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Tuesday, Dec 6, 2022

Executive Profile

Michael Gelfand is president of Terra Vista Management Inc., a real estate investment management company specializing in luxury, water-oriented recreational vehicle parks, mobile home communities and marinas.


Essential business philosophy: Balancing and optimizing constituencies. I believe profit and investors, employees, local community interests, business partners and the environment can all be ideally harmonized to achieve satisfaction for all.

Best way to keep a competitive edge: Keep learning — surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and remain open-minded.

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Guiding principles: Focus on people and relationships — profits will follow.

Yardsticks of success: In business, achieving growth in scale and profits while maintaining integrity to core values. Personally, a huge turnout at my funeral!

Goals yet to be achieved: I’d like to see life management skills, like communication, conflict resolution and self-esteem, taught in all of our public schools so our future generations are more adept at charting a vision for, and taking care of, our communities, our country and our world.


Best business decision: Not letting the type A side of my personality run amok.

Worst business decision: Not preventing my former boss from engaging in a lawsuit with some of our partners, when settlement would have been a better approach. This ties back into my guiding principle — focus on people and relationships; sometimes you learn that’s more important than the bottom line.

Toughest business decision: Firing a suddenly nonperforming, long-term, loyal employee who had, over a couple of decades, become a close friend.

Biggest missed opportunity: We brought in a partner to purchase a large and subsequently lucrative property when we probably would have won the bid on our own.

Mentor: John Benton, Ed.D. Benton was the director of the Human Development Department at UCLA Extension when I met him. He had a phenomenal ability to look at the world from unique, pragmatic and spiritual perspectives.

Word that describes you: Tall.


What you like best about your job: I play a wide variety of different roles, almost all of which complement my strengths and interests.

What you like least about your job: Bureaucratic gridlock and politicians that support legislation based solely on what they think will get them re-elected.

Pet peeves: People who take their belief systems too seriously.

Most important lesson learned: Leave the toilet seat down! Seriously, in my business and life I’ve learned, thinking of others first will always bring big returns emotionally, financially and in every way imaginable.

Person most interested in meeting: V.S. Ramachandran. He is an M.D., Ph.D., neurologist at UC San Diego who has provided insights into how the brain perceives art and God, as well as numerous brain/mind anomalies. My sense is he is one of the few people I could meet who truly sees the philosophical forest from the trees.

Three greatest passions: Brain/mind/consciousness and the work towards determining what a thought is in terms of the physical mechanisms of the brain; flying and skiing; and of course, my wife Laurie and my kids.

First choice for a new career: I’d like to replace Roger Ailes as head of Fox News Network LLC.


Favorite quote: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing” — Ella Fitzgerald.

Most influential book: “Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution,” by Paul Watzlawick, Ph.D., John Weakland, Ch.E., and Richard Fisch, M.D.

Favorite status symbol: My airplane. What a great way to see the gorgeous countryside in San Diego and beyond and to be reminded of our commitment to making and keeping our region safe and special.

Favorite restaurant: Cavaillon Restaurant.

Favorite place for business meetings: 17,000 feet mean sea level.

Favorite vacation spot: Aspen, Colo.

Favorite way to spend time: Talking philosophy, psychology and politics with my wife, kids and friends.


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