Learning from the Winners

For once, I should like to use this column to talk to you about something other than residential buildings in Berlin. Indeed, I will share with you some of the things that I learned when writing “Dare to be Different and Grow Rich (German title: “Setze dir größere Ziele. Die Erfolgsgeheimnisse der Sieger”). In this book, I grappled with the question why some people are so much more successful than others. To this end, I analysed the biographies of more than 50 very successful personalities – especially those of entrepreneurs and investors – and actually talked to some of them in person.
Among the latter is Christoph Kahl who recently transacted the biggest property deal in the United States of the past three years, selling an office building in New York City for 1.8 billion Dollars to Google. He took home about 1 billion Dollars! Since 1984, Kahl and his company Jamestown have spent 7.5 billion Dollars on real estate acquisitions in the US, realising an average of about 20% p.a. for the company’s investors whenever the funds were dissolved. There are many reasons to explain success of this magnitude. One key reason being focus. Kahl has dedicated himself exclusively to the US real estate market for 30 years now. At times when nearly all German real estate players made a beeline for eastern Germany, drawn by the special deduction-for-depreciation program, he stuck to his key subject – US real estate. In much the same way, my friend Jürgen Michael Schick, co-editor of this newsletter, has focused on Berlin’s housing market for the past 20 years.
I personally will always put my faith in just such specialists – having invested in several of Christoph Kahl’s funds, and having bought several houses from Jürgen Michael Schick. In either case, I have been more than happy with the return on my investments. Don’t you agree that you would rather entrust yourself to a specialist than to a self-professed jack of all trades? Accordingly, the fourth chapter of my book, which retells the story of Kahl, discusses the importance of focus as a quintessential success factor.
Another chapter highlights the significance of networks – and the most successful ways to set them up. Most readers of BERLIN RESIDENTIAL INVESTMENT MARKET are probably accomplished networkers in their own right. Yet I am sure that few of them maintain as brilliant a network as Harald Christ whom I also interviewed for the book, and who shares some of his networking secrets in the second chapter. Christ spent his entire network setting up networks – availing him of access to the boards of major DAX-listed companies and top-tier politicians. For Christ, who has a proletarian background, this was the way to make a fortune of more than 100 million Euros by the time he was in his mid-thirties.
Another person to learn from is Jürgen F. Kleber who started as a one-man brokerage firm and now has a track record of more than 43,000 apartments retailed. To find out what you could learn for yourself from Germany’s most successful apartment retailer, see chapter 9 of my book. And I do hope that I have made you curious enough to take a peek! For excerpts of my book, please go to www.setze-dir-groessere-ziele.de. You may also order the book directly from that website.