, I’ll share some of what the webinar panelists had to say about Wayne.

“The lesson I learned from Wayne, which has been valuable to me over my career, is to just take a moment and stop. Take a breath, let it settle down, come back to it tomorrow. It’s like the old adage, ‘Hey, I’m going to sleep on it.’ That’s the best career advice. And it’s simple.” John Drachman

“I remember he asked us to take our shoes off. It was that idea of feel your feet and get centered. When we did it I thought, ‘Why are we taking our shoes off?’  I asked him about it personally, and he said I want you guys to feel your feet, be in the moment, be centered, let the chaos of the world go around you while you’re centered in your thought process.”  Anthony DeLorenzo

Michael Chukwueke
YPG Alumni Chair