The Real Deal New York

What they’re reading now

Insights from the desks of Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan, Rob Lehman and Aaron Shmulewitz
By Ariel Stulberg | August 01, 2015 07:00AM


Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan

President, Stribling & Associates

What are you reading right now?

I am on a fiction binge right now. I am reading the “Neapolitan Novels” by Elena Ferrante.  I cannot stop reading them. I am on the third one now, called “Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay.” I am not sure what I will do between finishing it and the fourth one coming out this fall.

What spurred you to read that book?

I picked up the first one, “My Brilliant Friend,” at Community Bookstore in Park Slope. There was a sign that said, “No Ferrante spoilers” and I was intrigued. They are the most incredible novels, which trace the story of the lives of two women starting in childhood in Naples in the 1950s. 

Has anything you read in it stuck with you? Would you recommend it to others?

They are some of the most brilliantly written stories I have encountered, and I am captivated by the personalities, drive and paths of these incredible characters.  I will recommend them to anyone who will listen.

Rob Lehman

Head of Strategy & Sales, Compass

What are you reading right now or what did you finish most recently?

I just finished “Blue Ocean Strategy,” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. It’s a fascinating take on how to deftly sidestep destructive competitive dynamics in markets, and to focus on growing the size of the pie, rather than simply trying to take a larger slice of it.

What spurred you to read that book?

I joined Compass both to build a truly great business and to help make real estate a better industry. What appealed to me about this book is that it engaged with how to make these two goals harmonious, creating new, uncontested market space that could turbocharge growth and raise the standard of an industry.

Has anything else you read in it stuck with you? Would you recommend it to others?

The power of bold imagination, how the only way to have a transformative impact on an industry is to build a company for the world as it will be in 10 years, not to scrap against the competition today. The example that really stuck with me was Cirque du Soleil. In a declining, widely criticized circus industry that showed no promise of growth, Guy Laliberté created an uncontested market space by starting to play an entirely different game than the incumbent leader Ringling Bros. In a few years, Cirque’s productions had been seen by more than 100 million spectators and exceeded revenues that had taken Ringling Bros. over a century to attain. It inspires me to think of what’s possible in any industry if we all focused on building the next Cirque du Soleil, or inventing the car instead of finding a faster horse.

Aaron Shmulewitz

Partner, Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman

What are you reading right now or what did you finish most recently?

I am currently reading “Other People’s Money” by Charles Bagli. It’s an account of the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village deal and the history that led up to it.  

What spurred you to read that book?

I’m reading it because I’ve always been fascinated by New York City history, and a sense of “how did we get here.”  Also, BBWG has been involved in Stuyvesant Town for many years (and I went to Stuyvesant High School, across the street from the development).  

Has anything you read in it stuck with you? Would you recommend it to others?

What seems like a good deal may turn out not to be, nothing lasts forever and protect your downside — all valuable lessons (and highly recommended) for New York City real estate investors, developers and lawyers.