SEASON 1, EPISODE 7

Vice Chairman of Newmark: Ben Shapiro on Pursuing Authentic Relationships, Being in the Deal, and Creating Opportunity

Release Date: August 17, 2022

Back


In this episode of the Closing Table, we’re joined by Ben Shapiro, who is the Vice Chairman of Newmark’s New York headquarters and is a part of the leadership team spearheading Newmark’s Technology & Innovation Practice Group, a group of specialized advisors focused on the Technology, Advertising, Media and Information (TAMI)/Technology,Media and Telecom (TMT). 

Ben shares the importance of building a genuine professional relationship with mentors. He also talks about surrounding yourself with the best people from whom you can learn from and being hungry to do more work to get the reps in. Lastly, he shares his prediction on closing deals in the next 10~20 years.

What’s discussed: 

1:54 - How did Ben rise in the industry?

7:32 - Does Ben follow his gut-instinct when closing deals? 

8:36 - How does Ben maintain his work-life balance? 

12:23 - How involved is Ben in the paperwork?

13:53 - What skills should be developed to be successful in brokerage? 

15:19 - How did Ben find his mentors?

18:19 - How to approach a mentor if you are a reserved person? 

20:11 - Are deals closing today different from when Ben started? 

Transcript:

Intro:

You are listening to the Closing Table by ProDeal, the Commercial Real Estate Industry Insiders podcast. Closing deals is what separates the good from the great in this business. That's why we pick the brains of the world's best lawyers, lenders, developers and brokers. Have a reputation for getting the deal closed. Stay tuned for insider tips on how to succeed at the closing table and bring your business to the top. Now let's start closing some deals. 

Welcome back, everyone. I'm your host, Ian Group and today I'm here with my good friend Ben Shapiro. Ben serves as a vice chairman in Newmark's New York headquarters and is part of their leadership team spearheading numerous tech and innovation practice group. This episode is straight value. Ben details what exactly has worked well for him as he has risen through the ranks in Newmark. We talk about leadership and why neither of us have morning routines. And you're going to want to stay to the end when Ben makes his prediction on how we will close deals in the future. So just a reminder that this podcast is brought to you by ProDeal the data room for deal teams. Deals have a lot of parties with lots of documents. Isn't it time that you try a solution that was purpose built for you and your team? Head over to ProDeal360.com/demo. Fill out the form and let us know. You heard about us on this podcast and we'll give you a month free plus one on one onboarding completely on us. Now, let's dove into today's conversation with Ben Shapiro. 

Ian Group:

You should be happy about the successes that you've had, and I want to hear about them. And that's the first the first question I have, which is there are thousands of brokers in the city, but you've managed to rise up and achieve some pretty serious awards in the process. I want to know what you've done differently than others to do that.

Ben Shapiro:

So I don't think I had done anything differently. I think I have done what every successful broker has done, and I just had various moments of call it good fortune. I one worked at a big firm and was able to absorb and understand how a big firm works, the type of business it pursues, and the revenue opportunity that you have working at one of the largest commercial real estate service firms in the world. So my first actionable piece of advice is get in the door at somewhere really big no matter what you're doing. Could Newmark, Cushman Wakefield, CBRE, JLL get to a big firm and learn every inch of the firm? That's step number one, because you'll have the opportunity to do really big, cool, interesting stuff that can be financially rewarding, but you can only do it like a lot of other industries that are consolidating among the sort of mega companies. If you're playing at the highest level, so get in the game at the highest level. Step one can't be successful without it. 

Ian Group: 

Before you get to step two, do you think that that applies beyond just being a broker, like for anyone that doesn't know? You and I are like very close friends. We go way back. We have a lot of mutual friends in the industry. So you think that this applies beyond just brokerage? 

Ben Shapiro:

The idea, I assume I'm the younger brother who is bouncing around the tech industry and I said, you have to get to Google, Amazon and Facebook and work there for 5 to 7 years. And just like I think the foundation a younger person has by working at the biggest and best organizations will shape the rest of their career. And I'm actually religious about that. I think there's there's so much that you can learn, so many top level relationships to be built and so many great assignments to pursue. And you can't do it unless you're working with the best of the best. So whatever your industry is, you should force yourself to learn from the biggest and the best. And then you don't just stay there forever. You can decide that, Hey, I want to go do something smaller and more boutique. I want to do my own thing. I don't need to to sort of, you know, play Game of Thrones in the rat race of some of the big company politics. No problem. But. But get in there. Absorb, be a sponge. Don't try to get rich. Try to learn. And just you know, our business is a lot a lot of components of the real estate business is like tennis or golf or any sport. You only get good. Anybody can be good, good enough to be better than everybody else. Right. To have your analogy to success, just get the reps and get thousands and thousands of reps in. 

Ian Group: 

So step one was get to the get to the best possible companies. Was there a step two? 

Ben Shapiro: 

I think step two is work with as many people as possible. So so 2a is, you know, be incredibly hungry, user friendly and willing to do all the work. You only get success in this business by knowing how the business works. You only know how that business works. By doing deals, you have to do hundreds and hundreds of deals to have any level of confidence to do deals and be the leader of a deal. Whether that's a leasing deal with this, executing a purchase and sale on any asset class, whether that's, you know, what you do a ProDeal, you have to do it thousands and thousands of times. And the only way you will do that is by making yourself an asset to the people around you. So to be user friendly, work really hard to be kind of like the game of blackjack, right? Good BlackJack players know when to put their chips on the table and you're going to have that moment one or two times in a five or seven year period where you can go all in and you can go all in on a potential tenant. You can go all in on a landlord to work with. You can go all in on a internal business partner to work with. But it's just almost staying the course and then saying, okay, let's go all in on these two accounts. Let's go all in on this relationship with a senior advisor. And that's going to dictate probably 80% of your success over a 5 to 10 year period. 

Ian Group: 

I'm assuming that's what you did. 

Ben Shapiro: 

I did. And I got lucky. Right? I was lucky to have 2 to 4 amazing clients whose growth dwarfed my my expectations. And I've worked with some amazing people that are 20 to 40 year at a 50 year titans of our industry. And I just said, okay, how am I going to make myself in-disposable not in-disposable but good enough that they're going to want me to be helpful and accretive to their processes. Right? When you know the when the leader the leaders of Newmark some of the biggest names in real estate, these are people that are, you know, some of the most successful people in the history of New York City. And you're like, okay, what do I have to do to make sure I'm in the room? And if I'm in the room, I'm going to make sure I don't leave the room. So what? So if you're doing a big lease and you get invited to be on a lease team, you know, own the exhibits, there's 25 exhibits to a lease on any big deal, 40 exhibits to lease, memorize them, be absolutely indisposed. Well on that little section that no one gives a shit about finding simple small ways to add junior level value. And like what? You and I joke about this a lot. We say a lot of people have problems in life because they missed a day of kindergarten. Right. My buddies like hehe. But he didn't call when my grandma died. Didn't show up for dinner. Like it'll be a guy that missed that. Right. That important there. Kindergarten. Do the right thing. Be user friendly. I work really hard. It seems elementary, but that's sort of too big.

Ian Group: 

I love it. Do you have a sense now when you're approaching a new client or a deal that it's actually going to work out? Like, is it a gut instinct or is it like, do you look for certain criteria? 

Ben Shapiro:

I actually think it's more of a numbers game. I'm now at the point where I actually don't waste time and energy being predictive because I can't control it and it doesn't matter. What I can control is the number of opportunities I create. So if I just assume that 50% of all my opportunities and when I say opportunities, I mean like one, two, three repeat meetings of the new prospective client are not going to work out. Then say, okay, so I want to close five deals. I got to have a third meeting with ten people. How do I do that? Okay. Okay. How do I get you know, and then you work backwards, right? So so I think it's like I don't think it's about being predictive of success. It's about creating enough opportunity where you don't you don't even have time or the interest in being predictive because you're constantly just looking to refuel and re funnel in advance. 

Ian Group: 

How do you make time? So if that's the playbook, right, it's a numbers game. You have to get all those meetings. And how do you make time for life? I mean, you're doing unbelievable job of it, by the way. You always have time when I call you. 

Ben Shapiro:

Here's what I'll say. I love these. I read the real deal and there's like the closing and they're these stupid things at the end. Or it's like 5:50. I wake up and I'm stone pressed, hot coffee that I picked off. Great. While my two year old and I make pancakes. It's like, that's not how the world works. You do the best you can. Like I say, we always talk about the day in the life of a broker, right? It's like 6:45, third alarm rings. It's your home over, literally alarm clock. But you know, what I could say is I am programed to be in the service business as I think a lot of leasing and sales and debt professionals are. If you're in the brokerage business, you're programed to be client first and service driven. I never have time, have an issue, making time for people and connecting. What I found the biggest challenge is as I've gotten more mature in my career, is having the right time to be thoughtful, heads down and like take time to think. I've always had time to react. Ian texted me, Hey, can we talk about this deal? Ben, hey, can we talk about our kids being like that's it's like I spent 20 years being so reactive to situation. It's second nature to be reactive. What's harder for me is to take that second back and be like, okay, I really need to understand this 100 page document and all four corners of it. How do I block out time without, like, being A.D.D. and chasing the next red balloon? How do I take time to, like, build my order, build my year, build my plan by, like, actually taking real time away from this thing that we're staring at each other. And this thing that's gone off 15 times in the last minute and a half to just be like, What's my plan? And that to me is always more challenging than being reactive and communicative to the people in my life, whether it's professional, in-person.

Ian Group:

Do you have any ceremonies or anything you do now to do that? 

Ben Shapiro: 

So I just try to do the best I can and I try to know it's probably one of my weaknesses I'm constantly working on. It just involves, you know, turning off the computer or throwing the phone away. Being organized about what I want to accomplish and going back to it six, seven, eight, nine times. Because you're never going to do it. I am never going to do it on my first or second, third try because I haven't put enough time in because I can't stay deep in it that long to do it right. 

Ian Group: 

Look, you make it work. There's no shoulds or there's no rules about how to how to make it work. Right. Like some people live by these crazy routines. For others, it's more about execution and doing. Yeah, and so. And you're a doer.

Ben Shapiro:

So what do you do? Crazy things in your routine.

Ian Group: 

Know? Okay, I'm like you. I try to make it make it work out. I've tried to to have, like a morning routine or something that would kind of keep me grounded in the mornings. But I found that, like, I just need to wake up and, like, get going, right? Because I generally know what I want to achieve throughout the day. I actually think that's probably the most important thing at the beginning of the day, trying to wake up a little bit early, especially if you have a family before everyone gets up and just saying, Here are the things I want to accomplish today. Yeah, right. This morning. And it was fantastic.

Ben Shapiro:

You're not playing. So I get to your point, you like the feeling of playing from behind immediately. It's just it's just a hard to it's hard to get next level productive when you're already starting because all you're trying to do is just catch up.

Ian Group: 

100% because you're inevitably going to get behind in a day. And whether you're you're a broker lawyer, you know, you've got clients calling you, you've got relationships you're building. It's you know, the day just fills up with with stuff sort. 

Ben Shapiro: 

Totally.

Ian Group: 

Starting from from a head is huge. Are you how in the weeds are you on deals like you just mentioned, you're reading leases like do you have people that are helping you with these things? Are you like in the deal all the time?

Ben Shapiro:

I can only speak to my segment of the business, which is brokerage. Yeah. 

Ian Group:

Your experience? You.

Ben Shapiro: 

Yeah. If I'm on a project, I'm reading every proposal, I'm reading a release, I am editing them in the document. I've always found that the only people in our business that do not live in the document, in my opinion, are people that are, you know, just not used to using technology. So, you know, I think that every quality professional in the service business is living and breathing in that document, this myth about the senior broker playing golf. And yeah, that's, you know, the socialization of our business happens, but our business is transformed. We're a consultancy business at this point, and we will live and die by our ability to live in the document, not by a relationship around the hockey game. I just think those days are long gone and and I think it's now what used to be an old boys club at a golf at a golf tennis hockey games is now about your ability to live inside that document and. Like really be same way an attorney, you know, you value an attorney based on their ability to navigate a document. I think you value it brokerage professional in the same way. And you actually have to have a little bit of socialization. But I would say it's probably 80% ability to live in the document and 20%, you know, the other swag type stuff. 

Ian Group: 

So what what skills would you kind of extrapolate from that that someone looking from the outside would say, I need to develop? Attention to detail comes to mind, but I'm curious if there's anything.

Ben Shapiro:

Yeah, I think it's attention to detail. I think it's organization. I think organization is the most important thing you can do in the document as it relates to negotiating documents. And then it's sort of a subset of it. That detail is, and this comes with my comment of reps is understanding and having the sort of not radar but ability to navigate what's important and what's not important. And I've gotten caught over the years like I can't everyone has, but I can share stories here. Like I didn't negotiate the right favored nation signage clause. And now who are my anchor tenant as we work sign on, it's on its exterior with building instead of their own name, and they have more space than we work. And I was like, Yeah, you know, like, I know if I don't make those mistakes anymore, but I did cutting my teeth. And I think that, I think that that like that that to me is, you know, not to use the sort of older term of schmuck insurance. Right? But like I think so much of of your job is to plan against anything that would expose or make your client look bad. You have to be like client first. And if the organization organized and attentive to detail. 

Ian Group: 

You alluded to this before when we talked when you talked about going to work for big organization. This is something that you told me a long time ago, which was to find a mentor early on. How did you do that?

Ben Shapiro: 

So I've had a lot of mentors in my life. I like to think of it as like a. A personal board of directors. And the short answer is dumb luck. The longer answer is, I found people that I believed in and I wanted to emulate and be that were. Ten years older, 30 years older than me. And I just built the relationship. And it was genuine and authentic. And I loved these people could say, Ben, you have the next ten assignments or Ben, you have zero assignments. And I would love these people equally. The first step to me in finding that mentor is really find someone that, regardless if they can help you or not assume they can't help you at all, you still want them to have that mentorship role in your life. Is their involvement in your life so important? But if they don't help you at all other than to talk to you? Is that like do you still feel the same way? If the answer is yes, that's an authentic relationship. So pursue authentic relationships, number one. 

Number two, sort of subset of that, find people that you want to be when you are that age. Like when you when they when you are ten years, 15, 20 years, 30 years down the line, do you want to? And it's not just business. It's like personal. Like I for years have worshiped the older guys in my business, the heads of Newmark, Barry Gosin and Jimmy King. You know, these people are you know, they are. Most importantly, they prioritize family above everything else. They are, you know, trustworthy. They work hard. They're wildly successful. And and that to me is, you know what? I if you can say draw it up without anything like that's what you want, right? Like and they're generally happy. I've always chased that. And then everything else kind of an offshoot. I, I was once in a, in a, in a panel and someone's like, find a mentor that you think is going to help you in business. I was like, Yeah, I get it. But like, if you don't believe in the guy or the girl because you think they're a bad person, like that's that's going to fail really quick, right? Really find someone that you are, you know, enamored by and build a relationship naturally and organically that way. And maybe it'll work out for you, maybe a mom. But there's a lot of people if you if the personalities match and you do all the other stuff we talked about where you're working hard, you're trying to do the right thing. You're you know what I mean? Like, I think it'll organically work, work your way. Like we have there's people that we know that very closely that are wildly more successful than the people that I have as mentors. But I think that you want to pick someone not because it would look the best on a social media post, would be the most impressive to your family dinner with someone that actually can help you grow professionally, personally. 

Ian Group: 

Okay, so let's say you find that person, and I am not as outgoing as you. What? What are the steps that I take to maybe reach out to that person and engage with them to see if they even want to have that kind of relationship? 

Ben Shapiro: 

So I definitely think it's obviously if you have an outgoing personality who likes to talk to people, it's obviously much easier. But I think you need to understand and do your homework on that person and figure out what. For every outgoing person and every sort of bigger personality, there's four people behind them that don't understand is that have amazing skill sets and something that make up for that person. Because for all the great leaders of of real estate, there's 3 to 5 people that you may have heard of, may not have heard of that are all incredibly successful and have made millions of dollars without having to pass one personality test. So I would figure out which person are you? Are you outgoing person? Okay, there there's a path. Are you the introvert? But but you have these skills. And you know what I mean? And then and I think so much of success in business is marrying skill sets. Like, I've I've partners that are better brokers than me, more detail oriented, smarter by a mile. And I've I tell them that you're smarter than me like you are more detailed than me. How would you attack this problem? And if this works on the finest ten more meetings, you know what I mean? Like you said, learn like it to find that rhythm. 

Ian Group: 

I know that you have a call, so we're going to wrap it up. My last question for you is, you've been doing this now for, what, over a decade, right?

Ben Shapiro: 

Yeah, I started when we were going in our senior year of college. So it's 2000 somewhere about six. So.

Ian Group: 

So. Oh, a long time. Yeah. Since this is sponsored by ProDeal, a tech company, I'm curious, from a tech perspective, innovation perspective, are deals closing any differently today than they were when you started? 

Ben Shapiro:

So was 2006, 16 years ago. Unfortunately, no. Like the crazy thing about real estate. Is it such an antiquated business in terms of forms and process? And I'm not just saying this is like a commercial for ProDeal because it's you know, I think that the least negotiation process is so incredibly misaligned with the interests of the tenant landlord in that like the forms are too long, there's too many esoteric provisions. The amount of time, legal fees, broker efforts will effectively get streamlined. So my thought on the real estate market at large over the next 10~20 years is the rise of Flex Office, which uses agreements that are 3 to 5 pages long. Right. Will sort of have a shift in the way smaller leases get negotiated. And I think eventually smaller leases or I say smaller leases, I mean. 10,000 feet and smaller for five year, less or shorter will start to use a more. It may go back to an old revenue form kind of lease, right. That's going to be a shorter, more frictionless document. I think big leases and deals will continue to be arduous, long and hard. And I think sort of that phenomenon will it won't automate our processes, but I'll certainly make them a lot better than they were. And I think that the that'll have a separate ripple effect for the brokerage industry. But to answer your question directly, I think our processes are totally outdated and antiquated and the rise of flex office will cause on the smaller side those processes to become more efficient. 

Ian Group: 

Love the prediction. Ben, thanks for your time. 

Outro:

Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of The Closing Table. The Commercial Real Estate Industries Insider Podcast brought to you by protein. If you're ready to start closing some deals, I highly recommend checking out ProDeal. Here's why it's a due diligence platform that helps deal teams streamline track and organize due diligence. It's especially helpful for big deals, portfolio transactions, or shops with high volume, with endless amounts of documents, checklists and emails. Isn't it time that you and your team use a tool purpose built for your deals? For more information, please visit our website at ProDeal360.com and request a demo. Tell us you found ProDeal on the podcast and give you 30 days for free. If you'd like the content and advice on how to reach the top, please be sure to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. Now let's go start closing some deals. 

Ready to get ahead of the competition?

Schedule a demo