CRE Success: The Podcast, S01E12
andrew peak, cbre
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people, melbourne, podcast, business, australia, commercial real estate, elevator, key, tenant, landlords, elevator pitch, important, opportunity, workspaces, traveled, andrew, share, uk, job, canvassing
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Welcome to CRE Success: The Podcast, where we help people working in commercial real estate achieve their professional goals. Check us out online at cresuccess.co/podcast. And now here's your host, Darren Krakowiak.
Hello and welcome to Episode 12 of CRE Success: The Podcast. I really appreciate you taking the time to join us. We have now had thousands of downloads of our show, which is really exciting, because we want to spread a positive message about best practice to help more people in the industry achieve higher levels of success.
Today I have another great guest on the show, it's Andrew Peak. Andrew has worked for the three big C's of commercial real estate: Colliers, Cushman and Wakefield, and CBRE where he is currently national director of tenant representation in Melbourne, Australia. Andrew has a great approach towards canvassing for new business, and he is going to be sharing some of his prospecting secrets in our interview shortly.
Before we get started today, though, I wanted to talk about elevator pitches. If you've listened to more than a couple of episodes, you'll know that at the beginning of each episode, I ask our guests to step into the virtual elevator to deliver their elevator pitch. I’ve received some good feedback on this concept. Some people appreciate that it gives our guests on the show an opportunity to introduce themselves in their own words. Of course, most commercial buildings have elevators, so it's also a way to reinforce the concept of this podcast. And a couple of people have told me that they love that there is an actual real live elevator sound effect playing in the background, while people deliver their elevator pitch. Here's a fun fact: that elevator sound was recorded on my phone in the building I live in. That is called Value Engineering in podcast production.
I did however, want to mention something about this feature of the show: an elevator pitch is not necessarily the best way to introduce yourself when you meet someone in the real world. It might be cool if you're at a speed networking event, but it probably doesn't sound too natural as an opening line in most other situations. So, for the record, I am not necessarily endorsing the use of elevator pitches in business. I think it's worthwhile having a casual way that explains what you do in one line, and then asking the other person about what they do. Now that obviously wouldn't fill all the time in a theoretical elevator, but it would give the other person the opportunity to speak about themselves and keep the conversation flowing. If, however, they want more information, then in my case, I would prefer to be able to deliver it in the natural flow of the conversation, rather than in the form of a canned elevator pitch.
Anyway, I just wanted to clear up where I stand on elevator pitches. They might be an outdated concept, but they sure are a great way to introduce a podcast guest. Speaking of which, Andrew Peak of CBRE is standing by and I'll be getting into the virtual elevator with him in 30 seconds.
And now it's time for the interview on CRE Success: The Podcast.
Andrew, welcome to CRE Success: The Podcast.
Oh morning, Darren, how you doin’?
Very, very well. The first thing that we do on the podcast is we step into the virtual elevator and we ask our guests to give us their elevator pitch of who they are. So, Andrew, who are you?
Darren, I'm Andrew Peak, national director at CBRE within our office tenant advisory business. We specialize in representing corporate occupiers with all their real estate needs.
Okay, so how did you get started in commercial real estate?
I've always had an interest in property and I did a degree in the built environment and then a master's in commercial property economics, which opened the door to jobs in real estate. My first job was at a company called GVA Grimley where I actually started just doing work experience and then they offered me a position on their graduate program. The great thing about the UK is that, in the graduate program, you work to rotate around departments. So, I spent time within asset management, leasing, valuation, a landlord and tenant law, and then you do a two year course to qualify to become a chartered surveyor. And I was fortunate to qualify in 2007.
So chartered surveyor, that's a valuer, correct?
Obviously, we can hear your accent. You're from the UK, but you're in Australia now and you took a little bit of a detour on your way to get here. Can you tell us about that?
Yeah, well, in 2008, obviously, the financial crisis hit and it was a pretty poor time in the UK, pretty similar to what it is today, actually. And there was slow growth, there was large redundancies, and it was a really difficult period. A couple of my friends who were made redundant went travelling and they actually ended up in Vietnam and they call me every Friday telling me how good life was and they were having a great time. And I was kind of sat in the UK, just trundling along, not really going anywhere. And then they rang me and said, oh, there's an opportunity to come up in our Hanoi office, to run the tenant advisory business for Cushman and Wakefield. I didn't really have any commitments at the time. So, I thought I might as well give it a go and sit and see how it ends up. So, signed up for the adventure.
So you got that job while interviewing in the UK? It was ready for you when you got there.
Yeah, well, fortunately, the head of Vietnam at the time was from the UK as well. So I actually met him in the UK, I've done a number of kind of Skype calls over the internet as well. So, a couple of calls, and then a face to face me in and then was given the role.
But what was the…firstly, how long did you spend in Vietnam?
It was about 18 months in the end, so not very long. It was, it was pretty tough to be honest.
Okay, well, what was tough about it?
Um, I think, obviously, you're thrown in at the deep end, that's for sure. And within six months, I was actually running the whole office. So, I was responsible for a team of 24 people. At the age of 28. I'd had no previous training or skills in that area. It was a new culture, different way of doing business. There was visible poverty, obviously, when you traveled around Vietnam. So yeah, it was it was hard. But I think it was a great learning curve.
So what was the biggest lesson that you took from the time that you spent there?
I think the best biggest lesson was what an amazing country Vietnam is. They're amazing people. And I think the key is how positive they are in the face of adversity. I think I brought that with me to Australia; that no matter what's going on, you've got to stay positive.
Any desire to work in a non-Western market again?
As much as I love Vietnam, Australia is a new home for myself. And obviously now my family, and I don't think I could live that work hard play hard culture.
Right. And have you been back to Vietnam to visit since you've lived in Australia?
I have. Yes. And I must admit, it's a lot better going back on holiday than it was working, just being able to relax and there's some amazing places there. So, I couldn't recommend it enough.
Awesome. Why did you decide to put down some roots in Melbourne?
To be honest, I was actually trying to get a job in Sydney, I was speaking to all the major real estate firms. But CBRE came up with an opportunity in Melbourne in the tenant advisory business. Tenant advisory was what I really wanted to do. So I decided to take the job. I had previously traveled to Australia, around the East Coast, Sydney to Cannes and I'd never been to Melbourne. I think the most I knew about Melbourne at the time was from Neighbours.
Like many Englishmen, then…alright, so you found your way to Melbourne, and you got this job with CBRE. How long did it take you to sort of get your bearings and gain some traction in the Melbourne market? And how hard was it to do that?
Yeah, I think people think it's a lot harder than it is actually. I would say it took me about six months to learn the market, I'd obviously already overcome working in a different market in Vietnam. So, I brought these learning principles to Melbourne. I think what really helped was how approachable and open Melbourne people are. And everyone was happy to meet for coffee, and really helped me out and pointed me in the right direction.
I think while you could say it could be easy, I still think there must be something that you did in order to sort of make that happen. So what did you do to trigger the help that you received from other people?
I think it's important that when you start in a new market, you work out who's who in the zoo, and who are the main people that you'd want that are key influences, I suppose, or that a key kind of benefit that the top of their game in the market. So I kind of research who these types of people were and just would reach out to them, send them an email and say, Listen, this is who I am, would you like to meet for a coffee?, and then we'll give them kind of my backstory and tell them about my experiences and just obviously listen as much as I could, to who they were, what they were about, how they got to where they had, and just what lessons they'd have, for me kind of making myself in Melbourne.
Well, I know you've got a reputation as being a quite a focused prospector. And you've got a track record of producing some pretty good results in the time that you've been in Melbourne. Can you share with us a little bit about your prospecting principles in terms of habits and also approaches that you have found effective?
Yeah, I think the key thing is, is focus and consistency. So about 20% of my work day, I'd be focused on canvassing opportunities. And I think the key is I'll block out my diary. And for that hour, which I call the Hour of Power, I will literally just target tenants. I think the key to that is that you got to have persistence and not take no for an answer. And you got to keep following up and persevering because you're not going to break it straight away. But you'd be surprised if you get into a routine and you keep doing what you do. It will pay off in the end. The other thing as well as it's not just about getting the meeting. You need the ability to be able to sell yourself your service, the value that you bring, and actually when the work,
Right, and did you find with the Hour of Power every day, were you doing that at the same time, was that based on when you knew that you're at your peak performance?
Pardon the problem with the peak! Yes. And I typically try and do my canvassing at about 10 o'clock in the morning. I don't know why, it just came to me that I felt that people would get into the office, they probably have got coffee, that's ideally when they're probably sat at their desk, and they're kind of ready to do stuff. So about 10 till 11 is when I try and focus my time on getting in touch with people. And I must admit, I don't try and canvas on a Monday, because most people are kind of up and running with it with their week. So, Tuesday to Friday; Friday, you find sometimes people are quite happy, though the weekends upon themselves, they're a bit more responsive. But I don't think there's a fine art to it. Again, I just go back to that consistency of maintaining to do it.
I think you've hit on a really good point there, because you're putting yourself in the mind of who you're trying to prospect. So not prospecting on a Monday, for example, because people are busy with sort of getting their week underway. You're thinking about on the Friday, when people are in a good mood; you're thinking about when they're settled into the office after having their coffee. I really like how you've described it, because you're really making it about the people you're prospecting instead of making it about you.
Yeah, correct. And I think that's, when you're speaking to people, you have to come across in what they're thinking about, why would they be bothered to listen to you? And that's really important, I think.
And what about time management? It's quite critical in our business, and how did you make sure that you would always do the prospecting every day it was scheduled in your diary, I guess. But what if something else came up? How did you deal with that?
I think obviously, the Outlook calendar is really important. And I plan my day, kind of meticulously, so I try and block out kind of sessions for the day such as canvassing, emails, meetings, etc. I've seen other people when they're trying to do this canvassing that their phone rings, and they answer it because they think it's a really important call. And that just kind of detracts from what they're actually doing. So I would actually turn my phone off for that period - typically, I'd be calling from my desk phone - and just make sure I had that prime focus on exactly what I was doing. I think the other key to time management is that you've got to be as productive as possible in the time that you've got. So, I try and plan things such as inspections that you know, take quite a long time, first thing in the morning or last thing of the day. So, you're not you're not being tied up, kind of in the middle of the day, kind of when you're probably at your most productive.
You've been in the Melbourne market now for coming up on nine years. And you've obviously now got a really good stable of existing repeat business in Melbourne. So, do you still nowadays take that time to canvass as much as you did when you first arrived?
Oh, absolutely. I think it's in my DNA, and why I love my job. The key to me is I love winning, and I see it as a real challenge, to try and convert an opportunity.
So, what do you routinely and consistently do that helps you be successful?
I think consistency is key. I don't try and change too much that I do on a day to day basis. But I am constantly trying to learn and grow. So, if there's something that I see on a LinkedIn page, or from researching the internet of different ways of doing things, like I've read books, like how to make 100,000 cold calls and things like that…I don't see this as a job. So you've really got to put your heart and soul into trying to be the best you can possibly be. It's almost like being an athlete, for a football team. Like those guys are literally kind of meticulous of going about their work. And I think if you want to be the best at what you do that that's the kind of attributes you've got to have.
And is that something that you taught yourself? Or is this something that you've read in books? Where does that understanding of what's required to be successful come from?
Yeah, I think it's self-taught to be honest, from reading books. Like my wife would always turn a nose up when we'd be on holiday. And she'd be reading a Michael Connelly book, or some form of murder book. And I'd be sat there with a kind of self-help book or how to how to be better at something. And but I do think it's actually really put me in good stead.
Any authors that you'd care to share that have been particularly impactful in in your life?
Erm, not really know, but I do like kind of autobiographies, the likes of Richard Branson. That was a great book about where he started, how it got to where he's got to, the lessons he's learned along the way. It's really about looking at those inspiring people, and just understanding what makes them tick.
Right. So what's one attribute that you think's important for people generally, to have to succeed in commercial real estate?
I think the key is drive. Like if you want to be the best, you need to work hard. I don't think anything's going to be given to you and you need that drive or persistence. But when things don't go your way, you can pick yourself up and go again.
And you mentioned your wife earlier. And obviously, you're a family man. So how do you manage to keep those boundaries between work and home?
I think it is really tough to be honest, Darren, especially in the current environment, because I love what I do, I don't really see it as a job. So, I can be working all hours. Luckily, my kids are still young. But I will ensure that I don't miss anything in regards them growing up, taking them to daycare, and after school, sports day, etc, those are the kind of key moments that I really want to be part of that, their childhood. I think the great thing about our job is you can work when you want to some extent. So if I want to take the morning off to do something with my kids, I can do and then I just make the hours up later.
And has your approach to work life balance change, since you've had a family,
My wife would probably say no…I have tried my best and I suppose before this COVID environment, that the work from home model was coming out a lot more kind of in the real estate business. Because we can really do our jobs from anywhere. So I did, I did switch to working from home on a Monday, and probably a Friday afternoon; Monday, probably more to help with the kids. So I take my son to gymnastics on a Monday, and then Friday, just to spend a bit of time down the beach with the kids so that you're not constantly working.
So this is pre COVID, you're already doing one and a half or two days working from home?
Correct. And I think that's what's great about the big organizations like CBRE, that they're quite open to that and supportive. Like, at the end of the day, I think gone are the days of that nine to five, where you've got to get in, you've got to be seen, and you've got to be pedaling along. At the end of the day with what based on results. And if you're producing results, no matter how you're going about it. And I think CBRE are very supportive of that.
Final question, so what's one thing about Australia or about Melbourne that you'll never get used to?
And after nine years, I'm still confused. When someone asked me how I'm traveling, I did get some confused looks when in the early days, I would say I just walked here.
So “how ya travelin’” is not something you’d typically hear back home?
No, typically back home, you would say “Are you okay?” And I found that when I had to go to people and say, “Are you okay?”, they'd look at me as if like there was something wrong with them. So I think those are just little subtle differences between the cultures,
I think, isn't it “ya right?”; Ricky Gervais, every show, it's always “ya right?”.
Very good, mate. Well, I really appreciate you sharing some of what makes you tick. Thanks so much for joining us on CRE Success: The Podcast.
No problem, Darren, thanks for having me.
For more information about our guest, visit cresuccess.co/podcast. And now a final thought from Darren Krakowiak.
Thank you, Andrew, for being on the show some great takeaways from that interview, delivered very efficiently as well. As always, a transcript is available from our website cresuccess.co if you'd like to go over some of what he shared.
Before we wrap up today, we have a couple of extra minutes, so I wanted to share something that I put on LinkedIn recently, that got a few interesting comments. I said that if you share overtly political content on professional platforms like LinkedIn, you should ask yourself if the post is going to change more minds about the topic you're posting about, or will it make more people think differently about you?
Ultimately, it's completely up to you what you post on LinkedIn. However, I think it's worth being very intentional about what you put out there. And that includes the comments that you make on other people's posts. It might feel good in the moment to blow off some steam and contribute your two cents. But I would suggest asking yourself, what are you really trying to achieve by sharing it on that platform? In my opinion, if you want to get something off your chest, you are better off calling a friend and having a rant, or going on Facebook, rather than sharing a divisive opinion with some people that you're trying to have a good business relationship with, who are perhaps not only going to disagree with you, but maybe also judge you for not having the self-control to not share in a professional setting.
Now, just to be clear, I'm not saying that you should censor yourself. And, you know, if something is important to you, then if you strongly believe you should make a stand on an issue, then I applaud you for doing that. I think Black Lives Matter is a great example of that recently; not everyone agrees with that movement, but many people feel empowered to be public about their support of it. And that's great. Ultimately, if your intention comes from a positive place, that is not driven by a desire just to make other people angry, then, you know, I'm not talking about you with this point that I was making. So, there is distinction and nuance here.
My point is just to think carefully about what you're saying and why you're saying it. If you're feeling emotional while you're on the computer, perhaps save the post as a draft and then look at it again the next day and ask yourself if you still want to share it. I learned a few years ago not to send emails while I'm angry, I would cringe when I would read some of the emails that I sent the next day. And, you know, given the ubiquity of social media, it's worth putting the same level of thought into what you post there, particularly on LinkedIn, where you're dealing with people you work with, and do business with. Because while you can delete a post, you can't be sure that people who matter won't have already seen it and drawn a conclusion, not about the post, but about the person who posted it.
All right. That's all we've got time for today. Thanks so much for listening, and I will speak to you soon.
Thanks for listening to CRE Success: The Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure you subscribe to us on your favourite podcast platform and be sure to leave us a five-star review. For more information about the show, just check the show notes on your podcast app or visit us online at cresuccess.co