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“Learn to take control of your calendar”, With Jason Hartman & Brenda Cole

A lesson that I wish I would’ve been taught day one of my Real Estate career is how to take control of my calendar. This is extremely important for agents to grasp early on as it’ll allow them to not be controlled by their clients’ calendars. The best way to implement this is with the […]

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A lesson that I wish I would’ve been taught day one of my Real Estate career is how to take control of my calendar. This is extremely important for agents to grasp early on as it’ll allow them to not be controlled by their clients’ calendars. The best way to implement this is with the correct verbiage by redirecting your clients with, “I’m sorry, I have an appointment at that time or I’m not available during that time. Is there another time that works best for you?” Almost always, this will result in finding an alternate time to meet. Using this language keeps your personal schedule private while still remaining professional especially since agents work non-traditional schedules. Imagine you respond by saying, “I can’t, I have dinner with my family during that time or something else going on.” This has the potential to lead your client to believe that they are not your top priority. The proper communication will help you maintain healthy client/agent boundaries.


As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brenda Cole.

Brenda Cole is a native Texan with 30+ years of Real Estate industry experience in the North Texas region, specializing in both residential and rural real estate. Brenda is the Owner and Broker within both the United Real Estate and United Country Real Estate branches of the United Real Estate Group network with a United Real Estate | DFW Properties office located in Grapevine as well as a United Country | Fort Worth office.

Brenda has deeply immersed herself into the industry within the Texas market and was named Broker/Manager/Executive of the Year Easterwood Bup Award Winner in 2019 from the MetroTexas Association of REALTORS®, REALTOR® of the Year in 2000 and served as Past President of the Northeast Tarrant County Association of REALTORS®.

For more information about Brenda and her teams, please visit UnitedRealEstateDFWProperties.com or UnitedCountryRealEstateFortWorth.com.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?

When I was in the process of building my first home, my REALTOR® mentioned that I’d be great in the business and encouraged me to contact her if I was ever interested in switching career paths. A few years later I thought about pursuing graduate school and as I was doing my research, I thought to myself, “Then what?” After thoroughly investigating getting my master’s degree, I decided to look into the requirements of getting my real estate license. The rest is history.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Within the last year, I was asked to oversee the Houston office location in conjunction with my Dallas Fort Worth office as we searched for a new broker. Being located in the DFW area, this meant long days traveling back and forth with early morning flights and being away from my offices more than normal. This opportunity lasted for about nine months and the biggest takeaway I learned from this experience was the importance of time management and face-to-face connection with my agents. As I quickly learned during my time as President of the Board for the Northeast Tarrant County Association of REALTORS® that a busy person gets things done. You have to prioritize your to-do’s, otherwise the items on your B or C lists will never get done. Without time management and organization, I wouldn’t have been able to stay afloat running both office locations. They are essential characteristics you must possess in this industry to be successful and ones that I mastered throughout this process. Although I was available to my DFW agents by call, text or email, they missed the face-to-face connection and feared that I would move to Houston as I was no longer in the office on a daily basis. This showed my agents and myself the value of that face-to-face interaction and how to better communicate when situations arise that limit this interaction, similar to the situation we are facing now. I’m thankful for the lessons this experience taught me, they are valuable skills that made me a better leader and great principles I try to instill in my agents.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m always in search of new projects to enhance my agents’ careers, anything from mastermind small groups for different levels of experience to implementing new marketing ideas. We’ve learned that when agents are new to a neighborhood, it does not mean they are new to the business of marketing. We are helping our agents with their marketing needs and elevating their brand awareness as they enter new and untapped local areas. This will provide agents assistance in creating business cards, logo designs, customized email signatures, open house flyers, property brochures and social media management.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The biggest differentiator that allows United to stand out from other companies is our company culture. We believe in agents first, office second and company third. Agent-first thinking starts with our amazing leadership team and incredible office staff. I do everything in my power to cultivate and foster a pathway to success for our agents to reach their career goals. This tiered approach to our company culture is the key to our success as our agents feel the continual support behind them which transcends to larger growth for the office and company as a whole.

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 about that?

The most integral person in my career success started with my first manager, boss, mentor and friend, Julie Choate. Julie taught me that the culture of your office is everything — to help your agents foster loyalty and a pride of belonging to an organization that cares. As part of Murrary Realtors at the time, she used to send out a weekly newsletter from “MOM” (Mother of Murrary) to cultivate that family-like culture. This was just one of the simplistic ways she integrated that nurturing, family-like culture into our everyday working environment so that we always felt cared for and supported. She led by example by always being there and being present for her agents. As I’ve mentioned above, I’ve taken this advice and way of leadership to heart and made it an imperative piece of the agent-centric culture I instill in my offices, staff and new agents. I make it a point to always be present and actively engaged in my agents’ careers so they feel supported and secure in their job.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?

I believe that women truly possess the innate qualities needed to be great REALTORS® on the day-to-day sales side of the industry. The women that I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to work with have truly embodied the characteristics of being nurturing, caring, sharing, patient, empathetic and compassionate women. I think most women enter into Real Estate attracted to the freedom and control of their schedule that the industry allows. I think some of the reasons there’s potentially not more women in senior level positions could be due to simply choosing not to move up — whether that be due to traveling constraints or not enough time with their families. At every level in every industry, there’s a different situation at hand that causes someone to not move up to a senior level position — I don’t necessarily think it has as much to do with gender but more so the situation and the place they are in their lives that would lead to that decision.

What 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?

At the individual level, I always ask my agents who they want to work with in order to create the best team environment. I’m always looking to hire great people regardless of gender, race or religion so if they feel our office has an imbalance, I encourage our agents to help us recruit and advocate for more people within their sphere of influence. This helps me create a team that best represents them and makes them feel proud to be a part of our company. In totality, I think individuals need to be less fixated on men vs. women and see everyone for who they are and the qualities they bring to the team and workplace. Similar to the individual mindset, I think companies need to hire people based on their ethics and character, not whether they fit a mold of male or female characteristics. This will allow companies to be more diverse in their culture and create a greater variety of what they can offer to their clients. At the society level, I think it’s important that Real Estate Associations hire the right individuals to be industry leaders, ones that exude not only gender equality but overall equality in all aspects of work and home life. This will help the Real Estate industry continue to be the progressive, gender-inclusive industry that I’ve experienced in my 30 years of being in the business.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Women tend to be categorized as “leading with emotion,” playing a large part in their decision making process which is often perceived as a weakness. Although, perceived as a weakness, I believe emotion-driven decision making and critical thinking can make women better executives in many ways. It gives them the ability to lead with empathy which helps in seeing all sides of the equation, allowing them to determine the best solution for their clients and members of their team. If this is embraced as a positive instead of a negative, I think it would help shift the mindset and alleviate some of the challenges women face in the industry.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?

I love my job and this industry! The thing that excites me most is the ability to be in control of your schedule and income. Even better, this applies to anyone who enters into Real Estate at any point in their life not just to the people who make the most amount of money or have been in business the longest. By allowing agents the ability to create their own schedule, you open up the industry to people from all walks of life including parents actively involved in their children’s lives, part-time agents or young entrepreneurs ready to kick start their career. This is what makes the Real Estate industry so unique and amazing to be a part of, especially in times of crisis or uncertainty in the economy. We’re blessed to be part of an industry that continues to keep the economy moving and potentially the largest financial decision an individual or family can make. At the end of the day, it always comes back to my agents because we wouldn’t be in business without them. I love seeing my agents flourish and the opportunity to celebrate their achievements with them creates a special bond and moment in time that we can all cherish together.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

The top three things that are the most concerning about the industry would be the lack of higher education requirements to receive a license, absentee brokers and outdated technology platforms. I believe there should be higher education requirements to obtain your agent and broker licenses. A way to improve this would be to implement a Broker Apprentice Program where a new agent must work under their broker for a certain period of time or on a certain number of deals before they go out on their own. I think this would alleviate the mindset that people think this is an easy part-time job to make extra money while giving new agents the tools to best succeed in their career by working under someone who has been in the business for a while. This is a competitive industry and it needs to be viewed and taken on with a career mindset. I think this type of program would keep brokers more engaged with their agents, allowing them to cultivate a more prosperous mentor relationship. In my opinion, absentee brokers not only hurt the overall company culture but also their agents’ careers. I always try to be there for my agents through their hardships and achievements and I think every agent deserves to have that support from their broker. This transcends well into my next point that I think brokers need to have more supervision and be more present in the day-to-day operations of their office. The role of a broker doesn’t mean you’re hands off, it’s quite the opposite as you should be more hands on with your agents providing them the support and direction they need to succeed. My final concern is that in my experience, I feel that the Real Estate industry as a whole is behind in their technology platforms whether it’s the local MLS, National Real Estate Boards and Associations or 3rd party listing sites. To be more advanced, I think the industry needs to push harder to integrate with new software as soon as new technology is released, not just locally but nationally as well.

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?

The advice that I would give to other leaders to help their teams thrive would be stressing the importance of communication, support and being present. If your agents feel supported, it will ultimately help them thrive in their careers. You must be present for your agents, they value face-to-face connection and without that they can start to feel lost and undervalued as if they are just a number in the company. It’s also important for leaders to stay informed and up-to-date on current laws, guidelines, contracts and industry-related news (mortgage, insurance, title, etc.) to be able to best inform their agents and network. My biggest piece of advice would be instilling a positive company culture as it plays a large role in your workplace environment. We operate under an “all hands on deck” mentality with no competition within our office, keeping the culture family-orientated and I believe it’s truly what allows our office to continue to grow and flourish.

Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

The top non-intuitive lessons to embody to be successful in Real Estate are taking control of your calendar and organizational tools as well as setting realistic expectations of financials and building your client database.

A lesson that I wish I would’ve been taught day one of my Real Estate career is how to take control of my calendar. This is extremely important for agents to grasp early on as it’ll allow them to not be controlled by their clients’ calendars. The best way to implement this is with the correct verbiage by redirecting your clients with, “I’m sorry, I have an appointment at that time or I’m not available during that time. Is there another time that works best for you?” Almost always, this will result in finding an alternate time to meet. Using this language keeps your personal schedule private while still remaining professional especially since agents work non-traditional schedules. Imagine you respond by saying, “I can’t, I have dinner with my family during that time or something else going on.” This has the potential to lead your client to believe that they are not your top priority. The proper communication will help you maintain healthy client/agent boundaries.

In conjunction with taking control of your calendar, it’s extremely important to stay organized in order to work smarter not harder. As a broker, I think it’s valuable to show new agents the systems and tools they have at their disposal to manage their contracts and listing presentations in advance so they are always ready for last minute meetings that pop up on their schedules. The proper time management and organization will help new agents make big strides early on in their careers.

A huge part of my job as a broker is setting realistic expectations with my new agents. Prior to onboarding any new agents, I have a discussion with them about their financial situation. It’s important that new agents are aware that if they don’t have a significant other, parent, small business loan or a year’s worth of income in savings to support them, it may not be the right time for them to embark on their Real Estate journey. Without this support, they could quickly find themselves upside down financially. Agents often hear from other brokers that they’ll make $100,000 their first year in Real Estate and I think that method of recruiting is ultimately setting them up for failure. While it can be done, it’s not the norm and not realistic unless you are selling in a multi-million dollar neighborhood or have a wealthy sphere of influence. Lastly, if agents take into consideration all of these factors and work hard with the tools they are given, around the third year in this industry is a realistic timeframe to expect referrals will start to come to you without having to seek them out. With the right mindset and expectations, I believe it will set agents up for great career success.

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

If I could inspire a movement, it would be that all agents are engrained with a mindset that is focused solely on the best interests of their clients during each transaction. It’s too easy for agents to lose sight of what’s important and put their wants before their clients’, quickly turning it into a competition. I see agents lose deals because of this all the time. If the buyer and seller have the same goal, as an agent you need to make that your goal and your priority, constantly keeping the best interest of your clients at the forefront of your mind. If agents were engrained with this mindset and surrounded by a broker, support system and fellow agents with this mindset, they would be set on a pathway for success. I believe the way to see this movement come to fruition is by eliminating the competitive mindset and everyone working together with a team mentality.

How can our readers follow you online?

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brendacole/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brendacole.dfw

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dfwbrecole

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!

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