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Spotting Ideas with the Potential for Scale | Ward Kampf


Spotting Ideas with the Potential for Scale| Ward Kampf | 538

Matching content with context to get the most out of your ideas.

An interview with Ward Kampf about vision, strategy, and execution for taking ideas to scale.

Can you spot a good idea?
And when you do, how do you successfully find its best audience?

These are just two questions we examine with today’s guest, Ward Kampf. Ward is the President of Northwood Retail, which leases, manages, and markets a portfolio of over five million square feet of mixed use and community properties.

With retail facing constant technology changes, leaders are always trying to discover the next frontier. Ward shares with us the exciting way content and context come together to impact apotential consumer. Part of creating that impact involves staying relevant, fresh, and – if possible – first to market.

Searching for the next frontier means having to constantly examine new ideas. Ward explains why we need to step back, absorb the idea, and learn about it. Only then can you create a vision, strategy, and execution that can bring success.

We also discuss building relationships. Again, retail and thought leadership involve creating relationships based on trust, which means not always seeking to make a sale. Ward shares how some of his best relationships took years to develop before any business transactions took place, but that time invested has paid off in the long run.

Today’s episode is a great example of how thought leadership can have an impact on a wide variety of industries – around the world!

Three Key Takeaways

  • You have to have an open mind and a want to listen and learn. It’s an evolve-or-die environment. You can’t afford to become irrelevant or stale.
  • Financial and human resources are not infinite. Go where you can be your most productive with the resources you have.
  • It can take years to develop a business partnership. Investing time can pay off down the road when you are trying to sell a better experience and partnership instead of just a product.

If you need a strategy to bring your thought leadership to market, Thought Leadership Leverage can assist you! Contact us for more information. In addition, we can help you implement marketing, research, and sales. Let us help you so you can devote yourself to what you do best.



Bill Sherman Ideas and concepts need to be attracted to their audience. That’s true if you’re a startup entrepreneur opening a bricks and mortar retail store. And it’s also true when you’re practicing thought leadership. The question is the same Why would people come to you and spend time in your space or with your idea? That balance comes down to having the right concept in the right context. You have to really know your audience. Today I speak with Ward Camps. He’s the president of Northwood Retail, which leases manages and markets a portfolio of over 5 million square feet of mixed use and community properties. In today’s conversation, we’ll explore the balance of content and context for an idea. We’ll look at how to evaluate ideas when they’re presented so that you can spot an opportunity. And we’ll talk about vision, strategy and execution. I’m Bill Sherman, and you’re listening to Leveraging Thought Leadership. Ready? Let’s begin. Welcome to the show.

Ward Kampf Thanks for having me, Bill. Appreciate it. Appreciate your time.

Bill Sherman It’s a delight. So I’m looking forward to this conversation about how do you spot ideas, how do you identify which ones have potential and then help them to scale. And you come from the world of retail. So what I’d like to do is a little bit of a level set. Give people a sense of what your role is within the organization. What are you doing to spot ideas and communicate them?

Ward Kampf Well, I think my role within the organization, obviously president of North Wood Retail, but I come from a leasing background. And if you think about retail, you know, 70% of the GDP in the U.S. is consumption. And so we sit around and think about part of my job is what’s next? What’s the new frontier? And then I always think about content and context. And so just briefly, explaining content.

Bill Sherman Yes, please define both of those, because I think you’ve got a little bit different. Yeah, go ahead.

Ward Kampf So I think about context. Could be the city we’re in, the market we’re in. And then obviously the asset we’re looking at is kind of the context. And, you know, when I’m thinking about that, I think about whether there’s a tailwind of, you know, job growth, education, etc.. But I also think about what could we do to program this center place, make it make this center better. And so we’ve got to have those ideas. And as we’re thinking about content, and that is really the tenant mix, whether it’s restaurants, newer tenants, some of the digital tenants or we’re transitioning one of our centers to Lux, we always think about is it transferable, Does it serve the market? You know, is it first to the market, etc.? So that’s what we think a lot about in content and context. And then we think about size, you know, is it 250,000 feet that serves this market? Is it 600,000 feet in Austin? Is it 80,000 feet in Charlotte? So we always think about context because retail has gone through this evolution that is, you know, over the years it was the mall, always suburban America, just, you know, it was a million men and a half, 2 million square feet. That’s not the content and the context we think about because we don’t play in that space. And I think from 1960 to kind of 2010, that’s how people grew, right? That’s how retail grew. And then you had the discounters, etc., come along, Wal Mart, target, etc.. But if you think about. From kind of the late sixties into the mid 2000. So we had the rise of e-commerce. It was generally everybody grew to the mall. And what changed? I think technology really plays into the content context piece because technology really changed retail a lot. We’ve gone through a lot of different, you know, changes, and I’d say that’s everything from the iPhone to the iPad to an AT&T store, etc.. And then also just how people shop. You know, some people look at hours on their phone or they’ll, you know, they’ll be near a store and there’s a lot of geofencing that people can do, targeted ads. So I just think I think we think a lot about that as we think about retailers. What has changed, why we need to be so thoughtful about content and context. And so when we think about. The content. It could be a specialty grocer like Jimbo’s in North County San Diego with an Apple store adding better food. You know, bring in a newer, newer tenants like V or a Galliano jewelry, etc.. So that’s kind of how we think about it. Doesn’t have to be a million square feet. It can be highly productive in a small setting if you bring the right tenants and productivity’s kind of everything right. You want to bring an end, you want to be relevant in this environment. So.

Bill Sherman So let me push on this a little bit as well. You talk about not only the mix of tenants in the space, but really shaping the experience and almost a story and a journey through the space, right? Yep. And with that, I think becomes important because it’s not just context and content separately. It’s how they come together from the perspective of the person who walks into the space. Right?

Ward Kampf Correct. And they and they can all view it very differently. You know, I think content and context, the reason I use that is, you know, every market is different. You could go to a food hall. You know, I call that authoritative food, you know, of center. It’s got something for everyone, right? So, right, right. That’s that. We have that at Fifth and Broadway in Nashville. And so that is part of the content of that asset is we have one of the largest, you know, highest grossing food halls. And so there’s I think you’ve got to be very thoughtful of the markets you’re in. And like you said, it brings people together, the consumer, and then how we view that and what do we want, what’s our desirability? But I think it also goes back to being highly productive in this space, you know, if you have. 80,000 feet. I’ve seen guys that have centers that are very powerful because the content they put in there and I see Northpark Mall across the street from our office, which is probably one of the top three malls in the country. That’s almost 2 million square feet. So, you know, your perspective is supply demand. We always think about that. But I think more importantly, it’s like I do think the content is really what brings it together and what’s made things different. Because, you know, you think about it was always the mall. It was always kind of the department stores. Those were the it was formulaic. Yeah, it was very formulaic. And the general mall kind of 60, 70, 80, 90 mall guys, Simon DeBartolo, etc., those guys all had a very you know, it was call the department stores, go get 100 acres of land basically put all the same tenants and national tenants. And I think going back to content and context, one thing we really think about is who’s the great regional talent, but more importantly, who’s that great local tenant? We think that in context, you know, 15% of your tenancy could be local, but it could be 80% of the personality of the project, and that could be a restaurant. There’s you know, we’ve got a shoe repair store at one of our assets that people go to, a tailor sessions, parties, etc.. So we really think about what it is that’s local. That could be part of the personality of the asset. And I think that’s what makes things more unique and that’s what people are looking for.

Bill Sherman Yes. So whether it was the classical main street that you walk down and it very much a character town to town, city to city here, I want to ask the question of there are. Steps you take specifically to go into markets to find those tenants, Right, Whether they’re local or they’re local who are scalable beyond. And you and I have had a conversation around Drybar. I would love for you to share that story in terms of its origin story and how, you know.

Ward Kampf It was one of the you know, it’s really where things began to change. You know, you think about kind of ten, 11, you’re kind of the Dixie guys were starting to come up, but this new wave of tenants was already in motion. And so we go to we flew to L.A., we’re in Brentwood, and Allie Webb and her brother, I meet them and she has a concept she had her first one was open in Brentwood, and she explained the concept very clearly. I don’t do Color and Cart, Ali Webb, the founder, and I’ve been a stylist for 13 years. I’ve done this out of my van and we think we can take this and scale it. And when you take color and cut out. That makes it very simple. And then you don’t think about I got it within 5 minutes her. She was so crystal clear on what it was. But, you know, my daughter in her teens, who’s now, you know, in her late twenties to my wife, you know, too, we’ve got the holiday party. It’s girls that are ten going to their first, you know, father daughter dance. It’s the wife going to the Christmas party. It’s our workers. So they created something very unique. They carved a niche out of the hair industry that there was a need for. And it’s incredible. And it was proprietary to them. And now they obviously have transitioned to products which are sold in Ulta and, you know, very high-end products. So it’s a fascinating story. And it’s, you know, I truly believe founders kind of create this. You know, somebody obviously gave Ali the courage to say, hey, you need to go open a store instead of driving around L.A. So.

Bill Sherman Well, And this I think it gives a nice bridge between the world of thought leadership and the world of retail concepts. Right. Where an entrepreneur spots an idea, but on their own they may be working out of the van, whether they’re publishing online, sharing their ideas or trying to get thoughts out there. But then the same sort of thing of how do I reach scale? How do I get this idea so that more people encounter it? Because like you said, once it was in a store format, more and more people could encounter for sort of solution rather than just have to hope that her band would reach her. Reach that. Right. Right. And that’s the level of what you’re doing is just spot concepts. Yeah.

Ward Kampf So I would say scalable is interesting because not every you know, not everyone we meet with is scalable. I think there’s a couple of things that go along with when we see trends, the scalability, you know, obviously creativity. Most of the people we meet with all have the same story. You know, it was friends and family money. Their back was against the wall. They have a drive that’s different than your normal person. I mean, it is very, very street smart, hard work, creativity. And then you’ve got to think about the financial side. But I think as far as scalability, what’s changed is. You don’t just have to be retail. You can do a little wholesale and then you can be, you know, what really started in kind of around the 2000 tenner is the direct to consumer. And so they can reach the consumer and scale the business, whether it’s social media, you know, it’s Instagram. It’s real. It’s you know, what’s really been impactful is tick tock, you know, sheen as a as an app and as a retailer coming in is going to be huge. To move out of China is kind of the same. You know, it’s the Amazon of China. So I think what’s allowed a lot of, you know, different or new concepts to be scalable is the social selling of the concept and or short clip short format. And also, you know, if you think about traditional advertising, etc., A how to get the word out doesn’t live on TV anymore and it doesn’t really live in the newspaper. So there’s this new social selling aspect we’re rolling out of stores that goes along with the physicality of opening new stores, if that makes sense.

Bill Sherman So I want to ask you a question of how much of your work is looking ahead into the future to spot those next trends, whether as a percentage or just give me a sense of how much time you’re looking into the future for the next opportunity, the next consoles?

Ward Kampf You know, it’s all the time. I think that’s one thing, you know, that Northwood’s known for. Usually we do, you know, either first to market. I think in Austin we did 65 first or market stores. You know, we did the third away luggage store. So, you know, this is seven years ago when they were just starting out. So I think that it’s what we call, you know, the new frontier. What’s next? What’s the next frontier? So we’re always kind of on the lookout, whether it’s a restaurant, whether it’s a new retailer, whether it’s men’s or women’s fashion jewelry, apple to, you know, athleisure, etc.. We’re always on the lookout. And that’s, you know, either and I spend I would say I spend 40 to 50% of my time thinking about this because you want to be relevant. You want the offering other people don’t have. And it also gives you the one thing I kind of preach. You want to be the market taker. And I think Retail’s had so much retail, though we haven’t in the last ten years. But if you’re not the market taker, you’re just in the commodity business. And so what we like to think about, if we’re going to place make that you need these unique first to market or first tenants or best locals. And so, you know, that’s just kind of how we think about our business is, is, you know, we’ve got to keep it fresh and relevant. We also need it to be productive. So those are the things and we’re kind of known for that, that, you know, tenants will seek us out a little bit. They hear that, you know, we were we’re on the edge.

Bill Sherman So you say you’re spending 40, 50% of your personal time, but you also say Northwood is known for. That’s right. So how do you build that into the DNA of the organization and build that across so that the whole team is looking at it?

Ward Kampf Well, one of the reasons I spend a lot of time in is that my background is leasing. So that’s the heart and soul of what, you know, drives our centers. And I think, you know, whether it’s our leasing team, you know, we’ve got some of the best young, bright minds in the business. And I think having young people around in today’s world is very, very helpful. They come up with ideas. You hear about ideas that you aren’t sure of, and they have a lot of conviction around it. So you’re always learning. And so that’s one of the reasons I spend more time, is because there are all these different dynamics and there are these new concepts. And so as we, you know, whether it’s a marketing concept or a sponsorship concept, it’s not just leasing. It’s like, how does it all tie together? So, you know, as the ISVs have rolled out, you know, we did a sponsorship deal with Rivian. We’re doing some more potential store with them, so.

Bill Sherman You talk about young members of the team coming to you with ideas. We all know that not all ideas are good ideas and not all ideas are developed ideas. So how do you spot a good idea quickly, and how do you develop and support an idea that just needs a little bit of work?

Ward Kampf You know, I would say our young team. They have some of the brightest minds and, you know, they source it all from, you know, whether it’s watching some of the reality shows, you know, some of these concepts or restaurants, things, I mean, from social media all the way through to woman’s role daily. I mean, walking the streets, we do all that where they keep it fresh. Some of the spaces I don’t play or things I don’t I’m not necessarily into, but a lot of times they’ll bring stuff up that is real or is going to be the next big thing. So I need to step back, absorb it, learn and help them figure out how this is successful. I think your question, though, is spot on. Not all concepts work. Not all concepts are scalable and we see that all the time. You know, so not a lot, but we see it.

Bill Sherman So talk to me about that process that you go through where you say, I have to come with an open mind and listen, learn and absorb. What’s that like and how do you put yourself into that headspace to be open to new ideas?

Ward Kampf Well, I think you either evolve or you die. You become you know, you become irrelevant or you become stale. And so that’s not an option, in my opinion. And I think I think also, you know, we think about content and context. We think about high quality assets. You know, we have we have a grocery anchored center in Denver. We have a power center out in L.A., in Downey. And they’re very basic. You know, they’re more commodity driven grocery, Home Depot, very straightforward. But the real space or the real source that we play in is, you know, whether it’s. Great food, health and beauty. Health and wellness we play in, you know, whether it’s we’re starting to get into luxury now, the direct to consumer space, we kind of play in all those. So that’s kind of how you learn, you know, as things start to the transitioning of the way things are sold. So I think it’s you just you’ve got you really have to have an open mind. There’s a lot of things you want to say no to.

Bill Sherman And probably a number of things were initially you want to say no to and then you’re like, okay, let me actually think this through. Tell me more. Yeah. Yeah.

Ward Kampf I think the thing that helps a lot of people. He’s back to the story with Alex. She was able to explain Drybar in less than 5 minutes and really in about two or 3 minutes. And if somebody can do that. You generally know they have a pretty good business. If they can just reduce it down to what they do, what they’re good at. You know, we’re pretty good at then slicing that piece of the business because we’ve seen it so many times over our career. But not everyone does that. And so everybody has different styles. That’s what we focus on now.

Bill Sherman So thin slicing coming from Malcolm Gladwell in Blink. Right. Yes. Say a little bit more cause and unpack that. How does that become an advantage for you and for the team? How do you use it to evaluate?

Ward Kampf Well, I think, you know, I think part of our job is to mitigate risk. Right. You know, is this tenet scalable financially? Are they capable of growing? So I think that’s one of the ways I think about then slicing. But also I do think ideals are concepts. I can usually see him pretty quick and understand Will it work? Can you scale it? You know, is it special? And I think the one thing we look for, Bill, is, is the concept proprietary? You know, is it if it’s a commodity and it’s a Starbucks or McDonald’s, those concepts are great. That’s not what we do on a daily basis.

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Bill Sherman There’s a place for that in the world where people are learning something which is recognizable and familiar. But if you’re trying to create a place which is a destination that people are looking for something unique or they can’t find elsewhere, then you’ve got to do more curation and you’ve got to look and say, which are the ones that are going to create surprise, delight or, you know, repeat traffic, right, with people coming back again and again.

Ward Kampf Right. And we’ve had some fail. But I think one thing we’re known for at Northwood is tenants trust us and we can deliver and they know they can do volumes with us. You know, whether we have three stores, four stores, you know, we don’t have somewhere. We have 15 stores. We’ve got all types of grocers, whether it’s Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s. But I think that’s something that these newer tenants or these evolving tenants over the last 7 to 10 years, one of the reasons they come to us is they know they can trust us and we can deliver. And it’s you know, there’s always in retail been this kind of white hat, black hat. I don’t think it’s complicated. We’re really partners at the end of the day. I mean.

Bill Sherman And that leads to a conversation as well around authenticity. Yes, humanity. I would love to hear your thoughts on that in terms of the relationship, because that white hat, black hats, you know, how do you build the relationship and the trust that you need to go forward?

Ward Kampf You know, I think authenticity part of authenticity is the truth. I just think just being yourself, being candid with people, being open, and then I think the authenticity piece. We like. We have a street in Austin called Rock Rose that may be one of the in suburban America, which may be one of the most urban streets. It was a lot of the guys from Sixth Street that we were able to our partners were able to put together. They came up with this idea. These guys were tired of the bar scene in Austin down on Sixth Street, and we were able to just bring them to suburban America. In Austin, and it has been wildly, wildly successful. And so we’ve taken that concept and we transferred it to Charlotte. We’ve got something called the Bowl, and it’s a lot smaller. It’s about 80,000 feet. We had one of the original breweries in the South in OMB come to us like five years ago. Open them next spring. But. Having had that streak, we had the credibility that we could put this together. And it was really just changing out the content, making it smaller and scalable. So a lot of locals, regionals, it’s going to be very, very, very unique. But we actually, through our partners, learned you could pull this off and there are many of them, but I think it will be highly successful.

Bill Sherman So I know you talk a lot about the importance of vision, strategy in execution. And when we couple those three things with content and context, it’s a question of how do you get it done and what do you need to do to get it done right? So it’s not just about seeing the big picture, getting things done. Talked to me about that.

Ward Kampf You know, it’s a division strategy and execution. It’s just the way we explain our business. I try to keep it simple. I don’t say. You know, we are from coast to coast, from California to north to the Carolinas. But I try to keep the business very, very simple by just saying, you know, we come up with a vision. If we’re looking at a new asset or an asset, we are. And the vision is, you know, can we all kind of agree, are we going to they’re going to be soft goods? Is there going to be food? Is it going to be blocks? You know, what’s the idea? Then you go into the strategy. You know, what are you going to need? You know, resource wise, You think about that. Is it capital? Is it? Hey, is it a redevelopment? And then you go into the execution and that’s where the actual people in the rolling the sleeves up. And that’s where you know whether it’s. You know, convincing a tenant or working with a tenant to open a new market. Redeveloping the asset, bring in a new ice cream, coffee, you know, a unique toy store that we have out in the forum, Japan. Those you know, those are those are the things that make things special. So we just try to keep it, keep it that way. So I think vision, strategy and execution and then if you tied to content and context, that kind of fits with what our vision, strategy and execution is. It’s getting the right content and context. And so that’s those two marry together and that’s how you, you know, come out with highly productive centers. And I think it’s the productive other tenants know to follow.

Bill Sherman So I want to switch to a question around thought leadership, but it builds on what you just said and it’s about reaching your target audience, which are in many cases, those distinctive entrepreneurs, whether it’s the local business or the person who has an idea who can scale. But they’re category creating, for example. How are you using thought leadership or how were you reaching them so that they know that you’re looking for them and that you’re curious to hear their ideas? Because I think part of it is you could do the outbound, but in your world you also want inbound or people saying, Oh, we want to work with you. Right. Because yes, you understand. So how do you use that thought leadership and get the word out? You worship in that.

Ward Kampf You know, one of the things we do is we’re big on meeting face to face, principle of principle, whether it’s the CEO, the CFO, the real estate person. I mean, we are big on jump on airplanes, literally saying, I’m going to see X, Y, Z tomorrow. We had a leasing meeting we have every Monday, six or seven years ago. And there’s a concept in Seattle and Georgia. And I said, Who’s going to see this concept as a restaurant? No one, raise your hand. I said, I’m going tomorrow. And I think that’s, I think in thought leadership. It’s that kind of leadership that A, I’m willing to go. I spent the day I made new friends, you know, with this with this couple. They were moving their family. They’ve got really successful concepts. But I think that’s how you think about it, is like, I got to be the first guy in the door. You know why? Because if I’m not, my competition is going to be there. And so if I want the uniqueness of it, I’m, you know, every meeting is important. I got to be first in and I for sure have to be the last guy to have the, you know, the final say. So I think that’s really, really important to be kind of one of the first meetings. We were the tenant last week in New York. It said We met you three or four years ago. We had one store. We didn’t know what we were doing, that they now have 61. We have four stores within Gori on a jewelry out of Laguna. You know, the first meeting took us three years to do the first deal, but it was worth it. So it’s not always about the immediate sell. It’s about building the relationship, building trust and again, back to deliverability. And then ultimately it comes down. Can they be productive? And is it good for us? For both of us?

Bill Sherman Well, and I love that example from Oriana where you say, Hey, three years ago or four years ago, it wasn’t the right time, but we know we want to talk with you. Right. Right. Those are the conversations where you’re starting well, around third base, heading towards home rather than having to introduce yourself.

Ward Kampf Right. I mean, we met him. He said, you know, I’d never been to ICC. It was three or four years ago. Jackline, who works with me, we worked together for almost 15 years. He met her and said we stayed friends. He told her no, you know, for three years we’ve now done. We just opened in Nashville, Austin, etc.. But, you know, he reminded us of it took us three years to do our first store with you. Now we’ve done three in like 18 months. So it’s not. I think a lot of people think it’s all an immediate sell. What we’re trying to sell is not a commodity. It’s a better experience, a better place. You think about that, it’s going to take a lot longer. And the desirability of these tenants for the better landlords they are. We all want the same guys, it’s no secret. So you’ve got to separate yourself from the pack. And then part of the question is how do they find you? Some of them either it’s people we work with, they all talk. And so four or five of these tenants will talk about landlords they can do business with. We feel like we’re one of the four or five that’s at the top of the list. And so I think we’ve built that reputation to be able to be in a position to be sought out, you know, where it’s not always us. Being the one seeking.

Bill Sherman So I want to ask you a question personally. I know you and your team describe you as a voracious reader. So my question is, what’s on your nightstand currently and why?

Ward Kampf Yeah, I’d say both books. There’s kind of two. There’s one I keep running. I don’t know why I keep running into. I gave the team it. There’s a book by Annie Do. It’s How to Decide. And Annie Duke was a professional game. And she now I think she’s at and does consultative. But she helps people on Wall Street, etc.. And she talks a lot about recency bias. You know what? What just were a lot of people think will work again. What about resulting talks about decision trees? But most importantly, she talks about luck in kind of hard work and being able to understand that. So that’s one of the books. And the other book kind of ties to some of the same applications where it’s kind of practical intelligence and street smart and hustle. I think that’s what we are attracted to. And it’s Rich Paul’s book, my memoir, How I Changed the Odds. And for people who don’t know Rich Paul, he started Coach Sports. He was a kid that grew up in Cleveland. He was a dice player in his teens. He started selling jerseys and. He got in a little bit of trouble. And, you know, his fate was he met LeBron James in the Akron airport wearing a Warren Moon jersey. And now he’s one of the largest agents in basketball in all sports. And I think his drive desire where he came from I think the street smart the practical intelligence. We’re real drawn to people because I think these founder businesses that we’re discussing retailers they all kind of have this practical, intelligent, street smart. And I think luck is a true derivative of hard work. And I don’t think there’s any you don’t wake up and win the lottery. You know, you just go, yeah, that’s not how it works.

Bill Sherman That’s not a business plan right now. You’ve got to be more scrappy than that.

Ward Kampf But I also think people that are in the streets have really high observations and when they get in around really smart people, there’s a lot of people that can cite a lot of really good, interesting data. But the people that are really street smart are kind of understand, you know, how the how things play out. They’re really good listeners and they can take what they’re hearing and apply it to their business. Again, I go back to the practical intelligence, and that is just implementing what you’ve learned, what you’ve been educated or what you’re willing to go learn versus just reading books, you know, going through annual reports, etc.. That doesn’t tell you the truth. What’s in the streets or what you observe is really the truth.

Bill Sherman Well, that goes back to your conversation with the founder of Drive Power and our ability to articulate the idea in less than 2 minutes and your ability to evaluate that and go, yes, this is an idea and a founder that can make it work.

Ward Kampf You create 100%.

Bill Sherman And that ability on both sides really is needed for an idea to scale, because otherwise, if you don’t have someone say to believe in that and it starts, like you said, with the entrepreneur story of friends and family, but it also then sort of gets momentum, it snowballs. The ability for other people to buy in to an idea makes the difference.

Ward Kampf You know, And we’ve seen, you know, what’s interesting about the last couple of years because we’ve seen, you know, some of these concepts, Peloton, you know, they think, you know, we’ve seen, you know, the crash, right? I mean, we thought the second coming, we have won some of these concepts that were creative, thought, you know, the TAM, the total addressable market was, you know, much larger than it was. So we’ve seen we started to see the wheels kind of coming off earlier than most. And it’s unfortunate, you know, it’s a great product, but I think everybody thought. Everyone was going to have one in their house. And that’s not reality. Right. So.

Bill Sherman Right. Right. And I think when you talk from a TAM perspective, it’s easy to extrapolate the first few years of rapid growth and assume that the line will continue to go up at the same or increasing rate and before and then soon you’re promising you’ll have 16 billion people on the planet using your service or product. Then you’re like, Wait a minute, that’s not impossible. There’s only 8 billion.

Ward Kampf Well, and I think the other thing too, that’s changed is retail. You know, it was always, you know, can we get to three, 400 stores tonight? You know, who’s on the phone with somebody last week that said a retailer in Chicago went from 9 to 5 stores in Chicago is just as probable and doing just as much as the sales are exactly the same. So I think we grew up in an area, like I said, kind of from the sixties to the mid two, thousands of just like grow, grow, grow, you know, get three, four or 500 stores, you know, for the mall based Wal Mart, I think is at like 4000 targets. However, many stores are up. But I think it was always grow, grow, grow. And I think now it’s more about where is the consumer, how do we make it convenient? And I think that’s really what people need to address is like, it’s got to be convenience. You are fighting online. Let’s not.

Bill Sherman Confuse.

Ward Kampf Convenience is a huge, huge issue today.

Bill Sherman But that example of going from nine stores to five stores, it’s sacrificing its footprint to be able to serve a target audience better and say, we’re going to double down here because we know this is where our best customers either want to come or the experience they want. And we can do more with less when they have higher profitability, whether by square foot or by unit, etc.. And so this is the right choice and it’s hard to let go sometimes of that idea that more is better.

Ward Kampf I totally agree. And we’re seeing it play out in real time with the department stores, with kind of the Macy’s announcement earlier in the week. Is it real or is it just a real estate play? We don’t know. But even they have shrunk from 12, 1300 stores. I think they’re down to like eight. And they could get they could be half the size. Right. And they’re doing smaller formats. I think to your point, I go back to what I had been saying is, where can we be the most productive with our resources? You only have so much human capital and you only have so much capital. So like, what’s the best use of it? And that’s something we really think about, like human capital and capital and how do we make it the most productive, you know, and marry those two?

Bill Sherman And I would add a third element to that list of time. Right. Because even if you even if you had constraints on capital and human capital given enough time, you could make impact. But we don’t have it right on that. So as we begin to wrap up, Ward, I want to ask you and this is to go back a little bit in a time machine and ask you what advice would you give to your younger self, knowing what you know today about creating impact and spotting good ideas?

Ward Kampf You know, I’ve been in the business 35 years almost, and 35 years. And I think one thing of, you know, the younger self and have worked in every asset class, start in the mall space, that’s outlet, etc. I’ve done outlet, I’ve done power, I’ve done grocery specialty mixed use. So I’ve kind of seen all the asset classes. And I think one of the things is patience obviously, and. Also, when you’re working on long projects, whether it’s a development, whether it was Scottsdale quarter or the domain or, you know, we’re working on Valentine with our Northwood office partners, these projects can be four or five years and not everyone can finish. You see a lot of people midway through or, you know, in two instances we’ve had to reorganize the team just because we can see people get burned out. You know, it’s a long time from concept to actual development to actual opening, and it may be in phases. So I think the one thing is to tell my former self, this can take a long time, be patient, and it’s not going to happen overnight and just stay positive because, you know, you’re constantly the deals like that. They stop and start. They’re near death, you know, like eight times during the four years. I mean, you I haven’t been through one where you aren’t at the edge of a catastrophe and you just got to be resourceful to it. So my younger self would say everything will be fine, even though it’s not, you know, at the time.

Bill Sherman So as you talking about the starts and stops of detail deals and how long it can take, I’m thinking here I live in Las Vegas and Fontainebleau Casino.

Ward Kampf Just opened.

Bill Sherman Yesterday. And so an incredible brand in South Florida, incredible history. They were building a property here in Vegas and they got hit by capital crunch and the Great Recession in 2008 sold to private equity and it finally got control of the property again ten years later. And now 20 years after, you know, it’s actually opened as a property with their provision. So I think about that story in terms of how long it takes from the seed of an idea. And that building was sitting empty for 15 years on the strip. That’s an expensive shell of a building.

Ward Kampf Yeah. And you know, the so for family owning, you know, Aventura obviously has a lends to retail like nobody I mean I have a lot of respect to be able to hold on you know and then doing the fountain blue you know maybe one of the most iconic hotels not only in Florida but in the country and then transfer that to Vegas, where everything you do, you got to, you know, with the sphere, with the stadium. I mean, you got to bring Vegas is not a place where you’re just going to you want to be a market taker. So, you know, hopefully write it down. I saw some pictures today of it. And we know talk to some of the towns that were going out there. So congratulations to the Las Vegas for finally getting it done and to the team, because that’s a long time. I mean.

Bill Sherman There’s a long road toward. I want to thank you for taking time today for a conversation around the ability to spot ideas, to nurture ideas, and also then make sure that the idea gets executed. Thanks for Jonah.

Ward Kampf Thank you, Bill. Thanks for your time.

Bill Sherman If you’re interested in organizational thought leadership, then I invite you to subscribe to the OrgTL newsletter. Each month we talk about the people who create, curate and deploy thought leadership on behalf of their organizations. Go to the website. and choose ‘join our newsletter’. I’ll leave a link to the website as well as my LinkedIn profile in the show notes. Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing what you thought of the show.

Bill Sherman works with thought leaders to launch big ideas within well-known brands. He is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Bill on Twitter

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