SIOR Denver Conference Highlights: “New” SIOR Global CEO McCormick Takes the Reins

Attending his 67th consecutive SIOR conference, Tom McCormick, SIOR, FRICS and a 33-year veteran of the organization, took the reins in Denver as the first SIOR-designee to also serve as its CEO. He was appointed to the leadership role in August of this year.

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McCormick said that he would not spend much time sitting behind a desk. Instead, he’ll travel to chapter meetings and events and represent SIOR at private conferences and events. In recent weeks, he attended NAI Global’s Convention, the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM®) annual meeting and NAIOP’s conference. For SIOR, McCormick is stressing the importance of the new Member Associate program, which is a fast-track procedure for earning the SIOR designation.  

McCormick started his real estate career in Sacramento, CA in 1981 with Coldwell Banker Commercial and moved up the brokerage ranks until he was President of Colliers Macaulay Nichols in the mid-1990s, and then joined Panattoni as COO. His most recent post was as Senior Vice President and Regional Development Officer for Rockefeller Group International. He has served as SIOR Global’s President in 1998 and as the National President of the SIOR Foundation in 1999 and again in 2000. McCormick is pictured here with current SIOR Global President Robert Thornburgh

“You Just Don’t Quit”

Four-Star Admiral and Navy SEAL William McRaven presented the keynote address on Friday of the conference, which was sponsored by Prologis. He was a special speaker for a number of reasons, among them, SIOR has been trying to get him as a keynote speaker for four years but his schedule did not allow it until the Denver conference.

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McRaven shared SEAL training stories, stories from his 37 years in the military and of course, the story about the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound. He said he was always impressed by how people stood up in their darkest moments. “That’s when you have to be your very best – in dark, dark moments when everything is on the line.” He also pointed out that “risk is only relative to you – if someone else is taking a risk, it’s not relative to you.”

Operation Neptune Spear

McRaven is credited for organizing and overseeing the execution of Operation Neptune Spear, the special ops raid that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011. CIA Director Leon Panetta delegated the raid to McRaven, who had worked almost exclusively on counter-terrorism operations and strategy since 2001.

According to The New York Times, "In February, Mr. Panetta called then-Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command, to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to give him details about the compound and to begin planning a military strike. Admiral McRaven, a veteran of the covert world who had written a book on American Special Operations, spent weeks working with the CIA on the operation, and came up with three options: a helicopter assault using U.S. Navy SEALs, a strike with B-2 bombers that would obliterate the compound, or a joint raid with Pakistani intelligence operatives who would be told about the mission hours before the launch."

Of course the SEALs opted for the helicopter assault and SEAL Team Six executed the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistan compound, accomplishing their mission.

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President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chief Counter-terrorism advisor to President Obama John Brennan (he later became CIA Director) and others tracked the progress of Operation Neptune Spear with impassioned interest and concern. Most people believe this photo was taken in the Situation Room, but McRaven said it was not; rather, it was taken in an adjacent room of the White House.

McRaven’s greatest point during his talk was on toughness, saying “training brings out the toughness in people” yet mostly, “you just don’t quit,” whether it is as a special operations warrior, or in life, sports, and business, if what you want is worth fighting for.

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During the Q&A with McRaven, he was asked about Millennials and the generation behind them, or young people just entering and graduating from college. He was very optimistic about this generation and expressed “great confidence in young kids today.” He reminded us that earlier generations of Americans had little faith in what the Baby Boomer generation might accomplish, and it turns out that we have done okay.

Political Consultants Mark McKinnon and Paul Begala Talked (what else?) Politics

Friends for over 30 years despite their political differences, Mark McKinnon (center) and Paul Begala (right) gave a candid assessment of today’s political landscape and what might happen in the upcoming mid-term elections. Mark Duclos, SIOR, CRE, President-Elect of SIOR Global and President of Sentry Commercial in Hartford, CT (on left) moderated the conversation.

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Begala is best known as the chief strategist for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and more recently, a political commentator on CNN. McKinnon worked in the George W. Bush White House and is the co-founder of No Labels, an organization dedicated to bipartisanship and political problem solving. His comment, “I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative and there doesn’t seem to be a party for people like me,” resonated with a number of attendees. Begala dismissed the notion of a third political party, saying America’s democracy was founded on a two-party system and that the system is too institutionalized to change.

Director of New Offices Simon Hartzell and Vice President Michelle Braga managed NAI Global’s booth at SIOR’s Fall Conference in Denver. Dozens of NAI Global professionals, owners and managers attended the conference, including newly minted SIOR Bjarne Bauer, SIOR, with NAI Sofia Group in Shanghai, China.

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“Even the most senior and high caliber SIOR members were very approachable and helpful. The majority of them struck me as hungry for knowledge, whether the subject was blockchain, managing the investment sales process, international real estate trends, architecture, AI and brokerage. I was impressed to be in the company of so many accomplished brokers that handle large transactions and have a clear pulse on where our industry is and where it is headed,” Bauer said.

Added Jim Caronna, SIOR, with NAI KLNB in Baltimore: “Keynote speakers were all insightful and entertaining. Admiral McRaven stood out especially as a Navy SEAL talking about overcoming adversity in life and also providing a bright outlook for the next generation of leaders both military and non-military. The Investment Property Market – hosted by Mark Goode and Herb Krumsick, is always entertaining and valuable. It was a good update on where we are in the investment cycle, status of interest rates and aggressiveness of lenders, and a presentation by various SIOR’s of the deals they are representing in their individual markets. Mix all that with additional education and networking opportunities along with individual breakout sessions and the overall value for attending the conference is immeasurable. The increased knowledge and an overall great experience was energizing and contributes to me becoming better at the craft of commercial real estate.”