On Leadership: Michael Blum


On Leadership: Michael Blum

Michael Blum
Michael Blum

Editor’s Note: Leadership can mean different things to different people. The Valley Business Report turned to experienced business leaders in the Rio Grande Valley to learn more about their views on leadership in their own words. Through a question-and-answer format, Leadership Matters presents comments on leadership from Valley CEOs and other business leaders.

Michael Blum has resided in the Rio Grande Valley since 1972 and has for more than four decades been at the leading edge of critical thinking . . . envisioning the future and bringing to fruition major ventures throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

He is an aggregator and interpreter of intelligent market data. In October 2013, he was selected as Easter Seals Humanitarian of the Year for his service to the organization and community. In April 2017, Blum was awarded the Community Service Award by the Mayors Prayer Luncheon Committee for his tireless service them to community over 40-plus years.

Most recently, Mike delivered the keynote address at McAllen’s Veterans War Memorial on Memorial Day.

Former city planner, assistant city manager, elected official and strategic planner, Blum has been active in promoting development of the South Texas Border Region. He has provided a wide assortment of planning, real estate and development consulting services to business, industry and government.

VBR: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?  

Blum: As a partner and managing broker for a commercial real estate brokerage firm, it’s my job to motivate my team of realtors to perform with the highest level of integrity, fidelity and competence. Teaching and encouraging teamwork is the underlying principle of my role.

VBR: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Blum: Integrity. Why? Integrity asserts itself more by commitment and example than by directive. Integrity recognizes external obligations, but it heeds the quiet voice within, rather than the clamor without.

VBR: What is your greatest frustration as a business leader?  

Blum: Watching others follow leaders who are not focused on the truth, honesty and integrity but on furthering their own idea of truth.

VBR: Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Who was it and how did this person impact your life?

Blum: There have been many people who influenced me and my leadership style; however, the one that had the most profound impact was not a person, it was the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, where I was in training as an officer candidate for nearly six months in 1970. President Nixon declared a “reduction in force” so, after 24 and a half weeks, I was given the option of not being commissioned but also to not go to Vietnam and serve out the balance of my tour in the United States. What I learned about leadership there shaped my future educational achievements, employment opportunities and my success in the public and private sector.  

VBR: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing business leaders today?

Blum: Acknowledging that information is power is a core of my being.  Investing resources to obtain accurate information from reliable sources and using this information to further the goals of the enterprise will help anyone overcome challenges.

VBR: What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?  

Blum: Listen to your people.  Use technology to your advantage.  Inform yourself to know more, do more and be more than your competitors. Instill in your people a sense of rightness … knowing when to advance and when to pause and when to encourage others to excel.   

If you know of a Valley business leader you would like to see featured in Leadership Matters, please email the information to Managing Editor George Cox at george@valleybusinessreport.com.

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.