CRE Success: The Podcast, S01E13

BERnard fernandez, agero group




business, commercial real estate, people, industry, founders, success, construction, workspace, guess, strip, podcast, membership, personal development, landlords, inbound, focused, successful, interview


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Welcome to CRE Success: The Podcast, where we help people working in commercial real estate achieve their professional goals. Check us out online at cresuccess.co/podcast. And now here's your host, Darren Krakowiak.


Darren Krakowiak:

Hello, and welcome to Episode 13 of the podcast that's made especially for people who work in the commercial real estate sector. My guest today is Bernie Fernandez. Bernie has run his own design and build business for over a decade in Melbourne, where he delivers a range of commercial fit projects. Bernie is someone I met when I moved back to Melbourne in 2019. And I was always really impressed by his positive attitude and his genuine interest in helping other people. With that in mind, I thought he would be a great guest to get on the podcast and, during our interview, he certainly shares a lot about his philosophies towards success.

Before we start that interview, I am excited to share some news that I've just revealed to the CRE Success mailing list in this past week, and also to my network on LinkedIn a couple of days ago: I've developed a new online membership product which will provide a platform to deliver live Q&A and coaching, pre-recorded training content and an exclusive curated community, especially for people who work in commercial real estate.

I've built this product based on the feedback I've received from people telling me that there is a lack of existing resources for people in the industry who are looking for coaching, mentoring and training that will help them advance their careers. So, this is the gap that I want to fill, and I'll be bringing in others to provide additional support to members of the platform. I'll have more to say about CRE Success: Membership on future episodes of the podcast. One thing that you should know now though is, that a small number of founding members will be offered a special introductory price, before the membership is open to the general public. If you'd like to know about that offer, make sure you get on our mailing list. That's the only way that you'll be receiving that offer, because I won't be offering it anywhere else. To get on the mailing list, just head to our website cresuccess.co and enter your email address when prompted. For example, if you enter your email to download our free eBook, you will automatically be added to the list of people who will be invited to join our membership community. That website again is cresuccess.co Now if you are listening to us after we've launched CRE Success: Membership, don't worry, you can still get on board exactly the same way that I've explained. And I promise the membership is still amazing value. The only thing is that the special founder pricing is only available to those people who join us, from our mailing list, in November 2020.

All right, for now, standby my interview with Bernard Fernandez of Agero and Sustainable Stripout starts in 30 seconds.





And now it's time for the interview on CRE Success: The Podcast.


Darren Krakowiak:

Bernie, welcome to CRE Success: The Podcast.


Bernard Fernandez:

Hey, g’day, thanks, Darren,


I want to ask you about your elevator pitch because at the start of each episode, we do ask all our guests to step into the virtual elevator and to give us their 20 to 3o second introduction. So, Bernie, who are you?


Well, I'm Bernie Fernandez. I lead a business I found about 10 years ago. It's in the complex commercial refurbishment and construction space. We do things like design and construct, and we deliver projects across a broad range of sectors, like office industrial and large format retail, which are my personal favorites. And, personally, I'm passionate about building, and building business, and problem solving.


Awesome. So how did you actually get your start in commercial real estate?


I always wanted to be an architect when I was young, and dreamt about building, you know, office towers as a kid. So, I pursued the career of architect, and I knew that RMIT Architecture was the best university, you know, we had in Melbourne so I put the focus on and went for it. And I got there and I realized when I was there that I was really good at being technical and engineering and, and great at practice, but not so much being creative from an architect's point of view. So I found myself pretty quickly employed in a fit out business, and it's funny, I when I was there, I just found this immediate sense of fulfillment and purpose. So, I just simply loved it. So, I think it was through early employment in fit out, that’s how I found myself in commercial real estate.


So, you were working for somebody else. And then, as you've mentioned, you've got your own business. So, what motivated you to, to start your own practice?


It comes from, less of that poetic romantic story about always wanting a busines,s and probably more about a from, a story of, going through employment and jumping from one employer to another. After I guess I came to an end of what seemed like the right amount of time; it's almost like. I started at one level at the at the bottom, and then learned everything I could from one place and then got bored at the end and found myself somewhere else. I think it was. probably, therefore an unhealthy mix of curiosity and hunger, that just kept me pursuing the next thing. And I found myself in business.


And what is that hunger for, Bernie?


I don't know, whether it was the pursuit of happiness to use, that movie title, just more, I always wanted to go that next step. And it might be, you know, if I reference, it's been referenced by a lot of people that those kids of immigrant parents have that hunger..I don't know, maybe it's part of that? My parents being you know, immigrants here, just got this striving need to get the next thing, you know,


And did opening your own business, did that help you find that next thing?


Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's almost the never-ending story, other movie reference. It's, it's, I haven't come to a single point, you know, in this entire journey, that I've been able to have my cup filled, and it just keeps going. So it's fantastic. I love it. You know, as I said to you before, I'm a problem solver. So there just seems to be that next problem. And that next problem, I haven't met a business owner yet, that hasn't got a problem to solve. So, so, yeah.


So what have you found as being the keys to being a successful business owner?


I've found that and this, this has come this comes from learning, so it's not exactly I've found these out for myself, but that getting the recruitment right, and people, is super important. Strategy and execution is extremely important. And, and cash management, they’re are four things that, you know, every business owner will probably reference and to give you some context, I guess, I kind of look at recruitment and cash management as in the context of another movie reference, but the matrix experience that Neo has when he sees the matrix, finally, when you get the people part and the cash part, all of a sudden, you can, you can kind of see what's happening in front of you. And, and then strategy and execution, it's effectively just deciding where you're going to go with your people and, and marching towards, towards that destination.


I love that, I think, um, well, I think back to a job that I applied for, which was a big role. And I talked about how the strategy was to treat the people, right, and then everything else would fall into place. And it's kind of like a virtuous circle once you get all of that moving in the right direction.


Absolutely, yeah.


Yes. So as the founder of Agero, which is your business, I think that you would have an affinity with other founders. So how does that influence the marketing of your business?


Hmm, you're right. I feel that there is a secret connection between founders, whether we are in a business deal, sense or not. On the other hand, you know, I'm one type of personality and to say that there's an affinity between every founder that's, that's almost saying that we're all the same. We're not, there's often times that, you know, I'll encounter an opposite from, from a personality point of view, but I think there's a there's certainly a deep found respect between anyone that's gone through similar challenges, similar journeys. So, I think respect is probably the essence of that connection. I also find it obviously easier than most to connect and understand that another founder’s vision and purpose and culture, so that really helps us in the workspace design point of view, just getting that understanding, right, and getting that the founder’s strategy. And I guess all of that, you know, to borrow another quote, you know, reduces friction to increase traction; all of that just comes to, it comes easier to me, and, and allows us to move forward quicker.


It makes sense. Moving along to your industry, which is the design and build industry. It's a very competitive industry, as anyone who works in commercial real estate and has dealt with a project would know. So how do you differentiate yourself in the market?


Well, there's probably two parts to that. I guess from a relationship point of view, I focus on being as genuine as I as I can be, and that can come at a cost because potentially, as you as you can probably tell them, I'm not exactly the conservative type, that may come across unprofessional in some circles in a conservative industry like commercial real estate. I do my best, obviously. But I am focused on being genuinely who I am, I guess I'm prepared to deal with the fact that maybe some of the some results or some, in some instances, it may work against me. On the other hand, I think it's really important. And what we're focused on, is that, I believe, we believe that the relationship aspect is going to diminish in our industry. So, we're focused a lot more on inbound business. And from that point of view, we're working really hard to get our positioning communicated well, and in effect that allows our broad expertise to be communicated as well as it can be to our target segments. I guess. I'm also a really big advocate of a of something that a fellow by the name of Ray Dalio says and he goes up, it's really important to have radical truth and radical transparency. And that's a principle that we're pushing through our positioning and our messaging.


Before we explore a little bit more of that messaging and that truth. You said something there about relationships being less important moving forward. So, can you just explain what the philosophy is there and why you've got that that opinion?


Why I've got that opinion? I spend a lot of time in, from a strategy point of view, going back to your, you know, the keys to business, I guess, a lot of strategy is trying to pick, obviously, where you're going and what the future looks like. And my gut says that we're likely as a as a species to move towards trusting data more and more, and therefore not depending on a relationship connection to make decisions, which is so prevalent in real estate. I believe the inbound element versus the outbound in our business in commercial real estate in is inbound just so underutilized in comparison to any other industry. It is. It's laughable. And, you know, it's not unusual for me to say that from a lot of people's point of view, I guess, because even at RMIT, you know, 101 in history, it's been the case since the dawn of human civilization, that construction and property has been the slowest moving innovating industry, in you know, known to man…it's literally the last to innovate. So, unsurprisingly, you've got other industries that are competing on, you know, Google, or SEO or so many other sophisticated mediums, construction is still relied on relationship, it just doesn't make sense.


You've brought something to mind for me, which is just about the use of content marketing and about digital marketing in general, which isn't so much used in our industry, but is obviously been used for many years in other industries. And perhaps that is an opportunity for our industry to create those inbound opportunities. Is that what, where you coming from?


Absolutely, absolutely. I'll give you something that you can grab some evidence from right now, if you jump online to Instagram and look at the number one that all the top real estate businesses in Australia and compare their followers to… I know, I know that pets that have more Instagram followers and some of the top businesses in property and construction.


There's untapped potential there.


Absolutely. Absolutely. So that's my focus. Going back to your question, you know, how do we differentiate? I think the inbound business, it's about positioning, expertise and getting that message out.


Well, speaking of positioning, you've launched a new brand recently called Sustainable Stripout. Can you tell me about that? And how that aligns with your, your brand and your values?


You're right. Well, that's exactly an example of our thinking. Sustainable Stripout we recognize even before the crisis is so we started working on this year and a half ago, it's we're aiming to dramatically lower the cost of strip out and provide a significant donation to charity, of the of the client’s choice, not of our choice. And we do that by diverting and repurposing construction waste from landfill. So, there's three elements there, which is, I'm so excited about obviously; economically, it's most much more cost effective way to do something, in this case, strip out, where we've got social procurement or social responsibility element looked after. And we're we've got sustainability ticked off as well. We found that from a purpose point of view, I guess, I'm able to move into something I've always been curious about, which is that contribution, so we're able to donate 100% of profit from these activities, which which is awesome. It's in effect a non for profit. So we're currently sitting on $10,000 to $15,000 worth of donation for every thousand square meters. Obviously from a we initially approach this from a environmental standpoint, for context purposes, it's really hard for me to get what the tonnage of waste looks like. But just to let you know that every CBD…Melbourne, Sydney, from what I can tell, is burying itself in fit out waste every five years. And that's just the CBD strip out…it’s pretty scary.


And just for our listeners who aren't so I'm familiar with some of the construction trends; strip out is just talking about when an office is refurbished, and all of the old furniture and carpet and everything else is pulled out of it. Right?


Yeah, that's right. It's also known as make good too. So it's got a couple of names, I guess, stripped out demolition, make good? Yeah, so we've always done that type of work. And even when I was employed, all those years ago, we were doing activities that diverted landfill. But it wasn't until last year that I got tapped on the shoulder by a client, Mirvac, right. And then maybe, I guess opened my eyes to the fact that potentially there's a there's a segment of, of our market that's willing to back us and they are and they told me about this initiative that the City of Sydney has called the building better partnerships. They helped me connect with their sustainability person, Kim Host, and we've, we've built this, this business or initiative from that…it’s pretty exciting.


I can hear the excitement in your voice. So I hope it continues to go well for you.


Well, it's we're aiming to launch our website by the end, in a couple of days. So maybe we'll be able to be able to jump online there.


Bernie, I know you're quite committed to personal development. So I want to switch gears a little bit in talk about that. When did the journey for you start in personal development?


Well, again, radical transparency here, I'll…It started as a kid, my family were always spiritual. They I was exposed to meditation very early on, I did these meditation courses as a kid or was told to do this. So I guess that makes it to ask you a question that started before I can even remember. And that's had a profound effect on my life, particularly at the challenging times. But when I when I arrived in business, I realized something, or something that became apparent was that the challenges that I've faced in business, were actually reflections of personal challenges. So again, that personal development part mixes into that fulfillment about business, which we're talking about. And recently, I guess another story there is that I had a had a really incredible experience two years ago, with a Tony Robbins event. And since then, I guess I’m on a rocket fuel charged development path.


Yeah. So what type of personal development resources do you do you invest in?


Well, the Tony Robbins stuffs really easy, obviously, it's kind of like its own doctrine, but I'm constantly buying books, I have an Audible account, which literally getting drained every month. And I also invest in a in a network called entrepreneurs organization have been part of this network for many years. And that's business and personal development, you know, gains. So, it's never ending, to be honest. It's almost the question almost refers to the fact that it's a separate element of my life. In fact, it's just simply integrated into everything, you know, every morning, every day. There's something that I'm growing into or learning.


Well, let me put another question to one thing that I've noticed in a lot of successful people is that they are very early risers. And I know that you're an early riser, you're one of the four or four something o'clock that you wake up, and I've never, ever just bought into that I've always been: I'll get up at around seven o'clock. And what is it about being awake before dawn that helps you get more out of the da?


A couple of things. So many people I hear about that I speak to ,everyone we know says, they don't have enough time. When you wake up at four o'clock in the morning, you've got a minimum of about three hours before anyone else wakes up or disturbs you. So it's not that hard. I just shuffled over the 7, 8, 9 or 10pm over to the morning where I'm aware I'm alone. I am it's as simple as that in some regard. But I guess what the benefit I get out of that time in the morning, you know I get to work on those personal development things. I mean, part of it is exercise. Another part is meditation that having that space, that quiet to do that. Quoting another person another influence on my life. Someone once mentioned that business is the ultimate sport and I believe in that concept. Being in peak mental and physical condition is just the ticket to the Premier League, right? So if you want to play in the Premier League, you got to do it.


So, what is it that you constantly and habitually do that helps you be successful in business?


Make sure I get the best sleep I can. That is a good seven hours, hopefully, starting at about 930 ish nine. I look to win the morning as often as I can, and winning the morning is part of getting those three hours or two hours in for myself exclusively, selfishly, just for me, I read a lot. And most importantly, most importantly, they're all important. But I make sure that my family and everything else that's important to me gets the best version of me when it's time to do that.


Love that. So Bernie in your business, you work with a lot of other commercial real estate professionals to, you know, share information and build relationships to support their business and also support your business. So I'm interested to ask you what you've observed as being the most common attributes amongst the most successful individuals who you work with in our industry.


I guess I'll probably pause and just define success for a moment, for a second, I think there's, I mean, what has been successful up until today, and what I believe will be successful from here onwards, in reference to what we said earlier. I think that there is that we need to be able to understand what will be enduringly successful in this current world, a couple of points come to mind: Triple A great character, you know, this integrity idea. I mean, I know everyone knows the words being thrown around everywhere in every culture, proposition there is, but integrity is, you know, simply just being true to yourself and the whole, I think, Triple A Grade character and integrity leads to attracting great relationships. And that doesn't mean, you know, business grade. I mean, that means support teams have that. I think success is tied to hunger. So many examples of that. Just you know, you get that hunger up, turned up to 11. And, you know, there's nothing that's inconceivable. I think success is dependent on being a great listener. And I know there's plenty of people have probably said, I've, I need to improve on that. And I've been working on it, I promise you. And I guess in look enduringly successful requires agility and adaptability. And those things take an open mind, innovation or being innovative. Being a Rule Breaker, and I guess, nonconformist. So, yeah. I haven't really answered what has been what's required to being successful up until today. That's what I believe success looks like for the future.


Darren Krakowiak:

That's a great answer. I really appreciate you sharing that. And I appreciate hearing about your success journey, to having your own business, what drives you. And I learned today, Bernie, that you obviously love movies. And I didn't know that about you before. So, I feel like I've learned something to. Bernie, I want to say thanks so much for joining us on CRE Success: The Podcast.


Bernie Fernandez:

Brilliant. Thank you, Darren, it's been great.



For more information about our guest, visit cresuccess.co/podcast. And now a final thought from Darren Krakowiak.


Darren Krakowiak:

Well, thank you, Bernie, I hope you enjoyed listening to that interview, and perhaps some of what Bernie shared will encourage you to start your own personal development journey. And if not, maybe you have at least been reminded of a movie or two that you want to see.

You've probably noticed that Bernie mentioned Tony Robbins during that interview, and I'm someone who has read my fair share of personal development books. And I started doing it more than a decade ago, probably before the stigma surrounding the Self-Help section of a bookstore had completely evaporated. Given what was discussed during today's interview, I thought I'd share who my favorite self-help Guru is: It's Brian Tracy.

Before the expert’s industry developed and before social media was a thing, Brian Tracy was on the speaking circuit. And he had written dozens of books, he has a compelling personal story. And he's focused on personal responsibility and self-discipline always resonated with me. Even though I'm not a fan of his prolific email marketing nowadays, I'm yet to find a book that he's written that I haven't enjoyed. And I've read at least six of them that I can recall.

On the other hand, when I tried to read Awaken the Giant Within last summer, which is Tony Robbins breakthrough book, I only got through the first few chapters, I don't know if it was the length that put me off, or if it was the writing style, but for whatever reason, I just couldn't get into it. The reason why I'm telling you this story is this: don't let the fact that you have tried personal development, and not like one or two authors, get in the way of your own personal and professional development. There are so many options out there now with so many modalities to consume content, like podcasts just being one, that I think there's definitely someone who will resonate with everyone. You've just got to find the voice that speaks to you.

That’s our show for today. Thanks for listening as always, and I will speak to you soon.



Thanks for listening to CRE Success: The Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure you subscribe to us on your favourite podcast platform and be sure to leave us a five-star review. For more information about the show, just check the show notes on your podcast app or visit us online at cresuccess.co

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