A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and my chain of success has largely been driven by the contributions of my team.

At a young age, I learned the importance of teamwork, building alliances and collaboration in achieving goals. Growing up as the seventh of twelve children, it became apparent that the ability to communicate effectively and to negotiate became critical to achieving my goals.

When I began my career in the investment field 20 years ago, the value of my life skills was evident. The field was predominately male. However, I was fortunate to be mentored by bright, open-minded professionals, and to work for a company that provided equal opportunities and encouraged employees to strive for excellence.

I was fortunate to have worked through a down cycle—the savings and loan crisis of the mid-1980s—which led to a significant devaluation of commercial real estate. Strong analytical skills, holding firm to fundamental principles, a sense of reason and the ability to judge character led me to negotiate resolutions that were acceptable to management. I set a few key priorities, knew the break points and was willing to give on less material issues to get problems resolved, thus avoiding lengthy, expensive court battles.

That experience has been extremely valuable throughout my career. When economic analysis does not support valuation, a change in a market cycle can wipe out years of gains. If we cannot quantify and understand the risk we are taking for the expected return, we will not make the investment.

My success is measured not only in terms of achieving my goals but also by my ability to take results to the next level. To push past the status quo, I must accept challenges and take risks.

In order to succeed, it is essential to build a strong team with diverse talents, encourage open debate and stick to fundamental principles. I believe it is critical to place the right people in the right roles at the right time. In cultivating talent, I must set high goals, provide frequent feedback and give credit where credit is due. One measure of my success will be the future success of the organization, and that will depend on the team I put in place for tomorrow.