You Have to be so Good People Can’t Ignore You. Our benchmark is to be the best in the world at what we do. At the end of the day we have to be so good, and bring so much value to the market and let our results speak so strongly for themselves that they can’t ignore us. Setting the bar up so high will give you an edge, because most people aren’t confident enough to show up and be the best.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathleen Black.
Kathleen Black is 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 lovely children Ethan and Ella, and their cat Ethel.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
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 tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
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’.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Ultimately, I went all in. I stood up for myself. The result of that pivotal moment saw my shares bought out, half of the client base following me to the new company based on the content I owned, and within a month and a half my client roster was full. Within three months, head down and determined, I had a client roster that occupied a second coach as well. Necessity and focus were the defining factors in my early success.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
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.
You do not build a business and stop. This is not a matter of completion. A business is a product of evolution and refinement into the ever-expanding nuance that is mastery. It never really ends, and you would not want it to.
A business on standstill is a business with downhill momentum.
New problems are good. The same problems are not so good. Your business will get to a point where it is bigger than you, but first, you need clarity on who you are and what you want, so you want to do what it takes.
That is the key here. You will need to get to a place where your energy is high, and you want to do what it takes to get it done. You want more time. You cannot imagine living this way two years from now. What about five or ten years from now? How does that vision feel? I am guessing not so good.
So, what are you willing to do about it today and why?
In the end, I stopped giving my ear to those who did not support me. I got really picky about who I would ask for advice and whose unwarranted advice I would no longer take.
I stopped caring about vanilla solutions in a world of rainbow ice cream. I prefer salted caramel gelato and a second scoop of pistachio served in Italy, thank you very much.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson 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 company’s 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.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our company stands out because we build strong businesses, in an industry that is often still relying on old methods and models, which are increasingly less and less effective.
We stand out because we actually track, and have a strategy that works to expand, where teams are making much more money than traditional brokerages and offering superior value, where team members are able to sell much more and have more time.
I think in an industry where we have all male top thought leaders, we stand out in being a female led team, but also a team that is committed to efficiency, productivity, and profitability, without looking at it as if it’s a bad name.
We bring a systematic, process driven approach which allows us to be more agile and to lean into technology changes, instead of fearing them.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Long days at the office along with constant work-related emails after hours can all contribute to workplace burnout.
But even without a physical office to go to, burnout can happen working from home, and it feels like it’s even more likely now due to the added stress of the coronavirus pandemic.
In order to not feel the burnout, I recommend following these four key steps.
- Get Strategic
If you start out strategically, with a strategic model, you will consider future needs for more time, relief, or somebody who can oversee parts of your business as you grow.
A strategic model will give you clarity and strategy. Once you get those two components, you need to be able to take your existing business to create a business structured to grow.
A strong strategic model will allow you to reinvest in the business in the right places to offer the top client experience to the public, while also reinvesting in your business platform.
2. Create your ‘Perfect Week’
We’re all living in a different reality right now, we’re not leaving the house, we have different people pulling on our time, and some people may have their kids at home with them, along with other distractions.
So how do you find the element to work this other aspect of life into your day to day when everything was running smoothly before?
You have to sit down and create your perfect week, not because you want to, but because you absolutely have to. You need to grab control of your life again, to do yourself and your business the ultimate favor, succeeding.
If we make every effort to live each week and begin each day trying to have the perfect day, it just might happen.
Life isn’t perfect, but the perfect week gives us a game plan to follow and guide us through our days.
3. Focus on your Non-Negotiables
When planning your days or weeks, make sure you take your non-negotiables into consideration. These are the things that no matter what is in your day’s plan, won’t change.
Now that we’re in a day and age where we’re having issues in regard to the many things that are being thrown at us on the daily, we will go into overwhelm.
Overwhelm can mean we’re snapping at our loved one’s, having skin reactions, feeling anxious, and more. Overwhelm makes us want to surrender, and take shelter, but unfortunately we cannot do that. We have to operate in this new normal.
By ensuring you’ve covered your non-negotiables, you’re ensuring that you can make sure your cup is filled and that you’re okay. When you’re okay, you will not be overwhelmed, you will be at 110% for your clients, loved ones and family.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
A lot of Real Estate agents overlook practicing the key steps in their sales process, like scripting and presentations, which puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with agents who are consistently practicing their materials.
It’s crucial to have a daily or weekly allotted time, where you can ensure the conversations you have with your clients are seamless and professional in every aspect.
Mastery is nuanced. To understand nuance, you must live among it, bathe in it, and breathe it. Mastery becomes the essence of us. We practice mastery without thinking.
This is when you successfully turn something that you consciously knew you didn’t know into something you know and, finally, into something you know unconsciously.
This is where you can present a presentation while focusing 100% on your client. The presentation no longer requires any mental bandwidth or conscious focus. Your body knows to have your finger click next on the laptop to move the slides without needing to look at the screen or visually assess which slide is next.
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.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
When I look at it the fact that our whole entire business is based on powering up people. It’s based on conscious living, it’s based on being advocates, advisors and consultants versus pushy sales people.
We help people 10 x and 20 x their businesses, but the most powerful thing we do is power up people to see their potential and they therefore do the same with their teams, their families and their communities.
The most important thing we do is mirror back to people how strong and capable they really are.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You Need to have Confidence in your Value
It’s very difficult as a leader to negotiate for yourself in general, but I think it’s very difficult without knowing yourself and knowing your strengths and weaknesses to actually garner what you’re worth in the market.
I wish I knew that I had to be unbelievably confident and relentlessly motivated to believe in myself and to believe in the services and products that we bring to the world.
2. You Have to Make Hard Decisions — That People Will Judge
I wish people had told me that being a strong leader doesn’t mean that everyone will agree with you.
For example, I’ve had to make decisions to stand up for myself, I’ve had people on my team try to compromise our business, and at the end of the day, the most important business decisions I’ve made, that anyone in my place would have made, were the most judged decisions I’ve ever made.
As a leader it’s okay to trust yourself.
3. You Don’t Have to Tell your Side of the Story
You don’t have to justify your actions, as long as you have good, clear intentions and you’re doing what you feel is right for the whole business in the long-term, the people who stay in that business will be stronger.
Business can be difficult, you have to make decisions that will help the future of your business. People management can be really tricky. At the end of the day I really believe that if someone is not a good fit for the business, if you don’t see them being a part of the business in five years, or the impact of their presence in the business will not support your vision, then it’s also not a positive fit for that person.
It’s more important to focus on where you’re going than to stay in the mud of any challenges that might come up.
4. You Have to be so Good People Can’t Ignore You
Our benchmark is to be the best in the world at what we do. At the end of the day we have to be so good, and bring so much value to the market and let our results speak so strongly for themselves that they can’t ignore us.
Setting the bar up so high will give you an edge, because most people aren’t confident enough to show up and be the best.
5. How Often People are Dishonest in Business
I wish someone told me how often people are not honest in business, that it’s more important to work with people who share the same values with you, than the opportunity on the table.
If you do business with people who you don’t believe in or you cannot trust, or your values don’t align with, you’re going to spend more time spinning your wheels, you’ll never be able to get to the opportunities or the growth.
I wish I had known that not everybody has great intentions in business, and that the old saying is true, people will say a lot, but very few people will show up and act on it.
Always watch what people do, before you listen to what they say.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
Conscious living. I think people who are conscious about who they are, their values, and what they’re bringing to the world are typically better parents, better team members, better community supporters, better people.
I find the ability to ‘do good’ is just more naturally present for people with a conscious mindset. If I can help people raise their consciousness and see their abilities and power, they will ultimately serve the world through their greater purpose with ease. If KBCC can have any influence on people leading themselves versus looking at others, that’s a win!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!