She’s the new CEO and Market Leader for Colliers International’s Nashville office. This position follows her time as the Economic Development Chief for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Today’s FACE is Nashville native — and city cheerleader — Janet Miller. She has a passion for Nashville, and today, she shares what drives that hometown pride and what she hopes to achieve in her new position. Welcome, Janet!
Are you originally from Nashville?
Yes, and there are very few of us here! I grew up in the Hillwood neighborhood of West Nashville and went to seven schools in 12 years: the old H.G. Hill, the new H.G. Hill, Brookmeade Elementary, John Early, Wharton, Peabody Demonstration School (now University School of Nashville) and Hillwood High School.
In your new position as CEO for Colliers International/Nashville, what are some areas you plan to focus on?
Our ultimate goal is to grow Colliers into the top commercial real estate brokerage firm in Nashville and to make it the choice for smart, motivated, successful brokers. My theme for this year is to live life “on purpose,” and that is how we are going to build this place … carefully, strategically and intentionally. That means recruiting the best talent, working with the best clients and running a place where people feel valued for their achievements and love to come to work every single day.
Nashville is continually referred to as the “it” city. Your past job as Chief Economic Development and Marketing Officer for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce gave you a valuable perspective on Nashville’s growth trajectory. How did we become the “it” city?
This “it” city business makes me smile, because it is a little like that country music artist who becomes an overnight success here after 10 years of hard work. I believe Nashville has hit the national media radar because of a lot of people who have put in a lot of work over the past 30 years in this town. People like great Mayors Phil Bredesen, Bill Purcell and Karl Dean; great nonprofit leaders of economic development like Jack Bovender, Dr. Tommy Frist, Beth Mooney and Wayne Smith; city leaders like Butch Spyridon. I think we made some very wise choices early on by adopting the metropolitan form of government and by fostering our role as a leading college town in America. And I believe that having the music industry here created that “creative class” edge that every city in America is now clamoring for. I think our trajectory is going to continue to arc. As Mayor Dean always says, “This is a city whose best days are still ahead of it.”
What do you think is the biggest threat Nashville faces when it comes to retaining its quality of life?
I have recently joined the board of directors for the Metropolitan Transit Authority and have been immersed in “transit talk,” so I would say that the biggest threat to the region is dragging our feet on developing a strategic, regional, long-term vision for transit. Then we must find the courage and the commitment to step up and operationalize it. With 30,000 or so new people loading up their lives to move to the 10-county region every year, we urgently need to figure out how to get them moving around in multiple ways, not just by their cars. Or we can and will destroy this amazing quality of life.
Can you name the three issues that the next mayor of Nashville needs to address?
- Continuing to focus on and improve public education in Nashville-Davidson County
- An aggressive and bold emphasis on regional transit
- A continued focus on making this a prosperous, inclusive place where all people can live, work and have a great quality of life.
Who was an early mentor to you?
Shirley Zeitlin has been an amazing mentor to me. She took me under her wing from the day I walked into the Chamber offices 21 years ago. And Richard Fulton. He was officially my first boss when I was 25 years old. Now, I am technically his boss at Colliers. He thinks that is totally terrific. And it makes me smile how things circle around in this world.
What is a valuable piece of advice you have been given?
“Get very good at being you” if you want to be successful at life. That is something that my 86-year-old Mom told me, and I carry it with me every day. Because if you know me, I’m not your average, ordinary person. I’m more Lucille Ball than Grace Kelly, and I embrace that.
Is there an event coming up that you are looking forward to attending?
I am on the board for the YWCA, and I always look forward to the Wine Women & Shoes event. What could be wrong with hanging out with girlfriends, drinking wine, shopping for shoes and supporting the YW?
Is there a recent meal at a local restaurant that has wowed you?
I am a big fan of Josephine’s, which is right around the corner from my house in Belmont-Hillsboro. The food is always amazing and farm fresh … and I love that we can walk there from home.
Where in town do you go when you’re looking for an inspirational boost?
Radnor Lake inspires me and soothes my soul at the same time. You never know what amazing wildlife you are going to see there. You never know who you are going to see there. And you get an amazing workout on the 4.5-mile, double-ridge hike.
What books are on your bedside table?
Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds, Strong Inside by my friend and fellow Nashvillian Andrew Maraniss, Heritage by Husk Chef Sean Brock, plus a book of rejected cartoons from The New Yorker called The Best of the Rejection Collection.
Do you have any irrational fears?
I have your typical spiders and snakes phobias. I almost wrecked my car once because a praying mantis flew in at me and I jumped out of the car while it was in drive to avoid it. Not a smart move. I don’t like scary clowns either.
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
I have two favorites. Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, AZ, is where I go one to two times a year to be sure my focus on health and a balanced life stays front and center. It is amazing, and the team of experts there are like my family. My truth-telling family. My husband and I also have great friends who have a place in Cabo in Mexico, and we love hanging out there with the whales in February every year.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends?
My two dogs, Felix and Fin, to curl up with their unconditional love every day; time to decompress from a crazy life at home on the weekends with my sweet husband, David; and the chance to continue to see the world and make a difference in it through my career and my nonprofit work. Life is good in 2015 in Nashville!
Thank you, Janet, for sharing your passion for Nashville with our readers. We’re excited to see the great work you’ll do in your new role!
And thank you to Ashley Hylbert of Ashley Hylbert Photography for these beautiful photographs! See more of Ashley’s work at ashleyhylbert.com.