Mentor Series: Goodbye Friend
By Tim Moore
Recently, I learned of the passing of someone I considered a mentor in real estate. It inspired me to start a series on Mentors and the impact that good business mentors can have on people entering an industry. The first installment of the series is to recognize distinguished Hartford developer, Marc Levine.
I was fortunate to meet Marc in my late 20’s. I was working on a Hartford based project on the small business side and unrelated to real estate, but soon decided that I wanted to get involved in real estate and development. I decided to inject myself into the scene; learning the names of local (and non-local) players, projects, etc. To be truthful, I was enamored with the whole process and was in total, fake it till you make it mode.
While making my happy hour rounds on a Thursday, I popped into a downtown restaurant named Dish. Dish was frequented by politicians, brokers and developers and was a great place to pick up intel because of it’s proximity to offices downtown. I had been there numerous times, but never paid attention to a set of reserved seats on the corner of the bar. I inquired to the bartender who reserved seats at the bar and they replied “Those are for Marc, he’s the owner of the building. He comes in some Thursday’s and likes those seats.” I immediately typed this information into the notes on my phone. Marc - Dish - 530 - Thursdays.
I made it a point to stop at Dish almost every Thursday with the hopes of meeting Marc, and I eventually did. He’d sit on his corner with his vodka gimlet, entertaining friends, business associates, officials, eating various seafood dishes. I made sure to sit close enough to have the opportunity to engage in small talk with him, about what he did, his projects, his day, my project and aspirations. We eventually built an informal, but genuine relationship. He provided me with introductions and a type of gravitas that allowed me to engage in circles that might have been more difficult to penetrate. Despite not knowing much of his personal life, I looked up to him in a business sense and wanted to soak up every bit of insight he could give me.
One day, Marc was sitting in his seat waiting for guests. I seized the opportunity to occupy his “free” time. I asked “If there was one piece of advice that you could give someone entering the industry, what would it be?”. He laughed…I laughed nervously, because it was a canned question with an awkward delivery. He engaged me though. “One piece of advice” he said. “Alright, I have it. Remember this. Life is 70 percent who you know, 20 percent what you know, and 10 percent not taking “no” for an answer. How’s that?” At the time, I didn’t completely understand the weight of what he told me, I was just happy he took the time to give an answer. Only after learning more about the industry and life, could I begin to completely appreciate his response.
As Thursdays came and went, I spent quite a few happy hours with Marc. I even got invited to a few Tuesday lunches at Salute…a regular on his circuit. I remember the day I was with my fiance in Mystic and ran into him - surprised that he remembered me out of context…that meant a lot for a little guy. I wonder if he knew how much that meant.
Tim Moore is a 4x startup founder, real estate investment sales specialist and sales & marketing consultant. He writes about startups, sales and marketing. Follow him on twitter here