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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Industrious Co-Founder And CEO Jamie Hodari

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

In real estate circles, Jamie Hodari may be known as one of the founding fathers of office chic.

Hodari is co-founder and CEO of the coworking giant Industrious, one of the nation's largest operators of shared workspace with a plan to have some 60 locations by year's end, with further expansion expected in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas, Reuters reports. The company has already raised $142M from investors, including $80M this past February.

Industrious CEO Jamie Hodari and President Justin Stewart

Coworking — one of the fastest-growing segments in the office real estate industry — is but one realm Hodari conquered in his career. Prior to Industrious, Hodari co-founded Kepler, an organization that seeks to expand access to quality higher education across Africa. He also ran the education nonprofit Generation Rwanda, and was an investment analyst at Birch Run Capital and a project finance lawyer at the firm Sullivan & Cromwell.

Hodari also dabbled in journalism as a reporter with the Times of India.

A native of Detroit and a self-professed night owl who finds his most productive times are from 11:30 a.m. until 2 a.m., Hodari holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, a master in public policy from Harvard University and a B.A. from Columbia University.

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?

Hodari: I run a company that creates and runs the world’s best workplaces.

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

Hodari: I used to be a journalist and often imagine I’ll return to that someday.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

Hodari: Telemarketing. Though now that I think of it, while it was certainly the least pleasant work experience I’ve had, it was great training in sales getting comfortable with rejection.

Bisnow: What was your first big deal?

Hodari: In sixth grade I was gifted a substantial collection of hockey cards. I could not possibly have cared less about hockey, so I sold them to a classmate at a healthy markup. First big deal; first step in an entrepreneurial career.

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

Hodari: The things that jump to mind are all the times where I’ve let down my teammates. In particular, times where I’ve had to fire someone and knew that deep down my failings as a manager played a big role in it.

Bisnow: How do you define “making it”?

Hodari: Making it is reaching the point in your career where you’re confident enough to manage your career in the service of others — your teammates, your customers, your investors. The people who haven’t made it are the ones still walking into work every day to serve their own ego, or to prove something to themselves that they probably knew was or wasn’t there long ago.

Industrial CEO Jamie Hodari during a 2014 Bisnow event in Atlanta.

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Hodari: Arrogance. Closely followed by when the pre-check lane at the airport is closed.

Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?

Hodari: Two Industrious board members, [Riverwood Capital founding partners] Tom Smach and Francisco Alvarez-Demalde, have probably been my most influential mentors. Here’s why: being a young CEO means knowing when to trust your instincts, but also being open and humble enough to realize many people have asked the same questions you have, faced the same problems, had the same great ideas. So it’s particularly important to have a couple [of] people you can call up and ask “have you seen this before?” They’ve seen everything, and help me learn from other people’s mistakes so I can hopefully avoid making them.

Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you've ever gotten?

Hodari: The best: “The best way to get a great outcome for your investors is to run your company for the benefit of your employees first, your customers second and your investors last.”

The worst: “You’ll never regret keeping your options open.” Most of the people I know who hate their jobs followed this advice. They spent so much time making sure every possible door was open to them that they neglected to actually walk through one.

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

Hodari I’m really into sparkling water but feel impossibly stuffy being that guy — the one that pays for water at lunch when tap water will do.

Industrious co-founder Jamie Hodari and his father, Alberto Hodari, in India.

Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

Hodari: My father lives in a small village on a lake in Italy. There’s a restaurant near his apartment that sits right on the water. It has an extensive menu, but nothing’s worth ordering there beyond the lemon ravioli. So we order it for appetizer, entree and sometimes dessert as well. He’s 83 and with how busy work at Industrious is, visits to him are precious. No other restaurant can compare to sitting by the lake with him, eating our third round of lemon ravioli, hearing him reminisce about some previous escapade I’ve heard him recount a thousand times.

Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?

Hodari: Something tells me he’s not much of a listener.

Bisnow: What's the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Hodari: I left a great job at a hedge fund to follow an ambiguous calling I felt and [worked] in education in East Africa. Everyone thought I was crazy but I wouldn’t take the decision back for the world.

Bisnow: Whose work do you most admire?

Hodari: Educators. I was previously the CEO of an education organization and was constantly in awe of great teachers.

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

Hodari: One of the things that makes being a CEO stressful is the wide-angle visibility into everyone who relies on your company. Customers you’ve committed to, investors who made big bets on you, colleagues who passed up more remunerative jobs because they believed in your vision. In moments when I really take stock of the magnitude of it all, the pressure seems almost unbearable.

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

Hodari: Continuing to learn. If I didn’t feel my education was progressing every day, I think I’d probably sink into a kind of dull ennui and would be quite useless.