By: Irena Ashcraft
If CRE brokerage has been smooth sailing for you, count yourself as one of the lucky (and rare) ones! Most brokers have to work hard to overcome personal challenges and tough lessons learned along the way, but those who do come out all the better for it.
We asked a couple of brokers about the biggest challenges they’ve faced in their careers, and how they have dealt with them. We think you’ll enjoy their stories: there’s wisdom in each that all of us can learn from!
Taking steps you can control to combat things beyond your control
There’s no such thing as perfection in this or any other business: you can get pretty close to it, but there will always be things outside your control that influence the outcome of a deal. Sometimes you do everything perfectly and still walk away with nothing to show for it. And sometimes you do almost everything wrong, and a lucky break lands in your lap. That’s business—and life.
“The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is that sometimes you can do everything right and for reasons beyond your control, the deal still doesn’t work,” says Lee Kiser, principal and managing broker at Kiser Group. “It’s impossible not to feel responsible when this happens but you have to emotionally move through it and not let it drag you down.”
Deals don’t exist in a vacuum, which means outside forces can always sway a surefire “yes” into a “no thanks.” If you understand this, you don’t have to be surprised by the inevitable when it happens—and you can take concrete steps to compensate for it.
“As a broker, you can never count on a deal closing because anything can happen,” Lee says. “Even when you think things are going great, you have to constantly build a pipeline of business and activity because at any moment circumstances you cannot control can take portions of that business away and you better have other deals to backfill.”
We love that advice: if you hedge against life’s chaos by building up a solid pipeline of business, the factors beyond your control don’t have to make or break your success. They’ll simply be passing clouds on an otherwise blue-sky track record.
Transforming a weakness into a defining strength
What happens when the challenges you face don’t come from external forces—but from within? That’s what Mathew Laborde, president and CEO of Elifin Elite Financial Realty, was up against early in his career.
“My biggest career challenge has been my biggest life challenge, which has been social anxiety,” he says. “I was very shy growing up, and entering this business at 19 years old I was no different. But I was driven.”
He knew that to be successful in CRE, he would have to turn that weakness into something resembling a strength—and was relentless in doing it.
“To overcome my nerves around other people I forced myself to many networking events and participated in all sorts of beneficial extracurricular activities,” he says. “One of the more extreme ways I tackled my social anxiety was by flying to New York and participating in a 3-day ‘social boot camp’ organized by an NYU professor. From there, I became very active in my local Toastmasters public speaking club, and I even auditioned for and was cast as an actor in several local community theatre productions.”
He discovered that getting comfortable in social situations didn’t mean avoiding discomfort—but walking straight into it. As he explains, “All of these activities were very far outside of my comfort zone, but all have contributed to me feeling more comfortable in my own skin.”
“This has led to me being much more confident in initial interactions with prospective clients, delivering pitches, making prospecting calls, and giving presentations in front of large audiences at industry events,” he says.
We loved hearing about how Mathew and Lee tackled the challenges they faced, and we’d love to hear from you, too! How did you turn a personal or career challenge into a growth or learning opportunity? Let us know in the comments.