Listen to any lecture about success and you’ll find plenty of advice about being a go-getter — be the person who gets to the office first and leaves last, outsmart the competition, have the best tools and marketing and do what it takes to make the deal happen.
While being a go-getter is crucial to being a successful real estate agent, iRealty Arkansas broker-owner Kristen Kennon would argue there’s one thing missing from the list: giving.
“I have a go-giver attitude,” she told Inman. “The more that you add value to others around you, it’ll come back through reciprocity.”
When Kennon took over iRealty Arkansas in 2016, she was still a relative newcomer to the real estate industry with only three years of sales experience. However, Kennon drew on her past experience as Jacksonville’s Director of Parks and Recreation to understand what the fledgling brokerage needed to survive.
“I feel like my old job as the Director of Parks and Recreation prepared me for [iRealty Arkansas],” she said. “I was still in my twenties, but I oversaw 30 full-time employees and 100 part-time employees.”
As she thought about her time with the City of Jacksonville and iRealty Arkansas, Kennon realized the missing ingredient was a culture of giving and collaboration, something she believed was key to building a successful, long-lasting brand.
“What I did differently as a leader at iRealty was setting a culture where I made myself available to the agents,” she said. “I told my agents, ‘We’re a local company, I’m right here, so if anyone needs me, that’s what I want to help with.’”
“We care about each other, we cheer each other on, and we’re collaborative,” she added. “It’s different than what people expect from a real estate company, where it’s about being competitive and cutthroat.”
The creation of a collaborative culture, along with investing in new technology, training, and support staff, has helped Kennon’s team balloon to more than 170 agents across five offices — a far cry from the 30 agents and two offices she started with three years ago.
“My full-time job is to make sure my agents are happy,” she said. “I even got a life coach certification so I could be the best leader I could be for my agents.”
“For me and my agents, I want to talk to them about lead generation, but I also want to talk to them about creating boundaries and having a harmonious work and home life. That’s the key to success.”
Kennon has taken her “go-giver attitude” outside of the office by volunteering for multiple organizations including the North Little Rock and Benton Chambers of Commerce, the Women’s Council of Realtors, the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, and the Beverly Carter Foundation.
“Realtor safety is a really important thing to me, and I’ve gotten to be on the Beverly Carter Foundation board and volunteer with them,” she said. “So, I talk to my agents and anyone who will listen about Realtor safety.”
“Honestly, if I could have a full-time job volunteering and helping others, I’d do it,” she added.
In addition to helping local organizations, Kennon recently co-founded one of her own called ShiftHer, a mastermind model created for women who want to make changes in their personal and professional lives.
Within six months, ShiftHer has gained more than 1,600 followers and expanded to hosting live events throughout central Arkansas.
“It’s about a mindset shift,” Kennon said. “It’s about reading and working to make yourself better, whatever that means for you.”
In honor of Inman’s Agent Appreciation Month, we’re highlighting agents with extraordinary stories through a new series, Agent Plus. Do you know someone who should be highlighted for their work inside and outside of the office? Send your nominations to AgentPlus@inman.com.