Episode 4 | Apartment Hacker | Servant Leadership

I believe leaders are made with the right amount of love, care and respect.

In Episode 4 I give you my thoughts related to Servant Leadership.

Leadership is something I’ve held front and center in my career.

I believe leaders are made with the right amount of love, care and respect.

There is no SOP for leadership but there are principles to live by and I think it all starts with a servant’s mind.

You consistently searching for chances to serve the people who serve our space multifamily maniac,


Multifamily Culture

Carve some choice chateaubriand out of the sacred cows in your company.

Eric Brown penned a question that caught my eye today: How much is company culture holding YOU back?

He further amplifies the point by asking if it’s just a myth. I am presupposing that is to imply that culture is a mythical quixotically utopian fantasy land ripe with heaps of pixy dust for times when people go rogue. That is to say they attempt to carve some choice Chateaubriand out of the sacred cows that roam the hallway of we’ve always done it that way.

It sharply reminds me of the young woman who promptly chops three good inches from each end of the family holiday ham. When asked why: the answer traces back to great grandma – “honey, I used to do that because the pan I had back then would not hold the full ham not to mention my stove was a far cry smaller than this mega-hunk of stainless steel madness you call a Viking.” Ugh-a-ruga – right. It’s one of those head slapping moments followed by a choice of keenly place curse words.

Culture in the Multifamily Space

Culture is not a place, person or thing. It’s that something. I tried to some it up a couple of years ago here.

While I would not suggest that it is a myth; I would go so far as to say that it is the most elusive of all necessary intentions that a company has to get right. They have to align values with purpose. Values with Vision. And values with Mission. Everything the company does from decision-making to policy crafting to rewards and recognition have to ladder up to the Mission, Vision and values of the organization.


Here is the crazy kicker – it takes a ton of time to get it right. In my head – (10,000 unit company with 300+/- employees) – it takes no less than 12 months and likely up to 18 to get it 100%. And then it takes a lifetime to keep it alive. It can’t become a piece of paper that hangs on the wall or worse yet falls in the drawer of doomed to never see daylight for as long as I run the broken show of mindlessness.

It is alive and well in everything. If everything is marketing; everything is predicated on the mission, vision and values.

Is it holding YOU back?

Here is what I have to say to that; there is a little space between (sing the Dave Matthews tune in your head while reading this – it makes for great imbedding) catalyst and response called choice. Is it holding YOU back? Your choice! How do you change culture. You choose to do it. How do you change people? Two ways: 1. change people 2. be the change you want to see in the world. It’s the same way you change the world – by the way.


Your fully convinced that culture is worth the full faith and effort of the people Multifamily Maniac,



As we wind down the year I think it prudent to examine the habits that lead our lives.

Whoa – almost forgot how to use WordPress; it has been so long. Got into a bad habit of not writing everyday.

Came across a quote today that got me thinking about Habits –

William James, Habit“When we look at living creatures from an outward point of view, one of the first things that strike us is that they are bundles of habits.” – William James

As we wind down the year I think it prudent to look at the habits that lead our lives.

Are they working for you or against you?

Do you need to throw out the old and bring in some new?

Do you need to set some goals and then think about the habits that will bring those goals to life?

Do you need to stop thinking so much and just go do stuff?

I know for me – I would like to get back to writing, it’s been way to long. And, I miss it…

Your thinking about habits multifamily maniac,



Emotionally Loaded

It’s the doormat versus the artist conversation.

Mike Brewer's take on emotionally loaded situationsHandling emotionally loaded situations is a true art form. How many of you have faced talking a customer down from the ledge of – ‘you are getting a piece of my mind?’ How many of those conversations included personal attacks targeted at you or one of your apartment service team members. How many of those comments – right, wrong or indifferent – did you deserve but still stung to the point of escalating your own emotions? How many of you have called the police to get that resident out of the office? How many of you felt all-powerful once that person did leave? How many of you had an emotional crash after an emotionally loaded conversation? How many felt remorse? How many felt vindicated?

It’s Normal

You’ve heard of fight or flight. You know that in an emotionally loaded situation you are pre-programmed to stand up and fight or run away. You are not pre-programmed for reasoning. At least not as far as I see it. Reasoning takes work. It takes time. It takes concession. It takes wherewithal. It takes patience. And it’s normal.

If a flight situation your first order is to run for the hills. Today we focus on the fight.

In a fight (emotionally loaded) situation your first order of business is to teach someone a lesson. You broke your lease so you owe the money – look here at your lease that I’ve highlighted in a nice bright pink color and underlined (for emphasis) three times in red. You owe it. Or, your company is causing all kinds of noise issues after hours – look here at this section of the lease. And so on and so forth. You are out to teach a lesson.

Guess what – in a fight they’re not going to learn the lesson. Not by your method of teaching. Not in this lifetime.

What Do You Do Instead?

It’s the doormat versus the artist conversation.

And I am anxious to hear your position…

Your always interested in the human behavior piece of our business multifamily maniac,


Who are You Trying to Please?

Marketing apartments involves every touchpoint from curb to commode.

Apartment marketing types – who is it that you are trying to please? The target? The customer? Your owner? Your boss? The apartment marketing award of the year panel?

Marketing apartments is an all on, all in and all the time business. It involves every touch point from curb to commode. Additionally, it involves every key player from the porter to the president. And everybody must understand who they are trying to please. Make the point crystal clear.

Who is it?

Your leaving it up to you to define Multifamily Manic,


Pick Me Pick Me

I think is human nature for us to wait for someone to pick us.

Apartment Marketing Mike Brewer. Pick Me Pick Me

I have one for you – always pick yourself when it comes time to make something happen.

I think it is human nature for us to wait for someone to pick us. We wait around thinking that all that hard work we are doing will pay off in the way of more responsibility and more money. Dare I say, it borders on entitlement. We think that someone is taking special time out of their day to check out all the blood sweat and tears that we are giving to the organization.

Hear me on this – Not So.

Pick Yourself

There is an art about advancing yourself in the business world. That art does not include the pick me syndrome. It’s two parts hard work, three parts maneuvering, one part politicking and four parts pure unadulterated art. Art in the way of taking educated but unauthorized risks. Not the bet the farm type – although don’t rule those out. No – I am talking about the self-initiated projects that everyone knows needs to get done but no one else is willing to step up and do. Such as:

Setting up a blog

Setting up a Facebook page

Setting up a Twitter account

Challenging out-of-place legacy policy and procedures

Organizing a North County Leasing Consultant Summit

Learning everything about your local utility subsidies and applying it to your property

Starting a leadership book club for your fellow property managers

Pick Yourself Today

What are you going to start?

Your always looking for a good story to tell multifamily maniac,


Busy Work

Stop the busy work and start the work that matters.

Stop the busy work and start the work that matters.

I have unsubscribed from roughly 25 newsletters and blogs over the last 6 days. All in the name of streamlining and simplifying. How did I do it? I don’t give myself the time to second guess any of the unsubscribes. I ask one question – when is the last time I read one of these. Not just the headline. I mean really took the time to click on a link a read the post from start to finish. If the answer is more than a month or so – unsubscribe.

On the other side of that – I have become relentless on new subscriptions. Relentless such that I have decided not to subscribe to anything in 2013. And, if the next hot platform is not beating me over the head with some serious social pressure from my oft relied upon G+ apartment maniac circle – then I won’t sign up.

What will I be doing instead?

Working on my Apartment Business

Your relentlessly working on the business multifamily maniac,




A Little Bit of Play Keeps The Madness Away

Whether it be personal bonding, a special event, or special recognition, taking a little time out for play during a tough month, week or even day, is a necessity.

Sure, most of the time it’s about the residents and the hopefully-soon-to-be residents, but sometimes it needs to be about us (you know, us…the ones who work hard daily to keep the residents happy and the property running smoothly).

Sometimes it’s important to focus on the team. Whether it be personal bonding, a special event, or special recognition, taking a little time out for play during a tough month, week or even day, is a necessity. Over the past couple of months, I’ve heard stories or witnessed events or pictures of events that describe what I’m referring to:

  • Recently, one of our properties accomplished a great task, and instead of just a pat on the back, congratulatory e-mail or extra bonus, they got a unique gift: Dunk the Owners Day. The owners and President of Mills Properties designated a day, came out dressed in goofy swimwear and each took their turn being dunked by the team members . It was a unique, special, once-in-a-lifetime day for the whole team, and just what they needed after months of hard work.
  • Another story I heard doesn’t have to do with taking the time out to recognize an accomplishment, rather, just taking the time out. One of our office teams designated the newly popular song Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen as dance party time.  Every time the song comes on in the office, they stop what they are doing and have a quick dance party. A quick couple of minutes to let loose, smile and re-energize. Great for bonding and taking some time out to focus on the team.
  • Still another example is a property who extravagantly celebrates their teams’ birthdays (extravagant for what you would typically see in a business office at least). There are balloons, confetti, flowers, gifts, and pictures. Pictures that go up on the property’s Facebook page that then give the associate extra recognition from other property’s team members and residents. And we all love getting a little acknowledgement on our birthday so it becomes an extra special birthday for them. It almost makes you want to come to work on your birthday.

I love their ideas and creativity and I think these types of events and celebrations are a necessity in every business. I was recently given the task of assisting with budgets. My responsibility is the Marketing/Advertising section. You know – the Outreach Marketing, Newspaper & Internet Advertising, Resident Events/Promotions lines. I haven’t examined the entire budget line by line, but I haven’t noticed a line item for Employee Events/Recognition anywhere yet. Maybe it’s because it’s called something else. Or maybe because it’s not there…but I think it should be.

Not all of the events cost something (like the sporadic dance parties), but sometimes they do, and I don’t think it should be the responsibility of the team members to provide special employee recognition/”play time” every now and then. I think if there were a budget for it, we would see more of it, and in my opinion, it would lead to more team bonding, more motivation, more employee satisfaction, less turnover and a more smoothly run property.

Do you agree?

Obvious Belief in your Apartment Community

Apartment Obvious BeliefThis is a shout out to all of you hard-working, trust gathering, relationship building conversationalist apartment leasing people. It seems obvious that you are the people who put the heads on beds in apartments all over the country every single day of the week. You come in early, stay late and do whatever it takes to get the job done. You are the difference that makes a difference when it comes to leasing and selling an apartment. And, what is that thing? What is ‘that thing’ that makes the difference? It’s an obvious belief in three things.

Obvious Belief in your Apartment Community

Nothing novel here. You have to believe in the apartment you are selling. Now you might ask, what if I am selling a C class apartment in a C location; that is different, right? No. It’s no different and my suggestion is that if you can’t believe in it – move on. As I see it, you are cheating three people out what they deserve if you stick around. You are cheating yourself as you will never be happy. You are cheating the company as you will never give them 100% of what you are capable of. And, worst of all, you are cheating the people who are really interested in leasing an apartment from you. Key: Get an Obvious belief in your apartment community.

 Obvious Belief in your Neighborhood

Tell them how much you are moved by the neighborhood. People want to know what there is to do around where they live. They not only want to know which pub serves the coldest cold one; they also want to know the name of best bar tender. They not only want to know the best restaurant; they want to know the name of the best server and the chef. They want to know the name of the cleaner that gives top-notch service. They want to know the name of the intake specialist at the local elementary school. Do you want to differentiate yourself? Key: Get out and learn anything and everything you can about the people who give personality to your neighborhood. 

Obvious Belief in Yourself

It’s people who make all the difference in this world. It’s YOU. It’s ME. It’s our friends, family, neighbors and those we would do business with. Key: You have to be comfortable in your own skin. Confident in your convictions. Convinced by your actions. And, Courageous in your opportunities. It is possible to fake it over a near term but over time even the best placed guards crumble. Be real and be real good. It is then that selling your apartment community, the neighborhood that surrounds it and you come across as an authentic need to serve the needs of others. And, that my friends sells all day long…

Your – believing in you – multifamily manic,



Multifamily Monday: Empathetic Listening

I love Monday – one of my favorite days of he week.

Today, we are doing a down and dirty lesson on empathetic listening or a fancy way of saying – pay attention. Empathetic listen is active listening or seeking first to understand and then to be understood. The goal being two-fold – listen on an emotional level as well as a cognitive level. In other words you aim to get a sense of how they feel and what they are thinking. And, remember empathy is not sympathy. Empathy speaks from experience; sympathy is there in support of.

Active ListeningTwo Questions – Going Deep

When communicating with any one of your apartment residents over any issue, good or bad, use the following two questions to go deeper. If they are in your office complaining about a leaky faucet for the third time this week [and, presupposing you have experienced a persistent leaking faucet in your lifetime], stop and listen. Once they are done talking ask, “how does that make you feel. Or, suggest, “I can imagine that makes feel very frustrated or angry.

It seems obvious but many times, in our haste to get the cranky people out of our office, we don’t take time to validate their feelings. Guess what, that makes a person even more frustrated or angry. All that most people are after is an outlet to vent their anger, frustration or the such and they want the problem fixed. That is where the second question comes in. It is more cognitive in nature.

At the end of understanding their emotion; repeat the reason for the anger or frustration; “I see Mr. Ineedamyfaucetfixed; this is the third time this week you have been in to report your leaky faucet. Our service person has been over two times and still you have a leaky faucet. It bugs you because you are a light sleeper and the persistent drip against the aluminum sink keeps you up. And, you don’t think you should have to put a cup or a rag under the drip to soften the sound. You just want it fixed.”

Your – seeking first to understand – multifamily maniac,