5 for Friday with Deena Zimmerman of SVN Chicago

This month’s Five for Friday is all about Deena Zimmerman, Vice President of SVN Chicago. Deena specializes in tenant and buyer representation, and works in the Chicagoland market. She has won numerous awards, including the SVN Chicago Commercial Centurion Club Award for her achievements in sales/leasing.

Deena Zimmerman-SVN Chicago
Deena Zimmerman, VP, SVN Chicago

What advice would you provide to an aspiring advisor who is new to the industry?

Find an incredible senior advisor/mentor to work with and shadow and NEVER, EVER be afraid to ask for help, just check your ego at the door and ask TONS of questions.  And never lose that instinct to ask for help as you grow and advance in your business. Commercial real estate can be such an ego-driven industry, but you have to always check yourself, take your ego out of it, and just listen and learn.  I would give this advice to somebody in the business 20 years.  Every deal, client and experience is so different, and all provide learning opportunities.


What does the SVN Difference mean to you?

Collaboration and support.   It’s being an expert in your area of specialty and sharing that knowledge to help others.  It’s the support on all levels-within my own office who I consider my family, plus the support and collaboration within other SVN offices across the world, straight on up to the corporate office. Their support and advice has been incredible.  And I am so grateful for the outside-the-box thinking and brainstorming. Everybody is so accessible and supportive that I can’t use that word “supportive” enough!


What learning tools (book, blog, website, etc.) would you recommend to your colleagues to further their knowledge and enhance their careers?

I am a voracious reader every single day.  My daily go-tos are Crains, Bisnow, Plain Vanilla Shell, Restaurant News, Franchise Times, and Shopping Centers Today.  As to books, I recommend You are a Bad Ass at Making Money by Jen Sincero, Goals by Brian Tracy (the best book John McDermott ever recommended!).   Also, I love ANYTHING by by Brene Brown (books, podcast, Netflix).


What was your most memorable deal and why?

My most memorable deal was the deal where I made my first six figure commission.  I had a negative guy in the office I worked in at the time and, believe it or not, another one in my personal life at that time tell me that I was never going to see a commission like that.  It was disheartening because I knew they were wrong.  But one day I just turned off all of their chatter in my head and focused on negotiating the best deal for my client, even if that meant walking away from the deal.  I asked for help from my mentor/owner of the company to help me see beyond the deal and think really outside the box.  The commission was rewarding of course, but what I remember most about that deal was what I learned and how cool it is to get super creative and outside the box in a deal.  I think about that in every deal I have done since.  Not everything is cookie cutter.

Fun fact to add about that deal is that I represented the tenant in that deal,  while two Advisors at SVN Chicago (at the time it was Sperry Van Ness!) represented the landlord. They were just amazing to work with and they worked right outside the box with me to get a truly awesome deal done for both sides.  And now that we are all in the same office I get to partner with these guys on various assignments that come our way.  I look back and think how much that experience bonded us and what incredible professionals they were, and are.


List a fun fact to share about yourself – something that people may not know and that they may be surprised to find out.    

I was born and raised in Minnesota in a very outdoorsy family, and I absolute adore fishing and hiking. If you can’t find me in the summer, chances are solid that I am on a boat or on a trail somewhere.


If you want to start or advance your career in commercial real estate, why not check out SVN’s career opportunities here.