New York Trivia
Century 21 CEO puts his former boss to work
By Matt Christensen
Michael Simon, president and CEO of the New York-based real estate firm Century 21 New York Metro, was able to do something that most office workers only fantasize about: He hired his former boss to work for him.
Marc Lewis (formerly of Manhattan Apartments Inc., where he held titles including president of investments) gave Simon his first job out of college at Gardener Realty. Now, some 20 years later, Simon has returned the favor in the form of a COO position at Century 21.
"When we started the initial launch of the business last year," said Simon, who had been with Cendant a decade prior, "The Real Deal actually did a feature on how different owners manage their business, and I ended up on the cover.
"Marc saw the issue, called me up and asked, 'Is this the same Mike Simon who worked for Gardener Realty in 1986?' I told him it was, and he said, 'This is your boss; we should talk.'"
Thus began the re-formation of a relationship rooted when Lewis hired Simon fresh out of college.
"I worked for Marc at Gardener Realty for two years," explained Simon. "Being able to work with him again is a real shot in the arm for me, and the company. It's ironic that our relationship has come full circle."
While most employees (especially the disgruntled kind -- you know who you are) would enjoy making their former bosses squirm, Simon has taken Lewis' leadership as an example of "how to do it right."
"Marc was the fairest guy you'd ever want to work for," Simon recalled. "He had a fantastic demeanor and, above all, Marc was always able to retain his business relationships for a very long time. Marc never burned a bridge, and people always wanted to do business with him."
As for those bosses who make you want to take a staple remover to your jugular? Don't be so quick to write them off, said Simon.
"There's always something you can learn from your boss," he said. "You may not want to grab a beer with them after work, but that person is in the position he or she is in for a reason.
"Absorb as much as you can from them," he added, "and always try to keep learning."
And be nice: You never know whose résumé might land on your desk.
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