Ten Questions, with Jim Damiani

A top performing Twin Cities commercial real estate executive talks about life and success

Jim Damiani has nearly 30 years of experience in commercial real estate, specializing in Tenant Advisory-Office. Throughout his career, Jim has completed over 2,500 transactions for 30 million square feet totaling in excess of $3.0 billion in consideration. Jim and his team utilize Workplace Strategies to help their clients obtain the best economic office lease scenario while creating a workplace that helps them retain and attract top talent.

In April 2017, Jim Damiani and John McCarthy took their 45 years of combined Twin Cities real estate experience and opened a Minneapolis office for the global brokerage Newmark Grubb Knight Frank of New York. Recently, we sat down with Jim to talk about business and his success for our Ten Questions segment.

Q. You recently made a change in firms. Describe that process.

A. I was at my last firm 21 years so the process to decide to leave and start a new venture took some time (8 months). I started by teaming with a good friend in our industry. John McCarthy and I have been great friends for 25 plus years and one day we decided being top producers at our respective firms was not enough. We wanted to take our knowledge and grow a firm with a great nurturing culture. We researched thoroughly our options on who go with and hands down it was Newmark knight Frank based in NY. They had the same vision as us in wanting to build the best firm and not necessarily the biggest firm. They agreed to provide us all the tools that we can use to give the best possible service to our clients. We want to have a place where the culture is the big attraction. During our process, we enlisted team members that we knew and trusted in Maura Carland, Sherry Weaver and Jack Reipke. Together we all agreed on our company vision and direction. We started with 5 people and are building with that solid foundation. It has only been 5 months and we are growing at a very nice pace.

Q. Describe the importance of your professional network for your business?

A. My relationships are everything to me. As far as business goes I had great mentors early on in Sam Thorpe and John Ungerman. That taught me to work tirelessly, be patient and put your client’s needs above everything else. Through this practice I have been able to enjoy countless professional relationships and now most of my business is based on referrals.

Q. How do you recruit and maintain talent?

A. Basically, we have a simple mission statement that tells what we are all about. If someone has the same values as our mission statement we will meet with them and see if we have a fit in our firm that will be beneficial to all parties (employee, employer and most importantly our clients)

Q. How has failure made a positive difference in your life?

A. I don’t like failure. I still remember losing key sporting events over 35 years ago and what I could have done differently to change that outcome. In business, I hate to fail as well but I realize if I do fail it is something that can be learned from and make sure it doesn’t happen again. We learn a heck of a lot more when we fail as opposed to when we win.

Q. How old were you when you had your first paying job?

A. I sold milk at school in 5th grade. Chocolate milk was a penny more but so worth it 🙂

Q. What have you read that I should read?

A. Joy, Inc. It’s a great book about Company culture.

Q. What is your definition of success?

A. No matter you do, if people respect you. You are successful.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

A. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” Maya Angelou

Q. Where have you been that I should visit?

A. Iceland, Go and you will see why.

Q. What does retirement look like for you?

A. I am not the type to sit on a beach or dock somewhere. My financial planner asked me the other day how many years until I retire. I said I know exactly the week I am retiring. That is the week I no longer want to get out of bed and go to work. That is probably a very long time from now since I am having too much fun at this point in my life!

Jim Damiani, CCIM, SIOR, is an executive managing director of Newmark Knight Frank’s Minneapolis-St. Paul office and designated broker for Minnesota brokerage operations. Mr. Damiani is among the most successful and widely recognized market leaders in the Minneapolis commercial real estate market.  He has represented companies big and small, from U.S. Bancorp and Carmichael Lynch to Jack Link’s and Winmark.  Jim and his wife Brenda live in Plymouth and have three children. Email Jim at Jim.Damiani@ngkf.com.


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