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In the autumn of 1973, Elia Kazan, director of such classic films as Gentleman’s Agreement, A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront, was honored by a two week retrospective of his films at Wesleyan University. At the conclusion of the program, Mr. Kazan gave a timeless speech in which he rhapsodizes about the qualities required of a great film director. I believe this passage applies equally well to the qualities required of a great commercial real estate broker. For your reading pleasure, I have copied and modified part of his speech below, substituting the word “broker” for the word “director”. To read the original speech, click here.
What kind of person must a broker train himself to be?
What qualities does he need? Here are a few. Those of -A hunter leading a safari into dangerous and unknown country;
A construction gang foreman, who knows his physical problems and their solutions and is ready, therefore, to insist on these solutions;
A psychoanalyst who keeps a patient functioning despite intolerable tensions and stresses, both professional and personal;
A hypnotist, who works with the unconscious to achieve his ends;
The cunning of a trader in a Baghdad bazaar.
The firmness of an animal trainer. Obvious. Tigers!
A great host. At a sign from him fine food and heartwarming drink appear.
The kindness of an old-fashioned mother who forgives all.
The authority and sternness of her husband, the father, who forgives nothing, expects obedience without question, brooks no nonsense.
The illusiveness of a jewel thief – no explanation, take my word for this one.
The blarney of a PR man, especially useful when the broker is out in a strange and hostile location as I have many times been.
A very thick skin.
A very sensitive soul.
The patience, the persistence, the fortitude of a saint, the appreciation of pain, a taste for self-sacrifice, everything for the cause.
Cheeriness, jokes, playfulness, alternating with sternness, unwavering firmness. Pure doggedness.
An unwavering refusal to take less than he thinks right out of a deal, a co-worker, a member of his staff, himself.
Brokerage, finally, is the exertion of your will over other people, disguise it, gentle it, but that is the hard fact.
Above all – COURAGE. Courage, said Winston Churchill, is the greatest virtue; it makes all the others possible.
One final thing. The ability to say “I am wrong,” or ‘I was wrong.” Not as easy as it sounds. But in many situations, these three words, honestly spoken will save the day. Those words, “I was wrong, let’s try it another way,” the ability to say them can be a life-saver.
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