Nathan Meisner, a senior associate with Bradford Allen, is a key player in the firm’s Chicago tenant representation division. He expertly assists companies with lease renewals, relocations and lease restructuring, while also managing office space changes. Meisner’s role extends beyond local projects, as he also handles international office lease negotiations for clients on a global scale.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
I’m originally from Cincinnati. Growing up in a household with five siblings was an adventure filled with constant activity and camaraderie, but through all the chaos, my parents instilled the values of hard work and commitment. Being one of the middle children, I had the unique opportunity to learn from my older siblings while also striving to set a positive example for the younger ones. We were quite the unit. You could say the Meisners were the Brady Bunch of our neighborhood!
I attended Ohio University, where I was actively involved with the Student Advisory Board of the College of Business and was a member of Epsilon Nu Tau. This involvement was about fully engaging in university life. My focus academically was on business, specifically real estate and financial management.
Networking was also a significant part of my time at university. I aimed to connect with as many people as possible, recognizing the value of diverse connections. That approach to building relationships and expanding my professional network has been fundamental in my career. Making meaningful connections is the lifeblood of our business.
How did you get your start in the CRE industry?
My path into commercial real estate started with my family’s involvement in the field. Several of my cousins work in commercial real estate in New York and I have an aunt in residential real estate. Their experiences piqued my interest from a young age. During my high school and even middle school years, I was fortunate to get a first-hand taste of real estate. My dad had a friend who was into flipping houses, and I learned a lot just by being around these projects. It wasn’t just about the hands-on work; I was absorbing the basics of the business side, too.
This early exposure was what led me to pursue the business right away. I landed internships early on in capital markets, then asset management, where I gained a deeper understanding of the industry and how various asset classes operate. It was during those experiences that I started to grasp the complexities of commercial real estate and began to see a future for myself in this field.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors and supporters throughout my journey. My fiancé has been a tremendous support in both my personal life and career. My parents have been great mentors, teaching me the value of a dollar and the importance of a strong work ethic.
In the professional sphere, Ben Azulay, principal at Bradford Allen, has been a pivotal figure. More than just guiding me through the industry, Ben has invested in my overall growth. He’s a sounding board for my career goals, always willing to share his experiences and insights. His mentorship—both personal and professional—has made all the difference. It’s helped me navigate complex situations with confidence and provided a well-rounded perspective on difficult decisions. I hope to have the chance to pay forward that caliber of mentorship one day.
What does an average day at work look like?
In commercial real estate, there isn’t necessarily an “average” day. The job requires a lot of flexibility and the ability to pivot quickly, which is what makes it so exciting. Some days, I’m in back-to-back client meetings. Other days, I’m strategizing on deals or navigating through unexpected challenges. No two days are ever the same, so you need to stay on your toes.
What do you like most about your job?
What I find most rewarding about my job is the opportunity to witness and contribute to the growth of various businesses. It’s rewarding to be a part of their story. The diversity of my work is another aspect I thoroughly enjoy. One day I might be assisting a law firm, and the next, I could be working with a daycare center—I’m always learning something new. Helping companies align their business operations with their real estate needs is a particularly fulfilling part of my role, as it directly impacts their success and growth.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to work on/achieve that you haven’t already?
Going forward, I’m excited about deepening my relationships with clients, particularly those I’ve been working with for a while. There’s something extra rewarding about being trusted with a business and its goals over time. I also have my sights set on managing more extensive portfolios, specifically for clients based in Chicago with a national footprint.
As I mentioned, I’m genuinely passionate about mentorship. Working on more projects in a mentorship role is a big goal of mine. I’m involved in the Big Brother program, which has been incredibly fulfilling, and I’m eager to bring that mentorship spirit into my professional life.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
Currently, I’m passionate about a new project I’ve taken on — home ownership! I recently purchased a duplex and I’m in the process of renovating it to rent out. It’s a larger undertaking than I expected, but I’m enjoying the process. It’s an opportunity to put my professional real estate knowledge to use in a very personal way. The renovation has its share of challenges, but again, that’s what makes for a rewarding experience. Every step—even the unexpected ones—is a learning experience. Plus, there’s something satisfying about transforming a space and making it my own. A major life lesson learned: the thing about a plan is sometimes nothing goes according to plan.