Tell Me Why

Last month, I left behind a 19-year career in office leasing. My team was clicking on all cylinders with great corporate accounts, a strong local tenant rep practice and over 5m sf of landlord agency assignments. As I mentioned in my last post, I felt it was time to make a change so I joined the Capital Markets Team.

In the blink of an eye, I went from being very comfortable to very uncomfortable. I went from being the guy in the room with a lot (if not all) of the answers to being the guy who asks a lot questions. I went from having recurring clients and ongoing accounts that provided a steady stream of (significant) revenue to being back in startup mode.

The question I have been asked repeatedly is simple: Why did you do it?

I wish there was a simple answer. My friend, Michael Beckerman, did something similar a few years ago when he left his very successful PR firm and started The News Funnel. Unlike me, he didn’t leave to join a successful team. He started something from scratch and has built something amazing from the ground up.

When people asked him why, I heard several answers. He saw a shift in the market coming. PR was changing. Technology was the future. Knowing him personally, as I do, I knew his heart and his passion weren’t in the PR business anymore. He needed something different to light his fire. Starting from scratch, again, reignited him in every way.

Did I lose my passion for leasing? Maybe. Probably.

I enjoyed the complex transactions, some of my clients (but not all), and pursuing and winning new business. I loved teaching and training our young partners. However, I didn’t like the mundane and in our practice, and there was a lot of mundane.

Some deals are painful. For me, they were excruciating. I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my career doing certain kinds of deals. Therefore, I decided a few years ago, that I would leave the leasing world when I was 50 years old. I am 43 so I guess I beat my timeline by seven years.

My new role affords me the opportunity to build something again. Being back in startup mode has excited me to wake up early, stay up late, meet new people, learn new skills, and use my 19 years of leasing experience to add value to my team and differentiate from our competition.

Over the summer, I listened to Jim Koch, the founder of Samuel Adams on the NPR Podcast How I Built This, which features interviews of company founders with interesting stories. I forget what the specific question was, but at some point, he said something that resounded tremendously:

“Nobody climbs a mountain to get to the middle.”

The leasing world is great. It afforded me and my family a great life of which I am very appreciate. For a lot of very smart and successful people, including my former partners, it was a path that worked for them. In no way am I diminishing that. The top of the leasing mountain is amazing and I think I would have gotten there. It’s not where I was meant to go.

My path is different. My mountain is different.

So, if you want to know why I did it, there’s your answer. I was following my path, searching for something that would inspire me daily with the opportunity to learn new things and expand my capabilities.

My blog will continue to span my interests, be inspired by the things I read and listen to, and follow my new path. If it appears a bit less frequently, I apologize. It’s not from a lack of interest or things to write about. Learning a new craft takes some time. I appreciate your interest in what I have to say/write and promise to post as frequently as I can.