Out to Put a Dent in the Multifamily Universe

In the Absence of Rules

In the absence of rules – there is Culture.

It allows for moment of truth conversation.

It allows for courageous conversation.

It allows for blunt truth.

It allows for in-your-face awesomeness.

It allows for character building.

It allows for sharpening the saw.

It allows for vision.

It allows for mission.

It allows for Insanely Great people doing Insanely Great Stuff.

Your Culture is where it’s at Multifamily Maniac,



Scaling Up – Culture

What is the most important responsibility of a company owner/president/ceo?

Short Answer – Own and lead the Company Culture – Soup to Nuts

It’s your – to the core – number one asset.

It demands and deserves capital investment akin to putting a new roof an apartment building. Or, doing a full overlay on your parking lot. It’s the front door to your company.

It’s the aroma that oozes out of your business office when a customer opens the front door. Does it eek of sour attitudes and tired souls or does it smell like fresh energy and enthusiasm?

Brave Heart 

It takes courage and vulnerability.

In the movie – William Wallace (Mel Gibson) makes a plea to Robert the Bruce to rise above the politics and lead. It’s the perfect message for any owner/leader as it relates to owning Culture.

Your looking forward to Mills Properties Scaling Up Culture Multifamily Maniac,



Multifamily Culture

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

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

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

Culture in the Multifamily Space

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

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


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

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

Is it holding YOU back?

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


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


Multifamily Monday: Learn the “Culture”

The Culture of a Multifamily property or corporate officeHow do you build an amazing and over the top culture? 

I read a book some time ago that started with the line (para-phrased); If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. It went on to describe that the aroma of a home is detected the second before you walk across the threshold and into the front door. And, that aroma can elicit memories from ago both good or bad.

It sets the stage for a good, bad or indifferent visit. And, even though it happens in an instant – it happens.

Our properties and/or corporate offices are no different. In a sense, you are either baking apple pie or its rotting on the shelf of inaction or worse yet, ill regard.

Culture is everything in a business. It sets the stage for the people you work with and for; and, it’s powerful in the way of building enduring relationships with the people who live in your communities.

Building Culture in a Word


That’s it. That’s all she wrote folks.

Get Care right and you get right Care. (We will post more on this later).

What are you doing to make sure your aroma is inviting and worthy of partaking in? Cook up a good comment and leave it below – we will eat it up. Pun intended.

Your caring about culture multifamily maniac,



My Boss is Killing Me

Make note of everything you hate about the ledership style of your current boss and commit to never doing any of it when you have the chance to seize your opportunity to lead. – Tom Peters Paraphrase

It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad people but every property management professional has come home professing; “My bosss is killling me!” We have all been on the downside of that kind of environment/culture. And, there is more truth in that statment than you might realize. Their is a literal mountain of research on the subject of negativity and it’s effect on workplace productivity. Chief reasons being: ill health, lack of moral, tardiness/absenteeism, motivation, wherewithal or outright spite. It’s just a fact; working for a bad leader [Read: Bully]  just sucks. Pardon the slang.

There is Hope Out There

I recall many an instance in my journey through the leadership ranks where I preceived my supervisor/boss [I really have a distaste for both of those words as I see leadership/work as a collaborative concept not an up down or up down concept] to be an absolute debbie downer. And, under alternative circumstances I might have caved to the pressure and walked or worse yet undermined his authority in a spiteful way.

Tom Peters Rocks The Apartment World

Enter Tom Peters – I am a raging fan of TP and all of his exclamation point advice. Chief among it the advice that lead this post. Twelve years ago I vowed never to lead people the way I was being lead at that time in my career. That is not to suggest that I have not taken my lumps over the years but rather to say that it has worked in large part.  The premise being creating a postive work environment that people cherish and rave about. Knowing that people want to be a part of something bigger than self and working to align that with their personal motives. Understanding that the chief reason for the existence of business organizations is to support the poeple that support it.

Interrupting our Regularly Scheduled Program

I’ve been through a tough season as of late; just crushed by the weight of budget season, one of our RM’s leaving, the search for a replacement  and trying to run a business. I am coming out of it now brusied, scathed and inspired. Inspired by a greeat boss/supervisor  – [Read: one who gets it].

As such I am reaching back to the roots of my inspirations – books, speeches, inspiring videos, letters, cards and gifts from those who have moved me and those I have moved. And, I am pumped.

All that to say that I am going to do my best to create a Monday Morning Minute that rocks your socks. Or, more realistically put, something that gives you pause for thought and inspiration to give some feedback in the comment seciton below.

Let’s smash 2012 and create some stuff that puts a dent in the multifamily universe.

Thanks for reading and have a compelling week! [That exclamation point is my paying hommage to TP].

Your getting back to inspiring multifamily maniac,


Multifamily #Trust30: A Call to Arms

Day 24 of the #trust30 challenge – it’s a big one!

The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What if today, right now, no jokes at all, you were actually in charge, the boss, the Head Honcho. Write the “call to arms” note you’re sending to everyone (staff, customers, suppliers, Board) charting the path ahead for the next 12 months and the next 5 years. Now take this manifesto, print it out somewhere you can see, preferably in big letters you can read from your chair…

(Author: Sasha Dichter)

I kind of feel like Jerry McGuire right about now.

I can’t help but to call upon the great Tom Peters for this exercise. Back in 2006 I drew from Tom’s: The PSF is Everything! Manifesto to re-imagine the way we did business in Portland. I had just inherited the Regional Manager role where I was responsible for managing fourteen properties consisting of over 5000 units spread over five sub-markets. It was a daunting task and I had no illusions that I could run the deal by myself. I knew it would take the collective efforts of our 100+ people as lead by eleven site managers. It was a bonus that they were the best in business.

If given the charge today to chart the course for the next 12 months and beyond; I would break it down just like we did back in 2006.

  • Enhance Work & The Legacy
  • Enhance Firm & The Brand
  • Enhance Employee Commitments
  • Enhance Resident Commitments

I would assign our top talent to each of these four over-riding areas. The task? To Develop the next generation of Mills Properties. It would be on each team [with as little guidance as possible] to come up with amazing over the top and executable strategies to create excellence.

Enhance Work & The Legacy

People want to be a part of something bigger than self. And, it all starts inside with the innate need to move character. It starts with a
company that is convinced that organizations are put in place to serve the people that serve it. It stars with mission, vision, strategy and values. As such we would take action on the following:

  • Get a crystal clear point of view
  • Create a dramatic difference
  • Create a culture where ‘Stretch is Routine’
  • Create a culture of ‘Game-Changer’ – WOW Projects
  • Work only with ‘Playful Clients’ – Life and Business is Too Short to work with Jerks
  • We would get obsessed with LEGACY
  • We would part ways with anyone who says ‘apartments are commodities’
  • We would never shy away from ‘Radical’

Enhance Firm & The Brand

  • We would define what it means to make our business ‘cool’
  • We would recruit the absolute best talent
  • Integrity would rule the day
  • Execution would rule the seconds, minutes and hours
  • We would create a ‘Swarm Team’ as a way to support
  • R&D would get front and center attention
  • We will own the relevant Saint Louis digital frontier
  • We will aim to be no less than a ‘LOVEMARK’
  • Passion would be the guiding principle

Enhance Employee Commitments

  • Our talent would breed talent – FANATICS
  • We would hire peculiar
  • We would manufacture Early Opportunities for new Talent
  • They will rise up or be out
  • We will make way for YOUTH
  • We will get committed to Renewing our CURRENT base of Talent
  • We will get obsessed with MENTORING
  • Everyone is a leader
  • Bring in the Best in Breed
  • INTEGRITY with everyone

Enhance Resident Commitments

  • We will invite our residents in as partners
  • We will draw in only the best vendors to Serve our residents
  • Have residents claim that working with US is THE BEST EVER
  • Implement Implement Implement
  • Our Chief AIM? Resident’s assist in creating CULTURE
  • The measure? Did we make a Dramatic, Game-Changing Difference? Will they tell a friend, family member or co-worker about us?

That’s it! That would be my framework for the next twelve months. After that year we would go on an EXECUTION and IMPLEMENTATION QUEST! It would be a No Holds Barred Journey into Compelling, Over the Top, Amazing and downright Stunning Achievement!

Your always striving contributor,


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