Leading in Tough Times: Jason Baker, Co-Founder of Baker Katz and Executive Director at X Team Retail Advisors
Throughout the month of August and through the first week of September, 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 Jason Baker, co-founder of Baker Katz in Houston and executive director at X Team Retail Advisors.
Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about leading in a challenging environment?
A: I think we learned a lot of really good lessons from COVID. Maybe the biggest lesson learned is that you can’t isolate yourself. In particular, when it comes to communication. When you have young people who have less experience, communication is the key to helping them through the rough spots. I think the temptation might be to isolate during bumpy times, but in those times, communication especially becomes crucial. It’s also important to focus your energy on what’s changing. In fact, the ideal approach is to focus on what’s not changing and keep your eyes on those things that you can actually control. For example, 80% of the things that we worry about never happen. But we spend so much time concentrating on things we can’t control; it truly is a waste of energy. But if you spend that time focused on what you can control, efficiency takes the place of inefficiency. And that’s what a leader should be doing, especially when the financial environment is bumpy, and the unknown becomes the boogie man.
Q: What leadership advice would you like to give your younger self?
A: Always remain curious. Never lose that sense of wonder. Try to ask good questions. Be curious. Never lose that sense of wonder. I would remind myself to always work on your professional and personal life. What am I committed to? Where am I headed and never underestimate the power of a good reputation.
Q: What’s the best decision you made as a business leader?
A: Unquestionably, I would say the best decision I made was 19 years ago when I decided to partner with Ken Katz, and we formed Baker Katz. At the time, we were both in transition and we decided that a partnership would be ideal. So, we started our company and its brand and name and were able to create a culture together that we can be proud of. Who you work with and who you are associated with is extremely important. It really does matter. No question about it.