#KeepingCRESocial by Sarah Malcolm: Q&A with Charlie Stephens, Global Brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield and Host of CULTURE Podcast


Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn, Twitter or Email

I’ve been in and around the commercial real estate marketing scene for years and made some really great friends that I respect and love learn from. I wanted the #CRE industry to see the amazing work and how these creative innovators think. So this is my #KeepingCRESocial Q&A series with the top marketing folks in our industry killing the game!

Sarah: Tell us about your background and how/why you got into this industry?

Charlie: My background was always in the restaurant industry. From my first job bussing tables at Swanky Franks, to bartending, waitering, and eventually managing an Italian restaurant, Matteos. I eventually started to notice that one of the restaurant’s investors, who also was also the building owner, always arrived with a driver. I figured this man was very successful in his career, and whatever he was doing was something I wanted to be a part of. He was New York real estate legend, Don DiRenzo Sr., Vice Chairman at Cushman & Wakefield. After persistently keeping in touch with “Mr. D” and taking his advice to pick up a second job at a small boutique real estate shop, I would eventually get the opportunity to work at Cushman & Wakefield’s world headquarters in Midtown Manhattan.

S: How are you connecting with the NYC commercial real estate community, and what is the mission of what you do?

C: My mission is to connect office buildings with the innovative business that work within them. There is an important relationship between a tenant and the building especially in workplace, and I assist in facilitating and maximizing that relationship. A city is nothing without growing businesses and innovators pushing the envelope. I develop these relationships by documenting the progress and growth of New York City. I’ve been creating and sharing videos on the major development projects like Hudson Yards, Moynihan Train Hall, and the Cornell Tech Campus, and I most recently created a podcast called “Culture” highlighting the business founders & entrepreneurs within the buildings. This podcast helps tell the unique story of each  growing business and innovators within these buildings.

S: What was the catalyst for creating your new podcast, CULTURE?

C: The birth of my son really inspired me completely change my approach in my work, and put myself out there. Luckily, my amazing wife Dina has been very supportive and a huge help as well. I really want to set a good example for our son and show him first hand that you can do anything. As I continue to extract advice and tips on productivity from the influential personalities I work with I hope this podcast helps him and others positively grow as much as it has already helped me. My goal is to guide him in the right path to be a thoughtful, passionate, leader with a positive attitude and enthusiastic in whatever he does.

S: How can commercial real estate play a role in company CULTURE?

C: Culture plays a huge role in commercial real estate. Leadership within any company really needs to evaluate the culture the organization has or is trying to create before they make any real estate decisions. Once there is a solid cultural identity, they can reverse engineer the real estate that will best suit the firm’s best needs. Right now, a collaborative creative culture with open layouts and fun breakout rooms is increasingly common. Look at WeWork - they have created a billion dollar business model all based of their culture. Also another huge factor is location, what location is going help your company attract the right talent. The beautiful thing about culture is that it’s everywhere and everything, and it is just a matter of how the leaders want to address it.  

S: What are some of the common on themes you’ve seen the founders and CEO’s you’re speaking with?

C: A few common themes that have come up is importance of the team, hard work and desire to keep learning. Dave Maloney the Founder of the D10 Decathlon preached, “Push for uncomfortability - if you are not uncomfortable you are not growing”. Andrew Cohen the CEO/Founder of the mobile education startup Barinscape explained the importance of, “Focusing on getting better every day and having a desire to learn”. Hard work is a must that keeps popping up in every interview. Also known as the “The Grind” as Aaron Block CoFounder of MetaProp and Luan Cox Founder of FinMkt both preach. To be successful, it starts with putting in the work and showing up every day. Micheal Beckerman, Founder of CRETech, Beckerman PR and The News Funnel talked about the importance of “having fun with what you are doing and surrounding yourself with a good team and people who inspire you”.  Perspective has been another ongoing theme as AJ Vaynerchuk CoFounder of VaynerSports & VaynerMedia said “opportunity is found where others don’t see it”.

S: What are their biggest challenges around creating a valuable and healthy company culture?

C: What I have learned from these business leaders is that transparency and communication are key.  Aleksey Kearns, CoFounder of the mobile cocktail subscription app HOOCH, spoke about not just having a strong team, but the importance of collaboration. Iqram Magdon-Ismail CoFounder of Venmo and new social audio platform ENSE was a huge fan of instilling Freedom for his employees within the workplace. One of the principle guidelines that Chase Garbarino the Founder of HqO says they like to treat their employees with respect and the culture actually becomes “the collective actions that your team takes, day in and day out.” They embrace team members that “want responsibility and an autonomy to operate.” Luan Cox ,CEO/Founder of FinMkt talked about the importance of 'Good People’. Luan has posted on walls of her office, “Honesty, Integrity, Teamwork, Loyalty & Passion” she explains that “If you don’t have those values as a human being, we won’t be able to do this together. Get a good group of people together and you can accomplish anything!”

S: What are your favorite podcasts you listen to and why?

C: I really enjoy and try to emulate Tim Ferris’ podcast, who interviews the top performers and tries to extract their habits. A few episodes that stand out to me are with the brilliant minds of Chess Champion & Princeton Review Founder Adam Robinson and co-founder of Netscape, Marc Andreessen. My other go to podcast is Gary Vaynerchuk’s The GaryVee Audio Experience. He is a pioneer in the audio, video, social media world. When you need a reminder to get things done and stop making excuses, listen to Gary to set you straight and pump you up. Lastly, I love the show “Basketball Friends” hosted by Tom Haberstroh. That’s just a fun sports talk show that always seems to give me a good laugh.

S: Why should people listen to podcasts?

C: The reason why Podcasts and Audiobooks are amazing it gives people the hands-free ability to learn and multitask. I highly suggest to download a podcast and listen to one on your commute either on the subway, railroad or car ride home. I have treated podcasts as almost a mentor to me, by picking up at least one tip or habit each one I listen to.  Voice First platforms save time, education and increase productivity!


Involved in advising over a million square feet of tenant and landlord representation transactions within Manhattan and across the country since 2010. Focused on providing real estate information to clients who have a NYC presence, and or, national portfolio business. Involved in sourcing new business such as Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm located at 9 West 57th Street. Together with C&W’s Investment Banking Group, structured placements of the Sale/ Leaseback for Talbots 919,000sf distribution center in Lakeville, Mass, the 313,000sf Headquarters in Hingham, Mass.

Connect with Charlie on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Listen to the CULTURE Podcast here.

To read more #KeepingCRESocial posts, click here.

Need help with your social media strategy? Contact Jen@thenewsfunnel.com to learn more. We manage some of the BIGGEST brand’s social media in CRE and more importantly WE GET RESULTS. Can I get an AMEN!?

If you are interested in booking Sarah Malcolm as a speaker feel free to reach out directly at sarah@thenewsfunnel.com.



Twitter: @mrssarahmalcolm