Tallinn on Steroids
For the past 9 months, I have been working in New York City as a Sales and Acquisition Associate for a boutique real estate brokerage firm in Manhattan. Marketwise, we are talking about the NBA of real estate (yes, I am also a basketball fan). It is hard to look at the big, famous buildings and not be inspired to work in this sector. My desire to work in the field, however, came from my father. He was and somewhat still is doing smaller-scale real estate deals and like all good sons, I wanted to surpass him and in many ways I already have.
About 3 and a half years ago, I started the process of becoming the best version of myself working as a broker in Tallinn, Estonia. As I stated earlier, the desire was there but what pushed me into action (finally) was the combination of two things: a TV show called “Million Dollar Listing New York” and a bad breakup with a girl I was dating at the time. The first thing showed me that I can do it. If an immigrant from Puerto Rico in his 20’s could earn millions in the city, why not me, I was thinking to myself. The second part, I mean wars have been fought over women. Men just are mysterious creatures in that sense. I guess I wanted to become so good and successful that I never had to experience the pain of heartbreak again, that nobody would want to ever leave me… yes, I was dumped. Looking at it all retrospectively, it was the best and only solution at the time. I am happy where it led.
With new times, new opportunities arose. At least so was the case for me. I found the Baltic Freedom Foundation (BAFF). It is a program designed to give motivated young people who desire to be the best they can, a chance to improve in ways they could not on their own. It is a professional internship program in the USA that could last up to a year. When I first saw the proposal to join the program, I knew that this was my opportunity to go and live the life that inspired me on TV years ago. All the work that I did in Tallinn was about to be 10x bigger.
I was really lucky. In the ’80s and early ’90s, those kinds of programs did not exist. There were only a few selected people who got to go from Estonia to America and see how big business was done and that program ended up later becoming the Estonian Business School (EBS). All you need to know about it for now, is that the people who went there at that time, became industry leaders and big businessmen later in their careers and I am sure that the U.S experience played a huge role in it. Nowadays, BAFF sends dozens of young people to the “promised land” every year, to experience what those few select could just a few decades before.
I still remember the first time I put on my suit and walked down “Wall Street” in Manhattan. It felt empowering, it felt like everything is suddenly possible and that I was somebody important. But my high was cut short by the reality that I did not know anyone in the city. Your net-worth is directly related to your network and nowhere else is this more true than in the real estate business. The journey to greatness is hard and it is even harder when you have to walk it alone. Fortunately, I have some forces beside me that guided and came to my assistance when I needed them. Just two months into my internship I found an amazing woman, who became my girlfriend. There were times when I thought I was just wasting my time here and wanted to give up, but her trust in me has kept me going. About 6 months in, the realization came that I no longer was pursuing success for myself, but for us. No more walking alone. I saw this happening in my dreams before I ever thought about coming to New York, so I kind of knew. Before we go any further it is important at this point to state that I believe in higher powers and I also believe that if you pay attention to them, you surely will fulfill your maximum potential in this life.
My time in New York with the program has been nothing but amazing. I have worked with the top producing agents in the firm and saw how demanding the luxury real estate market is. How demanding clients are, who are worth millions of dollars and expect nothing but the best for their money. I have worked with ex-CBRE top producers in the nation and understood how you can build up your business systematically. And last but not least, I found love. Something that was not planned or expected but destined.
So, why the title “Tallinn on Steroids”? Because just like in sports, when an athlete uses steroids, he or she can produce results that were not possible before. The drug gave them another dimension of scale and perspective. Whether you are in Tallinn or New York, the work processes and all the other variables stay the same. The one thing that changes the most is the perspective on what is possible via the steroid called New York City. It is also about “the hype”. Nobody has been better at marketing itself as the “Greatest City” in the world. Everybody here thinks he or she is the best at what they do and why should they think otherwise?
I will leave you with this – I remember asking our CEO how I should approach the U.S investors when making calls. He said: “Just remember, you are calling from New York City!”