Continually take honest stock of where you and where the company you are leading is and communicate that to partners and stakeholders
Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Mosser Capital Management Jim Farris brought his dynamic business acumen and years of experience to Mosser Companies in 2012, co-founding the investment arm of the storied family business. Since then, Jim has led Mosser Capital operations, negotiating $1.1 billion in debt and equity financings while raising over $1 billion in multifamily assets.
Jim is a member of several professional organizations in the real estate sphere, including the Urban Land Institute, the Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics, and Institutional Real Estate, Inc. As a member of the iREOC Board of Governors and Policy Advisory Board for Institutional Real Estate and the Fisher Center, respectively, Jim inhabits a leadership role in these strongholds of real estate management know-how. Always happy to share the benefits of his experience, Jim Farris is ready to offer up some of the many lessons he’s learned with the next generation of business leaders.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The original idea and business plan for Mosser Capital originated when I linked up with Neveo Mosser. I had a background in mortgage finance and Neveo had experience running Mosser Companies — a long-time owner, operator and investor of urban, multifamily real estate. We collaborated on the idea of combining Mosser with institutional investors in a private equity format. Together, we formed a new private equity vehicle focused on urban workforce housing which later became known as Mosser Capital.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Most of my time is spent in or around the office in downtown San Francisco, but otherwise traveling to see properties throughout the state or to various investor-related meetings or conferences. While I’m in the office I am typically moving from one meeting and one email and one conversation to the next – continually meeting with my partner and team members on both the investment management and operations teams to help develop our business plans for individual properties and portfolios and implement our longer term investment strategy. I spend significant time with my co-founder Neveo Mosser on a weekly and sometimes daily basis where we continue to craft and hone our shared vision for both short and long strategy as well as real time execution. I make my time productive by focusing my energy on value-add activities and putting attention towards achieving a prioritized list of objectives.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I run new ideas by my business partner and/or other respected thought leaders in order to test their potential. Once the potential of an idea is established then I look back on how it relates to what I/we are doing today and how it would relate to what we want to do in the future. From there I run an opportunity cost/benefit analysis to see if it is worth pursuing and what resources will justify bringing it to fruition.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Densification of existing cities for all uses of real estate and the resulting increasing use of public transportation. We’ve seen that the closer together people are, the more easily a community can then flourish. It’s a great thing to see, and it’s especially great to be a part of it.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am able to get to the heart of the matter quickly and distill the importance of facts from limited and often times distorted information. This process also allows me to find solutions to problems quickly and gives me the confidence to act on them.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Sometimes it is better to defer even when right – other times it is important to remain steadfast. The only way you will know the difference is with a clear head and through experienced efforts but no one does this perfectly so it is OK to fail and try again – but you don’t have to fail to learn and get better.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Continually take honest stock of where you and where the company you are leading is and communicate that to partners and stakeholders in order to avoid confrontations, miscommunications and mistakes that you cannot recover from.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I continue to seek value and avoid being limited by previously decided courses of action or historical behaviors. This is a business that often rewards creativity when done correctly, and outside-the-box ideas deserve to at least be considered if they come from a good place.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I tried to start a mortgage banking company in the early 2000s focused on home builders and residential referral networks, but the idea simply didn’t pan out. I overcame this by reinvesting in my education and focusing on what I was truly interested in, which was the investment side of the real estate business. This, and my passion for supporting thriving communities, led me to where I am today.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A TV show idea for “A Startup Life.” We’ve got shows about so many subjects–why not startups? I think it’d be fascinating to get an insider’s look at the way a business goes from a simple idea to a real, functioning entity.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Personal massage on business travel. For me, this allows my body to catch up with my mind and get re-energized for the next milestone.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Microsoft Outlook – email is still essential today in my business communications. In regards to operations I believe Syncrew is an excellent tool for fully integrated operating companies that perform construction related services in multiple locations.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
War and Peace – it taught me a great deal about humanity and history, lessons as important as any to be found in a business book.
What is your favorite quote?
“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I’ve always liked quotes that are simple, yet memorable. Take stock of your situation, plan accordingly, and act with confidence. That’s the way I’ve always operated, and that all hinges on being ready, whatever it is you’re about to get into.
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