• Los Angeles

A Voyage from Athlete to CRE

Three Cushman & Wakefield brokerage professionals come together in this podcast discussion to tell their stories about starting out as elite athletes before embarking on commercial real estate careers.

We welcome Cushman & Wakefield’s Rusty Smith, Executive Director; Michael A. Seidman, Director; and Sophia Hwang, Associate, to chat about their former lives as competitive athletes and how those experiences helped pave the way to their current playing field—commercial real estate.

Highlights include:

  • Rusty’s journey to become a three-time Olympian and two-time medal winner in speed skating.
  • Michael’s career as a professional football player in the NFL. He was drafted in the third round by the Carolina Panthers where he played for four seasons and competed in the 2004 Super Bowl. Michael also played a season with the Indianapolis Colts.
  • Sophia’s success in obtaining a 4th degree black belt in tae kwon do. She was inspired by her father, who represented South Korea in the 1984 Olympics, and won a silver medal in judo. His passion for the sport influenced Sophia to take up tae kwon do at six years old, a practice she carried into adulthood.

Transition to CRE:

  • Rusty began his journey in real estate 14 years ago and was recently recognized as a top industrial broker in the firm. His advice? “Set your goals and work hard!”
  • Michael has been working as a tenant rep broker for eight years. He tells us tales of being thrown in the deep end as a solo broker and how his lessons learned on the football field allowed him to push through and succeed at both a regional and national level.
  • Sophia is a relative newcomer to brokerage, but she did work in commercial real estate for two years prior as a research analyst. Sophia applies the “never give up” spirit she learned through tae kwon do to develop her career as a tenant representation professional.

Click here to listen and hear more!


  • Los Angeles

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