Michael Mintz, Founder and CEO of MD Squared | Building tenant relationships to improve engagement | 40:59

Transcript

DA: Welcome to TEN, the Tenant Experience Network. I’m your host David Abrams. In this episode, we are connecting with Michael Mintz, CEO and Founder of MD Squared Property Group, a New York based property management company for co-ops, condos, and rentals. In this episode, we will learn about Michael’s journey to his current role, where he focuses on multifamily syndication, real estate consulting and third-party property management. We will tap into his learning from early beginnings as a property manager and how he found his way to starting his own firm. We will hear his views on why surrounding yourself with the right people can be a difference maker and gain insight into how creating opportunities to build relationships between residents can impact engagement and retention. Michael will also talk about the importance of hard work and putting the time in, as his keys to success. 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. And now I’d like to welcome Michael to the show. Really glad you could be with us today.

MM: David, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

DA: Awesome, all right. Let’s start with your journey to your current position, CEO and founder of MD Squared Property Group, a New York based property management company for co-ops, condos, and rentals. And I know you’ve got one goal and that’s to provide reliable, consistent, top quality management services. Tell me how you got started, walk me through that journey, and a little bit more about your current role.

MM: Yeah, definitely David. So, one thing that I would just add to that in terms of our goals, is we definitely want to also try to implement technology where we can to improve the experience of residents and their clients. When I was, I went to the University of Maryland, at Maryland actually studied engineering, computer engineering specifically. So I was doing a lot of coding and building of electrical circuits and whatnot. And I truthfully got kind of burnt out by it. So by my senior year, I had enough credits in economics to be able to kind of graduate and just go to work. So I figured let me go do that. And I got a job with a developer in Northeast DC, doing some affordable housing work. Obviously because of my computer engineering background, I do have a love for technology and it’s something that fascinates me and seeing how manual the property management business has always been, it’s always been something that I’ve toiled with trying to figure out how we can implement new technologies, and how we can bring new technologies to the forefront of the industry to ultimately create more efficiencies and create a better experience for everyone. So, I went to the University of Maryland like I said afterwards, went to work for a developer. This was in late 07, very late 07. Early 08, obviously as we all know the market was kind of completely crashing. All money had to be pulled out of basically real estate deals. Everything was stalled. The development deals that we were doing all stalled pretty quickly. So we closed out a couple of deals, but most of them at that point, we were struggling to sell the condo units that we were developing. It was affordable condos for the most part. So we quickly turned into a property management company. We had a bunch of properties that we had renovated, but weren’t selling, so we started renting them out. And at that point I had rented, leased up all the units for my boss at the time, Bo Menkiti at the Menkiti Group, and was ready to do my next thing. Most of my friends after college, and I was still obviously it’s, all relative, but I was still young at the time. Saw my friends up in New York and I figured it was a good time to make a move. So, moved up to New York, started working at the time it was called Cooper Square Realty, turned into First Service Residential. Became very close both with my boss Tom Padilla at the time, and then his boss, David Kuperberg, who was the Founder of Cooper Square Realty. And so, I would say they were in the property management space, definitely my mentors who kind of brought me up through that space and taught me much of what I knew. I worked on mostly condos and co-ops in the beginning of my career. At first as an assistant manager, then became an onsite property manager, and then a portfolio property manager. And I truthfully was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who were just good people who knew a lot, and were able to teach me and gave me the opportunity to learn. And the truth is that I’ve always been inquisitive. I’ve always liked trying to find ways to do things better. So, especially for example, David Kuperberg, his personal portfolio. We did a lot of work to try to increase rent in that portfolio to try to improve the tenant experience in that portfolio, improve efficiency with repairs and work orders, and things like that so that things work better. And then I actually had at some point started taking on with David’s portfolio on other small rentals and was lucky enough actually to have a boss Robert Kleehammer, who I worked for at the time, who was I believe he had worked for a while at HPD and then maybe DHCR, but extremely knowledgeable and educated about the laws specifically in New York City. So one of the unique things about New York City with multifamily property management is there are some really unique rent regulations in place that have very nuanced laws. And it is, I’d say a challenge to fully understand how to work within the framework of those laws. Oftentimes you’re working hand in hand with attorneys who are kind of guiding you on that, but obviously the more knowledgeable you are the more you learn, the more you experience, the more fluent you are in that, in navigating those laws and navigating that space. So I learned a lot from Bob, enjoyed that. And then in 2014, David Kuperberg actually, who like I said was one of my mentors, decided to retire and he actually still even in retirement, I would say is still one of my mentors and definitely an inspiration to me. He definitely knows how to live a meaningful and eventful life in retirement. But when he decided he was going to retire, then why stay in a corporate company? It’s time for me to take my shot. I was actually 29 at the time also. So I figured, right, everyone starts thinking of that age. Okay, I’m going to be 30 soon. If I wanted to take a shot at something this is my time to do it. So I left, and started my own firm. We started off strictly doing third-party management, and actually alongside that also we did quite a bit of angel investing in tech startups that allowed us to really implement some technology within our platform that traditionally we would not be able to afford, but because we were angel investors we were allowed to, we’re able to effectively beta tested on our platform at no cost, which was amazing for us and our clients.

DA: Very smart, very smart move.

MM: So that worked out well and then about five years ago we also started syndicating some deals. We started buying some properties ourselves. We’re now I’d say, so we manage in New York City now about 135 buildings. We have about 40 employees in New York City, but we’ve also expanded into Connecticut, expanded into Oklahoma. So we have a diversity of properties. We range from affordable class C properties, up to high-end new condo developments that are selling for many, many millions of dollars. So it’s a pretty wide range of properties that we manage. We definitely still have, I’d say a nuanced expertise in rent stabilization, doing rent stabilization diligence, helping people to understand their risks of getting into deals. But at the same point, at the same time, also because of that technology, I think we’ve developed a niche for boutique buildings that are looking for a very high end resident experience. Being able to provide that through technology to the residents in the buildings.

DA: Amazing, it’s a great story. And you know, my next question is always around why do you think you were so uniquely suited for the opportunity? You know, What helped you become successful and often ask about mentors and you know, skills, colleagues, books you’ve read. But you’ve already hinted at a number of people that have been very impactful on you personally, on your career. I’m just wondering what else you attribute to contribute, you know, your success and maybe a little bit more about some of those mentors? I mean, I think that’s, I often tell young people how important it is to establish those relationships, those networks, how much that can do for you long-term and it sounds like you saw that in the early days.

MM: 100%, so in terms of other things that I would say affected my success, hard work, obviously hard work was huge. Even when I was at first service I would spend many nights till 12, one in the morning managing my properties and making sure things were done right. I was as a sole manager managing 38 properties at first service when I left which is just unheard of there in a corporate environment. But I would put the time in and do what I needed to do and keep the clients happy, and make sure I was doing a good job for them. So for me, it was an amazing learning experience but hard work was definitely a huge portion of it. Like you said, the people that you surround yourself with are often more important than you yourself, right? Like you have to be willing to put your work in, but at the same time, if you’re surrounding yourself with the right people and they see that you’re working hard, they see that you get it, and they see that you, your I guess your mindset is aligned with theirs, oftentimes they’re willing to step in and help you. It’s amazing how generally generous people are with their time, with their relationships, with their willingness to help you. And for me, that was a big part of what made me feel comfortable to take the risk and open my own business.

DA: Right.

MM: The truth is over the experience, there have been ups and downs. There’s sometimes where there are obviously disappointments, and there’s sometimes where you have successes that you’re extremely excited about. But I think, yeah, it’s about the people that you surround yourself with, the people that you meet. One thing that I would have done differently is when I started in the career I spent so much time in the office just working really hard.

DA: Right.

MM: And like I said, I think that’s really important. That’s what helps you learn, what helps me become really knowledgeable. I did not spend much time networking. I probably was not till I was probably about 27, 28, that I really started going out and spending a lot of time networking.

DA:  Yeah.

MM: I would strongly encourage anyone who is starting off in any industry to figure out kind of where their interests are in the industry world, whether it’s philanthropic, whether it’s just general industry organizations. But get involved, network, meet people, those relationships really drive so much of our success. And so I would strongly encourage everyone just build relationships.

DA: I think that’s great advice. And you talked about maybe not realizing that until you’re in your later twenties. I’m a little bit older than you. This is sort of a second career for me in terms of building out HILO, after running a marketing communications agency for so many years, but I’ve really learned the value of networking and creating those relationships and those you know, I’m even now, you know, finding new mentors in my life and in my career. And, you know, I’m actually really thankful that it’s happened, although much later, but it is so rewarding, the kind of relationships particularly in the startup technology world. You talked about people being so willing to help and supportive, it is very much like that. And I’m thankful that I have that now because of my traditional, you know, entrepreneurial career it didn’t, it wasn’t the same. You know, in just running an advertising marketing company, I would say that the industry wasn’t as willing to be collaborative and to support, you know, everybody was pretty much out for themselves. And I think that maybe it’s the sign of the times, maybe it’s a sign of the industry that I’m now in, but there’s just such a willingness to really play, pay it forward.

MM: So, it’s actually interesting. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Netflix documentary on WeWork, but I actually think to a large extent I saw a big change in terms of networking and in terms of opportunities through that whole We movement.

DA: Right.

MM: And I think that it actually had a big influence on society because, and obviously there were smaller scales of this beforehand that were trying to create those collaborative work environments, collaborative entrepreneurship environments, but the kind of network that we created of people who were able to kind of lean on each other for help and for guidance and mentorship was just amazing. Obviously now post pandemic, with the challenges that they’ve had in that some of these other coworking kind of companies have had, we’ll see how that continues and I think hopefully other people will fill that space. But I do not think that the traditional networking groups are quite as good as collaborative working as for example, WeWork was.

DA: Right.

MM: WeWork also truthfully, for the members would put quite a bit of money into creating events and to creating opportunities for people to network with each other.

DA: Listen, WeWork was a huge inspiration for me as I began to think about tenant experience. And we saw the experience that WeWork has created within the confined space of their offices within the context of a building, and then seeing, you know, landlords kind of saying, geez! How do we get a little bit of that?

MM: That’s right.

DA: It’s probably through the entire building.

MM: That’s right. So David, it’s actually really interesting ’cause if you look at what WeWork did, right? It was small things that they did that had a huge impact. There weren’t things that they were doing that were substantially more costly than what other landlords were doing.

DA: Right.

MM: There were some costs to it, but at least my belief is there were not substantial customers. So the things that they were just doing a trendier build-out. They were putting the beer tap in, they were creating public gathering spaces, they were trying to create more of a sense of community. And I think for a lot of us especially, like I said, I’m 36 now, I am on a bunch of online dating apps and things like that. I think it’s, you don’t get that sense of community always and that sense of kind of human interaction that you want. And I think WeWork did a really nice job of creating that community. And I think a lot of us are looking forward to that. And to that point, to your point also, right? You said with HILO, you’ve been trying to create that on the residential side, and I think that’s a large part of what we try to do you know, and as we get larger it’s obviously harder, but we try to give welcome packages to new people who move into the building, right? Give a couple of empty square giveaways, give some neighborhood gift cards, give, you know, when they move into an apartment you give them some toilet paper, you give them a toothbrush, things that they might forget on that first night. Just give them some things to show, hey we’re here, we care, we’re thinking of you. And it just makes a huge difference. And so small touches that give people that human experience that they really appreciate.

DA: I think you’re bang on. And I think tenant experience does not have to be equal to big dollars.

MM: That’s right.

DA: Right, there’s many ways to deliver that. And there are often many intangibles that will also speak to tenant experience.

MM: And that’s right. You know you’re a hundred percent right on that. And actually it’s interesting also from a kind of financial perspective, obviously a lot of people say, hey, why spend the money we’re not going to see the direct impact. But we’ve seen for example, when you create community gatherings, when you do breakfast in the buildings, when you do sort of get together once a month or whatever in the building, you create more relationships between the residents also it’s not just between management, right? So when you create relationships between residents which is similar to what I believe WeWork had done, it keeps people committed. People will stay longer. People will renew more often, ’cause they don’t want to leave their friends. They feel comfortable. They feel part of a community.

DA: It creates a stickiness, right?

MM: That’s right.

DA: Yep, I love it. Let’s all agree that, you know, living through a pandemic has been absolutely horrible. That being said, we no longer think it could be an excuse. We believe now is the time to do better, be better and ultimately build something better because we’re not going to get out of this anytime soon. This is going to be something that is going to continue to linger. So if you had an extra a hundred thousand dollars in your business right now, what would you do? How would you spend it and why?

MM: So that’s actually a great question. And I’ve been talking with people quite a bit lately about this, and obviously I think you’re on up in Toronto, but down here in America obviously there’s been tremendous stimulus that’s been given out by the government.

DA: Right.

MM: So to me, I actually have a lot of fears right now both of inflation, but also of a market crash. I think there’s been a lot of money that’s been spent kind of in an uneducated fashion not based on fundamentals of businesses and things like that. So in reality, if someone gave me a hundred thousand dollars, I don’t know if I would even invest it right now.

DA: Okay.

MM: I might sit back and I think there will be a lot of opportunities. I actually think there’s probably going to be a lot of startups that are going to end up going under. And I think that might give rise to buying technologies from some of those startups that we can kind of implement ourselves and provide better experiences for people at relatively discounted prices.

DA: Don’t get any ideas with me my friend.

MM: No ideas, no ideas, you’re going to make it through. But I do think, look I do think there’s quite a few startups that have been for a while kind of running on fumes, and they kind of just consistently raise money and there’s been enough liquidity in the market that they’ve been able to do that. I think if the stock market starts to tumble a bit, truthfully if these cryptocurrencies and obviously the past few days have been challenged with them, but if they keep doing worse and people start losing faith in the cryptocurrencies, I think people are going to start holding their money back more.

DA: Right.

MM: And I think if that happens, I think you’re going to have quite a few of these startups that won’t be able to run on fumes anymore. ‘Cause they’ll just run out. And I think that’s going to lead to a big opportunity for consolidation within the prop tech space. So that’s something that I am, I don’t know if looking forward to is the right word, but something that I am anticipating, and we are trying to kind of put some money aside so that we can try to find some of those right technologies to either partner with or to acquire.

DA: Okay.

MM: But right now, if I had to spend the money, I would say, what would I spend it on? That’s a good question right now. I would say probably on people. The pandemic has created at least in the US, has created a really weird environment where your workforce has really diminished. And obviously there’s been a lot of articles lately about why that is and whether it’s because we’ve given out too much stimulus and we’re giving up too much unemployment money. So that oftentimes it’s not worth it for people to come back to work right now ’cause they can make more money sitting at home, but we’ve found for and we’ve been hiring quite a bit over the past few months. We’ve found the talent pool has just really shrunk. And so, I would say if I had extra money right now I would probably want to put it into hiring good people. At the end of the day, I could put as much technology into this business that I want that could create more efficiencies to create better margins for me, but it’s still a people business, right?

DA: 100%.

MM: So it’s still about those touch points, it’s still about how people interact with each other. And I would say, I still need really good people to give people really good experiences.

DA: I love it, great answer. So listen, there’s still a lot that we don’t know. We don’t like to make these big announcements or prognostications as to what’s to come. There’s just so much that we, you know, really need to sort of see how things continue to evolve. But I feel pretty confident saying that there will be a return to work place. It will happen, it will take longer. Flexibility I think is going to continue to be a theme that will evolve and emerge. Commercial real estate is starting to see that, and understand that people are going to continue to work from everywhere, including the home. So from your perspective, what are your thoughts on the implications on the multifamily sector in particular?

MM: So that’s actually a great question. So, I actually am not as bleak on the office market as many people are, right? We’ve actually been looking at quite a few office deals because I do think right now they can be bought up at pretty good prices. And if you’re buying a building that’s 50% vacant that’s a 10 cap, right? Then you’ve got a lot of meat on the bones that you can figure out how to kind of utilize and how to increase that over time. So, I am not as bleak on the office market as others but I do agree with you. I think this work from home thing excuse me. I think this work from home thing is definitely a new environment for us to be in. And on the multifamily side what we’ve been seeing with it is a lot more people who are looking for home offices or second bedrooms.

DA: Right.

MM: Specifically for that, obviously in New York city that’s not going to be everyone. Not everyone can afford that as rents continue to go up, and hopefully kind of get back to where the pre pandemic numbers are. I think it’s going to be a challenge for people to continue to do that. But right now we are seeing quite a few people who are looking for that extra bedroom for that home office. So I think that will drive some demand in the market. We’ve also been seeing just with prices down somewhat, we’ve also been seeing more people looking for kind of I don’t know if you’d call it a pied-à-terre, or an overnight apartment in the city.

DA: Right?

MM: So we’ve been really having quite a bit of value on like the studios, and small one bedrooms with professionals who are working in the city, lawyers, accountants, whoever it is, property managers even, who say, hey, I live out in Westchester, I live out in Long Island, but due to not wanting to take public transportation and kind of the difficulties with finding parking in the city nowadays and stuff like that, I’d rather rent an apartment than be able to have a place where I could stay overnight in the city. So that has driven quite a bit of demand. So that’s been kind of a unique situation. I don’t know if other cities are experiencing that quite so much. Many other cities have better parking facilities than New York City does. So I think for other people it’s kind of a little bit easier to get home. But yeah, I think multifamily is going to remain strong. Right now obviously from a pricing perspective, and a cap rate perspective on acquisitions, I think it’s just very aggressive. So I do think there might be some pull back on that. I also do think once the market quasi stabilizes post COVID, lenders at a certain point are going to start obviously foreclosing on owners who still can’t afford to pay their mortgages. I think there’s been a lot of hold back on that side because lenders don’t want to operate themselves and they feel if it’s COVID that’s causing this afterwards people will be able to correct it. But I think there are still quite a few operators at least that we’ve seen who seem to not really be operating properly and even post COVID I think they’re going to be struggling. And I think there’s going to be a surge at some point. My guess would be probably January, February. There’s going to be a surge of foreclosures that are going to be filed on some of those. So I think it will lead to some more opportunities to buy, but it also kind of increased cap rates a little bit because there’ll be more stuff on the market. So I think that will be interesting. It’ll be interesting also to watch in many of these kinds of secondary and tertiary cities that a lot of people have moved to over COVID.

DA:  Right.

MM: Whether that demand remains. Obviously people want more space, they want more outdoor time, stuff like that. And jobs, I think can accommodate that to a large extent. Like you said also with work from home, many people can work from home. I don’t know, in my opinion, most people I don’t think, and there are portions of the population that really enjoys working from home. I think a lot of people like working from home a couple days a week.

DA: I agree.

MM: But if they, but having to work from home every day, it’s a lot for a lot of people. It’s just too many distractions, too much stress. So I think a lot of people do like coming into the office, which still means there’s going to be downtown cores that are going to still have office buildings and people will be coming back. Even if it’s two to three days a week. Most companies I don’t think are going to do hotel desks, right? Where kind of the desks are shared between people. I think most companies are still going to give people individual desks. So they’ll still need, even if it’s two to three days a week, they’ll still need their desk and their space. So we’ll see what happens. But I think there’s a lot of interesting trends that we are going to watch and we’re going to see what unfolds. And obviously there’s some bets that we’re taking on those. I personally do believe that people are going to realize that, or they’ve already realized, and I think they’re going to appreciate the lifestyles in many of these tertiary cities just ’cause it’s much more affordable, I think it’s a much better quality of life. So I think a lot of the people who did move out of the city are going to remain out of the city.

DA: Right.

MM: All right, and so I think those markets are going to remain strong because of that. I do think that, I don’t think we’ll have growth at the same rate, but I do think they’ll remain strong. So I think cap rates are going to come up because they’re not going to be growing at the same rate, but they’ll remain strong environments. I do think that younger people are still going to move back to the cities. I think Miami interestingly and obviously Miami always has had a nice population, but Miami has had a real surge. And I think Miami, interestingly, I think has probably passed the tipping point where for college grads it’s going to be one of the top cities on people’s lists. So I think that’s a unique one that really has just gotten such a huge volume over COVID that now it’s going to be a top city for people.

DA: It’s also becoming a major destination for technology and for startups.

MM: That’s right.

DA: And in venture capital, interesting.

MM: That’s right, but I think, so I think during COVID for whatever reason people identified it as a good city to relocate to during COVID. And so because the companies have relocated there you have a massive number of people that are down there. And I think with that combination, it’s going to make it that now it has the infrastructure to attract the young talent also in mass. So it’s going to be competitive with LA, with New York, with Chicago, and previously Miami was kind of on the fringe of that. It wasn’t really there. So I think that one’s been an interesting one. So that market, I think, will remain strong in the long-term. But I think it’s going to just be interesting trends to watch.

DA: There were a lot of interesting perspectives you just shared on, on not only locations, but also on different markets, different sites segments of the industry, you know, the whole work from home and what help people and when people will come back, and many of which, many of those theories you’ve shared I am in agreement with, and I think you actually, what I, struck me as I was listening just a lot of common sense. So thank you for that. Like, it just really made sense and I appreciate your sharing that for our listeners. So let’s, let’s take a short break and we will be right back.

Commercial Break

DA: We’re back with Michael Mintz, CEO and Founder of MD Squared, thanks Michael.

MM: Thanks, David.

DA: So the CRE industry, I believe, is moving faster and faster towards recognizing that their core business is not really about building ownership, but rather it’s about creating the best customer experience for their tenants or their residents. I suspect you’ve been there and you’ve been on this line of thinking for quite some time. So can you share your thinking around how we will deliver the best tenant experience in 2021 and beyond?

MM: That’s a great question. So, I do definitely agree with you. Tenant experience obviously is really important. Obviously location is still key to any real estate but tenant experience is where you’re really adding value, right? It’s become not just renovations, it’s become the value add that you kind of include with that. That’s a good question. So everyone was on this amenity race, right? That has been happening for many years where it’s like what more amenities could I add? First started with residential, right? Then kind of moved into commercial. And everyone was like, let’s add more gyms, let’s add more shower rooms so that people can bike to work. Let’s add massage rooms, let’s add wellness rooms. There’s just so many things that have been added to both commercial and residential buildings. I do think some of that may be scaled back somewhat, I don’t know if people worked in the workplace as much anymore, for example gyms and things like that. I think with COVID that might concern some people. Now, I guess just stepping back from that for one second people forget things relatively quickly. So also let’s see in six months or a year, what happens. But I think so I think over this year, I think we will probably see a scale back of those amenities within buildings. I think a lot of new designs are going to have more outdoor space.

DA: Right.

MM: Which I think is huge for offices. Also private outdoor space is huge, and that has not been traditionally very common in office buildings. And generally kind of just build the box to the maximum capacity you can, but I think more setbacks and whatnot of new office buildings is going to be something that people are going to be looking for. I know we’re looking for new office space and that’s a specific thing that we have had on our radar that we would love some private outdoor space. I know many of the new construction even years ago have started putting public outdoor space where you have kind of the lounge floors, and there’s some shared outdoor space over there. But I think the private outdoor space is something people are definitely going to be looking for. Other than that, in terms of experience, it’s a good question. You know, a lot of people have been talking about the hoteling of office space and kind of the shared desks and other technologies that can be used to make that a more convenient experience and more seamless with your work from home environment. And I think that’s going to all continue, but truthfully I think amenities in the space are probably going to be less important. I think it’s going to be more about experiences and relationships and the people that you’re ultimately working with.

DA: Right.

MM: I think cleaning of spaces is going to be something that’s going to be really interesting. There’s a lot of technologies obviously to kill, whether it’s viruses or bacteria that are out there and some buildings are using them, some buildings aren’t. Whether it’s the blue lights or other things like that. I think advertising that you are doing some of that stuff at least in the initial period is going to be that people are coming back to the office, is going to be really important and that’s going to be something landlords can offer that will be attractive to their tenants. But yeah, past that, I just don’t know if people are going to be looking to spend as much time outside of their working offices in the office now both from a practical safety perspective. But also I think COVID has given many people the opportunity to realize how much they enjoy being at home, right?

DA: Yeah.

MM: Being with their family. And like I said, being there too much, past the tipping point where oftentimes people say, hey it’s too much I want to get into office, but being at home, I mean too much, but then at the same time, people still enjoy it. So I think people are not going to, my personal feeling is we’re going to see a number of working hours kind of minimize a little bit, hopefully productivity in those working hours will go up to compensate for that. But I don’t know if people will be spending as many hours in the office. So I don’t know if that amenity raise can continue as much.

DA: All right, and I would agree. I think also that in many races it is also going to be not so much or exclusively in person, but also extend to the virtual world. So there’ll be trends that you’re building will do for you recognizing that you’re not always there, but still wanting to continue to engage and connect to you that way.

MM:  That’s right.

DA: And that of course will necessitate some form of technology to enable that.

MM: I think that’s exactly right. I think that’s exactly right, and I think there’s going to be, to your point on that, right? I think there’s also going to be more and more membership style programs, right? For example, buildings will start offering people and things like that. So that you can get certain services and certain amenities at discounts, but not necessarily in the office, in the physical office.

DA: Right.

MM: More kind of in your broader world.

DA: Right, I love that notion of membership. I got to park that one . Can you share any details on anything new that you’re working on or a challenge you’re facing particularly in light of the current world circumstances, or anything that you think our listeners might find interesting?

MM: Sure, so just thinking about it right now, like I said I think our biggest challenge right now is hiring quality talent. And that’s really become a very big challenge for us. Other than that, I would say on the syndication side to my point before that I said about the pricing of property is we’ve struggled to find what we feel is reasonably priced multifamily properties right now.

DA: Yeah.

MM: I think that will come back but that has definitely been a challenge. Networking, obviously this industry in general like we spoke about earlier meeting the right people, knowing the right people is huge. Networking has been a big challenge during COVID. There are a couple of nonprofits that I am on their boards. And so we’ve been speaking about finally doing some in-person events again. So I think it will be coming back, but not having in-person events trying to do these Zoom networking events has just really been a big challenge as I think we all know kind of Zoom, at least for me, right? The first five, 10 minutes, okay maybe I could kind of make do with it. And then after that, it’s like, okay how many other things am I going to try to do at the same time?

DA: Yeah.

MM: So it’s definitely been a challenge. And I think, but I do think that one will come back pretty quickly especially in the real estate space. I think people are just so hungry for in-person networking events. I think that’s going to come back quickly, and come back really strong.

DA: I agree, I think people are starving for those kinds of opportunities and kudos to you. I mean, I reached out to you, you know, obviously through digital and technology and ultimately our first connection was through Zoom and you were very generous with a, you know, a willingness to connect even initially but then also with your time. So, thank you. ‘Cause I know it’s not easy and I know it’s not easy for a lot of people, but those that make the effort I think it hopefully it’ll pay off for all of us.

MM: Yeah, you know I agree what I would say though and this is the shame of it. So that, and there’s actually been a couple of good platforms that I’ve found over COVID to do some online networking with. But what I would say the biggest challenge is how do you keep in touch with those people afterwards? You’re not seeing them regularly, right? So much of networking is about building that relationship over time. You meet that person that first time you tell them what you do, okay, great, they forget about you by tomorrow, right?

DA: Right.

MM: But when you see them at an event a week later, and you see them at an event another week later, and then another week later, by the time three four months have passed, okay now you guys have an established relationship.

DA: Right.

MM: And it really allows those relationships to grow. It lets you think about each other, and when there’s opportunities, you reach out to each other.

DA: It’s a great insight. And I think that’s also the problem just with, you know, your general relationships today with your colleagues. You know, the only way you can, you know, reach out or connect is by scheduling, you know, that call and it’s hard to schedule those moments, right?

MM: That’s right.

DA: You know, the time you run into somebody at a conference or in a restaurant or just out on the street, you know, all those moments are gone, are absent.

MM: It’s funny, David, that you raised that. So I am obviously, complaining may not the right word, but I’m kind of stating that we’re struggling to hire the right people.

DA: Yeah.

MM: And the truth is we’ve had a lot of internal conversations about whether it’s really that we have not found the right people, or whether it is that we are not training them properly, right? So a lot of our training protocols were based on people being in person then.

DA:  Right.

MM: Kind of when something comes up, you’re right there, you could answer their questions, you can walk them through it. We have not put together a great protocol while we’ve been on, while we’ve been home, work from home with COVID.

DA: Right.

MM: We now have people coming back to the office. I’d say about half our office is back again. So with our office back in, hopefully we do get a realization of whether it’s just our training or it’s the people.

DA: Right.

MM: But it’s definitely been a challenge, it’s been a big challenge.

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

MM: One superpower, if I could have one superpower I would, that’s a good one. I would probably create time travel, so that I can go back in time and change things.

DA: I do think at the end of this year’s series of shows, when we tally sort of the answers to some of these questions in particular that one, I think time travel has been number one so far.

MM: Okay, good I’m on pace. These days it seems like being, giving that popular answer is the right thing to do.

DA: You know I’m just saying, I think time travel truly speaks to the world we’re living in. I think we’d all like a little bit of that.

MM: 100%.

DA: What can, when you can travel to that end, what country would you like to travel to first, and why?

MM: Okay, so that’s a very valid question. I have not probably been as COVID safe as I should have been. The truth is I’ve tried to take the right precautions during COVID. So I make sure I wear masks and wipe down my seats and on the airplane and stuff, but I’ve been traveling quite a bit during COVID.

DA: Oh, well.

MM: I have actually mostly traveled throughout the US, I have not gone to other countries yet. I am supposed to be going early June with my sister. Actually, we’re supposed to be going on an RV trip in Alaska. So we’re flying up to Alaska. So obviously still in the US, but kind of a different part of the US.

DA: Right.

MM: So that I’m excited about going to Morocco in July with a friend.

DA: Great.

MM: So that should be pretty neat, and then going to Israel in August, hopefully. So, I’d say those are kind of right now the top of my list just because I booked those. Funny enough during COVID and I’m kind of the type of person that always likes good deals. So during COVID, I definitely was looking out for good flights and good hotel deals and things like that.

DA: Right.

MM: Obviously with the change waivers that are in place with most of the major airlines there was minimal risks.

DA: Right.

MM: I book it and then I just get the money back to go and book something else if it doesn’t work out. And unfortunately, I have had to cancel quite a few. I was supposed to go to Ireland for St. Paddy’s Day but I ended up having to cancel with all of this. I was supposed to go to Paris for a weekend. But it was amazing in the beginning of COVID you would look for these flights. Ireland I think it was at $210, it was under $200 for Paris. So it’s like, why not just make it a weekend trip? If you could spend that little to go and experience a new city in the world.

DA: Wow! Yeah. So, but I’m excited for us to be able to travel again. I’m excited for us to be able to get out again without these restrictions, without all the paperwork, without everything else going on.

MM: Yeah, me too.

DA: Number one thing you miss about the workplace although you’re back in and part of your team is there, but during the course of this last year what was the number one thing that you missed?

MM: So, number one thing that I missed was definitely the human interactions. Being able to just engage with people to your point, right? Meeting them by the water cooler, meeting them while you’re kind of getting your lunch out of the fridge. Whatever it is, those conversations that you have with them just develop better relationships, right? You also, so many things that people don’t actively think to talk to you about when you’re in those situations, all of a sudden they come up and it gives you the opportunity to mentor people. It gives you an opportunity to frankly fix potential problems before they happen, there’s just so many positives about that. And unfortunately, during COVID a lot of that just didn’t happen.

DA: I agree, I agree. Okay, last question. Favorite recent TV or streaming movie or series that you’ve watched.

MM: Oh, so I’ll tell you, I don’t watch that much TV. Unfortunately, I don’t have time. I actually love TV and movies, but timing wise that’s been a challenge.

DA: Okay.

MM:  I’m actually very excited. I saw on Amazon actually this morning I saw an advertisement for it. They have a new series about “The Underground Railroad”.

DA: Okay.

MM: Which I think is just fascinating how that worked and an amazing thing that people did. People risked their lives to obviously get slaves out of the south, to the north and whatnot. And I think it’s just fascinating and amazing. And so I saw they have a new series, so I’m actually very excited to see that one. I haven’t seen it yet. So I can not tell you if it’s good.

DA: All right.

MM:  But the idea of it I think sounds amazing.

DA: Amazing, well, I look forward to hearing about your thoughts on it once you’ve had an opportunity to take it in. I really want to thank you for your time today. It’s been a really enlightening and interesting conversation. I look forward to continued conversations and the potential of collaboration together. And thanks for just taking the time to be on the show today.

MM: David, that sounds great. Thank you so much for having me, I appreciate it.

DA: All right, you be well and travel safely.

MM: Thank you, I appreciate it.

DA: All right, take care, bye. I want to thank Michael Mintz for joining me on today’s episode of TEN, and for sharing his journey from early beginnings as a property manager, to now leading his team at MD Squared. Great learning for all our listeners and an opportunity to gain insights into what it takes to become an innovation leader.

Please be sure to follow TEN for future discussions, from leading professionals and industry experts who all have something to say about the impact of technology on tenant experience in the built world. 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. And until our next episode, I wish you all continued success in building community where you work and live, thank you.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email