The Start of Something New

April 29, 2019
Written by: Wendy Mann, CAE, CREW Network CEO

I was thinking about the day I got my new car. It had the new car smell, it shined and sparkled; and it felt like heaven driving down the road. It was comfortable and cozy—yet I still had a lot to learn about my new ride. There were buttons and dials everywhere, there were lights that went on automatically and those I needed to learn to turn off manually. There was a clock that read the incorrect time—I had to learn how to fix that. And WOW… my Sirius/XM radio would get set to all my favorite stations. And of course, I had a very cool navigation system to learn. 

At first all I wanted to do was drive. Then I figured I had better learn how to use some of my fancy new buttons and dials so that I could leverage all the technology and power at my fingertips. It took me several weeks, but I learned where all the sweet spots are in my car… the ways to get my seat heated, my window defogged and my music from any system I choose.  Ahhh… driving never felt so good. And I could tell my car to call my peeps!

Whether you buy something new like a car or you start something new like a chapter, there is always a great deal to learn, discover and traverse. Just like taking advantage of all the bells and whistles in a new car, a new CREW Network chapter has the same stages of discovery, development and driving forward to leverage momentum. 

I was fortunate a few weeks ago to visit one of our newer chapters, located in Oklahoma City. Like learning my new car, CREW-OKC—now 2 1/2 years old—had a strategy to learn everything it could about being part of CREW Network and how to leverage all the resources we have to offer. The chapter leaders focused on learning about their local commercial real estate leaders and who might get involved. They explored the “hot buttons” that needed to be pushed to bring together a group of dedicated senior executive women to build the foundation for a chapter.

CREW Network CEO Wendy Mann speaking at a CREW-OKC event

CREW-OKC has intentionally grown membership by adjusting the “dials” and connecting with others. I shared the CREW Network story at the chapter’s monthly luncheon. Speaking to members and potential members, I explained who we are today and where we are going as an organization. Our business network is second to none in the industry. We are building the leaders of the future in CRE and creating a pipeline of talent who will be the innovators and entrepreneurs in the industry in the future. 

Through the real estate tour of the local market, I was able to see the growth and vibrancy of the community that Oklahoma City is building. With that comes great responsibility to collaborate for the betterment of the community. And that is what CREW Network is all about. Connecting with one another to build, lease, manage, invest, lend and create a community. 

Our first stop on the tour was the adaptive reuse development of the First National Building which set the tone for the day: AMAZING! Special thanks to CREW-OKC member Kathy Bridges at Cornerstone Development and her generous CEO Gary Brooks for sharing the vision of what will be and the story behind what was. I loved hearing about how this gracious historic building will again become a beacon for city dwellers.

First National Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The First National Center development in downtown Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City has some unique neighborhoods with fun names. On this trip, I had the opportunity to visit:

  • Bricktown – a former industrial area that has been transformed into a chic dining and shopping area with a water taxi, too!

  • Automobile Alley – a former neighborhood where all the old car dealerships were located. They have kept the historical buildings and dealership signs, but have transformed the area into multifamily, retail and entertainment. A great neighborhood for walkability.

  • Deep Deuce – Want to go hipster? Hit Deep Deuce for an amazing nightlife scene with cool cocktail bars, whiskey joints and tons of musical options. 

And that’s not all… there’s also The Paseo Arts District, Film Row and much more to this community. It was great to get a bird’s eye view of all the new initiatives and thoughtful development in OKC. I was especially impressed when told they moved Interstate 40 to accommodate a major development project. Thanks to Julie Kriegel, Cathy O’Connor, Michelle Anderson and Sally Hazenfratz for their excellent tour guide skills!

The CREW-OKC board of directors and CREW Network CEO Wendy Mann
The CREW-OKC board of directors and myself. Pictured from left (back row): Catherine (Cathy) O'Connor, Julie Kriegel, Carly Richardson, and (front row): Kathy Bridges, Michelle Anderson, Kristin Killgore, Sally Hasenfratz, Wendy Mann, Carla Sharpe, and Megan Morrissey. Not pictured: Jane Jenkins, Monica Wittrock, and Amanda Ward-Neikirk.

Yes, CREW-OKC was the start of something new in this Midwest city a couple years back. Today, they have figured out the “dials” and “buttons,” they are navigating with ease, and enjoying their ride to a successful and compelling chapter of CREW Network. Kudos to all involved!



Wendy Mann, CAE

Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.

Twitter: @crew_wendym

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