• Tue. Jun 21st, 2022

Commercial real estate leaders push for more diversity – Orange County Register

Every year around this time, the commercial real estate industry comes together for conference season. This is the time to come together, learn and network.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, we found ourselves doing it virtually. I’ve embraced virtual meetings a lot, but conferencing just doesn’t work.

Yes, learning sessions are okay, but the real fun of a convention is bumping into someone in the lobby on your way to dinner and inviting them over. Or grab a quick cup of joe with an acquaintance from another market. These chance encounters are all lost when conferences are held virtually.

Every year, two or three of them decorate my file – the Lee & Associates Summit, the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors and another. The “other” this year was the Commercial Real Estate Influencer Summit. Others such as NAIOP, CCIM, Crew Network and ICSC abound. If you wish, you could switch from one to the other for the whole month. But two this year were enough for me!

So let’s talk about what’s in store for our industry in the years to come, based on what I’ve learned.

The diversity

Commercial real estate brokerage has been a male-dominated industry for decades and was once tightly owned by families such as the Daums, Dunns, Cushmans, Beitlers, Klabins and others.

Similar to an apprenticeship program in the trades, our trade was passed on to the next generation, mostly men. But that’s changing! And I say bravo! It can’t happen soon enough.

Half of the CREi Summit participants were women and minorities. Among the leadership team for this event were several women who made themselves quite famous through social media marketing. The new president of the Commercial Real Estate Women Network, Barbi Rueter of Tucson, Arizona, along with Casey Flannery of Memphis, Tennessee, presented at the SIOR conference.

SIOR Global CEO Robert Thornburgh also signed a pledge committing “to real change in commercial real estate” for our organization. This pledge can be found at crewnetwork.org/crepledge-for-action. I look forward to the days ahead when our company will reflect the world.


There were speakers galore at the two gatherings I attended. Typically, these are people who have shot Bin Laden, climbed Everest without the aid of oxygen, or achieved some similar superhuman feat. Motivation is the theme.

Learned from their experiences are applications to our business. Granted, some of my offerings this year have been equivalent to a K-2 summit attempt, but I digress.

This year, however, our attention has shifted – sorry – to the future.

David Nour has written a new book, Curve Benders. I found the story of Amazon’s rise particularly intriguing. You see, we all plateau in our careers. Finding a way to bend our “curve” up is the challenge. “Engage and then figure it out,” is the mantra of Mick Ebeling of NotImpossible Labs in Southern California. Please consider some of the “impossibles” that Mick has made possible. It is truly mind-blowing!


Everything is so much better when a story is told. I suspect many of you are like me when I say stories are memorable when they inform, educate or entertain. Oh yeah, and when they’re not too long.

Of course, I can tell you that I made a difficult deal similar to the mission we are discussing. But, if a story is woven into the fabric, the experience is forever with you.

Backed by a beautiful baritone voice and captivating stories, Phil Darius Wallace ranks among my top three speakers I’ve ever enjoyed. Still in my psyche are his descriptions of the beautiful eagle and the chicken that failed to fulfill its potential. You see, the hen had been told all her life that she was a hen when in fact she was an eagle. My God, what dizzying goals she missed working under someone’s opinion of her.

wow! What an incredible two weeks. But, I am happy to be home and invigorated for the months to come.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal at Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at [email protected] or 714.564.7104.