Darren Krakowiak: combining hustle and talent to excel in commercial real estate


In commercial real estate, most people believe hustle is a greater predictor than talent in determining whether someone will be able to go the distance.

But over the course of my career, I’ve observed that neither approach on its own will turn you into a top performer. 

You see, if your strategy is simply to work harder than everyone else, then all you have is a recipe for burnout…or you’ll simply run out of time and energy to increase your production.

Let’s face it; the best way to double your GCI this year is not by working twice as hard as you did last year. 

On the other hand, if you just rely on your smarts, and you’re not willing to turn your capabilities into action, then you’re not going to get very far either.

Worse still, you’ll be tarnished with the label of being lazy – which is code for not being cut-out for this caper.

Working smarter is where the magic happens; by utilising your natural abilities, having the drive to succeed, and knowing where to place your attention.

In this article, let’s delve deeper into the importance of hustle and talent, and then explore five strategies to achieve success by working smarter.

The power of hustle

In commercial real estate, hustle embodies the attitude and attributes many of us value and there’s no doubt these contribute to success. The three core components of hustle include:

  1. Building and maintaining a strong professional network: investing time and effort in creating and nurturing your network is a vital aspect of hustle. A robust network can open doors to opportunities and will help you stay top of mind with the people who matter.
  2. Demonstrating persistence and resilience: overcoming obstacles, prospecting more than others, and maintaining a positive attitude are vital elements of hustle. Embracing grit can propel you further in your career.
  3. Being proactive and adaptable: in an ever-evolving industry like commercial real estate, staying ahead of the curve and embracing innovation is paramount. Adaptability and proactiveness – rather than resting on your laurels – are components of success in this field.

The significance of talent

Talent plays an equally important role in commercial real estate. As a leader, it’s essential to identify and harness your team members’ natural abilities. Three key talents that hold immense value are:

  1. Knowledge of the marketplace: in-depth knowledge of the industry, sectors, locations, and clients matters. Regardless of how much you’re willing to hustle, this knowledge takes time to build, and some cognitive capability to maintain; if you’ve got it, it sets you apart from others.
  2. Strong negotiation and sales skills: success in commercial real estate depends a lot on negotiation skills and sales capabilities. These can be learned over time, but natural ability, along with accumulated knowledge and experience, is a huge advantage to have.
  3. Problem-solving capabilities: whether it’s analysing numbers or finding solutions to complex issues, problem-solving skills are invaluable in commercial real estate. There is a certain level of trust and credibility that can be derived from being fast on your feet.

Strategies for working smarter

To excel in commercial real estate, it’s vital to strike the right balance between hustle and talent. Here are five strategies for working smarter and achieving greater success:

  1. Embrace technology and digital tools: make the most of technology to streamline tasks and enhance productivity (are you using Chat GPT yet?). Leveraging technology will help you stand out from those who rely solely on their natural talent or work longer hours, enabling you to accomplish more in less time.
  2. Manage your time and prioritise tasks: learn to delegate and outsource tasks when needed. Understand that you may not always be the right person for every job – even if you enjoy it or you’re the best at it – and let go of some control. Assign tasks to the most suitable person based on where it’s most cost-effective.
  3. Focus on delivering value to clients: concentrate on providing value, rather than working longer hours or banking on your market knowledge. Your ability to help clients make better decisions and increase the value of their assets is what will truly sets you apart.
  4. Invest in personal and professional development: continuously strive to improve your skills and knowledge. Attend industry conferences, enrol in courses, stay informed about market trends, and read more articles like this (well done, you’re nearly at the end!). By enhancing your expertise, you’ll become an event bigger asset to your clients and colleagues.
  5. Foster a growth mindset: embrace a mindset that encourages self-improvement beyond just structured training. Be open to feedback and view challenges as opportunities to grow. A growth mindset says that you can grow your capability and your income by more than just working harder; this mindset will help you continually adapt and excel.

Remember, in commercial real estate, both hustle and talent play a crucial role in achieving success. By working smarter and striking the right balance between these elements, you can unlock your full potential and excel in any market.

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