Adaptability: The Universal Skillset

When people are planning their future careers, one of the first concerns that will come to mind is developing the right skillset. In many cases, the needed skillset is obvious—if someone wants to become a successful surgeon, for example, they will need to learn how to do surgery (and, ideally, do surgery well). But in other industries—much broader industries, like real estate—the very best skill you can have is not always so apparent.

Some leaders of real estate syndicates might claim that “selling” is the best skillset to have, but this is almost too broad to be useful. Keeping this in mind, it is clear that those who possess a certain set of skills are likely to succeed, whereas those who lack these skills will have trouble breaking into this very competitive industry.

The world of commercial real estate is always changing. Whether your role is to market directly to investors, to find undervalued properties, or to manage relationships, the tools, ideas, and abilities required of you will be much different than those that were required ten years ago. While obtaining formal training and education will undoubtedly be beneficial, there is still no denying that the best ideas permeating the commercial real estate market are yet to be had.

As a result, it becomes evident that adaptability is a skillset that ought to be revered above all else. Commercial real estate, particularly the selling component, is an ongoing process filled with trial and error. Rather than continuing to go down the same failed routes again and again—many people’s definition of insanity—those who are successful will look at what is working, what isn’t working, and adapt their approach accordingly.

Changing in an Ever-Changing World

The smaller the enterprise, the greater the need for adaptability will be. When you are working at a behemoth of a company, like JP Morgan, it can be easy to stick with one simple skillset over the course of your career because the odds of you suddenly needing to completely change on the fly are relatively low. When you are working at a much smaller enterprise, like a startup, on the other hand, the need to adapt becomes a virtual inevitability.

The commercial real estate space is competitive. It is filled with people who have been working in this industry for a long time, people with Ivy League backgrounds, and other impressive credentials. But, while still important in some ways, employers aren’t going to particularly care about where you went to school. They might not even care about what you know in the status quo. What they will care about is whether or not you have the ability to learn, to be critical of yourself, and to adapt your approach accordingly.

Proving that you have the adaptability skillset is the best way for anyone—regardless of position—to make themselves appealing to employers.

This applies not only to individual employees, but also to entire firms. In an industry where being able to operate at an economy of scale has clear advantages, countless small commercial real estate firms still remain competitive. They are able to complete profitable investment projects not because they have the strength or arsenal to compete with the JP Morgans of the world, but because the have the nimbleness and capability to make necessary changes on the fly.

This is how we have seen so many relatively small firms quickly create a name for themselves. When a new trend or technology is introduced, like digital crowdfunding for commercial real estate firms, those that are able to act quickly will find ways to fill new space. For a multi-billion-dollar corporation to make moves, dozens of people will need to be consulted. For McDonald’s to change its slogan to “I’m Lovin’ It,” the company spent millions of dollars over the course of several months. But a small, nimble firm—even a single individual—can change quickly and immediately make itself competitive.

At smaller firms, there is rarely a clear answer to, “What is a typical day like here?” Ideally, there will be no such thing as a typical day. The more and more “typical” your days become, the more cemented you are in the outdated days of years past. In a typical day, you should not simply be doing a routine, but do whatever is needed.

Whether at the personal level, the small firm level, or any other level imaginable, having the ability to change and respond will always be a valuable asset.