Career Insights from Asset Living Executive Vice President Michael Brown

Asset Living
Jul 20, 2022
min read
Career Insights from Asset Living Executive Vice President Michael Brown

Asset Living Executive Vice President Michael Brown joined the multi-family department in February 2022 with more than 35 years of industry experience. Brown is a seasoned property management expert who already had years of experience working for ownership and third-party firms prior to joining Asset Living. Based in Arizona, Brown now oversees day-to-day operations for West coast multi-family properties managed by Asset Living. In this blog, he shares his past career experiences, industry involvement, lessons learned along the way, and how the Asset Living values a reflection of his own personal priorities and beliefs.  

Tell me a little bit about your career trajectory. How many years of experience do you have, what types of companies did you work for and what were your roles?

“I started [my career] onsite in maintenance and was horrible at it (frankly, it was part of a training program so that I would know all the aspects of property management), and I worked my way through all the positions including groundskeeping, leasing, Assistant Manager, Community Manager, and [later became] a Regional Manager, Regional Vice President, Senior Vice President, Division Vice President, and President. These [roles] were [with] different firms over a period of about 35 years. I started [with] a company in northern California that managed both owned and some third-party sites. From there, I went to companies that were all third party to all owned to hybrid organizations of both owned and third party. I also worked for the RREEF Funds which was a privately held Pension Fund Advisor at the time. I spent 6 years at a REIT where I ran their western division and had the opportunity to flourish in a publicly traded environment. From there, I was recruited (leaving the likes of my former employer who was a top company to work for and listed on Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work) to apply my knowledge to run a company that had approximately 38,000 apartments (about 16% Tax Credit/HUD sites and 84% conventional which were owned by three public non-traded REITS we worked to merge into one). My role as President was to bring up the management company to a true Institutional Quality level, initiate KPI reporting, and prepare to merge the REITS and even go public. I [most recently] joined Asset Living in February of this year [2022] and currently serve as the Executive Vice President of the Southwest region. I am excited to grow the organization by tightening operations and continuing to provide amazing results for our clients.”

We would love to hear more about your industry involvement overall. Can you tell us what organizations or associations you are currently affiliated with or were involved in prior to joining Asset Living?

"Throughout my career, I have held positions on industry boards including local apartment associations and IREM. I was a past President of the IREM (Orange County, CA, Chapter), a Senior Vice President on the national board of IREM, and a national member at large with IREM. Additionally, I was a Director on board for the Tri-County Apartments Association (located in Northern California), the Apartment Association of Orange County, the Apartment Association of California Southern Cities (located in Sothern California), and the San Diego Apartment Association. Also, I was a Director for the University of California Irvine Paul Merage School of Real Estate. Being involved is key to knowing what is going on [in the industry] and having reliable professional friends to call on and share data.”

Before starting with Asset Living, what has been some of the best career advice or lessons learned along the way?  

“I have three key lessons learned over the course of my career:

Lesson #1: Once you let go of holding tight onto the reins, you can grow your career to greater heights. You must do this judiciously, but I learned from a dear friend early on while at RREEF that I cannot (and should not) control every aspect of how a result should be achieved. This is not just delegating responsibly, but [it is also trusting your team so] you do not have to know every detail all the time. Once I learned that watershed lesson, my career took flight.

Lesson #2: Do not be afraid to make decisions when you do not have all the facts. Many times, if you wait for all the facts to come in, you have lost the opportunity. [I was once] told that if you can get 65% to 75% of the data, use that [information] combined with experience to make a smart decision and move forward. Rarely is it fatal and you can change course along the way if, when and where needed.

Lesson #3: Follow up with whatever it is that you are doing and thus close the loop. Leaving things unanswered or unfinished keeps your mind cluttered and leaves those who are waiting unhappy and unresolved. Take the extra steps to ensure those you are interacting with feel closure, and – in turn – you will, too.

Lastly, my overall career advice is to read all kinds of articles and books [as a source of inspiration and knowledge]. One of the most impactful books [I read during] my career was Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” I [brought] that book to life by [hosting] a handful of two- and three-day retreats with my teams to bond and create a high-functioning workplace that incorporated these valuable lessons across all sites. In turn, we ended up creating one of the most productive and efficient teams in the company.”

Tell us about your new role at Asset Living and do you have one main goal/objective for yourself this year?

“My title at Asset Living is Executive Vice President of the Southwest region. Based in Arizona, my primary objective for this year is two-fold: Ensure operations are best-in-class and meet with current clients to ensure their property management needs are not only met but exceeded. From there, I expect our growth organically will be excellent.”

If you’re comfortable we’d love to hear which value(s) resonate most with you personally and/or professionally?    

Family has always been important to me. I have two sons of my own, and I am married to the love of my life, Wende (which is the reason I moved from cool and breezy southern California to Phoenix, AZ). We married late last year, and she has 4 adult children, one of which lives with us. I love them all dearly and was so grateful to expand my personal family. Family is also about your working family and my team in Phoenix is particularly important to me. We laugh together, press each other’s proverbial buttons at times, sweat together (when working diligently to help a client or neighbor in need), and shine together. Each person brings a skill that allows us to make magic happen.

Raised by a single parent who needed me to be independent at an early age – drive and honesty are qualities I have always known. I have worked since I was 12 years old when I started delivering newspapers for the Washington Post and Washington Star in Virginia where I grew up. I bought our family’s first color television with my route money. While I have worked [every day] since [the age of 12], I do enjoy working [and my career in real estate] very much.

As for impact – that is the ultimate result of all the other values combined. I love making an impact by helping my team cultivate and utilize their talents to their highest and best abilities while delivering exceptional results to our clients on a sustained basis. In doing this, we impact the lives of my teams on-site, the corporate teams offsite, our residents, and our clients.”

Since you started your role, what has been the most rewarding part of working for Asset Living?

“Personally, the most rewarding opportunity at Asset Living is having the ability to achieve excellence. We have some incredibly talented, hard-working, and dedicated individuals on our team who have been with Asset Living for a long time and have seen exponential growth. Managing through growth [can be a challenge], but there is a collective drive and entrepreneurial spirit [amongst everyone at Asset. I am also inspired] to help others grow in their careers by expanding their capabilities [while] having lots of fun along the way.”

For any questions regarding our properties or services, please feel free to reach out to us via our contact form. To learn more about available career opportunities by visiting Asset Living’s careers page.

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