Real Estate Weekly
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A Tribute to Jim Kinsey

Last month, we all lost an amazing person too soon when Jim Kinsey passed away unexpectedly. Jim was not only a dear friend and partner in Avison Young’s Tri-State Investment Sales group, but my sounding board for over 20 years. I still feel like I am in shock, as many who knew him still are. We, and I know his family, are grateful for all the support to help us get through this difficult time.

I would love to share with everyone what Jim taught me, and for those who didn’t know him, a sense of who he was. I got to know Jim by representing his family in the sale of a property early in my career. After we closed our first deal together, it was very clear that he knew a lot more about the business than I did. In addition to working for his family, he also had his own mortgage broker business. He knew how to get deals done. I convinced him to join Massey Knakal and try investment sales.  He loved that company and its people, but quickly outgrew his territory and decided to start his own brokerage firm, ERG, which rose in the ranks very quickly. He later started Kinsey Capital. What is amazing is how he kept in touch with all those people he worked with over the years. 

We’d meet up frequently for coffee or catch up over the phone to trade notes and share some laughs. He had such a great way about him and always knew the right thing to do.  Three and half years ago, when I wanted to start a new investment sales team at Avison Young, I called Jim. It would be a heavy lift and I couldn’t do it alone.  He was the only one who could do it all.  He agreed to be my partner in the new venture. We spent time round the clock planning how to build out the best sales team in New York City.   

Once at AY, Jim quickly became the go-to to get things done. In addition to fulfilling the role as the sales manager for our team, our company asked him to step up to the role of COO of US Capital Markets. He was, in fact, working two jobs, but somehow always had time to be there for people, especially the newcomers looking to break out into the business.

The loss of Jim was shocking and will take years to process, but Jim would want us all to continue soldiering on. I’ve heard the saying that no one wants their tombstone to read “I wish I spent more time in the office.” Although this is certainly true for Jim, as family always came first, he loved the business and the process of working the deal. It was hard not to get caught in conversation and start sharing war stories. 

Some of the greatest things I’ve heard from colleagues is that Jim made them a better person. Just being around him had that effect. Some even said he had a certain “Yoda-like” quality to him. 

Here are some lessons learned from Jim that we can all embody to have his memory live on:

  1. Family first – as busy as Jim was, he was always there for his wife Nicki, his son James, and daughter Noel. He’d leave events early so he could take his son to a hockey practice. Be there for your family.
  2. Be an advocate for your people – take a genuine interest in those around you. Have a giving mentality without an expectation of getting anything in return. 
  3. Shoot straight – sounds like an obvious one, but sometimes it’s easier to talk yourself around a situation. Tell it how it is. People appreciate the truth, even if it’s not the news they want to hear.
  4. Always deliver – don’t overpromise, and underdeliver. Your reputation of getting things done is far more important than coming up short.
  5. Be a problem solver – focus on the solution, not the problem.
  6. Don’t take yourself too seriously – especially when life get tough, find the humor in things. 
  7. Grow everyday – Jim was always learning and open to coaching. 
  8. Find your inner peace – Jim embraced mediation and Buddhism. He was able to stay balanced and always have a positive outlook on life.

Above all, what’s most important is to live each day to its fullest. It’s cliché, but Jim’s passing reminds us all to never take each day for granted.  Make a special effort to reach out to those around you today to express your love. Ask yourself “what would Jim do?”

For those who would like to support Jim’s family, they have asked for donations to his children’s 529 college plans. Code for James Kinsey III: L9Y – Q3N. Code for Noelle Kinsey: 33P – T42

Please find a link here with additional information on how to contribute:

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