From knowledge to enterprise

For Greg Vogel (BS Real Estate '85), ASU and W. P. Carey meant everything to the early knowledge that led him to build his enterprise — one the day he graduated, and another just two years later. You read that correctly: Vogel founded Land Advisors Organization, where he currently serves as CEO, just two years out of college. And that’s just one of the reasons he’s among our latest inductees to the W. P. Carey Alumni Hall of Fame. We caught up with him to discuss his civic involvement, business success, and everything in between.

Philanthropy and civic involvement are hugely important to advancing the common good — why do you choose to focus your philanthropy and civic involvement on ASU?

First, as a real estate graduate from ASU, the university gave me a foundation of knowledge and contacts, which in turn helped propel me. My first partners in business were all Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers out of ASU.

Second, a dozen years ago I was inspired by Dr. Crow, asked to join the Foundation Board, and to this day believe in furthering Dr. Crow’s vision of the New American University, as well as its local and global impact.

What do ASU and W. P. Carey mean to you?

ASU and W. P. Carey meant everything to the early knowledge that led to building my enterprise. It means so much to me to see the students and graduates gaining knowledge, maturity, and eventual careers — and maybe even building their own enterprises because of the same knowledge and contacts that I gained and was able to put to use.

Why do you care about the business school?

The W. P. Carey School is a pillar of the business community. It is where seeds are planted and crops are cultivated. We are growing our future business leaders; supporting that also supports the region and its economic growth.

ASU and the business school have changed quite a bit since 1985. Why is it important for you to stay involved and invested in your alma mater?

It has changed radically for the better. Improving constantly, observing what goes right, and enhancing those elements continues to provide a better result. Investing in a better result for those who follow is what it is all about.

You founded a company just two years after graduating from ASU — what was that transition like for you?

Getting off student loans and Pell Grants meant transitioning to Visa and Mastercard! I had actually started my first company the day I graduated and that was an exciting time. Land Advisors followed two years after graduation, and it was 13 days prior to the 1987 stock market crash. Learn by fire.

Anything you wish you’d known prior to or in the process of launching your business?

I am glad I did not know what could not be done. Starting a land company in Phoenix, despite not knowing any land owners or having any family history or business contacts, should have deterred me.

How did you know entrepreneurship was the right path for you?

My personality profile is “innovator.” It is very hard to work for anyone with this profile. I had been an entrepreneur since I was nine years old, and never ceased to think of innovative ways to create value of others.

Any experiences that stand out as game changers?

Being hired by CBRE as an intern, then being hired by my first mentor in business, Mike Mueller. He sat me in front of something that 60 other brokers did not have in 1983 — a Mac — and learning about databases and financial projections on spreadsheets were absolute game changers for me.

What about real estate is exciting to you? What might students be surprised (or excited) to learn about following a similar career path?

The people and the variations each day and deal brings. Anyone can do what they set their mind on achieving. The land business is complicated and highly cynical. It is also a long gestation period for transactions and ultimately carving a niche. It requires fortitude and extreme commitment to succeed.

How has the W. P. Carey School influenced your journey? Any people of importance or highlights to share?

It was the initial seeds of knowledge that I was given and provided me a foundation to build on. A former professor came to my office in my first year in business. I shared with him the database I was building in land ownerships. He gave me great advice that was so vital. He said: “Don’t get in the business of selling this data, it will only get cheaper in the future. Stay in the business of interpreting and advising on the data you gather.” Sound advice that is applicable to this day.

What advice or tips for success do you have for future W. P. Carey graduates?

Find something you are passionate about. Work harder and smarter than your peers and competitors. Always be learning and sharing. Give back and pay it forward. Finally, in addition to what you know, who you know — and what value you create for them — will always make a difference.