Be Thyself

Every morning I start my day by firing up RStudio to catch up on the world’s news. I use my gdeltr2 package which leverages two magical things, the GDELT Free Text API and Ryan Hafen’s absolutely amazing TrelliscopeJS to produce an interactive view of the news I care about.

I setup 2 flows, 1 for my favorite web domains and the other for terms I am tracking. Before getting into the meat of the post I want to share how, in a few lines of code you can also use gdelt to track the websites and terms you care about.

GDELT Web Domain Tracker

library(trelliscopejs)  # devtools::install_github('hafen/trelliscopejs')
library(gdeltr2)  # devtools::install_github('abresler/gdeltr2')
news <- c("", "dailymail", "^", "", "", "", 
    "", "", "", "", "", 
    "", "", "")

real_estate <- c("", "", "", 
    "", "", "", "", "", 
    "", "", "", "", 
    "", "", "", "", "")
sports <- c("", "")

tech <- c("", "")

finance <- c("", "", "", "", 
    "", "", "", "", 
    "", "", "", 
    "", "")

law <- c("", "")

gdeltr2::get_data_ft_api_domains(domains = c(news, real_estate, sports, tech, 
    finance, law), visualize_results = TRUE, use_exact_domains = TRUE, dedeup_results = TRUE)

GDELT Term Tracker

venture <- c("\"8VC\"", "\"Initialized Capital\"", "\"137 Ventures\"", "\"Softbank Vision\"")

funds <- c("\"Rockwood Capital\"", "\"Blackstone Real Estate\"")
sports <- c("\"Brooklyn Nets\"", "\"Excel Sports Management\"")

watch_list <- c("\"CMBS\"", "\"Cap Rate\"", "\"Capitalization Rate\"", "\"Price Per Foot\"", 
    "\"Eastdil\"", "\"Bank of the Ozarks\"", "\"Condo Bubble\"", "\"EB5", "\"EB 5\"", 
    "\"EB-5\"", "\"Commercial Mortgage Backed Security\"", "\"Jared Kushner\"", 
    "\"WeWork\"", "\"JDS Development\"", "\"Madison Equities\"")

terms <- c(sports, watch_list, venture)

gdeltr2::get_data_ft_api_terms(terms = terms, visualize_results = T))

Roy Hilton March

As I was catching up on my domain driven news I was reading one of my favorite commercial real estate news sources The Real Deal {to find it press the filter button and, select domainSearch and filter to the Real Deal in the domain trelliscope OR filter term to Eastdil on term Trelliscope}. In it there were 2 stories about someone by the named Roy Hilton March. Anyone reading this with some commercial real estate knowledge probably knows who he is but for those who don’t, pictures are worth a thousand words.

As people who know me personally know I tend to have a strong animus towards real estate brokers.

As a classification they tend to be as slimy, untrustworthy, and self-interested as they come. In the world of institutional real estate they often times go around with an analytically sense of arrogance even though they are not the ones putting capital at risk and generally are some of the least analytically people you will ever meet.

A general classification algorithm that works extremely well with brokers is that they will do and say whatever they think needs to be said or done to get them closer to their commission.

That said, I have always had a soft spot for Roy Hilton March.

There’s no rational explanation towards my Roy Hilton March broker animus exception. In fact, when I worked in real estate private equity I never had a great experience working with the firm he runs, Eastidil.

In fact, I often had terrible experiences working with Eastdil. I will always remember at the height of the pre-Lehman collapse commercial real estate bubble his firm was brokering an office building in New York the fund I worked at was looking at. I was a young 25 year old associate on the lower wrung of the power chain but I had to to do all the analytically work.

A call was setup with my boss and I to go over the assumptions put in Eastdil’s offering memorandum. As the senior brokers were walking through what they believed to be the rationalization for the price they were seeking I burst out laughing and we had to stop the call for almost a minute.

The Eastdil team was using a snake-oil brokerage technique I like to call PCP induced proforma underwriting.

Or in English, trying to convince someone to pay a price for something that could only make sense if the underlying assumptions were conjured high on PCP and the decision to buy the asset could only be made while under the influence of a mind altering drug.

Needless to say we didn’t buy the building.

Thinking rationally, as I generally try to do, in no universe should I like Roy Hilton March, yet I do. The best justification I can come up with is his amazing hair.

Over the last few years as I have focused more on venture investing, working on my own code driven adventures, and passing on most real estate asset deals that come my way I haven’t thought much about Roy until this morning.

Freak with Shit Kicker Boots

As I was scrolling through The Real Deal articles I was delighted to discover an interview with Roy.

The interview is fantastic and gives insights into him that I had no idea about, including his blue color upbringing and the amount of extreme luck that afforded him the chance to stumble into what became the most prestigious commercial estate brokerage firm he now runs.

Towards the middle of the interview he is asked about some statements made about him in a book by one of the most arrogant and reckless developers to ever grace this planet with his presence, Harry Macklowe. It was his response that motivated this blog post.

Macklowe’s first impression of you as a “freak” with “shit-kicker boots” was recounted in the “The Liar’s Ball.”

What’s your take on that view of you? It’s a Harry Macklowe-ism. I don’t think anybody really thinks of me as a freak. I think people respect being your own person.

But if you’re going to be enigmatic or quirky, you better be very good at what you do. For the record, though, I don’t attempt to be any of that.

I only try to be as authentic as I can be.

After reading this I get a better sense of why I always liked Roy even though I knew I shouldn’t.

He has a sense of self. He is who he is and he owns it. He doesn’t do it with Kris Jenneresque intentions of fame and media attention, he is just being himself, flowing hair and all.

I have always admired those qualities in other people even if the were very different from myself.

I believe that there is such thing as a great broker the way there are transcendent basketball players like LeBron James, musical minds like Prince, and even programming minds like Hadley Wickham. That said, Roy has been as influential as any broker in modern times whether or not this can be explained by “talent”.

Roy’s interview reminded me, regardless of what arena you are battling in there are ALWAYS going to be haters 😄.

Pay them no mind, stay focused on being you, that will set you up for the great and exciting things you can only achieve by being you.

Parting Notes

Despite my ringing endorsement of the Roy Hilton March dropped knowledge bombs I want to end this post by staying true to me and something I often like to sprinkle into my software code; knowledge I firmly believe stays constant through the tests of time.

A prime example being, when buying a home or a commercial property don’t trust brokers.

Trust thyself and one’s own analysis.

As I prepare to sign off I dedicate this post the entire Eastdil New York team who I use code to keep track of {well actually every single licensed broker in the state of 😎}.

nycRealEstateR::get_data_new_york_brokers(organizations = c("Eastdil"), visual_network = TRUE)
## Parsed information on the 35 brokers at EASTDIL SECURED LLC located at 40 W 57TH ST 22ND FL NEW YORK NY NEW YORK 10019
## Do you know MELVIN M SHERROW a LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY BROKER whose license expires on 2017-09-06?
## Remember to NEVER EVER trust brokers, do you your own analysis, preferably with the help of R!!


If you look carefully at the visualization you should notice something that concretely explain why I’ve always liked Roy. It was even something I didn’t need a gradient boosting machine, random forest model, or a convolution neural network to machine learn 🔥.