What Counts

What you become as a result of the work (not job) that you do?

What counts?

What you become as a result of the work (not job) that you do?

Work is art.

A job pays the bills.

Get straight on the work you do.

And, get ready for what counts.

Get ready to build your character.

The end goal is to come full circle in your life and see your start point anew.

Your challenging you to get your WORK straight Multifamily Maniac,


In the Absence of Rules

Amazing culture allows for Insanely Great people to do Insanely Great Stuff.

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,



Customer Service is Comfortably Numb

Developmental psychologists tell us that a willingness to help strangers is a trait that most people show as young as eighteen months.

It’s an impulse to serve.

But to actually serve from this innate part of our being is to live in rarefied air.

Service Sucks Because We Are Comfortably Numb

We are numb to providing stellar customer service despite that we are born with a quality that calls us to serve. Name the excuse – I’ve likely heard them all. I’ve very likely used a couple myself.

Relentless Focus on the Customer

In 2015, Mills Properties has three core mantras, one of which is a Relentless Focus on the Customer or #rfc for short. We are going all out to make sure that customer has a story to tell. Moreover, that we give them the will and the way to tell it/share it.

Not for the reasons you might think. But rather because we look at it as therapy. Therapy that will get us back to our innate need to serve.

Your looking forward to serving in a mindful way Multifamily Maniac,


And one…

You’ve undoubtedly seen the “and one” in a basketball game. A player drives the lane, takes a hack and makes a hoop; the ref, the crowd, the coach and teammates scream – And, ONE!

And ONE for the Customer

I have an idea for you. The next time your service tech is unclogging a bathroom sink drain, make sure they take a quick glance at the counter top. Let’s suppose the resident is nearing the end of their toothpaste tube.

Sticking with our lead theme from above; service tech drives to complete the service request, takes a hack (read: notices the toothpaste is one squeeze past gone), makes a hoop by fixing the clogged sink (read: completes baseline service) and leaves a new tube behind with a handwritten note that reads; “Noticed you were running low on paste; thought we could save you some time.” “Hope your week rocks.” (read: And, ONE!)

Your looking for some And, One… stories in 2015 Multifamily Maniac,


Scaling Up Keystone

Location, Location, Location – real estate types know this aphorism better than most. It’s the key to any good transaction. Always buy property with your exit strategy in mind and location for certain is part of that thought process. But don’t forget about the equally if not more important piece of the equation.

People People People

As Mills Properties journeys down the road of Scaling Up; we are becoming more and more aware of having the right people in the right positions doing the right things. Not unlike purchasing property with the end in mind; it’s critical to hire and train the right people. Also, with a distant time in mind.

Hire For Attitude

A number of years ago – too many to count – I had the awesome pleasure of working for Equity Residential Properties. A company and people I will forever hold in esteem. They have a real penchant for hiring right. Their mantra at the time, hire for attitude and train for skill, governed the overall sourcing and hiring process. It worked.

Hire For Character

But I think hiring for character is a much more powerful governor than attitude. While attitude covers a person’s way of behaving; I think it’s easily rocked and completely open to the winds of change. Not a bad thing; just a bit less stable for what I believe is a keystone to business success. Whereas character is a much deeper sense of self as governed by a solid moral center; it is less affected by the downsides of adversity and the upsides of awesomeness.

Scaling Up

The keystone message: hire for character, train for character and coach out for lack of character.

Your looking forward to scaling up multifamily maniac,


Complexity in times of Adversity

Over the course of my career in the Multifamily space I have dealt with my fair share of complexity and adversity. Be it missing expectations, getting a property back on the rails or exercising triage during a fire. No matter the nature, there are a range of things than can and do happen when managing apartment communities. And in those times of adversity, there are a number of personalities that present themselves. And they each bring with them a level of complexity. Excepting one.

Multiple Personalities

You have ‘the sky is falling group,’ known for its doom and gloom, scorched earth, the world if falling apart tomorrow propensities. This is the group that creates reports that track reports. When you think of stall points in a property management organization – this person holds the – I’m that guy/gal trophy high and proud. Complexity.

Next you have the ‘whoa, this is too much for me to handle so I do nothing group,’ know for its complete ill-regard for action. They see the problem so loud and clear that it stumps their ability to move. It’s very akin to the old deer in the headlights saying. Complexity.

Then you have the Stoics, know for their non-impulsive, simply observed, cut to the chase, mindful strategize propensity for reflection before action types. I love these people. They look at a situation – innately know what to do and they simply act. Never shaken by emotional whims; they simply see the solution, rally the players and work the underlying things that make up the larger picture and produce results. No Complexity here.

Your always looking forward to working with the Stoics Multifamily Maniac,


I Love Meetings; I Hate Meetings

People use meeting times to catch cat naps.

St. Louis, Missouri, Multifamily, Mike Brewer, Mills Properties, CityView, Meeting, It’s late and I’m winding down my work day. Or so I thought. For some reason my mind is shifting to the topic of meetings.

The Good

I think it meetings are good for getting people together and discussing topics that are necessary to move your business forward.

Meetings are necessary to make sure that people are on the same page.

Meetings are good for getting information out in a consistent fashion.

They are good for course correction.

They are good for forecasting.

They are good for keeping heads up when they would otherwise be buried in the busy work of the day.

They are good for rah-rah.

They are good for no-no.

They are good for reminding.

They are good for defining the future.

They are good for morale.

They are great for creating disciplines.

And sometimes; they are a good alternative to sleeping pills.

The Bad

Every single person in the meeting room has something valuable in their head; many times that is where it stays.

People are afraid of confrontation.

People are afraid of push-back.

People don’t believe their voice carries weight.

People are afraid of moving their business forward.

People are afraid of accountability.

People are afraid of defending an unpopular place.

People are afraid of losing momentum.

People are afraid of rocking the boat.

People are not confident.

People don’t like what others have to say about this or that or the other.

People just want the meeting to end.

People are not present.

People use that time to catch a nap.

Your thinking that I need to stop thinking about meetings Multifamily Maniac,



They’re Here

They’re here and will be the Center of your Universe for the next 25 years.

They’re here.

“We are the Aussies & Kiwis & Americans & Canadians. We are the Western Europeans & Japanese. We are the fastest-growing, th biggest, the wealthiest, the boldest, the most (yes) ambitious, the most experimental & exploratory, the most (self-) indulgent, the most difficult & demanding, the most service – & experience-obsessed, the most vigorous, the most health-conscious, the most female, the most profoundly important commercial market in the history of the world-and we will be the Center of your Universe for the next 25 years. We have arrived.” – Tom Peters

Sounds like a demographic that the Multifamily business is ready to serve!

Active adult or millennial? Who do you think of when you read the statement above? Don’t Google it. Just read it and think about it. Okay – and then Google it.

They’re here and they are ready for exceptional service. And those that serve them in the highest and best way will be handsomely rewarded. 

What is your property management team doing to serve them?

How is your business going to change to capture your share of attention from this group?

Your thinking through the next 25 years Multifamily Maniac,


Human Behavior

For the savvy apartment marketer

At the deepest levels we multifamily types are forever students of behavior.

For you bottom-liners; we are in the business to lease more apartments.

But, for you that understand that the multifamily business is in place to serve the people who serve it; the study of behavior and the power it yields is where it’s at.

Strip it down to the brass tacks and you have – the study of people and their actions.

For the analytic among us – a problem is a set of numbers.

For the servants among us – a problem is human and compelled by care, compassion and empathy.

For the savvy apartment marketer – creativity can change the way people think, feel and ultimately act/behave.

Human behavior is a very compelling body of knowledge and well worth the time and effort to study and understand.

Understand behavior and you get at the core of a persons needs.

Powerful stuff when you think about it in the context of one of the most fundamental needs of all – shelter (read: apartments).

Your thinking deeply about human behavior Multifamily Maniac,