Lisa Davidson | Vice Chairman | Savills North America| An inspiring journey from Tenant Rep to Proptech investor


DA: Welcome to TEN, the Tenant Experience Network. I’m your host, David Abrams. Today we are connecting with Lisa Davidson, Vice Chairman, Savills North America. In this episode, we delve into Lisa’s professional journey, which commenced fresh out of college. 

Initially uncertain about her career path, Lisa seized an opportunity with a small real estate tenant rep firm that visited her campus for recruitment. Expecting it to be a stepping stone, she quickly discovered a natural fit for her skills within the tenant representation domain, leading her to devote her entire career to Savills. We both share a personal connection to Mitch Steir, the former chairman and CEO of Savills North America, who now serves on Hilo’s advisory council. Lisa has since ventured into angel investing in the prop tech space and is a member of the Hyde Park angel community. In our discussion, Lisa sheds light on key market drivers influencing real estate decisions, such as the rise of amenities and spec suites. She describes the future of work as accommodating employees with great space. The impact that unique community spaces have on potential tenants as they are touring perspective spaces is something else she sees in the market. 

Drawing from her professional insights and client interactions, Lisa shares compelling observations on the evolving tech landscape within buildings. I really enjoyed our conversation and appreciated the opportunity to learn through Lisa’s unique lens into the industry. Stay tuned until the end as Lisa reveals her philosophy on making her life bigger, something we should all do. We’re excited to share this podcast with you, so be sure to subscribe to TEN so you never miss an episode of the Tenant Experience Network. And now I’d like to welcome Lisa to the show. I’m really glad you could be with us today. How are you?  

LD: Thank you. Good. I’m glad to be here

DA: Awesome. I’m looking forward to our conversation and getting to know each other a little bit better. So to kick things off, if you could tell us, myself, our listeners, a little bit about your journey to your current position role. How did you get started in the business?

LD: Well, I’ve actually gotten got this role right out of college. So not, of course, the title, but acting as a tenant rep. So I grew up in Chicago, went to Northwestern. And when I got out of school, I had, like many college graduates, zero idea what I wanted to do. But I thought having been introduced to the business purely through a small tenant rep firm that was recruiting at my school. I thought I had no interest in real estate, by the way. I simply thought that it would be a good way to get to be familiar with a lot of different industries, meet some people. And maybe then I’d figure out what I wanted to do for a living. But as soon as, you know, as soon as I started in the industry, it was clear that my degree in communication studies and economics were the perfect combination for this career. So I became a tenant rep right out of college. And I’ve spent most of my career at Savile’s, which actually used to be called Dudley. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that name, David. But Savile’s acquired us about seven or eight years ago. So most of my career I’ve been that’s what I’ve been doing. And I know you asked me earlier what the title of vice chairman indicated. So at brokerage firms, it has to do with how successful you are and how much and how much revenue you bring into the firm. So, you know, from now on, when you look at brokers, you can correlate the title to the revenue they bring in. So that’s pretty much how how it works. And, of course, you know, our former chairman, Mitch Steir. And so Mitch actually made me a board member of Savile’s when when he was still here. And so that’s what the director is indicative of.

DA: Wow. Well, yes. So we have the friendship with Mitch in common, which is an advisor on our advisory council and a great friend and mentor and colleague. And so vice chair. So you’re a heavy hitter. Is that what you’re telling me?

LD: Well, I don’t I don’t know about that, but certainly I’ve been at the firm a long time and I love doing what I do and have made a living doing it.  

DA: That’s amazing. So as you said, you thought you’d start in this position role and see where your career would take you. So is there is there another any is what do you think? Are you are you in it to win it? Could you imagine or see yourself doing something different?

LD: You know, it’s I’ve thought about that throughout my career. But I don’t know. No, I really I enjoy what I do. I don’t think there’s some, you know, I don’t necessarily see unless something leads me there, you know, not doing this and then doing something else. Something else I do do, though, which, you know, all about is angel investing. And so my work as a tenant rep actually is what brought me to the space of the tech ecosystem. And, you know, for a long time, it was tech that was really driving office space, all these tech firms growing. And so I naturally wanted to learn more about that. And I got involved in an organization called Women Tech Founders in Chicago. Through that, naturally, I met some women tech founders and how I began my investment journey and learned. So I kind of see that as my second career, because through that it was an education and learned a lot, made a lot of mistakes. And now I’m with Hyde Park Angels. And, you know, that is great fun, like my very own Shark Tank episode every month.

DA: Right. Amazing. Well, you know, you’ve been able to sort of parlay that that wisdom and experience and and sort of bring it to the tech ecosystem and offer your expertise there. And also obviously taking a more an interest even beyond observatory, but actually making an investment. So that’s amazing. And I’m excited about this conversation because you’ll have the lens of, you know, both an active participant in the in the commercial real estate ecosystem, you know, representing tenants, which is a very important part of our discussion, but also perhaps some of your insights in other companies that you’ve been connected to. So this is going to be fun. I’m just curious before we dive in, in terms of the role and in terms of how you you’ve built a career and and stayed at this firm. What else do you think contributed to your success? Like, why do you think you are so uniquely suited not only for the industry, but also maybe for this firm and really growing up in it?

LD: Oh, that’s an interesting question. I think, you know, when I think back, Savills, when I first started, and as I said, it was Studley, was a very internally competitive firm and it was a little bit sink or swim. And I think that that atmosphere spoke to me and gave me some good kind of basic skills that I’ve kept my during out during my career and the bad times as well as the good times. Those business development skills, when we first start, cold calling, that sort of thing. And also, you know, I, I also, I guess at the time, didn’t feel like I had a lot to lose in the sense that, you know, I came from a very modest background and I didn’t have family that was in any professional business that could help me. And so I had a little extra motivation when put in a sink or swim atmosphere to work hard and figure it out.

DA: That’s amazing. I think there’s a lot to be a lot to be learned from that experience.

LD: And I will say that Studley in particular rewarded that. So you could start out as a young person. And if you had those sort of skills that could open doors and make cold calls, you were rewarded for it. So I think that’s what made it uniquely the right firm for me.

DA: Nice. I love it. You know, I started this podcast at a rather strange time, but I started it, obviously, just as the pandemic was taking root in July of 2020.

LD: Perfect timing.

DA: You know, I just felt that the media, the press was just looking for the headline that would create controversy. And I was really just looking for the voice of reason. I was looking for, you know, real people with, you know, what was really happening in the marketplace. And I just want to talk to really smart people in all parts of the commercial real estate ecosystem. Brokers, buyers, sellers, owners, property managers, and also occupiers and prop tech companies as well. So it’s been an incredible journey, 60 plus episodes. And, you know, I come out of each episode and just feel like I learned so much and I get to meet amazing people. So I’m glad that we could be together today. And, you know, what we’re really trying to do is understand, you know, how is the conversation around the future of work and how and where people work evolving. And I’m really just, again, focused on, you know, what are you thinking and seeing today versus, you know, telling me what you think will be in 12 months or 36 months? Because as I’ve said with other guests, like we don’t know, you know, we can only guess. So I really love just getting perspectives, you know, from today. So I’m just curious if you could share with our listeners, you know, how is your business? And sort of the view and the lens that you have on the business, continuing to evolve or innovate to meet the needs of your customers and you’re repping the customers. So, you know, you are such a key component in this whole commercialization conversation. You know, what is driving or influencing the directions that you’re taking?

LD: Yeah, well, that’s a, you know, that’s a great question because, you know, I remember at the start of the pandemic, everybody kept saying, well, you know, once Labor Day comes, everybody’s going to come back. And then in Chicago, it was once winter’s over, then once summer’s over. And there hasn’t been, I would say, all over the country necessarily a big rush back. It’s been more of a drip, drip, drip. You know, I think the owners of companies, most companies, I’ll put tech companies aside. They’re a different breed, startup tech, that is. But most larger companies came to the conclusion that, yeah, we do need office space and we do need people to return. And they came to that conclusion. And, you know, many are continuing, as I said, it’s sort of been like a drip, drip, drip. Not everybody at once continuing to tell their workers, you know, they need to come back at least a few days a week. I think, you know, Fridays are gone forever in terms of back in the office. But everyone, you know, responds a little differently. I don’t necessarily see a lot of companies that are willing to enforce their return to office. So, you know, that’s a bit of a quandary for my tenants in terms of figuring out how much space that they need. But the one thing that I will say is commonality across the board is that companies want to make the office as easy, accommodating, exciting as they can to lure their employees back, to make them want to come back and want them to come in. So, you know, so I feel, you know, are my role with companies is helping them not only find that space that has all the amenities that are necessary to bring employees back, but how to make the deal work. Because at the same time that they want this space, construction prices have continued to escalate and remain high. So one thing would be we’re really looking wherever we can at taking advantage of existing conditions. And, you know, landlords have met that call and many buildings putting together spec suites, even for, you know, 50,000 square foot tenants. They’re putting together spec suites because for the most part, a lot of firms want very similar space in terms of I mean, there are exceptions like law firms still have their offices. But outside of a few industries, companies want open space with rooms for Zoom and collaboration and conferencing. So, so companies are, landlords are able to do that, put together these large spec suites. The other thing that’s on my mind right now when I’m working with somebody is protecting them because we’re seeing a couple of things in this marketplace. One is that you can get to the point of negotiating everything, signing that lease, and then the landlord coming back saying the lender won’t approve this. So that risk has always been there. Nothing is is finished until it’s signed by both parties. But it would really be an odd thing to negotiate a whole lease and then have somebody come back and say that. But, but no more now, you know, that’s a real possibility every time. And so you have to kind of stay on top of, you know, is this a real deal? Have backups, be ready for that to happen. Also, even after you sign the lease, you might have in the lease that, you know, a landlord is going to renovate or put something in the building. And, you know, if you don’t have those dates and you don’t have some way of holding them to it. We’ve seen that happen to where, you know, it might be in the lease, but then they decide they’re not going to put good money after bad and they don’t perform. Same thing with tenant improvements, you know, make making more sure through escrows, through understanding of landlord’s financials, you know, can they really perform. So there’s a lot of, you know, a lot of nuances.

DA: Right.

LD: What we do at this space, but I think, you know, the future of work is accommodating your employees by, you know, having having a great space to work at.

DA: Yeah. So just a sidebar question. Do you see the role as tenant rep, you know, now, maybe over the last year or two and, you know, looking a little bit forward as being even more integral to the process? Because you just identified some of the pitfalls, some of the challenges, you know, are these, you know, were these issues always there or have they become and so is your voice and your advocacy on behalf of the tenant become even more important right now?

LD: Wow. So this is a real layup question. Of course, David. Of course, we’re more important. No, I mean, they’ve always been there, but for sure, more important because those bad those bad things could always happen, but they they seldom did. And now and now they actually do happen. There are possibilities. So having somebody who can get ahead of that and understand how to navigate it certainly is more important than other. The other thing is, you know, just taxes in many cities, certainly in Chicago, continue to rise. And that is an area where, you know, not every broker might go the extra step of telling a tenant, OK, this is today what the landlord is charging, passing through for taxes, but not really analyzing it to see what the probability is that, you know, in the next year or a couple of years, you’re going to get a giant tax bill like that. The taxes will increase significantly. And I see, especially I look at, of course, I sit in Chicago, so I’m thinking of Chicago examples. But Fulton Market is and I don’t know if you’re familiar with that area, but it’s a newer sub market in Chicago that became very hot, especially during the pandemic, sort of like our version of New York’s Meatpacking District. And, you know, it was sort of sold like these are smaller buildings and it’s out of the main loop. So the taxes are going to be less. And that absolutely has not been the case. So now that that tenants have leased there and the market is a little more mature, taxes are as much, if not more than the main central loop buildings.

DA: Wow. You know, you touched on earlier about, you know, sort of the office footprint and how that’s evolving. I had Rob Coomer on the podcast just a week or so ago. He’s the new CEO of Kingstead Capital here in Canada, a very large private equity real estate investment firm. And he shared that he said, you know, a company might come to them and say, listen, we’re located in this building today. We’d like to come to one of your buildings, but we’d like to reduce our footprint by 80 percent. And then they go through the process and they analyze and they discuss and they figure out how much collaborative space and how much open space and how much casual space. And yes, but we still need a few offices and maybe a few meeting rooms. And they get right. And you know where they land? Back at 100 percent of what they had in the other building.

LD: Yeah, no, absolutely. We see that, too. The tenants get the idea that nobody’s coming in. And so maybe they can reduce their space by 80 percent. And absolutely. I see that all the time.

And sometimes it’s not I would say most of the time it’s not coming back to 100 percent, but it’s certainly a lot, a lot more space than perhaps they thought before they started really digging into what they need. And even if, you know, like they might say, you know, so these people share this space, for example. But then on this day, you know, we want everybody to be in.

DA: Right. And everybody needs space. Right.

LD: How do you do that? Yeah.

DA: Yeah, for sure. And if we do land at a fairly consistent three, three plus days a week, the reality is that you still need space for everyone. So.

LD: Yeah, but we but people are but people are going to a model where they’re not necessarily having a seat for every employee. So we do see as leases roll, as they expire, for sure, people are taking the same or less space, but not there. There are some drastic examples. Unfortunately, I have some of those clients who are from eighty thousand to eight thousand. Right.

DA: But often there are other extenuating, you know, business and economic circumstances as well that are dictating that.

LD: Well, those are those are firms only who are pretty much embracing remote work. Like they’re saying you can stay home. And but if you want to come into the office, we’ll have this ten thousand square feet here for you to visit. Right. Come in when you need to. But that’s more of a company that’s embracing remote work.

DA: Right. Right. And we’ll see long term, you know, whether that model is really sustainable.

LD: Well, you know what’s interesting, David, is I remember after, it’s going back a while, but I remember after 9-11, nobody wanted to be in the high-rise portion of a building because they just started thinking of other, you know, not just terrorist attacks, but like, what if there’s a fire or what if, you know, other things. They didn’t want to be in any building, like let’s say in Chicago, Willis Tower, that could be a potential target, and you could not give these buildings away. And that lasted for a while, you know, I want to say that lasted maybe like five years post 9-11, and I don’t know what the dividing line was or what the trigger was, but one day that all went away, people went back to high-rise, and now those buildings are getting premium rates. 

DA: Yeah, yeah. No, listen, history does repeat itself, and we do evolve, and we do forget, and we do move on. So I know I said earlier that I’m going to focus on the here and now, but I do have one question that sort of touches on what might be. So if budget and resources were not an issue, you’ve got an infinite amount of money and, you know, if you do anything, your wildest dreams, you could imagine, what three new initiatives would you undertake to position your business for success over the next three to five years? 

LD: Wow. I don’t know, I don’t know if I’ll come up with three. So just any business, new initiatives, I mean, I hate to be repetitive, obviously, I’m thinking in the office space mode, but, you know, for sure, like, I don’t ever think you can go wrong with when it comes to real estate with going for the top, you know, like just getting the best space you can and the best location. I think you cannot go wrong with that. And certainly technology, you know, buildings that help you get as efficient as possible. And also, just from an environmental standpoint, not only, you know, just looking at, like, are there any buildings that are LEED Platinum or what have you, but, you know, outdoor space, like access, you know, yeah, access to green space. So, I mean, those are the things I’d be thinking about for the future if money weren’t, you know, if money weren’t an object. 

DA: Okay. All right. I think we can both agree that, you know, and the building, the business that building owners are in is no longer just about renting space. It really is about, as we like to say, helping to create destinations of choice, make places destinations of choice. And so that’s really obviously, again, just as I gave you a layup, maybe giving myself a bit of a layup, that it really does come back to the experience that’s offered. And we see that as a collaboration between both the building occupier and the building owner operator. So, I’m just curious, as we continue to see experience driving utilization and engagement, how are you seeing that phenomenon play out in the work that you do every day? 

LD: Yeah. So, it’s interesting because, you know, again, things like tenant lounges or tenant spaces aren’t necessarily new, but I do see them being used for. So, I was sort of surprised that when a building puts in a tenant amenity space that has things from like a pool table, a dirt board, a bar for sure, a place where you can grab coffee with a barista. These types of amenities, I am telling you, they get used and they draw tenants. It creates community. It creates some stickiness to the building, I believe. And people really like those spaces. And I noticed that when we tour, you know, people’s eyes light up when they walk into a beautiful community space and they see, you know. It’s another place to work too. Like people come down there, pull out their laptops. In fact, some of the time I hear that a nice tenant amenity space might also have these little booths that people can sit at to work. And they say those are, you know, the most coveted spaces in the place. So, I saw there’s one tenant amenity center that I saw the other day where they have their own wine, oh, what’s it called, like a wine cellar where you could buy, each company gets their own wine locker. Amazing. So, if you have some special vintages you want to keep there to entertain, I mean, it’s just crazy what they come up with.

DA: Yeah. That’s amazing. I know there’s a very interesting building in Chicago, relatively new. I think it was built and leased up during the pandemic. You may know it. It’s got a full-size NBA-size basketball court.

LD: Oh, yes.

DA: Yeah, absolutely. On the upper floor.

LD: You’re probably thinking of 167 Green and Fulton Market. 

DA: Yeah. I am. And apparently, your local Chicago basketball team, they come out and they play there and other teams when they’re visiting. So, it’s become quite a destination and that building, you know, fully leased and premium rent. 

LD: Yeah. And they use that. That’s right. It is fully leased. And they, and premium rent, and they, I know they use that space as, also, they rent it out for like a event.

DA: A den space.

LD: Like somebody who’s having a wedding there.

DA: Yeah. Very cool. Okay. We’ll continue the conversation, but let’s take a short commercial break and we’ll be right back.

 LD: Sounds good.


DA: And now I’d like to welcome back to the show, Lisa Davidson, Vice Chairman at Savills North America. Really glad you could be with me today and I’m really enjoying our conversation. 

LD: Thank you.

DA: Commercial real estate continues to be impacted by the introduction of new technology and you opened the conversation by indicating that you are keenly aware and watching the prop tech space and investing in new technology. So I’d love to get your perspective on how you’re seeing technology continue to roll out. And not only from an operational perspective, but again, to my earlier comments about how it’s enabling building operators to interact with people and the spaces. So, you know, really creating an unparalleled experience. So just curious, any thoughts you have on how technology stacks are evolving? 

LD: Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s touches everything. I mean, I’m an investor. There’s you know, there’s one company I’m thinking of who has some technology where they create a digital twin of, you know, the HVAC system for the landlord so that they can turn off and on tenant spaces when nobody is there helping to save energy. I am seeing the security, you know, evolve, being able to use handprints and, you know, for easy access in and out. I was in my own building the other day. The sundry shop is now employee less. You just go in with your badge. It’s like an honor system. You check out yourself. And certainly, you know, it’s convenient for the tenants to communicate with the management office and to schedule access to the amenities and so forth. So it really is like touching everything, making everything easy for people to, you know, communicate and get things done. 

DA: Yeah. Just curious, again, a side question. Are you seeing as you’re repping tenants and they’re looking at buildings, you know, are they starting with a question in and around what technology might be available in a building to help facilitate a great experience for themselves and their employees? Is that entering the conversation or is it still early days? 

LD: I think it’s still early days. It’s only the most sophisticated, the only most sophisticated corporate users who are going to come in and they want to know how they can, how you might interface with their technology, how they can keep track of workers. You know, obviously, you know, basic thing in terms of inquiries from tenants, just like, you know, badge swipe data and and so forth. So so I think it is still early days, but it comes up with not just the most sophisticated owners, but perhaps the the folks who are looking at the class A, top level buildings. That would be a question they might ask. 

DA: Yeah. You know, our business is obviously very focused on the building owner operator, but we think a lot about, you know, blurring the boundaries between occupier and the building and that why should I as an employee, as a customer of that building, whether, you know, why do I why should I have five apps and three websites and two portals? Yes. I want a more seamless, frictionless experience. And just because the building is one entity and my my employer is another entity, why do I need multiple solutions to navigate my way through the built world experience? And so we’re thinking a lot about how our technology can evolve to, you know, create a situation where I actually, as the end user, am able to configure through technology the way in which I navigate through a building versus being imposed. So it’s exciting.

LD: It’s yeah. I think that’s smart because, you know, like I said at the beginning, like employers are trying to keep their employees happy and that’s what it’s all about. That’s what they’re focused on. They’re focused on, you know, is my employee going to like coming here? 

DA: That’s right. 

LD: And I will say I don’t know when that’s changing because, you know, there was a point when people were talking about recession and everybody was saying, oh, well, when you know what’s going to happen when the pendulum swings and it’s the, you know, employers who have the upper hand and then that never happened. And I honestly don’t know when it will, because as I look at the demographics of the baby boomers leaving the workforce and the new generation that’s coming up, there’s really not enough people to replace the baby boomers. So it’s really hard to forecast a day when, you know, power will shift back. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I think that you’ve got it right to focus on the person, the employee who’s experiencing the building.

DA: Yeah. And generally, you know, you giveth, you can’t, you giveth, it’s hard to taketh. I mean, when you empower people and they are in a position of control or authority or there’s another word that’s escaping my mind at the moment. But, you know, it’s hard to take that away when they when they. So I think to your point, the recession was maybe going to be another moment in time. But in the absence of that, and even if that were to happen, I’m not sure there’d be a huge shift. I’m really not. Yeah. And I think it’s really now an opportunity for everybody to just come together and maybe even almost diffuse that power struggle and just say we’re all aligned. We all want the same thing. Yeah. You know, we want quality of life. We want to build successful companies. We want people to feel that they have the flexibility to be at the right time in the right place. So, you know, maybe we’re just maybe it’s just creating a new and a better world. And that that tension, that struggle simply won’t necessarily or need to be a part of it. I think that’s a good thing. 

LD: Absolutely.

DA: Yeah. All right. As you and I solve the world’s all the world’s problems, our Closing Speed Round is an opportunity to get to know you on a personal level just a little bit better. So looking back, what is the one piece of advice that you wish someone had given you when you first started in your career? 

LD: Oh, to make my life bigger. And what I mean by that is, you know, I was very focused and driven, but I didn’t necessarily go out of my way to make my life bigger by joining things and meeting people outside my industry and doing whatever I could to interact with people that I wouldn’t normally meet or see in my everyday.

DA: I love that. That’s really great advice. Do you have a favorite book or podcast that has positively impacted your approach to work or life?

LD: Oh, my God, I read, you know what, I listen to audio books all the time. But as I as I as I read, as I read them, as I listen to them, then they leave my mind. The one the one I don’t know, I wouldn’t say if it’s positively impacted my mind, but the book I read recently has. Given me pause, and that was the by the Elon Musk biography. And the reason is because I had this idea of Elon Musk that wasn’t, you know, necessarily favorable. And and I read the the biography and it just and I was encouraging people who felt strongly had a strong negative attitude to read the book, because if you read the book, you see that and understand a little bit about his growing up and just what he’s thinking when he does things, what the intent was for certain things that maybe didn’t turn out to look as though there was good intention. I think you you gain more empathy. And so what it’s taught me is to, you know, taught me, but like made me think about is slowing down and reserving judgment and also like assume positive intent. You know, we all have frustrations throughout the day and in our careers and at home. And I think if, you know, your go to is to assume positive intent by the other person that. The world would be a happier place. 

DA: Well, again, great advice and clearly a sign of some wisdom that you’ve accumulated over the over your career. So thanks for sharing that. Name one way which technology has improved how you live or work. 

LD: Well, gee, I mean, it’s, you know, for sure, you know, people think of technology, I think, you know, our phones, our computers, our devices as intrusive. But honestly, it does it does allow. I mean, this is obvious, but I really look at it positively from in terms of it gives everybody so much flexibility. You know, when I was first starting out in the business and I had a young family, if I was home with the kids, that meant all I could do was pretty much check my voicemail. There wasn’t a lot I could do. And I think in, you know, you had to make choices and, you know, guilty feeling of guilt if you weren’t at work, feeling of guilt at home if you were at work. So I just think it’s given particularly, you know, moms like it’s given flexibility. It allows for, you know, so much efficiency for choice. I mean, really, technology does get quite a bad rap. And, you know, I’m not saying not for a good reason, but just that and knowledge, you know, just like being able. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve been on a chat GPT, I’m sure you have with the rest of the world. But I mean, there’s just so much freaking knowledge out there that can be, you know, at a touch you can you can put together. So it’s yeah, it’s endless.

DA: Yeah. Yeah. But to your point, when used appropriately, there’s there are many benefits. What factors do you consider when deciding where or how to work on any given day? Are you are you 100 percent remote? What is your what is your like?

LD: Definitely not 100 percent remote. You know, you know, it varies. But just like everybody else, I’m particularly in Chicago. I’m looking at everything from the weather to what I have to do that day to where, you know, where I’m going to be later in the day, what’s most convenient traffic, so on and so forth. But also responsibility. You know, the one thing that we’ve all talk about and acknowledge is that it’s it’s actually a lot easier for people of my age to be flexible and work remote because of all the years we’ve had at our companies in the experience. But new people coming out of college, they don’t know what they don’t know, and it really benefits them to be in the office. So I think about my responsibility to be there for the younger people and be visible in the office and and have access. And, you know, it’s it’s a cliche, but I don’t think I have a day that I don’t go in where I don’t have a conversation with a colleague that had I not been in, I would not have talked to. Because, yeah, because when I’m at home, I sure I call my team or the people I’m working on transactions with. But if I don’t have a very specific reason for calling you, we’re not going to see each other. Yeah. And that idea or conversation isn’t going to happen. So, yeah, my mental health, 

DA: you know, I was sitting in our space the other day and I was just looking around and seeing and it’s sort of a technology innovation space and just watching all the different clusters and the way in which people are engaging, interacting, you know, who are just side by side, engaged in conversation. Three people around someone’s computer and engaged in a conversation. And again, to me, it’s the best of all worlds. I don’t think it’s one or the other, but I agree that those moments together can’t 100 percent be replicated through technology. Maybe over time. We’ll see. I shouldn’t I won’t say, you know, for now and forever, but that’s sort of how I think about the world today. You know, we really think about commercial real estate also in terms of the expertise and the resources and the people that, you know, have been traditionally in the business. And we think that there is going to be new skills and new areas of expertise that are going to be required to deliver this new product, this new, you know, these experiences, any thoughts on how you’re seeing, you know, the way in which buildings are staffed and what kinds of people, what kinds of qualifications are necessary to deliver and meet the needs of the occupier of today?

LD: Well, it’s too extreme. So I’ll get the one out of the way, because I already mentioned it, where there are some amenities that that have a look that they don’t have like that right away. But on the other end, staff like a hotel, you know, just people there to accommodate and help make the workday frictionless. And so, you know, more of what we talked about. So, yeah, staff that’s there to support and, you know, or offer a community experience, connect people, make your life easier. Almost some buildings like make it feel like it’s a special club that’s for tenants only and perks that only tenants get. 

DA: Hundred percent. You know, we like to say that homes are becoming more office like and offices are becoming more home like.

LD: Absolutely. Yeah. Well said.

DA: Yeah. OK, I know you mentioned that you, you know, you came right out of, you know, college and this career just, you know, it captured your attention. But and if you weren’t doing that now, if that wasn’t the path that you set out on and you did talk about, you know, seeing the world bigger, like just right now in the moment, could you see yourself being something different or doing something different? If you could on a on the flip of a switch, do something completely different from commercial real estate? 

LD: Maybe be a detective. 

DA: OK. 

Or, you know, working on one of those innocence projects, you know, the idea. So in our role, we have to do a lot of research and put things together, make things happen, push things forward, get over challenges. And when I think about, you know, that’s the part of one of the parts of my career that I really enjoy and get a good feeling from. And so my natural instincts to kind of want to dig deeper, figure things out, find out what’s behind the curtain would lead me to do something with yeah, detective work, innocence project, helping people who have been wronged. 

DA: I love it. That’s big. That’s powerful. And I love how it it’s it’s not like it’s just out in left field. It’s it’s picking up on certain skills that you feel that you have, but it’s finding a really amazing application. So that’s very cool. Thank you so much for sharing that. 

LD: Yeah, I was just going to add this. I also joke and you’ll laugh at this. I mean, this is kind of silly, but I always said I enjoy it. That when my kids went through the college process.

DA: Right. 

LD: I’m one of those weird freaks who loved it. Like I loved it was almost like what I’m used to in sales, like figuring out like what all these colleges are about, you know, what they’re looking for, trying to help my kids figure out like for the first time, you know, at that point in their lives, they’re like looking back at who they are and trying to convey that to somebody and, you know, helping them through that process. So my my backup career would be a college counselor. 

DA: Listen, I am Canadian. I can’t exactly appreciate. Oh, yes, that’s true. Or understand. But I have enough American friends that I’m very well aware.

LD: Yeah.

DA: College selection process, the application process. Yeah, it’s a very, very significant time in a young person’s life for the whole family. I know many of my friends who did the college tours.

LD: Right. Yeah.

DA: On the road, the road trips. 

LD: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 

DA: I get it. Lisa, thank you so much for being with me today. It was a wonderful conversation. Love getting to know you. Love getting your perspective on all things real estate and also some of your personal anecdotes and sharing some tidbits along the way that I’m sure our listeners will appreciate. So again, such a pleasure. Thank you very much. I enjoyed it.

LD: Thank you, David. All right. We’ll talk soon.

DA: Bye bye.

DA: I want to thank Lisa Davidson for joining me on this episode of TEN and for contributing to the global conversation around buildings, being part of a robust ecosystem, helping to build great companies and that they are vital in the effort to cultivate and support great people and teams. The future of the workplace will likely take many forms and we’ll continue to explore what that looks like together. Subscribe to 10 for more conversations with leading CRE industry professionals and experts who all have something to say about tenant experience and the future of the workplace.

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 And until our next episode, I wish you all continued success in building community where you work and live. Thank you.

Ryan Speers | Partner & COO | Workhaus | The future of work is flexible

Season 5 / Episode 7 / 41:20
In this episode, we learn that Ryan’s business is at the forefront of the hospitality and customer experience conversations that are happening as CRE continues to up its game on this front by offering essential amenities to help drive user engagement and enjoyment. Tune in to learn more about Ryan’s perspective on Workhaus being a tech-enabled business versus a technology business.

Rob Kumer | CEO | KingSett Capital | Trends and success strategies in CRE

Season 5 / Episode 4 / 53:34
In this episode, Rob shares his 3 pillars for success in the office category and speaks about the importance of experience and the technological advances impacting all asset classes. KingSett is very focused on decarbonization, and energy management including deep water cooling and implementing new lighting systems.

Ryan Speers | Partner & COO | Workhaus | The future of work is flexible

Season 5 / Episode 7 / 41:20
In this episode, we learn that Ryan’s business is at the forefront of the hospitality and customer experience conversations that are happening as CRE continues to up its game on this front by offering essential amenities to help drive user engagement and enjoyment. Tune in to learn more about Ryan’s perspective on Workhaus being a tech-enabled business versus a technology business.

Rob Kumer | CEO | KingSett Capital | Trends and success strategies in CRE

Season 5 / Episode 4 / 53:34
In this episode, Rob shares his 3 pillars for success in the office category and speaks about the importance of experience and the technological advances impacting all asset classes. KingSett is very focused on decarbonization, and energy management including deep water cooling and implementing new lighting systems.