Break through your career plateau and reach the next level

Managing Partner Ryan Secrist on how to conquer a professional dry spell

I think I speak for most real estate professionals when I say my passion is helping people. But while most of us focus on our clients, I also work with my fellow real estate agents to help further their personal and professional development.

I’ve been through every stage of the journey: the beginning when I felt like I had limitless potential, the middle when I hit a professional plateau, and then the next level of finally achieving my definition of success.

That middle part is the most frustrating — that plateau, where you’ve stalled and it seems like there’s no momentum to keep climbing. But regaining your stride is possible: here are four of the best lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. Your lowest slumps are your defining moments

I was working in real estate in Arizona when the recession hit. My business partner and I were in Tempe doing condo conversions when everything came to a screeching halt. As the economy crashed around me, I used my own reserves to keep projects afloat and pay back investors.

It was a personal rock bottom, but it was also an opportunity to learn and grow. All across Arizona, people were losing their homes, and I knew it was within our power as agents to help them. I took the time to learn short sales so that I could help people avoid foreclosure. I saw that somewhere in all this economic chaos, there were organizations that were still managing to make money and pay their employees, and I committed to doing the same. And honestly, it was great to go to work everyday and know that I was making a difference in people’s lives.

This story might be an extreme example, but even a low season can be a valuable opportunity. If you commit and decide that you’re all in no matter what, you can turn your plateau into your defining moment.

2. Build a system based on your natural abilities

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Venture Sotheby’s International Realty

As real estate agents work hard to advance their careers, burnout becomes a serious risk. The problem that I see again and again is that agents haven’t developed a system that plays to their individual strengths, and when they begin to fall behind and hit their first plateau, they feel lost. They devolve into a pattern of working long days and taking client calls at all hours, with no sense of work-life balance.

When I work with agents who feel like they’re burning out, the first thing I do is ask them what their typical day looks like, from the moment they wake up until they go to bed. Nine times out of ten, all that’s missing is a productivity system that works for them.

The good news is that none of us are in uncharted territory; others before us have faced these same problems, and they’ve come up with dozens of different systems for dealing with the workload. Once you can find one that works for you, your job — and your career advancement — will seem much more manageable.

3. Don’t go it alone; find a coach

We all need someone who can be honest with us and provide an objective perspective. That’s why I not only coach, but I also seek out professional coaching myself. A coach can help high-achieving agents stick to their productivity systems and accomplish their goals.

To find a coach that’s a good fit for you, look at your gaps and obstacles. If you’re doing great as a $50 million producer but can’t quite break through that ceiling, you need a coach who moves $100 million; they probably know something or someone that can help you bridge your gaps and grow your sales.

And coaching isn’t just one-on-one; it’s the collection of your daily influences. Who are the five people closest to you? Do they support you? Do they see unlimited growth potential? Do they believe you’re unstoppable? If they don’t, it might be time to love them from a distance. Success thrives on positive thinking, and you need to surround yourself with friends and colleagues that lift you up.

4. Make up your mindset

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Venture Sotheby’s International Realty

In my opinion, the majority of top producing agents are still neglecting a crucial component of their career upkeep: their mindset. You won’t be able to attain peak performance if you’re not taking care of yourself physically; the same holds true of your mental and spiritual needs as well.

For some — myself included — it’s a mindfulness practice. I take time throughout my busy day to be still, allow my thoughts to settle, and to center myself. If I don’t do that daily, then I can’t move to my highest level of performance.

Those are the four things you need: a work ethic that enables you to overcome obstacles and seize opportunities; a system that lets you maximize your productivity; a network that supports you; and acknowledgment of your physical and mental health needs. I’ve learned a lot over the years by failing forward, and I use my experiences to empower other agents as they take their real estate careers to the next level.

Ryan Secrist

Ryan Secrist is a real estate professional and Managing Partner with Venture Sotheby’s International Realty. His career achievements range from being awarded Rookie of the Year to consistently placing in the top percentile of producing agents. His “can do” spirit, positive attitude, and passion for creating environments where people can achieve their goals influenced many to align with his companies. As a result, Secrist has managed top producing teams and offices and has grown many individual agents to the 100 million to 200 million dollar production levels. He serves as a national real estate trainer, leads a real estate company in the East Bay, and feels it is important to give back to the industry regardless of brand or affiliation. Secrist resides in Danville, CA with his wife and three children. He enjoys outdoor activities and travel.


About Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty was founded in 1976 as a real estate service for discerning clients of Sotheby’s auction house. Today, the company’s global footprint spans 990 offices located in 72 countries and territories worldwide, including 43 company-owned brokerage offices in key metropolitan and resort markets. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a franchise system. The franchise system is comprised of an affiliate network, where each office is independently owned and operated. Sotheby’s International Realty supports its affiliates and agents with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates and agents also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit www.sothebysrealty.com.

The affiliate network is operated by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, and the company owned brokerages are operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC and Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., both fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.