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12岁起白手起家:纽约地产大亨的传奇创业生涯

Dinah Eng 2017年03月19日

12岁做作记账员,高中辍学后开始创业,历经悲剧后,终成人生赢家,听听一位地产大亨的自白。

“苦难给予了你对其他人的处境感同身受的能力。”格林伯格说。

图片提供 Michael McWeeney

我生活得非常简朴。1975年我26岁,当时我和女友居住在一间没有窗子的阁楼里。夜里我起床上厕所的时候,总是有老鼠在我身边跑来跑去。有天晚上我醒来时,发现我的肩膀上爬着一只老鼠。于是第二天我们就搬到我拥有的一套公寓房里去了。

70年代末,我开始进军合作销售模式,它的赚钱速度是私人投资销售的三四倍。接下来的7年里,我们通过这种模式帮别人卖掉了纽约的100多栋楼(大约10,000多间公寓)。

不久之后,我在市场就有了腾挪的空间了。我发现,我拥有的所有地产都在纽约市内,于是我开始在其他人忽略的或是没有注意到前景的市场上寻找机会。1985年前后,美国修改了房地产纳税法,“黑色星期一”出现了。一夜之间,我们陷入了巨大的衰退,崩溃似乎已经难以避免。

那对我们来说是个异常艰难的时刻。我们欠了一大笔贷款没法偿还,因为我们的买主也拿不到按揭贷款。随着房地产价格的迅速下跌,我欠的债比我手上这些房子的价值还多。我们只好卖掉一些楼盘偿还贷款,最终我们还是挺过来了。

1990年,我的长子亚历山大在一场意外中死去了。整整一年,我终日以泪洗面。当时我有两个选择:一是立即随他而去,二是继续活着,因为我知道,终有一天我会和他再次团聚。我选择了后者。

苦难给予了你对其他人的遭遇感同身受的能力。我的次子摩根从3岁起就患有精神疾病。2012年,他因为从一名出租车司机那里偷了20美元而被逮捕了。当他被讯问时,我才开始知道精神病患者在司法体系中会遭遇到什么。把他们送进监狱并不能解决问题,于是我创立了“格林伯格社会与刑事司法中心”,在该领域做一些倡议工作。

目前,乐观是我的工作动力之一。情况并不像市场显示的那样糟糕。在1990年东西德统一后,柏林弥漫着一种压抑的气氛,房地产价格也一路走低,于是我们在那里出手购买了一些地产。如今柏林已经是全欧洲最受青睐的房地产市场之一。现在我们正在荷兰吃进很多地产。

我完全没有预见到2008年的金融危机。当时我感到十分恐惧,但我的工作就是要竭尽所能做到最好。我们做出了一些牺牲,采取了降薪等策略以避免裁员。

每个成功的商人都应该参与慈善活动。成功果实最好的用处之一就是回馈社会。我父亲以前总是为钱操心。我想,如果他知道了我日后的成就,他一定会感到十分震惊和骄傲。

我的建议

Time Equities公司CEO弗朗西斯·格林伯格

练习独立思考

全世界有很多人都觉得纽约是一个投资圣地,它确实是。但如果投资的代价太高,你就要重新考虑了。目前,我不认为在纽约进行投资性购房的优缺点是等价的。

去找能掌控问题的人

如果你付不起租金,你可能会想向家人借,或是向银行申请贷款。但真正能掌控问题的人是房东。所以在房租到期前,你可以去和房东谈谈,寻找一个解决方案。

每天要早起,做事要有条理

我每天早上四点钟就起床了,收发电子邮件或打电话,一直到早上9点,这个时候一般就要开会了。我是一个非常有条理的人,我有两名行政助理和一位办公室主任,他们也为我提供了非常好的支持。我还有一个虚拟办公室,并且保持着严格的工作纪律,这样即便是我在出差时,我也能随时掌握公司的最新动态。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

I lived very modestly. In 1975, I was 26 and living with a girlfriend in a loft with no windows. If I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, there were always mice running around. One night I woke up with a mouse on my shoulder; we moved the next day to an apartment in a building I owned.

In the late ’70s, I moved into co-op sales, which made three to four times what you’d get in a private investment sale. Over the next seven years, we converted 100 buildings in New York, approximately 10,000 apartments, into co-ops.

Not long after, I had room to breathe. I realized that all the property I owned was in New York City. I began to look for markets that others were ignoring or not seeing potential in. Around 1985 I started buying property out of town. Two years later there was a change in real estate tax law, and Black Monday occurred. Suddenly we were in a major recession that spiraled into the S&L collapse.

It was a very difficult time for us. We had loans we couldn’t pay because our buyers couldn’t get mortgages. The value of the buildings went down, and I owed more than the buildings were worth, so we sold some buildings to pay the loans. Somehow we survived.

Then, in 1990, my first son, Alexander, died in an accident. I cried every day for one year. I had two choices: to join him in the hereafter, or go on living and know that I will join him eventually. I chose the latter.

Hardships give you an ability to empathize with others. My second son, Morgan, has suffered from mental illness since he was 3. In 2012 he was arrested for stealing $20 from a taxi driver. When he was tried, I started studying what happens to mentally ill people in the justice system. Sending them to prison is not the answer, so I founded the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice to do advocacy work.

Part of what drives me is a sense of optimism. Things are not as bad as the market indicates. Berlin was depressed after Germany unified in 1990, and real estate became inexpensive, so we bought there. Today, Berlin is one of the favored real estate places in Europe. We’re now buying a lot in Holland.

I didn’t see 2008 coming at all. I felt a great deal of fear, but my job was to do the best I could. We made sacrifices, taking decreases in pay to avoid firing people.

Every successful businessperson should get involved in philanthropy. One of the best ways to use the fruits of success is to give back to society. My father worried a lot about money. I think he’d be quite astonished and proud of the things I’ve done.

***

My Best Advice

Francis Greenburger CEO, Time Equities

Exercise Independent Thinking.

A lot of the world thinks New York is a wonderful place to invest, and it is, but not if prices are too high. I don’t think the upside of New York’s investment real estate value is in balance with the downside right now.

Go to the Person Who Controls the Problem.

If you don’t have rent money, you might want to go to the family or the bank for a loan. But the person who really controls the problem is the landlord. So talk to your landlord and work out a solution, before the rent is due.

Start Early and Stay Organized.

I start my workday around 4 a.m., doing emails and correspondence until around 9 a.m., when meetings start. I am very organized and extremely well supported by two executive assistants and a chief of staff. I also maintain a virtual office and work discipline so that when I travel, I remain up to date.


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