Meet Adam Leitman Bailey, Renowned Real Estate Attorney, New York Times Best-Selling Author & Loving Father
I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Leitman Bailey who is an award-winning and New York Times best-selling author, whose latest title is children’s book HOME. Besides being a highly-ranked New York real estate attorney at the eponymous real estate law firm he started 18 years ago, he is the father of two young children and the owner of several properties. In 2017, he was also named “Humanitarian of the Year” by a local high school for his charitable efforts, including founding a not-for-profit organization, Building Foundations and Dreams, aimed at giving back to the local community and providing educational opportunities for children and young adults.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us your back story?
I have a compelling need to teach and help others — maybe because my parents, step-parents, sisters and brother-in laws are teachers. So when my first book, Finding The Uncommon Deal (www.findingtheuncommondeal.com) became a hit, won awards, and made the best seller lists — and most importantly, when I received the hundreds of emails and contacts from people who benefited from the book — I became even more hooked on writing. I am also a columnist for several law publications and as a real estate law and litigator, we do a lot of persuasive writing to help our clients seek justice.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
I do not think any one story is interesting but I can give you a day in the life of my career. I wake up at 6 am and go for a run in New York City’s Central Park and then spend some time with my two boys. I am either in court or at my office desk looking at the estuary of the Hudson River by 9 am. If I am in court, I am giving a passionate plea on why my client deserves justice… as if my life depended on it. If I am in the office, chaos ensues with rapid calls coming in as well as meetings with clients and other attorneys at the firm. There is a crisis every day at the firm concerning some matter or client and we have to be unemotional and get the fire put out. Lunch is usually a salad at my desk. I may have to travel to a building or a meeting during the day or I may have meetings at my office. I am in charge of 50-plus people that work almost as hard as I do. The average day ends around 9 p.m. when I head home to my sleeping children and my amazing wife.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I could not get a job for nine months after law school. My parents are teachers and I had no connections to any lawyers except for one. He took me out to lunch. He ordered some weird sounding drink and I assumed it was alcohol. Although I am not much of a drinker, I ordered a gin & tonic to fit in. He was so shocked at my choice and mentioned so. Looking back, I realized the contact must have ordered a Perrier — I had not been to any fancy restaurants by that date so that word was not in my vocabulary. I did not get the job.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Besides helping children learn about different homes and adjust to moving or teaching first-time buyers how to purchase the home, I am also trying to save the world. I just flew back from New Orleans to give a presentation on preventing the next casualty and I co-authored a 25-page paper on what building developers and lawyers can do to prepare their buildings and towns so when the next disaster occurs, we will not only be better prepared, but our homes and offices and the amount of deaths can also be greatly decreased. If you look at those casualties where the towns built better buildings, they suffered less and came back stronger.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
The book is fun and beautiful and exciting and full of adventure. And that is what children are supposed to get out of it. But every page is very busy. With my kids who are two and three years old, I am an active reader. We change up the lines in the book and we discuss each page; I ask questions about what is on the page and HOME gives a lot to speak about.
But the most interesting story about the book is who is behind it — the deep belly of the author who is writing by drawing upon personal experience.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
HOME will be every child’s first real estate book and will introduce the readers to homes all around the world. It takes children on an adventure so they can discover what each home has to offer. The most important lesson is the importance of being with your family over all else — even if that means staying in the small home in the big city over choosing the riches of the fantastic homes.
Who living or no longer with us has inspired you the most and why?
By the age of 47 or 48 (depending on which birth certificate you rely on), Alexander Hamilton became the most important American and New Yorker in our history. Since I was young I have striven to be like Alexander. I am now 48. He created the New York Post, Bank of New York, national dollar… He was a leader in fighting in the Revolutionary War, the main author of articles supporting the Constitution… and so much more. AND he also came from humble beginnings and was rejected from the school of his choice, but never gave up and kept producing and producing. I hope to one day have a legacy that can resemble in even the smallest way, Mr. Hamilton’s.
How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?
With HOME, I continue working to share my book with children and with the community. My team worked diligently to get over 300 copies to local schools, libraries, and non-profits in local underprivileged areas. Through this outreach and by reading to students in the New York City area, I hope to be an advocate for literacy programs, teach kids about real estate, and provide opportunities for learning to those who don’t necessarily have these things we take for granted. Besides being an exciting and timeless book, HOME was written all for charity and as part of my mission to help others.
Meanwhile, my first book also aims to help others by teaching first-time buyers how to purchase a home. So I know I am helping individuals achieve the “American Dream” as well as making children happy and helping them adjust to moving. I try to make sure everything I do makes my community a better place to live.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?
Writing is so fulfilling and gratifying and each book I consider another child. But it is a slow, difficult, and even lonely path to success, so do not do it for money. Do it because you want to help others by telling your story or because you have a compelling story that you need to get out there and will love telling. It should be something that you do not care becomes a best seller or wins awards and recognition. For HOME, I know I have it 100 percent; I am proud of it and I know that each kid I read it to or hear feedback from has loved it. When or if the awards come in, I will be the happiest person on earth, but that is not why I wrote the book.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I am already working on that child by child, community by community, speech by speech, tour by tour, scholarship by scholarship, intern to intern, mentorship to mentorship. I am constantly working to finding jobs for struggling youth, writing inspirational and educational books and articles, speak to those who I can teach… All through the charity I founded, Building Foundations and Dreams (www.buildingfoundationsanddreams.com).
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. I was told by my elders that I would never be a lawyer because that was a profession for rich people. I then wanted to become a journalist. But the lesson is never to give up on your dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem. In addition, always remember that the more and harder and better you work, the more doors will open up so you can climb that ladder to success.
2. Things are going to get really, really bad and horrible — or at least they will feel that way. Keep your head high and believe in yourself, and success will come — maybe in a different form than you originally envisioned — but if you give everything everyday and you stay disciplined, you are bound to make it.
3. Holistics — not everything can be about work. You need other interests. You must exercise hard, eat well, and be cultured so you can enjoy the best things life has to offer.
4. There are no excuses. They only delay progress and success. If you want to know what is wrong, look in the mirror. Make solutions, not excuses.
5. The more pain I endure, the stronger person I become. Think about this every time things go “wrong” and, it may be years, but your struggle will at least make a great story and a great lesson. I did not have a good childhood. But that made me stronger and gave me the drive to produce and keep producing a quality product every day.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them :-)
One of the my main goals in life is to make lawyers and myself better role models. I grew up with no living professionals as idols. I studied and read books on the greats: Lincoln, Churchill, Hamilton, Rockefeller, Gandhi and King. But with social media, young persons can follow living, breathing role models almost intimately. We that excel have an obligation to act as such role models, and to give back in every way we can.
I have two living idols: Michael Jordan, because in his profession, he reached the greatest heights possible under difficult circumstances. And Michael Milken, as I based my law firm and my career on how he ran his business and loved the way he gives everything 100 percent and brings 100 percent loyalty out of his employees, to the point where they would do the unbelievable for him. Despite difficult times when many would hide, Milken created an even greater organization benefiting hundreds of thousands of people.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!