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  • Writer's pictureHoward Kline


In this interview, Joe Cosenza, Vice-chair of Inland Real Estate Group, enlightens me on what it takes to enjoy 50 years of success. I’ve interviewed Joe on two previous occasions and it has always been an extreme pleasure. This interview took place with Joe at the ICSC Recon Convention in Las Vegas in May, 2018.

For the unfamiliar, ICSC is an acronym for the International Council of Shopping Centers. Recon is their big convention with over 35,000 people in attendance. To be clear, Joe is not a mere mortal. He is one of the four founders of Inland Real Estate Group of Companies and is currently the Vice Chair of The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, LLC and President of Inland Real Estate Acquisitions, LLC. For Joe’s bio, click here.

Inland is celebrating it’s 50th year in business. It just so happens that Joe is also celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary. Those are pretty impressive numbers. In the first part of this interview, Joe gives us his take on what it takes to make it 50 years. After the break he tells me what retailers must do to survive in light of all of the changes and and finally, he gives us his vision of the future of retail real estate.

Joe, with Inland’s other, original four partners, Dan Goodwin, Bob Baum, & Bob Park all came from middle class families. He describes them all as hard working and not, “coming from money”. They met, either in college or teaching. All four were teachers and were just looking to make some extra money on the side, since, as teachers, they weren’t making much money.

It’s hard to imagine that they are still, fifty years later, still working together. Joe poses to me the question, how do four partners, come from teaching backgrounds, start a business that is worth billions of dollars and still enjoy working together, fifty years later. His answer can be summed up in the title of a Gladys Knight song, “R.E.S.P.E.C.T”. (oh, I can hear the song as I write this post). “They always had respect for one another, they always had respect for each other’s ideas.”

These were not people who were trained in real estate when they started. When they started, they had to teach each other different parts of the real estate business. This was, on the job training from each other. You start with a core of four and then instill that same respect into all the employees. That core concept of respect has to run from the top and through the entire organization. Joe emphasized that they did not have to be taught that you treat everyone that they dealt with, all the 480,000 investors, every seller, buyer, employee, vendor and yes, interviewer, with the same respect.

Here is the quote of the day, “…. and then, when we made a few bucks, we didn’t get stupid!” That’s not to say they didn’t make mistakes along the way, but they kept those to a minimum, but, in my opinion, just enough to learn from.

From my perspective, treating everyone with respect fosters happiness. That’s 50 years of happiness.  Good for you, Joe


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