When he was visiting South Florida in the winter of 1996, developer R. Donahue Peebles read an article in the Miami Herald about a rundown hotel on Miami Beach called the Shorecrest. Over the next several years, Peebles would combine that property with one next door and create the Royal Palm, the first convention-class hotel on Miami Beach owned by an African-American.
The only son of a working-class teenage mother, Peebles dropped out of college. Now he is the CEO and owner of The Peebles Corporation, one of the largest African-American-owned real-estate and development companies in the country.
What was your first job?
I was a page for the U.S. House of Representatives and attended the Capitol page high school in the Library of Congress. My schedule was grueling: Wake-up at 4 a.m., school from 6 to 10:30 a.m., work from 10:45 a.m. until 7 p.m., basketball practice from 7 to 9 p.m., home by 10 p.m. and dinner and study until midnight. This schedule taught me how to get the most out of each day. Working on the Hill also showed me the way political power was gained and used and the intermix of politics and business.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
When I was 16, my mother taught me to play the long game and build relationships. As a 16-year-old, I was like most young people; I sought immediate gratification. My mother taught me to not just look at what was right in front of me.
What do you look for when you hire?
Integrity, integrity, integrity.
What’s your favorite job interview question?
What are your long-term goals? I am a big believer in the principle of mutual benefit and alignment of interests. I want to make sure that anyone who works at the Peebles Corporation can achieve their personal career goals there -- if not, there will ultimately be stagnation.
What’s the biggest misconception about the business climate in South Florida?