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THE COMPETITIVE EDGE: From The Olympics To The Office

As a high jumper in the 2000 US Olympic Track Team and 2001-2003 & 2006 U.S.A. Volleyball National Team, Erin Shean is a natural leader. With over five years of real estate experience at CBRE in San Diego, Erin recently joined the Stream Team in Dallas, exclusively representing office tenants. In this two-part series, we catch up with Erin to discuss what so often makes competitive athletes successful in commercial real estate (CRE).

As an Olympian, you are used to taking on big challenges to reach your goals. Now that you work in CRE with Stream, what are the most challenging aspects of your work?

Cold calling can be really challenging. To be great at cold calling, you have to be resilient, especially during a pandemic. That’s what is hard about real estate for a lot of people.  They come into the business thinking it’s a really lucrative industry, which is accurate, but, after a year of rejections and experiencing first-hand how difficult it can be to get in the door, they say “it’s just not for me.” They don’t have the patience to keep working at it. This business is a marathon, not a sprint.  You need set long-term goals, and you have to be patient. Patience and a competitive nature don’t typically go together—they are counterintuitive. But I think it’s the little wins along the way, and subsequently the big wins that keep you going. That’s why athletes can be good at this business—because winning is what motivates us.

There’s an associate on our team who I really admire, as far as the resiliency of cold calling. He will call anyone, and if he’s rejected, he just smiles, picks up the phone and tries again. I’m pretty resilient with rejection, but maybe not to the extent that he is. That’s why I love our team—we each have different strengths—so together we have all bases covered.

What is your CRE super-power?

My strength is building relationships. I work really hard to get to know my clients and to understand their needs, to learn about their objectives, to make connections and to deliver value through those connections. I have met a lot of people over the years through my background in sports, so I am able to leverage that background to bring people together and create new opportunities.

Coaching is a big part of every athlete’s progress. Have you ever worked with a career coach or mentor who has guided you?

I can’t say that I have ever had a career coach, although I would truly love to be able to carve out some time for a career coach one day. I have had great mentorship with my father having been in the brokerage business for over 40 years and my brother being on the development side of the business for over 20 years.  Without my father and brother there to answer simple questions in the beginning, I would have been quite lost. Even though they were both in Dallas and I was in San Diego, they really helped me when I just had a desk and a computer and was told to figure it out. It is daunting for someone just getting into the business who doesn’t even know how to read a lease. To get really vulnerable here, I remember calling my dad in the first month of being in the business and saying, “Don’t tell anyone I’m asking you this question, but what comes first, an RFP or an LOI?”  When you don’t know any of those things, having someone to guide and mentor you makes all the difference.

I moved to Stream because of the sound leadership and growth potential the firm offers. I feel like there is so much more I can learn from the senior brokers on our team—they are regarded as some of the best brokers, and most importantly, the best people, in Dallas.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

I was really honored to be able to keynote the best Better Business Bureau’s Annual Awards Ceremony in San Diego. Every year, they schedule great speakers, so I felt it was an amazing opportunity and a real honor to be selected.

Additionally, I was really proud to close my first big deal when first starting out in San Diego. Closing a six-figure deal in my second year in the industry was a huge milestone, especially as it was a transaction that I had taken from beginning to end completely solo.

I am confident this move to Dallas and Stream will bring even more excitement from the career standpoint, so I hope you will ask me again in six months.

Are you still involved with the Olympic Committee or any of the organizers of the games?

I currently sit on the board of directors for The Olympians for Olympians Relief Fund. We are about to change our name to include Paralympians, as well, to integrate Olympians and Paralympians into the same organization. We provide assistance for Olympians in need and support through difficult times and life situations.

While in San Diego, I was the President of the San Diego Olympians and Paralympians Chapter, managing all the San Diego events to engage our base of over 200 Olympians and Paralympians in the area. The Dallas chapter has a President, as well, but I hope to be involved here, too, once I am settled.

Erin, you have achieved so much already in your sporting career. What professional or personal goals are next for you?

Having made the big move from San Diego to Dallas with my family, I’m feeling a bit of self-imposed pressure to be successful in this business. Professionally, I’m working hard and using all of the skills we talked about—commitment, competitiveness, resilience and drive—to grow my connections, serve new tenants and generate business here in Dallas. My next professional goal is to execute on a large transaction with my team members here while delivering the highest level of service to the client. Since I started in this business over five years ago, I have longed for a great team of individuals to work with and that is what has been missing for me. Now, I am excited to be able to fill that void with this team, and I think you will see some pretty fantastic results from The Stream Team in the near future! Not to be cheesy, but to quote John Maxwell, “Teamwork makes the dream work!” Accomplishing a goal is so much more fulfilling when you can celebrate your success as a team.

Athletically, my goal is to do a triathlon or maybe run a half marathon in Dallas. Competing as a high jumper you use different muscle groups that are the opposite of those used with distance running. So, I think training for and running the half marathon would be a great athletic goal for where I am in my life and my career right now.

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This is the first in our two-part interview with Stream professional and Olympian Erin Shean. To find out more about how mental toughness and self-motivation can help with your career, read part two, The Competitive Edge: An Olympic Mindset.

Erin Shean received her MBA at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. In 2010, she was inducted into the University of Texas at Austin Hall of Honor for her academic and athletic accomplishments. Erin recently joined the Stream Team in Dallas to exclusively represent office tenants.

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