The Bisnow Interview: 16 Questions With Transwestern's Chip Clarke
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The Bisnow Interview series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.
Chip Clarke began his 29-year career in real estate at Transwestern, working his way to the top from overseeing the setup of new offices to signing the biggest deals. Clarke has seen just about every part of the business. He now directs Transwestern’s overall operations in North and South America, overseeing the firm’s brokerage services and property management projects across the Americas.
Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
Clarke: I [help] deliver the resources and relationships of our firm to our people on the front line who serve our clients and each other.
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
Clarke: I most enjoy being in a position to serve and, hopefully, positively impact the career development of our people and our service to our clients. I love being out front with team members and clients in a leadership role. So, I would look for those qualities in any other career … Or, be a late-night talk show host.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
Clarke: Emergency room orderly at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. I did everything the doctors and nurses didn’t want to do — and I mean everything. This was foundational to me pursuing a career in real estate.
Bisnow: What was your first big deal?
Clarke: I did several large deals when I started my career in Denver, but the needle mover for me and my family was being on the team that leased up Post Oak Central — the original Apache Energy deal in Houston in 1991 and the Stewart Title transaction [in Post Oak Central] were meaningful and memorable. I was fortunate to work with our team of Kevin Roberts and Randy Strait and learned a great deal in working with successful brokers outside of Transwestern, like Tim Relyea, Scott Wegman, Steve Biegel and Dan Bellow. Further, it was an incredibly gratifying time when I moved to Denver in 1997 to start Transwestern’s office. That proved to be the steepest learning curve of my career.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Clarke: There are honestly too many to list. Like everyone, I’ve had some tough professional failures, but I’ve always tried my best to do better in my professional and personal life. When something is on my heart, I try to act on it.
Bisnow: How do you define “making it”?
Clarke: Having a wonderful family and a happy home life.
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Clarke: When people aren’t genuine or kind.
Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?
Clarke: There have been several throughout my life, but [Transwestern CEO] Larry Heard continues to be an incredible mentor. Early in my career, Larry recognized the potential in me and continued to help me fully develop my skills while staying true to who I am as a leader.
Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you've ever gotten?
Clarke: There are a few foundational answers for the best advice I’ve received: Be true to who you are. Put as much energy into internal relationships as you put into external relationships. Always keep the client at the center of everything you do.
The worst advice I’ve gotten was very early in my career. Someone told me to be more serious. They said my career wouldn’t blossom if I appeared too happy-go-lucky all the time.
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Clarke: Traveling, dining out and driving a nice car.
Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
Clarke: Sly’s in Carpinteria, California. The food and the company are always hard to beat.
Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?
Clarke: Be nice. Have strong convictions, but be kind to people. Words and tweets have power, so use that power for good.
Bisnow: What's the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Clarke: Each time we moved our family. It was always a new chapter with new challenges, but each new chapter has opened countless opportunities for me and my family.
Bisnow: Whose work do you most admire?
My wife’s. We have four incredible kids. She’s done a job so well done in raising them.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
Clarke: Everything. I don’t sleep.
Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?
Clarke: My family.