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Transcending Brand

What "Brand Job" is cool enough to leave Microsoft's XBOX Team? And what does it mean when a company focuses on transcending mere brand?

Enter Jason "J" Anderson, the SVP of Brand Marketing for Cadillac Fairview who joins The Chad & Cheese to talk about these topics and much more...

Thanks to our friends at Smashfly for supporting amazing Cult Brand podcasts like...


Jason: ... this reality where a marketing budget is bigger than an HR budget. So we're not going to let 10, 20, $50,000 get in the way of a great idea.

Intro: Hide your kids, lock the doors, you're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.

Joel: Oh yeah.

Chad: Here we go.

Joel: What's up kids? You are listening to the Chad and Cheese Podcast, HR's most dangerous. I'm your cohost, Joel Cheesman.

Chad: And I am Chad strange brew Sowash.

Joel: No way [Inaudible [00:00:47.24] And we are happy to welcome our Cult Brand series marches on Jay Anderson, SVP, let me get this right, SVP of marketing and communications at Cadillac Fairview. Jay, welcome to the show.

Jason: Thanks so much for having me. How you doing guys?

Chad: Great. Well, we already know what you drive, right?

Jason: Yeah. 99% of people will say, "Oh, this is a local Cadillac dealership that they're talking to."

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: Let's straighten that out right off. What is Cadillac Fairview?

Jason: Cadillac Fairview, your right, lots of people used to think that we were, not only the car maker but a car dealership, but we are a commercial real estate company, head office in Canada. Most of our real estate holdings in retail and office are in Canada and then we've also got some international holdings in the U S and South and Latin America.

Joel: Very good. Very good. Now let's talk about you. Give us the elevator pitch on your background and what you do at your capacity of SVP, of marketing and communications.

Jason: Sure. Yeah. I joined the company about six years ago. I was previously, I spent 10 years at Microsoft Canada, leading the Xbox video game business in the Canadian market. Then saw an opportunity to move to a Canadian company and be a little closer to the decision making and strategy. I saw a company that I didn't really know, but as I learned more about them, it was a company that really wanted to leverage brand as a competitive advantage in a category that doesn't really think much about brand. And an opportunity to be in an industry that's facing some headwinds, but taking them on directly with boldness, and I got excited by that.

Chad: You got excited to leave Xbox to go to building buildings and residential? That's pretty amazing. What did they pitch you on this? I'm sure it was pretty much blue sky, right? You can do whatever you want.

Joel: Yeah. And this was before Fortnite came out, right?

Jason: That's right, it's pre-Fortnite, but post Halo. So there you go. Yeah. It was an opportunity to come to a place that is bold in their thinking and is a leader in the space and wants to keep winning. And that got exciting. Yeah, certainly once I had made the decision to leave Microsoft, there was no shortage of people that I knew personally and professionally that were saying to me, "My God, what happened? Why did you get pushed out of Microsoft? Because that must be the only reason you would leave." But I got to say, this has been six of the best years of my career. It's been absolutely amazing. It's been a rocket ship. It's so fun.

Joel: And the company is really old, right? Like 1950's?

Jason: Yeah. Actually, originally started as two separate companies, Cadillac and Fairview. They were like the Hatfields and McCoys, they hated each other. Then in the mid seventies, they said, "Wow, we could actually be more powerful if we joined forces." So they did that in the mid seventies, and haven't looked back since.

Chad: So what does winning look like for Cadillac Fairview? Because I think we can understand, like Xbox, we know what winning means for Halo, you're selling a hell of a lot of copies of those. What does that actually mean for Cadillac Fairview?

Jason: Yeah. We think of it in two ways. One is, I'll just talk about it from a more traditional market perspective, which is to say that we're focused on owning premium real estate in every market in which we operate. We want to hold properties that are the standard of excellence. Whether it's Toronto or Winnipeg or Calgary or Vancouver or Montreal or wherever that might be, we want to hold the best standard of excellence premium properties that exist in those markets. We believe that yes, there's some headwinds happening right now in both the shopping center and office business, but we believe great properties, great real estate with great experiences will thrive in the long term. That's just a traditional more market view.

The financial view of it would be, we're owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, which is a huge pension plan that funds the pensions of over 300,000 teachers. Our job is to drive the valuation of the land. In the same way that we understand the value of the home that we live in, we understand the value of every property that we own, and that adds to about $30 billion in real estate value. So then the pension fund uses that as a hedge against inflation. So winning in that regard, is about growing the land value of the properties that we own.

Joel: For a lot of the companies that we talk to in our Cult Brand series, it's all about, sort of, grand mission. Whether it's Airbnb, anyone can fit in anywhere, or name any sort of cult brand out there that has a mission. It seems to me like real estate would be hard to build a mission around for all of your employees to get behind. Do you find that ... What is the mission that drives everyone? What gets everyone out of bed in the morning? Or is it easier than maybe I'm thinking?

Jason: No. That is where I've spent the majority of my time in my time here at CF, is really ... Once we knocked off some roadblock and tackle low hanging fruit in the brand space, we really then became, well, what if we transcended this brand journey to be more of a purpose journey? And what would it take to become a purpose driven organization and unlock the potential in every one of our employees? When it started with that, we then started down this path of trying to figure out, well, what is our purpose? We had a mission statement at the time, it was very financially motivated, it was about driving returns for our owner, not the kind of thing that excites people to get out of bed every morning.

Jason: So then we said, well, let's get rid of the mission statement altogether, and let's develop a purpose, and let's replace the mission. We really wanted to find something that we felt did a great job of being true to who we are and our heritage as a company, but still aspirationally plant a flag on where we need to go. And so our purpose is transforming communities for a vibrant tomorrow. We think that there are multiple things that set us apart from other real estate companies, including our focus on premium, really great real estate. The fact that we operate the real estate that we build, so we're not just in it to make a quick buck and get out. The fact that every dollar of profit that we drive goes and funds teachers' pensions after a very noble career of developing the next generation of young people. So we landed on this purpose of transforming communities for a vibrant tomorrow, and it feels like it's got that balance of being true to the heritage of the company, but aspirationally planting a flag on somewhere we need to go.

Chad: You talk about balance, which I think is pretty much paramount for every cult brand that is out there. Because obviously you have the teachers that are shareholders, and the pension plan, and obviously after they've done their great work with the kids over the years, they deserve to get the hell out and go have a great rest of their life.

Jason: That's for sure.

Chad: You have them to be able to report to. But also, from a purpose standpoint, you have to balance that. Instead of constantly focusing on just driving real estate value or what have you, that all is more balanced with doing the job and how important the job is. How do you, literally, how do you balance that out? I think that's one of the hardest things any brand can do.

Jason: Yeah. Part of my job as a brand leader in the organization is figuring out how to tell the stories of the great work that the company does. Yes, there's a bit of a stewardship of our purpose and leading that on behalf of the organization, but how do we tell the stories of the great work that we do? I look at that purpose, we have rooted in this notion of transforming communities. An example I would give would be, we're this real estate company based in Canada that not a lot of people have heard of outside of Canada, but the example I would use, earlier last year, I guess, the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship. All of a sudden, the world's guests ... There we go. That's a proud moment, especially if you are a Canadian, when our hockey team hasn't won here. But ... That's right. Yeah. So there's this reality where the world's eyes got opened to this thing called Jurassic Park, where thousands of people gather outside of the arena. The people that aren't going to the Raptors game that still want to partake in the community. And that's an area called Maple Leaf Square that we built. And lots of people don't realize that, but that was literally contaminated land 20 years ago. We created this whole new vibrant district in the city of Toronto and created this gathering place for thousands of sports fans.

Chad: On contaminated land?

Jason: Yes. Exactly. It takes a lot of work to make it uncontaminated.

Joel: Was it a Molson beer dumping ground? Or something I don't ...

Jason: Oh, Canadian stereotype. I love it. That's awesome.

Joel: Yeah. Staying on purpose, purpose many times starts at the top. When we do interviews like this, I like to go to Glassdoor, see the review, see what kind of love or hate a company is getting. Overall reviews, you guys are crushing it, 4.2 out of five. But I was really impressed with your CEO's approval rating, which is 99%. So talk about the CEO's role on purpose and how he's engaged with employees to keep that ball rolling.

Jason: Yeah. There's so many factors that get talked about on what it takes to become a purpose driven organization. If I had to pick one, that would be it. From the very first time I started interviewing with CF about the possibility of what this could be, I got an absolute sense of not only the commitment, but the boldness of our CEO. It was him that ultimately said this is going to be the next great competitive advantage for our company.

There have been multiple times through the journey where, because this has been such a change for CF, there's been multiple times where either things aren't going well or people are resisting and you've got to be careful when you pull that card. But to know that when I need him either in the foreground actively going and doing things or in the background influencing things for our company to see, especially in a more traditional industry like ours, that's very traditional hierarchy driven, it is so critical that our CEO be on board. And I often say to people, "If our CEO wasn't here, I'm not sure I would be." Because either they might've gotten rid of me or I might've said, "This isn't for me." Just that commitment from him as a leader has been amazing.

Chad: It sounds as if you are building toward legacy and do you believe most brands aren't building toward legacy and rather that's one of the biggest issues that they're really building to see the next quarter's report, but they're not really focused on legacy, message and being able to engage their people?

Jason: Yeah. I'm definitely inspired by companies that are clearly doing legacy work. I think about companies like ... There kinds of companies we often look at as reference points. Because we're in a category that doesn't really focus on brand and purpose, in commercial real estate, we often look to companies outside of our category. We regularly go to school on companies like Nike, and Disney, and Nordstrom, and Four Seasons. Those are four reference brands that I often use in the journey that we've been on. I look at examples there, what they are just doing, it's clearly legacy work, they are not just doing this to make a buck. But I think the reality is with purpose, is helping people to realize that purpose is just simply the reason you exist beyond driving a profit. Those two things are inextricably linked. You need a clear purpose to inspire your people and make them feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. And that will help you drive more profit. And the companies that can connect those two things are the ones that really, really have that figured out as opposed to feeling like it's a trade off.

Chad: Right. Most leaders out there, and I think they get overcome with shareholder value. In a leader's eyes, if you were talking to a leader today, what is their benefit to building a legacy?

Jason: Yeah. When I think what that comes down to is, how can you make it about a legacy for everyone, not just for yourself? I think quite often people can get caught up in building a legacy for themselves. Whereas if you take an organizational view of legacy, when Nike takes a stand on Colin Kaepernick or when Nike takes a stand on designing a Pro Hijab at a time when the anti-Muslim sentiment around the world has never been higher, that's clearly not just one person trying to make a name for themselves. That's an organization thinking about legacy. And so I think that if leaders can find that way to transcend, not making it about themselves, but making it about the legacy of the organization, then people really get on board and want to be a part of it.

Joel: Interested in how technology is advancing some of your mission and purpose. You guys have quite a few YouTube videos on your website that talk about the history and the purpose and being an employee. You have social media presence on pretty much every major social network. And I think a lot of people would think a construction/real estate company, what the hell are they doing on social media?

Jason: Yeah.

Joel: Talk about that strategy and how that helps advance the purpose of the company.

Jason: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I think ultimately what we're trying to do is humanize the company. If I had to simplify it down to one thing, that's what I would say. We're a company, and in an industry that can at times be criticized for being unknown. Quite often, if you build a shopping center, that's largely about just building four walls for the world's greatest brands to come in and have a relationship with shoppers. You're a company that can be largely unknown, and at times real estate developers get all painted with a brush of being greedy, being short term focused, doing shoddy work to make a quick buck. So the extent to which we can get out there and get to know people and connect with people and humanize our company and tell cool stories. Whether that is the Jurasic Park example I talked about earlier or there's a construction project we did to connect two with this really cool bridge. We said, hey, why spend a couple million dollars on a very functional bridge when instead you could spend 20 times that on a really cool bridge that's going to create a tourist destination in the city of Toronto? Well, the story of how we built that is actually really interesting. If you put that out on social media and tell the story of how you built this bridge with construction materials from Germany and you did this really cool maneuver to put the bridge into place without disturbing the city street below, there's a cool story there. So how do we humanize the company and how do we use storytelling to help people connect with us in meaningful ways?

Chad: We'll get back to the interview in a minute. Building a cult brand is not easy, especially when you're sending candidates into a black hole, which is why you need friends like Roopesh Nair, CEO of SmashFly on your side.

Joel: Having someone submit a resume that just goes into the black hole is devastating for candidate experience. Doing to close the black hole and ensure everyone has a great experience when applying.

Roopesh: We're doing a group of things out there. One is to ensure that the application experience itself is seamless by integrating with ATS's meaningfully and providing that statuses back and forth and ensuring that the levers of communication are activated every time there is a status coming back and forth from the ATS. Just providing transparency in the application process by leveraging our candidate relationship management solution. The second aspect is then actually ensuring that we're using our matching algorithm to bubble up people pretty quickly where they are a great fit for that particular role in the company and ensuring that the conversational engagement starts right away and the recruiter is notified while the engagement is going on. It's critical then that ways we are prioritizing those engagements which are needed to the most important applicants right away and then eventually ensuring that anyone who's not necessarily a good fit at that point, we are continuing to engage them, whether it is the job they applied for, or for any other job, or for that matter, just general brand awareness and general engagement on what might be a good fit for those guys ensures that that black hole is minimized.

Joel: And it seems to me like one advantage a construction company would have, would be in the realm of charity. Building houses, or rehabilitating, things like that. Are you guys pretty active in charities? And are you using that to progress the mission of the company and maybe attract a better, talented employee that way through caring about the community through charity?

Jason: Yeah, we are. I mean it comes from a couple of places. First and foremost, we don't just want to build stuff. We're in the business of bringing people together. Whether that's you and your girlfriends going for some retail therapy for the weekend and having fun together or whether that's your business taking the next step to go into an amazing office building in the financial district of Vancouver, we're in the business of bringing people together. What we recognize is charity is important, but we look at it from a community impact perspective. We want to be a meaningful part of the communities in which we operate. We're actually already the largest tax payer in every city in which we operate, just by virtue of the property tax that we pay, but there's so much more to it than just paying tax. It's about engaging with the community, creating these vibrant places and recognizing that helping those that are less fortunate is a big part of it. But we ladder it up to this idea of community impact and how we can play a meaningful role in the communities in which we operate.

Joel: And I understand taxes in Canada is no small thing, right?

Jason: It realy is not. Now the healthcare is awesome, but we probably aren't going to get into that debate in this podcast.

Chad: we could. We could. I'd just like to say that I appreciate an employer who understands that taxes are what drives the community, instead of what sucks money out of their shareholder value. So that's a big applause for me on that one.

Jason: Well, thank you. Yeah. Well, it's interesting about that to us, you look at something like the city of Toronto, there's 150,000 people a year coming into this city. So yeah, developers need to go build great communities, but then the municipal government also needs to stay caught up with infrastructure, and you need a tax base in order to do that.

Chad: Right. Right. So you said, and I love this, "We don't just want to build stuff," and my question to you is, being a cult brand, does it mean more to you to actually turn projects down because they just want you to build stuff? And it's like, "No, that's not what we do."

Jason: We really tried to stay focused on creating things that are special. I look at, I have a counterpart that I work quite closely with, I oversee brand and marketing, he oversees architecture and design. And what's interesting about both our jobs, is our jobs are our part art and part science and we share that within the company. So we work really closely together and he's just a great dude. We get along really well. And what's amazing to me is the level of detail he'll go into. He will want a look ... He's obsessive about light in ways that I could never pretend to understand. But then he's gone into buildings where he's seen horrible light and he's gone into buildings where lighting can actually add to the experience. So he'll be obsessive about the type of light that's going to go into a building and the mood that that sets and the way it contributes to the experience. And just the things that ... Building stuff is not part of my gig, part of my gig is telling the story and building the brand. His gig is building stuff. The focus that we put into this notion of, what does it mean to be the standard of excellence when you're creating spaces and you're creating these vibrant places? That's where he spends all his time and it's quite amazing to watch as a partner.

Joel: I'm curious about internal marketing and mission. It sounds like you guys take measuring employee engagement internally pretty seriously. Talk about that.

Jason: Yeah. From an employment perspective, we call it employee engagement. We take that really seriously. We really believe in this idea that a more engaged and excited team is going to create better business results. That's widely believed throughout our organization, which is amazing to have that buy in across the company. That's absolutely a focus for us, so we measure it, we have surveys that we do three times a year. And then we're really serious about following up with the leadership of the company to make sure that they're understanding across our 1500 employees, which might sound small by U S standards, but how do we make sure that every leader that touches our 1500 CFers is really going to that extra mile to create a great environment that's rooted in the values of the organization. We really think a lot about that idea. We have an HR team that's leading our values and a brand team that's leading our purpose. So how do we knit our purpose and our values together to make things A, simple but also B, inspiring for our people?

Chad: Well that being said, there's the HR team and then there's the talent acquisition and all of the, I would say the employer face of Cadillac Fairview, is that an entirely different face? How do you attack that? Because you do have a brand that you have to get out there for the commercial side, right? For the residential side, for the government side, but you also have all these individuals who are coming in through this, "I am looking for a job," side of the house. How do you balance that out? And do you work very closely with the talent acquisition and HR group to do that?

Jason: Yeah. That's going to really interesting change, while we've been on this journey to become a purpose driven organization. It used to be, like when I first started with the company, which wasn't that long ago, six years ago, the marketing and HR teams, we did operate more in silos. And then a couple of years ... For example, we'd have a marketing team going and building a brand to resonate with our shoppers and we have an HR team going out and building an employment brand. And yes, that sounds a little siloed, but I can be convinced on the value of that because a reason to walk into one of our shopping centers might be different than a reason to go work for the company. So you need to make sure you're building things that resonate with those people.

Jason: But what we've found is, over the last couple of years, our teams have worked closer than ever and it's been awesome. And sometimes it gets a little bumpy, sometimes we get into each other's space, but at the end of the day, if you have a great relationship, and you see the value of knitting together purpose and values, and the way that you can unlock that, not only for your current employees but also for future employees in the spirit of creating a great place to work, it's just ... We're in our early stages of that, but it's been so much better being really joined at the hip with our partners in HR, recognizing that you have a marketing team. Marketers are ultimately trained in how to engage an audience and marketers usually train their attention on external audiences. What if we trained a little bit of our attention on the internal audience and unlocking potential in our people? We're seeing a great return on that.

Chad: In what areas do you actually help HR? Because from our standpoint, job postings, their employment site, the actual process methodology that you have to go through to apply for a job in most cases sucks. That experience sucks. And not to mention HR's budget is in most cases much lower than than marketing. So how do you guys really partner and collaborate to make sure that the overall experience for that candidate, for that perspective individual who might be working for you, how they have a great experience? How does that work? Do you guys pretty much really become symbiotic?

Jason: Yeah. It happens in a couple ways. One way, it's already happening, is part of what we call our brand team. Brand marketing and corporate communications, that's kind of all the team that I lead. We've already made a decision as a company that internal communications to our employees sits with the brand team, not with the HR team. So our team is charged with, how do we communicate and engage internally with employee? We've already, for years now, worked closely together in that regard, and we've actually, even just in the last few months, find other ways that we can work even more closely together. And that's been great.

Jason: But then I even think about, my counterpart in HR, she's a great partner and she and I just recently had a conversation about, we have a skill set within marketing around social media. She's thinking about things like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, and she's saying it makes no sense for her to build that skill set within our team, so how could our teams partner? We're just on the cusp of starting to think about what that might look like in the coming weeks.

The last example would be there's, a couple times a year, there are a few times a year, she'll reach out to us and she'll say, "Hey, I have this really great idea. Here's how I think it can drive our purpose and our values with our people, but I don't have budget," to your point earlier.

Chad: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Jason: There's just this reality where a marketing budget is bigger than an HR budget. So we're not going to let 10, 20, $50,000 get in the way of a great idea. The reality is that, that's not a material amount of money within our marketing budget. So she and I just have a conversation about, well, what's the outcome going to be? And why is it great for our people? And who cares? Who funds it? I'll happily throw some money in to go do something great for our people.

Joel: I'd like to dig in a little more than on the tactical stuff of this because I think a lot of listeners right now, their HR and marketing departments are not talking at all. You said roughly three years ago, the two got together, who drove that? What did it look like? Do you guys meet regularly or is it just, "Hey," when there's an idea or something that comes up? Are there real specific things that you do tactically in addition to the overall strategy that you have to work together that some of our listeners might really benefit from?

Jason: Yeah, it's a great question. The catalyst moment for us was the decision to become a purpose driven organization. And once we said that, and once we said one of the key elements of that is going to be to build from within, we knew that our teams had to be knit together.

So what we did that three or four years ago, was we formed this group of people that we called brand stewards. Love the name or don't love the name, doesn't really matter. But what we did is we brought together a couple of handful of people from our senior leadership team. So me as our head of brand and marketing, our head of HR and people, our head of operations. 70% of the employees of the company report up through our operations organization, so we saw him as important and he's accountable the 99% of the EBIT and profit that our company drives. Lastly, someone who's the right hand of our CEO and is a strategy expert whose role has been really to help develop and then bring strategy to life. So the four of us came together three or four years ago and said, if we're going to do this, it needs to connect to our strategic plan. It needs to unlock potential in our people. It needs to build our brand and needs to resonate across our operations organization, which is where our business comes to life through our properties. And so we knit the four of us together from the start in this group called brand stewards. And that's where it all began. And so we've been finding all those natural points of integration along the way.

Joel: And is there structure to regularly meet? Is there an agenda? Does someone drive that?

Jason: Yeah. Amongst our group of four of us, or now five, because we also added our head of innovation to that group more recently. It's changed over time. It used to be, in the early days, we would meet monthly and we would be spending quite a surprising amount of time on pretty small decisions. We reached a point where I went to them and I just said like, "Look guys, I'm not sure getting you together once a month so that we can all debate a $5,000 decision, is really a good use of our time. So let's pull us up a level. We're at a good point on our journey. Let's get more strategy focused and less execution focus." Now we get together on a roughly quarterly basis. Basically, my job is to raise my hand when I have stuff I need their advice on and pull the group together. So it's on an as needed basis as opposed to this regular cadence.

Joel: Got you. You touched on Glassdoor for one of your comments, and I think for a lot of marketing folks, they're aware of Glassdoor but they don't think of it as a marketing tool or anything that they should really be concerned with in marketing, right? Most of the consumer companies we talk to, they're worried about Yelp reviews, Google reviews, Facebook stuff, but you touching on Glassdoor was interesting. So talk about how you engage with Glassdoor or how it's important to you from a marketing standpoint.

Jason: Yeah. The way I think about that, and we don't have great examples of, "Hey, here's some best practices on that," because that is literally something we're about to get started with. Where we come from is a place of, we know we're on a journey to become a purpose driven organization. We know we want to start from within and build out because we can have so much more impact if every CFer feels like they're a part of something bigger than themselves as opposed to just a marketing team going and doing it. We also know that with changing demographics, purpose is more important to millennials than any other living generation. So we know that that's important to drive the top line of our business, but it's also important to fill our pipeline of talent. Once you knit all those things together, you're just like, well, why should I think about Instagram as being any different from Glassdoor? We'll start in the next few weeks in just figuring out, okay, how does our team partner with our people team to really think about that as an important vehicle to engage with people? And be agnostic as to whether that's about, we want someone to go to our shopping center and have a great time on a Saturday, versus we want someone to apply for a job and have a great time in their career.

Chad: Yeah. I think that last part is one of the keys that I want to talk about. You guys focus on the experience, through architecture, design, message, and the big question is, and this is not a got you, because most haven't, but have you actually applied for a job through your applicant tracking system?

Jason: I have not.

Chad: Okay. So generally that is what we call the black hole of the experience for most candidates. Right? They go in, they spend 15, 20 minutes, some even longer, and they don't get that architecture design that I believe most talent acquisition and HR people should be aspiring toward. And I really believe that's where they need brand and marketing's help.

Jason: Yeah.

Chad: They obviously have a ton of things that they need to ... Box checking and things of that nature, but as you guys get together, what is your major focus when it comes to pushing this initiative forward? Especially when it comes to HR? What's the real big piece that is priority for you guys right now?

Jason: Yeah. Internally it is this idea of knitting together purpose and values. And it's helping people to realize that purpose is the why, like, why are we in business? And values are the how in terms of how we behave. Helping to knit those things together to help people see how they can activate purpose in their day to day job, because purpose is not just something for, my partner I spoke about in architecture and design, who's building cool stuff, It's also for someone in the finance organization or a security guard walking the mall, you can activate purpose in your job. If we can knit those things together, help people see how to activate purpose and how to live in a manner consistent with our values, that's where I spend the vast majority of my time with our partners on the people team.

Joel: I want to talk about your quick wins for a second. You've got puppy parks, dress for your day. Talk about those parks and why they're important to your organization.

Jason: Yeah, of course. Yeah.

Joel: Of course the parks sounds amazing. I'm ready to go.

Jason: They are.

Chad: How could you not love puppy parks?

Jason: Dude, next January, it's worth the trip to Toronto. I know a lot of people don't think about Toronto in January, but that's when you can see a puppy park. So, really what this came from was once we developed our purpose in transforming communities for a vibrant tomorrow, we had to pick an approach or a philosophy on how you activate that purpose and how you bring it to life. What we did was we said, "We need bold moves and we need quick wins." You need bold moves so that people see you're serious and are like, Oh my God, wow, these guys are serious about this. We also need quick wins so that people see progress. What we did was, we got our team focused on the bold moves.

What are those two or three big things that we're going to do to show people that we're serious about transforming communities for a vibrant tomorrow? But then what we said with quick wins is, what if we put it out to CFers as a way to engage people across the company who have great ideas. There's this thing that you want to do that you think would be a lot of fun and amazing, and as long as you can show a connection to our purpose, we'll fund your great idea and help you bring it to life. We've had a couple of examples, one are these puppy parks, which have gone surprisingly well. The spirit of puppy parks is, there's this concept called Blue Monday. There's a Monday in January that's generally regarded as the saddest day of the year because people are out of the holiday season, their Visa bill is coming in. It's just like World War phenomenon, and this idea called Blue Monday.

So, we said, well, what if we could go into the lobbies of our office buildings and create something to cheer people up? And we're like, what cheers people up more than puppies? So we bring in a bunch of puppies, actually dog Instagram influencers. We reached out to the owners of Instagram dogs and had them come in and just created a bunch of buzz in these cool little areas where you can go interact with puppies. Whether it's like a puppy ... Thank you. Thank you. And it's got amazing traction with our office clients. They love it. There's people lined up to hug a puppy and get their photo with it and all that stuff. So whether it's that or whether it's ... We're a very traditional industry, so it's actually only in the last couple of years we implemented a policy called, dress for your day, which means you don't as a guy have to wear a suit and tie every day or be in formal dress. What's your day require and how do you address for that? How do we take a different approach to important cultural moments like Pride or Women's Day? Or even a little example like, sadly last year, Blake Nordstrom away, a key member of the Nordstrom family. It turns out he was actually friends with our CEO. So why not take that moment to tell our story to our employees, of our CEO's connection with Blake and what that relationship meant and have this incredibly human moment. Just thinking about these little quick wins so that our people and our customers see progress.

Joel: There are certain brands that benefit from where they're from. Thinking of Canada, Tim Horton's, hockey and beer, does being a Canadian company come like ... Is that in play as your brand or do you think about that at all as a Canadian company?

Jason: We think being Canadian helps as we look to build on a global scale. As we go build out our presence outside of Canada, we think being Canadian and being owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan helps the conversations that our investments team is having around the world. As I look at our domestic business though, which is where we focus a lot of our time and is a significant portion of our business, I actually think in inside of Canada, it's less about being Canadian, it's more about those emotional moments that happen in local communities. Because I think it's not so much that the shopping center is owned by a Canadian company, I think it's about the fact that the shopping center is in your local community. That's the place where your kids saw Santa and the Flash for the first time. That's the place where as a teenager, your parents let you roam free. That's where a lot of people had their first kiss and their first date. That's where you bought your prom dress. That's where you had that really great weekend with your friends. The emotional connection to the community role of a shopping center at that low, local level I think is more powerful than that national pride of being Canadian.

Chad: And much better than going on Amazon, that's for damn sure.

Joel: I'm thirsty for a Labatt right now. I can not tell you.

Jason: I'm so glad you guys said both those things, not me.

Chad: Jay, We really appreciate you taking the time. And if anybody wants to find out more about CF, where will they go? Where should they go?

Jason: Yeah. Go to or just flip me an email at

Chad: Excellent, man. We really appreciate it. Thanks.

Joel: Thanks, Jay.

Jason: Thanks guys. Appreciate the time.

Chad: We out.

Joel: We out.

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