Takeaways from NAI Global Annual Convention Keynote Speaker

LAS VEGAS—Molly Bloom was the keynote speaker at NAI Global’s Annual Convention in Las Vegas last week. She shared her life story for the keynote, which was based on the 2014 memoir she wrote that was made into a movie in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game.

Bloom’s story, and messages, were highly applicable to the real estate services business. In her own words and from her speech to more than 1,000 NAI Global attendees, once she started running poker games in Los Angeles, “I realized that information, power and networking were the basis for creating opportunity, and what I was doing at the time was a networking rocket ship.”

In this Globest.com exclusive, below NAI Global’s president and CEO Jay Olshonsky shared other takeaways from Bloom’s talk, and how some of her comments mirror the CRE brokerage and investment businesses.


The following remarks and views are from Olshonsky and not those of ALM’s real estate media group.

Don’t let what you don’t know stop you from what you need to know to succeed. Molly didn’t know anything about poker when she moved from Colorado to Los Angeles when her skiing career ended. Every commercial real estate professional I know started from scratch, in one form or another, with little or no knowledge of our industry. Get educated and keep learning.

Negotiation: Raise the stakes. Molly was up “against a billionaire’s boys club” and moved the stakes from $10,000 to $50,000 when she took over the game in Los Angeles (she raised it again to $250,000 when she launched the games in New York). In real estate negotiations, raise the stakes by creating leverage that favors your client. And as it relates to your own practice, don’t limit yourself to projects that always stay within your comfort zone. For example, just because you have done a number of leases from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, focus on bigger ticket projects, go after them, and win them.

Don’t get too far over your skis. Molly’s skiing accident and Olympic dreams ended when she tripped on a pine bough in a qualifying race, yet she tripped up on a much larger scale when she pushed the game, and herself, too far. Further, her personal break down was accelerated because in her own words, she “got greedy.” When we have successes in commercial real estate, don’t let them go to your head. Enjoy the wins when you earn them, but go back to work then next day as if nothing happened.

Be resilient and persistent. By her own admission, she failed three or four times but never gave up. Molly overcame a serious illness and surgery as a pre-teen, ostensibly ending her ski racing ambitions. Yet she was back on the mountain a year later. A University of Colorado at Boulder student (she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts in political science), she made the U.S. ski team at 19, was number three in America at 20 and made U.S. Nationals at 21. Once she started running poker games in Los Angeles and later, New York, she had plenty of challenges and setbacks. She even persisted in getting her favorite screen writer, Aaron Sorkin, to write her story. While we in the CRE business (fortunately) don’t get tied up with the Italian or Russian mobs, much less get served with paperwork that says, “the United States of America vs. Molly Bloom,” in real estate and especially when you are first starting, you don’t just make one or two calls, you make three, five or a dozen. Be creative and innovative in your prospecting and deal making, and put service over self as much as possible. Molly’s games’ succeeded because she served her clients well.

In closing, and this came out of a question from the audience after Molly concluded her prepared talk, practice mindfulness. The question to Molly was, “how did she get through her legal (and life) troubles?” She started meditating, at first for only 30 seconds at a time, and then for longer periods of time. Her new meditation practice helped her then and continues to enhance her life with her new endeavors, including public speaking.

“Four years ago I was in the legal fight of my life and last year I got to go to the Oscars, after Aaron Sorkin was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, so the moral of the story is when you get knocked down, get back up,” said Molly Bloom.

Originally published on GlobeSt.com here.