Curiosity stimulates creativity. Have curiosity for everything. For everything that surrounds you, for unusual things, for every event that involves humanity. In summary, listen to the world out there.
Massimo Cimatti is a leading Italian entrepreneur and investor with more than 30 years’ experience in the real estate sector. He is the Chairman of the real estate group Agedi. His portfolio under management contains a number of important and valuable properties across Italy, as well as other significant assets in various parts of Europe such as Monaco and France.
Between 1994 and 2008, drawing inspiration from his father’s successful career, Massimo Cimatti founded and became the Chief Executive Officer of Gruppo Norman. The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was one of Italy’s foremost real estate services firms. It was during this time that he also served as Chairman for the company. While part of Gruppo Norman, he was not only responsible for developing but also implementing numerous broad-based, innovative and long-term strategic projects such as the very first social housing venture in Italy named ‘Oikos’, and a real estate asset management business (REAM Società di Gestione del Risparmio – SGR), the only Italian SGR whose shareholders are represented exclusively by Banking Foundations. To this day it remains one of the most important and valuable SGRs in Italy. Having a keen interest in corporate social responsibility, he also created the ‘Rising Sun Foundation’ and explored knowledge management and corporate training with initiatives like ‘Ragione e Sentimento’.
In 2008, Massimo Cimatti quickly noticed signs of the global financial crisis and sold a majority stake of Gruppo Norman to another Italian businessman and moved to Monaco to set his sights on expanding his interests and projects outside of Italy. In Monaco he was appointed Chairman of Agedi, a global real estate services company, providing strategic consultancy and estate management advice. The group opened in 1927 and has operations in Monaco, France, Russia and Italy. In its nearly 100 years of existence, the company has grown into one of the most important and prominent real estate providers in the industry.
In addition to all of this, Massimo Cimatti is connected to various industrial and financial associations throughout the world such as The European House – Ambrosetti, whose members are leading entrepreneurs. He is also the owner of many significant real estate investment initiatives within Europe and is considered one of the leading figures in the European property sector.
Born in Milan in 1961, Massimo Cimatti is presently living in Monaco and has business interests in many parts of Europe. While a truly committed and successful entrepreneur, the father-of-5 prides himself on being a devoted family man first and foremost. He believes that it is this dedication to his family which carries over so successfully into his professional life.
Where did your interest in Agedi come from?
Agedi is a well-established strategic real estate services company founded in Monaco in 1927. I took interest in Agedi in 2009, with the intention of continuing the legacy but also propelling the firm into the European market. Having previously founded a highly successful real estate business listed on the London Stock Exchange, Norman95, I knew I had the skills and experience to make a true difference in the growth and development of Agedi. At present, we have offices in Monaco, France, Italy, Russia and Luxembourg.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days tend to vary and are often spent developing new strategic projects at Agedi. To give an example, after being appointed by various Italian ecclesiastical institutions to manage their extraordinary assets, principally their real estate portfolios, I started travelling regularly, sometimes daily, to remote towns in Italy, visiting churches and estate properties left to such institutions.
However, my typical day starts with the news. As an avid reader of newspapers from a very young age, I make a point to read all the papers I can get my hands on in the morning.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am incredibly lucky to have a fantastic team at Agedi which supports me and on which I can depend to help develop my ideas and make them a reality. The hardest part about bringing ideas to life is having the stamina to work on them daily. For every idea, I develop a strategic plan with targets and goals which I can work towards. I celebrate with my team every milestone along the way. It’s all about the journey.
I also dream a lot, and dreams produce thoughts, which then bring ideas – many of which I try to implement.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I believe the old models of real estate transactions, i.e. ‘buy and sell’ are over. There is so much more opportunity when your mindset is to unlock value. Do you really want to sell the land you inherited from your grandparents? Why not create something which brings value to the town, city or region in which it is located, respecting the traditions, the culture and the history of the land? It’s all about being creative. Take for example a recent Agedi project: creating an engine hub dedicated to classic cars in an abandoned area, which we have for sale in Brescia; the city known for motor engines and the ‘Mille Miglia’, the most beautiful car race in the world which perfectly combines tradition, elegance and Italian lifestyle.
This is a good example of how Agedi serves its clientele, bringing together the best professionals and creativity; we build bespoke projects for each real estate asset we manage. As a result, we often help our clients visualise and then build businesses out of their real estate. That is one of the most exciting parts of our work at Agedi.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Dreaming, thinking, exploring. All with the common denominator of tenacity.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Pace yourself, take your time and trust your gut. Over the years, I have learnt that your instincts never lead you astray. Real estate is all about flair, so never underestimate it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Trusting others: it may bring many pains, but also immeasurable joys.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Always be curious and listen to others, not merely “hearing”. That is one of the many teachings I received from my father, who still represents a fundamental point of reference for me. And then, of course, work, work, work.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Curiosity, which stimulates creativity. Have curiosity for everything. For everything that surrounds you, for unusual things, for every event that involves humanity. In summary, listen to the world out there. I have successfully replicated that curiosity and hunger in my business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I would say driving myself too hard. At times, you can be so focused on reaching your targets faster and better than you can drive yourself to the ground. I learned with time the importance of patience and consolidating results and teams.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Enhance and give a new life to the immense resource of abandoned real estate, which is spread throughout the world. Imagine an ideal use for each individual asset and its potential. Start an alternative real estate management brand.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Last week’s drinks with my team to celebrate a closing. Team spirit is the essence on which to build a business.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The internet is a great source of information. In my personal life, it has allowed me to create proximity and bridges. I use FaceTime to speak with my five children who all live in different places. Last week all of us were speaking in a different country! Being able to spend time with my family allows me to be more productive in my professional life.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I have to mention both: Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson and the biography of Steve Jobs by the same author. Two geniuses from two different worlds, but with many common traits.
What is your favorite quote?
Many come to mind, but I will mention two. The first is of Nelson Mandela, a quote which is hanging on my blackboard in our kitchen, “a winner is a dreamer who never gives up”.
The second is: ” There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great”, a quote by G. K. Chesterton.
• Be curious: curiosity stimulates our creativity – this will always bring your business forward.
• Keep working on your projects and goals – with work, you will get there.
• Take a leap of faith, trust people – you may be pleasantly surprised.
• Team spirit is the essence on which to build a business.
• Be on a mission to unlock value in the world which surrounds you – you will only gain from it.