In today’s episode, we are joined by Matt Brower, an Arizona state university graduate. He is now the CEO of officechief.com and a licensed commercial real estate managing broker. He joins us to talk about carving your path into the industry by taking on responsibilities. Matt is also a motivational speaker who emphasizes having the right mindset to build a strategy with combined technology with marketing to create a tool that helps things sail smoother.
Matt’s website: https://www.officechief.com/
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hey there. This is Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to the podcast. My guest today is Matt Brower. After graduating from Arizona State University in 2001, Matt moved to Denver to pursue a career in commercial real estate. He’s now managing broker at column commercial partners, a full service cre brokerage firm and CEO of office cheap.com or companies go for help with an office move. Matt is a true leader in Denver’s business community with his involvement with Colorado Thought Leaders Forum and Entrepreneurs Organization and an advocate for disruptive entrepreneurship with this podcast industry Alchemist, Matt, thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Matt Brower 0:56
Appreciate it. Thanks for having me on. I’m excited for the conversation.
Katie Brinkley 1:00
Well, awesome. I’m so glad that you’ve joined me. Let’s learn a little bit about you tell us back from the beginning where you grew up, what life was like growing up?
Matt Brower 1:08
Yeah, so I was born in a very small town kind of farm country, Illinois called Kankakee, Illinois, but an hour south of Chicago. When I was five, my parents moved us to Arizona. So I really grew up in Arizona. I lived there for about 18 years, went to Arizona State University. I grew up with three brothers. My poor mom running around with four boys in the house. I think we’re all under the age of like, we’re all five and under at one point. I don’t know how my parents.
Katie Brinkley 1:35
Yeah, I have a five year old but it’s tough.
Matt Brower 1:38
Oh, yeah, I can imagine. Especially right now during quarantine. Oh, yeah. Yeah, what Arizona state got my degree in marketing in December of 2001 is when I graduated very shortly after I moved to Denver, just kind of by chance, decided to come out for a couple months and then never left. I think that’s a common story of a lot of us that live here. And I actually got my real estate license in Arizona during my senior year of college with full intention to get into commercial real estate there, but ended up finding my way into it here and never looked back. So
Katie Brinkley 2:13
some Well, yeah, take us through your career journey a little bit where you started out different professional stops along the way and how that led to where you’re at today.
Matt Brower 2:20
Yeah, that’s great. So I first started in commercial real estate at a company called Grubb and Ellis company, it was a big national real estate firm. Most of the listeners have probably heard of it, it doesn’t that doesn’t exist anymore. I think it was acquired in 2012 by what’s now called Newmark Grubb Knight Frank as the national firm. So I was actually there for just under 10 years, most of that the first year of that I was a research analyst. So what that means is I collected all the data, all the vacancies and rental rates and things like that absorption numbers, to turn them into graphs for the brokers to then go put into their sales pitches and provide content for their clients, it was a really cool way to enter the business because it gave me a really well rounded knowledge of how it all works together. Trends, economic trends, industry trends, that sort of thing. It also allowed me to see all the different facets of commercial real estate. And then I could choose like with open eyes, like hey, I want to go into office space. And I want to represent tenants, there’s all the whole list of different things you can focus on in commercial real estate. And that’s what I chose to do is Office tenant rep is what kind of the buzzword is there. So I did that I got partnered up with two guys, Gary Taylor, who is actually was my business partner when I started my current company. And then Howard Schmidt, who’s still in the business at another firm. So the three of us work together for about five years. And in 2011, Gary and I decided to leave the big national platform and start our own. So officially January, one of 2012, we started calling commercial partners together. Gary since retired about three years ago. And my company just turned Well, I guess we’re about eight and a half years old now. So that’s exciting.
Katie Brinkley 4:10
And I mean, it’s always a little nerve racking to decide to go off on your own talk to us a little bit about making that decision and some of the struggles and hurdles you might have had during that first year.
Matt Brower 4:24
Yeah, great question. So I work in a in an industry that I guess the mind is on mindset, right? So the mindset that I had is, if I do this, unfortunate that I can work in a business where if this move I make ends up not working out for whatever reason. Tomorrow I could be at a competitors how, you know, firm, set up a desk there and I just let my clients who follow me the name of the game in commercial real estate is client loyalty. You do a great job for your clients and you hope they follow you wherever you are. So I figured if this doesn’t work out For whatever reason, you know, I could just go to another competitors firm and set up shop there and keep going. Fortunately, I never had to do that we didn’t, when we left the national firm, we didn’t lose a single client, they all ended up coming with us. So that we’re very fortunate that that was the case. And since that we’ve just kind of slowly grown the team, we’ve had probably three brokers kind of come and go for whatever reason, most of them younger wanted to try commercial real estate and ended up after a couple of years seeing how hard it is, and deciding that is not for them in one way or another. But right now we are for brokers here in Colorado, we have a transaction operations manager that helps us do what we do. And then last year, we actually opened an office in Calgary, Canada, we have column commercial Canada, as well have a partner up there runs that manages that office, he’s got one other broker up there so far,
Katie Brinkley 5:57
if someone is listening right now, who is an aspiring or new business owner, what is the single biggest piece of advice that you’d want to give him or her as the journey starts out?
Matt Brower 6:06
Gosh, I would say, fear is not real. There’s a lot to be fearful of a lot of reasons to not do something, let those all go, like, Damn in your commitment, create a vision for yourself, stand in a committed to achieve that vision, make that vision a reality. And don’t let fear keep you from living your dream or creating your dream really just comes down to everyday choosing what you’re going to commit yourself to, and staying the course keep the eye on the prize and keep charging forward.
Katie Brinkley 6:39
Like you said in your last answer. It’s all in mindset of trying to if you want to be successful and have the right mindset, then you can achieve anything, right? Yeah, exactly. What do you think that some of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when they’re just trying to grow and start out and then sustain a successful business?
Matt Brower 6:59
I see a lot of companies go raise capital, just go get money. And there’s no real strategy or thought behind? What is it for, and there’s a lot of money, venture capital or private equity, when you get to a certain level, or just getting a loan, like there’s a lot of money sitting on the sidelines, looking for opportunities to invest in and most people that invest in companies, they invest in the people, not the idea. So they a lot of business owners, a lot of entrepreneurs, they’re very intentional and high energy and purposeful and driven. So it’s easy for a lot of entrepreneurs to get people rallied around an idea. But I guess, really think of the strategy behind what, what you’re raising capital for, especially a lot of the tech companies, early stage kind of startup companies, there’s a common theme that Oh, you just start a company and you go raise capital? Well, hold on, that’s not how about we built some value in what the idea is maybe gain some traction show that there’s a need and a desire and a demand for what you’re building. And frankly, if you can wait to raise capital, until you’ve shown the value, you have more leverage as the business owner, to then keep more of the company for yourself, when it is time to go raise that capital to grow or to expand or open in other markets or for implementing a marketing strategy, whatever the case may be.
Katie Brinkley 8:25
Now, that brings me to my next question on marketing, what have you found works best for your company? What does your model look like for finding and engaging and selling to new clients and customers these days?
Matt Brower 8:36
Oh, man, great question. So I got my marketing degree in that and got into commercial real estate. So in a sense, I’ve used it, but really marketing comes down to human behavior. What I learned in college is that it’s very much psychology and human behavior, and how what can we do to manipulate it’s not the right word, negative context, but like, what can we do to influence human behavior? It’s just not something I have been super focused on. Because in the commercial real estate business, it’s all about relationships. You’re the people business, and it’s about building trust and adding value for your network. And then eventually, you want you know, you get to a point where you’ve expanded and then deepen your network so much that people start to refer you business and you don’t have to go and chase so much. And I’m fortunate that that’s kind of the place that I’ve been the last couple years. Yeah, my network is like the most valuable thing I can spend my time on. In terms of marketing. Specifically, it seems like a lot of people are spending a lot of time on social media, even CEOs of large companies. They’re on Facebook now and LinkedIn and like spending a lot of energy and pinging people through those platforms seems to be pretty impactful. We’ve gotten a lot of exposure that way.
Katie Brinkley 9:58
Yeah, it’s over. Point 2 billion people are on social media in some at some form, whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram or Twitter or all three. Well, I mean, if you’re trying to start a conversation, the odds are pretty high that you’re going to be able to someone out there is listening,
Matt Brower 10:15
right? Yeah, so with Office chief.com, which, you know, being in commercial real estate brokers for 18 years, I saw an opportunity as part of this process that could use the technology around it to make the process smoother for companies for business owners. And that’s where office cheap.com came from. So it’s the tool that helps office manager can get on Office cheap, calm, they create a profile, within 60 seconds, it produces a move management calendar has every step that they need to take throughout the next several months until they move their space, and then connects them with all of the service providers, they’re going to read through the process. So this is a technology company. It’s not a commercial real estate brokerage company. It’s a very different mindset that I’m having to remind myself like, Okay, this is all about marketing. This is all about strategy and process, because that’s what makes a business more scalable. That’s not so much a relationship business. So I’ve decided actually, recently, I’m partnered with d u MBA program, I’m going to be hiring a couple of their students for an internship this summer, so that I can refresh my memory like, I’m the first person that admits, you know, I don’t know what I don’t know, you know, or I do know, oh, no, it’s the latest and greatest forms of marketing and being an influencer, that sort of thing. So that’s what I’m looking forward to getting from these students that are right at the forefront learning the latest and greatest stuff. Exactly. Yeah.
Katie Brinkley 11:45
It’s always good to hire people that are smarter, or no more than you do, because it’s just going to help your company be more successful. Exactly, exactly. Now, you get the opportunity to work with a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners. I know that so many passions are so many small business owners have the passion to build their business around their lifestyle and go after something that they’re passionate about, whether it’s a love auto mechanics, you know, that auto mechanic, and they want to have their own company or their own shop, but they don’t necessarily know all the tools for being hiring and accounting and marketing and all that other parts that come along with it. If advice do try to give a lot of these entrepreneurs that might not they’re just starting out and are going after their passion, but might not necessarily know all the tools or where to find them all.
Matt Brower 12:38
Yeah, you know, I think there are some great resources out there like the Gosh, what’s the name of it’s a small business through the city and county of Denver or the state of Colorado, the Small Business Administration, they offer a lot of help they I believe they offer classes, even for newer business owners have to try to help put the whole package together, how do I accomplish this? How do I become a business owner? Aside from the tools, though, that you can find online and read about something I adopted several years ago, and it has just created so much flow in my business, my life in general is embracing this idea. That kind of what we just said before, I know what I’m good at, I know what I love to do. And I know what I’m not good at, and I know what I hate doing. So I’m going to continue, I’m gonna spend my energy, my time on the things that I’m good at, and I enjoy doing and everything else, surround yourself with a team that can do those things better. And once I kind of grasp that, just everything flowed better, I’m able to live a more fulfilled life, everything’s in balance. It’s it’s just great. And I don’t, I’m not I don’t see myself as being in the business of real estate or being in a tech business. Kind of what I say that what I try to be your lives, I’m in the business of creating leaders, creating other leaders. So the brokers I bring on my team, or the operations marketing manager, Transaction Manager on our team, I try to like have them own the things that they’re accountable for on the team, my CTO with Office Chief completely on to the tech side of that because I have no idea how to code or any of that stuff. And then the marketing people that I’m going to bring on the salesperson that I’m hiring, like, take ownership and be driven. And this can all work together.
Katie Brinkley 14:30
I said talk to us a little bit about deciding to start this new tech endeavor. Why have you decided to start it and like you said there you’re having to kind of re adjust your mindset here as this isn’t commercial real estate. This is a different mindset. Why did you decide to do another business in such a different industry?
Matt Brower 14:48
Right? Gosh, so many answers to that. So I’m on a personal mission just to create several sources of income. I’m a huge fan of real estate I I don’t know where that came from. But I love real estate, I love commercial real estate rental properties, I guess, probably just because I get it, I get real estate, you know, there’s investments and things like that I understand as well. That’s probably where that passion comes from. I’m a believer that you can take on whatever you want to do in life, if you choose to take it on, you can have it all work. So there are people in commercial real estate business, this say, brokers that have been around for 30 years, and they’ll say, if you’re not only doing commercial brokerage, and you’re not working 80 hours a week, you’re not going to be successful in this business, that’s completely fine. If they believe that I do not believe that. I think that whatever you set your mind to, and you create a team around those things to help you accomplish, and keeping in mind that your team members are looking to move their lives forward as well. So the whole ship rises together, anything can be accomplished. I mean, look, there’s so many examples of entrepreneurs that have several businesses going there are multi millionaires, multi billionaires that have just tons of businesses going on. How do they do it? They do it via team? Yeah, that’s kind of like, I guess the two main reasons, one, because looking to diversify income, so I could just have more freedom to continue to do the things. And I believe it’s possible.
Katie Brinkley 16:28
We talked a lot about mindset today. What is the biggest piece of advice that you’ve ever received? And how has it impacted your business or your life?
Matt Brower 16:36
Oh, gosh, there was a very young and commercial real estate, my company at the time flew me and 200 other young brokers out to California for sales training. And it was a three day sales training, where I was a speaker after speaker after speaker, the last guy to speak was this guy named Dave Hibbard. He himself was a very successful commercial real estate broker in California, years prior. And he was the guy that like, motivated us, and then shoved us out the door right before we all flew back home. And one of the things he said was, the best thing you can do for your career is go to the landmark forum. And I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that before. But I wrote it down, I’d never heard of it. I wrote it down. And I came back to Denver, and never really looked too far into it, but kept showing up over the next several years, it kept showing up this thing called the landmark forum, some of my very close to had gone through it, it’s and then I learned that a couple of clients had gone through that I highly respect. So then I finally went and checked it out seven years later, and ended up just registering and taking this course. So basically, it’s like introspective leadership training, you dig into yourself, you find out why you are the way you are, why do you react to this the way you react in certain situations, and really get a good sense for all of that. And what happens when you discover those things is they don’t control you anymore. So you have a choice. So it just kind of frees you up. It allows you to get out of your own way. And that was probably the most impactful thing I’ve ever done. In my life. What was it April 2011. That’s actually the reason calling commercial partners exists.
Katie Brinkley 18:17
Because you say that it sounds like that they kind of lines up with something else here. So
Matt Brower 18:21
I just I discovered, oh my gosh, I’m not happy where I am. I love the industry, man. I’m just not happy where I am. Currently, I can go create happiness. And what that looks like is running my own firm to go then to create what I want to create next. And that’s when I decided I’m gonna go start my own firm. So yeah, well, before we
Katie Brinkley 18:41
finish up, is there anything I didn’t ask about during today’s discussion that you think is important to share?
Matt Brower 18:46
Oh, my goodness, probably a lot of things. But no, I’m just kidding. I’m a huge believer in in entrepreneurship, and business ownership and carving your own path. And I think that the listeners probably get that from what I’m what I’ve said so far, but now just reiterate, do it. I’m a huge believer in just taking ownership, taking responsibility for the life that you want to build and go do it. And if it doesn’t work out, make a new plan at that point.
Katie Brinkley 19:17
Awesome. Matt, this has been such a great conversation. Where can we find out more about you and your businesses online?
Matt Brower 19:24
Sure. So Office chief.com. It is a company that move management company, it’s live if any of your listeners have a business that they’re going to move, get an office cheap, calm, and it’ll help make the process easier. It’s a completely free tool to use and calm commercial partners comm that’s co l UMN commercial.com. Is the brokerage company. And you can find me on LinkedIn. I think my LinkedIn tag is Matt Brower, not Matt Brower. So
Katie Brinkley 19:54
awesome. I will make sure to include all these links for our listeners in the description of the show. So thank you again so much for coming on today.
Matt Brower 20:02
Thank you. I appreciate your time.
Katie Brinkley 20:04
And if you’re ready to take your social media to the next level for your small business, head over to my website and check out my free video training the three biggest mistakes small businesses make with social media and how to avoid them. Discover how to make your social media marketing stand out from the crowd online. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com or connect with me on LinkedIn. Just look for Katie Brinkley. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.