Staff Reporter - Nashville Business Journal
The Boss: On finding, pursuing your bliss
Bert Mathews is part of the third generation of the Mathews family of developers, major players in the Nashville that we know today. He’s also a partner in the Nashville office of Colliers International, one of the city’s top commercial real estate firms. Behind the success of both companies is a former night owl who loves North Carolina basketball, hipsters and his booming hometown. Now a morning person and family man, Mathews is fueled by coffee and a dry wit.
Are you a morning person or night owl? Morning.
Have you always been? No. And I think I probably changed somewhere in my late 30s. Maybe all of us settle down at one time or another.
What sports teams do you root for? Carolina, UNC basketball especially, and any team that my children are playing on.
How many cups of coffee do you have each day? Six. … Four probably. Six sounds absurd. I love coffee. Always have.
What do you think about all of these hipsters? I think it’s great! I think it is great. So I’ve got my hipster tie on. I’ve got my Otis James tie on. So were that I were 28 years old or 29 years old as opposed to 59 years old, but I think that it’s really cool.
And why? One of the things that I’m lucky enough that I get to do is we get to do space for some of these hipster and startup companies. So we were lucky enough to help Emma with their new space, Pinewood Social with its opening, Paramore, who just moved in, too, and Puckett’s are just some of the different people that we’ve been lucky enough to work with.
Where did your first paycheck come from? My first paycheck was digging ditches and … I learned an awful lot.
What did you learn? What I really learned was the value of the people that I was working with, that each person had a role and if each person didn’t do their role, the work didn’t get finished correctly.
What is the biggest lesson you learned from your father? The biggest lesson I learned from my father was how to conduct business. He was very straightforward, he was very honorable, and he believed that a good transaction was when both buyer and seller were happy.
How many unread emails are in your inbox right now? That’s a great question. Friday, because I’ve been out …there were 568 of them. Not unread, but unresponded to. [He checks his computer]… I’m at about 260 right now [on the following Monday.] … Usually I have about 100 unresponded emails.
Who makes you laugh? My wife makes me laugh. Many times when she’s trying, and sometimes when she’s not.
If they had a sale, what store would you have to go to? Bookstore. Parnassus.
What are you a snob about? Food.
Any food in particular? My wife is an incredible cook; my kids are emulating her. … I think Nashville is blessed recently with a phenomenal food scene.
What is your favorite dining spot in town? Etch.
What was your college nickname? Bert. How dull can you be, right? I told my kids I was a nerd. … Maybe that’s why I identify with those hipsters.
How do you unwind? Reading. Fly fishing. Cooking. Working.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Wine.
What kind do you like? All of them.
What’s the most promising characteristic and concern of the new generation? It’s the same thing. They’ve got a lot to learn. So, it’s the most promising because you can just watch ’em change before your eyes.
What advice do you have for your kids when they graduate college? I guess it’s “find your bliss.” You’ve got to find out … what’s going to make you happy and just go for it.
Have you ever been in a fist fight? I have not. And I don’t think I would have done very well if I had been in one.
Company: The Mathews Co. / Colliers International
Address: 300 Broadway, Suite 3, Nashville 37201
Education: MBA, Harvard Business School; bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, University of North Carolina