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Eastern thought meets Western action

  • 2011-07-27
  • Interview by Nicholas Brown

Mindaugas Treigis is one of the rising stars in the Lithuanian real estate market. He is a unique man, not yet 30; he is already a self-made millionaire and deals with some of the most prestigious companies in the region, both in and out of the property market and is a managing partner at the real estate firm MAP Property. In his private time, he is a follower of many Eastern beliefs, which he believes to be integral to his career success. The Baltic Times sat down with him to speak about his perceptions, beliefs and to get a bit of advice.

As a managing partner of MAP Property, what is your role?
My role at the company comes in a number of different forms. I am constantly on the lookout for new clients to attract to the company, with an emphasis on large corporates and affluent individuals – both from the Baltics and further afield, who are interested in large real estate projects. I look to create new concepts and projects, through identifying opportunities in the Baltics – especially ones that cannot be done by others, either due to lack of creativity or the inability to identify niche opportunities.

How long has MAP Property been in existence as an entity?
While the other two partners and I have been working together for years, the entity itself has only been in existence for the last two years, making it a relatively young company.

Despite your impressive credentials, you are of course still a relatively young man; when did you first enter into the real estate industry?
It all started seven years ago, while I was into the third year of studying my economics BA at Vilnius University. My friends and I had decided to start looking for employment. I had four prospective interviews in the same number of differing industries; however, a close friend of mine was working at one of them – thus favoring his company over the rest! And on his excellent advice, I joined. It was, of course, a real estate company, In Real. 

Obviously, the clients you started with are very different to the ones you have today; what did you start with?
Initially, I was dealing with small and medium sized companies who either wanted to rent, buy or sell buildings. I was incredibly motivated by the fact that I had managed to close 12 deals in my first 3 months of working there; I truly felt I had found my occupational passion between those four walls and by the third year, I had managed to attain the status of leading broker (by a considerable margin) amongst a 100-strong team.

What would you say have been the defining deals of your career?
In my fourth year of business (2007), I had attained 10 deals, each worth more than 3.5 million euros – two of which were in excess of 10 million euros. This year was no doubt a cumulative formation of my efforts over the previous years, allowing me to have a significant private capital reserve which has given me a significant opportunity to invest in the real estate market here myself.

How would you say Lithuania has suffered from the economic hardships over the last few years?
Contrary to popular belief, I believe that Lithuania has in fact gained from this crisis! To use a comparison, I would equate it with Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest.’ The strongest players in the industry have survived, while the so-called ‘deadwood’ has been forced out. In years to come, this will no doubt benefit the countries’ industry as a whole.

What do you envision for the future of MAP Property?
It is the goal of the company to become the most well reputed, professional company in the region. However, we have no desire to be the largest corporate in the region, as we pride ourselves on the choice of our projects, and would take quality over quantity any day.

Would you see a possibility for international expansion?
Plans for the company’s expansion are afoot, however, we like our actions to speak louder than our words, so I will remain confidential as to their exact nature and let our results do the talking.

Over the coming years, what do you perceive to be the future of the Lithuanian real estate industry?
The future is no doubt bright, although I doubt a ‘boom’ will be seen anytime soon. There are a number of quality investment products in the market at this time, of differing roles: commercial, industrial, etc. So we will no doubt see transactional activity – both from local investors and abroad. At this point in time, it is very common for local real estate companies to be actively promoting the unfeasibly spectacular commercial wonders that this region apparently holds. We, however, are trying to maintain an element of realism concerning the current market situation, not optimism.

FDI is no doubt integral to Lithuania’s economic health; what could the nation do to ensure an increase in the future?
One priority that is absolutely essential would be the increased transparency in local documentation and bureaucracy. We are competing with various other countries in the region for foreign investment and need to ensure a reputation of business transparency that trumps our competition, thus providing us with a USP (unique selling point). I also share the view with many other industry players that Lithuania no doubt needs to improve its self-marketing strategy. The LDA (Lithuanian Development Agency) is no doubt facing in the right direction, given recent investments from multinationals; however, more, undoubtedly, needs to be done. Ensuring improved communication with the rest of Europe is also essential, although it is also an expansive operation. Not only through transportation connections, such as rail and air, but in improving its ability to connect itself with people via platforms, such as Facebook. Part of this marketing and recent investment success would no doubt also benefit from the advertising of said achievements, as ‘positivity’ no doubt attracts ‘positivity!’ Although it pains me to say this, Lithuania needs more confidence in itself; the only way that countries within the CEE region will lose their prejudiced perception as commercially unviable [places] will be to shed such a perception of themselves.

Immigration (and emigration) is no doubt a hot topic at this current point in time; what are your personal views on the subject?
The current trend of what is almost a mass exodus from the country carries both positive and negative impacts. On the positive side, the majority of people who are leaving are both unskilled and lack higher education. Their choice to leave Lithuania is most likely due to their unemployment, thus their departure ensures less of a drain on the nation’s resources. Also, for the most, the emigration is temporary and their return after a number of years will bring with them new experiences and skills, and also greater ties with countries abroad – potentially improving FDI links. On the negative side, such an exodus no doubt leads to a shrinking market, as the workforce starts to dwindle.

Do you believe Lithuania should do more to encourage immigration into the country?
There is no question as to the rewards that can be reaped by such an enterprise. Just like in any other part of the world, migrant workers are employable at lower wages than locals, thus ensuring the same level of production at a cheaper price – an effect that will streamline the economy to an even greater extent. Efforts to attract professionals should also be made, as their knowledge and expertise will fortify the local market.

For people aspiring to attain the same level of success you have achieved in your career, what would you recommend?
An unsung benefit that I cannot stress enough is to throw away your television! Television is merely a way of unproductively wiling away the hours. Occupy your time with reading and expanding one’s intellectual capacity. When I speak of reading, I do not mean thrillers, but books that not only allow one to read upon the subject of self-betterment within your mind and thoughts, but also one’s actions.

Another recommendation I would have is to cease the reading of newspapers – at least ones based on current affairs. The affair of news reporting is one where negativity trumps all – the most horrific stories from around the world will always be on the front page. Such negativity does nothing to boost one’s own ‘positivity,’ as letting it in will create a disadvantageous influence upon one’s creativity. To learn independently and to satisfy your intellectual curiosity through your own efforts and not simply ingesting what is given to you is also a must. Independent thought allows one to identify niche opportunities that the ‘crowd’ will fail to notice. Last but not least, I would urge people to advertise themselves! You - yourself - are a sales product, one that needs promotion just like any other. Such self-advertisement is also part of boosting one’s own self-confidence, a deficiency that is suffered by many Lithuanians, and without the confidence to go out and achieve, such success will never be seen.

As you no doubt dedicate many hours to your operations, what do you like to do (when you get the chance!) in your free time?
When it comes to sports, I am passionate about a number of different activities. Cycling is something I try to do at the end of every working day, while living in a city such as Vilnius offers many beautiful routes. Tennis is another sport I actively pursue, where I play in Sereikiskiu Park during the summer and the impressive SEB Arena in winter. On the side of relaxation, I am a follower of both the concepts of Cigong and Yoga. In my view, these two activities are absolutely essential to business success, as they achieve what is impossible for most, the relaxation of the mind. Both schools of thought teach that your mind is your tool and not your master, allowing you unparalleled freedom.

What would you recommend for any readers looking to enter the real estate industry?
Do it today! If you feel the industry is for you, then apply and get involved. Procrastination will bring you nothing. Once one has spent a certain length of time within the industry, decide if you are happy; if so, stay, if not, stop and keep looking until you find your passion; the world is a free market, after all! I know one man who changed 12 jobs in 2 years; now on his thirteenth post he has finally found what he truly desires as an occupation.