Leading in Tough Times: Elie Rieder, CEO, Castle Lanterra

Throughout the month of August, Connect CRE is running a series titled “Leading in Tough Times.” We’ve asked leaders around the U.S. and across the commercial real estate spectrum to share their wisdom and discuss lessons learned. In this installment, you’ll hear from Elie Rieder, founder and CEO of Castle Lanterra.

Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about leading in a challenging environment?

A: Leading in a challenging environment requires adaptability and focus. As unforeseen circumstances and challenges will inevitability arise, I have learned to become more flexible, and willing to explore all strategies that will best suit the asset. In addition, it is critical to be transparent and communicate with our investment partners, keeping them informed about changes, challenges and progress, which fosters trust and collaboration. Learning and growing from past mistakes is crucial to moving forward. The most successful leaders are not afraid to admit when something goes wrong and use those experiences to drive improvement. They are not afraid to ask other people their opinions, especially those who have lived through many cycles. The essence of knowledge is knowing that you don’t know. It’s always important to stay positive, humble and focused on both the long-term goal and the short-term steps necessary to execute and accomplish them.

Q: What’s the most valuable leadership advice you’ve ever been given?

A: “What knowledge doesn’t do, time will do.” Quality real estate always goes up in value. The best advice I ever received was from my father: “Do not sell.” I wish I still owned every property I ever sold, but, at the same time, we must sell to build our balance sheet to buy more. At Castle Lanterra, there are times when we sell because we want to get out of a market — we actively divested of our Chicago holdings — or because we feel that we are going to get returns as if we finished our business plan when we’re still halfway through. We also might sell if we feel we have other places where we want to redeploy our capital, or we want to better balance our portfolio. But, in general, I believe quality real estate will always appreciate.

Q: What’s the best decision you’ve ever made as a business leader?

A: I believe it is imperative to have the brightest and best team. I have built a strong team and have surrounded myself with skilled individuals who share the same vision and are committed to the organization’s success. Don’t be right, be smart. It is also important that our firm embraces innovation and adopts the newest technologies to stay ahead of the competition.

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