Nadine Watt tried to avoid the family business. Now she helps run it.

One of the ways in which Watt endeared herself to co-workers was to remember both a lesson and an example that was set by her grandfather, Ray Watt, a prolific and innovative developer who helped define the look of modern Southern California. Watt, who died in 2009 at age 90, was considered the first in the Western U.S. to popularize condominiums, strip shopping centers, time-share vacation homes and residential communities that share features such as golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools and lakes. “He always taught me to treat everyone with respect. He always looked everyone in the eye and said hello, and he asked them questions. He knew a little bit about everyone from his janitors to presidents. The last thing he ever said to me was, ‘Do your homework.’”