I was a guest last night, along with hundreds of others, at an ‘open house’ of the new CBRE Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

One of my dearest friends, Lew Horne, an Executive Managing Director of CBRE, was responsible for creating their new global home.

This is no ordinary corporate office space – and it’s received quite a bit of national attention because of CBRE’s unprecedented commitment to create a world-class, contemporary, ‘untethered,’ and free-address corporate office environment. Because it’s ‘paperless’ (they threw out 900,000 sheets of paper), employees can work at a workstation, in a ‘neighborhood’ in the office, or stretch out on a snappy couch. It’s amazing.

From the interns to the CEO, they’re all in the same boat. No plaques on office walls, no family frames, no drawers full of ‘stuff.’ Family pictures are now re-purposed on multiple screens at everyone’s work stations.

It’s chock-full of every holistic, wellness-centered bell-and-whistle under the sun: including stand-up desks, cafes, interior gardens, ‘hydration stations’ with filtered water, and cutting-edge fresh air and interior lighting systems. On the business nuts and bolts side, it cuts down rentable space, is far more efficient, and encourages retention.

But it was risky. It was expensive. And it could have meaningfully upset the applecart of CBRE’s posture with brokers and clients in the region – and could have been a personal disaster for Lew’s career.

It has turned out to be the opposite. It’s been enthusiastically celebrated by the real estate community, is already generating significant new business for CBRE, has formidably emotionally branded CBRE – and has been an meaningful win for Lew Horne, Gensler, Laura O’Brien, and everybody else with their fingerprints on this landmark project.

Deepak Chopra and a who’s-who of Los Angeles were there last night to celebrate CBRE’s courageous and infectious efforts.

Two things knocked me out.

One was that Lew had the guts to trust his instincts; to go against a million and one reasons not to do this, including formidable push-back from lots of folks with big voices.

He did it because he passionately believes that there’s reward in creating a work home that’s healthy for your mind, for your body – and that inspires you to find greatness in what you do. He did it because he believes that his colleagues aren’t just brokering transactions, but catalysts in shaping the urban landscape of cities all around our planet. Lew did it because he really listens to young people – and listens to their dreams and their aspirations for tomorrow.

But the thing that really struck me as I was driving home was about something else…

The promise.

Lew doesn’t wake up in the morning, in his mid-fifties, thinking about how many hours, days and years he still has to grind out before he gets to wade into the retirement pool. He doesn’t think about how he has to get up and do the same old thing again. He’s driving home, and falling asleep, and waking up excited about the promise. The possibilities. The ambitions for tomorrow. The promise for his noble cause at work. The promise for his kids. The promise for his wife. The promise for the school and town committees and organizations he’s passionately involved in.
You teach me, Lew – and my hope for anyone reading this is that you have a ‘Lew’ in your life, that reminds you of the gift of every day – and what a real shot we all have to step up and make a mark in the world.