How to build a Real Estate Business to Expand and Scale

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Las Vegas S.0075212

I had the pleasure of attending a real estate class given by Chris Suarez, a Keller Williams agent, coach and leader. This was more of a life skills, and business skills class than just real estate. I took away many a-ha's. Chris was nice enough to give me permission to record the class and create this blog post. I hope you enjoy the video and transcript as much as I did being there. 

Christopher Suarez

My name is Chris Suarez, and I've been invited to come out and really talk a little bit about a personal journey in real estate, but more than anything else talk about some systems, and models, and tools that every single one of us can use in our business regardless of where we are in production level, regardless of where we are in time in the business, regardless of where we are in winning or losing or somewhere in between.

Anytime I have the opportunity to speak to a group, and I can, I say yes. And that's because I believe that our industry doesn't do that real well. We do, here in this office, and at Keller Williams, but our industry doesn't do that real well. And what happens is, we wind up being a lot of islands in a really, really, really big ocean without ways to get from one island to the next. And I think that was probably the first six or seven years of my business, my career, was trying to figure this business out, and then somehow, quite by accident I stumbled on a system and a model that I could have been using from day one.

I've been at Keller Williams now for a decade. This year is a decade with this company. And I was in the business for about seven years before.

I'm born and raised in New York. Many of you know that and many of you I've met. We have actually an expansion organization, expansion teams, But we didn't start that way. I started my business in New York, in Westchester County. At the time, and I don't know where it is now, but it was the third most expensive county to sell real estate in. It's probably still there at the third, or the second, or the fourth. But it was an incredibly, incredibly competitive marketplace. It still is, New York, right? We don't co-op in New York, we don't do a whole lot of things right in New York.

But I love that state, I love that city. I found myself with my real estate license, going to school, and interning with a real estate attorney because I thought I was gonna be a real estate attorney, all at the same time. I quickly realized that real estate attorneys were miserable human beings. Any attorneys in the room? Former attorneys in the room? Great, this is gonna be fun. I've said that before, there were plenty. I just realized that it wasn't me. It wasn't who I was, it wasn't who I wanted to be. And that greatly could have been who I was working for, interning for, obviously.

But here's what my takeaway was. In New York, it's an attorney run state, right? It's an attorney contract, there are no broker contracts, real estate agents put the deal together, they write up a page, and they hand it to the attorneys. And the attorneys negotiate the deal all over again because they have to make money somehow. And at the closing table, you have your buyer, your buyer's attorney, and your buyer's agent, your seller, your seller's attorney, and your seller's agent. Your bank and the bank attorney. Your title rep and the title attorney. You have nine parties. I was the, I think I was 19 or 20 at the time. I was the guy that was sent from the title attorney's office to orchestrate the closing.

And so I sat at one end of the table with all these people. We can imagine some of our deals with all those people. And I was the guy that wrote the checks, right? I orchestrated the closing, wrote the checks. And the most miserable people in the room were the attorneys. And the happiest people in the room were the buyers and the buyer's agent, and the sellers and the sellers' agents, usually. And I thought they get the biggest check, and they're the happiest. So I am on the wrong side of this table.


Market Crash

That's how I jumped into real estate. I got my license quite by accident, and a career path change and 9/11 happened. 9/11 happened, and at that time I had an office at the American Express building, which is the third building that fell. I was house sitting that morning in West Chester, so I did not go to work that morning and watched that on the news as I was getting ready.

And you know, there's gonna be times in our life that we have these life-changing experiences, and makes you really wonder what's the most important thing.

And I really looked at my life at that point in time, looked at whether or not I wanted to put down roots where I was, and decided that wasn't quite for me. So I stopped ... I was selling real estate at the time. You can imagine what happened to the real estate market right after that. But for the next about month, two months, yep, because that was September. For the next two months, I just volunteered, and about November, into November that same year, I got in my Jeep, because I was moving to Oregon, so clearly in my head in needed a Jeep.

So I sold the BMW and I bought a Jeep. And ended up eventually in Eugene, Oregon, where I did not need a Jeep, it didn't snow a whole lot, and it actually snowed more in New York. So you can see the thought process I went through to get there. [su_divider]

How do we find Success?

What I will share with you is that started an incredible journey, because I had about 800 bucks at that time, and no real estate license in Oregon yet, and decided that I was going to do real estate in Eugene, Oregon.

When necessity shows up, activity often follows.

When necessity shows up, activity often follows, and I think that as I go and I teach and coach real estate now, and truly it's my passion, one of the things I look for is necessity. Because if we can't find necessity, then we're not going to find success, right? Success is like one door over from necessity, and as people say, "Hey, what's the secret? What's the secret of your success?" I would say first we need to define success, and we shouldn't let someone else define it for us. But I think my secret was I needed to succeed, I didn't have another option, I wasn't going back home.

There are some other side stories of why I ended up in Oregon. But all I will say since this is being recorded, is 30 days after I moved to Oregon, I didn't know her anymore. (insert laughter) And so I ended up in a town where I knew nobody. And I don't make friends easily, because I'm just not a social human being. So I was like, what are you gonna do in real estate? But I will tell you, there are some myths in this industry that, right?

MYTH: You're successful in real estate when you have decades in the business, and when you have thousands of friends, and when you have this sphere that fills a database.

Honestly, it's following a model and having some necessity. (In my case) Eight hundred dollars will do that. So I was asked the question when you started working full time, and although I think man, it is difficult to not be full time in this industry when you start. Can it be done? I would be lying if I said no because I did it multiple times. I did it multiple times. So today we're gonna share part of that journey. This is just a map of where we are today, and I'll be the first person to tell you that if you asked me even a few years ago, would you be running a real estate organization outside of Oregon, I would have said well I don't even understand what that means.


So we're in an industry and a company that continues to pivot, it continues to grow. And if nothing else, I hope we leave today with a passion or a desire to continue to grow.


I will tell you that our mission as an organization is to build experiential lives through real estate. I think that real estate and our industry has a way to make our lives pretty unexperiential, has a way to make our lives around a buyer and a seller and a transaction and a paycheck and a commission and everything else that comes with real estate. But if we can truly build experiential lives for us ourselves, our family, our loved ones and those around us, it is what has really driven this mission to paint that country green. [su_divider]

Approach, Ability, Willingness

Here's one of my favorite quotes in MREA. You're gonna hear me say MREA a lot, and I see a couple books in your hands, that is the best thing I've ever seen, and that's the red book, right? It's our model and our guidebook for how to build a residential real estate career, and quite honestly, the guidebook to build any business. But one of my favorite quotes, and I share it with a small group earlier today, came from Gary Keller. It's on page 36 of the MREA. And he said

There are only 3 things that are standing between us and success in this business, or any business or anything else we do. It's approach, it's your ability, and your willingness to do the work of a real estate sales agent.

So what's approach? What does that mean to you? What do you think the approach is? How would you define that? Whichever systems lead generational models you choose to use to create your business. It's the how and the what. So approach is immediately changeable, yes? How about ability, what's ability? It's skills. It's your level of skill. Can you change that today? I guarantee you, I could change everybody's skill in here today. Maybe not everything you need, but some, yes. Can I change your willingness?

No one can change whether you're willing or not. Right? Some of us love motivational books and motivational speakers. And I will tell you probably the worst compliment I can ever get, so listen, the worst one I can ever get is like, "Hey, that was really motivational." Like, I want to be known as, "Hey, your approach, awesome I'm gonna do that. Man, I feel like I'm more able after listening to you." But I can't adjust willingness. We can't change willingness.

In fact, some of us find ourselves listening to motivational podcast after motivational podcast after motivational podcast. At a certain point in time, we just need to realize that we're just not motivated human beings. Because motivation is an internal thing. Brendan Burchard,  is one of my close friends, a client, and I view him as a mentor.

In his book, High Performance Habits, one of the greatest books out right now by the way. I would read it, I would read it as a team, as an organization, we have multiple times. He says that we need to raise our necessity. When we raise our necessity, we're willing to do things we maybe weren't willing to do before. And what I would say is this: I'm a very, very average, normal human being. So from the outside looking in, people will say well, "That map doesn't look average," or "That map doesn't look normal." If I can do what we've accomplished in real estate, anybody here can.

Because it's not my approach. It was someone else's. It's I was willing to change my ability but more than anything else I was willing. I was willing to do the work. In our organization, we have this hashtag we use a lot. It's called #DoTheWork. We hashtag do the work all the time. And the reason being, because if we just showed up and did that, we would be light years ahead of where we are today. If we did the work around systems and models. [su_divider]

Simple Solutions

So we're gonna talk about some of those systems and models. Gary also says this: That no one can live ... Simplify it out. As an industry, do we complicate things? Why? Why do we complicate things? I believe part of it is us trying to convince ourselves why we get paid what we get paid. Right? We have a knack in this industry ... Like, look at any problems. Do we have some complicated problems? Yes. We have some complicated problems in real estate. In fact, the best real estate agents are awesome problem solvers. However, the worst real estate agents find complex solutions to complex problems. And Gary says you can't live in complexity for very long.

Lasting success always lies in our ability to find simple solutions to complex problems.

One of the greatest pieces of advice that Gary gave us at a mastermind one time is this:  the greatest business opportunity for any of us is finding a complex problem and creating a very simple solution to it. Think about any of successful business today in America. Look at Amazon. That's just a very simple solution to the complex problem of where to buy food, hair products, shoes, underwear, mints. It doesn't matter what you need or want, you can find it and buy it so simply. Complex problem. Where do I find that? Simple solution. That is no different than our business.

And here's what I'll tell you. The more simple you get, the more successful you will be. And that's why I'll be the first person to say, I'm a really simple human being. In fact, probably what I say most in my organization as we're having our conversations, people like "Hey, we should do this," and "Let's do that," and "Maybe we should do this." I will always say, "Is there a simpler way? There's gotta be a simpler way. Is there a simpler way?"

See, if we don't find ourselves saying that, then we could get caught in building pretty complex solutions to problems that we all face. Gary Keller said this whole idea of expansion is what? Some complex problems in our industry, yes? And he had hoped that MREA would solve those. Clearly, they didn't work. Why? Because we weren't willing to open up the book and implement it. It is a very simple solution to our business. So then he said this.

Well, some people have, right? Some people have followed it, some people have built it. So what if I take those some people and allow them to build systems, right? Or allow other people to put into those systems and models such that they can step onto that platform. Really, it's all about a simpler solution to the problem of being a real estate agent. Man, it's one of my favorite sections of the book. What's interesting about this is those that do, those agents that find simple solutions to complex problems, guess what they wound up with more of? Time. Yeah, and money came next, but time? Why? Because they had time to actually pursue their activities, as opposed to all the complex solutions that all the other agents have, and they spent all their time on those complex solutions. We could talk for an hour on complexity versus simplicity, but don't let that slip by.


What do you see on the screen. A model? Why would someone refer to her as a model? She's clearly walking down a runway.  What's a model? We can have a deep, philosophical conversation about this too, and I'd love to. But what's a model? We call them a model because we say this. I wanna look like her. Now I'm not saying to say that, but some people do, right? So what do we do? We go out and buy that beautiful dress and put it on.

We're like, "Well, I don't quite look like her." So we say, "You know what? It must be the hair. So I'm gonna do my hair like her. Nope, still don't look like her. Oh, it's my makeup, I'm gonna do my makeup like her. Nope, still don't look like her. Oh, I better stop eating for about 100 days and then maybe ... Still don't. But we call her a model why? Because our society says, "This is the model human being." That's where we can have a very philosophical conversation, and I'd love to have that one day. But the interesting thing is, when we say a model in business, what are we trying to say?

On page 25 and 36, Gary Keller actually quotes another human being, and his book Unlimited Power.   He quotes Tony Robbins. And Gary says that this section of his book actually changed his life, and here's why. Because Tony Robbins said, "As I look at success, people that succeeded did specific activities to achieve specific results. In fact, they asked specific questions to find specific answers." So as Gary looked at the real estate industry, he said this: "Well there's gotta be a model. There's gotta be something to look up to. There's gotta be something that I'm willing to change in my business based on what produced a specific result." That's what we all should be looking for. In fact, that's why he wrote the red book.

It is not a man writing a book about real estate, it is what he calls the Frankenstein of best practices. He went out and did the work for us, the heavy lifting, because none of us were gonna do it, and interviewed agent after agent after agent after agent. Hundreds of agents, different companies, all successful. And what he did was put together the best practices of successful businesses, and said, "Here's the model. Here's what I found were the same key things in every single business." Now here's what's interesting. I'm gonna tell you a story. I tell this story quite a bit as I teach, so maybe you've heard it. I lived a very riveting childhood.

 I grew up in New York, and making a living in New York, is not easy.

My dad was a copier repairman from the day he graduated high school to the day he retired. Incredibly hard working man. I have my work ethic because of that man. He took two sick days in his career with Xerox.

They changed the sick day policy after he retired, and had about two years of paid sick day saved up that they had to pay him. But incredible work ethic, right?

But my riveting summer vacations were this.

School ended and we went to the hobby shop. I’m not even sure that they have those anymore, but that was what we did, and we each of the kids got to pick out a model. That was summer vacation. And my brother and I would pick out a model. Sometimes it was a car, sometimes it was a dinosaur. Yes. Right. We’re there.

And my brother and I were very different human beings. So we would get home from the hobby shop, we’d sit at the table, and this was my brother. Loved that kid. He’d rip off the cellophane, who knows where that went, open up the box, look at the cover, right? It’s a dinosaur, it’s a T-Rex, perfect, and just start putting pieces together, right? Probably most of us in the room did it that way, right? Most of us did. And at the end of the day, or the 30 minutes that it took him to build that, did it look like a T-Rex?

It actually did. But why would it? I mean, come on, it was a model. Why would it look like a T-Rex?

We had this picture on the box. He’d look at it, he’d look at the pieces, and he’d glue it together. Now I was a very different human being. I was a kid that opened up the cellophane. I did it nicely just in case I wanted to put it back in the box, or in the cellophane later.

Took off the cover of the box, put it in front of me, and laid out the instructions. I read through the instruction, I knew what the instructions were, and then I look at the pieces. And they came attached, right? You had to detach them, for those of you who have ever done a model.

And I’d put them on the table, piece one, piece two, piece three, seven, eight, nine, 16, 27, 45, 75. It didn’t matter. I’d put them all out. Laid them out and knew where they were.

And guess what I did?

I began to follow the model. I began to follow the instructions.

Now, when I finished, did my dinosaur look like a T-Rex?

Yeah. Did it look better than my brother’s?

Every time I won. Every time. And it was a competition. Every time. Why?

Because I followed a model. But here’s the deal. We all have it. We all have the red book. But some of us open it up, take off the cellophane, and start gluing. And our business looks like a business. Right?

Our real estate business looks like a real estate business. And that’s unfortunate, because we convince ourselves that we’re doing okay, when if we followed a set procedure, if we followed the rules, if we opened the book, and read the model, read the instructions, and said “This is what I’m gonna do,” I guarantee you it would look a lot better.

Instead, I say we’ve turned a model into a menu. We roll up like it’s a fast food joint, and say, “You know what, I like page 35, I’m gonna really do page 72, I’m gonna take 115, but I don’t like 15 or 21.” We turn the model into a menu and choose the pieces that we wish to do.

So what I will say is, when you hear the word model, please think about it differently.

Now it’s not easy, is it? It takes the willingness to do it.

Now interestingly enough, the models in MREA don’t start until about page 129.  So when I first got the red book, what did I do? I went straight to page 129, because I’m a worker. And I, right, just tell me what to do. Just tell me what to do, and I skipped to page 129. Skipped 129 pages of real estate in that book. What’s on page 1 to 129?


It’s all mindset. I call it the fifth model. We have four models in that book, right? Economic model, lead generation model, the budget model, and the organizational model. The mindset model needs to get a little bit more attention, because the first 129 pages, Gary went out, interviewed people and realized that, guess what, they thought the same way too.

They thought in a certain way. And interestingly enough, the nine ways the MREA thinks, one of the greatest sections of the book, and yet I skipped over it for years. And I wondered why my other four models weren’t working well.

What I’ll say, and we won’t spend a whole lot of time there, but the nine ways the MREA thinks, it starts on page 71. And the first two are foundational and the next seven are supportive. But if we nail the first two, we are well on our way to building a phenomenal business and a model.

Think powered by big why. Man, some of us are 10 years in, and think “Why am I doing this.” Now there’s an awesome conversation in that book that I share anytime I can. It’s on page 74 of MREA. It’s a conversation where an agent, and I’m gonna share something personal.

An agent went to Gary Keller, and said, “Hey Gary, why are you doing this? Why are you still working? Why do you want all this money?” And Gary looked at him and said, “What do you mean?” “You don’t need to work anymore. You have plenty of money. Why do you want all this money?” And Gary said, “With all due respect, I don’t work for money. You however do.” And the agent said, “No, look at me Gary, I don’t work for money. I make about 120 grand a year, I’m good with that. I make that every single year, and I’m good.”

Now when I first started reading that conversation, and then to hear Gary tell it multiple times is an interesting place for me. Because I was that guy, and probably most of us are. That we tell ourselves that we don’t do this for money. I love what I do. Anyone feel that way? We’re not doing it for money. We love what we do. We show up and we enjoy it, we’re not doing it for money.

And then he said, “You know, unbeknownst to you, you might be working for money.” Look at your income. Year after year after year, your income’s the same. So what does that mean? Whether you wanna say it or not, you’re working for money. You’re working for a set amount of money. In fact, if you were working to be better at what you do day in and day out, year in and year out, wouldn’t you make more? By nature, the fact that you’re getting better, you would make more. In fact, as I read that, I felt condemned, because guess what? I was the guy that always said I wouldn’t work for money.

But I showed up to this company after about five years in a row of hitting the same production, making the same amount of money. I will tell you, way more than a 21-year-old needed, or a 22-year-old needed, or a 26-year-old needed. But there was something in me that wondered, why am I not getting better? Guess what? The reason was I was working for money, I was not working for a big why.

And guess what? Was I getting better? Yeah.

One year it took me to December to make that money, the next year it took me to November to make that money, the next year it might have taken until October to make that money. I was getting better, and unbeknownst to me, at some point in time in the year, guess what I was doing? Taking my foot off the gas. Why? Because I’m getting there. I’m closer. I’m gonna make my money that I need to.

Be careful that we’re not working for money, because I will tell you if you are, no one will ever set up the systems, the tools, the models, and do the difficult work it takes. Why? Because you can make money easy in this business. So if you work for money, you will day in and day out, year in and year out. That’s the first way the MREA thought. I wish I read that earlier.

The second way they thought was they think in terms of big models and big goals. Now we’re gonna talk a little bit about models and goals, and systems and goals. But Gary said those millionaire real estate agents thought big models and big goals.

Their business could grow to any size, because they thought about big models. They had goals, but what did they have? Models. Thought models and goals. And then going through the seven … Now, if you just master those two, if you show up in every day, ask yourself do I think this way, do I think this way, interestingly enough, I’d go to that page, page 72 of MREA.

Photocopy it and put it on your wall. And when you show up every morning, say hey, do I think like an MREA thinks? Because if we don’t we’re not gonna get there. It’s Frankenstein at best practices. Those MREAs thought this way. It was we did their mindset of all these agents. So I can’t just do the models that they did, I need to think how they thought. Does that make sense? That’s the model too.

Interestingly enough, the next seven are supportive. Number three is, think possibilities. Number four, and you don’t have to write these down, but think action. Now think action’s a good one. Because think action’s on page 84. And Gary said this, this is one of the biggest issues in our industry. Why? Because we as real estate agents like to gather all the information that we need, right? And we have gathered everything we need to be successful, and then what do we do?

We think about it some more.  Well, the flyer’s not quite right, that message, maybe I should tweak it. I don’t like where that line’s yellow and not white. We think about it some more. What he realized is that the agents that were successful thought action. They got into action and they did that very, very quickly.

Number five is think without fear. Number six is think progress. Number seven is think competitively and strategically. Are there certain agents, when you hear the word competitive and strategic, that you think about? Probably. Right? They probably walk competitively, they probably walk strategically. You just know.

They show up and they’re there to do something. Is that you? MREAs do. Right? And that doesn’t mean competitive in a negative way. That means that they just show up and they think competitively. They’re strategic in how they show up.

Number eight and nine are two of my favorite because this goes to the myths that someone mentioned were in those pages as well, and it’s think service and think standards. I love that. Because what that meant is those agents that had the biggest businesses, they woke up every single day and what did they think about? Service. They thought about standards. And they thought about executing that service and standards regardless of how big their business was.

Those are the nine ways a millionaire real estate agent thinks before you ever get to a model.

Goals Vs. Systems


Now one of my favorite conversations to have right now with real estate agents or business owners is this conversation of goals versus systems. Goals versus systems. What do you think is most important, the goal or a system?

So we have some people that think goals are most important, we have some people that think systems are most important. So let’s define both. What’s a goal?

It’s where you wanna go, right? The target that you set for yourself.

What’s a system?

It’s a procedure, it’s how you get there. Right? It’s the path that you follow. I’m gonna give you three examples, all of which typically have, these people have goals and systems. A coach. There’s a new sports team in town, yes? What’s the goal of that coach do you think?

To win the cup.  And if it wasn’t to win the Cup, or if it wasn’t to win the championship, would you want them as your team’s coach? No. So the goal is the Cup. What’s his or her system?

His practice. His training. It’s what they do day in and day out. It’s the system that his playbook says to run, yes? And do they show up every day and practice that? They do that system. Yep. So the goal, championship. System, practice, day in, day out. It’s the playbook.

What’s an ultimate goal of a writer, to write a book, right? To get a book published, perhaps. What’s their system?

It’s writing every day. I’ll tell you, right? Brendan’s system is he writes every day. And they have, I’m gonna write this many pages, or I’m gonna write this many chapters, I’m gonna write this many words. Each writer has a different system.

Hemingway had a phenomenal system, by the way. Research that. You know he never ended a sentence at the end of the day? He always ended his, one of the most prolific, best writers of any time. He always ended midstream. Because he would pick up midstream the next day. It was his flow. I think that’s pretty interesting, right? So don’t waste 4 to 5 p.m. in our world. Stay and pick up.

How about runners? What’s the runner’s goal? To a run a marathon.

It’s how many miles do I run week one, week two, week three, week four. Right? You’re growing into that marathon. So that when you show up, you don’t die.

So as you think about that, what’s more important. The goal or the system? See I would argue that regardless of the goal if you showed up and followed that system, guess what? Those players, they’re gonna end up with that championship if they follow that playbook. The writer, they may not even wanna write a book, but if they followed a system of writing, guess what? One day they’re gonna look up and say, “Hey, the book is done.”

I’ll tell you my story of running. My wife got into running. She signed up for a half marathon. And I said, “I’m not gonna sign up for that because that’s not my goal, but that’s yours and I’m gonna support, I’m gonna run with you.” And we followed the same practice, the same schedule.

Well, she got injured a couple months before. Already signed up. Registration’s there. Do you wanna do it? Not really, but I guess I will, I’m already trained and practiced for it. Was that my goal? No. But I had followed a system. So I could step in and run a marathon at a moment’s notice. Isn’t that interesting? What’s more important, a goal or a system? You’re still gonna get there if you followed a system. But what do we talk about? What do we talk more about? The goal.

Oh my goodness. November, it’s goal month. December, it’s goal month. January, it’s goal month. February, it’s goal month. We talk about goals all the time, and we don’t spend enough time looking at the system that we’re implementing to put in place.

There are three things that a writer wrote. I’m gonna share with you.. Number one, goals reduce your current happiness. Why?

Here’s what happens. Goals ultimately tell us we’re not quite there. And I’m not saying don’t set goals. Please don’t leave hear like I’m not doing goals today. But goals ultimately can make you feel like, hey, I have not yet arrived. When I get that, then I’ll be cool. When I get here, then I’ll be successful. It’s the somedays and the if – ands. Be careful. Be careful. So what’s the solution?

Here’s what’s so awesome about committing to a process and not a goal. Are we gonna hit that process every day? No. But can we pick up tomorrow and hit the process? See, it’s about incremental growth, and process, and achievement, day in, day out.

Issue number two of goals.  They are strangely at odds with long-term progress. Why? Why are goals not great for long-term progress?

Whether you hit them or you don’t hit them, you often stop when and if you do.

Think about the marathon runner. I have yet to see a marathon runner cross the finish line and say, “You know what, I’m gonna go for a couple more miles. I just feel really good right now, I’m in flow, I’ll catch up with you in about three.”

No. They cross the finish line and do what? Stop, like instantaneously. Some fall.

Believe me, I’ve been there. I’m not running another mile. The goal was reached, done. In fact, if any of you had trained for the marathon, I guarantee you. I think the statistic is 83 percent of marathon runners never run another one. So what was it?

It wasn’t a system for them, it was a goal. Now congratulations, they hit a goal. But it didn’t change their world, did it? Goal achieved, a milestone reached, but there wasn’t a system for them. It wasn’t about health. At the time, strangely at odds with long-term progress.

And number three, goals suggest that we control things that clearly we just don’t have control over. I think about goals that were set by our partners in Houston this year.

Did they have control over that goal ultimately, this past year?

No, a hurricane had other plans for them. But here’s what I will tell you, and this is what made me really start thinking about this. We had a partner in Houston. Many of you know Alex Franke. He was pushing hard towards a goal, and then the hurricane hit. And he said what got him through that period, he took how long, how many months off? Two whole months just volunteering down there, and being at the warehouse, and helping out.

And we all went down and helped him out too, and it was awesome.

And he said, “You know, the one thing that got me through is I have this thing called a lead generation lever, and an assignment, and a commitment to do a certain activity.”

He was following a system, guys. And it was a system that kept going. His goal in his mind was out the window.

Like, “I’m not gonna hit my goal, because the hurricane said so.” He didn’t control that. He couldn’t control that.

Yet he followed a system, and guess what? Within 100 dollars of goal at the end of 2017. A

nd he said, “Shoot, it’s the system.”

So does our business have that system? Is our business a system, or is it a bunch of goals?

Solution, build feedback loops. See, he had a feedback loop. He could see if he was winning or losing, not based on this goal, but based on his activities. If our business doesn’t have feedback loops along the way, feedback loops for the systems, feedback loops for the progress, knowing where are we winning, where am I losing?

See, if we’re focused on the process, can you adjust? Yeah.

If we’re focused on the goal, well, at the end of the year, we look back and say, “Didn’t hit it this year.” And guess what? We blow up the team, and do it again. Maybe next year.

Goals versus systems. I will tell you, if that’s the one thing we take away from today’s session, we all win.

And here’s why.

Because what you’re going to see is, I break our business down into three main areas. We’re not gonna talk specifically about four models today. Well, we will. But I’ve broken this down into three main areas of business growth, of building a business to expand off of, whether it’s expanding in production, expanding in income, expanding in leadership, expanding across the country.



The first part is operations. We have to realize that we are an operations based industry and business. We convince ourselves that we’re a sales business. Why?

That is what gets us paid. That’s how we make money. We sell real estate. Yet we sell something in our business, but our business is a systems, models and tools business. Our business is a systems, models and tools business.

So we think, man, I’m gonna find the greatest buyer’s agent and the greatest listing agent. I’m gonna be the best real estate agent.

And honestly, you’re overlooking an incredibly important part of our business. Our director of operations, our operational, our administrative team is probably the most valuable part of your business you could possibly have.

I would be the first person to say we do not value these human beings enough, and the importance in our business. Because when this was internalized in my world, it began to change. In fact, the day that I find … Like we are career visioning a lot of people right now. But the two that I’m ridiculously excited about, that I believe will change our world dramatically, have nothing to do with sales. They’re both operational, and they’re amazing, and I’m super excited.

Why? Because I’m very convinced, and I know for a fact that it is a systems, tools, and models business. Now, who says, “Hey, I’m amazing at that, I’m amazing at systems, I’m amazing at models, I’m amazing at roles, I’m amazing at accountability.” Not most of us.

That just may not be who we are. In fact, most real estate agents aren’t awesome at this. So where’s our weakness?

There’s a quote in MREA. On page 159, and when I read this again and again and again, and I realized how important it was,

Gary said designing and implementing systems take more time than you think and very specific skills. Okay, I get that. Creating effective systems can be as complicated as it is time-consuming, and many agents become frustrated.

Who’s been there? All of us.

We all get frustrated with systems and models. So then what do we do? Frustration then leads to poor systems or no systems at all. That is our life. We either have poor systems or no systems at all.

Do we need to skill up? Sure. Can we change your approach? Sure. But it’s our operational talent, it’s our operational systems, and models, and tools. In fact, leverage is a funny conversation. If we went to the organizational model in MREA, we hear leverage and what do we think? The word leverage. People, right? Leverage, people. Leverage, people.

You know, that’s the third type of leverage in your business. The first is systems and tools. Systems, tools, then people. Systems, tools, then people.

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Lori Ballen

Digital Marketing Strategist
Ballen Brands - Helping Business Professionals Rise Above the Noise.

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