Sunday, May 23, 2010

ICSC RECon Day One - Thoughts and Impressions

Just got back to our house (rather than stay on the Strip, we decided to rent a private home) from the first day of the ICSC RECon in Las Vegas.  Keeping in mind that I am a first timer, here are some initial impressions.

Thank goodness for the cool weather.  That made walking miles and miles easier.

The morning breakout sessions were even better than I thought they would be.  The panel on workouts gave good, practical advice for dealing with lenders in a variety of distressed situations. I learned some things I will use and I will also probably study up more and blog about what additional things I learn.

The legal special interest group session was also good with practical advice from in-house folks.  Some of the advice was fairly obvious -- keep in touch, let us know about changes, bill regularly and with sufficient detail.  The best advice I think was this: don't buy me lunch - make me want to use your firm.  I was somewhat miffed -- perhaps wrongly so -- by a large firm lawyer saying something like, "You can't compete with the guy working out of his house on price, so you have to develop expertise or make yourself stand out in other ways."  It made me feel cheap, until I learned my billing rates were higher than large companies want to pay for commodity work (not that I really do a lot of that).  It seems like law firms are racing each other to the bottom on hourly rates.  I will not do that. I charge a fair fee, be it hourly or an alternative fee arrangement; I work quickly and efficiently and make the client look good, thus adding value.  So I am comfortable with what I do, and I cannot remember the last time a client complained about my bill.  Like I say: try me once and you will not be disappointed.

Speaking of disappointment, let's talk about the keynote address from Sarah Palin.  In short, it was a standard stump speech with a few superficial comments about shopping centers and retail real estate.  It was awful and a borderline train wreck in my opinion.  All Palin had to do was add in a paragraph about the pending disaster of carried interest and she would have not only won over the crowd but gotten significant fundraiser cash from the industry if she runs in 2012.  As it stands, I do not know if she knows what carried interest is.

As to deal making: I am a first timer, so I cannot imagine a larger hall.  There was buzz in the smaller (but still HUGE) facility.  Some booths were empty and others were packed.  I chuckled at the fact that Burger King and McDonald's were right across from each other, as were CVS and Walgreens.  If you want a veteran report on the day, check out other bloggers.  The always excellent David Bodamer comes immediately to mind.

Some other random thoughts:

Commercial real estate is very white male dominated and very red meat.

Sex. Still. Sells. Period.

One easy way to spot RECon veterans from newbies: shoes. Newbies wear stylish shoes; how you walk three or four or more miles in a day wearing tight lace-up shoes, 5" Louboutins or Pretty Woman boots is beyond me.  Vets wear comfy shoes; my friends warned me of this so I showed up prepared.  I nevertheless picked another pair of comfy shoes for tomorrow on my way home.

There seemed to be a lot of optimism on the deal floor.  But remember we CRE people tend to be eternally optimistic.  The direct operation booths were more crowded than broker booth.  GGP was packed, I am happy to say.  I did not get to some other major booths today.

Kudos to LoopNet, which rolled out a new low-cost property information service today.  The marketing staff was kind enough to give me a tour of the product and I liked it.  I made one recommendation and offered to do a little testing of the site.  I plan to write more about the service after I have played with it a bit.

Tomorrow I will be attending the Dealmakers Magazine Tweetup at their booth; I hope to see you there.  I will probably not be at the show at all Tuesday; if I make it I will just stay for an hour or so that day and leave for my vacation.

That's all for now.  More tomorrow!


Tommy_Boy said...


These accounts differ significantly from your impression. How do you account for the discrepancy?

David said...

I assure you that Ms. Palin hasn't the slightest clue what carried interest is, However, her speech writer might.

Given how expensive Palin is these days you would think that she would take the time to address her audience.

David said...

Here is what I saw from the audience:

There were a lot of people there but it was NOT a full house. That may be because people are here to do deals and also because a lot of people did not come in until today. The back of the hall was empty as were the sides. I did not arrive in time to see the line up. I walked in without waiting, had no problem finding a seat with no one next to me.

Palin received a standing ovation at the beginning of her speech. I too stood because I am generally aligned with small government interests. I was hoping for a whiz-bang speech that would get the crowd going. And in my view that largely did not happen.

My recollection is that she received about half a dozen rounds of applause in 30 minutes, ranging from tepid to enthusiastic. ICSC is a very conservative crowd. The most enthusiastic applause was when she said pols should have to run a business before holding office. By the way, I agreed and applauded loudly.

But, again in my humble opinion, most of the speech fell very flat. I learned nothing from her expect that (a) I like shopping centers, (b) but I don't like to shop much but (c) my kids do! Oh, and she flies commercial.

There were parts where the rambling nature of the discourse just made me scratch my head. And I thought there were several times when Palin expected applause and got none. Again, that is my perception. Had she just added a short paragraph in her speech about financial reform and carried interest - a big issue among developers right now - she would have gotten the crowd on its feet again.

Maybe my expectations were too high, because I wanted a lot from Palin. But I stand behind my opinion about her speech. It didn't thrill me at all.

KaJo said...

It looks like more and more people are finding out that Sarah Palin has been trotting out her same old, same old stump speech since she first debuted in Hong Kong last September -- where, then, she bored or confused the international-investor audience with the same folksy tales you heard, David.

She's been campaigning for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination all this time, you know. Quite a "fun gig" as she herself put it -- getting $100,000 per speech two or three times a week from her hosts -- getting people to pay HER to run for President.

Timothy R. Hughes said...

Grats - saw your post was picked up on Huffington Post! Nice to see your blog get some pub bud,

Timothy R. Hughes

MadMike said...

I cannot imagine why anyone would be surprised at The Palin's "tepid" performance. She is less than the brightest star. On the contrary, she is dumb as a rock in most cases, although I must admit she will be laughing at most of us...on her way to the bank...

thomas said...

The number 1 rule of speaking in front of a crowd is to know your audience. Very disappointing indeed.

Gotta give out good content in between the red meat