Dimitrios Neilas

Real Estate Professional

Dimitrios Jim Neilas is a real estate professional with experience in the commercial and residential sectors. Jim has been involved in various real estate projects, including acquisition, development, and financing, making him a well-rounded expert in the field.

Under Jim’s leadership, Neilas Inc. completed several successful projects, including the CUBE Lofts in the Little Italy Neighborhood of Toronto, which received positive attention from the public and media. Neilas Inc. also developed the sophisticated design and marketing of the Stage East Lofts in Toronto’s Leslieville neighborhood.

In 2016, Neilas Inc. underwent a rebranding and became Storey Living, a leading luxury living development company in Toronto. Jim’s vision for the new direction of the company was to create higher-quality rental units to meet the demand for better rental options. Storey Living is now known for its award-winning condominium projects and serves as a testament to Jim’s innovative thinking and leadership in the industry

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

My typical day starts off with me waking up, seeing my beautiful family, and spending time with them. Then, I work through a list every single day. It may sound repetitive, but it’s not – it changes every day, so I just literally work through a list of “to-do’s” every day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I tend to draw from other people – I really do believe 2, 3, or 4 heads are much better than one. I start off with a basic thought and then I try to get as much input on that as I can. That means typically talking to people who have different backgrounds in the same industry but play different roles in that same industry. For example, for something that’s on the design side, you would think it is easy enough to talk to a designer, but I would tend to talk to a real estate agent and get his input on what they think of that because ultimately their input matters. That way I can get as much input as I can.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I think the trend that I really love that I’m seeing today is how people make use of their homes. 10 to 15 years ago, your house was just a place to sleep. You go to the suburbs to have more space and to raise a family. What I’ve found over the last decade is that people want to do more and more in their homes. That trend started a long time ago, but now with COVID, it’s accelerated to the point where people’s homes are their castle. It’s become a part of work, part of family, part of leisure – they entertain, they sleep, they work, they raise a family. And when you look at the design of residential property and homes, they tend to try and basically give people as much livability as possible. That has become the key, so that’s the trend I think I love.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

Good question. I think it is the habit of going back to a list. I find that when I deviate from a list, I tend to rely more on memory, which tends to not really cooperate with you the older you get. I read a book a very long time ago, it’s called Getting Things Done, GTD for short, and the author was a salesman that started using his company to help other people get organized and eventually became the organization group in the market. It’s basically a way of putting things on a list and working through them.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would say it’s to have a little less patience. I know that sounds counterintuitive, typically you want to have a little more patience, but I think now at this age as I look back, it’s amazing how fast time flies. I think that I could have achieved more, and part of it is me thinking if I just had more time. So, you can’t be impatient; but sometimes waiting for everyone to catch up to you or agree with you can waste valuable time. You have to be a little more aggressive about your convictions and move forward, even if you don’t have the support that you need at that particular moment.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?

Post-secondary degrees have become very highly overrated to the point where I think it is hurting a generation of people and I think this generation from what I see is going through a lot of trouble and getting into a lot of debt. Once upon a time, a BA got you one of the best jobs in the country, and that was just a BA. Now, a BA is almost like a high school diploma, it doesn’t really amount too much. I see a lot of people chasing degrees and I don’t understand why they don’t focus on maybe more like a trade or something technical. I think that’s where a lot of people disagree with me, but I just see a generation that may become disillusioned because it comes with a lot of debt to get a degree that doesn’t really do much for them.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Figure out what you’re not good at. It takes a long time to actually figure out what you’re not good at. Even if you are successful, you could be more successful if you didn’t really do things that you’re not really great at — you delegate those to someone else. It changes over time and you may have been good at something some time ago but you’re not good at it today. I really find that’s the key to success, and I think it’s really hard because you have to be brutally honest with yourself. You actually have to sit down and acknowledge that you’re just not that good at doing certain things. Especially if these things are the ones you dreamt of doing, that’s the hard one. For example, my dream was to go to law school. I was called to the bar, having never practiced a day, and said to myself I never will practice, for a lot of reasons. I knew I could do it, but not very well. So that was my brutal honesty, so I think that’s a harder one to deal with.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

I step back from it and give it time, like a day or two, because sometimes you find you don’t really know why you’re overwhelmed. It could be volume, it could be the gravity of it, it has far-reaching consequences, it’s not just for you, maybe for your family – it could be a variety of scenarios.

What is one failure in your career,  how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

I would say not practicing law. I consider that a failure – not graduating with the grades I wanted to, not getting a good job right out of school. It forced me to take a good hard look at things, and instead of blaming the professor, blaming the job market, I took a good hard look at my situation, and that helped me come to the brutal realization that: “I’m just not good at this.” I think that really helped me move past it and find something that I love doing. I can’t tell you how many people were on the same boat and simply couldn’t take a cue. Sadly enough, I see them struggling to this day, about twenty years after graduating from law school.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I believe the hybrid work model is here to stay. I believe that there has been a serious life-altering or market-altering event and it has changed the world forever. I don’t think we’ll go back to a nine-to-five routine if we have a choice. I would say that that’s a trend that’s going to stay here, maybe not forever, but for a very, very long time.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I fell in love with Google Docs and Google Drive. I was introduced to it by my daughter who is the new generation, who knows new software, new tools, new approaches, and such. She sent me something to look at several years back and it was in Google Docs. I had to get myself a Google email which outraged me at the time. I actually had to do something to read a document and, what I found was the ability to collaborate on Google Docs and to have it saved in real-time. It opened up a whole new world to me. I would say that Google Drive and Google software makes collaboration so much easier. It’s just amazing to me that I will never go back to having my computer crash and having to wonder if Microsoft Word autosaved every 10 minutes like it was supposed to.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?

The Big Short, Michael Lewis.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

It’s called “We Crashed,” which is the story of We Work. I think Apple produced the show and I have to tell you it was one of the best series I’ve seen in recent memory, and I was amazed at the main character played by Jared Leto. I don’t know if the real character behaved quite like that, but if he did, it was some of the best acting I’ve ever seen – it was phenomenal. It was an addictive personality, you couldn’t wait to see what he’s going to do next, what he’s going to say, and it gave me a lot of insight. This may sound a bit odd, but as you know, it was amazing that he managed to grow something for that scale with the approach that he had, it was really amazing.

Key learnings

  • Find out what you’re not good at, it will aid in your success going forward.
  • Make a list of things you need to do each day to optimize productivity.
  • Keep an eye out for trends, and track the ones that are here to stay.