The skeptic in me does not find value in making New Year's resolutions—they're simply never kept. Every time I hear the promos for those 11 o'clock news segments describing the most popular resolutions (lose 15 pounds) or the strangest (spend the next year in silence), I take a deep sigh and change the channel. Don't get me wrong. While I am an ardent fan of setting goals and achieving them, I usually fi nd the resolutions themselves mundane or impractical. That is, I did—until I met Angela Lansbury.
You see, in a previous life, I worked as a research assistant at the Los Angeles office of People magazine. Yes, People magazine. And no, I don't know from what country Brad and Angelina will next choose to adopt. While I was there, I often attended red carpet events and movie premieres, where I asked celebrities who they were wearing and what their favorite band was in high school.
At one black-tie holiday fundraiser, Angela Lansbury—she of "Murder, She Wrote" fame and the occasional Disney movie—strolled by my station at the press pit. I dutifully started my tape recorder and asked her why she supported this particular charity. A few minutes later, I decided to end the conversation by asking her if she had any New Year's resolutions.The then-76-year-old actress smiled and said with her thick British accent, "Darling, I'm too old for that kind of thing. If I'm going to make a promise to myself, it needs to be on a weekly basis, because that's the only way I can make sure I'm around to keep my promises."
I laughed as she went on to the next reporter, but her quip got me thinking. For her, a resolution was a "promise" that she made to herself. It wasn't a lofty ambition, but rather a simple, achievable premise.There's something to be said for having the foresight and personal awareness to know what you can—and can't—realistically achieve.
Over the course of the last few months, I'm sure many of you have been thinking of the objectives you will set in 2008, regardless of the size or scale of your company.The other day, I spoke with a smaller East Coast operator who is interested in becoming a student housing developer. I asked him if that was his goal this year. His response: "Of course not. We're a small company. Those kinds of moves take years to get right. My only goal in2008 is to research our markets and build the relationships that will help us take that step." Now here was someone tuned into his opportunities and limitations.
This month's issue of Multifamily Executive features like-minded individuals. In "On the Map", you can read about the goals, growth strategies, and New Year's resolutions set forth by 10 of the country's strongest regional multifamily firms. Some are quite lofty. Others are slow and steady. For instance, since taking the helm of San Francisco-based BREProperties, president and CEO Connie Moore has decided to scale back on the company's non-California properties. And while she recognizes that affordable housing is reaching crisis stage in the Golden State, she also knows that what her company is best equipped to offer is reasonably priced, transit-oriented housing.
Meanwhile, Mission Residential of Oakton, Va., recently launched a senior operation, thanks to managing principal Chris Finlay, who recognized the growing need for quality senior housing. Still, Mission Senior Living is a stand-alone, affiliated entity directed by a more experienced partner. That means Finlay and his team can continue to focus on their firm's core product of garden-style communities.
These executives are not alone. In order to effectively run a diverse multifamily company, managers have to plan, think ahead, and truly understand the strengths and weaknesses of their teams. And employees count on these insights to help them succeed. Without that forward thinking, no promises, either to yourself or your company, can ever be kept. After all, that's what all resolutions—whether for the New Year or not—are about.
Shabnam Mogharabi, Editor