LDI 25th Anniversary Leadership Insights - Scott Kern

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  • Above all else, what do you believe is one key characteristic that makes a successful leader? How do you apply this in your daily life as a leader in the workplace? Humility – I try to be open to different perspectives and check my ego when talking to those who work for me and with me.
  • How do you keep morale high and spark inspiration among your teams? As a small company, we regularly eat together around a conference room table and just talk about new and different ideas. Sometimes we’ll play a game. We also try and get out together after work to build comradery and trust.
  • Tell me about a mentor who shaped your leadership? Dan Poag who was the CEO of Poag & McEwen here in Memphis. I never remember Dan raising his voice and he always led with quiet confidence. He personally invested time in those who worked for him, was very generous, and created an environment where you weren’t terrified to fail.
  • What values are most important to you as a leader? Generosity with time, clarity in communication, and openness to listen to others, and giving others credit publicly when it is due them.
  • What is a leadership lesson that you’ve discovered throughout your career that you wish you could have learned sooner? Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”.
  • If you could tell your 20-year-old-self one thing, what would it be? You are capable of more than you think.
  • What advice would you give to professionals who are stepping into the leadership space? Above all, seek to know yourself and recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Be humble, genuine, and generous.
  • The best leaders know that learning never stops. What steps do you take to ensure you keep with personal and professional development? I read (not as often as I used to), listen to podcasts, and listen to what others around me are talking about. I’ve always been good at absorbing information as I hear others talk about ideas.
  • Leadership extends far past the professional landscape at work, but into the broader Memphis community. Why do you believe it is crucial to make time to serve in other ways in the 901? (Can include how you serve—other boards? Volunteering? Mentoring?) Because I moved to Memphis from San Diego, I serve on a board that builds houses for the working poor in Mexico because that area was so integral to the culture of San Diego. In the same vein, as leaders, we should take our acquired skillsets to organizations that are doing work directly in the communities that are overlooked. Mentoring is key to getting the younger generation as excited and passionate about Memphis as we are.
  • Tell me about a time where you felt most challenged in your leadership? How did you rise above? The most difficult time was a conflict between a peer and I that was a one-sided power struggle. It was very difficult to navigate that dynamic because it automatically puts you in an adversarial relationship. I hate conflict and tried to keep my head down but ultimately left that position to do something that I was passionate about. It forced me to reevaluate and choose a different direction because that wasn’t a cultural dynamic that I wanted to participate in. It taught me a lot about the type of company that I want to create and lead.
  • Why do you choose to lead in Memphis? It was by happenstance but the more time I actually spent in Memphis, the more I fell in love with it. The culture, the people, the possibilities were invigorating and I wanted to be a part of seeing Memphis succeed and thrive.
  • Leadership can oftentimes feel lonely, but it shouldn’t be. How do you believe leaders can best navigate and address this pressing issue? This is really tough – you need to find others in a similar position and not be afraid to be vulnerable about what you are struggling with. Too many leaders feel the need to put up a façade but that won’t get you the support you need. “It’s lonely at the top.”
  • Share with us your biggest takeaway from your LDI experience and how would you convince another leader to take part in the program? The LDI experience helped me become more self-aware and gave me tools to continue to be a learner with a growth mindset. It also helped me understand myself better – understanding my strengths and weaknesses.
  • The road to being a leader isn’t only paved with success, but a lot of trial and error. How do you adjust your next steps to combat failure? I’m trying to learn not to fear failure – it will come no matter how hard you work to avoid it. Look at the failure as a learning experience and never look on it with regret.
  • What is your hope for the future of Memphis? I want to see Memphis grow with purpose and vibrancy as a city for everyone – where boundaries fall away. To be a unique and attractive city to the rest of the country.
  • What has been your great accomplishment in your career or what are you most proud of in your career? By far, starting my own company. I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur or a risk taker but the payoff has been tremendously fulfilling. I look back and can’t believe that we’ve made it this far.

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Scott Kern currently serves as the President of KRN Development. He started his career working as a development intern for LendLease/ERE Yarmouth on the 1997 redevelopment of Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego, CA. Since then, he has spent over 21 years working in the retail and mixed-use development industry and is now leveraging that experience with the launch of KRN Development, LLC in 2019. Mr. Kern earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design from San Diego State University. He is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and the Urban Land Institute and has served on the board of Baja Bound Ministries since 2018.

Project List:


  • Fashion Valley Mall Redevelopment | San Diego, CA
  • Irvine Spectrum Center – Phases 3, 4, & 5| Irvine, CA
  • The Shops at Briargate | Colorado Springs, CO
  • The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk – Phases 1, 2, & 3 | South Windsor, CT
  • The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley | Center Valley, PA
  • The Promenade Shops at Clifton | Clifton, NJ
  • The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley | Manteca, CA
  • The Shops at Perry Crossing | Plainfield, IN
  • The Outlets of Southaven | Southaven, MS


  • Hollywood & Highland | Hollywood, CA
  • Iowa River Landing | Coralville, IA
  • River Oaks District | Houston, TX
  • Highland Row | Memphis, TN
  • The District at Pearland | Pearland, TX


  • Graceland – Phase 1 & 2 | Memphis, TN