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Luncheon Summary

The Data Center Market: The Data Center Impact on Charlotte's Commercial Real Estate

Who you missed: Ben Rojahn with CBRE’s Data Center Solutions Group moderated a panel comprised of David Jones, Co-Founder and President & CEO of Peak 10; Todd Aaron, Co-Founder and Co-President of Sentinel Data Centers; and Martin Walsh, Vice President of National Mission Critical for Balfour Beatty.

What you missed: CREW Data Center Presentation: As electronic file storage has become critical to businesses of all types and sizes, the infrastructure needed to securely store data has become a niche industry and an area of significant growth. Businesses of varying sizes often look to offsite facilities for storing data, creating an industry focused on providing the structures needed, and therefore creating a demand for construction expertise in building the specialized facilities, as well as companies to manage them. Balfour Beatty’s Mission Critical division combines the company’s extensive construction experience with a specialized knowledge of the IT and security installations required to create a secure facility. Peak 10 works with smaller businesses or specific divisions of larger corporations that have decided to outsource their data storage. Sentinel Data Centers works with very large enterprises that may have the resources to invest in their own data storage facilities, but choose to have the flexibility to better react to changes in the market by allowing a third party to invest the capital needed to develop and manage the facilities.

Why: While those of us involved in commercial real estate may not think a great deal about data storage on a daily basis, we all rely on it in various ways. Financial institutions, health care systems and major retailers all store personal data about each of us that needs to be safe from cyber-crimes as well as natural disasters. As we rely more and more on the ability to have everything we need at our fingertips, stored in the “cloud,” data storage facilities will continue to be a growth sector. The construction of these facilities requires traditional real estate development activities such as site selection, design and construction, including electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems, as well as specialized construction of security and IT infrastructure.

Speed Networking

CREW Charlotte was excited to bring back Speed Networking for our August luncheon. It offered our members and guests a chance to share their most dynamic business statement, otherwise known as an elevator speech. Movers and Shakers moved throughout the room, making rapid-fire connections.

Through this experience we learned that Speed Networking is not a super highway to true business building. Our audience ended the afternoon with a hand full of business cards and a brief introduction to a person’s business interests. Like every networking opportunity, the key to success in Speed Networking is follow-up. A lack of follow-up will prove to be a quick road to nowhere.

This fun event provided our members with an opportunity to get revved up and enjoy life in the fast lane. CREW Charlotte hopes that we see an uptick in our “Members Making Deals” website link in the weeks following this event!

Sustainability Equals Real Money: The Whole Impact of Sustainability on Charlotte

Who you missed: Amy Aussieker is the Executive Director for Envision Charlotte, where she is responsible for developing strategic plans for community outreach, fundraising, vendor and partner relationships. Amy’s background is a blend of corporate, non-profit and entrepreneur expertise. She spent several years as Group Vice President for Sales and Marketing for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, where she was responsible for leadership, fundraising and community relations. She also served as a business development and community affairs executive with Balfour Beatty Construction, and she founded, operated and recently sold a successful retail business.

Amy has previously served as a board member for the Arts and Science Council, co-chair for the School Bonds, chair for the Hot Jobs/Cool Communities initiative for the City committee, co-chair of Charlotte’s Citizen Transit Advisory Group and a board member for Slow Food Charlotte. She has been recognized by the Charlotte Business Journal as a 40 Under 40 award winner and a Top 25 Women in Business Award recipient.

What you missed: Amy and her team strive to help develop Charlotte, NC into a global model of environmental sustainability. Launched in 2010, Envision Charlotte believes that environmental sustainability, when combined with a pro-business approach, benefits the regional economy. Uptown Charlotte, NC currently has 61 participating buildings with 21 million square feet of office or commercial space, hosting 67,000 workers. Through Envision Charlotte, regional corporate and government leaders are working together to measure factors of sustainability in real time through individual sensors on each participating building.  The goal is to make Charlotte one of the smartest cities in the world, resulting in a superior place to do business. Those factors of environmental sustainability are broken down into 4 pillars; Air, Water, Waste, and Energy.

Air: Charlotte ranks 19th worst in the country for air pollution. The energy that we use while commuting to work, working in our offices, and in our homes leads to the production of air pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions and smog. Over the next 5 years, Envision Charlotte aims to deploy innovative programs to reduce energy use and promote cleaner air, including ride and drive programs, promoting the use of electric vehicles, and other forms of alternative transportation.

Water: Demand for water is expected to exceed supply within the next 30 years. Uptown Charlotte uses 238,000,000 gallons of water every year. Envision Charlotte has developed a program to track and report water usage in uptown buildings called Smart Water Now. Through this program they are working with building owners, managers, engineers, and tenants to take simple steps to reduce water usage and improve efficiency.

Waste: With over 100,000 pounds of waste generated each day in uptown Charlotte, the landfills that’s serve the city are on track to be full within the next 5 years. Envision Charlotte aims to divert at least 20% of that waste away from the landfill by increasing recycling programs and sensoring waste from buildings to study how they can reduce their production of waste.

Energy: 30% of Uptown Charlotte's energy is wasted in office buildings. Envision Charlotte has a goal of reducing 20% of Charlotte’s energy use in the next 5 years through Smart Energy Now. Through this program, office workers and business leaders are becoming more educated on how small simple changes in their daily habits and routines can have a huge impact on overall energy use. Since Envision Charlotte has started measuring energy use there has been a reduction of 8.2%, with 6.2% coming from changes in behavior alone.

Why: The message is simple. By lowering the amount of energy use, waste production, and water consumption, you will lower the cost of doing business in Charlotte, and therefore bring in more business and opportunity!

Envision Charlotte believes that everyone can make a difference in helping Charlotte become more environmentally sustainable. Because of their hard work, Charlotte, NC, is well on its way to becoming the most sustainable urban core in the country.

Getting Your Business to Dance with Jim Donald, CEO, Extended Stay America

Who you missed: Jim Donald is the current CEO of Extended Stay Hotels and former CEO of Starbucks and Haggen Food & Pharmacy. He was named one of the “Top 25 CEO’s in the World” by the Best Practice Institute in 2006 and one of the “25 Most Influential Business Travel Executives of 2013” by Business Travel News. He has a reputation for turning around financially ailing companies toward growth. Donald speaks to many groups to share his experience as a leader focused on innovation, quality, service, strong relationships within the community, and risk-taking with the freedom to fail.

What you missed: Getting Your Business to Dance: Donald explains six “dance lessons” that are necessary to implement in order to ramp up your business when no one is buying.

1. Have a fish story – In other words, what are you going to tell people about your business? Have a story to tell so people remember you years later.

2. Never be bigger than the front line – It is important to present yourself as an equal and not above or better than the average person. Employees lead the way and it is necessary to relate to them on their level.

3. Go where you have never been before – Send a personal message to associates/guests/clients that makes them feel comfortable.

4. Communicate to everyone in the organization – Speak a language that other people can understand. Realize that everyone is powerful within the company.

5. Encourage risk taking with the freedom to fail – Donald shared how he gives a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to encourage his employees to take risks no matter the end result.

6. Celebrate the success of others – It’s not about you anymore! Create an environment that shares success stories.

Busyness Does Not Equal Productivity with Stacey Randall of Randall Research

Who you missed:  Stacey Randall is the founder and chief consultant of Randall Research, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Stacey’s mission is to use research to uncover client’s needs around productivity and engagement.  Her goal is to create productive people and engaged organizations so going to work on Monday isn’t so bad.  Stacey holds a Masters in Organizational and Strategic Communication.  She is a Certified Productivity and Time Efficiency Coach and Consultant, a trainer for the UNC-Charlotte Continuing Education Division, a published writer, and a national presenter on employee engagement, generational diversity, work/life integration, and management training.  Stacey is married with two children.
What you missed:  It’s Time to Take Control: Stacey offered important insights into how we can take control of our days to optimize our efficiency.  Being busy isn’t always the same thing as being productive.  She described the four styles of productivity and encouraged us to each identify our own type in order to understand how to get the most out of our day.
The first two styles are considered “left brained” approaches.  There is the Prioritizer who is logical and focused on outcomes, while the Planner is very organized, sequential and loves to create “to do” lists.  The two “right brained” styles include the Arranger, who is supportive, expressive and likes to work as a team in a collaborative style, and the Visualizer who is able to see the big picture and has the intuition to determine how to get things done.
One of the key problem areas that Stacey identified for the average worker today is e-mail.  She pointed out that while it is not in anyone’s job description, it has become our main mode of communication and many of us spend a great deal of time in our e-mail inbox.  A cluttered inbox represents a multitude of postponed decisions.  Stacey shared her key to becoming agile in email by using the Contain Circle, which provides a path to clarity by first READING an e-mail, then DECIDING what needs to be done with it before ACTING on that decision so that the e-mail is then CONTAINED.  It doesn’t need to be a continued distraction. She provided a flow chart for the ACT step in the circle.
Do you need to ACT on the e-mail: Yes or No
If no, either file or delete the e-mail.
If yes, then do one of the following: 
(1) Take the action necessary – Do it!
(2) Delegate the action to someone else
(3) Convert it to a task – put it on your “to do” list so you don’t forget
Why:  There is no “one size fits all” for being your most productive self.  It is important to identify your style for productivity so that you can work your best.  Don’t be fooled by the common brain myths: Multi-tasking, Memorizing and Unlimited Resource.  The truth is that multi-tasking is not efficient, productive or accurate.  Focus on one thing at a time.  Your brain isn’t meant to store unlimited information, so write things down.  And finally, your brain is not an unlimited resource, so use it for what it is intended – ideas!
Stacey shared that the average person spends 41% of the day in their e-mail inbox and receives 110 e-mails per day. Because we don’t manage our e-mails in a productive way, we spend 6 weeks per year looking for information lost within our e-mails.  This contributes to the average of 37 hours of unfinished work on our desks at any given time.  

Stacey left us with some Best Practices for e-mail use in order to increase our productivity:

  • Turn off the e-mail alert
  • Pick 3 to 5 newsletters that you never or rarely read and unsubscribe from them
  • Don’t check your e-mail until you have finished the high priority project for the day
  • Determine a reasonable number of emails that should be in your inbox at the end of the day.  The number of emails you have currently will dictate where you set your initial goal, but you can keep working towards a lower number.  Stacey has less than five!!
Finally, Stacey shared 5 Productivity Tips:
  • Get up earlier.
  • Start your day off with water.  You need to hydrate.
  • Manage your energy and adjust your calendar.  Know how your body works so that you don’t plan mentally challenging tasks for a time of day when you are mentally exhausted.
  • Use only ONE “to do” list.
  • Prepare, prioritize, prepare, prioritize
You can find out about workshops Stacey will be conducting in the Charlotte area on her website

Dena Diorio, the First Woman Mecklenburg County Manager talks about the State of the County and Plans for the Future

Who you missed:  Dena Diorio is the Mecklenburg County manager, responsible for executing the policy decisions of the Board of County Commissioners and overseeing the administration of County departments. She advises the Board on operational and financial matters, services and other issues, and submits an annual operating and capital budget for consideration. Raised in Westchester County, New York, Dena started her career in New York City, eventually working for the then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Later she took jobs in Stamford and Danbury, Connecticut until moving to Mecklenburg County in 2007. She has a B.S. in Social Services from the State University of New York at Plattsburg and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Columbia University. Dena is married and lives in Huntersville. 
What you missed:  CREW Charlotte’s March luncheon featured the first woman Manager for Mecklenburg County, Dena Diorio. Dena’s presentation focused on the state of the County, where we are headed in the future, and her role as a woman leader. 
In the combined city-county government structure, Mecklenburg County provides Health and Social Services, Education, Library, Economic Development, and Parks and Recreation services to residents. Following the 2007-2009 Recession, the County has experienced a return to fiscal health, including increasing the employment base by approximately 50,000 new jobs and a corresponding drop in the unemployment rate. Future efforts by the County include continuing efforts in the county-wide property revaluation, working to improve the efficiency of the building permit process, which balances customer service with safety, and creating strategies to address the current lack of income mobility facing the region.
Why:  Commercial real estate makes up approximately 40% of the Mecklenburg County tax base. County operations affect commercial real estate in three key ways: (1) Mecklenburg County provides incentive grants to attract new businesses, such as Met Life, Electrolux, and Chiquita, (2) Inefficiencies in the building permitting process are being addressed to promote development in the County, and (3) Through education, competitive tax rates, and workforce development, Mecklenburg County is working to remain highly competitive to potential future relocations.

The Evolution of Commercial Real Estate

Who you missed:   
Tammy Whaley, Economic Development Manager of Duke Energy
Tammy is responsible for working with local economic developers and companies looking to relocate or expand in North Carolina.  Tammy helped implement Duke’s Site Readiness program to help counties develop marketable properties for economic development.
Anne Johnson, Senior Vice President of CBRE
Anne is one of the most active brokers in the Carolinas, typically participating in over 60 transactions per year.  Anne’s primary focus areas include tenant representation and listings on manufacturing, bulk distribution, and office/warehouse space.
Debbie Duniec, CFO of Childress Klein Properties
Debbie started as an Accounting Manager with Childress Klein and has worked with the company for nearly twenty years. Debbie is responsible for the company’s financial planning and accounting practices.
What you missed:
February’s luncheon featured a lively conversation between Tammy, Anne and Debbie focusing on the Evolution of Commercial Real Estate.
A consistent theme throughout the discussion was the importance of persistence and hard work.  Tammy quoted “If there’s something you want to do, go after it and never give up.”  She also gave examples of how preparation and personalization to a customer can make a difference in their experience and make a lasting impression.  Anne suggested to take the deals that no one wants, keep trying and work hard because things will work out eventually.  Debbie added by discussing the importance of being less naïve and more aggressive and assertive and bring the same energy for yourself as you do for your company.
Specific changes in the industry include the use of technology.  Companies have become more sophisticated with preparation and plans for success.  However, real estate is still a relationship business and deals take place based on comfort level and need balance with credibility and market knowledge.  Taking care of customers will earn respect and create a track record. Customers will pay a premium to know what product will be delivered to them. 
The speakers gave insight on the next generation in the industry. Even though there has been growth in the amount of women in the field, there are still few young women getting involved in real estate.  The work/life balance for men is increasing which makes it easier for women to focus on their careers. The key takeaway was to not attempt shortcuts but to work up to the challenges and use the familiarity with technology as a strength.

The Value of Partnerships with Pat Rodgers, President & CEO of Rodgers

Who you missed:
Pat Rodgers, President & CEO of Rodgers. Pat has served as chair of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, and chaired or served on more than a dozen boards, ranging from the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and Mint Museums to the Carolinas Chapter of The Associated General Contractors of America. She has been honored as the Charlotte Business Journal’s Business Person of the Year, as well as their Lifetime Achievement Award. Her community involvement includes serving as chair of the Foundation for the Mint Museums, and has been a board member of Foundation for the Carolinas, Charlotte Merchants Foundation, the UNC Charlotte Foundation, and Central Piedmont Community College Foundation.
What you missed:  
Rodgers started by outlining the three requirements for an effective partnership, which are compromise, willingness to learn, and focusing on the rewards associated with the partnership. Headquartered in Charlotte, Rodgers has been in business for over 50 years and has been a part of many business partnerships. Rodgers continued by outlining a number of projects in which the partnership was not only mutually beneficial, but resulted in a stronger finished product. Throughout these examples, it was made very clear that businesses should not be afraid of collaborating with larger/smaller organizations as both big and small can often learn from one another.
A consistent theme throughout Pat’s presentation was the importance of senior leadership mentoring employees in an effort to build the organization and add value. In partnering on projects, Pat also quoted “if you have a problem, hang a lantern on it.” Put simply, when partnering, the parties involved have to be able to have a conversation, focus on the problem, and agree to a solution before moving forward.