CCIM Candidate Spotlight: Michael Salik
As COVID-19 shut down large parts of the U.S. in March, plenty of people asked themselves how they could make the most of an unprecedented situation. With freshly cleared schedules, professional and personal growth seemed like a natural fit. Michael Salik, a U.S. Navy veteran with 15 years of experience in real estate, had the CCIM designation directly in his sights. He has knocked out CI 101 and CI 102, will soon complete CI 103 and CI 104, and plans to test for his pin in April.
Commercial Investment Real Estate spoke with Salik about his pedal-to-the-metal approach to getting his CCIM designation while the coronavirus pandemic still wreaks havoc with the U.S. economy, along with his history in CRE that led him to this point.
CIRE: What experience, professionally and personally, led you to seek CCIM designation?
Michael Salik: Leaving active duty [in 2004] was a big decision, but my wife, Vanessa, was the guiding light. She has always believed, “When one door closes, another one opens.” As I transitioned out of the Navy, Vanessa orchestrated the startup of our real estate firm. With an entrepreneurial spirit and anything-is-possible attitude, we grew our business wholesaling distressed properties to other investors. Our primary focus was on short-sale properties, REOs, and courthouse auction acquisitions. Our strategy was to buy, sell, fix, and flip hundreds of properties a year. When the 2007 crash hit and the market bottomed out, the way we conducted business was drastically impacted. With the industry in shambles and heightened regulations forthcoming, it was the opportune time to expand my knowledge and gain additional experience of commercial real estate property acquisition. In April 2008, the Navy called again — this time as a realty specialist for the Department of Defense. This is the position that really boosted my portfolio of real property rights and eminent domain acquisitions. These incredibly unique projects are what led me to the CCIM designation.
Let’s face it — commercial real estate is ultra-competitive, and with the amount of money that is circulating, you need an edge. I felt to build a successful road map, a CCIM pin would need to be a part of it. The education, training, and work experience requirements are superior. The pursuit has been awesome — in every class, I learn the curriculum directly from designees and how it’s applied. I’m excited for what the future holds, including industry-wide recognition as an expert in the field. I see lease proposals every day, and the best and most accurate are always from CCIM designees.
CIRE: What was the aha! moment when you knew it was worth the time and effort?
Salik: With COVID delays, I was able to take CI 102 before CI 101, and this curriculum blew me away. While challenging, it educated me on how market shares and analysis of different industries are critical to the commercial growth and how you can be effective in creating value for your larger clients.
CIRE: Have you been able to put your education to use? How has the designation curriculum impacted your professional abilities?
Salik: I use the education every day in a practical manner. It has filled holes in my real estate education that I was missing. The curriculum is very sound, built on facts, and allows the acquisition participants to make the best possible decisions. Essentially, utilizing the four CCIM analyses lets you create a plan based on risk evaluation.
CIRE: What has been the most challenging aspect of your journey toward CCIM designation?
Salik: My self-belief and ignoring the noise have been difficult but motivating. Confidence is a result of the effort. Success is what is achieved — reaffirming your goal and continuing to press on despite challenges, difficulties, time, and energy.
I use the CCIM education every day in a practical manner. The curriculum is very sound, built on facts, and allows the acquisition participants to make the best possible decisions.
CIRE: What support structures have helped you during this process?
Salik: My family, especially my wife, has been the most supportive. With each class and each exam, they are there to cheer me on. This makes me feel accountable to not disappoint them. Professionally, during my core classes, my Florida CCIM Chapter provided live video sessions during and after class periods for additional Q&A and support throughout the course. These were invaluable. If there was something that needed additional clarity, I could ask in the side session and gain additional perspective from another CCIM instructor.
CIRE: Is there one particular CCIM who inspires you?
Salik: My cousin, Tom O’Laughlin, CCIM. He began his real estate career with CBRE over 15 years ago and now leads the No. 1 industrial broker team in South Florida. I am fortunate to have the ability to call Tom and pick his brain
CIRE: From your time in the U.S. Navy, what skills or lessons do you rely on in your new career?
Salik: Wow, there are so many. My relationship building. The teamwork it takes to achieve the impossible — it builds a trust and camaraderie that rarely can be duplicated. I am a “make it work” type person.
When I was active duty, I wore different hats at different times, much like a commercial broker. When you can share how to leverage financial sense and how dollars and cents work, it has positive long-lasting impacts no matter the audience. All my experiences have led me to where I am now. Soon, I will earn the CCIM pin, and it will be great to join such a special group of people.
Be ready so you don’t have to get ready!
For more on the CCIM designation process and curriculum, visit
Earning the CCIM Designation.