How to scale commercial real estate - podcast appearance

Jul 25, 2022
How to scale commercial real estate podcast

Real estate is a hyper-competitive industry, so how can people in the cut-and-thrust rise above the fray and be better people? 

This is some of what was discussed when I was a guest on Sam Wilson's How to Scale Commercial Real Estate podcast. 

We also talked about the impact of great leadership, the importance of following through with your prospecting activity, and what the whole point of social media actually is.

Listen below to to hear some insights on leadership and success that will help you best the best that you can be!

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Here is a breakdown of the episode:

[00:01 - 06:09] Becoming the Best Leader

Darren talks about his experience living abroad and what it thought him Building a team as a leader Are leadership skills learned or innate? Being a leader for the people you lead

[06:10 - 22:18] Finding Success as Entrepreneurs

The value of following up How to follow up without being repetitive Knowing your brand and target customers Connecting with a personal touch on LinkedIn Why social media branding is important Good and bad advice Darren received over the course of his career Magnanimity and being a go-giver Money is not the measure of success

[22:19 - 24:00] Closing Segment


Here are some Tweetable quotes from the episode:

“The key to being a good leader is deciding to actually be a good leader.” 

“People are busy. They're not just sitting around waiting for our calls, so we need to do something to get on their radar.” 

“It's really important that you demonstrate magnanimity even when people are giving you the opportunity to not be kind.”


Want to read the full show notes of the episode? Check it out below:

[00:00:00 ] Darren Krakowiak: How do you measure success? And I thought about that and I was thinking about how it, for me, it used to be about money or it used to be, you know, it'll be when I have this many investment properties, but what I started to realize was it's actually about my ability to, you know, be a bit more calm, to be more kind, to be more generous than I was in the past. So, I think if you can move your measures of success to have some financial ones in there, that's okay. But also have some non-financial KPIs of your life. I think that's a good place to get to as well.

[00:00:43 ] Sam Wilson: Darren Krakowiak works with commercial real estate leaders to develop their people and grow their businesses. And he helps industry professionals save time, earn more, and be top performers in their market. Darren, welcome to the show.

[00:00:55 ] Darren Krakowiak: Hey, Sam. Great to be here.

[00:00:56 ] Sam Wilson: Pleasure's mine. Darren, there are three questions I ask every guest who comes to the show: in 90 seconds or less, can you tell me, where did you start? Where are you now? And how did you get there?

[00:01:04 ] Darren Krakowiak: Well, I started in Melbourne, Australia, which is where I was born and I was an employee at the start of my career, relatively humble beginnings, zero wealth that I started with. And now, I am still in Melbourne, but I got there in some different ways. So I'm in Melbourne now. Two years ago, I started running my own business on my own terms, working with clients who I want to help and who want my help. And I also just to remain on topic, have four investment properties, and host a podcast. That's coming up to a hundred episodes in a few weeks. In terms of how I got there. I got here via South Korea, so I spent 11 years living and working as an expat in so Korea.

[00:01:43 ] Darren Krakowiak: And what that did was it equipped me with the knowledge, the leadership experience, and also I think the confidence that's required to do what you said that I do now, which is to help commercial real estate leaders to develop their people and to grow their business. And by going to Korea, I got opportunities that I wouldn't have gotten if I had stayed in Australia, certainly more elevated leadership responsibilities than would've been the case if I'd stayed in Australia. And I also picked up a wife along the way, and we had a daughter that I would definitely never have had if I'd stayed here. So, overall, you know, apart from, you know, it, wasn't just a one linear track all the way up, but certainly I, I did pretty well outta my time there and, you know, looking forward to what the future brings.

[00:02:25 ] Sam Wilson: Man. That's super cool. I love that. I love that you lived you know, out of your home country for 11 years. That's not something that a lot of people have the courage to do so well done on that front. Also, just want to say here on the air, thanks for taking the time to come on. I mean, I'm recording this at 8:30 in the morning for me. It's what, 11:30 at night for you?

[00:02:44 ] Darren Krakowiak: It is, and I promise not to yawn. That would not be cool.

[00:02:49 ] Sam Wilson: Man, that's impressive. Thank you. Thank you for coming here and being on today. Certainly appreciate it. You know, I guess one of the things I really want to highlight and focus today on is leadership. I think that's something you are well known for is leadership and building teams. And I guess when I even say that term, leadership, team building, what do those things mean to you?

[00:03:07 ] Darren Krakowiak: Building a team is, it's about delegating to people, but not expecting them to do things exactly how you want them done, but to giving them the parameters, the responsibility, but also the reign to do things, how they think it should be done. But you know, I'm not expecting everyone to be exactly how you are. So the way you asked me that question made me think of a client I was speaking to just the other day who said to me, you know, one of my staff, they're slow, you know, what's going on? They don't speak fast enough. And he said to me, what can I do to change that? And I said, well, what you can do is try and be a little bit more accepting of the fact that they speak a little bit slowly because we can't make everyone the way that we want them to be. So, you know, leadership, there's so many different ways to look at it, but I think growing a team is about creating the right culture, having the values that people can understand, casting a vision forward that people can align themselves to, communicating, you know, where we are going, why we are going there, why it matters and how we know when we're, we're on the right track, bringing in the right people, having the right systems and structures in place, having relationships. There's many different aspects to leadership, but there's a few things that I think of when you ask me that question.

[00:04:23 ] Sam Wilson: Do you think that a leader is someone who is a leader naturally, or are leadership skills something that can be groomed?

[00:04:31 ] Darren Krakowiak: They can be groomed. There are people who are going to be naturally better at it, just as some people are born with say natural athletic ability. And then there are other people who have to really work hard at it and sort of work that muscle. But I think that the key to being a good leader is deciding to actually be a good leader, because if you don't actually set the intention to be a good leader, then you probably won't be a good one even if you have the innate skills that are required to be a good leader.

[00:04:58 ] Darren Krakowiak: And if you don't naturally have some of those skills that are required to be a good leader, you can work at them. And by working at them, I think you'll be doing a lot more than most people do in particularly corporate leadership because a lot of people want to climb the corporate ladder for status, for ego, to make more money, to get a certain office, to have control over more people.

[00:05:22 ] Darren Krakowiak: But they're all things which are about them and not about the people that they're there to lead. So if you can make your leadership about being a better leader for the people who you are there to lead, then that will set you apart from other people and will do a lot more for you than just having some innate abilities that perhaps are natural leadership traits.

[00:05:44 ] Sam Wilson: Gotcha. I like that. I mean, it sounds like more of the idea of servant leadership versus just leading because, Hey, I want to get out and get on top.

[00:05:53 ] Darren Krakowiak: Simple way of thinking about it is, you know, some people say, you know, 200 people work for me or, you know, I work for 200 people and that little sort of shift of perspective can tell you a lot about the way that some people see their role in leadership.

[00:06:09 ] Sam Wilson: Gotcha. Gotcha. When you go into a commercial real estate business, what are some common things you see maybe across the board you say, Hey, here's some things that people, if they paid more attention to, you could get in front of, that don't necessarily require somebody, you, like you, coming in five years later and saying, Hey, here's all the problems that you could have fixed a long time ago. Are there things that you just commonly see?

[00:06:28 ] Darren Krakowiak: Yeah, probably a couple I could mention now. One would be around, people can be good at prospecting. So, you know, they'll deal with their dials, they'll set the time apart, but then there's the follow-up. And where people don't have the impact that they could have is through following up.

[00:06:43 ] Darren Krakowiak: And the research shows that you should follow up seven times after your initial outreach within two weeks. A lot of people hear that. And they think seven times in two weeks? Like, that sounds like a lot. Am I going to be annoying them? Well, if you are not going to get on their radar, then they won't know about you and you won't be able to communicate what it is that you can do to help them. And if you don't, someone else will. So rather than thinking about, oh, I don't want to annoy them. Think about potentially someone else who's an inferior provider might actually end up helping them in a way that is not as good as I could help them. And, you know, people are busy. They're not just sitting around waiting for our calls, so we need to do something to get on their radar.

[00:07:29 ] Darren Krakowiak: And part of that is just through creating a presence through some consistent contact over a short period of time. And one way that you can do it in a way that is less sort of repetitive is to try different channels. So not just to try and call someone seven times, but to try and hit them up on LinkedIn, maybe send them an email, and also to do your prospecting in a way where you get one, two, or three touchpoints in it once.

[00:07:58 ] Darren Krakowiak: So you might try to connect with them on LinkedIn. You might send them an email and call their cell, or you might leave a voicemail on their office phone, send them an email, and reach out to them on another form of social media, for example. So you can get in a lot of touch points. You don't have to do seven separate touch points. It's just seven touch points or seven contact points over two weeks. You can do two at a time for example. I think that will make you more effective and stand out. People go, oh, okay, he's tried me here. She's done that. Okay. Maybe I should pay attention next time this person contacts me or maybe, hallelujah, I should actually call them back.

[00:08:35 ] Sam Wilson: Right. And that, you know, that's interesting. I think when you say that there is a little discomfort that comes in with that 'cause I think most of us are content to a fault to say, okay, I emailed Darren, let's see if he replies, I don't want to be a pest. Like, that's the thought that we're having, but you, if you're like me, I mean, email gets buried. I mean, unless it's super important email, like I filter my email. There's probably a hundred unreads in there 'cause they're all not important. And if I don't know you, Darren, I might be like, well, Darren can wait 'cause he's, you know, he's not in the urgent important category. So I don't know.

[00:09:06 ] Darren Krakowiak: And assuming that you're being a pest kind of relegates your position to something, which is not important, right? So if you've actually got something important that can help them, then you're not being a pest. You're actually trying to help them, and you're just trying to bring their attention to something which is important. So yeah, I know some people struggle with that, but I think that if you haven't ever heard anyone tell you to stop calling you, then you are nowhere near the line of calling people too much. So you're never going to get to the line if you don't cross it occasionally. So if you've never been told to get lost, then I think you can go a little bit harder with your follow-up because, yeah, some people are more sensitive than others, but for most people, they're just busy and you need to do a little bit more than most to get people's attention.

[00:09:57 ] Sam Wilson: I love that. I mean, that's true if you are a commercial broker. That's true if you're running an acquisitions team in a commercial real estate firm. That's true even on the investor relations side, I think about that. I mean, how many, I'm sitting on stuff from 10 days ago that somebody shipped me a deal that I want to invest in and to be honest, I just happened at the time to get around to hitting the wire and filling out the paperwork. And no one's followed up with me. It's like, oh wait, like, I've already told you, I want to get in and there's time on this deal. So I'm also not pressured as the investor, but I think about that from an investor relations perspective where even, you know, Hey, I've got an opportunity and we send one email and I've heard this from groups I'm in, you know, we're like, well, I sent an email and I didn't get much reply.

[00:10:37 ] Sam Wilson: And I'm like, what did you call them? Did you send them a text? Did you, like you said, connect with them on LinkedIn, Hey, by the way, want to follow up. So I think that follow-up, you know, process you're talking about applies across, you know, a variety of disciplines inside the commercial real estate space. I really, really like that. Is there anything else that comes to mind that you say, Hey, there's some common mistakes you see?

[00:10:55 ] Darren Krakowiak: The other one I would talk about with you is in relation to personal branding and people using LinkedIn and, you know, they've got their profile and they're posting on LinkedIn. They think that they're doing enough from a personal branding perspective, but when you, you know, to be fair, if you've got an up-to-date profile and you are posting content on LinkedIn, then you are doing more than 90% of people in the industry. But to be really elite, you need to be posting content that isn't just, I sold this. I listed that. You need to be really thinking about what it is that you do from the perspective of the person who you are trying to open up a conversation with. So really thinking about what's going to attract their attention.

[00:11:41 ] Darren Krakowiak: And are they going to want to look at your staff when they see it on LinkedIn? Or are they just going to think, you know, this person's just going to be talking about another deal that they did. Boring, not interested. So how can we actually talk in the context of the people who we are looking to serve, who we're looking to work with to open up conversations with them? And I think talking about, you know, not just what we do, which is those deals, talking about listings, talking about accomplishments, but also why we do it, how we do it, so why we do it is about sort of stories of how we've helped people and why that was important. How we do it is kind of, like, documenting our day and just going behind the scenes a little bit to put a bit of context around the process. And then we can also talk about who we are and people make the mistake of thinking that LinkedIn is a super buttoned-up platform where we cannot talk about anything about business. And if I don't talk only about business, I'm going to get in trouble, but you can definitely talk about non-business things on LinkedIn.

[00:12:37 ] Darren Krakowiak: In fact, it's a great way to help people see that you are not just another real estate professional, that you're actually a person and to bring people in a little bit. And you don't have to make it all like a sob story about terminal illness or something like that. It doesn't need to be, like, that personal. It just needs to be, it can be pretty innocuous. It might be, you know what, on Thursdays, it's my day to take the kids to school and we always go out for a breakfast at the local cafe on Thursday mornings. And it's my favorite day of the week because of that, or it could be, you know, I've just read this book and I think that people in my network might like it because of this. So sharing things, just letting people in a little bit, I think can go a long way to building a personal brand, would certainly go a lot further than just sharing posts about how wonderful you are or the deal that you've just closed.

[00:13:29 ] Sam Wilson: I like that. And that's something that to a fault I've been accused, not accused. I brought on a marketing manager and that's what she told me. She goes, you've got to get a little bit more color, you know, behind who you are and what, 'cause for me it was all just business. That's like, Hey, here's, here's awesome interviews I did with awesome guests like yourself, and here's deals and here's that. And she's like, there's nothing about you anywhere. It's just real estate-focused.

[00:13:52 ] Darren Krakowiak: I will challenge you and also challenge the listener to post something more personal on LinkedIn and to see how it goes. And I've personally seen that when I am not posting about my business, I actually get more engagement. I get more likes. Now we're not trying to get likes. We're posting on LinkedIn. That's not the name of the game. We're trying to start up conversations and to post content, which helps people get to know us. Now, the likes and the comments are just a nice byproduct, but certainly, that is an indicator of how people are seeing your content.

[00:14:27 ] Darren Krakowiak: So, the stuff that people like and engage with, more often than not, is going to be the stuff that is not work-related. And the other thing that the non-work-related stuff does when you post on LinkedIn, it kind of brings people outta the woodwork. And there are a lot of lookers and lurkers on LinkedIn who are looking at your stuff, but not liking it. But if you throw something personal in there from time to time, you can bring those people out of the woodwork and they might just punch a like or make a comment. And you're like, oh, I didn't realize that they were there looking at what I'm doing. And that can be enough just to open up a conversation as well.

[00:14:58 ] Sam Wilson: Right. And I like that. Tell me, I guess when I think about that, when I think about even social media branding in general, and this is probably an unfair question in the sense that everyone's going to have their own specific desired outcome, but what's the goal in all of that? Let's say we do build a brand. We do get engagement. Why do I even need that?

[00:15:17 ] Darren Krakowiak: It's to open up conversations with people up off the platform. That's what we're trying to do. We're just trying to create more opportunities. We're trying to attract people who we want to do business with by letting people know who we are. And in fact, one thing that I show my clients to do is have a profile headline. So that little line under your name, where most people just put, you know, director of whatever company. Actually, put a statement, which says who it is you help, how you help them, and why. And what that statement should be is something that actually almost repels people who don't fit into that line but it works like a magnet to attract the people who do, and it makes you stand out compared to everyone else who just calls themself an agent, or a financier, or an investor, or whatever it is that everyone else calls themself. And people look at that and they say, oh, this person's for me. So, it's a funnel. It's a way to identify opportunities and also for people to self-identify as being the right prospects to come and speak to you.

[00:16:24 ] Sam Wilson: I like that. I like thinking of that as a funnel. And I think if I'm going to recap the things you said, it's who it is you help, how you help them, and then why you help them? Is that right?

[00:16:34 ] Darren Krakowiak: It's what you do, how you help them, or why you help them. I'll put those two in one category. So that's kind of like, you know, like a TV show, like Luxe listings or so it's kind of like a self-aware version of that. Like, don't be as annoying as those people on those shows, but Hey, it's not just talk about the listings, but it's talking about a little bit of behind the scenes and you know, what you get out of that and then the who you are, which is the non-work related stuff.

[00:16:56 ] Sam Wilson: Right, man. I love it. I love it. When you think back on your business career, what's some good advice or bad advice maybe that you've heard along the way that you'd like, like for people to avoid or you'd like for people to take to heart.

[00:17:10 ] Darren Krakowiak: So one that I'm sure most of your listeners would know is that, you know, debt is okay. And I probably, I was taught that debt is bad. And, you know, whenever you've got debt, you want to pay it off but not all debt is bad debt, and that took me a while to learn and understand. And you know, that was bad advice. But I learned that it is actually okay to have debt because some leverage can help you buy and expand more and to do, to do more things.

[00:17:38 ] Darren Krakowiak: So that was bad advice that I came to understand. Some good advice that I got, I think, was to be magnanimous. And magnanimous is a word that means to basically treat people kindly, even when they're not giving you any reason to be kind to them. And it was told to me before I was promoted into a certain role where I had a lot more responsibility and I, probably, in that role, would've been able to lord it over a lot of people. And this person basically said to me, Hey, when you've got this much responsibility. It's really important that you demonstrate magnanimity. And that is that even when people are giving you the opportunity to not be kind, that you are kind to others. And I think that often in commercial real estate, it's a very competitive industry where people sometimes don't always treat each other kindly. There is an opportunity for us to rise above it and to be the person who demonstrates magnanimity and to be magnanimous.

[00:18:33 ] Sam Wilson: I love that. I love that. It's the idea of John Mann's book, The Go-Giver. I don't know if you've read any of that.

[00:18:39 ] Darren Krakowiak: I love that book. Yes.

[00:18:40 ] Sam Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. And he's come on the show a couple of times, so it's been fun. Fun to have him on.

[00:18:44 ] Darren Krakowiak: Oh, wow. I'm in the same company.

[00:18:47 ] Sam Wilson: Yeah. It's been fun to have, have John on the show, but you know, and talk about that. Like, what does it mean to be a go-giver? Like, what does it mean, you know, and that's a big word. I don't even know how to spell magnanimous. That's a lot of letters, but you know, to be, to be magnanimous and to kind of be that go giver, which you know, be kind to people that maybe you don't even necessarily have to even acknowledge like, Hey, you know what I want help you. And I think I see that a lot actually. I mean, yes, commercial real estate is, it's a competitive landscape. No doubt, no doubt. A lot of ego, and a lot of people, and a lot of money. And anytime you have that, you get a competitive landscape, but you know, certainly, I've also found it be a very collaborative industry in its own right, which is probably one of the things that I've enjoyed the most about it. And I say that a lot to people who are unfamiliar with it, it's the strangest industry because we do podcasts like this, where we just freely share information about how to get deals, how to build teams, how to go out and, you know, make acquisitions, follow up.

[00:19:35 ] Sam Wilson: And it's like, this is, this is weird. I mean, I've been in other industries where it's like very closed, very closed loop. But, so I think there's a bit, there's a bit of both of those, but I love that. Certainly love that encouragement. Did you cover the, oh, you did cover the bad advice. You said something about debt being bad.

[00:19:50 ] Darren Krakowiak: Yeah, that was the one I had for you on that one. I can give more if you like. Probably one other one that I think was bad advice was I was told by a former boss to, okay, you need to make this amount of money. And if you want to make that amount of money, then you're doing well. I kind of took that to heart and I think focusing on money and it's so in and of itself is not a good thing to focus on. Like it's great to have financial goals and there's nothing wrong with making money, but once you make that amount of money, you'll find out that your cup's not full yet.

[00:20:17 ] Darren Krakowiak: You're not fully satisfied, right? There's always got to be more money that you can make. So, I think having something more significant to focus on than just making a certain amount of money is some bad advice that I was following until I, you know, started to realize that there needs to be more to life than just making money.

[00:20:37 ] Sam Wilson: What did you do to shift your perspective?

[00:20:40 ] Darren Krakowiak: Probably, I guess I had a family, you know, I got married. I matured. I think that just comes from years and maturity, because for many years I was really focused on making money and I loved some of the trappings that come from having money of, you know, flying business class and yeah, little things like staying at nice hotels, which I still enjoy.

[00:21:00 ] Darren Krakowiak: But I think that I was attaching a lot of status to that as opposed to sort of thinking about, I think that when you're making a lot of money and that's your measure of success, you can paper over some of the other cracks that exist in your life, whether that is issues with personal relationships, issues with your health. And what happened, I guess for me is that eventually the things that you paper over, you know, they get exposed and then you realize that the money that you're making, isn't ultimately fulfilling you and giving you a balanced life that is going to help you be satisfied in, in the long term.

[00:21:35 ] Sam Wilson: Right. I think that's great. I think that's great. When you say all that, I think of the term just why. Like, why is it that I'm doing what I'm doing? What is the goal for my why? Like, if I make X, well, then what, what am I going to do with it? Or why am I going to get there? And so I've had to go through that myself actually several times when I go, okay, I see friends in the commercial real estate business, you know, they're killing it.

[00:21:54 ] Sam Wilson: They're decamillionaires at this point, and they have huge companies and I go, do I want to be you. No, I really don't like, I don't want to get there. Like I can be content with X because it solves why I'm going out and working. Like, I have a small, far smaller figure in mind that I go, okay, when I can do that, that'll free up X, you know, X and Y, and then I can go do what I want. So I think I think that's really, really sound advice and I certainly appreciate it. Darren, it's been awesome having you come on today. Are there any last closing thoughts that you have that you'd like to share with our listeners?

[00:22:24 ] Darren Krakowiak: Be more generous in your life. Be more kind. You know, you did send through a list of things about things we might talk about. And one of the things that was on there was, you know, how do you measure success? And I thought about that and I was thinking about how it, for me, it used to be about money or it used to be, you know, it'll be when I have this many investment properties. But what I started to realize was it's, actually about my ability to, you know, be a bit more calm to be more kind, to be more generous than I was in the past. So, I think if you can move your measures of success to have some financial ones in there, that's okay. But also have some non-financial KPIs of your life. I think that's a good place to get to as well.

[00:23:05 ] Sam Wilson: I love it. Darren, if our listeners want to get in touch with you or learn more about you, what is the best way to do that?

[00:23:09 ] Darren Krakowiak: Go to You'll see on that page my podcast, also you can connect with me on LinkedIn and there's a lot of free resources available for people who work in commercial real estate.

[00:23:22 ] Sam Wilson: Awesome. We'll certainly make sure we get all that included there in the show notes. Darren, thank you again for coming on the show today. It was a blast having you on and again, thanks for staying up now, almost till midnight for you. That's commitment, man. And I certainly appreciate it.

[00:23:34 ] Darren Krakowiak: My pleasure. Thank you, Sam.

About the author


Darren Krakowiak, Founder, CRE Success

Darren Krakowiak, the driving force behind CRE Success, brings over 20 years of hands-on experience and a legacy of success in Commercial Real Estate. His passion for the industry is matched only by his commitment to nurturing the growth of others. Darren’s vision extends beyond coaching; it’s about building a community of thriving professionals in Commercial Real Estate.

About the author


Darren Krakowiak, Founder, CRE Success

Darren Krakowiak, the driving force behind CRE Success, brings over 20 years of hands-on experience and a legacy of success in Commercial Real Estate. His passion for the industry is matched only by his commitment to nurturing the growth of others. Darren’s vision extends beyond coaching; it’s about building a community of thriving professionals in Commercial Real Estate.

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CRE Success

Level 1, 10 Oxley Road
Hawthorn VIC 3122

+61 3 9005 8473
[email protected]

© CRE Success


Sign up for the latest news and free training from CRE Success


CRE Success

Level 1, 10 Oxley Road
Hawthorn VIC 3122

+61 3 9005 8473
[email protected]

© CRE Success