By the end of next week, I will have spent the equivalent of 13 full weeks of this short time on Earth at Mipim, existing and sometimes thriving in the bubble and the circus of Cannes.
While I am as bullish as ever that the fair will throw up material opportunities and new relationships, has there ever been a journey made to the Palais in such an uncertain world?
Even in March 2009 we knew what we were up against. The direction of our markets and the economic climate we were operating in were as clear as Évian water. Ever since, there has been a solid view of the way the wind is blowing.
In the few words that this piece affords it would be impossible to list even half the uncertainties now swirling around us. So what can we rely on? What are the solid foundations for decision-making; whether to buy or sell, hold or fold?
Time and again, real estate has proven itself to be the last relationship-led sector, with interactions built on trust and track record. The really successful people in our industry are rounded. They are industry bright, either through base IQ or just through feel. But if that individual is also fun and interesting to be around, they will be the stars. For me, these are the defining characteristics of ‘good property people’.
This week saw a celebration of Ian Coull’s life at a packed service in Marlow. Ian had all the best character traits of a great property person, as well as the steely core of an international sportsman, and a wonderfully welcoming way with all he met. This was someone you would listen to keenly in uncertain times.
As time passes and the generations change, I am sure that we won’t lose this ‘small world’ approach that works so well. Another too recent but uplifting memorial service of the life of a property character (who had yet to make his mark beyond those lucky enough to know and work alongside him) was that of Robert Worboys.
Robert tragically passed away at the age of 27 in early February. He was a member of a wonderfully close and warm family - the Worboys - who embody what it takes to be good property people, and also one of our own family at Cushman & Wakefield. In Edinburgh, he was already a force to be reckoned with, boasting incredible energy and endless curiosity, and he was enormous fun to be around. Robert was going to go far.
So from a quarter of a year spent at Mipim to the loss of two industry friends who will be mourned by all who knew them, what is my point? Put simply, the greater the uncertainty spinning around us, the more we should value and rely upon the guidance and advice of those proven talents we are lucky to share this great industry with, and particularly those who are great company to boot.
John Forrester is chief executive EMEA at Cushman & Wakefield