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Ask anyone in the CRE industry about Sam Zell and you’re likely to hear the word “icon” uttered at least once. The founder chairman of Equity Group Investments was one of the earliest adopters of institutional capital in commercial real estate and boasts a lengthy track record of turning around distressed companies and assets, taking companies public, and leading industry consolidations. Now nearly 80 years old, the indefatigable Zell shows no signs of slowing; in addition to his work with Equity Group Investments, he is also chair of five companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

In a recent wide-ranging discussion with CBRE’s Spencer Levy, Zell spoke freely on everything from the future of the office sector to Zoom culture to his own beginnings as a child born to Polish immigrants 90 days after they set foot on US soil.  The excerpts below are some of Zell’s best observations. 

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