We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeff Bartel, chairman and managing director of Hamptons Group, and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeff, what principle do you value most?
The value of “character” is what’s most important to me. It is at the core of my decisions as to the people, places, organizations, and issues where I wish to spend my time, energy, and resources. I believe that character includes integrity, honor, grace, duty, and grit. We all make mistakes and poor judgments in life, every one of us—we’re blessed to be human and to err. But over time, character is what a person does when no one is watching, and when everyone is watching. The defining moments are those we face when we must confront a company, executive, public official, supervisor, colleague, or friend that doesn’t share in the same ethics or values. If you can’t help them right the ship in corrective action, forge your own path and surround yourself with great people who do the right things and do things right. Good people, companies, and leaders working together can create extraordinary outcomes and enduring, trusting relationships.
Tell us about your career and how you came to launch your own private investment and strategic advisory firm, Hamptons Group?
My career has been a great combination of choices as well as chance. Right after college, I worked in government and politics as the top aide to the mayor of Miami and then as chief of staff to a member of Congress in D.C. These experiences cemented my beliefs around good government and public policy, and helped foster a desire to serve my community and others. After finishing my law degree, I worked as a practicing attorney in land use and government relations at two of Florida’s largest firms, which helped hone critical and proactive thinking skills, dealmaking, and finding creative solutions—but I increasingly found a desire to enter business personally as a principal. Providentially, when a Fortune 150 company asked me to join them as a senior executive and corporate officer, I left the practice of law entirely and found that I enjoyed the commercial world much more. Helping to lead a company with 13,000 employees in 26 states and three countries taught me a great deal about sophisticated business strategy and execution, corporate finance, operations, team management, along with the good and bad of company culture and values. But, most of all, it brought out an entrepreneurial spirit in me—to see commercial challenges as opportunities. So, a decade ago, with my background, experience, resources, and a business thesis I had long wanted to pursue, I started Hamptons Group to build a top-shelf private capital, real estate investment and finance, and strategic advisory firm—with the freedom to establish my own business goals and corporate values, to create an engaging work environment with the best and brightest people, and where I could have more control over my own time, personal priorities and service orientation. Looking back, I now realize that my career path was a natural progression for my personal development—as I moved from environments of bureaucratic and institutional government, to highly structured and siloed law firms and corporations, to the more agile, independent, and mindful firm I own now. Ten years later, Hamptons Group’s commercial ventures, partners, and investments include public and private companies based throughout the U.S., Latin America, Europe, and Asia; national and regional investors and developers; local governments and agencies; public utilities, contractors and vendors; as well as educational and civic institutions. Most importantly, we focus on investing in people, projects, and positions that are consistent with social responsibility, sustainability and environmental integrity, corporate governance best practices, good government, and public integrity.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I can’t tell you how many times I have driven first-time visitors and out-of-town friends from the airport or their hotel, over the MacArthur to Miami Beach past the colossal cruise ships at PortMiami and the mansions of Star Island, up Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue with all its Art Deco and colors, looped back to the mainland across the Julia Tuttle Causeway with the water glistening and the small islands dotting the bay, headed south past the skyscrapers of downtown and through the glass-lined street canyon of Brickell Avenue, over the bridge to the getaway vibe of Key Biscayne peering out at the Miami and Miami Beach skyline on the north side and the Grove and Gables waterfront on the horizon to the south, then down past Vizcaya through Coconut Grove and the tree-canopied streets of Main and Ingraham Highways and Old Cutler Road—all with the sunroof open while playing Steely Dan or Sting music in the background—and have my guests turn to me and say, awestruck, how stunning and beautiful Miami is. As for the best places to eat, it’s tough to beat Prime One Twelve for steak, Joe’s Stone Crab for you name it, Zuma for Asian fusion, Cecconi’s for a great patio dinner, Sapore di Mare for authentic Italian, and my favorite Miami’s Best Pizza near UM, or the cafecito and croqueta window at Versailles. We are so blessed to live in such a vibrant, diverse, sensuous, and sun-soaked city where others want to come to vacation.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a shoutout to frontline workers everywhere who are out there each day doing their jobs, working in a group or high-touch settings that inherently risk their exposure to COVID-19. From health care workers to police-fire-rescue workers and military servicemen and women, from sanitation employees to postal workers, from classroom teachers to store check-out clerks, we cannot thank them enough for their work and personal sacrifice. My company, my family and I are incredibly grateful to them beyond words and will always be so.
Other: Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/hamptons-group-llc