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.
As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, 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 loved children Ethan and Ella, and their cat Ethel.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
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 briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?
Some people are born entrepreneurs, and I would say I fit into that criteria. There are always early signs: The proverbial lemonade stand, an innate youthful rebelliousness, a way of seeing things differently, and an early discovery of the power to manifest.
I knew as an 8th grader that I could manifest whatever I envisioned. Every milestone I reach comes from an inspired flow state — a practice of inner work I leverage now as one of Canada’s leading Real Estate Coaches and Trainers, delivering my proven success techniques to Agents and Teams across North America.
I have never done things the easy way. I had a tumultuous childhood that culminated in me leaving my home while still in high school. I self-funded my university education and completed it as a new mother.
I saw a need for more women voices in a female dominated industry (Real Estate), where there were predominately men being highlighted.
The more that we show and highlight women in these professions and positions, more women will follow them to lead successful careers.
We can have a landslide of valuable women, but if we don’t learn to listen to and respect their voices as valuable, then is it going to matter in the end? Women leaders are only as valuable as the people they serve are open to hearing value from them and other different perspectives.
At the end of the day you have to be committed to getting there, and even though the disparity is there, in most industries, the top 10 percent of performers or skill sets, the disparity is almost invisible.
You have to be so good that people can’t ignore you, and that is what I chose. I wanted it to cost others more by ignoring me. I chose to build and offer results so good that they spoke for themselves.
We all have a simple choice, to plant and nurture seeds with our focus and determination, or to attempt to will ourselves through ceilings and obstacles. I built my own stages to house our message, network, and results. we do not need to play in broken houses, when you can build your own.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Every single time someone has tried to harm my career or damage my business, it has always led us to better opportunities.
When I thought I was going to lose my first coaching business, it actually led to working with higher caliber people, which further expanded the business.
The interesting thing in my journey has been that at the beginning of my career as a coach, I never had the support of the big Real Estate boards, or conferences and ironically, it drove me to create and hold my own events without relying on other people.
In the end it actually gave me an edge, because I didn’t have to rely on support that other people were getting. Even though it was more difficult to get there, it made me and my company stronger in the end.
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.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different from a typical leader? How is a thought leader different from an influencer?
I define a thought leader as an individual that is recognized as an authority in a specific field, and whose expertise is important and recognizable.
Thought leadership is commonly discussed in the business world, sounds like another overused corporate buzzword. But behind the word, are honest and admirable leaders, who are viewed as credible industry experts.
Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?
There are many benefits of becoming a thought leader, but the most important in my opinion is to diversify the industry in which you’re in.
For example, in the Real Estate industry, we have all male top thought leaders, and my company, Kathleen Black Coaching & Consulting, stands 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 rise above and diversify this industry to fit our narrative, and to allow our stories to be told, from our perspectives. This is why it’s worthwhile for me to invest my resources and energy into this.
Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?
As I mentioned above, I’m the CEO and founder of my company, Kathleen Black Coaching & Consulting. By being a thought leader in my industry, I show me and my company’s capabilities and expertise.
We get business from everywhere, and one of those crucial opportunities are my speaking engagements. When someone sits front row, and watches you teach them the things they need to know in order to create a successful business in the Real Estate industry, why would they think twice about pivoting their own business, while coaching with you?
Being a thought leader allows you to make connections with your audience, who will later become your clients due to all of the knowledge and experience you care to share with them.
Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.
1. Stand on your own
Be comfortable with the idea of standing in a dark room, with nobody around you, by yourself. The people you thought were standing with you may not truly be there. My willingness to leverage myself and risk everything is the purest example of this.
From a spiritual standpoint, I believe I am meant to perform service to people in sales-based functions. I cannot afford, either spiritually or financially, to be distracted from my greater purpose. The trials and tribulations in the business along the way, I believe, serve only to remind me that I’m strong enough, and that my intentions are pure enough to overcome them, and that they existed to educate me and enrich our offering to our clients.
3. Plant the seeds without expectation
In the tarot world, they call it the fool’s card. Many would suggest that if anybody knew what was going to be involved in overcoming all of the obstacles that stood in the way of our current place, that only a fool would knowingly choose the path I did. I made a conscious decision that whether it took 2, 5 or 10 years, that’s where I was going. Ironically, every time I have made the commitment the results typically materialize faster than hoped.
4. 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.
5. 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.
In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach?
Glennon Doyle has had a very deep impact on my thinking. I have such an affinity for her values and the need for relentless leadership.
Her message is to stand-up unapologetically and build what you’re meant to build. It’s also inspiring to me that she works on the ground with charities to get average donations of 25 dollars. Glennon founded Together Rising as an expression of her belief that the surest way to lift a family or community is to lift one woman at a time — that when a woman rises, she brings her people up with her. Her charity initiatives are incredibly inspiring and life changing.
I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?
When someone else calls a person a “thought leader,” I think that’s amazing. But I am cautious around people who claim to be thought leaders themselves, it’s a heavy title that can be easily used for anyone who deems themselves fit.
What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
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.
1 . 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.
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. 🙂
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!
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.
We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Glennon Doyle’s most recent book ‘Untamed’ has had a very deep impact on my thinking. I can honestly say that I have never read a book that I could relate to such an extent. I felt like I could have written that book. I have such an affinity for her values and the need for relentless leadership.
Her book demonstrates such a remarkable message to stand-up unapologetically and build what you’re meant to build.
Her book has been a treasure to me because it’s allowed me to feel less lonely, some people say that alpha women don’t travel in packs, but I’m lucky to have an amazing leadership team and I would never get anything done without them.
It’s also inspiring to me that she works on the ground with charities to get average donations of 25 dollars. Glennon founded Together Rising as an expression of her belief that the surest way to lift a family or community is to lift one woman at a time — that when a woman rises, she brings her people up with her. Her charity initiatives are incredibly inspiring and life changing.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.