by Dan Rafter
Michael Glass didn’t start out with dreams of becoming a leader in the commercial real estate business.
And even when Glass first entered the workforce, commercial real estate wasn’t his initial choice. Glass prepared for a career in banking.
Then Glass made a discovery that dramatically altered his career path. He decided that he was an entrepreneur at heart.
“I didn’t want to be in the corporate environment,” Glass said. “I wanted to pave my own way. I wanted to enter a field where there wasn’t a ceiling on potential. I wanted a career where what you put in is what you get out.”
That career ended up becoming commercial real estate. And today Glass is first vice president and regional manager of Ohio and Pittsburgh for Marcus & Millichap. He’s also the national director of Marcus & Millichap’s Manufactured Home Communities Group.
And it all started simply enough: Glass took a position in 2001 as a sales intern in the Chicago office of Marcus & Millichap. During those first years, Glass discovered that not only did he enjoy commercial real estate sales, but that he had a talent for making deals.
It’s in the blood
This wasn’t entirely surprising. The Glass family had a bit of a history when it came to real estate and the art of building a business. Glass’ grandfather owned apartment buildings in Chicago. And Glass was interested in the business of running these buildings at a young age.
“My grandfather would drive me around to these buildings on weekends,” Glass said. “I’d go into the buildings with him. I knew that when I graduated college I wanted in some way to be in a business like that. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. But I knew that I liked the art of the deal. I was always drawn to real estate as this amazing way to create and preserve wealth. I knew real estate was something that was tangible, unlike investing in a stock. I was brought up around real estate. I knew how valuable it could be.”
Glass rose rapidly at Marcus & Millichap. He moved from working as a broker to the company’s management side in 2007. He moved to Cleveland that same year to grow that office. In 2009, Glass also became manager of Marcus & Millichap’s Columbus office.
Glass made an impression on the higher-ups at Marcus & Millichap. In 2012, they asked him to help grow the company’s Pittsburgh office. And one year later, Glass also took on the responsibility of heading Marcus & Millichap’s Cincinnati office. Today, then, Glass heads the entire state of Ohio and Pittsburgh for Marcus & Millichap. He also runs the company’s manufactured home community group.
Management presents different challenges than does the sales side of the business. But Glass has found tackling those challenges to be every bit as exciting as closing a real estate sale.
“I genuinely take a sincere interest in all of the people working in our offices,” Glass said. “We are in a people business. My clients today are my agents. I am a non-competing regional manager. I do anything I can to support my agents’ growth and development. I am always available to them. I am ready, willing and able to help them. I have a tremendous loyalty to my people. And in return, that loyalty has come back to me in spades.”
How does Glass express this loyalty? He never makes his team members wait for answers or support.
“They know that it doesn’t matter what time it is, I will answer the phone,” Glass said. “I will call them back. I’ll attend meetings. I’ll help them troubleshoot deal issues. “
This approach has worked. Both the revenues and headcounts of the offices that Glass oversees have grown steadily since he assumed leadership of them.
A rewarding path
Glass said that it’s rewarding to watch an office grow, to watch the agents in these offices succeed.
It’s something, he says, that makes the long hours worthwhile.
“It is rewarding beyond what I ever could have imagined,” Glass said. “I hired some people right in the middle of the recession. As we moved through the recession, there were very few transactions to be had. I had to show these agents coming at this time the vision that I had. I had to teach them how to do things the right way.”
This wasn’t easy. The agents worked on commission. With few deals closed, many of them struggled during those first few years.
Then the market turned, and Glass’ training paid off.
“The reward came when the market rebounded,” Glass said. “The success that some of these people who trusted in me started to find was astonishing. Many of these agents have become market leaders. It’s rewarding when an agent who came to our office in 2009 tells me that they appreciate how I helped them through the tough times. When they tell me that they’re grateful to me for keeping them motivated, that means a lot.”
Getting through the recession was no easy task for Glass and his team members. But Glass emphasized the right way to build relationships with clients. Glass’ team members took the time to advise clients on real estate matters, helped them work out loans and assisted them with refinancing existing loans.
Because of these efforts, Glass and his agents strengthened their relationships with these clients. That led to increased business from these clients once the market rebounded.
“Those relationships were solidified during the downturn,” Glass said. “I am most proud of how my agents stayed engaged. They were advisors and consultants to their clients. That work put us in the good position that we are in today. The commitment and the level of professionalism that our organization and our offices displayed in a very challenging environment was impressive. There was a lot of perseverance that was displayed.”
Finding managerial success
So, how does one succeed as a manager in what is a highly competitive business? Glass says that one of the keys is to find satisfaction in watching others succeed. This, he says, is something that you can’t fake.
“As an agent, success is all about you growing your business,” Glass said. “As a manager, it is about helping others grow their businesses. I find a lot of fulfillment in that end of the business. Do I do better when our offices grow? There is no question. But you have to genuinely care about these people to be able to help them grow. You have to be selfless and you have to step back to see the big picture. If you don’t feel good about doing that, you shouldn’t be a manager.”
Despite his success – and his many responsibilities – Glass doesn’t spend all his time working. When he’s not in the office he’s spending time with his family. He and his wife, Samantha, just celebrated their 10-year anniversary. They have three young daughters: 7-year-old Madison, 5-year-old Chloe and 1-year-old Harper.
“My weekends are my family time,” Glass said. “That is my special time with them. They are what make me tick. My motivation to be successful lies in my desire to support them. At the end of the day, all the hard work means nothing if you don’t spend time with the right people.”