CEO of Real Estate Brokerage Firm Shares His Favorite Business Books

  • Over the past 15 years, Aaron Galvin has grown his firm from a lean team to 70 employees.
  • He’s gleaned business advice from a variety of books, including biographies of successful entrepreneurs.
  • His two favorite business books are “Never Split The Difference” and “The Messi Middle.”

After discovering he had a knack for leasing apartments by helping friends find places to live after college, Aaron Galvin quit his corporate sales job to rent out properties full-time.


He worked alongside his mentor, an established apartment locator in Chicago, for three years before branching out on his own. In 2007, he and his wife Amy started Luxury Living Chicago Realtya real estate brokerage firm focused on the high-end rental market.

In the early days of the company, Galvin and his lean team operated out of a single-room office in an apartment building. It wasn’t until 2013 that they had their first year of substantial growth, when LLCR went from three employees to six. The business had another big year in 2018, growing from 20 team members to 50.

Today, Galvin’s company is considered Chicago’s leading multi-family marketing and leasing company. Galvin oversees 70 employees and has a 10-year, two-part financial goal for his team: $100 million cumulative revenue and 150% revenue growth between 2017 and 2027. He also set a workplace culture and retention goal in 2017, which is to have 50 LLCR employees celebrate five-year anniversaries. Currently, they’re at 13.

The CEO says that he’s picked up business advice from a variety of books he’s read over the years.

He’s a fan of biographies in general. “I think they are really important for everybody to read — especially those of uber successful people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos — so that you recognize the humanity in these people,” he told Insider. “They are just humans. They had a childhood just like you did. Yes, they have all of the money in the world and these huge behemoth companies and they are different from the everyman, but at some point, they weren’t. There’s always a little nugget that comes out of each of those biographies that I’m able to apply to my life.”

Some of Galvin’s favorite memoirs and biographies include: “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon,” “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike,” and “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.”

He also recommends two specific business books that have helped him build LLCR over the past 15 years.

“Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss

Written by a former hostage negotiator for the FBI, “Never Split The Difference” breaks down the skills and principles anyone can use to be more persuasive and a better negotiator.

“Voss has written the foremost manual on how to negotiate in business using the methods that he used in his hostage negotiations,” said Galvin. “One of his principles is, when you’re in a negotiation, never look at the person you’re negotiating with as the adversary. Rather, you’re trying to find a solution together. That was such an ‘aha moment’ for me. Everybody wants to get a good deal but, the reality is, when it’s a win-win, it’s better for everybody.”

Regardless of your career or industry, anyone can benefit from this read, said Galvin. After all, life is full of negotiations, from bargaining your salary to buying a home to compromising with your partner.

“The Messi Middle” by Scott Belsky

Galvin first read “The Messi Middle” when LLCR was experiencing “a lot of tumult in 2019,” he said. “We just didn’t have the solid footing that we thought we did. We lost a lot of people, we had to deal with some legal situations, and it felt very messy and very hard at the time.”

The book acknowledges that companies are going to experience significant ups and downs.

“It talks about how it can sometimes get very messy running a business, whether it is a sole proprietorship or you are a multinational organization,” said Galvin. “So that book really resonated with me.”

He also likes to reread it when his company is doing well. It’s important to “harness what you learn when you were in a messy period, and to be able to take what you’ve done well in order to get over that next hump,” he said.

Right now happens to be a period of growth for Galvin’s company. “In the last 45 days, we have added 20 new team members to our company. During what is now referred to as the ‘Great Resignation,’ we have been able to maintain all of our employee base while we bring new people on,” he said. “That is a testament to having that experience in 2019 — recognizing what we could learn from that period and how we can do better.”

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