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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With The Instant Group CEO Of The Americas Joe Brady

This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.

Joe Brady is two weeks into his role as CEO of the Americas at flexible workplace specialist The Instant Group, a role he believes positions him at the heart of profound changes in commercial real estate. (Bonus: Unlike at one of his last positions, no one throws food at him in this job.)

The Instant Group CEO of the Americas Joe Brady with a 28-pound redfish he caught while fly fishing in Louisiana.

The 30-year industry vet was most recently divisional vice president for real estate at Walgreen Co., where he was responsible for a 150M SF portfolio. He previously worked at JLL and had his own consultancy.

Beyond taking over for the Americas, Brady is opening The Instant Group's Chicago office. The company has offices in 13 cities around the world and has been expanding over the U.S., opening five offices in five years. Its sales offices in Dallas, San Francisco and New York have doubled in size in two years. It provides flexible workspaces to more than 3,000 clients a year, including Amazon and American Express, in almost 2,300 cities around the globe.

Bisnow: What is your favorite part of your job? 

Brady: Building. I love building teams, companies and space. I believe real estate drives productivity and happiness.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?  

Brady: I was a fast-food franchisee in the mid-'90s. I had a double-burger with cheese — extra pickles — thrown at my head. I ducked.

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do? 

Brady: I would be living in Wyoming working as a fly fishing guide in the summer and a ski instructor in the winter. It’s still not too late.

The Instant Group CEO of the Americas Joe Brady with his daughter, Grace, at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Bisnow: What deal are you proudest of?  

Brady: I led a 200K SF deal for Walgreens that kicked off the redevelopment of the Old Post Office in Chicago. Walgreens was the first tenant in the 2.5M SF building. The space will open for Walgreens in January 2020 and will undoubtedly drive productivity at the corner of Happy & Healthy.

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?  

Brady: In the mid-2000s, I developed a retail concept designed to be the Starbucks of Wine Bars. We hired a great team, designed a great environment but ultimately had a failure to launch. It's not too late for that idea either.

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?  

Bisnow: Self-centered people. We need more compassion in this world.

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?  

Brady: Too many watches. I’m slowly selling them off. My new motto is “Want Less.”

The Instant Group CEO of the Americas Joe Brady on the iconic Swilkin Bridge on the Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland.

Bisnow: What motivates you?  

Brady: The desire to leave things better than I found them. I love change and technology so innovation and improvement are exciting and motivating.  

Bisnow: What advice do you wish you got when you started in CRE? 

Brady: Collect more people. CRE is a relationship and trust business. Young people should network, attend conferences, call up industry leaders and be as curious as possible. 

Bisnow: What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?  

Brady: I don’t take uncovered risks. There is risk in waking up in the morning. I like doing things that cause you to focus mono-maniacally. One example was a father/daughter climbing adventure in the Tetons outside of Jackson Hole. We had the lead guide from Exum Guides. We were secure in our ropes, knots, climbing shoes, and the weather was great. But there was a stretch where all three of us were tied together and had to cross a tiny ledge with a several hundred foot drop below. I focused and so did my daughter.  The celebratory dinner that night was especially good. 

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?  

Brady: I sleep really well. 

Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit?  

Brady: Wine region. I’ve been wine tasting in Australia, Spain, Italy, France and, of course, the U.S.

The Instant Group CEO of the Americas Joe Brady with his son, Joey, in Wyoming.

Bisnow: Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?  

Brady: Conservation. I spent five years as a trustee for The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming. There is an apolitical, win/win approach to growth and conservation. We need to leave our gifts better than we found them.

Bisnow: What CRE trend do you think will have the most impact over the next few years?  

Brady: That’s a layup … flexible space! We are living in the age of acceleration. Change is faster than ever and today is the slowest rate of change for the rest of our lives. Real estate is demonstrably and fundamentally a linear, inflexible and illiquid asset class. I love the idea of helping clients future-proof their portfolios by injecting optionality, agility and flexibility. Think about this: if you sign a 10-year lease today, it will expire in 2030.

Bisnow: What would people be surprised to learn about you?  

Brady: My undergraduate degree is in electrical engineering and that I am a passionate photographer and collector of street photographer images. Art Shay is my favorite and we became friends before he died at 94. Google his work; he’s brilliant and funny. 

Bisnow: What do you want your legacy to be?  

Brady: He was a net-giver. I tell my kids this all the time. Give back more than you have received. I’ve been blessed and I have an obligation to give back more than I’ve gotten — which is a lot.