Millennial on the Move: Martin Burwell
34, Associate at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), Norfolk
Contributions to the business community:
Great Bridge Rotary Club, Member
How do you define success?
I define success as how many people one can help, and how big of an impact one can have on his community. A daily goal of mine is to try to help at least three people a day accomplish something they have set out to do—sending a referral on behalf of a business colleague, connecting two young professionals that could potentially do business together or helping a prospective tenant find the perfect space for their business. Zig Ziglar states, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough people get what they want”.
What person or experience has made the biggest impact on your life?
There are three people who have had a profound impact on my life. The first is my beautiful wife, Delia, who has always supported me in my business ventures and who, by the way, is much smarter than I. After a long, hard day of working on real estate deals, she’s a constant source of encouragement and offers a fresh perspective on the issues I face on a daily basis.
Second is my father. He, along with my mother, have always been there to support me and encourage me through every stage of my life. He never missed one of my soccer games when I was growing up and was a living example of a successful businessman and good father.
Last, one of my closest friends, Kevin Turpin, who is the president of the National Journal Group in Washington D.C., has had a huge impact on my life. Kevin has been extremely successful in his career and has been a sounding board for me throughout various stages of my life.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
One of my passions has always been the sport of soccer, and it has afforded me the opportunity to travel the world and play the sport that I love and enjoy. On the weekends, I’m blessed to be able to coach some of the top youth soccer players in Hampton Roads, and seeing them grow in the sport and helping them achieve their goals is a great feeling. Six of the youth soccer players that I’ve coached since they were young teenagers are currently playing soccer at the collegiate level. To see them achieve their goals, and to play a small part in that, is truly one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had to date.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received from a colleague or manager?
In a previous role, I worked for a boss that believed in working very hard and who was not opposed to working 70-hour weeks. Given that, I ran into this gentleman at a restaurant one evening, and he told me how much one single act of kindness I displayed impacted him. He mentioned that every day when I told him that “today was going to be the best day of his week,” that one day he finally believed it. He said one random Tuesday he decided he would make that day “the best day of his week.” He said he closed a big deal that day, but more importantly, he made the decision to work less and spend more time with his family. He thanked me years later for the encouraging words that I would share with him daily and how those words helped him develop a sense of work-life balance.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
From as early as I can remember, I wanted to be a professional soccer player. I spent countless hours of my youth on a soccer field and had the opportunity to travel to over 10 countries before I finished high school competing in the sport of soccer. Eventually, I had the privilege to play soccer at the collegiate level at the University of Virginia and the University of Massachusetts. I use the same traits of perseverance and determination that I developed from playing athletics in commercial real estate today.
Name a book that has inspired you professionally.
Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life by Damon John. The book shows that no matter what your background, or where you come from, you can still succeed at anything you put your mind to.
What is your best time management hack?
Getting up very early in the morning has helped me to get more accomplished in a normal workday than many others. Typically, I’ll read The Virginian Pilot, The Wall Street Journal and the Bible before exercising and heading to work. In addition, I only check emails during two 30-minute intervals of the day and try my best to minimize distractions during the workday.
What’s your favorite restaurant for a lunch meeting in Coastal Virginia, and what do you order when you go there?
Having the luxury of working in Downtown Norfolk, food options are endless! If I had to choose one, I would walk down Granby Street and have lunch at Leone’s. They have the best chicken marsala in Hampton Roads.
Is there anything that you would change about your generation as a whole? If so, what?
I’m proud to be a millennial, but I do think our generation spends a little too much time using technology. Taking a moment to unplug can help bring more balance to your life. I challenge each millennial to take a weekend and unplug from social media, read a good book, go for a hike, etc. You will be surprised how rejuvenated you feel.
What do you think is Coastal Virginia’s biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge is ensuring that each of the seven cities are constantly working together as a region to promote all that Coastal Virginia has to offer. We have access to great beaches, great city life, phenomenal restaurants and an abundance of live events. I also think “Hampton Roads” doesn’t describe our region effectively. I can remember being in college up north and telling someone I was from “Hampton Roads.” They looked at me like I was from outer space. I think in order to attract people from all over the country to our beautiful region, they need to know where we are located geographically.
How can Coastal Virginia better retain its younger population?
Having spent time in larger cities, something that would attract more millennials is a mass transportation system. This would enable an easier commute to get to any of the cities in Hampton Roads more efficiently. I do think that our region has done a great job of putting on great events for the younger population, as we have wonderful restaurants and many after-work options. Working in Downtown Norfolk has given me a glimpse into the abundance of options that are available for the younger population.
What’s something that gives you hope for the future?
One thing that makes me optimistic about the future are the young professionals that I work and interact with now. The young professionals that I work alongside and network with currently will be the business leaders in our community within the next 10–15 years. I’ve met so many young professionals in this area that are full of fresh ideas and have the guts to make their dreams a reality. I’m part of a great networking group called The Young Driven Professionals, and seeing these young professionals strategize ways to be catalysts for change in their industries motivates me to remember that nothing is impossible to achieve.