April 30, 2020

Unchained Episode 1: Rejecting the Status Quo

Introducing “Unchained”

Unchained derives from one of Jessica Miller Essl’s favorite quotes by Rosa Luxemburg, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Let’s take a moment to fixate on the word ‘notice’. How do you notice success or failure if you don’t try? How do you notice progress if you don’t have a champion that empowers and pushes you to doubt the default? If we don’t adapt, if we don’t change, if we don’t disrupt, our chains will win. This purposeful and driven approach to life and business has been at the very core of M2G Ventures since its inception in 2014.

Here we are six years later, in the middle of a global pandemic that has turned our world upside down in ways that we could have never imagined. How each of us responds to and acts upon this disruption will determine where we end up on the other side. As a leader in commercial real estate, M2G Ventures is accustomed to commanding action in the face of adversity. But since the pandemic outbreak, we’ve asked ourselves every day, “Which actions are the right actions to take when we have no precedent to call upon?” We launch this Q&A series to spark conversation around the everyday questions, challenges and opportunities we face in the new normal of COVID-19. 

By proactively managing our portfolio through unconventional tenant curation and partnership approaches to deferment requests, we only needed to defer 12% of our April base rents across the portfolio.

Susan Gruppi, Co-Founder, M2G Ventures

Episode 1: Rejecting the Status Quo

Candice Ransbarger joined M2G Ventures on March 16th as the new Director of Marketing and Communications on the very week that shelter-in-place mandates were instituted. In a candid Q&A session with M2G’s co-founders, Candice captures their genuine determination in the midst of a fairly bleak economic outlook. Their conversation launched the Unchained series.

Candice explains: “You would think starting a new job during a global pandemic is a recipe for disaster, but not when it’s M2G Ventures. From day one, I was inspired and motivated to be on a team that immediately stepped into action. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jessica and Susan, you know firsthand that their tenacity and resilience is inspiring. From their perspective, when faced with the highest of economic highs to lowest of pandemic lows, complacency with the status quo is simply nonexistent.”

HOW AND WHEN DO YOU DECIDE TO ACT? How do you counteract risk of failure while still making progress?

Jessica: For me, deciding to act is innate. It is not a conscious choice I make; I just do. I try to focus on things that are in the circle of my influence or control (easier said than done!)

From a risk standpoint, you have to look at what it is you are acting on. If you are acting on something to enhance it, then you take on much greater risk. Historically, we have not shied away from risk in our development projects so long as it is a calculated risk. Case in point….we renovate and reposition flex space to attract direct-to-consumer light industry users, creative office tenants and locally-owned retail outposts. Then, to attract consumer traffic, we design approachable destinations that preserve just enough grit and inject a heavy dose of artistic style while deploying marketing strategies typically used to promote retail districts.

Susan: Today though, in the midst of the pandemic, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and paralyzed. But inaction, or doing nothing, actually puts you at greater risk. This is not a time to be flat-footed. This is a time for innovative critical thinkers to step forward. This is a time for out-of-the-box thinking paired with measured, intentional steps. We view our tenants as partners which guides our action. We have an open dialogue with them about their current challenges and are transparent about what we as real estate owners are facing as well.

By proactively managing our portfolio through unconventional tenant curation and partnership approaches to deferment requests, we only needed to defer 12% of our April base rents across the portfolio. We do expect May deferments will increase due to the prolonged closure period but we continue to be inspired by our tenants’ ingenuity in their business models and drive to survive rather than putting their heads in the sand.

“A tolerance for failure requires an intolerance for incompetence. A willingness to experiment requires rigorous discipline.”

The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures by Gary P. Pisano

Join the Conversation

During this time of worldly unknown, and when faced with shift or surrender, M2G Ventures has remained steadfast in driving business forward swiftly, thoughtfully, and safely. The solutions we craft may look very different day-by-day and hour-by-hour, but across the board, the M2G team begins with action. This is not a time for stillness; it’s time to rise to the challenge by shifting, adapting and leading.

Please join the conversation. How are you and your team commanding action in the face of adversity? Contribute to the conversation today.