Hiring smart is different than just hiring warm bodies to work. The process of actually hiring smart is difficult process and time consuming. But if you do it right, then you end up with the right people in place, doing the right job, and helping you achieve the right results for long-term success. My business cannot succeed to its fullest potential without my team. So, while I have to find the right talent, I also have to safeguard my team from the wrong talent, and sometimes that means having to fire. Firing an employee will always be difficult, but it can also be detrimental to the success of your team and your business. Having the wrong team member in place for too long will not only hurt the business, but hurt the team dynamic and culture you’ve worked so hard to create.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Angie Cole, owner of A Cole Realty. Angie Cole started her real estate firm, A Cole Realty, with one mission in mind: to stand out from the rest. Since opening in 2013, Angie has quickly grown her firm and made a name for herself as one of the top 10 real estate teams in Raleigh, N.C. Angie was named as one of the top 30 Under 30 Realtors in the country by Realtor magazine and has been featured on HGTV’s House Hunters.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I ventured into the world of real estate in 2007 with big dreams for what my career would evolve into. I had big plans for my career, but I couldn’t plan or prepare for was the looming crash of the real estate market that would catapult itself just a few short months after I earned my Realtor’s license.
On paper, many would say that becoming a Realtor at the height of the Great Recession was a terrible mistake. I’d argue the complete opposite. Sounds crazy, right? I know. But it was a gift. Entering real estate during the Great Recession was actually perfect timing.
Joining in such a difficult market never gave me the chance to puff my chest with confidence. It never gave me the chance to walk in on a high and expect success to follow. I wasn’t directly impacted by the market crash because I had never experienced the easy highs my colleagues had become accustomed to.
From day one, all I knew was that to win, I would have to hustle. To succeed in this career I’d chosen, I would have to put long and hard hours in, if I wanted the results I planned for. The market crash gave me added focus and drive to work diligently for every sale that came my way; to focus on building authentic relationships; and to think outside of the box for every client.
I had nowhere to go but up, and that’s exactly what I did. For three years I worked in new home sales, and then transitioned into general brokerage as a buyer’s specialist before I ventured out on my own.
Why did you found your company?
I first ran my own realty team under the nationally recognized brand of Keller Williams. By all traditional standards, I was successful. I could have easily stayed in that comfort zone and done exceedingly well for myself, but I wanted more. In 2016, I made the decision to bet on myself and part ways with my lucrative career to succeed on my own terms.
The decision to start my own firm really happened as a light bulb moment for me. Each year, I would host a retreat for my team. It was a chance for us to reset, analyze our previous year’s performance and prepare for the upcoming year. It was during our November 2015 retreat that I realized that every success, achievement and moment of growth celebrated was because of us as individuals, not because of the national backing of a household brand. Our clients were choosing to work with us because of the same brand we’d eventually carved out for ourselves, A Cole Realty.
That moment was all the convincing I needed. I knew that we no longer needed a national brand behind us, and with that I cut ties with my comfort zone and launched A Cole Realty as its own real estate firm.
Betting on myself, and my team, is the best thing I could have ever done for my professional career and personal life. Since we started, we are growing an average of 27 percent each year, and have gone from a single-agent team to a team of 12.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Breaking up with a national brand is a disruption in and of itself. There’s no cushion or comfort to rest on when you give up being powered by a household name. But even since going out on my own with my own firm, the disruption is still taking place.
In 2018, I decided to step out of day-to-day production. I now work solely from a management and mentor perspective for my team, which is uncommon in real estate. The transition has allowed me to be home with my newborn more, all while running a team that’s ranked in the top one percent nationally.
It proves that you can be a successful business owner in today’s highly saturated market, be an amazing wife and a mother to an 11 year old and five-month-old, and have a team who excels at achieving its goals, standing out amongst the competition and has fun while doing it.
I don’t believe you have to settle for having some of what you want in life. You can have it all — you just have to know the right way to get there.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
There have been several colleagues like Ginger Vereen and Jenni Comer who have impacted my life over the years, but having a go-to mentor has been one of the most important elements of my professional career. Wayne Salmans has been that person for me — serving as a real estate coach, mentor and friend. He has helped grow and guide me professionally and personally.
He’s not a mentor that just wears the label. He is actively involved in my growth and development. Our weekly phone calls are positive, motivating and help me to reflect on what I have done, and where I need to go next. With each call I walk away with a list of next steps and tasks, and those action items have helped me to continuously grow my business week by week. Great mentors do more than just impact one individual — they cause a ripple effect. Wayne’s leadership and guidance have done just that, helping me become a better mentor and coach to my own team.
How are you going to shake things up next?
My real estate firm is based in one of the fastest growing cities in the US — Raleigh, N.C. With nearly 200 people moving to Raleigh on a daily basis, the real estate market is highly competitive. Our focus is to continue to perform great work, but to unveil new and innovative elements of our brand to the market.
While client referrals will always be a leading driver of our business, we also place significant value on the brand awareness and recognition we hold in the market. We have big plans in the comings months to show the market the essence of our brand in ways that inspire and engage people to think differently about the Realtor they choose to work with.
Can you share the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Be slow to hire and quick to fire. It sounds harsh, but it’s the best advice I ever received. Hiring smart is different than just hiring warm bodies to work. The process of actually hiring smart is difficult process and time consuming. But if you do it right, then you end up with the right people in place, doing the right job, and helping you achieve the right results for long-term success.
My business cannot succeed to its fullest potential without my team. So, while I have to find the right talent, I also have to safeguard my team from the wrong talent, and sometimes that means having to fire. Firing an employee will always be difficult, but it can also be detrimental to the success of your team and your business. Having the wrong team member in place for too long will not only hurt the business, but hurt the team dynamic and culture you’ve worked so hard to create.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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? He or she might see this.
If I was going to lunch with anyone, it would have to be the real estate stars behind Million Dollar Listing — Fredrik Eklund and Ryan Serhant. Admitting that, means the world now knows my love for reality television. But these two stars exude what it means to love what you do and have fun doing it. They have become real estate giants while still raising children. That balance is so important to me, and I would love to connect with others who feel the same.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!