Take Five With:
Barry Olson, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs
2017 Giving Gala Chair
1. We heard you took your family to Alaska this summer – how was that experience?
First and foremost, we traveled to Alaska to welcome one of my daughters who had ridden her bike this summer from Austin to Anchorage with other University of Texas students as part of the Texas 4000 organization to share hope, knowledge and charity in the fight against cancer. I’m proud to say the students have raised over $700,000. After the emotional high of the welcoming event, my wife and I took her, our three other daughters and one son-in-law literally off the grid into the outback of Alaska. We were all struck by the natural beauty and vastness of the state and we got to see and photograph our share of wildlife with some close encounters with moose and brown bears. It was a great trip with great family time and I’d love to do it all over again.
2. You’ve made a tremendous personal commitment of time and energy (that we absolutely appreciate!) to chair this year’s Giving Gala. Why is that event so important to our industry and community?
I recall the first Giving Gala we had at the Mort Meyerson Symphony Center and what was true then remains true today and that is TREC’s commitment to giving back to the community in which we all live and honoring those that have made a positive difference in people’s lives through selfless service. We are all fortunate to be involved in a robust real estate industry in a robust community and I think TREC leadership and members understand that it’s our responsibility and our privilege to give back.
3. You’ve been involved with TREC for many years, particularly with TREC Foundation. What has been your most rewarding experience in working with us and why?
I’ve enjoyed my time on the Board and the Executive Committee, but my most rewarding experience was being part of the inaugural ALC class. While at the time I thought I was knowledgeable about what made Dallas tick, it was only after my year in ALC and exposure to the mayor and other city leaders that I really became aware of what it takes to run our city while continually looking forward to keep it a great city. Also, probably as important, I made some life-long friends from that ALC class and we remain in touch 20 years later.
4. Who most inspired you to pursue a career in commercial real estate? How was that person inspirational?
I got into real estate through a process of elimination. Upon graduation, I moved to Dallas to join the Analyst program at the old InterFirst Bank. After a year rotating through the various lending programs, I realized that middle market lending was no place for a transplant. Energy lending was on its knees and commercial lending didn’t interest me, so the real estate group was what I chose and luckily it chose me as well. From there, I was exposed to the great real estate firms like Trammell Crow, Hines, LPC, Woodbine, Henry S Miler, among others, and was impressed by all the leaders of those companies and the interesting deals that they were doing and from there I was hooked.
5. If you have a free afternoon – no work, no family responsibilities, no chores – how do you fill the time?
Something outdoors and active, from biking to hiking to golf.
6. BONUS: What’s the best meal in Dallas?
My first chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and fried okra dinner after I moved from Wisconsin to Dallas at the old Goin’ Home restaurant in downtown. A close second was my first plate of Fajitas at the original On the Border restaurant on Knox. Unfortunately, I realize that’s not helpful, as neither are around anymore, but I couldn’t resist.