A big part of my job is making sure my team has what they need to get their jobs done. In a lot of ways, I work for them. Diplomacy is also important. Navigating different personalities to achieve an end goal is always a challenge. I like the creative analysis and the construction of real estate development. I like conceptualizing a project whether it’s a building, a lifestyle community or retail and making it a reality.
I realized long ago, with all the machismo on a construction site, I don’t need to out-macho anyone to be effective. I try to treat everyone nicely. Most people respond well to that. Those who mistake it for a weakness tend not to be around very long. Be fair. Be helpful. Be respectful. Be able to live with yourself at the end of the day. My father, Michael, is my inspiration. He worked from the ground up, literally. We have such different personalities, but the work I do every day is work that he started and while we have different approaches, so much of what I know came from him. In 30 years, he developed 70 communities and built 6,000 residences across the metro area. In such a tough world, with so few chances for this type of success, he beat the odds.
When my dad started in the 80s people were coming out to Long Island because they wanted a suburban lifestyle. But now, suburban and urban are a little more blurred. It’s about walkability and ease of travel to downtowns and major destinations, being close to a train station—smart growth that everyone’s been talking about for the last 10 years. We’ll keep building communities and houses and condominium developments but there’s also demand for products like we’re doing at The Vanderbilt—high-end luxury rental apartments with a lot of amenities.
There’s so much that goes into that process. I love being involved in the different facets. In a typical day, I can go from walking a construction site and meeting with bankers to making a presentation at a zoning board meeting. It can be difficult to put on clothes in the morning that will work for all of those settings.
I’m not a flashy person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to impress people. Style is a personal articulation. I never want to walk onto a construction site and have the project manager notice my clothes. But I don’t want to look out of place for all the places my day will take me. I don’t want the clothes to talk for me, I want to speak for myself. But I still don’t want it to look like I don’t care what I look like. I usually opt for a well-cut pair of trousers, a button-down shirt and a sports jacket. A lot of what I wear is from Boglioli. They make high quality clothing that works in a boardroom and on a construction site. Even though my clothes aren’t loud, I like them well-tailored. Good fit says a lot without being in your face.
One of the reasons I love having a home on the East End is that I’m able to surf year-round. I picked up a new winter wetsuit from Matuse a few years ago. Their quality is so much better than anything else on the market that I’m able to get in the water much more than I used to. Not only do their suits look sharper than most, they’re warmer and a lot more comfortable than any others I’ve worn. It’s been a game changer. I’ve also gotten into gardening around my house. I find the work of planting and weeding meditative. I like that it yields very direct and tangible results. I play tennis, I was an art major in college and I still draw. I don’t hunt—I can’t even kill insects—but if I were a weapon, I’d be a bow and arrow (I shoot targets). I’d be the Bat Mobile. I’d love to go to New Zealand, but I’m not going to North Korea. The sexual harassment thing? Can you say #timesup? Most vivid nightmare: someone hits their nuclear button.