Community//

Kathleen Black: “Have a Clear but Adaptable Vision”

Have a Clear but Adaptable Vision. Know where you’re going, but allow yourself to be agile and update your plan as needed. Always let your team know in advance. People are pivoting fast, using their adaptability skills. If you sit around and wait for change, you’re losing the momentum you can build now, and you won’t […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Have a Clear but Adaptable Vision. Know where you’re going, but allow yourself to be agile and update your plan as needed. Always let your team know in advance.

People are pivoting fast, using their adaptability skills. If you sit around and wait for change, you’re losing the momentum you can build now, and you won’t be prepared for the potential market change once this is all over. We all have the ability to change and develop right now.


As part of my series about the “How Businesses Pivot and Stay Relevant In The Face of Disruptive Technologies”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathleen Black, one of North America’s leading team coaches and trainers, delivering her proven success techniques to agents and teams around the world. That growth is worth billions in additional sales volume annually across her client network with 80% of her clients being national top 1% producers. Kathleen, the best-selling author of “The Top 1% Life”, will help you to expand your business, at a fraction of the time and cost, using the tried, tested, and true “KBCC Ultimate Expansion Strategy” that has powered her client growth into the most efficient, productive, and profitable teams in the world, powered by performance cultures.

The success of KBCC centers around integrity, honesty, and results-driven measures, the very things that represent Kathleen. Kathleen has been named twice Top 100 Elite Women Driving the Future of Real Estate by REP Magazine and Top 20 Emerging Leaders by T3 Sixty’s Swanepoel Report. She was recognized within the top 1% of Realtors in the Toronto Real Estate Board, has ten plus years, over 20,000 hours personally, of agent development experience, and hundreds of teams attribute their growth and success to Kathleen’s leadership.

Kathleen is also the driving-force behind the Ultimate Team Summit, the largest team specific Real Estate summit in North America and the Ultimate Mastermind Series of events, including the 100 Deal + Ultimate Mastermind. Recently recognized as a Global Leader Making the World a Better Place by the Women’s Economic Forum.

Kathleen lives in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada with her two free spirited, independent, and very loved children Ethan and Ella, and their cat Ethel.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Beginning my career as a RE/MAX Real Estate Agent and working my way to being recognized within the top 1% of Realtors in both the Durham Region and on the Toronto Real Estate Board, many would agree that this level of success is the pinnacle achievement amongst their peers; but for me it was only the beginning.

Identifying the need, I set out to work on further developing the systems and platform of educational programs and coaching methods to which I attributed her own professional and personal success.

With the launch of KBCC in 2015 and building upon my 10+ years of Team and Agent development and guidance, hundreds of teams (80% of which are top 1% producers) have attributed their growth and success to my integrity, honesty and results driven leadership directly or through one of my coaching programs.

I was selling real estate as a busy single mom of two children and I had done a lot of content and systems development with a look to creating better work life balance.

The team I worked with was creating a coaching company and I had a background in psychology, so it just seemed like a natural fit to try to become involved.

That coaching company found itself in some challenging territory in its early days and there were differing opinions within the ownership as to how it should be resolved.

This ultimately resulted in the departure of the director of coaching and I was given the opportunity to step into that role within 18 months of the company going live. I had been a coach for just under one year at that point.

It was really a chain of complicated events that led to a great opportunity for me.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

An example that I give often is I used to mentor, coach and train while I was relatively new to selling, so I often had someone shadowing me.

I ended up realizing a couple of years into it when I left a buyer presentation, which I would sign 98 per cent of, with one of my mentees, when she told me that she had seen me present my buyer consultations many times, and that she had learned so much, but the logo on the powerpoint said ‘Your Team Name Here”.

I didn’t even realize that for two years I had been using my coaching companies version of my buyer consultation and it didn’t even have our team logo on it, and yet I was still signing 98 per cent of all consultations I sat down in front of and attended.

When building a business it’s really easy to say you need the perfect brand, but in reality what you need are the clients.

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? Can you share a story?

I don’t think there has ever been one person. A lot of my opportunities actually came from overcoming challenges, so some of the people who gave me some of the opportunities I had are also people who presented massive challenges for me and my career.

At the end of the day, it’s relying on great mentorship, there’s not only one person I can name.

There were definitely brokers who gave me great advice and now we’ve built programs in place that we’ve created together, like Paul Baron from The #1 Century 21 Brokerage for the country, C21 Leading Edge in Canada.

I’m grateful for our team, I have an amazing group of people who support me and there’s no way I would be able to do what I do without them.

We have a collaborative leadership team who are very entrepreneurial, and who take ownership over what needs to happen. It’s very collaborative without a director style delegation, everyone owns their portion of the business. That is how we thrive.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

When our company started, our vision was to help busy entrepreneurs, who were largely in the sales industry, carve out a business that had the structure necessary to give them the freedom they wanted.

We found that a lot of entrepreneurs feel structure is restrictive, when in fact it gives them the path they need to give them the ability to leverage and scale so that they can have a successful business and life.

At the end of the day, what we found, was that we had to empower people in order for them to take empowered action, which is vital to create a structured business.

The purpose of our company is to power up people so they can build the businesses and lives that they are capable of leading, that they don’t choose to build until they approach it with a higher level of consciousness and confidence.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you tell our readers a bit about what your business does? How do you help people?

Our mission at Kathleen Black Coaching & Consulting is to empower leaders with the clarity and confidence to implement the most efficient, productive, and profitable team expansion systems in the world. We work with clients to house these best in class KBCC tools, built on the principles of a performance environment, powered by purpose, passion, and guiding principles, consistently achieving Top 1% results, PRESENTLY WORTH BILLIONS IN SALES GROWTH ANNUALLY.

We find it integral to model success, by providing clients access to the top business expansion experts, we connect them with our team model of honouring diverse personalities, perspectives, and leveraging the GENIUS expertise in others. This allows us to support client growth faster, with a lower rate or error, and less wasted resources for everyone involved.

Which technological innovation has encroached or disrupted your industry? Can you explain why this has been disruptive?

The real estate and property management industries are uniquely positioned to benefit from big data. The more data we have, the more data-driven decisions we can make.

It allows us to have more control over our businesses and the decisions we make in regards to it, more than ever.

What did you do to pivot as a result of this disruption?

One of the most important things that we can do is encourage our ears to listen for value and find data driven tangible results.

In Real Estate we build our businesses by being outgoing and networking with others, but we expand our businesses into actual efficient, productive, profitable models based on data, strategies and results.

If we look more to what’s working and what’s making a difference, and put that on our stages, instead of what’s political and who’s your friend, I think we’ll be able to encourage a lot more women into sharing their leadership.

We bring a systematic, process driven approach which allows us to be more agile and to lean into technology changes, instead of fearing them.

Was there a specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path? If yes, we’d love to hear the story.

I moved on from Director of Coaching to Director of Operations in a relatively short time and became half owner of the company with access and full decision-making authority. At that time the books were opened to me and it was instantly evident that the company was in quite a bit of financial difficulty. I played a significant role in turning the company around. I led the clearing of about 180k dollars in debt and revamped the majority of the content which led to considerably stronger client retention.

As things were turning around, my (largely silent) partner decided they wanted to go in a different direction professionally. I was presented with some difficult questions; ‘Is this who I am, can I look at my children in the face with integrity if I don’t stand up and defend what I have built, what will I do if I don’t do this’. I remember fear. I remember the reality of having bills to pay. I also remembered some great advice I had been given; ‘If you really believe in it, bet your house on it’.

So, how are things going with this new direction?

When our company started, our vision was to help busy entrepreneurs, who were largely in the sales industry, carve out a business that had the structure necessary to give them the freedom they wanted.

We found that a lot of entrepreneurs feel structure is restrictive, when in fact it gives them the path they need to give them the ability to leverage and scale so that they can have a successful business and life.

At the end of the day, what we found, was that we had to empower people in order for them to take empowered action, which is vital to create a structured business.

The purpose of our company is to power up people so they can build the businesses and lives that they are capable of leading, that they don’t choose to build until they approach it with a higher level of consciousness and confidence.

I’m grateful for our team, I have an amazing group of people who support me and there’s no way I would be able to do what I do without them.

We have a collaborative leadership team who are very entrepreneurial, and who take ownership over what needs to happen. It’s very collaborative without a director style delegation, everyone owns their portion of the business. That is how we thrive.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this pivot?

We’re always expanding. We’ve currently been expanding our resources to help people obviously during the COVID-19 pandemic, to suit their needs of moving remotely.

But COVID-19 has definitely given another reason for top producers to build systematic process driven businesses, where clients get a higher level of services and the team or brokerage have a more organized way to conduct more business and transactions, while also having a life.

Our focus is on making sure the teams and brokerages that we support have a quality of life, to enhance their lifestyles in order to sell more homes. Our systems are allowing them to hit two very important goals at once.

We’re also expanding our services globally, by building systematically, we’re offering teams 16% higher profit margins than a typical team model would. Having agents on the top teams using our models sell 10 to 20 times the average transactions on most of their local Real Estate boards. Additionally, we’re aiding them in converting at up to 7 times higher when they get to our advanced conversion systems.

We’re really committed to helping our agents build the most efficient, productive and profitable teams in the world. Why would agents follow another path and journey when we’ve already created this path with a predictable track record with our agents?

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during a disruptive period?

The most critical role of a leader during a disruptive period is hands down to be responsive. They need to look at the facts and the data around them that forces these leaders to look at their opportunities and be strategic. This is vital for any leader during uncertainty.

When the majority of leaders are being reactive, emotional and going into scarcity mode, the best leaders always walk out in a storm, with their people, even if they don’t have all of the answers, they’ll be transparent that they don’t have all their answers, but they’ll also be present.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

When the future seems uncertain, it is actually the best time to create the future.

The best way to boost morale, is to make sure that you are so clear on how to strategically give value to your clients so your clarity is contagious. When businesses are in difficulty they need clear, strategic actions, you have to have a vision of what matters and how you can make it work.

Hope in the future creates power in the present, we have to understand why what we’re doing matters and how to translate it to leaders, who are then going to translate it to their teams.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make when faced with a disruptive technology? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

  1. To Lack Clarity on Cost VS Investments.

You’ll see when people hit difficult times, they will think they’re cutting all costs when in fact, they are cutting investments which are the key elements that bring value to the business. Not only are they tying their hands during a difficult time, they’re actually cutting their future gross earnings because they’re taking away their ability to create services or sales.

2. To Allow Yourself to Focus on What you Can’t Control

All great leaders will be relentlessly focused on what they can control, make an impact on, and have influence over. We cannot be strategic, or lead from worst case scenarios. We need to be realistic when our action and our power is focusing on influence and control.

3. Highest and Best Use of Time

I see a lot of leaders trying to do what they were doing before, or telling themselves that what they are doing can’t be impactful, but we have to look at the amount of time we have and the highest and best use of that time.

We have to be able to hyper prioritize our resources and that includes our energy, our time and our money.

Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to pivot and stay relevant in the face of disruptive technologies? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Have a Strategy

We need to have clarity on our key sources of business, how we can become more efficient, and cut through to the best use of our time and our investments, while focusing on our skillset.

During a tough market is when our skills will be forged in the fire. You will find that you’ll have people who accelerate and are much stronger in sales or service during a turbulent market because we have less opportunities and are more open to sharpening the axe.

The best leaders are not scared to set clear and straightforward expectations, even in difficult situations. They know their team is stronger when everyone is on board, and they’re not willing to have a weaker link take them out.

2. Have a Clear but Adaptable Vision

Know where you’re going, but allow yourself to be agile and update your plan as needed. Always let your team know in advance.

People are pivoting fast, using their adaptability skills. If you sit around and wait for change, you’re losing the momentum you can build now, and you won’t be prepared for the potential market change once this is all over.

We all have the ability to change and develop right now.

3. Make Changes

We have these hubs of powerful teams that have resources, leverage and the ability to be agile and make very quick changes that are positive to the industry.

They make these changes without facing the same bureaucracy or old school leadership that some brokerage models still face, that have really caused them, in some areas, to become redundant.

4. Your Mentality

Our ability to move from a sales mentality to an advocate/consultant professional mentality in teams and those in face-to-face selling has never been so important.

If we can shift the basis of our business, we shift the way that we think and how we operate as people, and to me that’s an extremely exciting opportunity right now to carve out positive change in the world. I believe our network is doing that and that the Top 1% of Real Estate are a new wave of entrepreneurs creating a technological and sustainable business model. They’re coming with an abundance mentality to change our industry for the better.

5. Work with What’s Working

With our model, if you’re building a team with us, an average competing brokerage will have to sell 1,500 homes while you’ll only have to sell 114 for the exact same cash flow to come in, after the agent portion is made.

As opposed to people taught with methods that are not working, but were working with lesser models. The Real Estate market used to be a one level market, it was between the brokers or agent and the buyers or sellers. The complexity of the current Real Estate market is far more complex than it used to be.

We’re still approaching this business with a one dimensional mentality that is not serving us and doesn’t make sense because it’s irrelevant.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favourite life lesson quote is something that I’ve heard in my head since I was very young and that’s “You’re built to win”, and when you believe that, when things get hard, you’re going to lean in and really win or learn, so either way you win overall.

Some of my most devastating losses in life and in business catapulted me forward ten times more than I could have ever gotten without them.

‘I was built to win”, allows me to see things in my favour as I’m working in a place of abundance and I’m trying to see myself in the world.

I’ll always try to be better because I want to do good here and I want to have the resources in order to be and do good.

I need a strong business in order to make the changes and impact I want to make for myself and in order to contribute and have a positive impact with as many people as possible.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathleen-black-4811a052/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathleenBlackCoaching/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kathleenblackcoaching/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kbccoaching

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Kathleen Black: 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team

by Ben Ari
Community//

Kathleen Black: “You need to know where you’re going”

by Ben Ari
Community//

Kathleen Black: “Conscious living”

by Fotis Georgiadis
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.