Listen. Simply listen. Too often in conversation, people forget the best form of support is just listening. Not talking over someone, or talking about your life only; but truly listening to someone’s fears and concerns; and just maybe, if you listen, you can respond with truly supportive advise based on what they share with you.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shaun Weinstock.
Shaun Weinstock is the founder and Principal of Weinstock Realty & Development, LLC; an Atlanta-based boutique commercial real estate tenant rep brokerage and development firm. Weinstock Realty & Development emphasizes the importance of relationships and client’s needs first, in order to align their business objectives with quantifiable results in the Commercial Real Estate industry. Weinstock is an industry leader in his field, but also strives to find balance in his business, family commitment and community betterment.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
In2010, I was the VP of Development for a real estate development firm that had just finished Atlanta’s premier mixed-used project called The Mansion On Peachtree, and was actively working on several other projects around the country as well. Every project we began as of 2006 came to an inevitable crisis point as the economy began trending downward in early 2009.
Layoffs began, and the job I had became nothing more than a salary. We knew at that point, given the looming economic slide, that no new projects would get approved. We were waiting for the inevitable, as more and more employees began to get laid off. My time came in the summer of 2010. At that point, in a declining economic environment, with unemployment rising, I was faced with switching industries or continuing my dream and adapting to the storm.
I had job offers to go back into brokerage (which is what I did prior to development) at most of the major firms, but I chose to take a leap of faith and go out into the unknown on my own, with no clients, no big firm name, no office; just my will to strive and my own ambitions. Much like the economic crisis we are potential facing today, I made a choice at the age of 30, to settle and complain about what was unfolding, or make things happen on my own and take destiny into my own hands, where my potential for failure could be blamed on no one else other than myself. With hard work, determination and passion, we began to help and grow with our clients, as well as pick up new clients via referrals from those we had already worked with in such a short period. I believe we got those referrals by always putting our clients first and doing a thorough job, above and beyond the roles of our defined field.
Since inception, we have completed over $200 million dollars in lease transactions, and over the last three years alone, we have completed over $75 million in tenant rep annual lease obligations with our clients, side by side, and continue to grow each year. This did not happen overnight, but much like those today, who are facing layoffs, it did start with a decision — a decision to accept the fact that the economic environment was the excuse for not pursuing my own business, or instead use the economic environment as the reason to motivate me to go out on my own and take a chance. I took that as motivation, and took that chance, and haven’t looked back since.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Candidly, over the last few years, I sadly haven’t read for pleasure often. It has been one of those annual NYE resolutions that falls down the priority list each year when my schedule gets too busy! Though with this newfound time, it’s one of my goals. I currently have Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins on my nightstand as my next read.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
During this uncharted period in not just our own personal and business lives, but everyone’s lives globally, it’s important to strategically manage your relationship with the onslaught of news, social media posts and articles. While it is vital to stay informed; reading every post and article while also constantly watching the news is a sure route to a fear-induced rabbit hole of loneliness, uncertainty and pure panic. While everyone’s financial and economic condition is different, the one thing globally that is the same is the fact that we are all part of the same human race that is resilient. We have all been dealt this economic and virus crisis, and how respond to it individually and collectively may shape how we come out of it.
“It is always darkest before dawn.”
What this means is even in the darkest hours and moments of our lives, it is a given that the beauty of Dawn will come and bestow its light on us and provide hope for a new day of opportunities. While many are struggling with the restrictions of social distancing, or the heartbreaking inevitability of not knowing where and when your next paycheck will come to help cover expenses of even the most basic essentials; I think it is important to know, this too shall pass, and there is a dawn out there on the horizon. The most recent economic crash in 2008 and other preceding recessions left many in despair, unemployed and frightened of the unknown; but many of today’s most notable companies, with significant employment, arose from those unknowns: Uber (2008), Apple (2001), Disney (1923). And while those are large company scales, I started my company in 2010, during the middle of the economic crisis, not because I was scared to fail, but because I new I had to succeed and if I did, I would directly see the benefits as a small business owner and not an employee.
See the world through the eyes of a child.
Take a break from the news and articles, and appreciate the simpler things in life that we often race past in our hectic lives and schedules. Walk your neighborhood. I promise you have never seen so many families playing in their front yards. Listen to the children’s laughter filling the air while playing outside with a sibling or parent. It is pure and not fabricated. Because, as kids, they don’t know or understand what is going on, but they know and see the love and amount of time they are getting with their loved ones more than usual. And if you stop and block out the outside world and pressures for those moments — and stay present in that moment — you will actually find yourself in the light and out of the darkness, and you will see what should be truly important to us — family and legacy. I have truly learned to appreciate these small moments and memories that I am creating with my own wife and kids, by simply being present in the moment and cherishing their perspective.
In time, we will heal, but not forget.
In the single worst moment of my life, on July 5, 2014, I unexpectedly lost my father to mental illness by suicide. Totally unexpected, totally blindsided, totally crushing. In that day, and coming weeks, my life stopped, while the rest of the world continued. Our family’s life had been left in shreds from the aftermath of grief without closure. But with each day and passing week and passing month and passing year, we adjusted and we adapted. Our bonds forged stronger than ever before in our new reality without my dad, who was a very strong presence. But you can’t look back, you can’t answer questions with your own self-created reasoning; you can only focus on the present and the future, because that is all that lays at our feet each new day and moment. So, in this time of social distancing, pick up your phone and call a loved one. Call a friend that you once cherished, but for whatever reason fell out of touch with. Forge those relationships and tell them you appreciate them. And together you will get through these difficult times, coming out stronger on the other side.
Use this time to hone your skills and learn new skills that you never had the time to pursue. In late 2009, at my old company, when it was clear the real estate world was going to crumble, I completed the work I had on my desk to the best of my ability; but work was slowing, so I also utilized that time to get my broker’s license, which would ultimately allow me to start a company of my own. Push to break barriers you may have placed on yourself. Asses your current situation, whether personal or work-related, and decide if that is where you want to be at the end of the tunnel; or if you want to evolve to something greater and more diversified, thus strengthening your position. Never settle, keep moving.
Mental and physical health in a world of change.
Whether it’s an economic downturn, or a flourishing world, the world is always changing. It’s time to invest in ourselves. Too many of us are caught in the rat race or groundhog mentality. Use this extra time to get out there, exercise, and get your blood flowing. Take the time you need, whether its reading, yoga, meditation, or whatever your outlet may be, to reinvest in yourself and get yourself both fit and mentally strong to push through the crisis that is in front of us. Mental strength allows us to push on and believe in ourselves, first and foremost, when it seems like everything has turned against us. It allows us to maintain positive in the face of negative occurrences. By recognizing the world is always changing, for better or for worse, and by preparing ourselves and allowing flexibility, we become our strongest selves ready to adapt with any rapid change.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Reach out to a friend or colleague that you haven’t spoken to in a while to see how they are doing; even better, do it by FaceTime. Spend genuine time catching up with them and listening to their anxieties or concerns.
- My field of expertise is Commercial Real Estate. Reach out to clients and non-clients, or anyone you can share knowledge with that could help them navigate through this uncertain time. For me, I am proposing creative solutions to clients, friends, strangers, anyone who needs potential ways to minimize rent expenses with real solutions that landlords may be amendable to — solutions that will help differ rents and reduce expenses so that small business can thrive again when this passes. Small business owners, like everyone else, are getting hit particularly hard by this epidemic, and are looking for a myriad of ways to not only keep their small business alive for their beloved customers, but also keep their employees employed; and are fighting to do so.
- Show appreciation. We are seeing the true heroes who make up the fabric of our lives and lifestyle. And no, they are not wearing capes, or flying private planes; they are the front line (doctors, nurses, practitioners); they are delivery people ensuring essentials get to your front door; they are the hourly workers stocking the shelves at grocery stores; they are the truck drivers, risking their health, to ensure food, medicine, and so much more make it to the shelves for distribution. They are all around us; and so when you see a hero, say thank you and smile at them. We all can use a smile in this time, and it is contagious. My family has personally left notes, snacks and care packages for the delivery people at our front door — just to add a tiny moment of joy in their day.
- Help those who cannot help themselves. Perhaps you have an older neighbor or even know people who have been infected; offer to help drop off essentials; offer them a shoulder to lean on; offer to grab groceries; or even drop off a puzzle or good book. We need to get back to basics, and show common decency to everyone.
- Listen. Simply listen. Too often in conversation, people forget the best form of support is just listening. Not talking over someone, or talking about your life only; but truly listening to someone’s fears and concerns; and just maybe, if you listen, you can respond with truly supportive advise based on what they share with you.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Anxiety is challenging, because so much of it is internal and is not always in plain sight. Yet, it can be debilitating and crippling, and should be treated with the same approach one would take with a more mainstream sickness or cancer. Physically, it is important to keep healthy habits. Get fresh air and get those endorphins flowing. Mindfulness is so important when battling an internal enemy; but also know if you are dealing with anxiety, it is okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself, especially during this challenging time. If you didn’t accomplish everything on your list in a day or a week or a year, it is okay. The self judgements and pressures we place on ourselves can often only compound the issue. Rather than looking at the items you didn’t complete, applaud yourself for the ones you did. There will be good days, there will be bad days, and that is alright; don’t beat yourself up, because each new day is a new opportunity.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My dad always told me “You have to make things happen.” I am seeing this daily in my own field. If your business needs rent relief to help ensure the long term survivability, don’t be scared to ask for it, because I promise you no one is going to just offer it out. If you don’t ask, you will never get it and if you don’t speak up, your voice will not get heard. If you want to help someone who is struggling, don’t just talk about it, but physically do it. Because when it’s all said and done, life is measured by action and doing. And if all you did was talk about it, at the end of this journey, you will be met with regrets.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
We are all free to be dreamers and no one dream should be discounted or viewed as too small or not important. That being said, this break has given me a glimpse of perhaps rearranging my priorities. The movement I would like to see happen is general decency to one another. Out with impatience and frustrations, and more spreading of kindness and appreciation to people. This is such an easy movement to pass along, because it doesn’t require money or employees; it simply requires your presence and ability to show genuine care to people. And an act of kindness or a smile or a thank you can spread so quickly simply by passing it along with each interaction you have.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Readers can follow my company’s Instagram account @WeinstockRealty to truly see the passion and work my clients and small business owners are doing in the world; and the appreciation we have toward our clients for allowing us to play one small component in launching their dreams and businesses that truly impact our communities.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!