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D. Sidney Potter
The Broker: Deals, Steals and Moving Forward
The Broker chronicles the authors' career as a commercial real estate broker working in downtown Los Angeles in the mid-nineties. It makes The Flip, the authors first book look like a walk in the park; given its graphic details of broker deals gone bad, TRO’s, race relations, title chicks & topless bars, jail time, drinking binges, and all out yell feasts with fellow brokers (Blacks, Jews, Persians and Asians alike). The author is a former Nina Blanchard/Ford Model raised in a biracial family. In short, it’s a Dale Carnegie (how-to) meets a Mark Wahlberg/Will Smith (street-wise) autobiographical all wrapped in 416+ pages.
Potter, a former broker at what he calls an “alpha-male” real estate firm, shapes this singular volume as a survey of what it takes to succeed in commercial real estate, a disquisition on race in his line of business, and a memoir of his own most interesting moments on and off the job. Energetic, ribald narration adds vigor to chapters on the psychology of cold-calling and the importance of escrow, and his insistence on dishing the unvarnished truth makes this less a how-to book than a memoir of life on the front lines of American capitalist masculinity.

Readers might be surprised by how many of Potter’s anecdotes concern fistfights with movie theater workers and rental-car company managers, altercations with police, and “yell fests” with a detested colleague whose wife’s resemblance to Salma Hayek has dampened Potter’s affection for the actress. Potter admits he’s taking liberties with readers’ expectations: “How this relates to commercial real estate, I couldn’t really tell you,” he confesses after recounting a dust-up. But his raucous storytelling, with its focus on conflict, illuminates the advice he gives to readers who want to be “Kong Dong” sales managers: “Be acutely aware of [your] scope of power.”

Questions of power figure into Potter’s more advice-focused chapters. They also play out in his discussions of how brokers stereotype various ethnic populations. There's humor in scenes such as Potter sitting under a desk on the brokerage floor in search of relative quiet. The fast-paced stream-of-consciousness storytelling, which reads like it came straight out of the author’s Dictaphone, isn’t always coherent, but readers will skim past the typos and tangled sentences in a rush of secondhand adrenaline. If action movies were made about real estate, this book would be one.

Takeaway: This vigorous memoir will entertain anyone looking for an action-comedy peppered with fistfights and commercial real estate deals.

Great for fans of Alison Rogers’s Diary of a Real Estate Rookie, Joe Ricketts’s The Harder You Work, the Luckier You Get.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A-
Editing: C
Marketing copy: A