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The A.CRE Networking Reboot Cruise

One of our biggest goals here at A.CRE is building a community and engaging with our readers. Recently, you’ve likely seen our posts on the A.CRE Networking Reboot Cruise. This cruise we’re putting together is another effort to bring that community together, give value back to our readers, and allow us to interact in person in a more substantive way.

This cruise will take place in April 2022, on one of the largest cruise ships in the world, and is meant to help all CRE students and professionals get back into networking in the post-covid world.

In terms of content of the cruise, we’ll be putting together self-improvement exercises, educational conferences, and general cruise activities. We’re also going to talk a lot about how to elevate your personal brand.

So if you’re in a management role at this point, how do you pitch new strategies, or how do you pitch investments? If you’re early in your career, how do you develop your own personal brand? Or if you’re mid-career and you’re looking to make a career change, how do you brand yourself in a way that positions you for success going forward?

We hope to see you in person then!

The A.CRE Networking Reboot Cruise

Resources from this Episode

Episode Transcript

Announcer (00:01):

Welcome to the Adventures in CRE Audio Series. Join Michael Belasco and Spencer Burton as they pull back the curtain on everything commercial real estate, and introduce you to some of the top minds in the industry. If you want to take your skills to the next level and be part of a growing community of CRE professionals across the world, this is for you.

Sam Carlson (00:25):

Okay. Well, here we go, you guys. Today is a pretty interesting podcast. Hi, my name’s Sam Carlson. Welcome back to the podcast. We’ve got something pretty cool for you today. It’s a little bit off the beaten path from a typical podcast. It’s something that we talked about on a previous podcast, which is our Adventures in CRE Networking Reboot Cruise. So we’re excited to talk with you today to share with you what our goals are, why we’re doing this. This podcast, again, will be entirely dedicated to that particular event coming up.

Sam Carlson (00:56):

And with me, I’ve got Spencer Burton and Michael Belasco. Guys, I’m excited to talk about this today. Obviously, this is an event that we’ve been talking about for, oh, geez, I think during the heat of the pandemic, we were like, “We’ve got to do something.” So before we get too far into the details, let’s just get an overview of what the event is and we’ll start there. So Spencer, if I could have you kind of kick it off here, tell us about the Networking Reboot Cruise.

Spencer Burton (01:28):

Yeah, sure. First let me give some backstory to it and then I can get into the details, if that’s okay, Sam.

Sam Carlson (01:35):


Spencer Burton (01:35):

So Michael and I, and now for years, going on, what? Seven years, Michael, we’ve interacted in a virtual way with all of our A.CRE readers, Accelerator members, graduates, we’re filling emails and taking calls on a regular basis and interacting with these people. And we’ve built significant rapport with many of you, and at the same time, nothing beats in-person interactions. And that became very evident to us during the pandemic, especially. And so, as we were talking about, how do we engage further with those of you who listen to the podcast and consume A.CRE content and take accelerated courses and the like, we thought, “Why don’t we get together, but in a more informal way? Rather than meeting at a conference, sitting around at a table and participating in a small chat, why don’t we go and do something fun? Something where we can take the tie off and interact?”

Spencer Burton (02:42):

And cruising is something that the three of us really enjoy. It’s all-inclusive. It takes very little thought. You get on a boat and everything’s provided for you. And we thought, “What a great way to interact with A.CRE members. Let’s take a cruise together.” So that’s the backstory, Sam. Anything, Michael, that you’d add to kind of the why behind this event from our standpoint?

Michael Belasco (03:09):

Yeah, I think you really hit it. You never really valued that in-person face-to-face contact, or you valued it, but you didn’t really grasp it until COVID hit. And you get a lot of that when you’re networking and where you’re doing work and all that, but there’s so many of us that have been connected through email and a simple phone call that we just really realized the tremendous value that there is in just being face to face. And Spencer, you and I in our day job just got together for the first time with our whole company, and it was quite magical just being back together. And so I think this is a real exciting opportunity to get some face time with a lot of people that we’ve yet to really meet and break bread with, and see your slight facial interactions and all the things that you miss over a phone call, or even on a Zoom call or whatever. So it’s going to be really exciting. I’m really excited about that.

Spencer Burton (04:11):

Yeah. And Sam has experienced this, Michael and I less so, call it a professional vacation.

Sam Carlson (04:21):


Spencer Burton (04:21):

You did this several years ago, Sam, in Puerto Rico, but share your experience with that and how that has informed kind of our thought process as we plan for the Networking Reboot Cruise.

Sam Carlson (04:33):

Yeah. It’s funny because when this whole idea, the inception of this idea was, “We need to get together.” And I think all of us immediately jumped to, “Oh, well, conferences, events, things like this, there’s all these drawbacks.” Whether there’s too much structure around them, whether you just don’t really get out of them what you wanted to, all of these things that really just kind of inhibit you from having a fun and enjoyable experience, a place where you can really connect with people. And several years ago, I had been invited to a Mastermind-type event. It was very limited. It was limited to, I think, 50 people. And it was at a resort in Puerto Rico. And I thought it was pretty unique. I’d never been to a place where I paid a substantial amount of money and said, “Well, let’s see if there’s anything really beneficial here.”

Sam Carlson (05:32):

And I went to this event, I met with all these people, and we were literally in the pool listening to different people talk about what they were doing in their businesses that was unique to whatever topic it was. Everybody’s guard was down, we were all just listening and intent. If you had a question, you could ask freely, and there was a lot of power. I came away from that event, first of all, a changed person. I got so much value by way of information. Obviously that’s number one, that’s why you’d go there, but really kind of a secondary consequence of all these relationships, because I’d been sitting in a pool or around a dinner table or whatever it was with these people. And we were in shorts and a tank top sometimes, and it was way less formal.

Sam Carlson (06:26):

But what we walked away with were these relationships where I can call these people up and say, “Hey, here’s where I’m at with this problem. What do you think?” And all of a sudden, it starts to turn into something that really has an intrinsic value in my relationships. So when we were talking about this, we were like, “Well, what are we going to do so we don’t just fall into the same old thing that everybody else does?” And I think that was kind of where we really wanted this thing to go.

Spencer Burton (06:55):

Yeah, no. And as we kind of thought through this, Michael and I both looked back to … well, we looked at our own networks, and you look at the, call them super contacts. These are the individuals, like Sam said, that you can call with personal and professional problems and have constructive conversations. And they’re still professional relationships, but the deepest professional relationships, there’s the personal touch to it, and as I look back at those sorts of relationships in my network and I ask myself, “How were those relationships developed?” It wasn’t through phone calls, it wasn’t through coffee chats, it wasn’t through conference interactions. It was through some personal experience that we had together.

Spencer Burton (07:44):

Maybe it was a trip, a professional trip that we were taking, but there was a layover that caused us to stay an extra night, and then we had this experience of finding a hotel. And the next thing you know, we’re talking about things that we wouldn’t generally talk about and you build a bond. Or another great example is I spent some time sourcing opportunities in Mexico, and part of this was I had to cross the border, and I would cross the border back from Mexico in the United States on foot because it was faster. And the individuals that I was experiencing this with I have this different bond with than I do with others that, say, I meet at a conference. And so we were trying to replicate that by developing an event that was truly organic, fun, personal, and mix in the professional networking aspect of it such that we could all go away with stronger and better relationships as a result.

Sam Carlson (08:39):

And I think it’s funny because season one and season two of this, what used to be an audio series, were in person. We got together in person, we would do podcasts in person, and what we do now in these podcasts is still valuable. We still have a lot of fun doing it. We love doing it, but there’s a completely different dynamic when we’re able to get together in person and read. It’s another dimension of just being with people and being able to A, relate to them, B, get a sense of where they’re going with an idea or something like that so you can get that synergy going. And I think when you’re in a career, there are so many things that are going to work against you from the get-go anyway, just because growing a career or a business, whatever it is, it’s hard regardless.

Sam Carlson (09:36):

But if you have the right network of folks and the ability to really engage, that shared community and that shared synergy, it will cut your time in half when it comes to solving problems and advancing your career. So I think the quality of the relationships is something we’re definitely going with. Going for, rather. But we called it the Reboot Cruise for a reason. We wanted to, A, come out of this pandemic with an opportunity to reboot those efforts that are so important, and then maybe even reboot the way we do them. Because you might think, “Okay. I realize as my career grows, I want to intertwine and connect myself with good people,” but then you have to go out and source and find, and it’s just so hard.

Sam Carlson (10:29):

And so I think one of our really big goals is, in A.CRE, we do feel like our readers, the people that engage with us through our content, the Accelerator, whatever it is, we feel like it’s a community. And this is another effort to bring that community together and give value back and say, “Hey, these are all like-minded professionals just like you.”

Michael Belasco (10:56):

You know the energy you get before you’re about to go on vacation with friends and family?

Sam Carlson (11:02):


Michael Belasco (11:03):

And then the energy you get when you’re about to go to a big event that’s work-related. It’s still exciting. You want to go to this work event, but it’s primarily there’s an obligation there. The exciting piece is you’re going to try to learn something new and you’re going to gain insights, and hopefully you meet people, but you’re in your suit or whatever you’re wearing. There’s this professional vibe. If you’re handing out business cards, you’ve got your business cards in your pocket. And then there’s the other side, where you’re going on vacation with your family and friends, and you’re watching the calendar, and you can’t wait to get to the beach and have a beer and sit there, and have these conversations where just totally your guard’s down.

Michael Belasco (11:41):

And I think the ultimate goal is to marry the benefits of what you get. This particular event, it’s not all about all the information you can get, here’s this professional atmosphere where you need to network. It’s about creating that environment that makes you want to look at the calendar, and get you excited and get you ramped up because you’re going to have a ton of fun. And that’s the type of environment we want to create. And real estate in general, there’s a ton of events out there where you push past the event, and then you get out and you really have fun, and that’s what you look forward to. We want to make that the entire time.

Michael Belasco (12:14):

So whether it’s this cruise or Adventures in CRE events in the future, there will always be … or I would hope, who knows what the future holds? But I hope there will always be this element of primarily focusing around that bond, and networking and connecting that’s deeper than just professional.

Sam Carlson (12:31):

Yeah. I agree.

Michael Belasco (12:31):


Spencer Burton (12:33):

Yeah, that’s a really good point. And you alluded to something, which is, we would like to do this on a more regular basis. We want to interact in person with those that come to A.CRE in a more substantive way. But to Michael’s point, we don’t want to do traditional conferences. We want it to be fun. All of us are working, all of us are busy, and so when we go and we do these events, we want to go have fun with people that we enjoy being around. There’s another purpose though to this, or there’s another outcome that we hope to get, and that is there is a personal improvement element to it. So one is, let’s collectively build a strong deep network, but also, let’s build each other personally.

Spencer Burton (13:19):

And so we’re going to talk a lot about how to elevate your personal brand, whether that’s how you pitch the deals that you’re doing. So if you’re in a management role at this point, how do you pitch new strategies, or how do you pitch investments, say, to an investment committee or to investors? If you’re early in your career, how do you develop your own personal brand? Or if you’re mid-career and you’re looking to make a career change, how do you brand yourself in a way that positions you for success going forward?

Spencer Burton (13:54):

We’ll bring on some professionals that will help us workshop these ideas. We’ll do some, call them activities, where we’re working on, ultimately, how do we improve our own personal brand and our way of pitching strategies and ideas and ourself to others? So that’s another outcome that we hope to get out of it. Sam, anything you’d add? Because this is definitely an area that you’re going to bring a lot of value to the event.

Sam Carlson (14:20):

Yeah. I was just going to say, you come to the event, you’re going to have fun. That’s a pretty obvious benefit. You’re going to build some relationships, and the future potential of those will be great, but you can literally come to this event and acquire some soft skills that could entirely change the way you communicate your value to the audience. And that outcome is not a one-to-one. In some cases, that’ll be a one to 1,000 and one to 10, whatever the number is. You will be able to communicate your ideas. The better you are at communicating ideas and your value in whatever it is you’re doing, the better your career is going to be.

Sam Carlson (15:04):

Whether you’re looking to get a job, whether you’re looking to, again, pitch an investment, whatever the capacity is, your ability to put yourself as the key lever for value is all based on people’s perception about you. And there’s one really cool thing. So if you’ve got a great network, that network can place you into new environments where you can throw a hook in the water, and maybe there’s a bunch of bigger fish, but if what you’re using to fish, if your bait’s no good, you’re not going to do much with it. So it really is like the one-two combo. Let’s get the audience, let’s get that network really going, and then let’s bring everybody up collectively because we’re learning these soft skills that can pitch your ideas and ourselves in a way that other people see the value.

Sam Carlson (15:55):

There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing, “I have this really cool idea or this really cool solution to whatever problem they see,” and then having it fall on deaf ears simply because you don’t know how to communicate them. You don’t know how to communicate your ideas. So that, to me, is one of those asymmetric outcomes. You put in a little bit, and the outcome is exponential on the backend. So obviously that is what I spend most of my time doing, and I think maybe because of that, I see the potential when people harness those skills and things. So, yes, I’m very excited about that.

Spencer Burton (16:33):

Yeah. Unless, Michael, you had something that you wanted to-

Michael Belasco (16:38):


Spencer Burton (16:38):

Let’s get in then to the details of how this will work. So the outcomes, strong network and your ability to communicate your brand and your ideas in a more effective way. The nuts and bolts of the event, it is a cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas, if you’re unfamiliar with this ship, it’s one of the largest ships in the world. It’s part of the Oasis class, which are the largest class of ships in the world. Has everything. A promenade that walks through the center of the ship, it has water slides and has this massive slide. I think it’s the largest non-water water slide, certainly on a cruise ship in the world. Shows that you will be able to see every night. It’s an incredible ship, and we’ll have some more details so you can go learn about it.

Spencer Burton (17:34):

So we have that at our fingertips. Every morning as a group, the real estate professionals that are getting together as a group, we’ll get together and we’ll have these sort of exercises that Sam is talking about. We’ll also meet for dinner every night. I imagine there’ll be organic gatherings that will happen as well. We’re also going during the cruise to what’s called CocoCay. It’s Royal Caribbean’s private island, and we’ll have an excursion just for our group. And so we’ll go out together and we’ll do some fun excursion on the island. You’ll also have some time to spend on your own on the island.

Spencer Burton (18:11):

The cruise itself is April 7th, 2022, which is a Thursday, through April 10th, 2022, that’s a Sunday. And we by design chose those days so that we don’t disrupt too much of our collective work week. So you’ll probably want to fly in, call it Wednesday afternoon, evening to Miami, which is where the port of call is. We’ll board Thursday morning. We’ll do Thursday, Friday, Saturday, come back Sunday, the 10th, and part ways at that point. It’s all-inclusive, as it is with cruise ships. So as soon as you get on the ship, all your food’s provided, your entertainment’s provided.

Spencer Burton (18:58):

There are some premium upgrades that you can purchase in addition, things like there’s some premium restaurants and whatnot, but what I found there are the free restaurant offerings are more than enough, especially on a cruise of this length. So those are the specifics. Anything that I missed, Sam or Michael?

Sam Carlson (19:16):

I think there’s one thing I just wanted to make sure that we put some context around was this is limited to 100 people, and we’re not doing that because we want to be mean to anybody, but one of the things that I had found when I did that Mastermind I spoke of earlier was just the benefit by having an intimate group. And I think much past 100 attendees, we might start to lose some of that. So it is limited to 100 people and it is first come, first served. So once they kind of fill up, they’re gone. Details and whatever it takes to reserve, you can find in the checkout process. Do we want to jump into that and just what they should do next? Or is there anything else, Michael, you want to add to this?

Michael Belasco (20:03):

No, nothing I want to add. I think we’ve covered it pretty sufficiently.

Spencer Burton (20:07):

Well, let me make a point really quick on capacity. So first off, it’s 100, but almost 10 of those spots will be taken by A.CRE members.

Sam Carlson (20:19):


Spencer Burton (20:20):

Or the A.CRE team, if you will. So you’ll be able to meet many of the people who make A.CRE click. So it’s really 90. You are welcome to, and we encourage you to bring a guest, whether that’s a friend or a significant other, a spouse. I’ll be bringing my spouse. I think Michael and Sam will be bringing theirs, and it’s a chance also to meet those people who are important to the professional connections you’ll make. So we encourage you to bring a significant other or a guest, a plus one, if you will. You’re not required to, but that plus one would be free, so there’s no savings in being an individual.

Spencer Burton (21:05):

In terms of, yeah, the process here, we’ll include with this podcast episode, a link down in the description that will take you to a page which will describe kind of registration, how you register. There’s a deposit that you’ll put a deposit down that will reserve your room, and then you’ll have some period of time where you can pay the balance of the cost of the event. So those are the details. Anything else I’ve missed? Sam and Michael, please feel free to fill in.

Michael Belasco (21:36):

Guests are not part of the networking events, so if there are two of you that want to join and you say, “Hey, we’ll do one for free,” only the person who’s buying the ticket will be allowed access to the event.

Spencer Burton (21:50):

That’s right. Yeah. And so the morning events, the activities, call it the self-improvement exercises, and the learning component, which happens in the morning, Michael’s right, is exclusively for the real estate professional, you. Your guest though will be invited to dinner at night.

Sam Carlson (22:11):


Spencer Burton (22:13):

But yeah, great.

Sam Carlson (22:15):

I’m excited about this. I hope this turns into something that we get to do a lot. I think not only will it be fun, but I think that there are going to be people who walk away from this event with something priceless, I really do. And that could be us. That could be the collective group of us. I already feel like that is. So I’m excited to do that. If you want to learn more about that, we just posted. So today is July 1st, actually. We just posted a updated blog post on the website that will give you more details and you can get started there, and we will also have a link to that here in the show notes. So thanks for listening, and we’ll see you on the next episode.

Announcer (23:00):

Thanks for tuning into this episode of the Adventures in CRE Audio Series. For show notes and additional resources, head over to www.AdventuresInCRE.com/AudioSeries. Would you like to learn real estate financial modeling in a matter of weeks, and do it with zero guesswork? If so, the A.CRE Accelerator is for you. The Accelerator is a step-by-step case-based program designed to teach you exactly what you need to know and in the order you need to know it, so you can gain both the knowledge and experience to take your career to the next level. To see if the Accelerator is right for you, go to www.AdventuresInCRE.com/Accelerator.