The Best Retail Leasing Talent: Identifying & Becoming Original Thought Leaders

by Carrie Bobb

The best talent in retail leasing will emerge from two groups: the young people who challenge the status quo and the veterans who care more about making our industry better than defending the way it currently stands.

The thoughts in this blog post were inspired by Adam Grant’s book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. While COVID accelerated the need for change in our industry, it made me wonder – how are the non-conformists in retail leasing going to change the industry?

Originality is found on the edges, in the fray. Grant writes, “Middle-status conformity leads us to choose the safety of the tried-and-true over the danger of the original.” I would like to suggest that in today’s economy, one of the riskiest places for us to be is in the safety of the tried-and-true.

Robin Arzon quote, Emily’s favorite Peloton trainer | Photo credit: Halli Photo & Co.

YOUNG TALENT

To the younger talent in the industry, this is your moment. If you have been waiting to stop drafting off those in front of you, step on the gas and become a leader, this is your window of opportunity. Grant writes, “[Novel ideas] don’t have the blinders associated with expertise, and they have little to lose by considering a fresh format and expressing enthusiasm for an unusual idea.”

Don’t just go for it with reckless abandon, dare cautiously and make your mark.

Some of the most brilliant original thought leaders in history had enough experience to know how to navigate the system, but not enough to know what rules not to break. You see things differently than those of us with more experience. Your perspective and ideas matter.

SEASONED VETERANS

To those of us who have been around the retail leasing block a time or two, we must approach new ideas with an open mind. Grant writes, “As we gain knowledge about a domain, we become prisoners of our prototypes.” It’s true. It’s hard to look at something we have stared at for a decade or two and see something new. It’s hard to unsee what we’ve always seen. Our industry needs us to create, as well as recognize original thought and test it to make change for the better.

Here are a few ways we can foster original thought and possibly change the industry:

Create lots of original content & ideas.

Creative geniuses are not necessarily better than their peers in their field of expertise, they simply come up with more ideas. Odds are in their favor. Ira Glass, the producer of This American Life and the podcast Serial said if you want to be original, “the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work.” We need thinkers. We need people who take time to think about the pain points and create not just ideas, but ideas with depth. There is a direct correlation between creative genius and the number of ideas they create.

Flip the script.

We all are experiencing some measure of pain through this pandemic. We must squeeze everything we can out of it. Make the pain pay for what has been taken. The more desperate we become, the more we think outside the box.

Let curiosity lead you.

Some of the best talent in our industry are people who have a very specific niche. It was their curiosity into certain aspects of the business that drove them to learn more. For us, it was the obsession with how the female consumer spends her money and how her purchasing power is influencing the economy both in the digital and brick and mortar space. We are fascinated with this aspect of the business. It wasn’t until we started digging out of curiosity that we discovered uncharted opportunities and we built our business around it. Let your mind wander and follow where your curiosity leads.

How we communicate new ideas matters.

The spirit in which we approach our companies, our clients and our colleagues with new ideas determines a lot about how well the ideas are received. We must approach people with a genuine interest in making something better rather than proving something wrong. Presenting ideas that go against the grain and buck the system are less likely to be supported. People want to support people and ideas that stand for something. The idea can be the same, but the difference is in how it is presented.

Carrie Bobb | Photo credit: Halli Photo & Co.

Carrie is the founder and CEO of Carrie Bobb & Co. She is a consumer behavior analytics nerd and an expert at driving revenue for retail properties through digital and brick and mortar leasing strategies.

Carrie has closed over $2 billion in total consideration throughout her career. She has completed transactions with brands such as Sephora, SoulCycle, Drybar, Fox Restaurant Concepts, Restoration Hardware and many others. She has implemented leasing strategies through social media and online influencer programming on several projects. She was named one of San Diego’s Power Women in Real Estate and received her MBA from the University of San Diego. Carrie lives in San Diego with her husband, Matt, their three inquisitively adventurous kids and one joyful golden doodle.