CREW Network Convention attendees listened raptly to Alison Levine speak about climbing Mt. Everest. | Images by Carrie Rossenfeld

Event Coverage – January 2019

Carrie Rossenfeld Event Coverage

From SoCal Real Estate’s January 2019 issue:

What Mountain Climbing Can Teach Us About CRE

Alison Levine didn’t make it to the summit of Mt. Everest during the first American Women’s Everest Expedition in 2002, but she did learn lessons along the way that apply to every aspect of business and life and helped her reach the summit when she made the expedition a second time eight years later.

Levine told her story at the opening session of the recent Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network Convention in San Diego. The conference hosted 1,200 CREW members from the U.S. and internationally for large and small panel sessions, networking events, site tours, and numerous other opportunities to help women further their careers in CRE.

Levine, author of the New York Times best-selling book On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Everest and Other Extreme Environments, served as team captain of the first Everest expedition. She started off her talk by saying that willpower is an invaluable tool for helping people get where they want to be. And, despite the bad rap it gets, ego is important, too — both performance ego and team ego, she learned.

What’s surprising about making the trek to the top of Mt. Everest (aside from weather conditions) is that climbers don’t do it linearly. Instead, they must keep returning to base camp at the bottom of the summit during the trip so that their bodies get accustomed to the changes in altitude. Not doing so could be fatal, Levine said. “Anything above 18,000 feet, the body begins to deteriorate. You need to keep coming back down to rest, eat, and hydrate.”

At the same time, the constant “backtracking” was psychologically frustrating, Levine said, “because you know you have to go up.” But what’s important to note is that even though climbers return to where they started, they are still progressing. “Don’t look at backtracking as losing ground,” said Levine. “Backing up is not the same as backing down.”

Another lesson she learned is that fear is fine, but complacency will do you in. You must keep challenging yourself in order to progress, whether it’s in climbing Everest or any other area of life. She also learned that leadership means that every member of the team is responsible for the team reaching its goal — not just the team leader.

Levine’s team had to stop just short of its goal due to bad weather conditions and not having the supplies and tools needed to reach the summit safely, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t climb the mountain. Having achieved what she did on the first expedition taught Levine about what she could withstand and how to do it again so that she could eventually reach the top. This is an invaluable lesson for all of us.

How LEED Has Shifted to WELL

Until recently, LEED building standards were the ultimate goal for high-end office developments. Within the past few years, however, WELL building standards have taken over as the new goal for which to strive. Such was the subject of a recent presentation by Innovative Commercial Environments in San Diego titled “The Impact of Health & Well-Being at Work.”

Led by Teknion director Tracy Backus and OFS’s VP of well-being and development Paul Anderson, the event discussed how to propel environmental health and wellness through design.

Backus said wellness represents something different to each of us, but today’s focus on wellness is more about putting money into the people in a building and less about real estate and energy costs. “The asset is people — not real estate — in a WELL building standard,” she said.

Anderson said the true measure of a space is how it makes you feel, and health and wellness in building design are not going away. Wellness standards in the workplace have to do with changing our environment and the way we live via nourishing food, movement, and standing vs. sitting.

While it may sound daunting, applying wellness standards to the built environment doesn’t have to cost a lot. Anderson gave the example of CBRE’s Downtown Los Angeles offices, a WELL building that only had a 1.73 percent premium on overall construction. “It doesn’t cost as much as people think.” He added that people will pay more for WELL buildings, which demonstrates their value.

“WELL is a tool to maximize employee performance,” said Anderson, adding that WELL buildings help attract and retain employees. Also, WELL standards are growing faster than LEED standards when comparing the square footage of buildings adhering to those standards. Anderson said 1,043 projects totaling over 198 million square feet are applying WELL standards across 38 countries.

Tracy Backus stands in front of ICE’s biophilia walls, out of which greenery is growing to promote employee well-being.