AMP Interviews with the biggest movers and shakers in the Apartment Management Industry
Senior Director of Business Development
If you are looking to smile, connect with Steve. If you are you looking to laugh, connect with Steve. If you are you looking to be motivated, connect with Steve. Do you see a pattern here? Steve is one of the most positive connectors of the multifamily industry and I’m happy to have interviewed him so everyone else can learn and be inspired by him!
I love dissecting words and looking for greater meaning like the word Apartment. What sets you “Apart” and why are you “Meant” for the multifamily industry?
What sets me apart is my ability to make whatever I'm working on "contagious". Whether that be a training workshop, where I really want my participants to be a part of something amazing and inspiring, or a LinkedIn post that is sharing with my network what I'm working on or a new product that my company is bringing to market. Someone once called me an "atmospheric conditioner" - meaning, I was able to transform the atmosphere into something engaging and positive versus where it had been before I got there. Why am I "meant" for multifamily? Well, I LOVE HELPING PEOPLE HELP PEOPLE! That is what this business is all about, and I enjoy being a part of it no matter whether I'm on the operations side, or the supplier/partner side. At the end of the day, we have a HUGE opportunity to impact the lives of those we serve, and I am MEANT to help make that experience a special and memorable one.
How and when did you get your start in the industry?
I started as a Leasing Consultant in the early 90's. I had been singing/dancing on a cruise ship, came back to the States to find that my roommate had skipped out on me. So, I went to the leasing office to tell the manager 1) I'm going to be late with the rent and 2) I didn't have a job or roommate any longer...and I didn't know what I was going to do. She promptly said, "You should come to work with us -- you'd be GREAT at leasing!" and that was nearly 30 years ago -- and I'm still in love with this business!
What is one song that always puts you in a good mood?
Probably "Can't Stop the Feeling" from TROLLS, or "Happy" by Pharrell Williams -- they both have an immediate "happy effect" on me...I'm listening to "Can't Stop the Feelin" right now...and I'm SMILING!
What are 3 tips you would give someone considering a career in multifamily?
It's not just a job - it's an adventure!
First tip -- remember that there is someone on the other end of the job that you are performing who is going through one of the top stressors in life - moving -- so do everything you do with the end goal of making that experience the best, easiest, friendliest, and most service-oriented experience you can.
Second tip -- you're not going to be perfect, SO -- when/if you DO blow it or make a mistake -- own it and fix it. And communicate that with your customers. We know from research that customers who have issues handled well, are MORE LOYAL than customers who have NO issues -- it's all in how you handle it -- so show up, own it, apologize for the situation, and fix it!
Third tip - Teamwork makes the Dream Work! The sales and service teams really need to work TOGETHER in order to have success at the property. You both have a huge stake in the first impression of a community - how the community looks, and feels is a HUGE reason why someone says "Yes to the dress" -- so make sure that you have good communication between the sales and service teams - and do everything you can to make sure that it's a TEAM EFFORT.
What is your proudest moment in multifamily?
My proudest moment was when someone who'd come to one of my training workshops went home to their property, applied some/all of what they'd learned from me...and IT WORKED! I get no better joy or satisfaction than knowing that I have helped someone to do their job better, achieve a result they didn't before, and that they're making a difference for their residents and prospects.
Who is your mentor and why?
My biggest mentor is a woman named Julia Mast -- she was my direct supervisor for a brief time at Equity Residential. She had only been with the company for a short time (maybe a few weeks) and our team was asked to help support another region's annual Leadership Retreat. We went, and participated with that group, helping to facilitate discussions at round tables, and then do a debrief. At the debrief, I was the first person to raise my hand to share. Well, afterwards, Julia pulled me aside and gave me some pretty candid feedback about how I showed up in that moment. She told me that she didn't want people to only see me as that "guy in the spotlight", and how I could bring SO MUCH MORE VALUE if I were able to learn to sit back and let others have the spotlight. I could have gotten all bent out of shape, but I took that feedback in, and it really revolutionized how I was as a "support partner". I changed my MO, became more intentional about how I showed up in different settings, and really learned to listen to HEAR and let others share their knowledge (without me being the "spokesperson"). It had an extremely positive influence in my success from that point forward, and I am forever indebted to Julia for taking that risk with a new working relationship. We are friends to this day, though we don't see each other very often.
What book has left the biggest impression on your life?
Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" - specifically the "Big Rocks" exercise in that book. Really helps you to see where you are placing priority and how you can better manage to do everything you need to do more effectively. That and anything by Simon Sinek -- his "Start With the Why" approach has had a very profound influence in how I lead people.
If you ever owned an apartment community, where would it be and what would you name it?
It would be in London, and it would be called "Haven" - as I'd want it to feel like a safe and comfortable place, on every level, from the quality of the unit to the service from the team.
What is your most memorable vacation?
London again -- went on vacay 10 years ago. Had a Groupon for a "spa treatment and High Tea" at the Park Lane Hilton. 2 young ladies in the restaurant had the same Groupon, and we ended up striking up a conversation with them...a conversation that has led to a 10-year friendship with my BFFs (British Friends Forever - Polly & Lisa).
If our country went to 4-day work weeks, how would you spend your 5th day?
I'd spend it relaxing and contemplating what I'm going to do next. Where do I want to be, who do I want to be?...nothing better than a cup of coffee (or three) and a relaxed day of conversation with myself.