Dave Cairns, Founder of CBRE Forward | The importance of uniquely tailored tenant experience | 35:12


DA: Welcome to TEN, the Tenant Experience Network. I’m your host David Abrams. In this episode, we are connecting with Dave Cairns, Senior Vice President at CBRE Canada and Founder of CBRE Forward. In this episode, we will learn about Dave’s journey to his current role, where he focuses on working with high-growth companies in the tech sector, Space as a Service Operators, and financial service firms. We will tap into his learning from early beginnings as a professional poker player, and how he found his way to the brokerage industry. We will hear his views on why the traditional way of leasing no longer aligns with business objectives of most corporations, big or small, and gain insight into why end user experience now needs to be center stage. Dave will also talk about the importance of brand in commercial real estate and the opportunity to deliver uniquely tailored tenant experiences. We’re excited to be sharing this podcast with you, so be sure to follow TEN, so you never miss an episode of the Tenant Experience Network. Now I’d like to welcome Dave to the show. Really glad you could be with us today.

DC: Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. And you have been thinking about the tenant experience before it was en vogue. So, as my friend Mark Gilbreath says, chapeau to you….

DA: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. A lot has happened since I first started thinking about it. That’s for sure. All right. Let’s kick off with your journey into your current position. Senior Vice President at CBRE, Founder of CBRE Forward, where you focus on working with high growth companies in the tech sector, Space as a Service, I’m sure we’ll talk about that, and financial service firms as well. I’d love to know how you got started. And yes, okay, I’m curious about the professional poker chapter in your life. Walk me through it. Share a little bit more about your current role as well.

DC: Yeah, for sure. Well, I mean they are interconnected in a certain way. So yeah, I went to McGill University, graduated there in 2009. I had a degree in Political Science, but really, I had a degree in poker. I spent a lot of time playing online poker. I was fortunate to have some lucky breaks. Some things happened to me early on in my poker career that sometimes don’t happen to people over the course of a five or ten year poker career. So, I won a substantial amount of money in university, just, kind of, set me down a completely different path, non-traditional one. Didn’t have to really get a job out of school. I ended up having a backer, someone who could, you know, basically grant me the opportunity to play up to $10,000 buy-in poker tournaments, which you need somebody usually to do that even if you’ve done well. The swings up and down in the game are super, they’re big. And, you know, you need like a million bucks minimum to be able to play in those games. I had done well, but I didn’t have a million bucks. So yeah, I did that for several years. It’s really actually informed my world view. Certainly informed actually quite a lot of my perspectives around how I see collaboration, you know, the purpose of using an office versus maybe not. So, I think it’s really had this interesting effect on what I do now. But in 2011, the Department of Justice in the US indicted the two largest online poker websites with tax evasion, money laundering, wire fraud. A whole whack of charges. And it just had a really big impact on the games. It shut out the US economy from being able to play online. And so really, really dramatic impact. I intended to get out of the game at some point before the age of 30, but it, kind of, fast tracked me to start to think about getting out of the game around 25. So, I took a bit of a hiatus. And as I was, sort of, like, confused with what the hell I was going to do with myself. I knew poker wasn’t for me, but I didn’t know what to do. I had some friends, some family in commercial real estate. And after having a short stint in a sales job at this, like, sort of, bucket shop company, I won’t name them with some of my friends. That was just, sort of, the organic next step. I took a sales job with some of my friends. But after that didn’t work out, some of my family members and friends said to me, you know, maybe you would like this brokerage thing. It’s, you know, eat what you kill kind of an environment. It encompasses, like, you know, interpersonal skills with analytical skills. And, you know, you have both of those things from both your online poker and your in-person poker, and just who you are generally. So, like, why don’t you give it a shot? So, you know, around 25 I started interviewing at all the brokerages. I was very fortunate to be given a position at CBRE. I think CBRE, literally, is the best platform in the brokerage business, second to none. So, I was very lucky that I had the opportunity to be able to start there. And at first it was like a major culture shock. Like, I was used to being this, like, essentially digital nomad.

DA: All right.

DC: You know, waking up whenever I wanted, working whenever I wanted. Doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And here I was now as an Administrative Assistant to, predominantly, the leasing group in the downtown Toronto office, putting a suit and tie on. I, admittedly, was having panic attacks for the first couple of weeks on the job. But anyway, I found my stride and I ended up gravitating to office leasing, somewhat, because of the, I like the volume. It seemed like a volume business. And I was playing poker as a volume poker player. Like, playing a lot of tournaments. So, I liked that. And then I was really more, I found, I found it more appealing to connect with companies outside the real estate industry, rather than working internally on the investment side. It just seemed way more appealing to me to talk to CEOs, Founders, and people that were, like, growing really cool businesses. So, that’s why I chose leasing. I’ve been doing that since 2012. And, you know, I’ve grown it from nothing into a business, where, you know, we work with startups all the way through to the biggest financial services firms in Canada, like CIBC. And, you know, we’re working with a lot of international technology companies like Salesforce, Indeed, media companies like IPG, and then also Space as a Service, as well, both on the enterprise side and also on the operator side through, you know, talking with groups like Convene and stuff like that.

DA: Great.

DC: So that, long-winded.

DA: No.

DC: But that’s me from poker to where I am now.

DA: That’s cool, and I’m sure when you’re closing a big deal or having these tough conversations, you, kind of, need that poker face to help make those deals, you know, come to fruition. I imagine that early experience probably has helped you.

DC: Yeah, for sure. But, you know, what’s great about this versus poker? Poker is, like, it’s the most honest thing I’ve ever done because it’s expected that you’re going to lie. And I find that very honest, right? Like, cause you know, you go to the table, you know exactly what to expect. In business, you have to suss out people’s intentions. And so, you know, that, like, ability to read people has been really helpful for me. But what I like about the business world, is you can try and use those skills to create a mutually beneficial outcome.

DA: Right.

DC: As opposed to poker, which is very zero sum. It’s like, my win is your loss.

DA: Right.

DC: And some of that is tough.

DA: Right. You touched on this a little bit, in that, in those opening comments. But I think just for offering some clarity to our, to our listeners, who might be considering a similar path, why do you think you were so uniquely suited again to this opportunity? What helped you to become as successful as you are, whether it be skills or mentors, colleagues, books, what would you attribute that to?

DC: I don’t know. I just jumped into the deep end, I guess. Like, whether it’s, like, I’m good at figuring out which people or which skills are going to advance my cause. And I’m unabashedly willing to just pursue it. And so, I just sort of started to pay attention, read, read the room, I guess, as it was in the poker context, on the floor at CBRE. I figured out quickly which kind of people I aligned well with. And I just really, aggressively pursued building relationships with those people. So it’s, you know, everything in life is about people. Like, if you asked me whether I would rather have like, you know, millions of dollars or a really, really deep network of people that could, you know, further my cause, I would pick the people every time.

DA: Right.

DC: So, yeah, I think it’s maybe that.

DA: For sure. Well, we’ll talk, I’m sure, more about people. You and I, we share a lot of, I think, common interests and lines of thinking in terms of what we’re seeing in the marketplace and commercial real estate, you know, what’s happening within the industry. But for me, just as a sidebar, you know, I think the commercial estate operators are now recognizing, more so than ever, that it is all about people. It’s not about the physical space, it’s about how they can create places for people. And I think that’s, perhaps, an exciting outcome, you know, from all of this. Let’s agree, I think we probably will, that the pandemic has been absolutely horrible. I hate looking for a silver lining from such a terrible event. That being said, from my perspective, it can no longer be an excuse. And sadly, I still see businesses suggesting, you know, that they can’t do this because of the pandemic or, you know, there’s a longer delay or a longer wait time because of the pandemic. So, our feeling, particularly as a team at HILO, is that now is the time where we can do better, be better, and ultimately build something better. So, if you had an extra $100,000 right now of budget, how would you spend it and why?

DC: A hundred thousand dollars of budget? I guess, I mean, I’m a big content person, as you know. And I think that putting a human face and a human voice to a cause is always more impactful. So, I would spend money on, I don’t know, I think I’d probably do a vlog, like Ryan Simonetti, or, sorry, not Ryan Simonetti, Ryan Serhant, the residential broker in New York. I mean, that’s how I think I would do, like, “the day in the life stuff”. And, you know, use it as a platform to educate both landlords and tenants on, really, how they could use space more efficiently, how they can provide better end user experience, and how they can, hopefully, benefit the physical environment and the climate along the way. And make it cool and fun like Ryan Serhant does. So, if someone gave me a hundred grand, that’d be fun. I’d do that.

DA: Cool, cool. So listen, there’s a lot we still don’t know. You know, I feel pretty confident in saying that I think there will be a return to workplace. I think we all now know it’s going to be slower. It’s going to take longer. Flexibility is going to be a huge theme in commercial real estate. It’s going to be with us for a very, very long time.

DC: Forever.

DA: Forever. And particularly as we continue to evolve and understand the emerging needs of commercial real estate. So, recognizing that people are going to work from everywhere forever, including the home, what are your thoughts, just in general, in the marketplace right now?

DC: Well, my biggest core belief is that buildings don’t do enough to serve end users. They just don’t. And the ways in which space is leased, let’s call it the traditional way of leasing space. It just doesn’t align with the business objectives of most corporations, big and small. You know, small companies are not using Space as a Service because it doesn’t really live organically inside of their building. And most companies do want some kind of private, autonomous footprint. But, like, when I think of the, I’ll give you an example. I’m talking to a company the other day. They intend to have a dedicated workstation for every single employee in their company because they want to make it feel like home. And, like, they’re just a good organization that’s very people-centric. But, when I think of how wasteful some of that really can be, like, if there was something that lived in the building that allowed them to purchase aspects of their space on demand, then it would inform the strategy that they have, to be able to take less space and still be able to offer their employees the same kind of experience and human centricity that they are going for. And I think that buildings really need to be thinking more that way. And so, I believe much like my friend, Caleb Parker, does, that what we would call a full stack commercial real estate product needs to live in the building. That’s really focused on end user experience from the minute you walk in the door in the lobby, all the way through the activated amenities, event space, and then all the flex office products that you could consider buying. And, you know, maybe it doesn’t live inside every building, but I think it should be thought of as a leasing and retention strategy by landlords. I think we are moving in that direction, you know. CBRE making it an investment in Industrious is a big signifier of something like that to me. The pandemic has shown landlords that it doesn’t necessarily make sense to have a leasing arrangement with a flex space operator or workspace as a service operator. You know, a partnership is better for both sides, actually, in the end. So, I think, we are moving in the right direction on that front, but I think that small companies just don’t have the opportunity to buy in any other way than traditionally or pure flex. And what I find from most of my clients is that, talking about hybrid, I think they would prefer a hybrid approach. But, as they’re, usually not very sophisticated about real estate, they don’t even know that something like that might be possible for them. So, I really think the industry has got to catch up. The supply side of commercial real estate has got to catch up. I recently wrote about that in an article that I put out on LinkedIn. And then on the enterprise side, you know, large corporate enterprise, you know, there still are components of their footprint that makes sense to lease long-term and traditionally. But increasingly, there’s a lot more pressure that I think they’re going to start to put on corporate or landlords to be able to incorporate flex into their portfolios. Because often, they’re taking more space than they need, or under utilizing the space that they have, when they’re leasing it traditionally. So, essentially I’m a big believer in the growth of the flex office sector. I think it’s going to massively serve enterprise companies. And I do think on the flip side of that, there’s an opportunity for landlords to actually make a premium when those spaces are operated in the same way as, like, high caliber hotels are. So, really the growth of that sector, much like all the brokerage firms have been predicting long before the pandemic, I think that’s come center stage. And also, in conjunction with that, the end users’ experience has come full center stage. Like, while we’ve been talking about it for a while, now it’s smacking everybody in the face. The veil has been lifted. There is no going back. And buildings that are trying to, sort of, you know, sort of, position themselves as if they are upper echelon buildings and charge those premiums, but really are offering something that’s more of a commodity product. I think they’re going to be in big trouble. I think that there’s something, that the buildings in the middle that are trying to be, like, high caliber buildings, are going to be in trouble. The ones that are commodity, well there’s always room for commodity.

DA: Right.

DC: And there’s always room for high end. But I think the middle of the office market, is like, what’s going to happen there? That’s my big question mark.

DA: Right.

DC: And I think that there’s a lot of transitions that’s going to happen there.

DA: I agree with you. And I think that space in the middle, you know, it could be the big players that create those solutions. And it could be some small niche players that create those solutions, as well. I don’t think it’s, you know, it’s only the big guys or only the small guys that can achieve that vision. You know, Deloitte last year re-coined the phrase, the adage, “location, location, location”, to be “location, location, experience”. And that was pretty pandemic, when they made that pronouncement. But, you know, and, and you and I are both advocates and have a clear understanding of how important the tenant experience is. And that ultimately is what building operators are in the business of. And in the absence of it, it’s just a commodity. It’s just, you know, it’s just another office. And that’s just not going to cut it going forward. Right?

DC: Yep. I was actually talking to a landlord the other day. They said they were talking to one of their biggest enterprise customers, and they had polled their staff. And 80% of them, don’t want to come back to their offices.

DA: Right.

DC: That’s, that’s sad actually, from where I sit. I mean, I think that, you know, in a hybrid workplace, a lot of really large companies with legacy real estate footprints probably would benefit from downsizing their real estate.

DA: Right.

DC: But at the same time, if 80% of your staff don’t want to come back, you know, what does that say about your culture? What does that actually say about your workplace itself? And, you know, I think companies have got a real, I wrote in my article, most companies know that they can never forget their most important customer ever again, which is the end users that use their space. And the same token is with the landlords as well. So, both have to do better. But, I really do think that buildings have to do better.

 DA: Right.

DC: They just have to.

DA: Yeah. And on the issue of surveys, I’m developing a bit of a pet peeve and a frustration with all of these surveys that are emerging, which at times to me, either feel self-serving, or, you know, just not necessarily helpful, both to the end user, the tenants, the customers, or, you know, the building operators and owners. You know, I think, you know, they’re asking the wrong questions. And I think, to ask anyone the outright question, “do you want to come back to work?”, without any context, without any, you know, sharing of what the reinvention of their space is going to look like. And what coming to back to work is going to feel like. And what the value and benefits are. Like, you know, sure, my answer might be immediately, no. I like waking up at a quarter to nine, and throwing on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, than being at my desk. And, you know, there are all kinds of benefits that have certainly come from this work from everywhere style. But I don’t think it’s nearly as effective long term as, ultimately, you know, collaborating, moments of spontaneity, creativity, you know, human relationship, human engagement. Like, none of that can be replaced. So, I kind of think we’re asking the wrong questions and I’m looking forward to, maybe, some new approaches to how we engage people in, in dialoguing about what comes next.

DC: Yeah. I like that. Thank you for sharing that with me and it will inform my perspective. Thank you.

DA: Well, and we’ll have more to say about that soon. So, and you’ll be the first to hear about it. We’ll share more later on. Let’s take a short commercial break and we’ll be right back.

Commercial break

DA: We’re back with Dave Cairns, Senior Vice President at CBRE. Thanks again for being with us.

DC: For sure.

DA: The industry is moving faster and faster towards understanding that their core business, again, is not about building ownership, but it’s really about creating the best customer experience for their tenants or residents, both office and multi-family. So, putting your, as I read in your LinkedIn bio, your futurist hat on, any thinking around how we will define and deliver tenant experience in 2021? And I think we have to think even beyond, like, given the amount of time it’s going to take for workplaces to really repopulate.

DC: Well, I’ll start with paraphrasing a quote from my favorite futurist, which is George Pollack. He says something to the effect of, you know historically office buildings have benefited from being essentially nondescript. They’re attempting to appeal to a broad variety of customers. But going forward they need to be branded, packaged, serviced, and delivered to the end user in new and exciting ways, and ultimately, more niche ways. So, I think that if we believe that buildings are going to become more branded, then inherently, those buildings are going to be attracting a certain kind of customer, as opposed to, you know, a broad cross section of customers. I’m not going to be naive to suggest that I think such an evolution is going to just, like, we’re going to snap our fingers and we’re going to be there. I think it’s going to take maybe the better part of this decade to see those, you know, that come to life. But if we look at WeWork, to me that is the first consumer facing brand that really graced the commercial real estate space. And despite any of the turbulence of that company, I think one of the things they really got right, is standing for something that was more than space.

DA: Absolutely.

DC: Right?

DA: Yup, absolutely.

DC: No, you go ahead.

DA: No, I’m just going to say, you know, they were part of the inspiration for me in terms of understanding the importance of experience. And that, you know, the experience that WeWork might offer in one floor in a building, is ultimately what building operators, I sensed, would want to permeate through the entire building over time.

DC: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, your question is like, what do we need to focus on? I mean, I think that landlords or operators, or both together, need to try to better understand what they want that customer mix to look like going forward, based on the quality of the asset, the location, any unique things that they want to try to curate, and create perhaps an ecosystem. Like in Toronto, when I think of a great example, and I’ll give another chapeau to Oxford Properties and OMERS Ventures. One Eleven to me is the only example that I’ve seen in Canada, that has curated an ecosystem inside of a building. Right? And, you know, it’s like, what’s funny about it is, it’s not, like, it’s like all kinds of bells and whistles, and it’s like the Four Seasons hotel. But they’ve done something, the building stands for something, number one. They’ve found a way to put players in that building that would benefit from being together with one another. And then they’ve put the right kinds of services, and they’ve designed the space for the types of people that are actually using it.

DA: Right. So, that is one example to me. But I don’t think there is really going to be a one size fits all. I think that as we move forward, owners, and potentially, their operator partners, need to start to think a little bit more about the types of customers that they’re trying to attract into those buildings, and maybe not necessarily be going after anybody and everybody that’s got, you know, credit worthiness.

DC: Yes. I think that’s brilliant. And I think that, you know, it speaks to the consumerization of commercial real estate. And you spoke about branding. I think a big part of a brand expression is the experience you offer. You know, Apple, in addition to building great product, the experience that you have, or, in one of their stores, was phenomenal. It changed retail. So, I think if buildings began to think about the experience, they’d offered even more so, as a way to also brand what they ultimately offer, beyond just the address of the building. I think there’s an incredible opportunity. And to your point of, you know, One Eleven, there could be so many potential different uniquely branded experiences that are going to appeal to a certain subset of the market and build tremendous loyalty and tremendous value because you’ll have that customer forever. If you’re one of a few buildings or a few building owners delivering that particular experience to that particular segment of the market, you know, they could be with you forever in a day.

DA: Absolutely. And, you know, when you think, you make a good point. Like, you think of WeWork, they don’t say I’m going to 325 Front, they say, I’m going to One Eleven. They don’t say I’m going to 240 Richmond, they say, I’m going to WeWork.

DC: You know?

DA: Right.

DC: This is not, like, Convene, Industrious, like, whatever, you name it. And then, obviously, there’s an experience and, you know, platform that goes with that, in a lot of cases, that’s very analogous to what you are doing. And that’s the backbone and the bedrock of what makes people feel cared for. Do you know what I mean?

DA: Yes.

DC: That is, ultimately I think, really missing as well. And you know, again going back to my article, I wrote that, you know, I think that employers realize that going forward, they’re going to need to create a consistent workplace brand and experience. Large companies, if you were to walk into their, let’s say, a big company, downtown Toronto, a nameless one, that’s got millions of square feet.

DA: Right.

DC: If you walk into five different buildings where they occupy space, I can guarantee you that the experience that those people are being offered in all of those buildings, is going to look vastly different. Some will be much better than others. And I think before the pandemic they’ve been able to get away with that. But now when people are going to be, like, well why am I commuting? Why am I, instead of putting my jeans on and going and sitting at my desk like you are right now, why am I going to go down there? There has to be more of a reason to do it. So, employers are going to be razor focused on this, but they need help. And they’re going to need help from operators, such as the ones that we’ve been mentioning. They’re going to need help from technology platforms, such as the one that you guys deploy. And all of this is going to have to be packaged up by the owners of the buildings.

DA: Yup, yup. We like to say that your building apps should not be proprietary. Your tenant experience should be.

DC: Yeah, that’s good. I like that.

DA: Yeah. And the brand that you build and the experience you deliver, I think that’s where the magic is. So, it’s going to be really fun to watch how this continues to emerge. I’m sure for you, from a leasing perspective, to be able to identify those opportunities, and then, you know, be able to bring that to your clients and make that match, that’s going to be awesome.

DC: Uh huh.

DA: Okay, can you share any details about anything new that you’re working on, or challenge you’re facing in light of the current world circumstances? Anything that you think our listeners might find interesting?

DC: New things that I’m working on. I mean, I’m going to continue to write more. So, the piece that I put out, I was blown away by its response. And I’m just going to keep tracking trends and keep tracking what I think, you know, various occupiers are saying in front. I’ll put my own slant on it, but otherwise, I’m just really focused on trying to be an advocate for the Space as a Service sector because I just think there’s still so much friction in terms of actually getting some of the space and inventory that is going to be coming back to the market, turned into that type of a product. Like, I basically just want to be the advocate for that, because I know that it’s going to create more opportunity for end users and it’s going to create really amazing opportunities to get more efficient, more agile, and more service-focused for large enterprise companies. Or, you know, even more so maybe the medium sized ones that don’t necessarily have the time, the know-how, or the resources, to be able to execute on the likes of what Google and Amazon, and others, kind of, can do internally. And then all of this really does have to be back-boned by the right technology. I’m definitely not the expert in that category, but I do have enough know-how to realize how important it all is.

DA: Right. Yeah. I know we think buildings becoming more tech enabled, you know, whether it be a HILO, or just technology in general, and certain aspects of that, you know, that tech stack, whether it be secure access, or visitor management or, you know, sensors and and being able to better monitor space. You know, I think that, again, as much as we talk about experience and branding, if buildings aren’t thinking about how to utilize technology as part of what they will need to deliver, I think they’re, sort of, missing a pretty important ingredient.

DC: Yeah. And I should add one more, sorry. Cause you’re just getting my juices flowing. I really am a believer in bringing work to people, not to people to work, in some contexts. Obviously I’m very much a believer in, like, the experience that can be delivered in a headquarters location, in a really amazing, you know, urban financial core. But what I’m seeing from a lot of my customers, is that in certain markets, they are deciding they want to downsize those footprints. They’re not saying they want to kiss them goodbye, but they are realizing that they want to downsize them, and potentially, in your collaboration, activity-based working, and just culture, and culture building, and product showcasing, whatever it might be. And they’re trying to then deploy a working from anywhere strategy. And so, I’m a huge fan of liquid space and what they are doing. They’ve got a technology tool that will allow a corporate occupier to manage the flow of people and the demand, through their headquarters locations. But then they’re also supplementing that with the most complete access to a marketplace for flex office space out there. But what I’m really impressed by, is that the platform allows with, you know, with controls from obviously the corporate, but it allows the end user to actually log into the app and decide where they might want to work. And, you know, it’s not home necessarily. It could be near a client site. It could be a place like I am right now to do some heads down work. Like, just a change of scenery. If we’re honest, it doesn’t really make sense to go downtown every day. I think, you know, a lot of companies are landing in that, a lot of forward thinking companies are landing anywhere between one to three days. And a lot of the ones that I would personally consider a little more legacy are more in that three to five, based on what’s going on. But, like, I don’t want to go back downtown five days a week. Frankly, I’m confused why I did in the first place. And like, I want to go there, and I want to be part of all that fun stuff, but I don’t want to go there all the time. And like, this is what’s missing, this third space, this democratizing third spaces for people to go to is huge.

DA: Right.

DC: And the environmental impacts on that are also just, like, I mean, they’re indisputable, aside from something that we already have to fix, which is the inefficiency of, like, homes. Like, obviously, you know, obviously there’s a lot of potential pollution coming from the fact that we’re all living in our homes and spending more time there during the day. But I don’t really look at, I look at that as a separate issue. That needs to be solved for, regardless of whether we’re going to an office five days a week or not. Like, smart people are working on that. They got to continue working on that. And I just think work needs to come to people more.

DA: Yeah. No, that’s really interesting. And certainly the demands on spaces, whether it be your office or your home, are real, and are going to have to be addressed. But to your point, you know, perhaps not commuting five days a week, and office buildings not having the same demands that they’ve had historically. So, you know, all kinds of long-term value and benefits, for sure.

DC: Yeah. Well, think what could happen with some of the product in the downtown core that just, like, honestly could get repurposed into a wide variety of things. Like, I’m not suggesting in any way that urban cores should or will become ghost towns, but I do think that there are higher and better purposes for some aspects of these downtown financial districts that are currently slated for office space.

DA: Right, right. And I think, you know, we’re seeing a lot of mixed use development, again, pre-COVID to your point. Who knows what a mixed use development looks like going forward?

DC: Uh huh.

DA: Okay. Our closing speed round. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

DC: One super power. I guess, teleportation. I’ve got a lot of friends from around the world that I haven’t met because of the pandemic. I’d love to be able to teleport myself and have lunch with them.

DA:  Yeah. I get that one a lot. I think that would, in this day and age, I get why people are gravitating towards that concept. What city or country do you most want to travel to first, when you can and why?

DC: Our favorite place in the world to vacation is Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

DA: Oh, wow.

DC: And why, it’s like, it’s just this little tucked away village in Costa Rica with like a dirt road, one dirt road. The beach is just amazing. And it’s just like, it feels like you’ve gone back in time to a different place. But there’s still really good restaurants.

DA: Awesome, awesome. What do you do when you’re not working? I know you’re writing. I know you’re writing a lot, but what do you do when you’re really not thinking about work?

DC: Well, I haven’t done as much of it lately, but I just love to sit in restaurants, either by myself or with friends. But honestly, a lot of the time, I like to just go sit in restaurants by myself, and just think and eat.

DA: Nice. Nice. Number one thing you do miss about the workplace?

DC: I guess I miss the ability to be closer to people that I get on with well, and really just meet up with them. Like, whether it’s actually in my office or just generally in the financial core cause we’re more proximate to one another. I miss that. But, I want to put a disclaimer out there. I think there’s a lot of people that think, like, Oh, well if everyone’s in downtown, it’s just so easy to get together. You still have to plan. People are mobile and they’re moving all over the place. It’s not like you just snap your fingers and we’re all hanging out again. It’s more complex than that. But it is easier than like the current state of the world.

DA: Absolutely. Okay. Last question. Favorite recent TV or streaming movie or series?

DC: The Serpent.

DA: Okay, I’ve heard that.

DC: The reason, it’s disturbing as all can be. But I tend to like disturbing serial killer type shows. Which apparently quite a lot of other people do, too, because Netflix is littered with it, so.

DA: For sure, for sure. Listen, Dave, thanks so much for joining me today. I’ve really enjoyed the conversation. I think you and I are going to be dialoguing a lot about this industry and the notion of branding, and experience, and the use of space. And there’s going to be a lot still to come that we’re still figuring out. And I look forward to continue to dialogue with you and being a part of a, hopefully, a very vibrant conversation that’s really bringing a lot of insight to the industry.

DC: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me on. It was fun.

DA: All right. Take care. Be well. I want to thank Dave Cairns for joining me on today’s episode of TEN, and for sharing his journey from early beginnings playing poker, to now being a thought leader in commercial real estate and becoming an evangelist for the notion of flexible space as a driver of putting tenant experience center stage. Great learning for all our listeners and an opportunity to gain insight into what it takes to become an innovation leader.

We love hearing from you. So if you enjoyed this episode of TEN, please share, add your rating and review us through your preferred podcast provider. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on a future episode, please reach out to me directly at david@hiloapp.com. Until our next episode, I wish you all continued success in building community where you work and live. Thank you.

Celebrating 60 Conversations on TEN

Hard to believe that it’s been over 3 years since we launched the Tenant Experience Network (TEN) podcast as a way to connect with people at a time when we all felt isolated. Host and HILO Co-founder and CEO, David Abrams, has had the opportunity to interview some amazing people from leading CRE and Proptech companies, and in real-time, share what’s really happening in buildings and communities across North America. David wanted the program to provide a true pulse on what was actually going on in the industry, across all asset classes, without being sensational or polarizing, as is often found in the media.

Peter Riguardi | Chairman & President, New York Region | JLL | Lessons in selling CRE in NYC

Season 4 / Episode 15 / 28:35
In this episode, Peter says he seeing an increase in people coming back to the workplace and occupiers using the office to competitively attract talent. He has also noticed a significant push to the best office buildings, regardless of their location. With 460 million square feet of office space in NYC, only time will tell how much space use will have to change.

Celebrating 60 Conversations on TEN

Hard to believe that it’s been over 3 years since we launched the Tenant Experience Network (TEN) podcast as a way to connect with people at a time when we all felt isolated. Host and HILO Co-founder and CEO, David Abrams, has had the opportunity to interview some amazing people from leading CRE and Proptech companies, and in real-time, share what’s really happening in buildings and communities across North America. David wanted the program to provide a true pulse on what was actually going on in the industry, across all asset classes, without being sensational or polarizing, as is often found in the media.

Peter Riguardi | Chairman & President, New York Region | JLL | Lessons in selling CRE in NYC

Season 4 / Episode 15 / 28:35
In this episode, Peter says he seeing an increase in people coming back to the workplace and occupiers using the office to competitively attract talent. He has also noticed a significant push to the best office buildings, regardless of their location. With 460 million square feet of office space in NYC, only time will tell how much space use will have to change.