Harry Macklowe: Embracing the journey as part of the destination

January 15, 2015

The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series (DDLS) brings prominent industry professionals to speak at SHA most Fridays during the fall semester. For 2014, students worked in pairs each week to research, meet, and profile featured speakers, and then guest-blog here about the experience.

This week’s student authors are Armaan Kapoor ’15 and Jake Michaels ’15.

Meeting with Mr. Harry Macklowe last week was an absolute pleasure. Mr. Macklowe is an extremely intelligent, shrewd businessman, and we were fortunate enough to have hosted him. He is very passionate about his projects and career within the real estate industry, and told us a great deal about his career progression. Furthermore, Mr. Macklowe is dedicated to helping students, and offered us a great deal of advice for the future. He spent a significant amount of time with each student with whom he interacted, to understand the experiences, interests, and plans for the future of each, and so he could offer valuable, unique feedback; this is something none of us had experienced before, and it was truly appreciated.

There are two main lessons we took away from meeting Mr. Macklowe:

  1. You will have a successful career, but you don’t know how you’re going to get there, and that’s OK. Don’t over-plan your future.
  2. Mistakes happen; it’s how you recover from them that will allow you to define yourself.

Mr. Macklowe left us with an impactful quote: “Your only limits are within yourself.”

Mistakes happen; it's how you recover from them that will allow you to define yourself.

Mr. Macklowe started off in advertising and eventually transitioned into real estate later on in life after realizing his passion for owning and developing real estate. He always knew he would find success, but it was a matter of determining what his calling was. He advised us to embrace the same: explore in your younger years, and eventually, something will gain your interest enough that you’ll want to pursue it.

He told us not to feel as if we have to continue down a predestined track. One example of “this calling” was when he had the opportunity to buy a hotel. He instantly knew it was going to be successful and didn’t let anything hold him back from buying it. He knew this was his calling, and this was what he was passionate about, and he took a leap of faith. We shouldn’t be afraid to take the leap of faith — it’s what helps us discover what we truly love.

Mr. Macklowe advised us not to fear taking the leap of faith -- it's what helps us discover what we truly love.

Next, Mr. Macklowe discussed mistakes and how it’s inevitable they will happen. Specifically, he touched on the crisis of 2008 and how he was affected by it. He lost control of the touted GM building, in front of which lies the iconic Apple cube store which he helped develop and was extremely important to him. He also lost seven other buildings in the process, and it was an extremely tough time for him. What he discussed, though, was his ability to recover from his mistakes, become resilient, and not let his past affect his future. He has reestablished himself within the industry as a real estate mogul with his recent development of the 432 Park Ave building, the tallest, most luxurious residential tower in the western hemisphere. Mistakes are going to happen in our careers — it’s how we recover from these mistakes that defines us.

Mr. Macklowe left us with an impactful quote: "Your only limits are within yourself."

We had an amazing experience meeting with Mr. Macklowe, and he truly was a great speaker to end the class this year. All of us got so much out of meeting him, and he’s taught us lessons that, as seniors, we will bring with us into the next steps of our careers this summer and beyond.

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