The Organization Man
In terms of cleanliness, only an Ikea showroom could rival Ben Friedland’s immaculately organized little office on the 18th floor of the MetLife building.
With files stacked alphabetically, awards situated evenly and dual computer screens secured tightly, the space is nothing if not the physical extension of a person for whom seven habits actually seem kind of ineffective. “Time is money, and if you’re organized …” said Mr. Friedland when asked about his oh-so-orderly office early last week during an interview. “Well, let’s just say I’m very organized.”
Far from a compulsion, the proclivity for precision has paid off handsomely for Mr. Friedland, who, at 34, is not only one of CB Richard Ellis’ youngest vice presidents but also one of its most competitive high-end brokers.
Indeed, since joining Insignia/ESG in 1999 and then continuing at the same office when CB Richard Ellis bought the firm four years later, Mr. Friedland has tallied an estimated $1.2 million square feet in transactions, with aggregate rent commitments in excess of $1.1 billion, according to the broker.
Throughout his decade at the firm, Mr. Friedland has remained a member of the agency team that has represented the General Motors building under three different owners, beginning with developer Donald Trump in 2000. Among his deals in 2009, Mr. Friedland brokered what may have been the city’s priciest transaction when, in November, Brazilian bank Banco Itau agreed to pay more than $130 a square foot for half of the top floor of the GM Building.
In December, meanwhile, Mr. Friedland inked a 10-year lease renewal for law firm Ehrenkranz & Ehrenkranz that will allow the high-end estate planners to significantly expand in the Seagram Building, yet another trophy edifice where the ambitious broker tends to place his clients.
“For the last year, it wasn’t a large transaction year in the high-end financial services world, but it was a busy one because people are looking to their advisers for advice and people want constant updates,” said Mr. Friedland. “They wanted to do what their contemporaries were doing.”
An avid basketball player who took home MVP honors in 2006 after CB Richard Ellis’ team of brokers swept an industrywide tournament, the 6-foot-2 Mr. Friedland has also excelled on the tech side of the business. Internally, he teaches computer and information technology classes at CBRE and has won tech awards from the company on an annual basis.
“The technology part is a big part of who I am here,” said Mr. Friedland, who recently snagged a seven-digit deal with a law firm after connecting with the company’s principal on the social networking site LinkedIn.
“I teach classes internally on technology, whether it’s just how to be the most efficient, or telling people just what’s out there,” he added.
Some information, of course, is best retrieved from real flesh-and-blood sources, and Mr. Friedland said he owes much of his success to the knowledge he’s cultivated from his friends in the financial services industry, many of whom have become clients.