From buying an apartment to a meeting with Barbara Corcoran in Manhattan, Scott Durkin shares three moments that steered him on his path to success.

Scott Durkin has been a powerhouse in the world of real estate for nearly 30 years and has worked alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. 

Today, he’s the CEO of one of the largest independent brokerages in the U.S., Douglas Elliman.  

But Durkin didn’t always hold a position of power. His journey to leadership was filled with years of hard work and relationship building.

During an interview with Inman, he broke down the key moments in his life that changed his career forever. 

The apartment

In the early ’90s, Durkin and his partner had a bad experience with a Realtor while shopping for an apartment. The experience made him switch career paths.

“At the time, the job of a real estate agent was grouped in with the job of an undertaker and a tax collector. It really wasn’t a respected position, and we were treated in the same manner,” he told Inman. 

The agent was dismissive and even called them cheap during negotiations.

If the poorly mannered agent was still able to cash a hefty commission check, he explained, the potential success of a polite and compassionate agent was limitless. 

At the time, Durkin was working in hospitality. He felt that with his interpersonal skills, he would thrive in real estate. He was right. 

“That was a pivotal moment for me,” he said. “I thought ‘wow this is not how it’s done. Let me make my mark and do it a different way.’” 

About six months after the transaction, Durkin was an agent. 

Meeting with Barbara Corcoran

Around one year into his real estate career, Durkin moved to the Corcoran Group

He told Inman that when Barbara Corcoran walked into the recruitment meeting, his life changed. 

“In the middle of the meeting, the door opens and in walks Barbara Corcoran,” he said. 

She walked over, pinched his cheek, and lightheartedly said, “You’re way too young to be in real estate.”

In that moment, Durkin decided to move to the firm because he liked Corcoran’s energy so much. He would end up staying at the firm for 26 years.

“She lit up the room, she was someone I wanted to work with,” he explained. 

A few years after the recruitment meeting, Corcoran once again changed the trajectory of his career.

Durkin told Inman that one day he received a call from Corcoran to meet her in uptown Manhattan at five o’clock. 

During the meeting, she offered him the opportunity to work alongside her in the executive suite as the senior vice president of business development. Not long after, he was named Chief Operating Officer. 

She told him during the meeting, “When I inhale, you exhale,” and the words still replay in his mind today. 

He went on to work alongside Corcoran until she sold the firm. To this day, the two are still friends and connect regularly. 

Howard Lorber

In the beginning of 2016, Durkin transitioned to Douglas Elliman. 

Before he made the move, he had a meeting with the chairman, Howard Lorber

The meeting shaped the future of Durkin’s career.

“By the time the hour meeting ended, it was the most rewarding moment for me because I knew exactly what I was in for and what I could do at Douglas Elliman. It really sealed the deal for me,”  he explained.

He told Inman that Lorber gave off the same energy Corcoran did during the recruitment meeting back in the ’90s.

“When I came home that night and spoke to my husband Dave, I said ‘I feel like this is the Corcoran Group all over again, but it’s 2015. And I can’t wait to start there,” he said.

Email Libertina Brandt

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