Million Dollar Monday

The World is your Oyster, Advice from Scott Wolstein

February 01, 2021 Greg Muzzillo
Million Dollar Monday
The World is your Oyster, Advice from Scott Wolstein
Chapters
1:05
All About Scott
2:50
Younger Days
8:11
Starting First Business
11:45
Taking the Business Public
19:07
Overcoming Adversities
26:09
Continued Growth with Starwood
30:37
Family Business
34:15
Big Dreams Now
Million Dollar Monday
The World is your Oyster, Advice from Scott Wolstein
Feb 01, 2021
Greg Muzzillo

Scott Wolstein has a long and distinguished career as one of the top leaders and developers in the real estate industry. As company Chairman and CEO of DDR, he led a successful IPO and grew its assets from $400 million to $16 billion, becoming a world-leader in open-air shopping center ownership, management and development.

“The world is your oyster. You can do whatever you want,” Wolstein explains to Host Greg Muzzillo on Million Dollar Monday. “You see an opportunity and you think its right for you, just go for it. Don’t think you have to have it all tied in a bow…if it’s a good enough opportunity and you pursue it aggressively, you’ll find a way.”

Chapter Summaries

  • 01:05 - All About Scott
  • 02:50 - Younger Days
  • 08:11 - Starting First Business
  • 11:45 - Taking the Business Public
  • 19:07 - Overcoming Adversities
  • 26:09 - Continued Growth with Starwood
  • 30:37 - Family Business
  • 34:15 - Big Dreams Now


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Scott Wolstein has a long and distinguished career as one of the top leaders and developers in the real estate industry. As company Chairman and CEO of DDR, he led a successful IPO and grew its assets from $400 million to $16 billion, becoming a world-leader in open-air shopping center ownership, management and development.

“The world is your oyster. You can do whatever you want,” Wolstein explains to Host Greg Muzzillo on Million Dollar Monday. “You see an opportunity and you think its right for you, just go for it. Don’t think you have to have it all tied in a bow…if it’s a good enough opportunity and you pursue it aggressively, you’ll find a way.”

Chapter Summaries

  • 01:05 - All About Scott
  • 02:50 - Younger Days
  • 08:11 - Starting First Business
  • 11:45 - Taking the Business Public
  • 19:07 - Overcoming Adversities
  • 26:09 - Continued Growth with Starwood
  • 30:37 - Family Business
  • 34:15 - Big Dreams Now


Click here to subscribe and receive updates when new episodes are available



Scott Wolstein:

He says, this is your competition. He says , the world is your oyster . You can do whatever you want. The competition isn't that tough. And he was right. You know, people who really are willing to pursue their dreams can be successful because so many people just aren't willing to really do what's necessary to pursue their dreams . Hello and welcome to Million Dollar Monday. I'm your host, Greg Muzzillo bringing you real successful people with real useful advice for people with big dreams. I understand big dreams. I turned an investment of $200 and a lot of great advice from some really successful people into my big dream Proforma. That today is a half billion dollar company

Greg Muzzillo:

I am excited to introduce our guest today. Scott Wolstein, Scott has a long and distinguished career, both as a leader in the retail real estate industry. And as a developer of successful retail, office, single family multi-family and mixed-use real estate projects . I am sure that most of you have shopped in or eaten a meal in or watched a movie in a property owned by one of Scott's companies. Scott study finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School. We will look past the fact that he's a lawyer and as a Buckeye, we will look past the fact that he went to the University of Michigan. Scott practiced law for five years, and then left that law firm to form his first company Diversified Equities. In 1993, Scott merged his company with Developers Diversified his father's shopping center development firm and formed DDR . He led a successful IPO taking the company public and ran the company as Chairman and CEO for 18 years. Under his leadership DDR grew its assets under management from $400 million to $16 billion becoming a world leader in open-air shopping center, ownership, management, and development. Scott, thanks for joining us. Excited to have you with us.

Scott Wolstein:

Happy to be here and thank you .

Greg Muzzillo:

Awesome. Well, since this is all about, since Million Mollar Monday is all about helping entrepreneurs and people with big dreams. Can you kind of go back to your youth and recall any big dream you may have had?

Scott Wolstein:

You know, I don't know that I had big dreams as a, as a child. I grew up in a household where I watched my father make himself very successful from a modest beginning. And I would say that I basically just took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to me as they came. And I tried to emulate his work ethic and really do the best I could do at whatever I was doing at the time I started working at a very young age at 13 by the time I was 17, I think I was working three jobs. Um, I just , uh, and I don't know that I did it because I wanted to get rich. I just did it because it was great to accomplish something. I think probably the most important thing that is responsive to your question is I didn't really have big dreams, but I never really limited the opportunities that presented themselves. I never thought there was anything I couldn't do. If there was something that sounded exciting and sounded worth pursuing. I always just assumed I'd be able to do it if I, if I worked a little harder than the next guy and that's kind of how I pursued my entire career.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. Great advice really in that is that I think a work ethic can drive through , uh, a strong work ethic can drive through lots of ups, lots of downs and get people on the way to where it is they're trying to go , big dreams or not. So how is it that you chose the Wharton school and the University of Michigan for your education?

Scott Wolstein:

No, that's a very interesting question that , you know, I went to Hawkins school for two years and the first year that I was there , it was an all boys school and I thought single-sex education was great. Um, so I applied to a bunch of Ivy league schools that were all male at the time. And then by the second year at Hawkins, I hated being in a single sex education school. And I said, I need to go to a school that's co-ed . And there were only two Ivy league schools at the time that were co-ed and there was Penn and Cornell. And the Wharton school is obviously it's one of the under graduate schools, the University of Pennsylvania. So I basically chose to go to Penn. It was funny because when my dad took me on a college tour, we had to go through Philadelphia. to visit Princeton and he encouraged me to look at Wharton while we were in Philly. And I kept saying, dad, it's a waste of time. I'm not going there. And he says, well, why not just look at it? I said, because I'm not going there. And he said , please just , just get out of the car and walk around. So I got out of the car and I walked around and low and behold, I ended up at Wharton and , uh, it was a great decision. I got a great education there. I loved it. Um , it really is a very, very special , university. It combined a beautiful campus with a city , experience, which is very unusual. So it worked out really well, but it really happened almost by accident.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. How many things in our lives actually happened by accident, but we seize the opportunity, recognize the opportunity in the accidents . So what led you to want to be a lawyer?

Scott Wolstein:

We had a long history of why in the family and I never really wanted to be a lawyer per se, but I thought that having a legal education would be a great foundation for anything that I ever did in my career. And it was , I did , uh, I went to Michigan Law, which is a great school. That was an interesting story in itself. I said , I'm only gonna , I won't go to a law school that won't be fun. And I looked at the best schools and there were only two of the top 10 schools , you know, that worked on the West coast, which was too far away that I thought I could enjoy. And they were Harvard and Michigan. I didn't get into Harvard. I got into Michigan. So I went to Michigan and yes, I was a Buckeye fan all the time. I was at Michigan, which was interesting. Um , but I had a great education there. And when I graduated, I practiced law for about four or five years. And, you know, I really glad I did. It's really been a great foundation for everything I've done in business.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. There's a lot of wisdom in that Scott sometimes , uh, my story is I really, within six months I left the CPA firm I was with, which is now Deloitte and Touche. And sometimes I wished I had stayed there a little longer because , you know, you don't learn anything in six months. And so I had to wake up every day and invent everything I wanted to do. And I'm sure, you know, you learned a lot of great business practices and networked your way to meeting a lot of great people I'm sure that were helpful for you. And those five years were probably very foundationally, like you said, important. So what led you to the first business that you started Diversified Equities? Tell us about that. And maybe explain a little bit, because I don't, I don't even understand the words of creating a specialized tax advantage investment. Give us a little background.

Scott Wolstein:

Well, first of all, I probably should say that when I did choose to practice law for awhile , it was a very controversial in the family because my mother very much expected me to just roll right out of school, into the family business. And I remember saying to my dad, you know, I'll never work for you, but some day I hope to work with you. So I went to a firm, you know, there was a very prominent firm in Cleveland. And I told him I'm pursuing this, you know, direction, because if I went and worked for you, I'm not going to learn anything that you don't already know. I want to be able to bring a different dimension to anything we do together. So by going to practice law at a major firm, I was able to really develop expertise that he never had. And , we were able to compliment each other years later when we did start to do some things together. Um, but anyway, when I was at the law firm, I specialized in limited partnerships and , joint ventures and limited partnerships back in those days before they passed the tax reform act of 1986, it was possible to create a structure where an investor would get tax shelter that would shelter his income. Um, so most of his returns would come from tax benefits rather than cash flow . And , uh, it was a very lucrative business. I was making a lot of people rich by, you know, putting together private placement memorandums for their deals. And , uh, I ultimately got to the point where I said, you know, this is fun, but the, the part of practicing law I don't really enjoy is the clients . So I said, I think I'll become my own client. And so I basically created a firm. Uh , and you know, when you talk about big dreams and vision, I worked with a guy it was just two of us in this department at the firm. And he was eight years my senior, and he was offered a partnership in the firm and I went to him and I said, Jim, I said, I'm leaving, I'm forming my own business. If you'd like to come with me, you can, but I'm leaving one way or the other. Uh, when I look back on that, I said, boy, what a lot of nerve, I was only 29 years old. And all of a sudden, you know, I'm hanging up a shingle and , uh , I'm running a business. And, you know, Jim , actually declined partnership in the law firm and joined me as a partner. And we worked together for 27 years. So what we did is we went out and pursued opportunities in real estate , uh , equipment. You used to get tax benefits for things like cable television. We even ran a river barge line on the Missouri river, which had a very good tax benefits, high tax credits, and a very fast write off . So it was a, it was a very interesting business that got you into a lot of different operating businesses , using the benefits from sheltering people's income from federal income taxes .

Greg Muzzillo:

Very cool. You know, you said something critically important, what a lot of nerve and , you know, you reflect back on that. And I think thing that separates So many successful people from people that just think about it, and maybe someday they're going to be in their sixties or seventies saying, I think I should have tried that is what a lot of nerve and , uh, for anybody listening that thinks they've got an idea, that thinks they need to go for it, just get a lot of nerve and you'll figure it out the rest of the way. Okay. So that takes us Scott then to when you decided to get into the family business and work with your father. So tell us how that all got started and then get us into the progression of taking the company public.

Scott Wolstein:

Well, as I said, you know, up until 1986, we were able to form these types of investments. Well, in 1986, they passed a law called the tax reform act of 1986, which I often refer to as the put Scott Wolstein out of business act because it basically eliminated everything that I was doing. Um, but the other thing that it did is it eliminated the primary social liquidity for the real estate industry. And the unintended consequence was a huge capital crunch , which basically destroyed the savings and loan business , because real estate asset values , plummeted as a result of the lack of liquidity in the industry. So my dad, you know, was a developer and , developers at that time used to have very large unsecured credit lines to fund their business. And he had one of the largest and the banks were all over him telling him he has to collateralize his credit lines, which was a very, very arduous, difficult thing to do. At the time I was aware of a company that was similar to his, that had gone public , to bring equity into the business. And I approached him and I said, you know, dad, I think I can solve your problem. I said, why don't I merge my company with your company and let's pursue an IPO and we can basically get the banks out of your life. We can raise enough equity , to run the business and grow the business. And , I remember he looked at me and he said, Scott, if you can do that, I'm out, you run it. Uh, I'll be very happy. And he became chairman of the board initially, and I became the CEO. We had a very successful IPO back in 1993. Uh, I think we were the fourth IPO of the modern REIT industry. And we were the first hot deal. If you will a hot deal is defined as a deal where you're over subscribed . And we were oversubscribed five to one. We had five investors for every share. Um, so we got off to a good start. And when you run a public company and your stock price starts by rising, it makes it very easy to access more capital. So the original company that we took public was about 400 million in assets , which today is a very, very small company. At the time it was a $200 million IPO, which was considered very large. Um, but we were able to grow the business rapidly. Um, and as it said in my bio, I think we grew the business to over $ 16 billion in assets over a period of 19 years.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. How did that feel? You know, for a lot of entrepreneurs who dream , and I've never gone public, everything I've done has been as a bootstrapped entrepreneur, how did that feel? Was the New York stock exchange. What, what stock exchange had to go public on, were you actually there to ring the bell? Tell us about that moment, that experience

Scott Wolstein:

Well going public was very interesting. And particularly at that time, because keep in mind, you know, we were knocking on the doors of banks and we couldn't borrow a dollar . Then we structured this offering, you know, on the New York stock exchange. And we would go and visit investors together on a road show , which we call it. Uh , and, you know, we'd spend a half hour meeting with a prominent investor and we walk out and we get into the limo and the phone would ring and they would tell our investment banker, we want to buy a hundred million dollars worth of stock so it went from, you know , not being able to borrow a dollar to having people wanting to invest a very significant, everybody wanted to buy 10% of the deal. So that was very exciting. And it was , we were giddy. I mean, it was really, you know, my dad and I looked at each other and we were just laughing. I mean what a difference being in the public markets versus having to deal with private banks? Uh, yeah , it's when we did go public, we did ring the bell. Uh , I rang the opening bell and years later on an anniversary of our IPO. I also rang the closing bell. When you're on the floor of the New York stock exchange, the day you go public, it's fascinating because what they do is they get a certain number of orders and they have a bunch of people offering their shares for sale. But oftentimes in our case, it takes a long time to find the price at which the sellers want to sell and the buyers want to buy. So I don't think , uh, the first trade happened until the afternoon. And, you know, your IPO price is $22. I think the first trade actually happened at about $24 and 50 cents. So the stock was up about 10% before anybody was willing to sell it was a lot of fun. It was exciting,

Greg Muzzillo:

You know , was your dad there with you?

Scott Wolstein:

Oh yeah, yeah. My dad was there with me and this was something we really, really had a good time doing together was very, very, very rewarding. Well , probably

Greg Muzzillo:

In addition to having a good time doing it , most of us, obviously all of us have had mothers and fathers. And I think it probably had feel pretty cool for you to make your father so proud of you also.

Scott Wolstein:

Yes, there's no question about it. I think that, you know, I lost my dad about 16 years ago and you know, every time , uh , a friend of mine loses his father, you know, I always tell him it's a very difficult transition because most of your life, you're really everything you do you're doing to make your father proud. And when your father is not alive, you're there and something good happens in your life. There's really nobody to tell because mothers always loved their sons . They always think their sons are the best person on the planet. And that father is , you know, it's a much higher hurdle to gain, you know, the, you know, the appreciation of your dad. And when your dad's proud of you, it's a very special feeling. And that's very sad when you lose that opportunity. Although, you know, he still appears in my dreams almost every night and it still feels like he's still around. And I really believe he probably still is in a different dimension somewhere.

Greg Muzzillo:

That's awesome. That's awesome. So what a high, high going public, having your father be so proud of you and more so on your way to building the $16 billion portfolio, can you share with us a significant struggle or two that you really had to work your way through? Because with the high high sometimes comes some low lows.

Scott Wolstein:

Oh yeah, because I was running a public company and I was chairman, I was chairman and CEO. I always believed that I should be heavily invested in my own business. And most of my net worth was invested in the company. And, when we get restricted stock grants as compensation they would trigger a tax liability. And I would typically borrow against my shares , to pay my tax liability. From 2008 , my company stock was trading at $72 a share. And I think I owned about 3 million shares of stock. And I had a modest margin loan against those shares. And then we had the recession of 2008 to 2010 and I lost more net worth during that. Uh, You know , I'm not too proud to say, I think that I lost over a hundred million dollars of net worth you know, because the stock dropped from 72 to a low of a dollar 56, and along the way, I had to sell shares to pay off my loan. So, and that was during that same period of time, I went through divorce, you know, it was , I would say that's the closest I ever came to being clinically depressed when I would go to my computer in the morning and I would watch my stock price, drop it before my eyes and my net worth evaporate . Um, so that was a very, very difficult time. And , uh, but I think it was a great growth experience. First of all, I think it was good for my kids to see that life isn't that easy, you know, that it has its peaks and valleys and you, you know, what really defines a person is how they respond to the challenges more than how they enjoy the successes. And then I remember I sat down at my desk and I said, okay, it's enough stop feeling, sorry for yourself, make a plan. And I would advise people to always do this. Uh , and I sat down with a piece of paper and I made a plan as to how I was going to dig myself out of this situation. And as you know, man plans and God laughs. I mean, if I looked at that plan today, it would be historical because I think probably nothing that I said was going to happen actually did. But , uh, but it pivoted me from being a victim. So being, you know, an attacker , um, and then I started to, you know, plot the next chapter was bigger and figure out how I was going to become successful out of this adversity.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. There's some great lessons in what you've just said for many business owners in today's world, clearly COVID has struck lots of business owners in a very, very difficult way and is causing them to pivot. And there's only really two responses is you're a victim or you're going to attack. And there are a lot of people that are just victims and they're waiting for things to return to normal and things aren't going to return to normal anytime soon. And I love your story of attacking because you put together a plan. And even though that plan necessarily, isn't what ended up happening is the plan itself. I'm guessing that caused you to get into the attack mode that then in being in motion and positive motion and in relentless pursuit of something led you to whatever was next and led you to some solutions, even though the solution, isn't what you thought it might be. Is that about right?

Scott Wolstein:

That's exactly right. I, you know, you set goals and you start to attack those goals. And by the way, you know, the people that you need to support you in that recovery and that next chapter, you know, they can sense that they can sense, your positivity and your confidence and what have you. And if you don't exude that, you know, nobody's going to invest in you. Um, so that's kind of a , I think it's really an important lesson. I think it's really very important to set goals and never think that they're not achievable , you know, I think that there's another lesson and that is on the way up when you're successful, you know, you really have to treat people the right way because when people ask me what is, has been the most important ingredient in your success, I always give them the same answer. The most important ingredient in anybody's success is all the people around. You have to be willing, able, and desirous of making you successful. There's so many people that you encounter in your career who could derail whatever you're trying to do, whether that's your employees, whether it's your people, you're negotiating deals with whether it's your bankers , vendors, what have you, you know, I think it's really, really important to all the way up the ladder to just always be a guy that people like to deal with and do what you say you're going to do, be honest, if a deal isn't right, it doesn't feel right just say, you know, we're just going to have to agree to disagree and move on. I don't think this feels right, but do it in a respectful way and don't be combative and don't be abrasive. It's not necessary.

Greg Muzzillo:

I'll tell you a funny story that relates to that my biggest customer in the very early days of Proforma was JB Robinson Jewelers. And , uh, I never wanted to just be nice to the buyer because I never knew who was next, who was going to other influencers. So at Christmas I would always bring this huge platter of finger sandwiches , for everybody to enjoy so that everybody would like Greg Muzzillo and Proforma. And I'll never forget. I never met Larry Robinson, who was the owner of JB Robinson's except one time I get on the elevator to go up to the eighth floor or whatever it was at JB Robinson Jeweler and Larry gets on the elevator. And with Larry, I think you probably know Larry also. And Larry Robinson gets on the elevator and I got this big, big tray and Larry Robinson looks down and he looks at the sandwiches and he looks at me and he says, ham sandwiches, how nice. All right. So anyhow, what led you to Barry Sternlicht and the opportunity at Starwood?

Scott Wolstein:

Well I decided to part ways with DDR and after about 20 years in 2011 and I was actually approached by Starwood really twice. Um, you know, the first time they approached me to see if I was interested in working together to buy a company that was very similar to the company that I had left and they were unsuccessful in that pursuit. They were the cover bid if you will, on that deal. And , uh, and then they continued to pursue a retail opportunity in the regional mall space and they called me again. And they said, you know, you think that , we know you came from the open air , uh, retail business, you think you could run a mall company? And I said, yeah, absolutely. I said, we ran them all portfolio in Brazil , I know the business very well. So Barry was somebody that I've known for years. Uh, you know, we were somewhat peers in the industry and so he asked me to come on. And first I came on as a consultant until we did our first acquisition, which actually is very funny because, you know, the first acquisition was about a billion dollars worth of real estate. And until we actually closed on the deal, we couldn't really put together a company , because we didn't know if there was going to be anything for them to do. So I was basically the only employee in the business, the day that we closed on the acquisition. Um, I was the only employee, it was the company that was running, you know, several million square feet of regional malls. And, you know, people would call the prior owner and, you know, somebody who was running a nail salon , would say I'd like to talk to you about renewing my lease and they'd say , well, we don't own the portfolio anymore. You'll have to call Scott Wolstein So I'm getting, I'm getting calls on my cell phone every 10 minutes from tenants all over the country, because I'm the only guy and I'm negotiating lease renewals with nail salons on my cell phone. It took me about six months to put together a team. And , uh, you know, we had we had a very good team, very capable people. And we had a lot of fun with it for awhile . Now I'm in business. As you know, the mall business is really challenged right now. And , I'm pretty happy. I'm not doing that anymore, but , uh, I'm actually now looking at an opportunity to take advantage of the distress in that business. I partnered with a major apartment developer and we are pursuing sites at successful regional malls that are owned by department stores or landlords to build multifamily developments on the parking lots of regional models, which I think is going to be a very successful strategy. So, you know, even out of distress, you can find opportunity. Yeah .

Greg Muzzillo:

What's so what's the attraction. There is that the mall with some of its restaurants and whatever would be connected to these apartments and living spaces and kind of a mutually symbiotic kind of relationship, what's that about?

Scott Wolstein:

Exactly. Yeah, exactly. The mall needs more customers. So having more people living on the site is positive because for the mall, by the same token. If you think about what exists at the bar, there's usually lots of restaurants, maybe a movie theater, you know, lots of shopping alternatives. So for an adult population that wants convenience and they want to live with it, you know, they don't want to have to drive every day to access those amenities, you know, even today they even have fitness centers, yoga studios , uh, just about anything you could think of. And also when you think about it, malls are usually the best real estate in every market where they exist. They're kind of a community center for the sub market where they exist. So it's very, you know, they usually exist in very convenient locations with great access and lots of parking and so on, so forth. So it's is a good fit . It's a good match

Greg Muzzillo:

What a great lesson Scott, because what you're saying is if you're persistent enough and creative enough, you can find great opportunities in concerning situations. And , uh, that's very admirable and I'm excited for you because it just makes a lot of sense. And so that's great. So finally, you're still focused on the family business somewhat. Tell us now about where that's at.

Scott Wolstein:

So, yeah, so when I was running Diversified Equities , you know, we started to acquire some real estate align, the Cuyahoga River, where the river meets the Lake in downtown Cleveland. It's a very, very unique site with lots of views of, you know, the river and the Lake. And , uh, you know, we started developing some restaurants and nightclubs, you know, but we didn't own the whole site. And there were lots of other operators around us back in the nineties. At some point, it got to be a very challenging environment , uh, with a lot of crime. And , uh, you know, again, we had basically, we got to a fork in the road, we had two choices. We could cut our losses and run, or we could take advantage of the distress and the situation. So what I did is I went to the government and I said, look, you know, this area really needs to be redeveloped. We can't, it can't be operated by 15 different landowners doing different things that conflict with each other. So, you know, if you'll give me the power of eminent domain to acquire the land that I don't own , I'll consolidate the site under single ownership and do a master plan and create a new community , which will give the public, the access to the river that really is going to make the project successful. Uh, and that's what we did. You know , we acquired everything we didn't know. We consolidated a site of about 23 acres , which is unheard of in a major city like this. And I remember RTKL, which was our land planning architect, one of the biggest firms in the world, you know, they looked at the site and they basically said, they thought it was one of the top two mixed use downtown development sites I've ever seen anywhere in the world. So it was a lot of fun. Basically. We demolished everything that existed on the property and we put together a plan from scratch and it's been a lot of fun watching it evolve. Um, we've built a high rise office building a hotel and apartment building, lots of restaurants, nightclubs. And when we're done, I think we'll have about 2000 multifamily units on that site, in addition to very successful office, building a hotel and really it's the entertainment center of downtown Cleveland. So it's been a lot of fun and, you know, it's been very gratifying.

Greg Muzzillo:

Awesome. So Scott, you know, you've been through some high highs, you've been through some low lows . You've been through some challenging times. You've turned challenging times and challenging situations into upward opportunities to create new wealth and rather than feeling sorry for yourself or seeing the down, you saw the up and many times, you've used that to create wealth for yourself and for your family. I know that you're a father of four and a very good father of four because we're personal friends. Tell me now that you've achieved so much, so many high, high, so many low lows and, you know, we're a little older than we were when we started all of these things. What, what big dream might you have now in your life?

Scott Wolstein:

That's a good question. I think that , um, probably more than anything else, I want to see my children happy and successful. Um, that's really more important than anything else in my own life. You know, I want to continue to pursue exciting opportunities wherever I can, but I would like to pursue them in a way where I'm not putting my estate at risk. I don't really want to go through what I went through during the recession again. So, you know, I look at things very, very differently. You know, I'm an older wiser person and probably I'm going to try to pursue opportunities with other people's money and , you know, taking a lot of risk out of my own , because I just want to enjoy my life. I just want to be able to wake up in the morning without having the stress that I have experienced along the way to the top. And I'd like to see my kids happy, you know and, you know, it's amazing. My kids are now all in their twenties. One of them just turned 30 and you never stop being a dad. I mean, you know, I think that I get a call from at least one of my children every single day, asking advice and asking a question, you know, how do I do this? What should I do about this? You know , my oldest daughter recently was staying with me during coronavirus because she was working in New York and she came to me one morning and she says, dad, I just got an offer, you know, to be the creative director at a big ad agency. Um, I don't really think I'm qualified. What should I do? And I said, you should take it. I said, because whether you think you're qualified or not, they think you're qualified and you, if you're not qualified, you'll learn, you'll learn on the job. They're not hiring you to be the CEO. They're hiring you to be a creative director. There's people there that can teach you, but never turn away an opportunity because you think it's too big. Uh, it's a great opportunity and you gotta grab it by the horns and run with it. And I know you'll be successful. And I think in your heart, you know, you'll be successful. So she just took the job. I'm very proud of her. And that's, that's probably the most rewarding thing that you can accomplish right now at this stage of life.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. So our listeners and the purpose of Million Dollar Monday is to inspire entrepreneurs and people with big dreams, as we close out our time together. What final pieces of advice might you have for aspiring entrepreneurs and people with big dreams?

Scott Wolstein:

You know, as I probably said before, but I'll give you an anecdote that I think really defines, you know, my philosophy more than anything else, right after I took Developers Diversified public in 1993, an opportunity arose to buy a shopping center portfolio. That was one of the real blue-chip portfolios in the United States. It was owned by a company called hallmark, which was a development division of Sears and the acquisition , the price of the acquisition was $500 million. As you recall, we had just gone public. And our total asset value was only $400 million. We didn't have anywhere near that kind of capital. But I decided this was an acquisition we need to make to put our company on the map. This is what we need to do to take the next step and really be taken very seriously in the markets. So I just went out and aggressively bid on that portfolio. I had no idea how I was going to pay for it. The guy who controlled the deal kind of took a liking to me, and he worked with me until I was able to find an investor which did, and we closed on the deal very quickly. And it was a very successful acquisition. I think , you know, if I was going to give advice to young people, that's the advice I would give them, you see an opportunity and you think it's right for you, just go after it. And don't think you have to have it all tied in a bow, you know, before you do it, if it's a good enough opportunity. And , uh, and you, you pursue it aggressively, you'll find a way, you know, you'll find a way, control the deal, then find the money. People will always back a young, energetic, smart person who's got a lot of enthusiasm and a great plan. And , uh, that is something much harder to find than capital, capital will follow successful people. Um, so you don't really have to always know exactly how you're going to get it done. Just know it's something you really want to get done and just pursue it and then figure it out. You know, just like I just told my daughter, take the job, figure it out on the job. You don't have to know it all right now you can figure it out. And, you know, that's what I would, I think that what I observed with people is they're their own worst enemy when they hold themselves back because they don't really think they are good enough or smart enough to do whatever it is that presents itself to them. And I think that's a terrible disease, you know, and that would basically condense you to mediocrity. Stop thinking you're not good enough. You know, I remember one day I was at a sporting event in a suite at the Cleveland stadium with a good friend who is now the Chairman CEO of Third Federal Savings. And my father was in the suite with us and he pointed to all the people in the stands . And he said to him, he says, Mark. He says, this is your competition. The world is your oyster. You can do whatever you want. You know , the competition isn't that tough. And he was right. You know, people who really are willing to pursue their dreams can be successful because so many people just aren't willing to really do what's necessary.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. I completely agree. Great advice. Great time spent together. Thank you very much, Scott. You're a great businessman, a great inspiration, a great father, and I'm thankful you're a great friend. Thank you for joining us today on Million Dollar Monday. Thanks, Scott . My pleasure. Thank you, Greg.

All About Scott
Younger Days
Starting First Business
Taking the Business Public
Overcoming Adversities
Continued Growth with Starwood
Family Business
Big Dreams Now