ADVANTAGE BUILDER: TRAVIS YUENGST
The famous martial artist Bruce Lee once said, “Obey the principles without being bound by them.” Which is a pretty good way to describe the philosophy of Travis Yuengst, Sales Director of CBRE’s Midtown Office Brokerage Management Team in New York.
“I always question the standard way of doing things,” said Yuengst, who once competed as a mixed martial artist on the amateur circuit. “I try to think holistically about why we do something a certain way, and look for opportunities to be more efficient and effective. It’s like facing your opponent in the ring: You look for a vulnerability you can capitalize on or a subtle opening where you can advance.”
Yuengst grew up in Warwick, 60 miles north of Manhattan, a hamlet known for its woodsy beauty and historic downtown. His dad, a detective for the Port Authority police, commuted to the city, while his mom stayed home with Yuengst and his younger brother. “My parents offered a great moral compass,” he said. “They were the epitome of integrity, honesty and selflessness.”
“My parents offered a great moral compass. They were the epitome of integrity, honesty and selflessness.”
Yuengst ran track and played football in high school, which gave him early experience in setting and achieving measurable goals. His greatest memory from that time? “Lying face down in the grass in the blistering August heat after we had just performed an endless amount of ‘up downs,’ our coach told us to smell the grass and preserve this moment in our minds. He said that while we may all hate him now for these grueling drills, years later we would remember this moment and wish we had it back. In 1994, I thought he was insane, but years later he was 100% correct. Right now, I can think back to those practices and smell that same grass and I miss it.”
Yuengst paid his own way through State University of New York in Oneonta, where he earned a degree in business economics. After graduation, he almost took a career path that would have required his martial arts skills: He applied to be an agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Agency—an extensive interview process that took several months While awaiting a reply, in 2001 Yuengst took a job as a real estate market analyst at Insignia/ESG. Several months later, he was invited to join the DEA Academy in Quantico, Virginia. “By then I felt like I was hitting my stride in commercial real estate, and I liked the people I was working with,” he said.
Yuengst worked his way up to director of CBRE’s Manhattan Research Group. “I liked it because there was no ceiling to what you could learn,” he recalled. “There were so many buildings and owners and tenants and market stats and trends. You could slice and dice thousands of streams of information that the general populace might not know. CBRE has the best research, and our insights give us a look into where the market is and where it likely could be going.”
“CBRE has the best research, and our insights give us a look into where the market is and where it likely could be going.”
In 2012, wanting to explore new opportunities, Yuengst moved out of Research and into Management, working as the Operations Manager in CBRE’s Retail Services Group.
Since 2015, Yuengst has been Sales Director, and now manages 45 sales professionals. “It’s my job to make sure they have a business plan in place and are taking the appropriate steps toward achieving goals,” he said. “I’m coaching and guiding them, dealing with issues and problems, and suggesting innovative ways to secure new business. It’s very dynamic; no day is the same.” With his research expertise, Yuengst has pioneered new ways to harness market intelligence to support brokerage professionals in their business development efforts.
Yuengst is also responsible for revenue forecasting, which requires careful tracking of hundreds of deals that are constantly changing. He revamped the old method of tracking to improve the quantity and timeliness of the data and communication with transaction advisors.
Outside the office, Yuengst enjoys spending time with his wife, Melissa and two-year-old daughter, Aubrey at their home in Cold Spring, NY. He loves working out, movies and books, and is currently re-reading “The Hero with A Thousand Faces” published by Joseph Campbell in 1949. “It looks at how myths can help you overcome obstacles at different stages of life and how they can help focus and guide you,” said Yuengst.
“With every obstacle there is always an opportunity to face it, learn from it, and grow. I like to think I do that every day.”
While Yuengst has since retired from mixed martial arts, he continues to draw on the lessons learned and discipline instilled. “In mixed martial arts, you are constantly facing obstacles, it’s a given. But with every obstacle there is always an opportunity to face it, learn from it, and grow. I like to think I do that every day; even if I hung up my Gi a while back.”