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The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

         – Lao Tzu

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

         – Milton Berle

When one neighbor helps another, we strengthen our communities.

        – Jennifer Pahlka

If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right.

          – Bob Basso

Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left.

        – Neil Patel

One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.

        – Steve Hawking

It’s not how much you have that makes people look up to you, it’s who you are.

         – Elvis Presley 

God has given us two hands–one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.

         – Billy Graham

We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.

         – George Washington

Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.

         – George Washington

Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone.

         – George Washington

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.

         – Mother Teresa

Heroes didn’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn’t wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.

         – Jodi Picoult

What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.

         – Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

         –  John Donne

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.

         –  Plato

Everything is connected, no one thing can change by itself.

         – Paul Hawken

Life has a way of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen as once.

         –  Paulo Coelho

Be Brave. Take Risks. Nothing can substitute experience.

         –  Paulo Coelho

Do. Or do not. There is no try.

         – Yoda, Jedi Master

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“One Minute With…” John Cissel, President of Development

May 24, 2022

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“One Minute With…” John Cissel, President of Development

John Cissel, hello. What is your title?

I’m President of Development. Technically President of Core Development, LLC. I’m actually of President of a number of these entities that we’ve created. And then I’m officers in some of the companies.


What do you actually do at Core?

My main focus is to lead all land development efforts from entitlement to assembly of all professional teams –design, due diligence, engineering, infrastructure, coordinating of the sources and uses, financial. All things development — so all the outward-facing community relationships, political relationships, professional relationships, team building. And then all the internal mechanisms of development, our project managers, architects, designers, including things like marketing, branding, strategy around the development of our land. Development can mean existing buildings. Sometimes we buy existing buildings and we adaptively reuse them. Sometimes it’s raw land, and re-entitlement or re-envisioning. It also involves challenges like the environmental, or resilience, or even sustainability — all the modern realities of development, the codes, the regulations, the zoning, like net carbon zero.


John, what did you do before Core?

Before Core I was CEO of a company called Visioneering Studios, in Irvine, California. Irvine was our headquarters, and we had studios in Charlotte, Nashville, Denver. A couple others. I was with Visioneering for approximately three years. It still exists. There were three distinctive companies, and I think at one time the peak was over 60 people. It was a development, design, and design-build company. We were licensed in like 40 state for construction and 42 states for design.


I come at this from a unique perspective. I started my first real estate job really in 1982, so it’s been almost 40 years now, and I’ve done almost everything, from brokerage to construction. I had my builder’s license and done a lot of building, development, and then also represented a number of the industry focuses over the years, the internet and dot-com era. I did projects in 112 cities in 100 countries, all over the world and the United States, ranging from New York to London to Paris and San Francisco. And that really brought together my expertise of land use, development, valuation, brokerage, project management. And then eventually I had the role as CEO of the design build firm. So I’ve come at this industry with all different focuses. And what’s exciting about my opportunity here at Core is that I really can bring all of these experiences into transforming, with Dave Pogorelc [Core’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer] and the team, these parts of Boston where we’ve begun to do building and development, namely in South Boston.


And where did you grow up?

I grew up in Chicago, in Naperville, Illinois. The first time I came to New England was when I came to college in 1980 and learned what a frappe was, and realized that the Celtics, the Bruins, the Patriots and the Red Sox — if I didn’t become a fan I’d have a very hard life here. So I grew to love all of the sports teams, and I met my wife here, and her family is from New England, so we became rooted here, and this is where I raised my family. I’ve been married for 39 years and have four adult kids, and they all grew up in the New England, the Boston area. I went from being a Cubs fan to being a Sox fan, and back in that day both were really depressing. Eighty-six years and 103 years, isn’t it something like that?


Where did you go to school?

I went to Gordon College on the North Shore of the Boston area. I originally thought I was going to go into the ministry. My undergrad was in Biblical ancient studies and Hebrew and Greek. And then, though I didn’t graduate, I went on to Gordon-Conwell seminary.  Of course that’s logical, eh? It takes you right into real estate. A circuitous route.


Where do you live now?

We live right in the Back Bay here. I love living in the city, walking to work. I can take the bus over to South Boston. Five years ago we got an apartment here in the Back Bay, and then we moved here permanently when I became President of the company. It’s been 2 ½ years. We lived in California for eight years.


What do you do to have fun or outside work?

Golf has always been real passion of mine. I’ve played since I was 8 years old. At one point in my life I was the coach of a high school team for 10 years, and had a number my students go on to college and join the PGA. In California I was a USGA official for tournaments and rules. So golf has always been a great recreational part of my life. I love it. Other than that I travel. My wife and I, because of my extensive work, have been really fortunate to travel all over and do projects in so many different cities and countries. I still love going back and visiting — the history and architecture. The urban planning of those cities fascinates me, from the ultramodern like Abu Dhabi to the ancient Salzburg outer walls with a restaurant from 1200 that still exists. I love both. It fascinates me.


Is there anything new in your life?

I became a grandfather in the last year. That’s been really exciting for my wife and me. I’ve also helped my kids who live here in New England start a business that is really thriving. They were named the Number One new coffee shop in Massachusetts, by Food and Wine, in their first six months. We did a lot of DYI projects. We tiled, we did construction, we helped them put together a lease and finance package. And that was a real joy, using some of my expertise. And they have a father in law who is an amazing carpenter and built everything. So that was something new.

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