Leadership in Review: Events Archive

The Robert C. Larson Leadership Initiative’s past events include programming at Spring and Fall meetings, a CEO Summit, and more.

ULI 2012 Spring Meeting Leadership Recap

The Larson Leadership Initiative created a number of leadership events at the Spring Meeting in Charlotte in May 2012.  These included:

Larson Leadership Summit

60 ULI leaders were invited to the third annual Larson Leadership Summit, a joint program sponsored by the Larson Leadership Initiative and the Women’s Leadership Initiative.  After 45 minutes of networking, the group (half of which was made up of women—a ULI first!) heard North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell discuss leadership from an elected official’s point of view.

Reframing Leadership: New Visions for Our Future

ULI’s emerging leaders, as well as leaders from outside the real estate industry, discussed their visions for the future.  The audience heard how they are leading their enterprises toward a more inspired tomorrow and took part in the discussion of where the next opportunities could be. See related PDF –  “LLI New Visions for Our Future.”

Moderators Lynn Carlton of Sasaki Associates and Anthony Chang of Cassidy Turley led a lively dialogue with six participants including:

Tamara Dudukovich
The Community Builders, Inc.
Lev Gershman
GE Capital Real Estate
Mark Huppert
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Anika Singh Lemar
Wiggin & Dana, LLP
Elizabeth A. McMillan
Crescent Resources, LLC
Lat Purser
LAT Purser & Associates, Inc.

Wednesday Leadership Track

On Wednesday, the Larson Leadership Initiative supported a variety of programming during the day including concurrent sessions titled:Trustee Leadership Roundtable, Making ULI Work For You: How to Get the Most of Your ULI Membership, and Inside Track to Careers in Real Estate: I’ve Survived the Great Recession, Now What?

In addition, a personal development session called: Don’t Just Change with the Times… Change the Times! was described as follows: While most would say that the key to success in real estate, and in life, is identifying trends and timing your actions accordingly, the reality is that the greatest rewards go to those who change the times not those who just change with the times.  What are the attributes of those who change the times?  Join Lara Hodgson, nationally acclaimed speaker on innovation and creativity, entrepreneur and contrarian, in this interactive session in which you will learn tools and techniques to help you reframe challenges and drive breakthrough thinking for yourself and your team.

Leadership Roundtables

Long time ULI member and Foundation Governor Sandy Apgar convened two invitation-only leadership roundtables to create a dialogue that will result in two articles for Urban Land magazine.  One group consisted of senior ULI members and Trustees, while the other was comprised of Young Leaders.  Stay tuned for Sandy’s articles. See related PDF -“LLI Roundtable.”

CEO Summit Highlights Global Leadership Challenges

The CEO Summit is held each year at the ULI Fall Meeting. A limited number of chief executives are invited to discuss the latest industry trends and share their experiences and lessons learned from managing their organizations in the face of global trends, such as changing demographics, emerging technologies, a new regulatory environment and the complexities of the capital markets. A keynote speaker is invited to set the stage for the day, followed by roundtable conversations about the opportunities and challenges of leading organizations in today’s business climate.

The third annual CEO Summit, sponsored by the ULI Robert C. Larson Leadership Initiative and Ferguson Partners, was held at the 2011 ULI Fall Meeting in Los Angeles. ULI convened a select group of CEOs for three hours of inspiration and discussion on leading a real estate firm in the future. This invitation-only event was limited to 50 CEOs and other heads of real estate–related companies to ensure the productive use of time and deliver excellent take-home value.The goal was to bring together heads of firms from all over the world both to discuss global issues as they relate to our enterprises and to look outside the industry for best practices as a guide to dealing with the challenges of the C-Suite.

Before attendees discussed personal experiences with innovation in roundtable talks, the highly interactive session began with “Global Forces: The Five Crucibles for Change,” a presentation led by McKinsey partner Elizabeth Stephenson. With a PowerPoint entitled “What Happens Next?”, Stephenson mapped how global economic trends, from India and China’s rising fortunes, a mandate for improved productivity, a global grid that connects the planet; a pricing mechanism that accounts for all resource usage (UPS was able to cut system wide cost by 2% by eliminating left turns by their fleet of trucks), and governments as major players and legitimate partners in the global economy, will herald innovation.

“In this world, the optimists have it,” argues economist David Landes in the closing paragraphs of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, his brilliant survey of 500 years of economic development. They have it, he adds, “not because they are always right, but because they are positive. Even when wrong, they are positive, and that is the way of achievement, correction, improvement, and success.”

Hank Nothhaft, CEO of Danger Inc. and a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” spoke about the leadership lessons in his new book Great Again. Making an impassioned plea for the creation of more jobs in the United States, he noted that it is far easier to create a start up in China than here at home and criticized the lack of a national strategy for business development. Technical training is a particular challenge as 60% of students return to their home countries. “We’re not producing enough engineers,” he lamented.

One of the highlights of the summit was “Stump the CEO,” a challenge to the audience at various intervals during the morning, where each participant submitted a question and another randomly choose one to answer. “How to recruit the best talent?” one participant asked. The answer, according to one CEO: “Look for those comfortable in chaos.”

GE Capital Real Estate’s Kathleen Carey, a ULI Robert C. Larson Advisory Board member, said the session made her more aware of staying current with new technologies, particularly social networking. “Technology gets old quickly,” she said. “If you and your organization are not cutting edge, you’ll miss out and quickly become irrelevant and ignored.”

For Mike Lowe of Lowe Enterprises, “the best part was certainly having the opportunity to debate big picture issues and ideas with peers across the industry.”


2011 Fall Meeting and Urban Land Expo in Los Angeles Recap

Each year, the Larson Leadership Summit brings together 50 ULI full members at the Spring Council Forum for a half-day program designed to enhance personal and organizational leadership skills. This invitation-only event includes a keynote speaker and interactive sessions to provide both substantive content and informal peer-to-peer sharing of experiences.

ULI hosted a number of leadership sessions at its 2011 Fall Meeting and Urban Land Expo in Los Angeles. From panel discussions to a personal leadership workshop, professionals in attendance were afforded unique opportunities to gain new insights and hone their leadership skills. The leadership sessions included:

New Models for Leadership

The New Models for Leadership session began by looking at leadership in all areas of life and how to apply those examples both in our industry and everyday. A large, diverse panel of ULI trustees shared their experiences and lessons learned over the years while a graphic artist sketched the major concepts. Examples ranged from mega-sports stars to entrepreneurs to under-appreciated public servants. The discussion soon turned to the audience, creating a beneficial dialogue for all those in attendance. It concluded with a variety of excellent examples and tips represented in a unique visual display.

View from the Top

The View from the Top session brought women leaders to the forefront to share their professional experiences and offer career advice. Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Dean of the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania and Partner at the architecture firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP, moderated a lively discussion. The panel also focused on today’s current environment, including opportunities and challenges of operating in international markets, particularly China and South America. Although participants noted mutual challenges of assessing risk and understanding cultural differences, they agreed that foreign investment is an extremely attractive opportunity in today’s market.


The Crossover session brought thought leaders from outside the industry into a panel session focusing on how to boost business prospects through effective marketing and advertising. The panel pulled out all the stops with a lively, theatrical production with 3D visual presentations and music. By tapping into the creative process, these thought leaders showed an audience of industry professionals how to “think differently.

Who’s in Charge of Your Ship?

The session “Who’s In Charge of Your Ship?” was led by Gordon Davidson and Corinne McLaughlin, founders of the Center for Visionary Leadership. They discussed their core ideals of becoming an effective leader. According to Davidson and McLaughlin, it is critical to understand and develop your inner, spiritual self to successfully handle today’s uncertain and ever-changing times. Further, they advised that personal values should play a critical role in defining yourself, as they will help you be a successful leader through times of personal struggle.

Leverage your Strengths for Soaring Success

During “Leverage your Strengths for Soaring Success,” author and entrepreneur Devora Zack explored using natural strengths to achieve success. Those in attendance took a self assessment to create their own personal leadership action plans. Zack explained how to turn your own perceived leadership flaws into new, unrealized strengths.


Larson Leadership Initiative Holds Five Programs at 2011 Spring Council Forum

Because leadership is now one of the five priority areas for ULI, the ULI Robert C. Larson Leadership Initiative held five programs at the 2011 Real Estate Summit at the Spring Council Forum in Phoenix this May.

First was a joint breakfast and program co-hosted with the ULI Women’s Leadership Initiative. After a welcome by Eric Larson, chair of the Larson Leadership Advisory Board and CEO of the Larson Realty Group, Kathleen Carey, Chief Operations Officer, Global Investment, at GE Capital Real Estate and a member of the Larson Leadership Initiative Advisory Board, described the Women’s Leadership Initiative mission. According to Carey, that mission is “to increase the number and visibility of women leaders in the real estate industry and in ULI.”

More than 150 people attended to network and hear Karen Otazo, managing director of Global Leadership Network Inc., speak about women’s roles in leadership and how women can “set the tone” for leadership activities. Real estate has one of the lowest percentages of women leaders of any industry, Otazo said. She described how women can move beyond mentoring to sponsor younger women to be future leaders.

Part of the group then broke into roundtables, grappling with issues such as the skills needed to lead a successful real estate company in the next decade, ways to improve these skills, assets that women leaders contribute to the success of their teams, and how ULI can expand the number and visibility of women leaders in the industry and the Institute.

At the second annual Larson Leadership Summit, held immediately afterward, nearly 60 ULI trustees and governors heard an extraordinary keynote address by John Bucksbaum of General Growth Companies. In the address, titled “General Growth Properties and the Financial Crisis: One Man’s Journey,” Bucksbaum chronicled the rise, fall, and rebound of General Growth and his own sometimes agonizing story of the aftermath. Bucksbaum received a two-minute standing ovation following his remarks; many in attendance—some ULI members for more than 40 years—said it was one of the best ULI events they had ever attended. It was “pure ULI,” said one member.

The summit concluded with a panel on “Next Generation Cities,” moderated by Marta Goldsmith, senior vice president of the ULI Foundation. The three panelists—Ron Altoon, partner of Altoon and Porter; Gayle Farris, principal of GB Farris Strategies Inc.; and Maureen McAvey, executive vice president of initiatives at ULI—discussed the great opportunities for cities in an era when the majority of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. The panel also discussed the importance of anchor institutions in creating critical mass to stimulate economic vitality.

In a highly interactive session, a panel of ULI trustees shared best practices and lessons learned for leading their organizations into the future. Jim Curtis of Bristol Group, Harry Frampton of East West Partners, Teri Frankiewicz of Crown Development, Tara Hernandez of JCH Development, Lauralee Martin of Jones Lang LaSalle, and Steve Navarro of the Furman Company shared how they have positioned their organizations to navigate through the inevitable real estate cycles, continually evaluating market conditions, assessing risk, setting strategy to maximize the value of their assets, and adapting to changes in the economic environment. Themes such as implementing innovation and empowerment, keeping people motivated, taking time to relax, and creating backup plans emerged in an engaging and continual interaction with the audience.

A separate event, the Leadership Lab, was a more intimate session for full members only, focusing on necessary information for decision-making and leading enterprises in these changing times. The lab was divided into two parts. First, ULI incoming chairman Peter Rummell was interviewed by ULI CEO Patrick Phillips using a Charlie Rose format. Again, there was much audience interaction, beginning with a question to everyone attending: “Who was the leader you most looked up to?” Rummell’s answer was Michael Eisner, who was CEO of Disney when Rummell worked there. Other answers ranged from Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt to ULI legends Bob Larson and Charles Fraser, to mom and dad. A particularly poignant story Rummell told involved a recent occasion in which he and other leaders in his community backed a mayoral candidate of the opposite political party because “It was the right thing to do.”

The second part of the event, “Leadership Lessons from the Pros,” featured Larson Advisory Board member Bill Ferguson of Ferguson Partners, who talked about the leadership lessons in his ULI book Keepers of the Castle; he was joined by a panel of longtime members, including Advisory Board member Tom Toomey, CEO and president of UDR Inc.; Quintin Primo III, CEO and chairman of Capri Capital Partners; Ron Terwilliger, former ULI chairman and chairman emeritus of Trammel Crow Residential; and Richard Saltzman, CEO of Colony Capital. The discussion ranged from distinguishing between tactics and strategic issues, balancing risk and return, going global, and diversification.

The Larson Leadership Initiative has also developed leadership modules for use on Product Council Day at the ULI fall and spring meetings. This spring’s session focused on leadership skills members had used in their businesses in the past six months. Bill Lashbrook, senior vice president, PNC Real Estate Finance, led a two-hour session for the Responsible Property Investment Council on leadership, including leadership legacies and the proudest moments of leadership. The group also addressed the role of women in leadership.

Spring 2011: Larson Roundtable Looks at Leadership Practices

The ULI Robert C. Larson Leadership Initiative in March presented an updated version of one of ULI’s historic leadership events—the Leadership Roundtable. Held at ULI headquarters in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., and open only to 50 ULI full members, the two-day roundtable provided eight hours of in-depth examination of leadership skills, best practices, and lessons learned.

The event began with a peer-to-peer exchange of personal leadership moments, including ULI activities such as hosting a major meeting or leading a district council community outreach program. Other examples involved volunteer activities with local charities.

Former Maryland Governor and Senior Fellow at Smart Growth America Parris Glendening was interviewed by Tom Murphy, ULI/Klingbeil Family Chair for Urban Development, on  leadership opportunities and challenges from the public sector perspective. Most of Glendening’s lessons learned came from crises, such as a listeria scare that threatened to close Maryland’s Eastern Shore during a prime holiday weekend. Key points included providing great vision, getting all stakeholders in the room, taking risks, speaking in easy-to-understand language, and distinguishing between strategic leadership and crisis leadership.

Following a networking dinner, the group began a dialogue about traits of leaders, such as integrity, vision, and empowerment, and those of non-leaders, including tribalism, micromanagement, and the like. Participants then discussed leadership skills they wish they had been taught—such as being authentic, accepting failure, and engaging in collaborative communication—and delineated traits they would like to leave as their own leadership legacies, such as having passion and humility, learning new skills, having respect for everyone, and taking time to mentor.

Four participants shared leadership stories. Kathleen Carey, Chief Operations Officer, Global Investment, of GE Capital Real Estate in Norwalk, CT, explained when to say yes and when not to speak: “When you strike oil, stop boring,” she said. Len Forkas, president of Milestone Communities in Reston, Virginia, told how he led a district council Reality Check program by visualizing a fun experience, beta testing the concept, and correcting course before the event. Tara Hernandez, president of JCH Development in New Orleans, described how, in trying to return to New Orleans and retrieve her car in the aftermath of Katrina, she needed to be fearless and focused and never give up. Baltimore architect Bryce Turner, president and CEO of Brown Craig Turner, described his leadership during the difficult economic times of the past two years. He said his ability to just show up, have faith, and be the focal point allowed him to grow and become a better communicator.

Roundtable participants then talked about their own leadership stories during the past two to three years. Consistent themes included innovation, effective communication, transparency, nurturing and creating community, and finding a small pleasure every day. To conclude, the group was asked to say what one thing they were going to do tomorrow based on what they learned in the roundtable. Responses ranged from doing yoga and eating ice cream to confirming a vision for a team and communicating, even through daily e-mails.

When asked to describe one thing of value learned in the roundtable, Patrick Shooltz, regional director, Mid-Atlantic region, and senior vice president, development, at New Boston Fund, replied, “It is extremely beneficial to review leadership qualities in the context of my day-to-day business activity to ensure that I am taking time to demonstrate and model those qualities while pursuing and processing the pursuits of my company’s business. In other words, don’t lose sight of the importance of leadership every day,” he said. “I have reduced my notes to a one-pager that is now visible from my desk; it is simply a list of ‘leadership traits.’” Anthony Chang listed, “the importance of the small things in leading (i.e., regular meetings, an unhurried style, and dispassionate approach that many people referred to).”

The group agreed that the beta test for the Larson Leadership Roundtable was a big success. Plans are now being made to offer roundtables on a regional basis and create a shortened version for district council leadership.

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