[quote style=”boxed”]Never over-leverage yourself on a project[/quote]
Michael Pistilli is the property director for Pistilli Realty Group, a family-owned business. Pistilli Realty Group has both residential and commercial rentals in the New York City area; the company develops properties with the intention of turning them into affordable rental spaces in desirable locations. Pistilli Realty Group prides itself on helping young professionals and families find great places to live or work in a welcoming community and values quality customer service that enhances tenants’ experiences.
Where did the idea for Pistilli Realty Group come from?
My grandfather, Michael Pistilli, founded this company. When he immigrated to America, he was involved in construction — his dream was to own a piece of property and manage it. With the help of his parents, he purchased a small, six-family building in Astoria. Over the years, his hard work became the vast portfolio that Pistilli has today.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts off by contacting my supers. We go over what needs to be done, as well as any potential questions or concerns a given building is having. When I arrive at the office, I delve into the task I’m currently working on. That may include networking, marketing, or obtaining proposals.
I try to ensure that my week is planned out beforehand to make sure I can set myself up for the most productive week possible. I find that planning things out works best, but of course, you have to expect a time when something just gets thrown into your schedule without notice.
How do you bring ideas to life?
To bring ideas to life, I consult my team and gather their input. After consulting them, we then bring in specialists, such as architects and contractors, who can offer valuable advice that will help execute our next project.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One idea that really excites me is our ability to transform once-rundown buildings into profitable spaces for people to call home. I also love bringing back character to what once was. Refining details in style is what drives people to appreciate the community for what it “was,” not something it wasn’t. Change isn’t always good, but perfecting the art of what something once was is better.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I like to use the skills and talent within the local community. Since our company is based in Astoria, we enjoy working with people who love our neighborhood as much as we do. Grow what you think people will love with the support of the community.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I ever had was when I took one of my first applications. I’d met the prospective tenants during the pre-screening process, and I really felt they were picture-perfect applicants. When I asked them about their credit history, they said they had “stellar” credit. I went on to tell them about the lease signing; I was determined to process them quickly, so I told them to wait in our waiting room. To my surprise, their credit was not only less than stellar — it demanded denial. I couldn’t believe how I’d gotten caught up in the process because I liked them; it skewed my perspective. Then, I got nervous because I had to break the news!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’ve learned not to get into such deep conversations with applicants; I’ve also learned not to believe in appearances. If I could start over, I’d go in with fresher eyes.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As an entrepreneur, I’m continuously trying new ideas and paying attention to what’s going on in the industry to see what may improve my company. I also regularly encourage the employees and family members who help me run the business to do their best. I’m grateful and continuously thank them for their help. I wouldn’t be able to run this business on my own, and I have them to thank for getting us where we are today.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
One strategy that’s helped grow our business is doing quality renovations. We take pride in being a luxury rental company, and each renovation has to stand up to Pistilli standards. We look for the best-priced materials, but we don’t pursue a project “on the cheap.” Never over-leverage yourself on a project.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure I experienced was expecting employees who were not tech-savvy to learn new forms of technology quickly. Being capable with technology myself, I didn’t realize that not everyone grasps concepts at the same pace. I have now learned to give tutorials on new websites and computer-adaptable software. This employee training has greatly increased skills and productivity.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
It would be great to have software that would enable clients to fill out a credit application with instantaneous processing. The final screen of the application would let them view the same decisions that we see. If they were indeed declined, the next link would give them an overview of their credit, and then link to someone who could personally help them repair their credit and even provide them with some sort of financial counseling.
Tell us something about you that very few people know.
I’m an avid gaming geek. I grew up on first-person shooters in high school. I find gaming a great escape from the work world. Rest and relaxation enable you to work harder.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I have to say that one of my favorite web services of all time is a cross-platform of building management and residential services called BuildingLink. This platform gives you hands-on experience on a personal level with the residents, along with the accountability of running day-to-day operations. The application offers the convenience of opening work orders from a smartphone, computer, or tablet.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One book I’d recommend reading is “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference” by Malcolm Gladwell. This book discusses how our actions can be influenced by our surroundings or little changes in our environment. One of my favorite chapters is the one in which the author talks about how Rudy Giuliani cleaned up crime in New York City by starting with the subway system.
Who is someone that has influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, has a unique approach when it comes to planning one’s daily schedule. Consider how busy the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company must be, and then think about the fact that he sets time for “thinking” daily. Thinking out your next plan of action is only the start of how your next move will land. Without a thought process that’s fully thought-out, there would never be any change in movement or growth.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.