How the Little Guy Wins


Several years ago, I had the pleasure of congratulating a friend who made what I thought was a terrific career choice:  she moved from a very large firm to a mid-sized firm. I will never forget what she said when describing the change: “I had to get off the Death Star.”

Our business is one where, how much we earn is directly proportionate to how hard we work, not who we work for. Most of us work into the evening and many of us work on weekends. We have that certain “fire in the belly.” We consider it normal to be checking email five minutes after we wake up and five minutes before we go to sleep.

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But, how does the little guy compete with and beat the big guy? It’s really not as unusual as one might think; it just takes a tremendous amount of individual determination and hard work. You must be more focused. You must go the extra mile and you must want to win. You must also always be on call. There is no time for complacency in this world. You must be creative and show something to the prospective client that no one else has. You must take ownership of the requirement.

There are many good firms in New York. At MHP, our office has about 75 professionals, of which 45 are brokerage professionals. Year in and year out, we have “million dollar” brokers—and I don’t mean gross, I mean “million in their pocket” brokers and it will happen again this year. Clearly, these brokers are able to distinguish themselves from brokers at larger firms. How do they do that?

It starts with treating a prospective client as you would like to be treated yourself. The key for every top broker is to put the prospective client’s needs first. You must be able to see all sides of the equation.  A successful broker is also forthright with his prospective client, not afraid to tell them what they might not want to hear. A good broker has their ear to the ground, notices trends before they are already upon us. A good broker doesn’t only rely on industry standard databases but rather augments everything he does by discussing what’s going on in the marketplace with those that know; other brokers like themselves. When a good broker works on a project, he must treat it as if it was his own project.

Years ago I was finishing a leasing transaction and the landlord asked me to come to his office to finish the deal. Afterwards, I asked him what other properties he owned. From that moment forward, every day of my working existence, I thought to myself, “How can I help him?”

Every successful broker is their own brand. Nobody hands you business because you have a nice smile or because you work for a big firm. Business is earned because you know someone or you found someone and took advantage of an opportunity by providing a service better, maybe more thorough than the other guy. Perhaps you were referred through somebody or you just got in the dirt and found it yourself. Whatever it was, if you succeeded, it was because you deserved it. You found a way to put yourself in a position to succeed.