Lesson for Young Brokers: It’s a Roller Coaster

My brother, Zachary Levy, is 27 years old and is a broker at Colliers in New York City. While he is an aspiring blogger in his own right, he called me after an up-and-down day in the office Tuesday and made a request: it’s time for me to write a blog post about the roller coaster life of a corporate real estate broker.

Since he’s my brother, he gets what he wants. After all, it’s my fault he’s in this crazy business.

Apparently, he had a deal die, another take an important step forward, got yelled at by a client, and had a potential client who he has been canvassing give him the green light for a meeting.  All of this happened in one day and that’s not atypical. He got bad news, good news, really bad news, and good news, luckily in that order.

Too frequently, the bad news comes at the end of the day. My partner, Joe Sarno, and I have made it a habit to try and deliver good news to each other at the end of the day while saving bad news for the morning. This way, we can enjoy our time with our families without the black cloud of bad news hovering in our minds. Bad news in the morning gives us the whole day to find some good news to turn the day around.

Unfortunately, this method doesn’t always work. Even after more than 18 years in the business, it’s still a challenge to manage the roller coaster.  Just a few weeks ago, one of our biggest clients called me at 5:00 on a Friday afternoon. It wasn’t good news. In fact, it was bad news. It took a while for me to shake it and not let it impact my weekend. Luckily, I went right from that call to seeing my kids who all greeted with hugs and a hero’s welcome. While it wasn’t easy to have the work week end that way, I recalled some key advice.

Three years ago, when Mariano Rivera retired, I wrote a blog post outlining some key lessons he taught us during his career.  One of those lessons was to have a short memory. No matter what happened in the previous game, it was his job to put it in the past and move on to the next game.

Very early in my career, I was the junior guy on a 90,000 sf that died when the lease was out for execution. I was devastated. That afternoon, I was on a call with a senior broker and he could tell I was bothered by something. When I told him what happened, he reminded me that I had been on the team that had closed a 70,000 sf deal the week before. He then gave me one of the most important pieces of advice anyone has ever given me in my career.

Never get too high and never get too low.

Everyone reacts differently to roller coasters. Personally, I don’t care for them. I prefer a smooth ride like “It’s A Small World”, all smiles and happy music. But it’s how you handle the downs that will likely define your career. Can you make another canvass call right away once you have been yelled at by someone who was in a bad mood? Can you walk into the next building after being asked to leave while canvassing? Will you let success get to your head after getting a meeting or closing a deal?

The advice above has proven invaluable to me in my career. If you ask those that work with me, you usually can’t tell when we’ve lost a deal or made one by my mood. Granted, some of that comes with success and knowing that we have a pipeline of deals. That success and that pipeline was developed because we enjoyed the ups, but only so much, and smoothed out the downs, learned from them, and did not dwell on them.

I’ll say it again, never get too high and never get too low, and remember, everyone is on the same roller coaster. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the business. Deals make and deals die; how you react makes all of the difference in the world.

This is a dark ride.  Can you see the light?