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How a Beginner’s Mindset Led Me to Join a 100-Year Start Up

culture leadership self discovery talent Mar 12, 2019

Originally appeared on The Garibaldi Group's website

Meet Michael Staskiewicz, New Managing Broker at The Garibaldi Group

I’ve known Jim and Jeff Garibaldi for over a decade. Our paths and pursuits have naturally crossed over this time-frame, which made it easy to strike up a conversation about potentially working together. I’ve always regarded them with having strong integrity and as a couple of the “good guys” within our close-knit NJ brokerage community. Moreover, I can sense that our industry recognizes that as well.

But it was the Bell Works Holmdel project, the 1.2M SF leasing assignment Jeff oversees, that brought The Garibaldi Group and me together. It’s not hard to see why this iconic development, which is now poised to revolutionize workspaces, is a career-defining endeavor for a brokerage firm. However, to understand exactly why this project is so inspiring to me and why it ultimately led me to align my professional career with The Garibaldi Group, it’s helpful to know a bit about my background.

After spending most of my 20s working in digital media in NYC during the dot-com bubble, I transitioned to commercial real estate in 2003 and consider the following ten years to be the first chapter in my real estate career. During those years, especially through the recession, I was focused on being the best broker I could be. It was a fruitful journey, but it was, as they say, business as usual. I stayed in my lane, did what was expected, and aimed to succeed based on the parameters that had been set for me. For most of this time, the idea that you would dare to question the conventional wisdom about our industry was foreign to me.

Gradually, my mindset began to change. Where I was once fixed in my pursuits, I was now thinking about growth. Those “there-has-to-be-a-better-way” thoughts started to creep into my mind. I began seeking out coaching and incessantly read books about personal and professional development. In the book, “The Laws of Lifetime Growth,” Dan Sullivan talks about the Zen concept of “the beginner’s mind.” It states that if you always approach life from the perspective of a novice, no matter your experience, you’ll find novel solutions. That really began to resonate with me.

With a new way of thinking really taking hold, I founded Effective Realty Advisors, my own boutique firm, in 2016. The goal of this endeavor was to challenge the way commercial real estate brokerage functioned. Rather than focusing solely on size and volume, my aim would be to work with businesses to find and negotiate spaces that made sense for their company culture and employee experience. I didn’t simply want to sell clients space. I wanted to help them strategize and build a better workplace, which brings us back to Bell Works Holmdel.

In a very real sense, the Bell Works project is the embodiment of the ideals I was pursuing on the grandest scale imaginable. It was a massive space that challenged what a commercial real estate venture could be. I visited it in the summer of 2018 and was completely blown away. This may sound hyperbolic, but I really felt like I was witnessing the future of work. I wrote about the experience on my blog Effective Workplace after touring the complex and spending the evening on the rooftop with industry professionals and the Garibaldi team.

I’d been in contact with Jim and Jeff long before I ever visited Bell Works in person, but never seriously considered joining their firm. My hesitation really centered around the knowledge that they were a family-owned company, and I didn’t know how I would make a meaningful impact as an outsider. As I read about their success at Bell Works, I began to sense an alignment with our core tenets and principles. “Bell Works just gave us that ability to change on a dime,” Jeff Garibaldi Jr. told Real Estate NJ, and that desire [or openness] to be innovators in our industry helped confirm my sense that this could be the place for the next chapter of my career.

I’m going to be honest here and tell you that it’s not easy for an entrepreneur to accept the fact that their ideas, skills, and intellectual capital may be utilized in service of another organization. But when you share a similar vision and combine your resources, so much more can be accomplished. In talking with Jim, Jeff, and Jeff Jr. and seeing the company rebrand, my hesitations evaporated.

Needless to say, I’m incredibly excited to see what we can achieve together. The Garibaldi Group describes their company ethos as that of a century-old start up. It’s the perfect place for a real estate veteran with a beginner’s mindset. Together, I firmly believe we can evolve commercial real estate practices and improve our industry for the better. Bell Works is just the start.