My message to the women and men of the class of 2022!

By Michael L Kehoe

“In my volunteer role as an industry leader and mentor, I attend commercial real estate career days speaking to university students about careers in commercial real estate. This involves mentoring students and young people entering or evolving their careers within the industry. This is a very rewarding endeavour for me and it is clear that the consumer real estate industry will be in good hands with these future leaders!

If I could offer only one tip for the future to the women and men of the class of 2022, sunscreen would be it!

The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proven by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering 45 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry.

I will dispense this advice now, take what you want and leave the rest but don’t say that I didn’t warn you or inspire you.

“Enjoy the power, confidence and energy of your youth; you will not understand the power and genius of your youth until it has faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and the amazing contributions you would make to the built environment …. you will always need confidence!   

Don’t worry about the future or be afraid of taking chances on your career moves. Work across the various disciplines in our industry, change firms, change your title, change your tie if you wear one at all.  The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind like some bad guy’s flying airliners into the office complex you manage on any given day.  

Do one thing everyday that challenges your employer and colleagues.




Don’t be reckless with your co-workers while working in a team environment and don’t put up with people who are reckless with you. Your reputation is everything, once it is gone…it’s gone.  




Don’t waste your time on jealousy with your co-workers or industry colleagues; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind … but the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself. Don’t let your career become a rat race, because even if you win you will still be a rat!

Remember the great commercial real estate projects you work on throughout your career.  Forget the mediocre ones that fail; and if you succeed in doing this, please tell me how.

Keep your press clippings, letters of recommendation and commendation - throw away your old bank statements.




Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do in your working
life … the most interesting people I know didn’t know at age 22 what they
wanted to do with their careers.  In fact, some of the most interesting 60-year olds I know still don’t!

Get plenty of sleep. In the fast paced, hard-driving, testosterone driven, Type ‘A’ environment that is commercial real estate, be kind to your liver and beware of the temptations of drugs and alcohol. The road is littered with those who did not look after their heath and mental well being. Have fun but remember, everything in moderation. Yogi Berra, the famous NY Yankee catcher and Hall of Famer, once said, “If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself”.  I say, “Why make all the money in the world and then get sick or addicted?”   

Maybe you will work in commercial real estate development, maybe you won’t.  Maybe you will work in commercial real estate leasing and brokerage, maybe you won’t. Maybe you will assemble the largest mixed-use development site in North America and earn a multi-million-dollar fee … What ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, but so are everybody else’s!

Earn your commercial real estate professional credentials, establish a track record of performance … People need to know that you can do the job, perform at a high level and inspire others to do the same!


Dance … even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own office if you have one at all.


Get to know your industry colleagues, you never know when they’ll be working along side of you to achieve future greatness. Be nice to your competitors; they are the best witnesses to your finest work and the people most likely to recommend you for new assignments in the future. Understand that your co-workers will come and go, but for the precious few that become friends and mentors, you should hold on to them.

Read the company policy manual and regulations, even if you don’t follow them.

The transformational movement that will gain momentum under your direction in the commercial real estate industry will be the concept of the “Triple Bottom Line” wherein entrepreneurial and profit initiatives are combined with social activism and environmental building practices and procedures. A win-win-win formula for our modern world, and our world’s cities that prove increasingly complex, challenging and dynamic, but abundant with opportunities. Great care, skill and wisdom will be demanded of you to ensure that the future built environment will result in better designed and more sustainable buildings and communities. You will need to be imaginative, responsible, cooperative and compassionate to realize such ends. You will think in terms of sustainable commercial real estate development, management and green building practices. Your generation must take ownership of this process. I challenge you and each individual member of your generation to take personal responsibility to seek out ‘Triple Bottom Line’ strategies!


Be a leader or get out of the way


Work in Toronto once but leave before it makes you hard; work
in Vancouver once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Work internationally. Canadians are well regarded in commercial real estate circles around the world and some of the greatest shopping centres and commercial real estate development projects on the plant have been designed, developed, constructed, managed and marketed by Canucks. Canadians are to commercial real estate development what the Swiss are to watches, the French are to wine or the Germans to fine cars. The world needs more Canada.


Be epic


Accept certain inalienable truths; rents and interest rates will rise, politicians will
dither and philander, you too will get old, and when you do, you’ll fantasize
that when you were younger commercial rents were reasonable, politicians were
noble and commercial tenants respected their landlords.


Respect your elders


Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a corner office and a Ferrari, or maybe you have a private jet and a professional hockey team; but you never know when either one might go down in flames.

Find a mentor, be a mentor. Be generous with your knowledge and share your career experiences with others. The intergenerational transfer of these intangible gifts will enrich our future leaders … and as you read this … that would be you, sir or madam.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will
look 85, if you have any left at all. I know.

Remember that the high performance and ecologically-intelligent buildings you will develop, manage or lease will deliver tremendously profitable top line and bottom-line performance. Don’t live in a fairy tale world of uninspired cookie-cutter development, blind to a potential ideological crisis that may threaten our industry’s ability to evolve or its existence at all. Don’t let me down!


Be good, do good



Have a social and environmental conscience. The commercial real estate industry is a wonderful capitalist, free market phenomenon. If the firm you work for does not have social, philanthropic and environmental initiatives, sustainable building practices, or related innovations and programs then start them & lead them. Do not leave it up to the corporations you work for or the industry trade organizations.

Your résumé and those of your generation will be evaluated on the merits of your professional performance in conjunction with your individual social and environmental innovations, contributions and stewardship.




Be careful whose advice you accept but be patient with grizzled veterans like me who
supply it. Career advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
re-living past commercial real estate triumphs and battles from the fog of war, recycling it, painting over the ugly parts and loving it for all it’s worth.


You will excel

But trust me on the sunscreen…” Michael L. Kehoe Commercial Real Estate Broker

“Michael L. Kehoe is a commercial real estate professional with forty-five years of experience in the retail real estate field. He has an international profile related to retail real estate, commercial real estate leasing, marketing and shopping centre management. Michael is the Broker / Owner of Fairfield commercial Real Estate based in Calgary Alberta, Canada. He worked for many years as a mall manager, marketing director and retail leasing executive and for the past 30 years, a real estate broker. He a member of the Middle East Council of shopping Centres and is the Lead Ambassador in Canada for the New York based International Council of Shopping Centres where he has been a member since 1982.”