I remember the day I got the results of my real estate license exam in the mail. It was just a few weeks after I’d turned 18, and as I slid the single piece of paper out of the envelope from the Texas Real Estate Commission, it simply said: “Pass.”
I was looking out from my third-floor apartment balcony and felt like I was literally on the top of the world. After working at the Texas Association of Realtors throughout high school, I was convinced that I would soon become just as rich, as I assumed all the Realtors around me were.
Now that I’m 45, with full knowledge of what it really takes to make it in this business, I envy the hopeful, newbie energy you no doubt have. I encourage you to hold onto that excitement and hopefulness as long as possible. We can never be certain about the future except to know that challenges and adversity will come.
The Sept. 11 attacks on the United States happened 19 years ago. This means if you’re getting your license at 18, like I did, you are among the first group of agents who weren’t alive when our country was attacked.
Everyone just a few years older than you will have some memory of that time and an answer to the question — where were you when the planes hit the towers?
I was seven years into my career at that point and headed out on property tour, excited to be showing my personal home to fellow agents. I was certain they’d have a buyer for me right away. Sadly, no one saw the homes on tour that day. When we heard about the planes hitting the towers on the radio, we all went home in shock and stared at the news for hours on end.
All of this got me thinking about how much the industry you’re entering seems to have changed since then and how, when you strip away the noise, the most important factors that contribute to your success have not.
While you were growing up, not only did we navigate the uncertainty of the market after the terrorist attacks, we made it through the dot-com bust, several rounds of panic that the internet would disintermediate agents and the Great Recession.
We adapted as advertising and lead generation shifted to online platforms, and as consumers were flooded with more information about real estate than they ever needed. We learned to incorporate social media, and we even adapted to the ways reality TV has portrayed our work to the average consumer.
There’s no doubt the world has changed quite a bit since you were born, but there are five things that haven’t changed. If you focus on them now, you’ll build a solid foundation to support your career no matter what life throws at you in the future. Here’s what I’d tell myself if I were 18 today and starting my career.
1. Your primary job is to generate leads
It’s going to seem like working with the properties themselves and doing the work in a transaction is your job — but that’s an illusion. That stuff is the reward for doing your job well. Work on your primary job for a minimum of 60 minutes daily, and your reward will be listing and buyer representation agreements.
2. You must learn how to sell — on the phone and in person
The world is going to try to convince you that you can text your way into huge commissions. You cannot. People move because of major life changes — and those come with a lot of emotions.
Algorithms don’t do emotion, and emojis aren’t how you deal with real human feelings. So, it’s critical you learn how to sell. Selling is simply leading your clients to a place where they feel comfortable doing what they already know they want to do. Treat salesmanship with as much respect as you might have for accounting, medicine or law.
3. Use your marketing to drive people to your database
We say that on Sept. 11, our homeland was attacked. It’s such a dramatic event in our nation’s history because we normally have absolute control over our homeland. Conversely, our embassies around the world can be overrun at any time, and we always know this.
In your business, your website and your email list (your database) is your homeland equivalent. Everything outside of that — especially social media — are your embassies. You could lose control over them at any minute. When you advertise and use these platforms, drive people back to platforms you own — your homeland.
4. Learn the lifetime value of your relationships
Everyone in your database is a human who will provide for your continued success in any market if you remember one thing — people send referrals to you to help themselves, not you.
What I mean is, when you get a referral, it’s because the person who sent it thinks you’re going to do a good job, and then they get to be the hero for making the connection.
To maximize your relationships, it’s not enough to do a “good job” with the referral. You must perform so you enhance the reputation and social standing of the person who referred the client to you in the first place.
5. You must develop a success-based mindset
This is going to be work that lasts a lifetime. Once you make it past the “conquer the world” energy of your 20s, you’ll have a new set of issues crop up that will require you to dig deeper into your personal development.
Every decade after that will take you deeper. Don’t worry about this too much right now. Read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill at least once a year, and you’ll be as ready as you can be.
Now, take these five thoughts and go conquer the world. Become the top producer I know you can be.