GSU CRE Course: Guest Speakers for the Win!
Georgia State University (GSU) believes in using CRE professionals to teach many of their GSU commercial real estate courses as the school sees the value of the professionals’ work background and experience.
I partner with Samir Patel, managing partner of Trophy Point Investment Group to teach courses, with Patel as the primary teacher and me assisting with guest lectures and guest speakers. Well-respected CRE professionals and my longstanding colleagues CBRE Sr. Vice President Jonathon Rice and Truist Sr. Vice President Lynn McKee are also CRE professors at GSU.
In that same vein, guest speakers are a huge component of the GSU CRE Entrepreneurship course as Patel and I also believe having real-world professionals share real-world experiences is invaluable for the students.
Making connections with these folks doesn’t hurt either.
Author + Founder Gary Chesson
Our first speaker in the most recent GSU graduate course was Gary Chesson, and he was awesome. Chesson is the Founding Partner of Trinity Partners and Trinity Capital, based in Charlotte, NC. Students were asked to read Chesson’s recent book “Creating Trinity: Blueprints of a Real Estate Entrepreneur & Investor.”
Chesson did not lecture during his visit. Instead, both Samir and I presented a list of questions to Chesson, based on our reading of the book, which he answered with openness and enthusiasm. Then, the floor belonged to the students—they could ask anything of this proven CRE entrepreneur, and they did. Fruitful and insightful discussions flowed.
Chesson’s book is an entrepreneurial roadmap, with all the key considerations on how to become a real estate entrepreneur, whether you seek to build a small or large company. He departs his wisdom in the book by describing his own road to success.
Chesson asked students to consider a few things:
- Do you want a partnership or a confederacy when you start a business?
- If the structure of a partnership is wrong, it could be a recipe for failure.
- If one person pulls more weight than another, it could be problematic.
Motivated to Do Deals
Graduate student Rob McAlister, Jr. says, “I have never been more motivated to do deals than after reading this book.” McAlister took the course, and as owner of Millrace Development, LLC, was inspired by Chesson’s words.
Having Chesson as a guest was a fantastic way to kick off the course and get students super focused on CRE entrepreneurship, right out of the gate.
Guest Speakers Inspire
Other inspirational guest speakers in the course included:
- Debbie Sonenshine, Realtor, The Sonenshine Team
- T. Dallas Smith, Founder & CEO, T. Dallas Smith & Co.
- David Birnbrey, Chairman & Co-CEO, The Shopping Center Group
- Vincent Hughes, Director Real Estate Corporate & Investment Banking, Truist