People pique Brian Carcaterra’s curiosity.“I’m generally curious about them and what makes them tick. I get a kick out of meeting new people,” says Carcaterra, senior vice president with CBRE, Inc. “I like to learn about them; it tends to be fascinating.”
Now, that doesn’t mean he’ll probe every client’s every quirk and nuance to the point of making them uncomfortable. “Half the battle is to get a read on people and to understand how communicative they want to be,” says the Stamford, Connecticut-based Carcaterra. “You have to understand that not everyone is going to tell you their life story the first five minutes after you meet them. I think I approach the process with different people differently every single time. My goal is to learn as much about them as possible.”
And you wouldn’t believe some of the nuggets he picks up. “You find out everything—about their jobs, early successes or failures, strengths and weaknesses, what people are passionate about, how to judge what kind of person they are in terms of their demeanor. It’s just a matter of getting them to speak freely.”
Freely enough, he says, that “sometimes I’m completely thrown off guard when they tell me what they like to do in their free time.”
“I’ve had conservative, buttoned-down, sophisticated business people that do things on their weekends like rock climbing or white water rafting, people I’d have never envisioned doing those things.” Insights like those can enhance his ability to strike deals, he notes. “It’s a combination of understanding that people have a different side to them” and his ability to piece together what they “like to talk about.” It might be family, particular transactions, their business, or favorite sports. No matter. Ultimately, it helps knock down or at least minimize possible barriers. “Everyone’s passionate about something; you want to be able to connect with them on that level,” says Carcaterra, who leased about 275,000 square feet of office space last year.
The trick, he says, is “figuring out a way to get them to let their guard down.” For instance, he describes “a gentleman who was a very substantial and impactful landlord in New York.” While “he’s not the warmest individual, he’s passionate about his school.” Well, wouldn’t you know it, Carcaterra had attended the same university. “It was tough to get through early on, but I developed a rapport through that and we became fast friends. I really got to understand him and learn about him from a different perspective.”
At the same time, Carcaterra realizes that, “if you’re too optimistic, you can be cast as a salesman, and I probably fall into that. But it’s just who I am. It often leads to friendly debate.”
No argument there.