I heard an interesting comment the other day, one I haven’t heard before. One of our current clients came to Howard Ecker + Company after a brief relationship with a young broker from a large brokerage firm. When this client informed her broker that she would be switching over to our company, his parting words to her were, “Howard is in the twilight of his career. He probably won’t spend any time with you.”

Throughout the nearly 50 years I’ve spent in this industry, I have been accused of many things – not knowing what I was doing, to being too busy to give people time face-to-face, but this “twilight comment” was a first for me. It’s a common word, twilight, and according to Webster’s online dictionary one of its meanings is obscurity or gradual decline.

Individuals (in Commercial Real Estate, as in many other industries) start their careers as beginners; they don’t know what they don’t know, but they know they have a lot to learn. If they accept that fact, and find a teacher or mentor and continue learning they become performers. Performers know the basics of what needs to be done and can perform competently, and usually in a clutch will come through.

Those who move beyond that stage – usually thanks to the guidance of great mentors – go on to become virtuosos. Virtuosos instinctively know what to do. Because of the experiences they had as beginners, they have honed their craft to the point of being able to out-perform 90% of those in their industry; however, few virtuosos rise to the highest level of their career…the maestro.

Maestros are people that not only outperform 90% of the industry, they are also able to reinvent it and create new offers that radically change it, (think of Michael Jordon, Steve Jobs, or William Zechendorf). To say that someone is a maestro in his or her “twilight years” is actually a great compliment. It means they’ve reached a stage in their career most people don’t, and have seen most of what there is to see. Using time and experience, maestros are able to create new innovations, like participating in hedging their client’s risk. In short, they use this knowledge, gleaned over time, to produce real results for their clients that withstand the test of time.

At Howard Ecker + Company, I am fortunate enough to have worked with great people over the last forty years. I learned from many and I mentored many. Those that are with me now are way more than beginners. Because of this, and my far reaching experience, our clients still receive the best-quality service…from me. So, am I in the “twilight” of my career? Maybe I am. But I am still here, and I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.