The University of Florida's Tim Becker recently joined local radio host John Crossman to discuss his work and some advice for life.
Becker leads the Kelley E. Bergstrom Real Estate Center, which boasts the top real estate graduate program in the country. He recently finished his Ph.D. in business administration at the University of Florida.
Below are excerpts—edited for length and clarity—of Crossman’s conversation with Becker. You can listen to the full conversation online.
Q: Can you tell us your thoughts and give an overview of the real estate market today?
A: It's a tough question, because as we both know, real estate is such a local thing that it's hard to kind of give this one overarching view other than it seems to be a little bit of a challenging time. If you think about it nationally, the increase in interest rates has caused issues with transactions. Not many transactions are being done, and people are trying to figure out what's going to happen with interest rates going into the future.
If you think more locally, particularly as it relates to Florida, Florida seems to be slightly different. We still have challenges, but we still have a lot of people who are moving into the state, we still have development projects going on. Fundamentals seem to be to be pretty good across property classes.
So, it's really kind of a dichotomy. Those markets that have had a lot of growth seem to be weathering the interest rate uncertainty, better than those that have not.
Q: I would imagine that the average person serving on the UF board has 30 years of experience. Are they concerned? What attitude do the senior board members have toward the market today?
A: I would say it's mixed. I think the group of people that we have would always tell you that it's never easy...we're blessed to have people who are working all over the country. There's exposure to these different markets that seem to be challenging, but I think by default, most real estate, people are optimistic. They tend to see opportunity versus problem. Overall, they're pretty optimistic.
Of course, everybody is somewhat apprehensive about what's going to happen with the economy. Are we going to have a recession? Is it going to be a soft landing? They're certainly worried about that.
Q: I can imagine that there are all kinds of prestigious graduate students. Some of them are getting two degrees, and some are getting a law degree and a master’s in real estate. And I always joke, but it's true, there's a huge percentage of kids that have never made a ‘B’ in their life. Is that an accurate description of the strength of these students?
A: Yeah, absolutely. It's really difficult to get into the University of Florida. We have a great group of undergraduates. Having that No. 1 ranking helps bring others in who are interested in getting into our business. And as you know, John, this is a relationship business and having such a great board that the students can interact with is a big selling point.
Q: Tim, you've been doing this job for a while. So, you have this perspective, because you're working with exceptional 24-year-olds, and you're dealing with exceptional CEOs. What is it that the students need to hear from your point of wisdom of how they can become exceptional executive leaders in their future?
A: There's such a long list. If you think about yourself when you were 24, you're young, you're energetic, you think you know everything, and you want to go out and rule the world. When you take a step back, and you look at the great leaders on our board and what they think about and what they're interested in, it's things that seem basic. They value listening over talking. When it's particularly important is the notion of lifelong learning.
Reading, always trying to learn something. We teach students, whether it's undergraduate or graduate information, but that information is not going to last the 50 years of your career. In order to grow, to become a leader, and to move up in your organization, you have to learn new things constantly. With the world changing as it is, if you're not doing that, you're falling behind very quickly. So, this notion of lifelong learning is pretty critical.
One of the podcasts that I listen to is by an ex-Navy Seal named Jocko Willink. He wrote a book called “Extreme Ownership.” The notion is that as a leader, if things go wrong, it's your job to take ownership of that. If your employees made mistakes, it's probably not their fault. It's probably something that you didn't do, right? You didn't give them enough training. You didn't give them enough time. You didn't give them enough resources.
I think getting students to learn that early on—that whatever you do as you go out into the real world, taking ownership for the things that you do, taking ownership for the failures and successes, particularly the failures—that’s really going to get you further ahead in the long run.