Employee Spotlight: Darren Woodson
This is Joe Rattan and I’m here with Darren Woodson in the Dallas Cowboys studios. We want to thank all of you for helping us with this interview. Darren is a Managing Principal in the Dallas office who came to Cresa with the ESRP crew, he also helps to lead the Texas team for Cresa.
Now a little background, Darren played safety with Dallas Cowboys from 1992 to 2004. He's a three-time Super Bowl winner, a five-time Pro Bowl player, is in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, and is an NFL Hall of Fame semifinalist, finally on a personal note he's one of the kindest people on the planet and someone I am very humble to call my friend. Darren, thank you for sharing some of your story and thoughts with us today.
Thank you, Joe. I really appreciate it.
All right off the bat, how long have you worked at Cresa?
Cresa itself, about a year - since May 2022. I've been in the industry for about eight years total.
How did you get into the industry?
I watched a guy by the name of Roger Staubach, who was Superman here with the Dallas Cowboys at the quarterback position, startup the Staubach company, which was a tenant rep firm you know years ago in the 90s. I saw from afar how respected that entire team was and had a lot of friends that actually worked for Staubach company and that's when my mind started going in the direction of commercial real estate. Seeing what they were doing in the community, how well they were respected and that's the reason why I'm sitting here today.
What were some of the challenges you encountered during your career and how did you overcome them?
Well, humility. You know I got into this business as a tenant rep broker eight years ago. And when I came into the business, I felt like I was going to make some headway in the fact that I had so many relationships here in Dallas, that I would easily get some business going early on and there were a lot of hiccups early on. And it really made me appreciate the art of what's going on in the tenant rep industry as far as representation, because you know I came in with a name, and most of those friends that I had from years past that were CEOs or executives in the area, they could care less about my name, they wanted to know if I could get the job done.
Now, there was a lot of humility in my first couple of years industry. And it took a lot of me leaning on my partners, took a lot of me leaning on teammates inside the office to really build my confidence, similar to a football player. Build my confidence and finally get some wisdom about me, and finally make some headway in the industry.
I was lucky enough to watch you play and I know how much passion you brought to the field. Where does passion come from; how do you keep it lit?
Well you know, I burn hot. I really do. I know I have a type A personality and what I've done on the football field all those years and even as a kid and I wanted to be the best at what I did. Every time I walked out on the football field I had this mentality and this confidence about me to be the best and you know to make big plays for my team, to win games or whatnot and that's transferred into the rest of my life. I just spilled right on over to the commercial real estate game as far as understanding what I want and building the team around me to get those wins. And again, you're going to have wins and losses, you win as a team you lose as a team, but you also have this passion about you that just thrives within you. And I think you know me being in our office, yeah, I'm passionate, but I have so many teammates. When I'm down, they lift me back up and that's the spirit of our game here in Cresa Dallas.
Well, and I know how much passion you bring to all of us and how much you lift everybody's game. But I know you're passionate about something else, working with C5 Texas. Would you share a little bit about how you became involved with them and why their mission is important to you?
I had a dear friend who was on the board of C5 Texas and I would say about 3-4 years ago he reached out to me and said, “Hey look I want you to take a look at what we're doing.” And it was the first day I walked in, and I saw twenty kids that were in 8th grade. They were going through the experience of walking an office building. And it was that simple.
A lot of those kids lived in South Dallas, they had seen the downtown skyline, but had never been in an office building. They were 14-15 years old, and I was one of those kids. I was one of those kids and I saw myself as a child in those kids because I was a kid that was from a disadvantaged area, didn't have a lot of opportunity, and had never been in an office building, never had that experience. I just felt like look with our kids today we need to give them experiences. Life experiences that they can carry on in the future to have their own dreams. And through those experiences and through those dreams they can further themselves with education, on the job they want. Jobs they truly want, not just jobs they see in their neighborhood. And that's what really got me involved because I just wanted to make a difference. Again, saw myself, but it was up to me, not anyone else, it's up to me to make a difference.
And that's where we are today. I've had a great time working with these kids from 7th grade all the way up to their senior year, mentoring them through processes, giving them experiences, showing them the ups and downs, building leadership qualities within them and it's just been a great time.
Well, it's just it's amazing because you've made such an important point about kids being able to see themselves, yes that representation authenticity is critical, how can others get involved?
Go to C5 texas.org is one way and see what's out there right now. I mean we're not always asking for money. Well, we are. But, we love when people come in and volunteer their time. Businesses come in volunteer their time or individuals come in and volunteer their time, that way they get a better understanding of what we're doing. It's always good to receive the money, but it's also good to get those experiences and let the kids see who you are and what your profession is as well, so that's how you get involved in c5 Texas.
Final question and this is an important one, how do you think we can better promote diversity, inclusion, and belonging within Cresa and the industry?
Well, we have to get out of our comfort zone, one. We have to be intentional in the fact of showing who we are in the commercial real estate industry. I just don't think there's a lot of those that are you know African American or Hispanic that are out there that actually see commercial real estate as an opportunity. So we have to go into HBCUs we have to go to the little universities, we have to bring in interns that look different and different ethnic groups to come in and be involved in the community. It's up to us to reach out.
Well, that's really important because I think you make a good point it's not the easy path, the easy path is to tap into our own networks which typically look just like us and whoever we are. And I think it takes, like you said, intention and we have to be purposeful in going out and opening those doors connecting, doing research, making connections with Business School Deans.
You just said it. It’s what we do anyway in the commercial real estate industry, we network. And it's just tapping into different networks within the community and just in getting them a better understanding of what we do in the commercial real estate industry and again that's being uncomfortable in your skin because we get tied up chasing deals. And always out you know trying to find new deals that are you know involved in commercial real estate. But we’re not doing the little things in terms of being in the community.
Well, I think, intention, visibility, and purpose, it has to drive what we do. Well, Darren thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.