Knowing What You Know

11/5/2012 | By Matthew Bechard

Published in the July/August 2012 issue of REIT magazine.

I still remember the invaluable wisdom I learned on my first day on the job as a beat reporter for a New York-based community newspaper chain. I was fresh out of journalism school and ready to hit the ground running. I knew that I would dazzle both my editor and our readers with my witty turns of phrase and all that I had learned in school.
Before I had even received my first assignment (which turned out to be about someone stealing a wooden bear statue from in front of the local diner), the news editor sat on the edge of my desk and gave me a pat on the shoulder. I thought this was going to be the first of many mentor-type moments from a true newspaper lifer.
“Just remember, you may be smarter than 90 percent of the people you talk to, but they all know more about what they are telling you than you do. Otherwise, they’d be asking you the questions.”
It’s the dilemma of the general assignment reporter. You have to know a little about a lot of things, but seldom get the chance to learn a lot about anything.
Even after covering the REIT and commercial real estate industry for more than 11 years, my knowledge of the industry is broad, but nowhere near as deep as the dedicated professionals I have had the opportunity to interview. I may be able to explain why hotel REITs are having a profitable year after interviewing CEOs at REITWeek, but I wouldn’t know the first thing about running a hotel.

For me, getting a deeper glimpse into a person’s area of focus is one of the best parts of this job.

That is especially true when people are on the cutting edge of their profession and really passionate about what they do.

Case in point, I attended NAREIT’s Leader in the Light Working Forum in Dallas earlier this year. I spoke with many of the REIT executives in attendance who focus day-in and day-out on enhancing sustainability and improving energy-use practices for some of the largest commercial real estate owners in the U.S. This is not an afterthought for these executives and their companies; it is a core business principle.
Listening to them talk, it became clear that is an area companies are now taking very seriously. REITs are dedicating executive staff, sections of their websites and portions of their financial disclosures to their sustainability initiatives. The U.S. may have been a step behind other parts of the world in implementing these concepts, but the management teams represented at the Working Forum are quickly closing that gap.
All I have to do, as you can read about in this issue of REIT magazine, is keep asking the questions.


Matthew Bechard
Editor in Chief

Column/Department: 

Other Features

Matt Bechard
REIT Magazine Reader Survey
I have always been somewhat skeptical when I hear anyone tout the results of a new survey as definitive proof of some universal truth. Maybe I am...
Matt Bechard
Moving the Needle: NAREIT’s Dividends Through Diversity Initiative
If you look at my picture above, I may seem like an unlikely candidate to write a column about the importance of diversity in the commercial real...
A REIT Road Trip: "That's Owned by a REIT"
It is a parental obligation to frequently remind your children how much more difficult life was when you were growing up. When I tell my three kids...
Generation Gaps
It is a parental obligation to frequently remind your children how much more difficult life was when you were growing up. When I tell my three kids...
Matt Bechard
Teacher Say, Student Do
Mentors come in all shapes and sizes, and they often stumble into our lives when we need them most. It could be the apartment maintenance man who...
Matt Bechard
Remembering Ralph Block
When I joined NAREIT in 2001, I was full of energy and ideas, but very little REIT knowledge. I was hired to reshape the industry’s flagship magazine...
Matt Bechard
Football by Any Other Name
This issue of REIT magazine corresponds with the start of fall, and for many that means football: the athleticism of box-to-box midfielders; the...
Matt Bechard
REITs: Building a Sustainable Buzz
For the past several years, the July/August issue of REIT magazine has shined a light on sustainability practices, issues and trends in the REIT...
Matthew Bechard
REITWeek Comes of Age
Each year, REITWeek: NAREIT’s Investor Forum serves as an important mile marker for the real estate investment industry. Scheduled right after first...
Matt Bechard
The Importance of REITs and Digital Infrastructure
On Valentine’s Day I took my wife out to a nice dinner at our favorite local restaurant. With three kids, any meal that doesn’t involve chicken...

Pages