Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions with Golub & Co. President and CEO Michael NewmanBy Hannah Linton on August 20, 2018
For nearly 60 years, Golub & Co.’s motto has been “we’re a family business that treats the business like a family.” But for the past two decades, President and CEO Michael Newman has steered Golub’s growth into a global company.
Newman, who worked as an accountant and then a mortgage banker straight out of college, learned the business the old-fashioned way, getting to know the company through his wife, Sheila, the daughter of Chairman Eugene Golub.
Under Newman’s tenure, Golub developed or acquired several notable residential and commercial projects in the U.S., and became the first U.S. developer to enter Poland.
Now Golub is planning its most ambitious project yet, a $1B redevelopment of Chicago’s historic Tribune Tower that would convert the landmark building into condos and add a 1,422-foot-tall skyscraper, which would be Chicago’s second-tallest building.
Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
Newman: I run an international real estate investment and development company, working to create living and working spaces where people and businesses can thrive.
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
Newman: It’s a toss-up: I’d be a trek guide for a hiking company or a roadie for Grateful Dead-related bands.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
Newman: It may not be the worst job, but it’s the one I was the worst at — a dishwasher at a restaurant when I was 16 years old. I think I was “relieved of my duties” after two weeks.
Bisnow: What was your first big deal?
Newman: I worked on the operational takeover and subsequent acquisition of 680 North Lake Shore Drive (formerly 666 North Lake Shore Drive) in the 1980s. It’s still in our portfolio today.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Newman: Due to the cyclical nature of real estate, everyone in our business has had tough deals. Failures seem to come when we, for whatever reason, have had to exit a deal too soon.
Bisnow: How do you define “making it”?
Newman: Obviously financial success is a part of it, but what really makes me feel successful is creating a company at which people enjoy and are proud to work. We’re really making it when we continue a legacy that can be passed down to future generations.
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Newman: I probably have more than a few. But, from a business standpoint, it’s “corporate buzzwords” like ping, curate, circle back and pivot (to name a few).
Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?
Newman: From a personal and life lessons side, my mother and father have been my greatest mentors and role models on how to handle myself. On the business side, my father-in-law, Gene Golub, has been a very important mentor to me.
Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you’ve ever gotten?
Newman: This isn’t so much best and worst, but I’ve received a lot of conflicting advice about “risks” from “Don’t be afraid to take risks” to “Don’t take too many risks.” It always seems to be about where people think you should be on the risk scale.
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Newman: Crazy hiking experiences. I returned from a trip to Tasmania. I also enjoy high-end tequila, but I typically don’t combine the two for obvious reasons.
Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
Newman: Chez Newman — seriously. My wife is a fantastic cook, and the two of us choose to eat at home over going out to most any restaurant. Those who know me well say I’m a bit particular when it comes to what I eat. I don’t have to special-order anything when we eat at home.
Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?
Newman: Hmmm …
Bisnow: What’s the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Newman: We take risks every day in our business, so it’s not about a single risk. We try to manage the inherent risk in our business, to allow for a long-term, sustainable business in a very cyclical industry.
Bisnow: Whose work do you most admire?
Newman: Elite athletes, professional musicians and people who can speak multiple languages.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
Newman: How to keep making it all work …
Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?
Newman: My kids, my wife, and, oh yeah, the Grateful Dead.