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What It Takes to Be a Broker

Updated: May 16

Aerial view of Minneapolis, Mississippi River, and the St. Anthony Falls.

Commercial Equities Group is hiring an associate (or aspiring) broker. When making the decision to bring on another team member, I reflected on my start in commercial real estate. I hustled! I learned every aspect of the business. I was the plow guy, the demo guy, and often swept properties during the evenings for the final move in. Each step taught me something, and I now – with much delayed gratitude – I reap the benefits as a broker that owns my own business.

CRE is a challenging field to break into. Finding a mentor is essential. I discussed in a previous blog how I landed in CRE. It happened because I met the right mentor at the right time. For me, I got into the profession to help people. Although each broker is driven by their own motivations, I see similarities in how successful ones approach the work. Here are five recommendations for what it takes to be a broker:

1. Be motivated to learn. There is a sense of delayed gratification in being a broker. The start can be slow, and the payoff is not instantaneous. But if you’re motivated to learn more, you’ll eventually gain traction. Mental and physical sweat equity is required. When I started out, my mentor and I did snow removal for properties at night. With no sleep, we went to our homes to shower and were back in the office to start the workday. We had a ”do-what-it-takes” attitude, and it paid off. If you’re motivated to be a continual learner, you’ll soar. You must be eager, confident, and forward-thinking to be successful.

2. Be extremely resourceful. Obstacles happen. You can’t escape them in the CRE business. So, it’s necessary to find efficient and innovative ways to overcome them. Being a broker means that you must be able to fix issues and find solutions, regardless of what resources are available. Problem-solving skills are essential.

3. Possess an entrepreneurial spirit. The CRE industry is constantly changing, and opportunities are endless when one has the right frame of mind. At CEG, we are a team that believes we can live life on our own terms. We learn, grow, adapt, and succeed, because to us, the sky is the limit, and this approach embraces our goals and plans. We empower ourselves, take responsibility, and make things happen. That entrepreneurial spirit is what makes our brokerage successful.

View of downtown St. Paul at sunset. Trees, grass, and Mississippi River in the foreground.

4. Have a growth mindset. Successful brokers are constantly learning and striving to improve. They are willing to take on challenges and learn from them. Growth comes from hard work, having good strategies, and the willingness to accept feedback.

5. Be a people person. Being a CRE broker means working in a relationship business. It’s about helping people solve problems and requires a lot of networking. It’s important to seek out people that know the business and be willing to learn from them. In return, a successful broker gives back and helps others. Listening to people, being open-minded and genuine, as well as respectful goes a long way in building relationships with people. Ultimately, everyone wants to be seen, heard, and valued.


I believe those of us that are experienced have a duty to help others. As CEG embarks on the search for the right fit for our team, I think the possibilities are endless for a person that embodies these five qualities, regardless of the field.

Smiling Jeff Salzbrun

Jeff Salzbrun is the owner and broker of Commercial Equities Group (CEG). As a veteran-owned real estate brokerage, CEG has been involved in thousands of sale and lease transactions, ranging from single offices to 250,000+ square foot buildings. At CEG, we get your deal done. We know space, and we know the CRE business.

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