Green: ‘Exiting Stage Left is Not Easy’

Last week Marcus & Millichap president and CEO Harvey Green announced his retirement. Green joined the firm in 1981 and rose through the ranks to lead the company’s growth from 22 offices and 424 agents in 1996 to 76 offices and more than 1,200 agents today. CPE caught up with Green to discuss his feelings about his departure and his thoughts on his tenure with Marcus & Millichap.

April 20, 2010
By Allison Landa, News Editor

Last week Marcus & Millichap president and CEO Harvey Green announced his retirement. Green joined the firm in 1981 and rose through the ranks to lead the company’s growth from 22 offices and 424 agents in 1996 to 76 offices and more than 1,200 agents today. CPE caught up with Green to discuss his feelings about his departure and his thoughts on his tenure with Marcus & Millichap.

CPE: Why did you choose to retire now?

Green: A number of personal reasons, obviously, but from a business standpoint, I think we’re at the bottom of the business cycle. I think it’s time to make a change. I wouldn’t do anything in the middle of the great recession, but we’re beginning to see momentum. The timing seemed right. Exiting stage left is not an easy thing to do. You don’t want to overstay.

CPE: What effect do you hope to have had on those around you?

Green: Obviously, I’d like to feel I’ve had a lot of influence on a lot of the people who have come into this industry. They’re still doing well, living good corporate lives, advancing their careers, and I’d like to think that their interacting with me was a positive. I’ve been flattered by the tremendous amount of emails, letters, and cards I’ve had … (saying) “You’ve been a real influence on me.” I think more important than anything is the relationships you develop and hopefully that you have influenced people in a positive way.

CPE: What are the qualities you’re seeking in your successor?

Green: That decision is being made by a group of people, not just myself. I think you want good stewardship; you want someone with the best interests of the people. Your assets are your people. I think you need somebody who is very sensitive to that aspect and can balance between what’s necessary in operating the business against the individual needs of the people.

CPE: What were the challenges you faced when building up Marcus & Millichap?

Green: The challenges are always the same: finding, maintaining, training good people. We had a great lift from the market so the expansion was easier in hindsight. We had a good eight, nine-year lift in the market that was really helpful. It really allowed the team (to come together). It was a team effort to expand the organization.

CPE: What are your thoughts as you’re leaving?

Green: You leave with mixed emotions. I’ve invested 29 and a half years, literally, into Marcus & Millichap and you really want it to continue to do well and to thrive. The other side is: Do I believe there’s a lot left in me? Of course I do. You need to make room. This is a good time to do that. And there’s a lot of other dynamics. You don’t talk about your personal life dynamics in making these decisions. The decision wasn’t made in a vacuum; it was made with different components, different relationship and family components, but it’s always a difficult thing. Transition and change is very difficult. I remember reading a book by Eric Hoffer: “The Ordeal of Change”. One thing people don’t like to do is change. This is very comfortable. I could have done it for the next five, seven years, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.

CPE: What’s in the future for Harvey Green?

Green: I’m going to kind of take a step back for a little while, see what my options are. Maybe kind of reinvent myself.