Real estate execs: They’ve got time to kill
TitleVest's Christine Gagliardi proves that girls just want to have gun, blasting clay pigeons in her spare time.
The Magnificent Mr. Toad has nothing on real estate executives who do more than just shoot the breeze. Some of them shoot everything from alligators to wild boars. Others catch a breeze on their sailboats and kite boards.
These industry leaders are athletic, love being outside and are not afraid to learn something new that requires technical decisions.
“I’ve done a lot of crazy things,” says developer Steve Witkoff. “But I have not bungee-jumped — I have no intention of doing it.”
Instead, Witkoff manages to keep busy with other pursuits including sailing and windsurfing, and now wants the ultimate fast forward — a kite board.
“I used to windsurf very aggressively and then got busy,” explained Witkoff. “I am now determined this year to learn to kiteboard.”
He is not alone — at a recent industry event, he and another young developer, William “Billy” Macklowe, were in animated discussions — not about a prospective deal but about kiteboarding.
Macklowe has previously tackled ice hockey and ice climbing — he conquered the 14,410-foot Mount Rainier in Washington State — but says balance sports have always appealed to him. He grew up skateboarding, started windsurfing at the age of eleven, and has sailed all his life. Kiteboarding has a sailing component to it, he said, but with a “different rush because you are going about 25 miles per hour on a little board.”
He adds, “All these sports are technical, they require a fair amount of analysis, an understanding of the situation and how to execute, commitment and fortitude. To me, that’s no different than investing in New York real estate.”
Macklowe also plays his “obligatory” golf game which, like tennis, is the chosen leisure activity of many real estate executives.
Christine Gagliardi, managing director of business development for TitleVest Agency, admits she’s a “terrible” golf player for whom no amount of lessons were able to fix.
After a colleague suggested sporting clays — shooting clay targets going in various directions at different heights with a shotgun — Gagliardi took some classes at Orvis Sandanona in upstate Millbrook. She realized she had found her calling.
Now, instead of cocktails, Gagliardi brings together people over clays. These small outings with four to five people are a unique way to entertain and network with her clients. “I try to match up personalities when I’m arranging these excursions,” Gagliardi explained. “I also introduce them to other people who can help them grow their business. That’s what I really enjoy. And it’s a great networking tool.”
Gagliardi’s guests get to know her and her humor, observe her tenacity and follow-through and are encouraged by the group as they break or just miss the clays. Then they tell her: “I’m going to have to give you a title search now.”
Jeffrey Lichtenberg, executive vice president of Cushman & Wakefield, is another hunting aficionado who shared photos of himself with an alligator and large stag, both of which he shot.
“I wasn’t allowed to have a gun as a kid so when I grew up I wanted one,” explained Lichtenberg of reverse psychology at play. He learned to shoot while a youngster at camp in Pennsylvania, but when he grew up and visited a friend in Dutchess County who took him out varmint hunting, Lichtenberg was hooked.
He’s now hunted in New Mexico, Colorado, Maine, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida, as well as in Scotland and Argentina. Along with various birds, he has also shot bear, elk, deer, wild pig and alligator. “When we are not hunting we are fishing,” Lichtenberg says.
His ex-wife “wasn’t thrilled,” however, when he began taking his now-grown daughters fishing and later hunting. “It’s probably why I am so close with my daughters,” he said. “They love fishing.”