Men of Vancouver: D.J. Denner & Jesse Dean Cook

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Men of Vancouver is an editorial series featuring stylish and professional men in Vancouver. MofV producer and stylist, Jason Sarai of Style by Sarai, recently interviewed D.J. Denner and Jesse Dean Cook of Angell Hasman & Associates for this exclusive in-depth photo editorial.

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What do you do for work? 

Jesse: I am a luxury real estate agent based in West Vancouver. I help people navigate the process of selling and buying their spectacular residential properties.

DJ: I am a West Vancouver based real estate agent with Angell Hasman & Associates.

How did you get involved in real estate?

Jesse: I was traveling hundreds of thousands of miles a year as a Global Executive for a massive firm, and my wife, who is an amazing vocalist, was spending months at a time on tour, mainly in China. We were sitting at The Shangri-La Hotel in Beijing trying to figure out how many days we had seen each other in person in the past 12 months – we counted 26.

As much as we loved traveling we knew that eventually we wanted a family. Our lifestyle would never support this so I decided I would switch careers in order to make this a reality. Luxury Real Estate on The North Shore was the perfect fit for me, given my decade of international business experience and having been born and raised in Vancouver. This was easily one of the best, and scariest decisions of my life.

DJ: The inspiration came to me when I was studying in the Irving K. Barber library at UBC.  I stumbled across the website of West Vancouver’s number one luxury realtor and in that moment, something just clicked. I became obsessed. Instead of studying, I found myself researching everything there was to know about West Vancouver Real Estate. A few months later, I switched the focus of my education from economics to real estate. Four years after that, I had the privilege of joining Angell Hasman & Associates and began to create a brand that I always dreamed of.

The realtor whose website I stumbled across in the library, became a close friend and mentor. Together we co-listed and sold some of the most expensive real estate in Vancouver. The two years I spent co-listing with my mentor laid down the foundation for the career I have today. I always say, those years together were my equivalent to a Masters in Real Estate, and I feel unbelievably fortunate to have had that experience.

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

Jesse Dean Cook (left) and DJ Denner (right) – Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

What do you enjoy most about your career and company?

Jesse: The thing I enjoy most about my career is that my clients become family. I never became close to clients on a personal level in my previous career; however, the majority of my real estate clients have all turned into great friends. I truly cherish these relationships and it excites me to be a part of their family for decades to come.

My firm, Angell Hasman & Associates, is such a thrilling place to work. There is a perfect blend of young and seasoned agents who are all supportive of one another, can celebrate each others successes and always encourage each other to be their best.

DJ: I enjoy so many different aspects of this career, but I have to say what I love the most is meeting new people. There’s always something exciting about pulling into the driveway of an incredible property and meeting the owners for the first time. I truly enjoy the process of working together and building a lifelong relationship with the families. As for my firm, not only is our office as stunning as the homes we sell, there’s an amazing energy that comes with working amongst some of the cities top professionals. I couldn’t imagine conducting my business anywhere else.

Where do you see your careers in five and 10 years?

Jesse: I am strategically laying the foundation of my business so that in five to 10 years, I am continuing to grow primarily through referrals and plan on building my brand through an extensive network of high-end marketing techniques. My wife is in the midst of getting her realtors license, so I see us as a dynamic team specializing in personalized service. We will continue to travel to visit clients and agents overseas and build an internationally recognized boutique real estate business.

DJ: I am a very goal oriented individual and focusing on my five and 10 year plans have been my driving force since day one. I look forward to continuing to create a reputation built on hard work, client advocacy, sound advice and an adherence for delivering better than expected results.

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

What does luxury real estate mean to you? 

Jesse: To me, luxury real estate means that you, as a client, always feel like a VIP every step of the way. As a luxury realtor, I feel that it’s my job to go above and beyond your every expectation and to give extremely personalized service, extensive knowledge, insider information on the area and market as well as a focus on excellent communication. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that the clients’ expectations are exceeded.

DJ: To me, it’s a quality of service and level of expertise. I strongly believe it’s my job to maintain a thorough understanding of market conditions, communicate with the client on a regular basis and respond to their individual needs.

Where do you see the real estate market in Vancouver going?

Jesse: While I do not have a crystal ball, my prediction is that the Vancouver real estate market will continue to increase in value due to the scarcity of land coupled with the fact it is a haven for wealthy international investors – and let’s be honest, it’s the most beautiful city in the world.

DJ: One of my favourite topics! Expo ’86 was our invitation to the world and it allowed everyone to see how beautiful this city is. Since then, we’ve been a city driven by migration of wealthy families. Vancouver is an amazing place to live and it really is just a sliver of paradise compared to other major metropolitan cities. I don’t foresee any signs of things slowing down in the near future, as I still receive emails from new clients flying in from all over – the U.S., Mainland China, Eastern Europe and Mexico to name a few.

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

What are the challenges of your career? 

Jesse: I think the biggest challenge I face is that I’m a natural workaholic and the fact that real estate is an entrepreneurial work environment means that you can work 24/7 in this career. My wife and I are preparing to welcome our first child into our family and so I am striving towards a more balanced lifestyle by taking a couple hours here and there when presented to spend time with my loved ones, while still being available to my clients.

DJ: An honest challenge has been taking off the blinders that keep me so focused on work and being present in the moment with loved ones. I’m getting better, but I’m grateful to have loved ones that are so understanding.

What has been your greatest business challenge to date?  

Jesse: I used to be a master juggler in my corporate role and received more than 50 phone calls and 300 emails per day. I loved the pace and challenge of it all. Looking back to my first few months of transitioning into real estate I have to laugh, because the only people calling me where my mom, wife and sister! It took a lot to create my own book of business but it was quite the challenge in that first year of transition. You’ve got to be able to look back and laugh at these types of challenges in your life!

DJ: Definitely the initial start up in this business. It wasn’t easy moving to a new city and starting from scratch, but the hard work and perseverance paid off.

What has been your greatest business accomplishment to date?

Jesse: I am most proud of a sale that I accomplished only one and a half years into the business. I worked tirelessly with a wonderful client to secure them a stunning waterfront home on one of the most prestigious streets in West Vancouver. It was a very affirming moment for me in this business.

DJ: I would have to say that one of my greatest accomplishments in this business has been the relationships built, both with clients and other realtors. Without the support from these individuals, I wouldn’t have the business I have today.

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

What’s your advice to people wanting to pursue a career in real estate?

Jesse: Realistically, you’ll need about $100,000 in the bank as a nest egg and marketing fund. You need to prepare to make $0 in year one, and if you can’t work 80 to 100 hours per week you shouldn’t bother getting into this business. Unfortunately, there is a misconception about how easy this profession is and you don’t appreciate it until you’re in it. The top agents who have been around over 20 years and are consistently the top performers have worked their butts off to achieve this well deserved success.

DJ: Seek a mentor! There is no better way to learn how to succeed in this business than from someone who has already figured it out. If no one is available to mentor, then offer to take experienced agents out for a coffee and pick their brains.

What does the word entrepreneur mean to you?

Jesse: No expense account (I really do miss that).

DJ: To create and build something new with an unstoppable passion for what you are doing.

Describe a typical work day.

Jesse: Wake up early to get in a workout or there is zero chance that will get accomplished later. After that, every single day is different but usually consists of: showing houses, taking clients on a buyers tour of properties, negotiating offers, generating new business, following up with clients, shaking hands, kissing babies, attending events. Repeat.

The stuff you might not expect that I’ve personally done for my clients are: hand paint railings, raking leaves and basic gardening while in my custom suit, negotiating deals at 3 a.m. for international clients, I’ve been chased by a 150-pound Doberman, baby sitting, picking up my clients from the airport, researching neighbourhoods and school districts, attending meetings at city hall with my clients for possible subdivisions.

DJ: My work hours are basically eyes open until eyes closed. It all starts when I wake up at 5:30 a.m., go to the gym and I’m at the office by 7:30 a.m.. I’m at my desk until 10 a.m. sending emails and doing paperwork. After that, my day consists of the big three: showing homes, meeting with new clients and writing offer/negotiating. Around 6 p.m., I realize I haven’t eaten since 10 a.m. and I grab a quick bite before going back to work.

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

How do you manage your personal and professional life?

Jesse: I am able to manage both my personal and professional life, because this is really one in the same. My wife is also an entrepreneur who understands that I am essentially on-call at all times and she is extremely supportive. We really view this career as a team effort.

DJ: I believe that real estate is a lifestyle and I also have a very understanding girlfriend who shares in my vision for the future. We’ll mix work and life by going to events together or out for dinner with clients and friends. When you work seven days a week, you have to find the balance and I think with the help of my girlfriend, Stephanie, I’ve found that balance.

How much travel is involved in your line of work? Where do you enjoy traveling to the most and why?

Jesse: I thought my days of traveling for work would be behind me once I left my corporate role, but I was wrong. I have traveled to China three times in the last year, which has truly accelerated the growth of my business by allowing me to personally visit my clients and cultivate future clients through their referrals. My wife continues to tour with her music career throughout Asia, so it’s been wonderful to mix business with pleasure whenever I go to visit her and also see my clients.

DJ: I don’t do much traveling for work. I know some agents might travel to abroad to find buyers and it seems to work for them, but I’ve always believed that my clients are here and their homes are here, so I need to be here.

Outside of work, what do you do in your spare time? 

Jesse: I rarely have any spare time away from work, but when I do, my wife and I love to take long walks on the West Van seawall. We continue to revel in the diversity and awe-inspiring beauty of our very own backyard. I am an avid sports enthusiast, nature lover, foodie and there’s nothing better than taking my car for a rip up the sea to sky highway.

DJ: I try to catch up with friends or visit family every four months or so. My parents moved away to an incredible 150-acre horse ranch and built a beautiful home there. We try to sneak away for a day or two when we can so we can relax, ride horses, get our hands dirty helping with chores and just enjoy being with family.

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

What are your favourite hobbies?

Jesse: Hockey, golf, tennis, sports highlights and a dash of TMZ before bed.

DJ: My favourite hobbies are centred on keeping my mind and body active. I try to carve out time once week to play golf either with friends or by myself to work on my game. Going to the gym is also important to me because not only does it keep my body in shape, it also helps to clear my mind before a busy day at work.

What charitable organizations/programs do you work with?  

Jesse: My wife and I are deeply involved with Cystic Fibrosis Canada. We also support the YPC of the Vancouver Opera, Ride for MS and the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

DJ: Since the beginning of my career, I have donated to the Children’s Hospital, but more recently I’ve found a passion to help the Vancouver Prostate Centre at VGH.

How did you get involved with this cause/organization? 

Jesse: My nephew was diagnosed with CF at only two weeks old, so my wife and I immediately wanted to see how we could help. I have personally contributed as a major corporate sponsor through my wife’s fundraising concerts and I’m proud to say that we’ve been able to raise thousands of dollars towards research and finding a cure for CF.

My father sadly passed away from cancer when I was only 20 years old and so I have actively supported all opportunities for cancer research through fundraising. One of my very best friends rides annually in the MS Ride as his father is currently suffering from MS and I do all that I can to support him. The Vancouver Opera’s YPC is a wonderful philanthropic arts based community group that I am proud to support.

DJ: This year, at the annual VGH UBC Hospital fundraiser, I was very fortunate to sit at the head table with that evening’s guest speaker. I’ve never been as inspired as I was that night after hearing him speak about his battle with Prostate Cancer. His words about the love for his family and the fight he goes through to beat this for them still resonates within me. I’ll actually take this opportunity to reach out to readers of this article. Anything you can donate to help raise awareness and funding to fight this horrible disease would be greatly appreciated. Please visit The Vancouver Prostate Center at VGH – thank you!

Why is giving back important to you and your company?

Jesse: While I have worked extremely hard to get to where I am, I completely understand that growing up in Vancouver I have been given an exceptional opportunity to succeed and have been blessed with great health. I challenge myself to never become complacent or ungrateful for all that is around me and by getting personally and professionally involved with charities and by planting deeper roots in my own community I want to do all I can to help others and the city as a whole to be a better place now and in the future for my children.

DJ: It’s important to give back to the community because I recognize that I benefit from the community for their support of the service I provide. I want to show my appreciation by doing my part of giving back by helping others succeed.

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

What do you recommend someone to try when at The Beach House? 

Jesse: The Wok Tossed Calamari is delish. Might need a mint if you plan on kissing your date afterwards, but well worth it!

DJ: Where do I start?! I would say any of their appetizers and the Sablefish as your entrée.

How do you think people would describe your style?

Jesse: Sophisticated and fun! I have always believed that style represents more than what you wear and that it’s a true reflection of who you are. So my style incorporates elegance, fun, thoughtful attention to detail and of course sophistication. I have all of my suits custom made and love to accessorize and show my personality through colourful pocket squares, bold cuff links, funky socks and fabulous ties. You never know what each day will present so I always dress for excellence and show my clients that I’m ready for anything.

DJ: I would say most people would describe my style as “well-dressed” professional. I appreciate a well-fitted suit with a simple white or light blue dress shirt. Although, I normally choose to wear crisp white dress shirts, I do not shy away from patterned blazers or pocket squares. It is important to me that I appear put together and polished for my clients and the community.

jesse dean cook beachhouse

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

What does style mean in the world of real estate and sales? 

Jesse: You are your brand in real estate and I strive to ensure that my style authentically represents myself and my clients at the very highest level.

DJ: In real estate, our style reflects a level of care and effort put into every detail of our business. I feel as professionals it’s our responsibility to represent our clients and their beautiful properties to the best of our ability.

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

Image: Ellen Ho / Vancity Buzz

What does style mean to you?

Jesse: Style is an opportunity to show people your personality. I have never tried to be someone else and have prided myself on having the courage to be unique when it comes to my personal style. I have always been bold in my fashion choices, willing to be a little different, and proud that those choices have allowed me to differentiate myself in a “cookie cutter world.” Style is a chance to communicate something very personal in a non-verbal way.

DJ: Style is an opportunity to express oneself, giving an individual the ability to express who they are without having to say anything.


FEATURED MEN OF VANCOUVER

D.J. Denner & Jesse Dean Cook
Luxury Realtors
Angell Hasman & Associates
djdenner.ca
dj@djdenner.ca
Instagram: @djdennerjessedeancook.com
jesse@jessedeancook.com
Twitter: @jessedeancook


MEN OF VANCOUVER TEAM

JASON SARAI
Producer & Stylist
STYLE BY SARAI
stylebysarai.com
@StylebySarai
ELLEN HO
Photographer
HONG PHOTOGRAPHY
hong-photography.com
@hongphotography
ANITA LEE
Hair & Makeup Stylist
www.anitaleehairandmakeup.wordpress.com
@anitaleehairmakeup

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About the author

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Jason Sarai is the CEO of Style by Sarai, a multi-disciplinary business for style and fashion | Bespoke suits, personal style consulting, brand influencer and corporate speaking series | GQ Insider | Producer and Stylist of Men and Women of Vancouver for Vancity Buzz | "Be your own style icon." JS | @stylebysarai | @jasonsarai | www.stylebysarai.com | jason@stylebysarai.com
@stylebysarai

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