Over the span of his multi-discipline career, Senior Vice President Tim Huffman has worn many hats—and more than a few guitars.
Along the way, Tim developed several reliable “tricks” from his trades that continue to serve him well, regardless of what industry he’s in or the role he plays.
From Grammy-nominated musician to innovative restaurateur to real estate professional, Tim reflects on the winding path that brought him to CBRE where he works with our Data Center Solutions team and is based in the Atlanta, Georgia, office.
You started performing music in public at age 12 and were nominated for a Grammy at 24. Did you think at that point you’d always work in music?
In retrospect, I’m extremely thankful. But, at the time, a “lost” Grammy registered more like a failure than the rare honor it truly is.
I kept going for a while after that, but I was definitely feeling the pressure that comes with being a contract musician. Sure, I had recorded or performed with some incredible artists—Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones, Kansas, Lynryd Skynryd, Hall & Oates—and my work with Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart earned me a Grammy nod. But, I had no salary, no benefits, no insurance, no guarantees. I was married with a young family and a mortgage.
In the late '90s you dove into technology and real estate with limited experience. How did that come about?
Technology was exploding, and I just knew: All that data storage had to "live" somewhere. I had a passion for computers and technology, and I’d owned properties. Add in my business development experience, and investing in and operating a different type of building really didn’t feel like a big leap.
I was recruited in 2011 to help another company launch their data center services platform—right around the time CBRE was starting their specialty group.
I spent six years in respectful competition with CBRE. I wasn’t unhappy where I was, but I was continually impressed by CBRE’s ability to seamlessly integrate the data center specialty into the broader platform.
In the end, I decided I couldn’t match CBRE’s level of impact for my clients. Staying put was no longer an option.
What do you think has helped you have an impact on your clients, regardless of industry?
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The man who knows 'how' will always have a job. The man who knows 'why' will always be his boss.” I’ve really taken this idea to heart.
Every kind of service—whether you’re performing music, selling food or transacting real estate—requires strategy, not just tactics. The art of listening is often lost on us extroverted salespeople, but you have to “hear” your clients to really understand why they need you.
No two audiences are alike, and the same goes for real estate clients. Requirements change, businesses evolve—and our skills and service have to, as well. In music and every other profession, one-hit wonders won’t last very long.