We have never claimed that choosing an influencer, or in this case a 50 under 40 nominee, was easy. But what we haven't told you is that each year the selection process is getting progressively harder. Candidates seem to be better qualified with each passing year and the numbers of high-caliber men and women seem to increase exponentially as well. The number of applications we received this year was probably a record for us, each one highly credentialed. So in addition to qualifications we also look for intangible features such as integrity, an orientation to the community and, this year in particular, resiliency. The economy and the commercial real estate sector, simply put, is tough right now and it takes more than just market intelligence to make it. We are confident that the men and women we selected for this year's 50 under 40 have what it takes to navigate these challenges.

BENJAMIN BIRNBAUM On a whim, Benjamin Birnbaum and a few of his college friends signed a lease for an apartment in Manhattan following their graduation in Boston. Birnbaum then secured what would become his first, and only, job working as a broker at Newmark. Sixteen years later, Birnbaum has become one of the country's top-performing retail tenant brokers. As vice chairman at Newmark's New York headquarters, Birnbaum specializes in landlord and tenant representation. During the pandemic, he focused on revitalizing high-street retail with a big-picture mentality, reassuring guidance and a belief that people would return to in-person experiences. He realized heightened engagement was important and remained accessible. To provide counsel during this period, Birnbaum and his five-person team developed and hosted recurring 25-person discussions for their landlord and tenant clients. As a result of these efforts, Birnbaum secured multiple notable transactions, including a series of med-retail outposts for City MD and Alo Yoga at Rockefeller Center during a period when few leases were being signed along Fifth Avenue. The close of multiple leases for high-end retailers spurred a steady stream of activity with middle- to low-end retailers leasing space. Within the past three years, Birnbaum's most significant accomplishments include his work with Jeff Goral and Aritzia for their SoHo location; Alo Yoga at Rockefeller Center amid the pandemic; and Ding Tai Fung at 1633 Broadway, the dumpling restaurant's first-ever NYC outpost. He says his most rewarding project was with Café Joyeux – a solidarity restaurant concept created in 2017 that employs and trains people with cognitive conditions such as Down syndrome or autism. Immediately drawn to the company's mission and team, Birnbaum represented the tenant pro\ bono and negotiated a highly favorable rental agreement for its space.

CLIFFORD BLANQUICET JR. After concluding a professional golf career, Clifford Blanquicet Jr. became the property manager, janitor, handyman and leasing agent of 100,000 square feet of office and retail properties. One tenant, who was a commercial broker, observed his work ethic and encouraged him to become a licensed commercial real estate broker. He earned his license in 2014 and after a successful two years, he co-founded Blanq Real Estate, where he now serves as president. Since launching the firm in 2015, Blanquicet has grown the business to more than 45 employees, sold more than 140 properties, executed more than 400 leases and closed more than $400 million in transactions. In 2021, he earned his SIOR designation, becoming one of the youngest designees in the world, and has earned several recognitions as a dealmaker and broker to watch. Blanquicet mentors other brokers through interactive daily deal and investment calls, regular office meetings and team-building events. He regularly prospects with other brokers, co-brokers deals to the benefit of his colleagues, shares opportunities with his team and helps everyone around him close more deals more efficiently. Blanquicet also spends a significant amount of time brokering deals that focus on industrial investments, and in 2021 he had a record-breaking year in price-per-square-foot industrial sales. Blanquicet serves as a certified adviser for eXp Commercial and mentors commercial agents and brokers all over the country.

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Erika Morphy

Erika Morphy has been writing about commercial real estate at GlobeSt.com for more than ten years, covering the capital markets, the Mid-Atlantic region and national topics. She's a nerd so favorite examples of the former include accounting standards, Basel III and what Congress is brewing.