Republished with permission from connectcre.com.
A pioneer. A role model. A philanthropist. These are some of the terms that come to mind when talking about Goldie Wolfe Miller, SIOR, who will serve as the featured speaker for the Women’s Leadership Breakfast, coming up on Oct. 13 as part of SIOR’s Fall 2023 Event in Chicago.
The woman herself, however, is a bit more circumspect in discussing her accomplishments, chalking it up to a knack for being in “the right place at the right time.” At Chicago-based Arthur Rubloff & Company, where Wolfe Miller got her start in commercial real estate, she became the first female VP. “It’s easy to be the first when you’re the only one,” she told Connect CRE.
Yet her path to success proves it was anything but time and place; that credit should be given to her talent and dedication, despite the adversity. The dearth of women at Rubloff & Company was a change from the advertising industry, where Wolfe Miller began her career. During one of the 60 interviews she went on after deciding to leave the advertising world, she was told that she could canvas, but any leads she came across would have to be passed along to a male broker.
Undeterred, Wolfe Miller became one of the top brokers nationally. It was at that stage in her career that she decided to start her own business, a tenant-rep firm known as Goldie B. Wolfe & Co. “I wish I could tell you that I had a master plan, but I didn’t,” she said. “But if you have a broker mentality, you think about being a broker. You start with a clean slate every year, and you have to work hard and be persistent...year after year.”
Outside of the established Julien Studley & Co. in New York, tenant-rep specialists were largely unknown then. In those days, “you literally had to go door to door,” Wolfe Miller recalled. But she built her company into a $3-billion business before selling it to what is now CBRE in 1998.
She attributes her success as a broker in part to her advertising background and the discipline of communicating ideas in a short time. “If you’re in sales, sometimes you only have a couple of minutes or maybe a 20-minute presentation where you can make your pitch,” said Wolfe Miller. “In advertising, you have 30 seconds to sell your product. Maybe 60 seconds if you’re lucky.”
After selling the company, Wolfe Miller saw that it was again time to pivot—this time into philanthropic efforts. Working with her alma mater, Roosevelt University in Chicago, she mapped out the main criteria of The Goldie B. Wolfe Miller Women Leaders in Real Estate Initiative: scholarships, networking, and mentoring.
The scholarship aspect of The Goldie Initiative is geared toward graduate-level studies for women in real estate. “I made a little caveat there because I don't want to convince people to be in real estate,” she said. “Other people can do that. I want them once they’ve decided to go into real estate and are committed to it.”
The mentoring aspect is carried out by senior members of the real estate community, men as well as women, who volunteer their time. Since its launch in 2007, The Goldie Initiative has expanded to 18 universities throughout Chicago and the Midwest. This year, scholars came from the East Coast—Harvard, MIT, and Columbia—as well as University of Miami in the South.
“One of the reasons I'm so excited about this is because there's so much in the future,” said Wolfe Miller. “Real estate has its ups and downs all the time. But these young women, if you talk to them, they are the best from the best and the brightest. There's one we interviewed and I said in the interview, ‘Why do you want this program? What's your reason?' She said, ‘I want to build Detroit.’ What kind of terrific answer is that? That's such a hard job she wants to be in. And then my comment was, ‘Well, we're going to try and help you.’”
At the SIOR Fall 2023 Event, Wolfe Miller will share her insights on leadership, commitment and outreach with industry leaders. It’s an audience she’s eager to address.
“SIOR means something special to me,” she said. “I think I was in the first group of office brokers invited to join; I always thought the industrial brokers involved in this group represented the ‘gold standard’. And I was especially proud that I was included and that office was seen as equally important.”
The SIOR Fall Event is being held in Chicago at The Palmer Hotel Oct 11-14, 2023. Registration to the overall conference and to see Wolfe Miller speak is still open – to learn more visit sior.com/Chicago.