Lesson for Young Brokers: Know What You Want To Be When You Grow Up

True story: I was working from home last Friday, which was July 1st. It was the day before a holiday weekend, so I assumed it would be a dead day. I was wrong and was entrenched in front of my computer most of the day.

At around 3:00 p.m., I received an email from Rob Lowe, a Vice Chairman at Cushman & Wakefield in New York. We are on opposite sides of a deal in Jersey City and he emailed me regarding one of the deal points. I had a question that I wanted to ask him over the phone, so in my email response, I asked him where I could reach him.

He was in the office!

To be a vice chairman at a major brokerage firm means you have had a tremendous amount of success in your career. Most brokers I know either took that day off completely or, like me, were working remotely.  In fact, CBRE’s local offices closed at 1:00 p.m. Not Rob, who along with his assistant, was locked in working.

Not only does Rob know what kind of broker he wants to be, he backs it up with his actions. He doesn’t just talk about wanting to be successful; he does what he has to do to maintain that level of success.

On the flip side, last year, I met with a young broker who expressed an interest in joining CBRE, specifically, our team. He had been in the business for two or three years, and showed an ability to bring in business. I asked him to complete a simple business plan and pipeline because I wanted to see what kind of business he was chasing, but also to get a sense of the kind of work product he was capable of producing.

While the business plan was good, it wasn’t great. It had some grammatical mistakes, as well as a spelling mistake or two. The pipeline had a math error. I explained to him the expectations on our team are very high. We take those kinds of things very seriously and if he wanted to join our team, he was going to need to raise his attention to detail. He called me the next day, thanked me for the time, and told me he wasn’t interested in joining CBRE or our team.

He didn’t want to put in the work necessary to be on our team.

I give him a lot of credit. He knew what kind of career he wanted and thankfully, he was honest about it. Had he joined our team, it likely would have ended poorly as he either would have fallen short of our expectations, or resented us for pushing him to reach his potential.

In both cases, the two brokers knew what they wanted. Rob Lowe became a vice chairman because he worked hard, put in the time, achieved success and no one is going to take it away from him. The young broker who I mentioned was happy to have a mediocre career and not work that hard.

Unfortunately, I know a few brokers who complain about wanting to be more successful, but won’t put in the work necessary. I know other brokers who complain about being busy. They likely won’t be busy for long if they view it as a burden.

Either way, knowing what you want to be when you grow up as a broker is an important step. Do you want to be a vice chairman? Be prepared to work hard to get there. If you don’t, you probably stopped reading a few paragraphs ago.