Elite Agent - - CONTENTS - Sa­man­tha McLean

MASTERCHEF and be­ing in real es­tate. Kind of the same. I’ve said it be­fore, but in case you missed it, I’m go­ing to com­pare life in the in­dus­try to those fun mys­tery box chal­lenges you usu­ally see at the be­gin­ning of each week of com­pe­ti­tion. Those where Ge­orge, Matt and Gary dream up this list of weird in­gre­di­ents, put them in a wooden box and chal­lenge the con­tes­tants to cre­ate a de­li­cious dish or risk elim­i­na­tion. Some con­tes­tants sur­vive and do the job well, oth­ers fall to pieces.

Why? Well, you need to make good de­ci­sions, un­der pres­sure, about what’s im­por­tant and what’s not. Do you go min­i­mal, or use as much as you can? Ei­ther way, if you dive straight in with­out plan­ning, the fi­nal dish might taste OK; but your lack of prepa­ra­tion ends in a plat­ing rush job that re­sem­bles the clas­sic ‘dog’s din­ner’. Or maybe you for­got to have a ‘hero’ in the dish be­cause there was too much to choose from and in the end no­body re­ally knew what they were sup­posed to be tast­ing.

If, as a con­tes­tant, th­ese are the only is­sues you have, you might sneak ‘un­der the radar’ for a few episodes, but medi­ocre per­for­mance will even­tu­ally catch up. What might speed up your elim­i­na­tion are a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios. One is you’ve just looked side­ways and no­ticed one of your fel­low com­peti­tors has re­mem­bered a child­hood sum­mer in France and they are smash­ing out a ‘mille feuille’, like a pro­fes­sional pas­try chef, while you can’t get your sim­ple short­crust to look like any­thing other than crum­ble. The other is that sense of ‘YOLO’ when you spot an ugly sea urchin in the box. It’s some­thing you’ve never eaten let alone cooked with be­fore, but the op­por­tu­nity to be a hero in in­no­va­tion usurps all com­mon sense. A gooey mess on the plate at the end forces you to ask yourself why you you wanted to go all out at the very point you prob­a­bly should have played safe.

As an agent, your ‘mys­tery box’ to­day is large and can be con­fus­ing. The in­gre­di­ents are all the dif­fer­ent learn­ings and opin­ions around you from coaches, speak­ers, com­men­ta­tors, par­tic­i­pants, other agents, and all those shiny new tech tools and ser­vices that seem to come at you thick and fast. There are so many in­gre­di­ents to choose from, many of them free, that one could be for­given for think­ing there are no ex­cuses for not be­ing a great agent.

But what it comes down to is how you use what you’ve been given, and how you are go­ing to im­press your judges (in other words, your cus­tomers). The real dif­fer­ence be­tween win­ning and los­ing, I be­lieve, comes down to lis­ten­ing, re­mem­ber­ing the ba­sics un­der pres­sure, and play­ing to your strengths.

Lis­ten­ing The quick­est way to be elim­i­nated from Masterchef is cre­at­ing a dish that’s not on brief. Never mind that the guy or girl at the bench next to you has cre­ated some­thing that smelled so bad even Fido left the build­ing; if the brief is to cre­ate some­thing savoury there is no point in bak­ing a cake, no mat­ter how beau­ti­ful, to present to the judges and still ex­pect to win.

Like­wise, if you can’t fol­low sim­ple in­struc­tions from a cus­tomer you’re go­ing to be elim­i­nated. Even if you don’t get the op­por­tu­nity to show off all your skills; you ac­tu­ally might not need to. Lis­ten, clar­ify and do what’s asked. And, I’m not go­ing to give you some well­worn state­ment about two ears and one mouth; it’s more than that. You have to lis­ten with your ears, your eyes and when it comes to mat­ters of shel­ter, as Rox­ette said, “Lis­ten with your heart”. Trust me, it’s also a great pro­duc­tiv­ity hack to get things right the first time.

Re­mem­ber the ba­sics They give Masterchef con­tes­tants pantry ‘sta­ples’ (salt, pep­per, flour, milk, eggs) be­cause it’s hard to cre­ate a good dish with­out them. In real es­tate that’s talk­ing to peo­ple (call it prospect­ing if you want). Every­one says pick up the phone, but I’m go­ing to ar­gue you need to com­mu­ni­cate to cus­tomers the way they want,

If the brief is to cre­ate some­thing savoury there is no point in bak­ing a cake, no mat­ter how beau­ti­ful, to present to the judges and still ex­pect to win.

not the way you want. They will tell you if you ask, you just have to act on it.

Play to your strengths Just be­cause you have it all in front of you doesn’t mean you have to use it all. Adding pota­toes to a Ja­panese-in­spired dish to show you are ver­sa­tile is not go­ing to make you the hero. In fact, it is more likely to go wrong than win you the list­ing (or the im­mu­nity pin for that mat­ter).

One way to seek clar­ity is by sim­ply ask­ing the ques­tion, ‘What is your de­ci­sion-mak­ing process in choos­ing an agent?’ This one ques­tion should speak vol­umes – what’s re­ally im­por­tant to them, how price sen­si­tive that per­son is, and what you might be up against. From there you can make a bet­ter call on what in­gre­di­ents you need to use from that mys­tery box. If it hap­pens to be a new piece of tech­nol­ogy or tech­nique, learn about it and prac­tise with it be­fore you head into the kitchen!

And last but not least, when you find the mys­tery box of real es­tate over­whelm­ing and you can’t think what to cook, don’t ever for­get this one thing: The cus­tomer should al­ways be the hero of your dish.

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