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Tony Cho on what it takes to succeed

August 20, 2014

succedTony Cho is a long way from the quiet Florida enclave of Vero Beach. The pioneering Realtor, developer and Florida native has made his name shaping neighborhoods and large-scale urban core projects across Miami. In the past 12 years, Cho has acquired, sold, leased or managed some $500 million in property, with a keen eye for architecture, art, sustainability and cultural partnerships. He also consults with Fortune 500 companies, tenants, investors and development partners.

Cho was named a 2011 Young Leader of the Year by the Urban Land Institute, a 2012 40 Under 40 honoree by the South Florida Business Journal and among the 2014 Heavy Hitters in Commercial Real Estate. He also serves with the Non-Violence Project, the Friends of the New World Symphony, and the Wynwood Business Improvement District.

How old were you when you got your first job?

I got my first job when I was 11 years old, working with a maintenance crew cleaning shopping centers at night. There was also a stint where I worked in a woodshop that made urns. Those first jobs were instrumental in teaching me not only what the value of a dollar was, but to take pride in my work, no matter what the job was.

What’s your greatest professional accomplishment?

Surviving the downturn when I had just opened my business. It looked so impossible for so long, but I never gave up hope, even in my most bleak hours. That perseverance paid off.

Any notable regrets?

No regrets here. I would alter nothing of this journey, where every step has made me who I am today. Great achievements involve great risk. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I believe in the venture.

What’s the best business advice you ever received?

Some of the best business advice I received I gleaned from my mother when I was a teenager. She told me to “listen before you speak and use critical thinking at all times.”

You’re giving a commencement address. What are your top three tips for the graduates?

First, take risks when you can. You’ll never regret taking those risks, but you might regret it if you don’t. Second, do everything with passion. Passion is the key to accomplishment, and you should never let the odds keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart you were meant to do. Finally, pay it forward. There is tremendous power and positive energy in giving.

You’re with a room full of CEOs. What three questions would you ask them?

One, what is your personal philosophy on life? Two, what was the biggest risk you ever took? Three, how many hours of sleep do you require to function at peak performance level?

What is something people you’ve lost touch with since high school would be most surprised to learn about you today?

That I haven’t changed much. They might be surprised to learn I speak Spanish now, thanks to my beautiful Colombian wife.

What’s your most guilty pleasure?

A juicy hamburger with bacon and cheese. I grew up vegetarian, so the guilt is real. I had my first one when I was 13. Then, when I moved to Argentina, I tried Argentine beef and officially became a carnivore. I try to limit my red meat consumption, but now and again I love a good hamburger.

What would be the title and back-cover blurb of your autobiography?

I think “Urban Solider” or maybe “Urban Pioneer” for the title. I hope I will be remembered as someone who positively impacted urban communities throughout South Florida and beyond, adapting neighborhoods for higher, more creative purposes.

What place do you hope to visit?

Machu Picchu is high on the list. The significant spiritual and cultural history of the site beckon me. It might not be here forever, so I hope to have the chance to visit soon.

Find the original story here: http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/print-edition/2014/08/15/tony-cho-on-what-it-takes-to-succeed.html
credit: Jeff Zbar Correspondent- South Florida Business Journal

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