If you’ve ever questioned the value of great coaching, consider the case of Phil Jackson.
Jackson coached two of the greatest players ever to step foot on an NBA court in Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet, despite their insane work ethic and other-worldly talent, neither player won a championship several years into their careers.
Then, in 1991, Jordan won his first ring—one year after Jackson was hired to coach the Bulls. And in 2001, Bryant won his first championship—the year Jackson was hired to coach the Lakers.
Phil Jackson helped his players overcome the final hurdles that stood between them and their full potential. And that’s exactly what a commercial real estate coach can do for you. In fact, there are scientific studies that prove professional coaching has “significant positive effects” on performance, well-being, self-direction, and even attitude.
Whether you’re a junior broker in need of foundational knowledge or you’re already the “Jordan” of your firm and just need to shake up your routine, a commercial real estate coach can help.
Jackson took his teams to 11 championships, and it wasn’t just by teaching players the “X’s and O’s” of basketball. Instead, he learned what held each individual back—training structure, nerves, game strategy—and gave them what they lacked.
CRE coaches also offer different benefits depending on your needs. Some are educators—teaching deal structure, ethics, and real estate law. Others may help you build repeatable processes, find work/life balance, or just simply act as your mentor, so you keep your goals in sight.
No matter what part of your game needs a tune-up, you can find a CRE coach to give it to you.
Jackson sometimes used a figurative “big stick,” like running practice in the dark, to get the attention of slacking players. The stick wasn’t a punishment; it was a way to help someone regain focus on their goals.
Your CRE coach can be your accountability buddy. They’ll help you set goals—both long-term and daily practice—then follow up to make sure you’ve hit them.
For example, if you know that 50 is the magic number of cold calls you need to make in a day to close one new listing every month, your coach will check in to see that you’re keeping up that pace. And if you’re not, a coach will remind you what one listing per month does to your income. Then help you manage time or overcome fear to make your goal.
Jackson was big on introducing his players to new ideas and new ways of thinking. He’d give each of his players a new book every season and invite experts—from nutritionists to undercover detectives—to speak.
An experienced commercial real estate coach is exposed to tactics and ideas from others they’ve coached, industry conferences, and their own experience. Then, they bring those fresh perspectives to you, arming you with new ways to tackle challenges.
Let’s say you’re great at getting deals done but not comfortable with the technology that can accelerate your business. The right coach will show you which apps and software they’ve seen work for other firms without overloading you with tech jargon.
Whether it was calming Michael Jordan’s mind or challenging Shaq to think differently about success, Phil Jackson knew how to get each player into a healthy frame of mind.
No matter how successful you are, you’re not a robot. Some days you’ll need a little cheerleading, and on others, you’ll need to refocus negative energy. In either case, a CRE mentor can be a “hype person” that resets your attitude.
Work in CRE long enough and you’re bound to hit a dry streak: new clients aren’t signing, properties sit on the market, and your deal pipeline slows to a trickle. A successful coach has been there before and knows the tricks to keep moving forward in the tough times.
Not all CRE coaches and educators operate the same way. Some are educational arms of larger organizations, while others are companies dedicated only to real estate training.
The two big industry organizations—CCIM and NAIOP—are good coaching options if you’re greatest need is foundational education in commercial real estate. Each offers a variety of class types and topics.
The CCIM Institute’s designation curriculum is the choice for a broad commercial real estate training. However, for a deep dive on a single topic, CCIM’s Center for Real Estate Studies is the place.
In either case, you get access to CCIM’s coaches through either online or in-person classes. You can also watch videos and webinars to learn at your own pace.
Similar to CCIM, the NAIOP Center for Education hosts on-demand courses, certificate programs, and webinars. It also produces multiple conferences throughout the year where you can meet and network with coaches and mentors in person. Both are good opportunities to get structured CRE education.
Several longtime CRE pros have turned their experience running commercial real estate brokerages into successful coaching careers. These are some of the most popular CRE coaches in the business:
If you’re flush with information but sometimes short on motivation, then a local mentor might be a better fit. A mentor can be a sounding board, accountability partner, or offer you the benefit of their experience to avoid costly mistakes. Best of all, they’re usually free except for picking up the coffee or lunch tab.
The first place to find a mentor is in your own organization. If you’re a junior agent in a large firm, it shouldn’t be hard to do.
If you’re a one-person shop or at a more senior level, you’ll need to look outside your firm. Start by connecting with CRE groups on Meetup.com or through your local CCIM chapter. Then, attend some events and see if a more experienced broker would offer their time and expertise.
LinkedIn is a useful tool for all sorts of professional networking, including CRE mentorship. Search for commercial real estate brokers in your area or join a LinkedIn CRE group and get to know other members. Then send a note asking to connect. You’d be surprised how many pros are willing to talk about running their real estate business.
Even if a coach has the perfect program for you, it’s good to know if they’re also a match for your style and goals. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, there are a few things you can do to help you decide which coach or commercial real estate training is right for you.
See what a coach’s current clients say about them in online reviews and discussion boards.
We’ll use the Lipsey Company as an example. It’s a full-service CRE coaching and consulting firm that offers one-on-one sessions, online videos, and an in-person “School of Real Estate.”
We found a couple of reviews on Google and Facebook. We also looked at Glassdoor to see what their employees thought of the company.
Beyond official reviews, check Reddit for mentions of the company. Reddit is like a collection of bulletin boards covering just about any topic. For example, we found one mention of the Lipsey Company from a satisfied client there.
Many CRE coaches publish podcasts, blogs, books, and more. Watch, read, and listen to get an idea of their coaching style and take on real estate.
Jim Gillespie is a good example. He’s a 35-year CRE veteran who provides individual coaching as well as video tutorials, live seminars, and webinars. Get a feel for Jim’s coaching methods by reading his commercial real estate-focused blog or book or watching his YouTube videos.
Most CRE coaches use social media to attract followers and new clients. Skim through their social feeds to understand their approach to CRE and coaching.
Michael Bull often tweets about CRE trends, deals he’s closed, and other topics important to him. He also includes links to his online training classes, blog posts, and podcasts. After a few minutes, you quickly get a sense of his experience and priorities, which will help you decide if he’s the right coach for you.
A CRE coach can help you jump-start a career for new commercial real estate agents or take you to the next level after years in the game. But it’s important to know that the coach you hire has the background for the job.
Besides simply asking how many years of experience they have in the commercial real estate industry, find out where they spent their time. Did they work with the same property classes, client types, and in similar geographies as you? For example, someone who spent their career selling small multi-family residential won’t have the experience to help you close eight-figure office building listings.