Herb Weitzman, center, with real estate students at UT Dallas.

CRE Opinion

Herb Weitzman: Lessons Learned, Lessons Shared, And Why I Work With Students

Starting a real estate empire from scratch is harder these days, but the Weitzman leader says he wants to share his wisdom with the next generation.

“Any time you see a turtle high up on a fence post, you know he had some help.” The old quote has been attributed to author Alex Haley, but it sums up how I think about education and commercial real estate. And it’s one reason why I work with young people, not just at Weitzman, but through other venues – most importantly, The University of Texas at Dallas.

I’m at a place in my career where my name is well known, but I never forget that I did not get here by myself.

One way I’ve passed on the help that others gave me was through the 2018 founding of The Herbert D. Weitzman Institute of Real Estate at UT Dallas. The institute provides education programs and scholarships for undergraduate finance and business administration students focusing on real estate through the university‘s Naveen Jindal School of Management.

Beyond that, the institute provides me an opportunity to give back.

So many people have played a major role in my career. My parents’ retail store showed me the value of customer service. My father’s work with his few rental properties showed me the value of real estate assets as a long-term investment. Henry S. Miller, Sr. and Henry S. Miller Jr. put their trust in me, a young man barely out of college. They were the best mentors a young man could have. Above all, Henry Jr. showed by example how important it is to give back.

No matter how much you accomplish, it is how you care for others around you that shows how much you have really accomplished.

That’s why I love to work with young people who are new to our business or thinking about a career in commercial real estate.

It’s harder these days to do what I did — start as a broker from nothing, commission only, and build a business — but I want to teach the kids how to do that.

The most recent outreach involves the Born to Build Leadership Roundtable series, a program where I work with the UT Dallas Real Estate Club members.

Each week, students break down one or two chapters of a book I wrote with my wife, Donna, about the decade-by-decade history of retail and real estate in Dallas from the 1950s through the present.

You can learn a lot by looking at the great retailers and companies of the past and figuring out why some failed, and some are still with us.

And boy, do these students learn. And I learn from them. We join in Zoom sessions that started in February and will continue through May.

We discuss everything from the current real estate market, job searches, general questions, and more.

The students come away with, hopefully, more insight into the careers they are preparing for.

And I come away optimistic that our industry has a bright future, thanks to the knowledge and passion that I see in these young people.

Herb Weitzman is the Executive Chairman at Weitzman.

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