Knowledge and Learning

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future (and the past) lately.  A new decade is just a few days away, and I’m entering into my seventeenth year in real estate.

This is an interesting business because you come face-to-face with the truth about yourself and others.  You get to know clients on a VERY deep level, and you become quite good at reading situations and people.

You also have nowhere to hide.  One of our old team partners used to compare being self-employed in real estate to her previous corporate career.  She said that you could kind of “cruise” and hide in the corners when working for a large company, but there’s nowhere to hide in real estate.  You realize ALL of your strengths, weaknesses, insecurities, defense mechanisms, and habits.

If you’re willing to take an honest look, you can see you are EXACTLY where you should be.

I’ve always thought that I had a decent head on my shoulders, and my parents said I was a persistent kid.  But I don’t think I entered the world of real estate with any special gifts or skills.

But I knew I was a good worker.  And I wasn’t going to mess around with people… I was going to treat them right.

When I’ve been asked by new agents and other business owners how I got where I am, it’s actually very simple.

Here’s the five-step formula (plus a Bonus lesson I figured out along the way) that worked for me in my business.

1. First in, last to leave

Have you ever seen the video clip of Will Smith talking about the treadmill competition?  He said, “If we were in a competition to see who gets off a treadmill first, there are only two things that would happen.  Either you’re getting off first, or I’m going to DIE.”

He’s THAT committed, and I think I’ve got the same level of stubborn resolve.

You can be more talented, you can know more people, or take any other advantage against me.  But I won’t be out-worked.

2. Care more about the client than the paycheque

Many years ago, I went to meet a potential seller client.  They had interviewed FIVE other agents before me, and according to them, “We’ve heard all the pitches about marketing, …”  So I asked them to tell me what was important about selling their home.  They wanted to go on vacation and spend more time with family.  They thought that selling the home would free up the money to go to Disney World and reduce financial stress.  But when I showed them the costs to sell and buy, they wouldn’t have been any further ahead.  What was the point of “pitching” them, if it wasn’t a good idea to sell?

So we sat down and re-designed their budget, so they had a plan to free up enough money in eight months to go away on their dream trip.  I never sold their house, and it felt great.

3. Always invest in yourself

I’m a big believer in learning new ways of doing things.  I credit so much of the way I think to mentors like Joe Stumpf, Dean Jackson, Glenn McQueenie, Andy Herrington, Kathleen Black, and Ken Goodfellow.  I’ve read hundreds of books, gone to dozens of seminars and had meaningful conversations with thousands of colleagues from all over North America.

If there are tools, systems, or courses that will help you perform at a higher level, take the leap and go for it.  It’s the best investment you’ll ever make.

4. Don’t let success or failure stick with you too long

This is a tough business, and it’s super competitive.  There’s always somebody willing to step up and grab an opportunity if you’re not paying attention.  Sometimes you’ll give everything you’ve got, and it just doesn’t work out.  Other times, big success can feel almost effortless.

I really believe that not getting too high or too low is the key to everything.  When the lows happen (and they will), just remember that they will pass.  My usual rule is to give myself 24 hours to whine, complain, kick the garbage can… whatever I feel I need to do to get it out of my system.  Then I switch back to “get shit done” mode.  Because tomorrow is a new day.

If success is coming, I always try to keep my underdog mentality.  When you take your foot off the gas, you’re probably going to get run over.

5. Try not to be the smartest person in the room

I have a real estate agent friend who hasn’t sold as many homes as I have.  But I consider him my mentor.

He has been spending every Thursday with his daughter since she was very young, and he has a warm and loving relationship with her.  I learned a lot from him about being a good Dad.

You probably don’t have it all figured out.  Be willing to admit the areas you need help figuring out.  Find people who are strong where you are weak.  Then try to help them with their weaknesses.

Almost every time I speak with someone in our industry, I like to ask, “What are you doing really well in your business?” and also, “What are you struggling with?”  And we can always find ways to help each other.

BONUS:  Be on time

This one has become more important as I’ve grown older.  Respecting other people’s time is so important, and it shows integrity.

Once in a while, something happens that you really can’t control, and you have to give yourself permission to not be perfect ALL the time.  But rushing at the last minute is a young man’s game.  I’m at the point in my life and my career where early is on-time, and on-time is late.  It shows that I care, without ever saying a word.

When I was young, I used to wait until the last minute to study.  Now, I’m more strategic.  I plan, I set aside the time needed for the things that are important.  I stick to deadlines.  It’s way less stressful.

It’s different for everyone…

Not everybody is going to have the same path to success.  If I really look carefully, these are the values that I’ve carried forward in MY own career that have served me well.  I hope that they can help you, too.

Tell me about YOUR secret formula in the comments.  What helped you get through the challenges in your career and in your life?