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Motivational Mentorship and Familiar Faces with Courtney Stanford, CCIM

Courtney Dunford Headshot

1. How did you find yourself in the commercial real estate space/how did you hear about The CCIM Institute? 
I had a lot of fond memories growing up around the commercial real estate industry as a child. I grew up shadowing my father and his business in Arlington, Texas at a very young age. Since the day I was born, he had been working in the industry. I used to frequent his office as a little girl, helping to make property brochures, keeping the office aquarium, and spending quality time just hanging out. It was a tradition that we would go out to dinner afterward at a local restaurant that had a kids' play place. It was common for business professionals to hang their ties on the wall while the children played.  
When I was in college, I wanted to go off and do my own thing. After attending university, I was in the marketing space for about five years. It was then that my dad officially pulled me into his commercial real estate business. He approached me with a “Hey, why don't you come and give this a shot?” around five years ago, and I've been in the industry ever since. 
My dad always boasted about the CCIM Designation and would tell people that it's the most important thing you could do as a commercial real estate professional. Once he received his CCIM Designation, everything changed for him and his business in a positive way. 

2. What does your CCIM Designation mean to you? 
When I wear my CCIM Pin, it gives me an excuse to talk about the CCIM Designation, share the benefits of the program, and my educational expertise, and how it differentiates me from other professionals in the business. Having the CCIM Designation in commercial real estate takes my business to the next level and shows others that I have the capacity and capability of helping others to make knowledgeable decisions. 

3. How did you hear about the JWL program at The CCIM Institute? Why did you join the JWL Program? 
One of my mentors, Tim Veler CCIM, went through the JWL Program previously. When he was going through the JWL program himself, he approached me and let me know that I'd be a great candidate to consider going through the program. Even though he completed his training during the COVID epidemic in virtual sessions, he had nothing but praise for JWL. It was a unique experience for him and his group. He loved the content, and he loved the people, and I decided to enroll as I was coming up on my 2024 North Texas CCIM chapter presidency. I used my time as the Vice President for preparation, so I have the knowledge I need about The CCIM Institute and to gain leadership skills for next year. 
4. What do you hope to gain from the JWL Program? / What have you learned so far? 
The most important thing I've gained from the program is strategic leadership skills. Being able to look at things from a higher lens that I hadn't been able to before. I tend to look at things from a bird's eye view-how do things that happen at the top affect everything at the bottom? When I've been in these lower-level roles previously, it's hard to see how everything works together and connects at the top. With JWL, it's been easier to understand and see the whole picture of how these jobs work with one another. Additionally, the level of training and press training from the JWL program is one skill I know I'll be able to fall back on. The collaborative aspect and coming together as a team to present is also something that has helped me learn, grow, and feel confident for my future roles. 
6. What does being a mentor and a leader mean to you? 
I love mentoring people and I enjoy being mentored. I think the harder of the two is finding a good mentor. I actually signed up for the JWL Program as both. When you're a mentor it's about the bottom-up approach. You have your mentor who's helping to support you and pull you up higher, while you have your mentee that you're supporting and trying to pull up higher. You always have one hand reaching up, and one hand reaching down, and you're going to continue to pull everybody up as high as you can.  
7. Where do you find your inspiration? (on being a mentor/leader) 
I would say it's divine inspiration, or inspiration from within. There was a study done by the SVN International Corporation (TAG) recently, and the number one most important quality they found in successful commercial real estate professionals is self-motivation and self-dedication. The book I recommend to people to help prepare for inspiration and self-motivation is “Grit” by Angie Duckworth. The book discusses and outlines what it takes to be successful. I look within, I meditate, and I spend time alone with myself. Once I have that confidence and foundation built for myself, I feel more comfortable helping other people. 

8. What would you consider to be your biggest strength? (as a mentor/CCIM/leader) 
I would say that it's my ability to communicate and connect with my clients. It's easy for me to be a positive force and help people feel included. I feel that I can help empower the next generation of CRE leaders through leading by example. When others see a leader, who they can look up to, they gain a sense of confidence in their own path. I love to be a source of encouragement for others. 

9. What do you hope to pass on to your future mentees? (advice, strategies, how to get involved with The CCIM Institute) 
I think it depends on who my mentees are and their individual needs. At the end of the day, it's not my goal to pass on what I would like to pass on to them. It's about what they need. I look at my mentees in the light of what their different needs are and what they want. “How can I be of service to you? What can I do to help you?” 
I believe anybody who gives anything of themselves will end up gaining something in the end. Whether it's the feeling of doing good, or they gain experience, or a financial gain, I always learn something from my mentees and mentors. 

10. Your biggest piece of advice you'd give to CCIMs interested in becoming mentors? 
I would say go for it. Sometimes we really beat ourselves up and question “Am I really eligible to be a mentor?”. I've previously been in the position of reverse mentorship, where I've helped mentor a professional who's older than me. I found myself in the position of questioning what I could possibly teach them, but everybody has different life experiences they can offer. The processes you already have experience in can be offered by you as a mentor, along with your professional expertise. And if you need more expertise in a certain area, you can find a mentor who has that experience. Find multiple mentors in different areas and facets of your life that you want to develop and gain experience in.  
We'd like to take a moment and thank Courtney Stanford, CCIM for taking the time to answer our questions and provide her feedback on being a CCIM mentor and candidate for Jay W. Levine Leadership Program. 
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