Reflections On My Last 16 Years in CRE

Earlier this month, I celebrated my 16th anniversary of working in corporate real estate.  I have learned a lot, from a lot of different people, and I still have a lot more to learn.

Looking back, some of the advice I received early on has shaped my career. Below are some of the lessons that stick out.

“It’s not a bricks and mortar business; it’s a relationship business.”  My father, Phil Neuer, gave me this lesson my first day in real estate. I arrived at his office shortly after noon on my first day to raid his Rolodex. The lesson was far more valuable than any of the contacts he shared with me.

“If you aren’t willing to call someone ten times, don’t bother calling once.” Rick Lackey shared this message with me early in my career. Rick is currently CEO of Real Professionals Network, formerly a monster broker in the Atlanta market and he is also one of the first brokers who specialized in multi-market accounts. Relationships don’t get built in one phone call. His lesson is not only one of persistence, but also patience.

“It’s a round world.” Early in my career, I worked closely with Doug Petrozzini who was one of the top brokers in the country for Grubb & Ellis at the time. I had the opportunity to steal a small client from a competitor. Doug’s advice was for me to call the competitor, who was also a friend, and tell her that her client was unhappy and open to working with others. She paid me a small referral, but going back to lesson number one, my relationship and reputation were both solidified.

“It’s easy to be busy; it’s not easy to make money.” My partner of the last 13+ years, Joe Sarno, taught me this lesson when we first started working together. Time management is one of the most important skills a broker can have, especially early in their career.

“Stick to your core business and don’t get distracted.” Earlier this week in a conversation with Anthony DiTomasso, CEO of Ivy Equities, he reminded me of this lesson, which is sometimes a tough one. Working on a deal that might be a little bit outside of your core business or market can be easy. However, there’s very little residual value, if any, other than that one deal. If you work on deals in your market and in your specialty, you can usually leverage those in to additional business.

So, there you have it. Five easy lessons, from generous teachers, that have helped shape a career. 

What are some of the lessons that shaped yours?