Frank Farricker is the President of Lockwood and Mead Real Estate based out of Greenwich, Connecticut, a company that specializes in complex turnaround strategies for affordable multifamily residential projects. Frank earned a degree in East Asian Studies from The George Washington University in 1986. He returned to school to complete a Master’s degree in Real Estate Development from Columbia University in 1999. His real estate career began in New York City in the early 2000s, where he started by building affordable apartments and housing. Frank then moved on to overseeing the renovations of historic buildings throughout Brooklyn and Queens.
In 2008, Frank moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, where he founded the Lockwood and Mead Real Estate marketing firm. He created the company to focus on what he calls “special situation real estate.” Lockwood and Mead has a significant presence in the affordable housing and low income housing tax credit market in Northeast and Southern Connecticut, as well as some parts of New York. The company works hard to de-stigmatize affordable housing in areas that are opposed to its development, and is involved with around 2500 housing units in the last two years alone.
Both in the course of his work and outside of it, Frank Farricker focuses heavily on community outreach. He contributes to the Mary Fund, a nonprofit focused on providing care for the terminally ill and their families. He has also served on the board of CTE, a nonprofit group focused on community development and organization in Stamford, Connecticut, that is responsible for creating housing and job opportunities for low income residents in the area.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
In my 20s, I owned a bar in Washington, DC. The bar wasn’t doing very well, and one day, an old man showed up and took a seat at the bar. He was probably about the same age then as I am now, and he said he wanted to buy the corner that the bar was on to put a Kentucky Fried Chicken on it. He offered $150,000 if we could come to a deal.
Now, we were just tenants, so we couldn’t make that choice. He would have had to buy out our lease. I don’t know what was discussed between him and our landlord, but that deal never happened. The idea certainly left an impression on me, though. I was fascinated by the idea that someone would pay $150,000 just to obtain the rights to our lease in 1994. That was a whole different world to me, and one that I wanted to try to be part of. And it was a world that I pursued and stuck with, because to this day it continues to hold my interest. I love doing new things all the time.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
If I’m at home, I’m usually either on the computer or on the phone all day long, talking to people, analyzing projects, and basically just getting to any work that needs done. If I’m traveling, I generally spend more time on the phone and less time on the computer, but it’s otherwise fairly similar. I just try to be productive and look for ways to move the ball forward with all the projects that I’m working on.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It’s all about persistence. When you’ve got an idea that you know can work, you’ve just got to keep on chipping away at it relentlessly until you’ve turned that idea into reality.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I like crowdfunded real estate projects. I think there needs to be a bit more of a democratization of funding for real estate projects, and there’s something about the idea of crowdfunded projects that appeals to me. I’d also like to see more attention directed toward zoning reform around the country. There are a lot of potential benefits in that area, and I think we need to learn to be a bit more democratic in the way that we live amongst each other.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I work through puzzles as a way of getting my mind on track to unlock solutions to difficult problems. Taking the time to put a puzzle together forces a person to think and focus on something else for a little while, which can help when you need to step back and approach a problem from a new point of view.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My wife is here with me, and she has a good answer for this one: “Only date redheads!” If you’re guessing that she’s a redhead, you’re right!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that people are generally positive, and that there are very few things that can stop a person from achieving their goals besides themselves.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read. I can’t tell you how many people I know who just don’t read at all, and they have no idea what they’re missing. No idea at all. I read every single day and wouldn’t have it any other way.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Pivoting off of a niche. It’s important to have one thing that you do that others don’t do, or that very few other people do. That doesn’t stop you from doing all the other things that they do, but it gives you a distinct profile. It gives you an image; a link to the profession that sets you apart from others. A lot of professionals out there are doing the same thing as their colleagues. There are some people who do it well, and there are others that do it poorly, but unless someone is absolutely phenomenal at it, they’re all more or less viewed as the same. Opportunities rarely come to them because they haven’t distinguished themselves by doing one thing in particular that nobody else does. So, it’s important to find at least one thing that sets you apart from others.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I am terrible at raising or asking for money, and it makes me unhappy. That has been a regular challenge throughout my career. I overcame it simply by finding good people to work with who don’t have that particular problem.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There’s a puzzle, at least in my end of the business, that people haven’t been able to figure out, yet. That puzzle is how to make a place to live with zero energy costs. Anyone who can adequately solve that problem could write their own ticket. We have solar power and geothermal, of course. There has to be a path to it, and many people are trying to make it happen, but nobody’s totally figured it out, yet. The problem is the cost of maintenance and operation, which is usually too much, particularly on the lower end of the economic scale. Think of it from the point of view of someone who doesn’t make too much money: You’ve got your rent payments or your mortgage, and then you’re expected to be able to pay for a solar installation on top of that? For most people, that just isn’t happening. But the person who can make it viable will have an endless amount of success.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
If we’re talking about a hundred bucks, the best way to spend that is on a good meal, hands down. A good meal always puts me in such a great mood.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I live on Microsoft Excel. One of the stranger parts of what I do is merging numbers into non-number concepts. For example, how do you take the emotional appeal of restoring a project house and convert that into a budget with tracked expenses? How do you take those grand thoughts and reduce them to simple numbers? That’s what Excel is good for.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m not sure. I don’t read self-help books. I read for ideas and creativity, not for validation. I read things that interest me, because if they keep me interested, they’re likely to get my creativity flowing. Mostly, I read fiction, and I believe that people need to read fiction just as much as they read nonfiction. Read to stimulate and motivate your mind—not to absorb somebody else’s thoughts, but rather to grow your own. I don’t think there’s one book in particular that stands out to me as anything that I would recommend above the others. I don’t tend to choose a favorite book or a favorite song or anything like that. I just absorb it all.
What is your favorite quote?
“Wisdom is not a product of schooling, but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” — Albert Einstein
- Whatever your goals are, pursue them relentlessly if you want to find success.
- If you’re having trouble with something, take a step back and consider occupying your mind elsewhere for a bit, so you can return to the problem with a fresh perspective.
- Often, the only thing standing in your way is yourself.
- The best way to stand out is by doing something that nobody else is doing or offering something that nobody else is offering.
- Try to partner with people who are good at the things you’re bad at, and vice versa.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.