- Insider’s rising stars of real estate span roles in leasing, affordable housing, and urban planning.
- We asked the young achievers about the books that influenced their careers or personal growth.
- Here are their recommendations, along with some introspection on titles spiritual and practical.
Careers in real estate vary from brokers and lenders to investors, developers, and architects. Equally as varied are the types of people that take those jobs.
One thing that shapes these people is what they read. For some of Insider’s rising stars of 2022, the subject matter might surprise you.
There’s a lot of soul-searching going on among the young professionals, and it’s not just about how to be a better communicator to get your way. It’s about how to be a better — and, in at least one case, more-spiritual — person.
Other rising stars told Insider they wanted to learn from the trials and tribulations of successful people, like the Nike cofounder Phil Knight. And some of the most notable tell-alls of Wall Street real-estate players, like Michael Lewis’ “Liar’s Poker,” inform our stars of the laudable and reprehensible behavior that has shaped the industry.
Below, find the selection of 29 books that influenced the rising stars, along with their musings of what they learned or how they applied the lessons to their practices.
Read the full list of rising stars, along with their backstories or dreams of what they hope to accomplish in residential and commercial real estate, including tacking the home-affordability issue and improving technology.
Rising star: Maya Abood, 34, housing, planning, and economic analyst at the City of Los Angeles Housing Department
What Abood said about her recommendation:
“I read it in undergrad, and it completely changed how I think about LA and cities in general.”
Rising star: Sam Stone, 34, director of product management, pricing, and data products at Opendoor
What Stone said about his recommendation:
“The principles that Norman lays out for human-centered design are a terrific guide to help shape new product ideas.”
Rising star: Kanaai Shah, 23, senior associate at Blackstone
What Shah said about his recommendation:
“The founder of ‘Four Seasons’ outlines his journey building a world-class hotel company. It inspired me to pursue my interests in hospitality and real estate.”
Rising star: Sean Kia, 31, cofounder of the commercial-real-estate investor Tides Equities
What Kia said about his recommendation:
“That’s always stuck with me. I read it in school in seventh grade. Follow your personal destiny — that’s what propels people forward to what the universe thinks is best for them. It’s about pushing people towards their true path, their true identity.”
Rising star: Sayo Kamara, 31, senior associate at Cushman & Wakefield
What Kamara said about his recommendation:
“It teaches you a lot of unspoken rules in corporate America, and navigating different socioeconomic classes, and what tools you need to be an effective executive.”
Rising star: Raja Ghawi, 29, partner at Era Ventures
What Ghawi said about his recommendations:
“Just because something is working now doesn’t mean that unlikely events won’t hit and shake the system,” he said about the Taleb book. “This book, which came after his earlier ‘The Black Swan,’ teaches one how to benefit from high-impact, low-probability events.”
Of the Burgis book, he said it “talks about desire and why we want what we want.”
He added: “It helps explain the difference between innate desire and mimetic desires, or desires that are based on what people around you or people you respect desire.
“It helps with investing because many would argue that alpha comes from contrarian thinking. If everybody likes one deal, the alpha will be beat out of it as everyone bids it up.”
Rising star: Yaakov Zar, 30, CEO and cofounder of Lev
What Zar said about his recommendation:
“‘No Rules Rules’ is about the culture at Netflix and the importance of empowering employees and maintaining top-tier talent that can deliver creatively on the goals of the business. It’s an impactful book to help build our own corporate culture.”
He said about the Munsch and McGraw book: “My mom used to read this book to me, and every time she’d read it, she’d cry like crazy. Now that I have kids, it makes me cry. You can never imagine the love you feel for your kid until you actually have that love.”
Rising star: Sam Kroll, 27, vice president at RET Ventures
What Kroll said about his recommendations:
“For anyone who is excited about a career in finance, Michael Lewis is a must-read,” he said. “‘Liar’s Poker’ gives you a first-person, no-bullshit perspective about what it’s like to be a junior person in finance, while ‘Flash Boys’ explains how the market works to people who joined the workforce post-global financial crisis and how the market, regulators, and tech factor in.”
Kroll said he otherwise preferred reading history and literature from the mid-20th century, especially the pre-hippie Beat Generation.
“The Beats took a truth-based approach to what is happening in the world, but they’re not afraid to buck the prevailing norm in the world,” he said. “They remind me of the value of being a contrarian when you’re an investor.”
John Andrew Entwistle/Amazon
Rising star: John Andrew Entwistle, 24, founder and CEO at Wander
What Entwistle said about his recommendations:
“This is going to be a little bit of a corny answer, but I would probably say ‘The Art of Happiness’ is really one of my favorite books,” he said. “As you go through life, having a great toolbox of mental frameworks — in terms of how you see the world and how you see others, and the good that you do, the type of person you are, and the business that you run — especially as a young person, is super important. It’s actually a requirement for people at Wander to read.”
Of “The Intelligent Investor,” he said it offered “a lot of really incredible frameworks in the world of investing and deploying capital.” He added: “A lot of those basic principles apply not just to equities but to real estate as well.”
Rising star: Marina Malomud, 34, partner and chief operating officer at Subtext
What Malomud said about her recommendation:
“I read it when I was just starting to really figure out how I was going to get into real-estate development. I would certainly recommend reading that one.”
Rising star: Austin Lo, 32, cofounder and CEO of the virtual-tour platform Peek
What Lo said about his recommendations:
Of “Superforecasting,” he said: “This is a book I read in my finance days. The Good Judgment Project took a bunch of normal or slightly above-normal people and asked them to forecast world events.
“They were able to, through sound decision-making processes, beat intelligence analysts who have access to classified information. So it’s a lot about how to view the future, how to forecast the future, and how to intake information in which you can come up with good judgment.”
Of “Competing Against Luck,” he said “as we think about the product process at Peek, a lot of it is inspired and driven by” principles in the book.
Rising star: Odeta Kushi, 31, deputy chief economist of the title-insurance company First American
What Kushi said about her recommendation:
“I was really interested in trying to better understand how to fix the housing-supply issue in the United States. The book talks about land-use restrictions and gives some practical advice on what we can do in the housing industry to ease the housing-supply shortage.
“It’s very well-written, and even someone who’s not a housing economist can understand it.”
Rising star: Daryl Fairweather, 34, chief economist at the real-estate brokerage Redfin
What Fairweather said about her recommendation:
“I feel like it was one of the books that made me really believe in the power of economics because you can even see economics in the animal world. It makes me feel better to see that the decisions that people make are natural — people respond to their emotions and to their environment. I find it fascinating.”
Open House Austin/Amazon
Rising star: Kristina Modares, 33, cofounder of the real-estate brokerage Open House Austin
What Modares said about her recommendation:
“You would not really associate the book with real estate, but in real estate and the way we teach it, you really have to know yourself and be a good communicator.”
Rising star: Christian Lawrence, 29, CEO of Rise Modular
What Lawrence said about his recommendation:
“While we don’t strictly follow the traction system, the concepts in this book are useful and important to any entrepreneurial company at any stage.”
Rising star: Riley Warwick, 30, cofounder of the Aspen, Colorado, brokerage team at Saslove & Warwick
What Warwick said about his recommendation:
“It’s a book about negotiation. It helps you understand that it’s not based on confrontation. Most people think business is aggressive and business is confrontation. But it’s really more about collaborating with people and teaming up. The person sitting across the table is really just trying to figure it out just as well as you are.”
Rising star: Christie Chen, 30, director of investments at Oxford Properties Group
What Chen said about her recommendation:
“It is a very interesting read that provides great perspectives on how the way you interact with others help shape your career.
“Through his research and engaging storytelling, Grant turned the conventional wisdom upside down and made a compelling case for a new pillar of success in life, which is our interactions with others. That’s in addition to the traditional three pillars of success — motivation, ability, and opportunity. It changed the way I think about success in work and life early on in my career.”
Rising star: Sanjana Sidhra, 29, senior analyst at the Affordable Housing Institute
What Sidhra said about her recommendation:
“The clarity of ‘Why’ is really what drives authenticity, which, in turn, drives innovation and disruptive thinking. Quoting a rather overused line from the book but one that really sticks with me, ‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.'”
Rising star: Minjee Kim, 35, assistant professor at Florida State University
What Kim said about her recommendation:
“It’s such a classic that reveals the origins of the intimate relationship between planning and real-estate development and how real-estate developers played an instrumental role in shaping public policies and planning regulations.”
Rising star: Megan LeMense, 34, senior director of marketing at Raise Commercial Real Estate
What LeMense said about her recommendation:
“It essentially sets the framework for building strong teams. There are two main themes: caring personally and challenging directly.
“So it’s this idea that you can live at the intersection of caring personally and being human in the workplace, while being professional, by making a space where you can develop those relationships. At the same time, it’s your job to stand up and challenge and discuss problems and push towards a greater goal or solution.”
Rising star: Gaurav Dhume, 27, finance lead for Darwin Homes
What Dhume said about his recommendation:
“‘Shoe Dog'” is the autobiography of Phil Knight, who is the cofounder of Nike. It’s a brutally honest story of how he built Nike from nothing into what it is today. A lot of times we’ll see people leave out the super hard stuff or make it sound very rosy — he left nothing out.
“He talked about every struggle he faced, the personal challenges, every difficult decision he had to make. It’s really helpful to see that even people who we think have made it, they’re kings of the world, all started out just like us. Reading that brutally honest take makes it feel like those things are more achievable. It changed my life, and I think it’s very useful to anyone who’s trying to make their way in the world of business.”
Rising star: Demi Horvat, 30, the CEO of AirDNA, which analyzes the domestic and international short-term-rental market
What Horvat said about her recommendation:
“It’s really a book about how to get the right people into your business and then achieve success through having the best team.”
Rising stars: Maggie Wu, 27, founder of the W Team at the luxury-real-estate broker Serhant, and Adir Levitas, 35, founder and CEO of Faropoint
What Wu said about her recommendation:
“I think that man is a genius,” she said of Dalio.
His idea of “radical transparency is something I’ve always practiced,” she said, adding: “Whenever my team has an issue, they know they can voice it to me. It doesn’t matter that I’m their boss. Our team culture is just very focused on openness.”
What Levitas said:
“The idea of creating meaningful relationships and doing work in an honest and transparent environment is something that I have embraced.”