Howard Rubenstein says that compared to other industries, real estate is pretty optimistic by nature.

Howard Rubenstein and his public relations firm Rubenstein Associates has 225 employees that serve 450 clients, among them such large organizations as News Corp., the New York Yankees, Bloomberg LP and some of the city’s largest hospital organizations. He also has some very large real estate firms, such as Broadway Partners, Rudin Management, Silverstein Properties and Vornado Realty Trust. In part because of this, Rubenstein was awarded the Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award Winner early this year at the Real Estate Board of New York’s annual banquet. Click here to find out more information about next year’s Jan. 17 banquet. How do you think the commercial real estate market has held up since you won your award early this year?

Howard Rubenstein: Overall it’s been a relatively lackluster year for New York’s commercial real estate market. Office leasing activity has been sluggish at best. Investment sales have been relatively active for mid-range properties, but top-of-the-market buildings have not found buyers willing to pay premium prices. New office construction has been virtually nonexistent except for the World Trade Center site and the Hudson Yards, the later which represents the most positive sign and hope for a rejuvenated market moving forward. Do you think that is going to put a damper on the mood of people at the REBNY banquet next year?

Rubenstein: My many clients in real estate and all of the people I know and represent have always been optimistic. If you’re in real estate, you’re truly optimistic. It might take a little while, they’re patient, they’ve come off some wonderful years, and now they’re sort of bucking the trend of a very sluggish overall economy. The mood at the REBNY dinner, and the mood of the clients I have, is forward thinking. They’re in it for the long run, and they will stick. I don’t see them abandoning hope. Hope is still on their front burner. What did winning the award mean to you last year?

Rubenstein: They gave me the Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award. Harry Helmsley and the Helmsley Organization, was one of my very first real estate clients, over 40 years ago. Just the name Helmsley, and the memory of Harry Helmsley and Leona, meant a great deal to me. If it were called something else, it might not have had the resonance of what I gathered from that particular award. I keep the award in my office, and on it they cited my vision, wisdom, talent and dedication that have made New York a greater city. I wouldn’t have dared write it that way! The boastfulness of it if I said it would have turned all my friends off! But it meant a great deal to me to receive that award. How are your real estate clients different from other business industries?

Rubenstein: In real estate there are so many family-based businesses where the personal touch is essential. As large as some of these corporations become, they still value the personal touch and the personal attention that I try to give to them. I don’t just pass off the accounts to my staff, but I try to understand the goals of each and every one of these real estate companies as they grow. I started with some of them when they were very small. If you appreciate their goals  and then try to enhance them and give them good advice so they don’t become overwhelmed by ego or misadventure, you provide great value. That’s why my business grew.