As part of our series, CRE Future Leaders, we caught up with Jeff Lizzo, vice president of brokerage for STREAM Capital Partner’s Chicago office. Lizzo works with private and institutional owners of net leased real estate and corporate owners who want to unlock value from their real estate via sale leaseback transactions.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
I grew up in Naperville, the middle child between two sisters and the son of two parents who have been married now 45 years. My mother never let me get into video games so most of my summers were spent socializing with friends and getting in trouble at the public pool. I attended Naperville Central High School and then University of Kentucky in Lexington (Go Cats!). I was always involved in sports growing up, but focused mainly on tennis as I began high school. I always had a passion for politics, so while at Naperville Central I served as the treasurer of the student council and then a student council senator at Kentucky.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
I always wanted to be a fighter pilot in the Navy. It was recommended to me by my father, who I still very much look up to, that I should get a business degree because you can do anything with a business degree. He recommended that if at the end of college I still wanted to fly, then I still could … but with a business degree in my back pocket.
How did you get your start in the industry?
Between my junior and senior year of college in 2006-07 I was in need of an internship. My father recommended I reach out to some of his friends at Inverbrass Funds, a private real estate company specializing in owning, rehabbing and managing apartment buildings across the city. I spent the summer running errands for the group all over the city, learning the city street grid, real estate terminology and the flipping process.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
My father has always been my go-to resource in the business world. I can always count on him for his wisdom and can always expect a well-thought out response to my inquiries. He’s always pushed me to take some of the biggest risks I’ve taken in my life and is always genuinely interested in my work and personal life. We talk almost every other day and its great to have him to bounce ideas off of. I usually feel empowered after a phone call with him.
What does a day in the life of Jeff Lizzo look like?
I like to workout in the mornings because after work the gym is crowded and by then I’m just wanting to get home to my wife and our black lab. Working out in the morning helps me to feel more awake and ready to take on whatever the day throws at me. At work I spend the first part of my day managing my active deals while I’m still alert so that I don’t make mistakes for current clients. Towards the end of my day, I spend that time hunting for new deals/opportunities, talking with potential clients and reading up on real estate news. At home, my wife and I run, cook dinner and drink wine together and almost always watch Wheel of Fortune, the Chicago Cubs or her shows on Bravo at nights. On the weekends we like to travel, visit family, grill with friends and be outdoors.
What do you like most about your job?
At STREAM I control my own destiny. I learned quickly there are thousands of brokers out there who are just as smart and offer the same services as me, so I’m always challenging myself to come up with new ideas, new ways of finding business and always trying to be more creative than the next guy.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
I always want to remain honest with integrity in everything I do and never compromise my reputation. Professionally, I’m hoping to eventually be considered the market leader and expert in the net lease and sale leaseback world. I feel like I’m learning from some of the best brokers here and I consider that a blessing and a springboard in achieving that goal.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
Outside of the office I love to run, play tennis, started golfing a few years back, cook, try new Chicago restaurants, explore Chicago neighborhoods, attend sporting events (Cubs, Bears and Bulls) and travel. I’ve also started to read (listen to) audiobooks the last few years, so I’m always up for new recommendations!
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
My wife and I spent two weeks on our honeymoon last July covering Italy from Tuscany in the north to the Amalfi Coast in the south. The cliffs and the beaches are second to none and an absolute “must” if you ever travel to Italy. Since then, we’ve traveled to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris this year. Next on the list for us would be South America or Southeast Asia.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Edward Liss of Triton Realty Group.