“Life is short. Play big; if you fail – congratulations, that’s where the learning is.”
TTHE BIGGEST BUZZ you’ll ever hear on a Sunday morning is along the queue of thousands of agents waiting to pick up their delegate passes for the start of two days of learning and growing at the biggest event on the calendar – AREC.
AREC always holds a special place for me. Some of you know the story. I was sitting in the audience in 2014; it was a year I wasn’t really that keen on going. Firstly, I couldn’t really afford to and secondly I was feeling pretty over all the questions about the previous publication that I worked for which had, like so many magazines, failed in the wake of digital disruption. There would be questions about what was I going to do. And, at the time, I really didn’t know what that was so was in prime avoidance mode – unhappily sitting in my uncomfortable comfort zone and unable to answer the tricky questions that were continually thrown at me.
But fate had other plans and I received a phone call asking me to take notes in the auditorium for John McGrath. He also takes his own notes, but likes to match them up with someone else’s to see what the audience is taking away. The theory is to provide more ‘value’ from speaker content than the ticket price before the morning break on Day 1. I had done a few interviews in the lead-up and as I wasn’t doing much else (much to my own personal pain!) I was the obvious go-to for the job.
So I sat in the crowd and listened to all that motivational stuff on goal setting, thinking bigger and taking action, and it was kind of impossible to sit there for two days and not set some goals myself. “If you don’t change the direction of where you’re going, you’ll wind up where you’re headed,” said Chip Eichelberger. “Two pains in life: Pain of discipline and pain of regret. Which would you prefer?” (I can’t remember who said that, but I wrote it down and underlined it like they were talking specifically to me). And then I sent a message out into the twittersphere: “Lots of talk about #goals here. Now might be a good time to say @eliteagentmag will launch in PRINT September 15 2014 #goals #realestate.” That was 1 June 2014 and 106 days later, with one day to spare, we achieved that goal of an industry print magazine. Sitting on ‘the couch’ this year to interview the event speakers, I couldn’t help but pinch myself really hard a few times. Had we really come this far? Back in 2014 I could never have imagined Elite Agent becoming trade media partner for the same event – I could hardly imagine a magazine at all!
Some of those messages I learned back in 2014 served me well. “No one ever complained because you showed them too much appreciation,” “Don’t just be good at starting; be good at finishing as well,” and lastly, “Fear is not the enemy; doing nothing is the enemy.” All tried and tested personally by me and found to be true.
The themes this year at AREC that came across strongly (apart from whether men should go with or without socks – still debatable) were to do with teams and what I would call ‘extreme’ personalisation. Here are my top 10 takeaways... 1. Tom Ferry, as always, was a stand-out with bags of value. A couple of his tips I liked: document your mission and values – it gives you a filter to say yes or no. I can tell you this works. Our values of ‘educate, elevate, entertain’ have given us a constant beacon for what we will and won’t do as a business. And: an individual cannot grow a repeatable or scalable business, and you need to have personalities that complement you (you don’t need ‘you’ clones). Have several lead sources – how many do you have? The best agents have over 10.
2. Peter Sheahan, whom I spent half an hour with (check out the podcast at eliteagent. com/elevate) pointed out the future belongs to businesses that ‘matter’ to their communities and customers. Also that you can’t complain about commoditisation if you intend to solve problems the same way as everyone else. 3. Taney Jain said the trophy cupboard is not what will get you a listing. “Vendors don’t care about your awards; they care about your passion, energy, knowledge and the
result that you’ll get them.” 4. Peter Fuda said, “There is no time management; there is only choice management.” We all have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé. It’s about the choices that you make within that time that will make the difference. And success is closer than you think; it’s those extra two per centers, added up, that will make a massive difference. Along the same lines, Megan Jaffe said, “There is not one person in this world that doesn’t have the potential to be someone better. We don’t have control of what happens to us, but we do have control over the actions we take.” 5. Some wise words from Josh Phegan: “Those who can spot customer moments of dissatisfaction and vulnerability, who take decisive action to support the customer, will have no trouble differentiating themselves from their competitors.” 6. Dr Fred Grosse said to lose the mooring lines that are preventing you from going where you want, especially if it’s people. If nothing else, think metaphorically of mooring lines being excuses and bad habits – in fact, anything that is stopping you from listening to your soul and what you want from your life. 7. Phil Harris kept it simple, as always. To move the needle of your business you need to be consumer-focused and totally transparent, know intricate details about every single property, and spend mornings prospecting and afternoons out with clients. 8. Something everyone might need after two days of hard learning: James Tostevin talked about the need for time out. “Taking minimum time off is not a badge of honour. Make sure you slot in the time you will take off, as well as family time.” 9. Chris Helder, probably most popular man on ‘the couch’, said that if you think times are tough then of course they will be, and that isn’t a ‘useful belief’. He says this is the best time ever in the history of the world to be in real estate. If you’re struggling right now, remember that everything you are proud of in your life was probably born out of struggle. 10. Seems a good spot to put “10 before 10”, which was a great simple tip from Chris Hassall. He’s gone from receptionist to $2m thanks to one of those two per centers that Peter Fuda talked about. You guessed it: 10 calls before 10 am. Do that consistently and you may have a very different business to what you have now. One last thing Tom Ferry said, and the thought I’ll leave you with: “Life is short. Play big; if you fail – congratulations, that’s where the learning is.”