System for Success

The path to the designation is unique for every CCIM. For some, it's a direct dash to the pin. For others, such as Bo Barron, CCIM, vice president of organizational development for Sperry Van Ness International Corp. (, there are a few detours along the way. With family roots in commercial real estate, Barron served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps before pursuing the designation in 2004. As with many CCIMs, Barron's experiences throughout the journey serve as a solid foundation for his career. Commercial Investment Real Estate asked Barron to share some of the milestones he's encountered.

CIRE: What skills and experience from your military background add value in your commercial real estate career?

Barron: Beyond the benefit of discipline in every area of life and work, three things stand out to me. The first is tenacity, which is modeled and valued in the Marine Corps. I am convinced that tenacity is the most important trait required to succeed in commercial real estate. I've only had one easy deal in my career. Every other one has been a challenge. Many times I wanted to quit, but the tenacity and persistence I learned in the service allowed me to push through and successfully serve my clients.

Systemization is another crossover skill. The military operates on systems and standard operating procedures and applying this to my business has allowed me to achieve a higher level of efficiency and productivity. It's important to have checklists for tasks and delegate projects to team members whose strengths relate to those tasks. It also involves debriefing after transactions to understand what went well, what didn't, and how we can improve the system to achieve better results.

Finally, accountability is huge. What gets measured and reported improves. Whether we report to a broker, colleague, or coach, we all need someone to ask us the hard questions about what we can do to improve.

CIRE: As a third-generation commercial real estate pro, what strategies have you learned from your family about how to succeed in the industry?

Barron: My father, who is also a CCIM, and my grandfather, who took CCIM courses, passed down the most important thing: A name that has a reputation for providing integrity, hard work, and dedication to our clients, which I strive to uphold. They have also shown me the value of education and obtaining not only local market expertise, but best-in-class training through CCIM. After I was honorably discharged from the Marines, I went to work for my father. A condition of employment was to earn the designation, and the next week I took my first CCIM course.

CIRE: As vice president of organizational development for SVNIC, can you share some thoughts on what it takes for brokers to thrive in the current economic climate?

Barron: My role is to assist our advisers across the U.S. in raising their productivity and becoming more profitable. Much of what I've learned through the CCIM Institute is the foundation for what I have to offer them. My experience has also taught me that top producers must systematically prospect on a daily basis. A frequent mistake I see is brokers who prospect tenaciously early in their careers, close some deals, and become well-known in their markets. When business starts to come to them, they stop prospecting. As we saw in 2008 when the market tanked, those brokers who weren't prospecting died on the vine. But those who consistently prospected throughout the downturn have continued to succeed. As the market is rising, they have the opportunity to grab market share and exponentially grow their business.

CIRE: You have been a pioneer with social media and successfully leveraged online platforms to expand your personal brand. What advice can you offer to CCIMs who want to use blogs and social media effectively for business?

Barron: New media has changed the game. This is one of the reasons I was attracted to SVNIC. As a brand, they value and embrace new technologies; they don't fight them. Kevin Maggiacomo, SVNIC's president and chief executive officer, constantly pushes me to think beyond the basic technologies and test out new ones to see if we should be implementing them. Social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn as well as blogs have made it possible for CCIMs to become known as market experts and thought leaders faster than ever. Blogging is the best way to produce great, valuable content that can demonstrate your expertise. The key to building a loyal following is to add value to your followers by engaging with them. The net result is when a buyer, investor, or owner has a need, you are the top-of-mind, logical choice.


Jennifer Norbut is senior editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate. If you have a story worth sharing in CCIM Q&A, send it to Visit Barron's blog at

Jennifer Norbut

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