Willard Says...

August 14, 2018

An Office-Filled Summer

By Landis Mast

I’m going to try to keep this short and simple, so bear with me.

This summer I had an experience like no other. It wasn’t so much the actual labor that was most memorable, but the people and environment that I was surrounded with. This summer I met some amazing people, had some laughs, got rained on more than a couple of times, fell asleep on a train, ate chipotle almost every day, and so much more. But before I get into all of that, I first want to talk about the person that afforded me this great experience.

When I was first told I would be able to work downtown this summer, I didn’t really know what to think. I live 50 minutes or so outside of the city, so the only way to get downtown would be to take the train there and back every day. Then, naturally, I was a little nervous about going to work for someone I had never met before. I had heard great things about Jonathan, but I really didn’t know what to expect. Soon I would come to realize that Jonathan was one of the most honest, sincere, funny, and honorable people I had ever met. The first thing that struck me about Jonathan is that he is one of the most knowledgeable people about the downtown Chicago office market that there is. I remember just walking to a building and on the way Jonathan would tell me the history of the entire area building by building. It amazes me the vast knowledge he possesses in that area. Also, he truly cares about the people he represents. Jonathan always went out of his way to make sure the tenants he put in his buildings had everything they needed. He made sure they were happy with their decision, even if it meant turning away a deal. Jonathan also has to be the hardest working person I know. He puts his all into his company, so it is no surprise that he has such an impressive list of buildings to his name. Everybody he comes into contact with raves about how he handles himself and appreciates the honesty they get out of him as well. I can honestly say that I am so fortunate to have worked for someone who does everything the right way. He has set a great example about what to do to be successful and how to treat people the right way. In the end, Jonathan is someone I look up to and someone I will always consider to be my mentor and role model.

I hope she doesn’t think I’m forgetting about her, but I also worked with another great person named Jillian. The first thing that struck me about Jillian was just her infectious energy. She is the type of person that you want to be around because she is always working and it makes you want to work harder. As the marketing director, she handles the marketing of the buildings, which isn’t always an easy task. But let me tell you, she is very talented. The interactive flyers she creates, along with the edits and videos she makes; everything looks like it had been done by a team of computer nerds working around the clock. But she creates them by herself, and every time I see one I am more and more impressed by her. Her talents and personality will get her very far in life, and it is easy to see what Jonathan saw in her when he first hired her. I couldn’t think of a better co-worker to have for the summer.

I really feel like I have learned as much about office leasing in Chicago as I could grasp. But while rent rolls, vacancy lists, contacting tenants, dimensions, updated websites, and lease expirations are very valuable to know, I learned some other things as well. I would argue, more importantly, I learned a little bit about life and doing business in the real world. I learned that getting caught in the rain happens, and you just have to shrug it off and carry on. I learned that there are some strange people out there who try and pretend to be someone they are not. I learned not to breathe heavy under bridges because of how bad the pigeon stench is. Ok, maybe that last one is a little exaggerated; but in all seriousness the most important thing I learned was how to deal with people.

Watching Jonathan work with people really showed me the right way to do things. I learned that rejection is part of the job, and you are going to get rejected more than you are going to hear yes. I learned that connections are very important, so be nice to everyone because you never know when you may need something from them or run into them again. I also learned to be selfless. Always put the client first, even if that means missing out on a deal. People remember when you do things like that, and most of the time it will come back to help you at some point in your career. Lessons like those and countless others I don’t have time to mention are my biggest takeaways from this summer. As the summer winds to an end, I can say this summer provided me with the greatest experience I could have hoped for. Not only did I learn valuable information about how to lease office space, I learned a lot about life and how to do things the right way. I had the best teacher in Jonathan to help me grasp everything I could, and I met some great people along the way. This is a summer I will never forget. And to Jonathan and Jillian: thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of Willard Jones for the summer.