You’ll make more money being a pessimist than being an optimist.
Aaron Gorin is a lifelong New Yorker and grew up on Long Island in Suffolk County. He went to school in Stony Brook and went to college and graduate school in Upstate New York at Cornell University, where he studied Economics and Health Administration.
From there, Aaron Gorin went into finance, first in management consulting and venture capital for biotech. From there, Wall Street he acted as an equity analyst for some major banks.
Following that, he had an entrepreneurial streak and worked as a consultant in a few different ventures before starting his own real estate investment firm, Cedar Grove Partners, LLC, in Woodmere, New York, where he currently acts as chief investment officer.
Where did the idea for Cedar Grove Partners, LLC come from?
We are from a suburban town in Long Island which has a lot of natural beauty. There are a lot of quiet spots with some great trees, some spots near the water, and many relaxing places to sit back and contemplate. I thought that Cedar Grove Partners, LLC had a very peaceful ring to it and the name stuck.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
There is no typical day here as we work in a fast-paced environment where each day brings its new challenges. Having said that, I typically will divide up my day between evaluating new business opportunities, whether they be from buying or selling properties in our geographies, prospects for new investors, making operational or strategic changes on one of our dozens of properties, getting involved in new hires or personnel changes, or thinking about economic conditions that should cause us to shift our investment strategy within the asset class. Cedar Grove Partners, LLC thrives on being able to invest and perform under a variety of market conditions, so we try to remain nimble even as we grow and scale.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We try to give new ideas space and a runway to live and breathe. One of the great things about our field, real estate, and investing in general, is that there are always new ideas being thrown at you, that you can explore and either commit time, energy, or investment capital towards. We try to make sure to keep an open mind to pursuing all ideas, even if we end up rejecting many of them. We try to empower our partners and employees to think outside the box about ways to generate returns for us, whether they be returns on investment capital, human capital, or goodwill within the community.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am very excited about technological change within the real estate world. The pace of change within the investment community, particularly on the private capital side has been staggering. In the past, many of these deals were “country club” deals where you had to have access to a staggering amount of money to invest in private property investments, and now the democratization of real estate has opened that up to many individual investors who are not looking to necessarily invest six or seven figures at a time. Further, the big data nature of property screening now allows investors to access data at their fingertips and make decisions from afar. This is not to replace “kicking the bricks” and on-site/ manual due diligence, but it also allows for faster and more efficient screening of the bevvy of opportunities that are presented on a daily basis.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am very detail-oriented and task-oriented, so I generally am regarded as someone who sees things through. With so many tasks in the air, it is important to get closure on each one so we can ensure that we are moving forward as a company.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’d tell the younger Aaron Gorin not to close off opportunities without seeing them through to completion, even if it’s not to fruition.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You’ll make more money being a pessimist than being an optimist.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Remain open to change. Many workers, particularly in certain fields, get the “golden handcuffs” where your opportunity cost to engage in and pursue alternate fields gets smaller the more skills you attain and the longer you’re actually improving yourself to accomplish tasks.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We really try to remain open to feedback both internally and externally. At Cedar Grove Partners, LLC, we are always seeking validation from both our employees who are on the ground every day seeing trends in the market. Whether that be on the appropriate rent levels, the appropriate staffing, the types of renovations or other operational tweaks that resonate with our customers — the tenants — as well as opinions from our vendors, bankers, attorneys, lawyers, and investors, all of whom have a wealth of experience to draw from that can help amplify our business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
A critical aspect of this business is accepting feedback and accepting that at times your evaluation of the situation was inadequate. Coming from a finance background, there are answers that appear to be black and white on a spreadsheet and there may appear to be a mathematical, financial, or other quantitative solution to a problem. But the answer may lie in a more nuanced approach that takes into account the people, politics, legislation, or extraneous factors that may be impacting your evaluation.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There’s a lot of money to be made in figuring out how to streamline many of the processes that are handled manually here. We still get a tremendous amount of paper invoices from banks, vendors, there is no reason that needs to exist in 2018. Finding some way to consolidate and manage all of these invoices as they relate to real estate documents is probably a money maker.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a really great keyboard that enhances my life tremendously. Typing as I do for so many hours per day, I have found that my hands feel better and my wrists aren’t strained.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use a lot of data services for streaming data on acquisition opportunities. I have created my own hybrid dashboard that consolidates the key economic data I look at, like interest rates, cap rates (proxy for EBITDA), REIT stock performance, and these types of things, on a Bloomberg Terminal that helps me get a snapshot of the economic drivers that shape our business on a high level.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Rich Dad Poor Dad” is a great book that is for people who want to learn how to manage money. For the more sophisticated investors, “Margin of Safety” by Seth Klarman is a cult classic that is the Bible for value investors in public or private markets.
What is your favorite quote?
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” – Mike Tyson
- Stay nimble and open to change
- Be willing to accept feedback and remain humble
- Remain open to new opportunities and take them as they come