News from the Chicago Chapter

IREM 2017 Global Summit Remembered: Jim Vocos, CPM®



Jim Vocos, CPM®

IREM Chicago 2017 - Executive Council Member

From October 11 through 13, I attended the IREM Global Summit, held here in our home city of Chicago. Our IAE and the rest of the Chicago Chapter 23 council and governing council members also were in attendance. We attended educational and orientation sessions and were able to listen to some amazing keynote speakers. Here are some highlights.

On Friday, October 13, 2017, I attended the keynote presentation by John Foley, a former Blue Angel. Blue Angels are one of the most amazing air flight teams in the world. Blue Angel pilots are in the top 1% of the top 1%, a truly insurmountable feat. What can a property manager take away from a top-level pilot? A lot! The Blue Angels turn over 3 of their 6-man team every 3 years. The implication of this turnover is profound. The Blue Angels have a system in place that allows for new members to fill in for the old in a seamless manner. It is no longer about the individual: This is a company built on a water-tight system that produces outstanding results.

Mr. Foley went on to explain in-depth the system the Blue Angels used. This system is adaptable to almost any work environment, and if implemented could have a culture-changing impact. The system consisted of core principles that are impartial to rank or status.

Connect at the heart was another theme. Mr. Foley provided an amazing story of flying with Soviet Union pilots and how he and his team overcame tension by connecting with their counterpart pilots at the heart level. Their trip helped to ease some tension between the two nations, and Mr. Foley made a lifelong connection with what otherwise would have been an adversary.

Don’t hide things! At any office, one of the worst issues is for employees or executives is to hide their mistakes. These mistakes usually end up consequently costing far more later, compared to having the mistake addressed immediately. For the Blue Angels, this could be the difference of life or death. At a company level, this also could mean the difference of life or death of your company. Creating an atmosphere that welcomes admission of mistakes accompanied by a resolution of the mistake could exponentially save your company time and money.

Be open to criticism. Groupthink can be a company’s biggest flaw. Employees don’t want to veer from the pack or disagree with a supervisor for fear of losing a promotion opportunity or loss of job. In some companies, the culture does not encourage criticism from peers, let alone to your superiors. Mr. Foley emphasized the importance of welcoming criticism from all, no matter rank or experience. At the Blue Angels meetings, after each member of the team’s contribution, they closed with the concept of “Glad to Be Here.” The team members could take in criticism and show appreciation for the criticism by saying, “Glad to Be Here.” That simple phrase created an unselfish environment that promoted a thriving culture.

These were just a few of the takeaways from John Foley’s enthusiastic presentation. I certainly did not think a speech from a Blue Angel pilot would have a large tie-over or impact on the property management field. Property management is about as removed from a Navy pilot as it gets. Not only were there strong takeaways from Mr. Foley’s speech, but there was a road map for a successful company. To close his speech Mr. Foley emphasized the Blue Angel’s core culture phrase, “Glad to Be Here!”