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James Harris: “Divide, conquer and empower”

Divide, conquer and empower. To avoid burnout, you need to strategically divide and conquer all that makes your business run efficiently. It is vital to identify the strengths of each member of your business. This will elevate results while also creating a sense of empowerment and help avoid burnout. As a part of our series about […]


Divide, conquer and empower. To avoid burnout, you need to strategically divide and conquer all that makes your business run efficiently. It is vital to identify the strengths of each member of your business. This will elevate results while also creating a sense of empowerment and help avoid burnout.


As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing James Harris, Director at The Agency and Star on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing LA.

The perfect blend of British style and American drive, James Harris brings his charisma, intellect, and wit to the hit television show “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.” Harris is a Director at The Agency and alongside his business partner, David Parnes, they have sold over one billion dollars in real estate to date. James Harris specializes in high-end residential real estate and investment properties in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, Sunset Strip, Hollywood Hills, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Malibu and the greater Los Angeles region.


Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was born and raised in London, England, and from an early age, I was the guy who said school wasn’t for me. I wanted real-life experience. I started in the real estate industry at the age of 16 workings as an assistant in London. I worked my way up the ranks and was the number one salesperson after 8 months. I worked in residential for three years and then moved to commercial real estate where I worked for another two years. At the age of 21, I moved to Los Angeles where I started my real estate company a year later with my business partner, David Parnes.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

David and I have been friends since childhood and have now been in the real estate business for two and a half decades. Our mothers were actually partners in a London interior design firm. In 2009, we moved to California to feed our entrepreneurial spirit but also to enjoy the beautiful California lifestyle and climate.

We learned early on how to make it in Los Angeles. In any commission-only business where you write your own check you have no choice but to work hard and be creative. We arrived in Los Angeles without any contacts. David and I decided to target the luxury market. The challenge was we didn’t have any property listings or past sales to display.

We hit the streets of Bel Air and Beverly Hills cold-calling. Looking back at these early days, we were fearless because we had to be when we started knocking on doors and ringing bells at the front gates of estates. David and I would sit in the car and play rock, paper, scissors to see who had to knock on the next door. We would ask if we could leave our business card because we had a client who would buy their home sight unseen. Many said, ‘No,’ or didn’t answer, but others actually took our cards and called us back.

Looking back, it has been an incredible journey to say the least and we are so proud to have sold more than 1 billion dollars of real estate during our partnership and been a part of the incredible Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles cast. We have worked with amazing clients and broken a few records along the way. It’s really wonderful to look back and think of when we first met as children to where we are today.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We are really excited for the next season of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles to start airing on Bravo on May 26. There will be lots of amazing homes, great stories and lots of drama.

It’s an absolute joy to be on Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. We have such an amazing team we have worked with for many years that helps keep us organized and on task business wise during filming. And the cast and crew are fantastic and are very respectful of the fact that we work in the high-end real estate business that is fast-moving and client service is paramount.

What are your “Three things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

First, work harder than all of your competition. There is no other choice than to work really, really hard if you want to be successful. For us, real estate is a commission-only business where you write your own check. We alone are responsible for our success.

Second, invest in yourself. When we started, we never gave up and we dedicated time for personal and professional growth. Becoming successful is a lot of hard work, but if you are willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears, whatever you choose will be the best job in the world.

Third, be creative. One way we have been very creative is incorporating social media into our business and that has been very helpful for us. It is a wonderful way to connect with our clients, community and fans of the show. We post our active listings and sales on a daily basis and on occasion we post motivational and inspirational messages. We use the story feature to share press and show personal images and videos of our family life. Social media is a great outlet so people can get to know us personally while also keeping up with our business.

Most importantly, while we work really hard, we always remember to have a lot of fun along the way.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Divide, conquer and empower. To avoid burnout, you need to strategically divide and conquer all that makes your business run efficiently. It is vital to identify the strengths of each member of your business. This will elevate results while also creating a sense of empowerment and help avoid burnout.

We also always encourage and support our team to help motivate and continue to perform at the highest level possible. David and I operate our business like a family and are invested in each other and the overall success of our team. We spend countless hours together and try to have fun, while encouraging and supporting one another. As a team, we also celebrate each success. Our social media channels are a platform we use to toast to our team’s success alongside our followers and colleagues. We find that it’s important to support not only our team, but also our colleagues and their efforts. Organizing group bonding activities as often as possible has also helped us stay close and avoid the burn out from all the hard work that goes into our business.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The most inspiring movement I’d love to participate in is the changing of MINDSET. If we have a healthy mindset we can overcome just about anything.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

There are countless people I am grateful towards that have been with me on this journey. My two NUMBERS 1’s are my mother and my wife. My mum never gave up on me despite having a very difficult childhood and always believed in me and my ability to succeed. My wife has changed my life over the last 15 years in ways I cannot describe. From becoming sober to being a father, husband, and all-around better human being.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

Elon Musk — A creative genius and someone that was willing to challenge the rest of the world with his innovative ideas.

How can our readers follow you online?

@jamesbondst

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