“Teach a class; You master what you teach” With Jason Hartman & Leigh Bryant

Teach a class. You master what you teach. Ask in your real estate office or at your local chamber of commerce or in your personal networking groups to teach something. This could be a home-buying seminar or a real estate training class or maybe it’s just giving a talk to a group at an event […]

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Teach a class. You master what you teach. Ask in your real estate office or at your local chamber of commerce or in your personal networking groups to teach something. This could be a home-buying seminar or a real estate training class or maybe it’s just giving a talk to a group at an event about a real estate topic. Once you commit to speaking in front of others your desire to be liked and to be right shows up real strong again and you’ll study and prepare so much you’ll be on your way to mastering this material. Doing this over and over again is where the real magic happens!

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

Licensed in 1999, Leigh served as an individual agent for 10 years with Coldwell Banker. In 2010, post the 2007 real estate market decline, she joined Keller Williams and began growing a team. At this time, Leigh had 2 boys under the age of 4 and being an individual agent looked a little different in her world. Needing leverage and family/work balance, she hired an assistant and then a buyer’s agent. By 2015 her team, On The Move Charlotte, consisted of 3 producing agents which sold 74 units at $23M in volume allowing her the freedom to develop the Productivity Coaching program at a top ranked market center — SouthPark — in the Carolinas Region of KW. Her passion for helping others and her success in developing productive agents on a team now allows her the opportunity to excel in her current role as CEO and Director of Sales for On The Move. Growth in terms of agents, profit for the Team, and continued movement in the coaching and teaching sectors within real estate are just a part of her 2020 Vision!

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

Ibasically fell into real estate at a backyard cookout. It was really a “hold my beer” moment and my naïve self did not even know it at the time. I had taken a job with a marketing firm right out of college at age 21. It was a no to low growth opportunity and I quickly realized how long I would be at the level at which I was if I stayed. I was bored in my first summer in “the real world” and I had not yet learned that taking risks was a thing to be fearful of. At a backyard cookout of a dear friend I was introduced to a neighbor that owned a real estate firm who needed an office manager. Literally while drinking a beer we decided I would go to work for his growing real estate company. The firm found land for cell towers and I worked with telecom companies such as Alltel, Verizon, Sprint, Cricket, etc. This was in 1999–2000 when cell phone sales were spiking and services were at their peak of buildouts. After a short term gig as an office manager, I replaced myself, got my real estate license and I worked with landowners in NC and SC and offered them perpetual leases for 100×100 space on their, often, massive plots of land. I was like Santa Claus providing gifts and not many people had my job. Fast forward a couple of years — a lot of buildout had taken place, zoning was harder and harder to get passed due to health concerns around these towers and the signals they emit, and a lot of people had discovered how much money could be made doing what I was doing. Daresay I was getting bored again? So, I bought my first home in 2001 with the money I had earned and it hit me that I actually had a license to help people with residential purchases not just commercial land deals so I quickly made a switch. Attended one Career Night and that was that — yet another career move and risk. I still had not learned to be fearful!

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?

I have shown thousands of homes over the years and most are pretty straightforward experiences — vacant or staged or just fairly typical in some ways. One experience I will never forget is one day I was helping a brand new agent who had never shown homes before and she was having trouble with her Supra Key — the Realtor key designed to open lockboxes and allow access to homes. I met her at the house and we rang the doorbell and knocked loudly to no answer. As we walked in with her Buyers in tow the recliner in the den slowly turns around to reveal an elderly man in nothing but white briefs waking up from a nap. We apologized and left while he dressed. He did not seem to be nearly as embarrassed as we were. Lesson? Honestly — just knock louder and announce your presence in a bigger way that you may think you need to! This lesson flows into all aspects of our job. Also, just to be prepared for anything at any time and don’t take things so seriously. Be friendly and kind to any and all sides of the transaction or process because you never know when you are going to need that kindness returned.

Another story that makes me laugh is when a client fired me by sending me flowers! I had met an adorable young couple that was shopping for a home for the girlfriend to buy. We had really hit it off. I was not much older than them yet was a couple years into the business already and had been a homeowner myself for a while as well. This young lady’s mother came to visit and tour homes with us. The week after I had gotten engaged! Of course the couple noticed my new ring and during our tour my client asked me question after question about my engagement — clearly she was hoping her boyfriend would get the hint. Well, the following Monday I receive flowers at my office. And being newly engaged I of course am thinking that these are either congratulatory flowers from someone OR I love you flowers from my fiancé. They were neither, in fact, they were lovely flowers firing me from being their buyer’s agent because the mother of the young lady felt I would be too distracted to be of good service to her daughter. I slammed the flowers into the trashcan of the lobby of my office — raising many an eyebrow upon doing so. Lesson? In our profession, always, always make it about the client and their needs. Even when it’s perfectly reasonable to answer questions or share a story, very quickly lead the conversation back to how you can provide the best service to them! The customer may actually not always be right in our industry, yet they are always the most important person in the relationship and the best way to get ahead in this business to always put their needs first.

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

In a networking group that I am in I am on the Leadership Board and I am a facilitator for what we call a Mastermind. The networking group is called Business Sorority. It’s for female business owners and entrepreneurs. It is not a leads group. Quite the opposite. It is an empowerment and personal growth group that just so happens to breed business leads throughout the membership. The Mastermind group is a 5–6 month commitment to a meeting in which 4–6 women meet twice a month to get outside their comfort zones and focus on personal and business development. Some examples of the work done in this group includes a SWOT Analysis, a Vision Project, Goal Setting, Timeblocking, Relationship and Database Management, and what we call Hotseats. The format is a well-established environment of safety including a non-disclosure form so that what happens at Mastermind stays at Mastermind. I see women of all different walks of life and in all different forms of business become extremely vulnerable, break down their opportunities and threats and build them up in a completely new way. This helps women become better advocates for themselves and for others, it breeds confidence and self-esteem, it develops clarity for next steps, and it empowers women to radically accept who they are and to play to their strengths. It’s currently my favorite recurring event on my calendar. These women are awesome — I learn a ton by facilitating and coaching them through this Mastermind Series. This concept is growing into more steps — a Mastermind #2 and a Weekend Retreat option. Lots of exciting ways to take this idea and I’m enjoying digging into this.

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

My small company stands out because of how hard we work to make connections. We do have some leads that come from other referral sources other than sphere or personal referrals, yet not many. We focus solely on the relationship with the client and even that determines who on the team will be working with that client. Our commitment to the client is that we take ourselves out of the equation — we are not committed to the outcome of the situation for our financial benefit. We are focused on what they need, who can serve them the best, what is their ideal timeframe, and how can we go above and beyond to make that happen. We have developed a Vendor Network that we cultivate and connect as often as we possibly can. Our commitment to our vendors in this network is that we will advocate for them whenever possible. For example, in the multiple Facebook groups we are in, we will stop the scroll and answer a post for a referral all the time! We will interrupt a conversation if we overhear someone who has a need for a vendor. We will make connections — all the time!

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?

I have a few individuals that come to mind when asked this question. There are many leaders and friends and peers that have been amazing mentors to me. Perhaps that one that had the biggest impact on my own leadership style is the one that pushed me the hardest. The one that truly engrained what being accountable looks and feels like. This is not always a warm and cozy feeling by the way. Her name is Stefanie Scroggins. She was the Team Leader for my KW market center when I became the Productivity Coach. She could be intimidating, unfriendly, tough, abrupt, and downright pushy. I say all that now with love, believe it or not. She taught me things that I thought I already knew yet really did not. She taught me how to lead with candor not always with care. I fall into the category of individuals that like to be liked and like to be right. You cannot always be both of those things. I’ve never had trouble with the being right — I’m the first to apologize and take ownership when I am wrong about something. And, the being liked part was a harder habit for me to break. As a leader I no longer had the luxury of always being right. Once I made the decision to succeed through other people I had to hold them accountable for their activities, their truths, their habits, their desires. I had to learn to push them the way Stefanie pushed me. I still have a different style than she does, yet I respect her in a way that I really value and I feel I learned how to be worthy of respect because of her. I recently nominated her for a Best Mentor Award here in the City of Charlotte with a group called Pink Mentor Network. She won! Being able to nominate her, tell our story, and gift her this award meant the world to both of us. What a cool experience to share and it makes me realize what a long way I have come in my leadership journey.

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 woman 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?

Tradition. Most real estate companies really only have so far that you go in a leadership position and I agree that historically most of those spots have been held by men who achieve that level and stay there. I really see this trend changing year over year, however. Being in this industry for 20 years now and 10 years with Keller Williams, I am seeing a real shift in that trend especially within our Keller Williams brand both regionally and nationally. There are so many leadership positions within our company outside of a traditional Broker in Charge model. We have leaders in coaching, training, operations, executive administration, listing brokerage, buyer brokerage, operating partners, team leaders, team owners, regional leaders, etc, etc. With such a wide breadth of roles, more and more women are taking ownership in these positions. I believe this will change outside Keller Williams over the next decade as well. It’s changing at a high pace from my perspective and it’s really fun to watch!

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

I think that training, mentorship, and personal development opportunities are three extremely valuable things that can and should be done across all facets of our industry to support this gender gap. Women mentor women without even questioning it. I think that the more men that mentor women the sooner this gap will be closed. Now, I also feel strongly that women need to ask the men to be mentors and to have ownership in what that means to them. If they aren’t asked then the answer will always be no. Perhaps we are not giving the men in our industry enough of an opportunity to show up as a mentor. Personal development opportunities tend to have to be found outside the workplace in coaching, classes, masterminds, and network events, speakers, in society and outside the office. I feel that if more firms developed internal training, mentoring, and personal development opportunities then that would make a tremendous difference in the growth of leadership within our field — female and male yet probably the biggest impact on the females.

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

Family responsibilities. It sounds so old school yet I think it’s the biggest difference we still face in our generation. Once kids are in the picture then someone (in most cases) just has to pay a little more attention to the home front and have one foot closer to home than climbing that ladder. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not a feminist rant by any means. I think more and more a lot of double income families are finding a more true balance. In our personal situation, I was the one who stopped the ladder climbing once our boys came along and that was my decision to do so. My husband is super supportive and would have made any accommodations with childcare that I could have wanted to, however it was important to me that I stayed close. With the flexibility of my career I was able to make adjustments and hire different leverage at work that allowed me to remain active and relevant in my field while still giving me the time at home that I wanted.

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

  1. The lack of ceiling on income! Real estate creates an unlimited opportunity to make as much money as someone wants and it’s all dependent on how smart they work, how hard they work, and how many homes they sell. The more people that think of you when they think of real estate the more money you will make. Period.
  2. Freedom and flexibility. This is one that brings the most people into real estate and also the one that causes the majority of people to get out of it. The great equalizer is the amount of time we all have in a day. It’s the same. The successful ones in our industry are the ones that are disciplined and focus on their top 20% activities that will generate the most business. Sadly, 80% of agents that start this career flex themselves right out by not making the most of their time.
  3. Insider knowledge of a key investment opportunity. Real estate is such a great investment opportunity and agents who are active and connected often get first chance to purchase homes. Homes can be held for cash flow and appreciation or flipped or bought for vacation homes. The options are many and the potential for long term financial gain is great! Of course, I’m the risk taker in my household so of course I would feel this way! I’ve seen it work though — if done correctly then more often than not it’s a sure long term investment. I know many agents who buy a rental property per kid they have exclusively to pay for their college tuition.

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?

  1. iBuyer and decrease of hyper local property values. Even though I am an old dog in this industry, I do work very hard to stay on top of trends and all feasible scenarios for my buyers, sellers, and investors. There is certainly a time and a place for an iBuyer deal in every market. Zillow, OpenDoor, Offerpad, Purple Brick, etc, are all entering several markets all across the country. Phoenix and Charlotte are just as couple of the areas that have been starter markets for these companies. I can only really speak to my experience here in the Charlotte market and we have seen these tech companies come in and canvas certain areas where the price points are less than 275k. As an investment property homeowner I became personally aware of the way in which some of these firms canvas areas. It’s incessant! Flyers, phone calls, postcards, letters, text messages, the message was consistent and persistent — sell your home quick and for little to no hassle. It can be low hassle and it can be quick. It is a lower price than market value with fees that are many and often not visible from the outset. We priced selling our investment home with a tech company and we ended up selling traditionally on the market for 20% higher than the proposed sale price. If owner after owner in these neighborhoods that are priced at 275k or lower sell then my concern is that the overall value of these homes decreases in appreciation in a city where average appreciation is currently 4–7%. This hyper local decrease could have a drastic impact on the condition of the neighborhoods, the condition of the homes, and the condition of the homeowner’s ability to either keep or hold on to their homes.
  2. That the number of real estate agents is increasing and the number of average transactions a real estate agent does is decreasing. While this does not seem like a huge concern — after all one generally considers growth to be good right? My concern is specifically relating to the number of part time agents or agents that just do a few transactions a year. When I first started my real estate career two decades ago the real estate industry was often compared with the used car sales industry! At the time, that was not a compliment. This reputation has changed for the better year after year and the more agents we have that are not full time professionals or who are dual career agents means more opportunities for the customer to not receive top-notch, timely customer service, therefore potentially hurting the reputation of Realtors again and having a negative impact on our value proposition which can ultimately hurt our earning potential from a consumer perspective. Real estate is not a side hustle.
  3. Push to tax our commissions at the time of the transaction. Clearly we are a commission based pay system. We are independent contractors (in most states I believe this to be true). We pay taxes, we pay license fees, we pay for equipment, we pay for technology, we pay for any support staff we may have. Real estate can be a very expensive business to own and operate. Lobbyists are working hard to tax our fees at the time of the transaction which would have a huge, immediate, negative impact on our ability to earn a living. This would ultimately force agents to get creative in other ways to increase their income and we would see more retainer fees up front or increased commission rates. These creative changes would also impact our customer and client base which would also impact property values. It just is not an overall positive plan that supports the best interests of the homeowners across the country.

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

  1. Be Accountable. In all things, and most specifically in lead generation activities. Every real estate agent needs a coach. One of the classes that I teach has an entire section that focuses on accountability. Can you hold yourself accountable? Can your spouse hold you accountable? Can a co-worker hold you accountable? The key to a coach is someone who cares about you and can also have some real candor with you. Personally, I need accountability in most areas of my life — drinking water, exercise, date nights, prospecting for leads, suiting up and showing up in life really! Once I started welcoming and asking for accountability in my business especially is when positive habits really started to develop.
  2. Get a Profit and Loss Statement that you can understand and follow. Real estate is a business and as soon as I really embraced that concept and actually developed a working budget for my personal business and my team’s business I started making smarter purchasing decisions. For 18 years I “winged it” and made guesses about what to spend money on in regards to my business and my advertising. Thankfully, my gut was often right however it was not purposeful or impactful. I also did not know how to teach this skill to new agents or agents on my team so I was failing them as a leader by not being able to lead by example or teach the concept. Game. Changer.
  3. Go to every leadership class, seminar, talk, meetup, network group you can go to and never be the smartest person in the room when attending these. I have always been and always will be a learned based personality. Sometimes we can end up in a class as a prisoner or a vacationer — meaning someone told us we had to be there or we signed up to avoid the Lead Generation activities we know we need to do to move our business forward. I finally got wise to the idea of choosing what classes and seminars and webinars I would attend based on their topic and whether or not it was in alignment with where I was looking to go. Would it be relevant to me right now? If leadership was the topic I was 100% in if at all possible as I knew I would be surrounded by leaders in my industry at levels much higher than mine. I learned at Keller Williams to never be the smartest person in the room if you want massive growth in your income. Simply being around these leaders and seeing how they treat people, how they show up, the questions they ask, the way they answer questions. Observation is a class all by itself. A well respected master faculty member in Keller Williams coined a phrase that he teaches in every single class he teaches regardless of the title. KOOL. He always encourages his students to be Keen Observers Of Life. Having this mindset in rooms and classes and conversations where there are people smarter than you will increase your leadership skills faster. That will give you the confidence to have more sales conversations with more people and that is the best way to increase your profit and make more sales!

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?

Mirror and Matching Communication Skills. This is a skill that takes a lot of time to master, it is a skill to be consistently mindful of. Human beings want to be liked and they want to be right. When someone matches the way a person shows up in terms of volume of voice, mannerisms, stance, where their eyes go, the cadence with which they speak, they are immediately at ease. They get the feeling that they are liked and also right. With a simple exercise a salesperson can immediately gain an edge in the conversation. People do not always remember what you say they remember how you made them feel. Remember that saying? Well, this is the easiest and quickest way to accomplish this.

Preview Homes in the markets you desire to sell in. An agent must breath in the product they want to sell. We have a saying at Keller Williams — your cells eavesdrop on your thoughts. If you preview luxury homes, if you dress like a million dollar producer, if you open doors to high end properties your cells will start getting used to the idea. Surround yourself with the reality in which you want to exist. Train your thoughts to see yourself in this arena and the universe will conspire to get you there.

Again, get a business coach. This is not intuitive. This is purposefully getting uncomfortable. Coaching and choosing accountability is a decision. You can have a coach yet still not make the decision to be accountable. This will cause stress and frustration and quite possibly end whatever relationship this player –coach relationship is. Until you decide 100% to be coachable, this strategy will not work. Being open and honest with yourself first and then your coach is the key here.

Teach a class. You master what you teach. Ask in your real estate office or at your local chamber of commerce or in your personal networking groups to teach something. This could be a home-buying seminar or a real estate training class or maybe it’s just giving a talk to a group at an event about a real estate topic. Once you commit to speaking in front of others your desire to be liked and to be right shows up real strong again and you’ll study and prepare so much you’ll be on your way to mastering this material. Doing this over and over again is where the real magic happens!

Figure out a way to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Our brains are hard wired to keep us comfortable in all aspects of our lives. From the temperature of the room we are in to the position in which we are sitting in a chair. Our mindset is hard wired in this same way. When a “hard” task needs to be done our heart rate increases just enough and a chemical is released in the brain that pulls the emergency brake. The more often we can ignore this split second “pull” the more we will get used to doing the hard things. Making the next call, knocking on the next door, asking for the close one more time, or introducing yourself to someone at a networking event are all brake pull moments. Being aware of this and choosing to do the thing away is one true way to get ahead of the competition in this business.

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. 🙂

I believe that Kindness can be a movement. This can be as significant as paying for someone’s food in the drive thru line behind you, giving a meal or a snack to someone that is holding up a cardboard sign and asking for money or it could be as insignificant as asking someone on the elevator how their day is going. I’ve practiced this before and it works — on days when I feel crummy, frustrated, down, beat, etc, I’ve lifted my head and smiled at people, said hello, shared a laugh, hugged friends and family and it’s never failed to improve my attitude and my mindset. I would love to see what could happen if everyone truly decided to lead with kindness for a day. The domino effect of this is mind-blowing. I know that depression would decrease and suicide numbers would drop. I would bet that hunger in our cities would be improved which would cause homelessness to decline. I think the effects could be more powerful than any of us can imagine. I’d really like to experience this in our world!

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Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!

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