Stephen Ross is the Executive Chairman and Founder of Related Companies, a global real estate company he founded in 1972. Related is the largest owner of luxury residential rental properties in New York and is renowned for developing mixed-use projects including Time Warner Center and the imminent Hudson Yards redevelopment on Manhattan’s West Side. Ross is the principal owner of the Miami Dolphins and is a primary donor at the University of Michigan, where he studied.
We sat down and spoke with Ross about some important milestones in his career, the key to success and his belief in always looking forward.
A Passion for Real Estate
I got involved with real estate because I knew it would have a lasting impact and there would be a real legacy of something we did. You start seeing the transformation aspects of what you can do to an area, city, or neighborhood; the more I did it, the more I really got involved in it and the passion grew.
Embracing Failures As Opportunities
One of the biggest turning points in my career has probably been the failures or the lack of success that I've had in different areas, which caused me to really look at things and make changes that would give me the platform to continue to grow. When I was working on Wall Street in investment banking, I got fired and I had to figure out what I was going to do next. I decided I didn't want another interview, so I really looked at what I liked best, and where the greatest opportunities were, and I wrote a business plan to start a real estate company. It was obviously a very important point. I look upon some failures or places where you're not successful, as being the opportunity to lift yourself and grow.
Building a great team and getting them to work together starts with hiring the brightest people you can find, and not trying to micromanage them. If you allow people to grow and develop as a team, you can ultimately build a great company because it's all about people. You're only as good as the people you have.
Flexibility and Adaptability
In life you have to be flexible with how you're looking at things, and try to be realistic at the same time. If you're doing something wrong, and there's a better way to do it, you want to change your ways. Adaptability is probably one of the most important things in understanding yourself and not getting caught up in what you believe, but also thinking about how other people are doing things. I think it's about learning how to really work with people and understand yourself; you can't bully everybody all the time to succeed.
To Be Successful
First of all you have to have the passion; I have a real passion and love for what I'm doing. I also think you can't look at just how much money you're going to make, you have to think of the impact you're having on the future, about doing the right thing and doing what's in the best interest of the city. If you put that first and foremost, you'll be a lot more successful. Every day has new challenges – you don't look back to see what you have accomplished in the past, I'm always looking forward.
The views of the authors of these articles do not necessarily represent the views of First Republic Bank.