CRE N Illinois

Jack Durburg: No shortcuts to success

Midwest Real Estate News regularly profiles successful commercial brokers. This time we take a look at the nearly 25-year career of Jack Durburg, president of the central division of CB Richard Ellis. From his office in Chicago, Durburg explained just how much, and why, he enjoys the commercial real estate business.

Midwest Real Estate News regularly profiles successful commercial brokers. This time we take a look at the nearly 25-year career of Jack Durburg, president of the central division of CB Richard Ellis. From his office in Chicago, Durburg explained just how much, and why, he enjoys the commercial real estate business.

Midwest Real Estate News: When did you get your start in commercial real estate? Jack Durburg: I started in this business in May of 1988. That was quite some time ago. I’m now in my 24th year of my real estate career. Truth is, I didn’t seek real estate out. It was just an opportunity that I fell into. Clearly, it’s been good to me. I certainly didn’t plan it this way.

MWREN: Why do you think this has been such a good fit for you? Durburg: I’ve developed a passion for the business. As you know, it’s hard to be successful at anything unless you are passionate about it. Fortunately, I developed a passion for commercial real estate. As a result, I’ve poured all of my energies into it. My career bore some fruit because of the passion and the effort.

MWREN: What do you enjoy most about this business? Durburg: First and foremost, it is highly competitive. That is exciting. It is fun. I love to compete, and I love to win. Every day is different. There is a whole host of new challenges every day that you have to plan for. The business is exciting that way. You are constantly learning. It is a people business, too. The people that I have had the privilege of working with, both internally at CB Richard Ellis, and our clients are great people. It makes it enjoyable.

MWREN: What is the most challenging part of succeeding in this business? Durburg: We are only limited by our own personal bandwidth. There are so many opportunities in this business. The trick is, you need to figure out how to manage your time, and pour your energy into those activities that will really move the needle for your business. With technology, it is easy to get sidetracked and make yourself busy, even though you are not really moving the needle. How do you prioritize and focus on those valuable activities that are going to push your business forward, rather than just being busy and running in place? That advice isn’t necessarily real estate-specific. I’d say that is applicable to a lot of different industries, but that is part of the magic, trying to figure that out.

MWREN: What kind of activities would you say are the ones that help move your business’ needle? Durburg: If you are a real estate broker, you can make yourself busy completing tasks. What you really should be doing is getting on the phone with your clients. You should be calling either your existing clients or you should be prospecting for new clients. It is easy to get sidetracked by busy work. You have to figure out how to either delegate that or push it to the side and focus on your clients.

MWREN: What steps do you take to make sure that you are focusing on your clients each day? Durburg: I don’t have it completely figured out. I’m not so sure anyone does. But I definitely have figured out a way to prioritize. What I want to do with my time is spend my time with my internal clients, our professionals here, and my external clients. I have a really good team around me to which I can delegate a lot of the tasks that you have to complete during the course of the day. So I can really focus in on clients, both internal and external.

MWREN: Has that helped you during these tough economic times? Durburg: I think it might be the most important thing. You build loyalty and trust. And that gives you a huge advantage internally in your own organization. And it gives you a huge advantage externally. People trust that you can deliver what you promise. You have to invest in the people in order to build that trust.

MWREN: What kind of personality traits do you have that have helped you succeed in this business? Durburg: It all starts with work ethic. That is probably the foundation for success in our industry. There isn’t a shortcut. You have to put the time in. You have to be more committed than your competitors. You have to be dedicated to excellence in service delivery, whether that is serving your internal clients or your external clients. You have to overlay it with strong core values. Integrity. Respect. Trust. Those are all foundation values that you need to have while conducting your business. You might notice that I didn’t mention that you have to be the smartest person in the world. It’d help. But all of the qualities that you need to have to be successful are there for anyone if you are dedicated. That’s a great message, frankly, to a lot of the young people in the business. You can get to wherever you want to be in this business with working hard, promoting excellence in service delivery and having a strong set of core values.