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Rayni Williams and Dawn McKenna are both high-earning luxury brokers — but their success didn’t come about by chance.

Dawn McKenna | Coldwell Banker

Williams and McKenna shared their secrets for success with Inman Connect attendees during a session called “Essentials for Getting Ahead in 2021” moderated by Katie Kossev on Thursday.

McKenna explained that knowing her strengths was crucial to her getting off her feet as a new agent.

“Before I even had my first listing, I hired an assistant,” McKenna said.

With an assistant to focus on things like the website and executing details on the management side of her business, McKenna could focus on what she was good at, like connecting with her clients and staging homes.

Williams had a similar story to tell, in that when she first paired up with her business partner (now-husband Branden Williams), she knew it was a good fit because they had different strengths that complemented one another.

Rayni Williams | Williams & Williams Estates

“My key to my success is really, like Dawn said, knowing your strengths,” Williams said.

Williams also said that staying organized in all aspects of her business and life has also been a crucial part of getting where she is today.

“When you organize your life and your thoughts and you really come up with a business plan, you can see where you’re going, and you can see your weaknesses,” Williams said.

With all that success, Kossev wondered how the women managed to maintain work-life balance — do they ever, for instance, take a vacation?

The answer: Not really.

“The pitfall that I always see with Realtors is, they don’t want to invest in themselves,” through their mental well-being, exercise or spending money on an assistant or a videographer, McKenna said.

“I love the rush of the deal. I’m so passionate about that, but at the end of the day, I take an Epsom salt bath,” McKenna added. “It’s my moment to relax. I feel like it gets all the toxins out and it gives me 15 minutes of breathing time.”

Katie Kossev

Williams said she and her husband’s method of maintaining balance in their lives is by making sure real estate is a core component of every aspect of their lives, while also remembering to incorporating healthy practices into their daily routine, like eating well and abstaining from alcohol.

“We personally take health very seriously,” Williams said. “We are very focused. However, people always ask me if I have a balanced life and I say, ‘I eat, sleep, and breathe real estate, and that’s what’s made us leaders in our field.'”

Williams noted that she and her husband didn’t take a vacation for the first five years of their business, and don’t have a regular practice of taking one.

“Go to a movie, [hit the] refresh button, and go back [to work],” Williams said. “If you don’t work 24/7, you’re just not going to be great.”

“I don’t know that [balance is] achievable if you’re trying to be the best,” she added.

Another key point both brokers mentioned was to forget about counting the commission.

“I think the reason I was so successful is that I wasn’t calculating my commission,” McKenna said. “I don’t care about that. I’m not saying I never think about it, but I was passionate, and authentic, and I did what my clients asked me to do. I never ever did something for somebody because it benefited me first.”

“I never count my commission, we never have,” Williams added. “When you put the needs of your client first, it feels really good.”

Williams said that part of her philosophy as a Realtor stems from her grandparents immigrating from Italy to the U.S. with hopes for a new life.

“To be 24/7, you can’t just be a Realtor,” Williams said. “We are advisors. That reminds me of my grandparents building the American dream coming from Italy. You never want to lead from your pocketbook — you want to lead from integrity.”

As young agents, Williams and her husband had a chance encounter with Larry King at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which led to them approaching French singer Johnny Hallyday as a potential client once King pointed him out to the couple.

“It happened to be Johnny Hallyday who was the ‘Elvis of France’ at the time,” Williams said. “We just thought they were foreigners that were visiting, and we wanted to help them. And when you want to help people, the business comes, the money comes.”

Email Lillian Dickerson

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