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32 Stories and Growing (Again)

Looking back and charting the course ahead for leadership development and continuing growth at Hughes Marino

By John Jarvis

As a reflection of where we were when Hughes Marino first began, where we are now, and where we are headed, here is a fun look back to when I first stepped into my leadership development role in 2013, when we were just 32 wonderful human beings with shared core values and a roadmap for how we would grow.

This article was originally published April 17, 2013.


As one of the founding brokers at Hughes Marino, I work as a licensed commercial real estate broker and a project team leader. We help companies to make great real estate decisions. After 26 years doing this work I am happy to report that I really love what I do. In 2012, I was asked to take on additional responsibility as Vice President of Leadership Development. There was no job description. It would be up to me to define the role, and I accepted the challenge.

First, let me say, I am not a very good cheerleader. I would not make a good “in your face” personal trainer. I am not that guy. But I am a people person and curious by nature, I am always thinking about leadership, and about personal growth, so it is a natural fit for me to work with our team to define our leadership development goals together. Since I get to choose, we are going to talk a lot about leadership and about storytelling.

We launched Hughes Marino in 2011, with 11 original wonderful team members. In just two years, we have grown to a collection of 32 ultra-high performers who play well together as a team. 32 teammates, each with a wonderful story to share. 32 stories and growing. Love the idea that every person has a story. Let’s get better at sharing our most authentic stories with one another. How many stories will we grow to over time? Honestly, the sky is the limit. Currently, the tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa at 163 stories, but buildings are constrained by physics and weather–we aren’t.

32 Stories and Counting 1

How Will We Grow?

How will we grow as a company? We will grow as a company when we grow as individuals. This is a cool concept with tremendous power. It reinforces the message that we are interested and vested in one another’s growth and development. It also reminds us that we cannot grow unless our people are growing. We have borrowed and adopted from author Joe Calloway, the edgy and accurate phrase, “If you are as good as you are going to be, then you can’t work here!” Love that. Not every workplace could get away with saying that. We can, and we do.

We invest a tremendous amount of time and energy in our culture. We are all about trust, communication and an absence of fear. We strive for excellence, authenticity, appreciation and humility. Successful speaker, author and coach Mike Robbins has helped us with a few of these concepts. Thanks Mike. And on our own we also decided to rally around three core competencies. We call it “Lead-Write-Present,” and it goes something like this.

32 Stories and Counting 3


Each of our team members has an opportunity to practice leadership through community service. Stepping forward and accepting a leadership role on a non-profit board is a perfect opportunity to practice leadership. First and foremost, it must be an authentic commitment by an individual with passion for the organization. We don’t join boards to get business. And once you are on the board, why not step forward and lead a committee, or an event, or become the board chairperson! The leadership role will take you deeper into the mission of the organization where you can make a bigger impact, and it will also force you to organize a team, and lead. Every experience makes us stronger and smarter, and better at working with people. This is how we grow.

32 Stories and Counting 5


Each of our team members is expected to write. Some write better than others, and we all need the practice. And the more we write, the more we realize that the hard part isn’t the writing. The hard part is the thinking. What are you going to write? What do you have to say that is fresh and interesting? And how are you going to say it? Once you get your thinking straight, the writing is easy. We expect our team members to be thought-leaders in the commercial real estate field, moving the conversation forward. We expect our team members to write, and to practice thinking and writing all the time. Not all of that writing gets published, but a lot of it does. Our website is loaded with great content and recent articles written by our teammates. We are moving the conversation forward, and it feels great. This is how we grow.

32 Stories and Counting 4


If you think about it, we all make a living presenting, from the moment of our very first job interview. Whenever we meet new people, we introduce ourselves, we tell them what we do, hopefully we make some kind of connection, and if we are on our game, we have a chance to convey a sense of who we really are at our core. It isn’t always a formal “presentation,” and make no mistake we are always “presenting.” These first opportunities are precious, and it is paramount that our team is able to convey in that moment who we are, what we are all about, how we add value, and why the work that we do is so important. Robert Frost said, “All the fun’s in how you say a thing.” And that is the point. We all have a story to tell, and good stories bring people together. Yeah, let’s get better at storytelling. This is how we grow.

How am I doing? Do you like my writing? Hey, at least I am practicing, right? Hopefully some of these ideas are fresh. Hopefully they move the conversation forward. If you want to hear more, reach out and let’s find a time to get together. I’d love to hear your story.

2022 Update: The tallest building in the world is still the Burj Khalifa, and Hughes Marino is catching up, having now grown (in spite of a pandemic) to 120 stories. While our company has expanded tremendously over the past ten years, we have remained true to our core values, and that feels good. By encouraging each other to lead, write, and present, we have grown as a team–and we have grown as individuals–a lot. I thought this would be a good moment to reflect on this. Now I am excited to see what the next 10 years has in store! Yep, this is how we grow!

John Jarvis is an executive vice president of Hughes Marino, a global corporate real estate advisory firm that specializes in representing tenants and buyers. Contact John at 1-844-662-6635 or john@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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