Check yourself! Validate validate validate. Pragmatism is far better than Dogmatism. Be sure that you’re staying true to your message and adding value
As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marcus Moufarrige Founder & CEO of Ility.
Marcus Moufarrige, born and raised in Sydney, Australia, has worked in the real estate industry with experience revolving around flexible workspace and technology for nearly three decades. Marcus’ focus on service and business process automation built one of the best performing commercial real estate platforms in the world. He has over 26 years of experience as the former CIO and COO of Servcorp, a pioneer in the flexible workspace industry, where technology he designed and architected helps produce 300M dollars revenue and issues 50K invoices per month.
Marcus is now the CEO and Founder of ility, a SaaS platform giving landlords capability to increase revenue by monetizing their tenants’ growing demand for flexibility and amenity-filled workspaces. Marcus, through ility, is building an operating system that enables flexibility, services, and amenities to be managed in a simple way for buildings. Marcus has invented the term Physical Rights Management™ (PRM), a framework which governs any interaction between people and their built environment. ility uses PRM to automate workflows for commercial buildings, simplifying the complex process of asset management.
Marcus received his Bachelor of Commerce from Bond University in 1992. Marcus currently lives in New York with his wife and three kids. In his free time, Marcus enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, and telling outrageous stories.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory “with us?
I grew up in Australia, but my experiences have allowed me to live in many weird and wonderful places all over the world. Professionally, I worked in a flexible workspace for my family business for 25 years. My father is an entrepreneur and has all of the traits that come with that — creative mind, ability to grow a business from the ground up, a visionary. We worked together well for a long time, but ultimately, he couldn’t relinquish control, and I couldn’t live without it. We parted ways so that I could forge my path forward in entrepreneurship.
Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?
I worked in a flexible workspace for 25 years and rose to become the COO of one of the most successful operators globally in the space. Additionally, I was the Chief Information Officer, so I worked in “Proptech” for over 18 years.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
It’s difficult to pinpoint a single “interesting story” when so much of my life is filled with experiences that have shaped me. I lived and worked in Burma for a year, which allowed for many adventures and experiences, and I lived in China during its rise in the late ’90s. However, probably the most interesting story is that before I left the family business, a public company listed in Australia, I tried to buy out my dad and privatize it with the help of a private equity firm. Ultimately, that failed, so I started my own business, leading to more experiences and backdrops for my life stories. Of course, my ability to meet people has certainly led to some funny and exciting tales, most notably my meetings with Adam Neumann (WeWork’s founder).
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Before I worked for the family business, I sold condos as my first job out of college. Being a younger person and certainly interested in socializing and parties, I did what many young people do, and I had a night of fun. I had to work on Saturday morning on the new apartments’ site and went to work very hungover. I had to use the bathroom, and of course, the ONLY apartment owner who showed up to inspect that day was THAT apartment. The lesson was to trust Murphy’s law.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is? How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?
A thought leader is someone who changes the narrative. Their thoughts are not necessarily controversial, but they may be. Changing the way people think is like steering the Titanic. Essentially, leaders can pull the zeitgeist in a direction using their expertise and experience. In contrast, influencers use marketing to do this as opposed to expertise or experience.
Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader? Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?
Moving the zeitgeist has become easier because of social media and online mediums. Changing perspective on a particular topic and having people follow you is very powerful for generating interest in your area of influence and perhaps changing how people view that area altogether.
Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?
Being able to clearly define yourself as a thought leader is like having a trademark — it differentiates your product and makes following it uniquely measurable. If you become a SUCCESSFUL thought leader, you have probably established your product as a solution to the problem that you have defined through your thought leadership.
Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share five strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry? Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.
Find a unique perspective or approach to solving a specific problem.
At ility we identified that Real Estate didn’t have a platform to successfully digitize when other industries that had succeeded did. We invented a concept called “Physical Rights Management,” which we believe is transformative in digitizing real estate.
Have depth and breadth of experience in the field that you want to lead.
Without this, you can maybe be an influencer, but you are not a thought leader. If YOU don’t have that, put together a team of people who are willing to impart this through you. At ility we put together an advisory board representing tenants, landlords, marketers, lawyers, and technologists to advise and give our argument credibility.
If you can build the solution you are talking about, you should do what you say.
If you only offer empty promises, then you aren’t truly a thought leader. You have to put action to your words and follow through. That’s how you build credibility.
Build a following.
This needs to be carefully chosen initially. You want to be sure that you’ve pinpointed the appropriate following to identify with your cause and ultimately buy into what you are trying to bring to space.
Validate validate validate. Pragmatism is far better than Dogmatism. Be sure that you’re staying true to your message and adding value.
In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has that has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach?
I think Bill Gates is a standout. He has used his knowledge of money and power to influence policy and solve real problems.
I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What are your feelings about this?
This is someone confusing thought leaders and influencers. Thought leaders are bringing value and depth to conversations. Without people willing to have those conversations, then nothing changes or grows.
What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
Life is about balance. Family, work, health are the core points of your life that are most important. You can’t be the best version of yourself without having your basic needs met. You need your Ying and Yang.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Personally, I think that both voting and 401k should be compulsory in the US.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.”
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf
We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would instead meet a future thought leader who wants to work with me to solve big, bold problems. That’s how change happens. That’s how we continue to grow and succeed.