Monday, July 11, 2011

Articles 07.11.11

How to Be a Good Manager

For any of you who must supervise or manage a group of people, I'm sure that you frequently feel like you're “herding cats” (not Katz -- that would be more like a Bar Mitzvah). The number of people in my office has grown substantially over the past several years and one of my toughest tasks is to make sure they are all being managed properly. It's always useful to read how other companies have successfully managed this process. I found the article "Google Rules" very useful.

How Well-intentioned Laws can stifle Productivity and Personal Growth

Several months ago, an employee told me about his desire to work hard and learn the real estate business. He was hired as an assistant property manager and had no experience in that area. But he was eager to learn and wanted to work after hours and on weekends to learn the trade. "Wonderful, I thought" but my HR department quickly snuffed out this flicker of ambition. Apparently, allowing him to do so would run afoul of federal labor laws that prohibit employers from allowing employees to work overtime without paying them additional wages (not just at their base rate but at a premium rate to reflect the fact that they are working overtime). It doesn't matter that it was the employee's desire to work overtime. Apparently, this is a requirement that cannot be waived. Further, it wasn't that the employee would've wound up working for less than minimum wage. He was paid well enough that even with the extra hours that he wanted to work he still would've been paid in excess of the minimum wage rate. As much as he wanted to work and learn as much as he could, and as much as I wanted to see him do so, there was no way of making this happen without opening up a huge can of worms. How stupid!

Wal-Mart Versus Your Local Bodega

The opponents of Wal-Mart (mostly unions and their supporters) are sounding the alarm that if Wal-Mart is allowed to enter the City it will gobble up all the local grocery stores and bodegas. So what?! Visit the neighborhoods that Wal-Mart is seeking to enter. These are neighborhoods that are in neighborhoods that are severely underserved by the larger supermarket chains. As a result, residents of these neighborhoods are doomed to shopping at their local bodegas and mom-and-pop stores. While the image of a bodega and mom-and-pop store can often be quite quaint and conjure up an image of a hard-working family operating a store with pride, the truth is often that many of these bodegas are ripping off their customers by selling overpriced and outdated products in stores that are filthy and unsanitary. It is no wonder that recent polls of New York consumers showed overwhelming support for Wal-Mart. Perhaps injecting a little real competition into the system would be a wake-up call and cause the grocery stores and bodegas that are not properly serving their communities to close and be replaced by better quality merchants.


For those of you who regularly follow my blog you've undoubtedly noticed that I often focus on articles and discussions about creating communities in an urban environment. Here's another article that I found intriguing about the use of good urban design and architecture to transform a sterile urban college campus into a true college community.

Blatant Self-Promotion (A Word From Your Sponsor)

I recently wrote an article entitled "Turnaround tale-A Building Management Case Study" which outlines the steps that Sierra took to turn around an office building that we took over management of last year.

Dodging a Bullet?

Many in our industry feel that we may have dodged a bullet with the recent modifications to the rent laws because the changes could have been far worse. However, before we all breathe a collective sigh of relief, we must bear in mind that the Governor has stated quite emphatically that he supports strengthening the rent laws and that much can still be done by way of administrative changes through the DHCR. Don't be surprised if we start seeing rulings that are unfavorable to property owners. Also, while these laws have been extended for four years, our "victory" may be very short-lived. The fact of the matter is that as soon as there is a democratic majority in the senate, we can expect that the laws will be revisited and substantial modifications will be made. Elections are only 15 months away.


Regardless of your politics, patriotism should never go out of style. We are blessed to live in this country and enjoy the freedom and opportunities that it gives us. I particularly enjoyed the recent article "100 Great Things about America". I'm sure that each of us could come up with our own list as well.

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