John Brogan began his real estate career at a young age. At 10, he was helping his mom invest in and flip residential properties, and by 16 they had amassed an 11-property portfolio around his hometown of Nashville, Indiana. “We moved a lot, but I became well-versed in finance and rent collection. I also had a lucrative lawn-mowing gig,” John jokes.
After four years in the military post-college developing his leadership and problem-solving skills, John came back to his childhood business and began to think bigger. The world of commercial real estate beckoned and he joined JLL Chicago’s Suburban Tenant Representation team as an Associate in June. We decided to get to know him a little better in the first installment of our new profile series.
My typical day: My No. 1 job is business development for my teammates and mentors, Eric Kunkel and Scott Ohlander. I’m the boots on the ground in the suburban market, connecting prospects to our team’s combined 41 years of industry experience. In addition to business development, my focus includes client relationship management and lease consulting and negotiation for office tenants.
Hometown: Nashville, Indiana. It’s a 1,000-person town founded in the early 1800s as an artist colony. A little-known tourist destination in the hills of Indiana.
School: Indiana University, where I studied microbiology and Swahili (I wanted to be a doctor in Africa at the time). I don’t have too many opportunities to practice my Swahili, but when I do run into native speakers it’s fun to converse.
Joining the military: I joined the Army one day after graduation and was ranked 17th out of 5,600 cadets in the nation. Your ranking is based on leadership attributes, physical ability (imagine the NFL combine) and academic performance. I spent a year at Fort Benning in Georgia completing Airborne School and Air Assault School. In short, I was jumping out of planes and it’s not like what you see in the movies. The plane is flying low, there are 60 people packed in like sardines and you hit ground at 25 mph. I was accepted into Ranger School, the Army’s elite leadership program, and after 90 days of not eating, not sleeping and going on missions, I graduated with about 25 percent of my original class.
Deployment to Afghanistan and beyond: After Ranger School graduation, I quickly prepared to leave for Afghanistan. While I was excited to be doing what I always wanted to do, it was hard to believe the day had finally come. I spent nine months in Afghanistan as a platoon leader in charge of 35 infantry soldiers in combat. Spending so much time with these guys built amazing bonds and camaraderie—they’re my family. Due to my actions in Afghanistan, I was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor, our nation’s fourth-highest military decoration for valor. Back on U.S. soil, I ended up in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in the 101st Airborne Division, eventually taking over a job called Chief of Operations for a battalion of 800 soldiers.
From Army to CRE: Through extensive research and networking prior to leaving the Army, I honed in on a career in commercial real estate, a familiar area thanks to my family company. While there was some culture shock at my first civilian job—in the Army being on-time means you’re late—the skills I gained in the military have proved to be extremely valuable. Years of speaking with and presenting to generals and colonels eliminated the fear factor of business development, and nothing fazes me. The Army’s premium on efficiency and speed has also been an asset, as I’m well-versed in identifying solutions and taking decisive action.
My motto: I’m a critical thinker and results-oriented broker who strives for excellence through team success and industry relationships.
Hobbies: I love the outdoors and am often out hunting deer and squirrels (I make a mean stew). I also enjoy contact sports and have been meaning to give rugby a try.
On my Spotify playlist: Chris Stapleton.
On my bookshelf: Anything by Gary Paulsen.
On my plate: Barbecue! I moved here from Nashville, Tennessee, so I’m still looking for restaurants that measure up.
Dream dinner party: The Outlaw Josey Wales, Willie Nelson and Ernest Hemingway.
Bucket list: Bear hunting in Alaska, spending a couple months in Africa traveling and speaking Swahili and hopping the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing.
Three words that describe me: Adventurous. Risk-taking. Competitive.
Nobody knows: I was on the Indiana high school state rodeo team riding saddle bronc. Just don’t ask me to ride a mechanical bull at one of Chicago’s Western bars.