Agent Essentials

Shop Talk - The Real Estate Agent Podcast

Real Estate Agent Podcast 12: The New Year You

Set achievable new year goals for your real estate business.
January 16, 2019

It's a new year and you're a new you! On this episode, we check in with industry experts on how they follow through with their real estate goals.

You really need to look at the year as a whole and see what went well and what didn't go well, focusing on the fact that there have to be things that did go well.

Mallory Meehan

About This Episode

New Year's Resolutions are hard, and each year we feel the societal pressure to come up with good ones. Over half of all resolutions fail as the year wears on, but it's because of a lack of planning. These early days of the year are a great time to plan for your personal and professional growth, and to set achievable goals for your real estate business.

On this episode, we hear from industry experts regarding their own resolutions, planning routines, and what a career change can do for your general wellbeing.

Supplementary reading:

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Episode Transcript


JON: It is officially 2019, meaning it’s been almost exactly 100 years since prohibition was enacted. The first transatlantic flight happened in May of 1919, and in that same year Congress submitted the 19th amendment for ratification, which gave women the right to vote.


JON: Clearly a lot has happened in the last 100 years, and these days each daily news cycle almost seems full of a hundred years’ worth of news on its own. As we mark off these early days of the year, it’s easy to get caught up in what you should be doing. There’s a certain new year guilt sprinkled around each January as society becomes convinced that NOW is the time to reinvent yourself and set resolutions that will positively impact your life, even though more than half of all resolutions don’t stick.


JON: January’s as good a time as any to set achievable goals for the year, and for real estate it’s an especially good time to take stock and plan. The market is generally slower, the weather is generally less pleasant, and the entire new year stretches before you, full of titillating possibilities.


JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I’m Jon Forisha and on this episode we talk about the new year you, as well as how to improve your life and your business as 2019 unfolds before us.

JON: Most New Year’s Resolutions go against our basic instincts. They require us to get outside our normal routines and, hopefully, establish new ones. Focusing on the negative is an easy thing to do when setting any new goal, since obviously if everything was hunky-dory then you wouldn’t be trying to change.


JON: Insofar as your business is concerned, it’s important not to stress the negatives too much. Real estate’s a cyclical business and success often begets success as referrals start to come in. Mallory Meehan works as a Professor of Real Estate at Penn State, and teaches commercial real estate courses on risk management. When asked what to do if 2018 was a particularly lousy year for your business, Mallory had this to say:


MALLORY: You really need to look at the year as a whole and see well, what went well and then what didn't go well and so focusing on the fact that there have to be things that did go well. Right, and so don't completely downgrade yourself, but when you're looking at the things that didn't go well, think about what could I have done differently to have changed that maybe were areas that I could improve upon? Maybe not focusing on all of them. Maybe focusing on a shorter handful, maybe picking one or two areas that you could change that are going to help you because if you just focus on the negative, you're never going to get out of a terrible year. You're always going to be in this spiral, so you really have to focus on that there were some positive things that I can take away from this, but here are two areas that I could really try to improve. Maybe it's the networking, maybe it's the follow up, whatever it is. Making sure that you maybe utilize your calendar more, set more reminders, making sure that you follow back up with someone you reached out with, you know, two weeks ago, and really trying to focus on changing things that did not go your way to making them. Now, make them into one of your benefits, one of your positives.


JON: According to the statistics website Statista, the most common New Year’s resolution had 53% of respondents saying they wanted to Save Money. “Lose weight or get in shape” was a close second at 45%. The gym often factors into goals somehow, and you can practically see the death of most resolutions just by watching the parking lots of any major gym as January wears on.


JON: An often-quoted rule of planning is to make your goals SMART, which is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Since most resolutions are intended to be tackled in the new year, time-bound is already taken care of, but setting specific and achievable resolutions is often where planning falls flat.


JON: Start small. Instead of tackling every single problem in life, focus on no more than three goals at a time. When those goals are reasonable, you’ll actually achieve them, and then you’ve started to set yourself up for success.


JON: Joe Sinnona is a veteran real estate agent who speaks around the country coaching new agents and covering topics such as ethics in real estate. He’s a firm believer in the power of planning, so long as you actually follow through. Here’s Joe:


JOE: I write them down first of all in October. I don't make New Year's resolutions on December 31st, or even, you know, in December. I always like to do them in October because November, December, I'm busy. I don't need to get any more distractions in my life. So I make it like it's fun for me. I write a business plan. It's better than a new year's resolution and I start in October and how I stick to them is I look at them every single day. I have a vision board and I'm looking at what I want to acquire in three months, six months, a year from now. I take pictures of that thing that I want or I want to be or I want to have and I look at it every single day, so if I have to duplicate the picture, I'll stick it on my bulletin board. I'll stick it at work, I'll put it wherever I can see it because that's a self-fulfilling prophecy. I will have it and if I'm determined to have it, that's how I'll stick to it and when it doesn't come, you know, in that one year I don't get discouraged. I bring it into the following year, you know, and I haven't done that already and I've gotten it.


JON: The world moves fast. There’s a new lineup of cell phones every year, a seemingly-endless stream of superhero movies hits theaters each month, and in the world of real estate sometimes a few minutes can make the difference between closing a sale and missing the opportunity entirely.


JON: You might feel that planning for an entire year, one full of surprises and mysteries, is an impossible feat. Maybe you’re someone who just takes things as they come, choosing to tackle one day at a time, and that’s fine! After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.


JON: Just because the new year is a bit daunting and entirely too cold for such big thinking, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan. By making your goals smaller and ongoing, you actually have a better chance of keeping up with them. There’s a lot happening around the holidays already, and berating yourself for not accomplishing your resolution shouldn’t be added to the list.


JON: Jill Malloy is the National Real Estate Expert at The CE Shop, tasked with coordinating a team of subject matter experts in order to write informative real estate courses. Jill isn’t big on new year’s resolutions, per se, but she does find it essential to set a plan. Here’s Jill:


JILL: No, I'd like to think that I'm the kind of person who is a year round planner. I'd rather make small commitments to myself year round than try to make something major on day one of the year on January first because it seems to me it's easier for me to make changes a little at a time, so give me an inch, gotta change and eventually I'll get to the mile.


JON: A Washington Post article linked in our show notes tells about a University of Chicago study that divided 120 students into three groups. The first group was paid $175 just for attending an information session. The second group got paid if they attended the session, allowed their gym attendance to be tracked, and went to the gym at least once in the next month. The third group got paid if they attended the session, allowed their gym attendance to be tracked, and hit the gym at least eight times in the next month.


JON: After the study concluded, it was that third group that kept going to the gym. On average, those students went to the gym nine times in the seven weeks that followed, while the other students in the study went only about half as often.


JON: This study shows that if we can force ourselves to do something new for a long enough period of time, it can become a habit, even if it’s something as widely-detested as working out. The motivation can be as simple as cold hard cash, but a key factor to the study was that the students were being held accountable. The goal wasn’t just tied to extra income - it was also externally communicated.


JON: Getting your goals out of your head and into conversations with friends and co-workers can be an essential element to actually following through with them. If you tell your friends that you’re working on a book, they’re naturally going to ask about its progress, and who wants to be the person with known aspirations but no finished projects?


JON: Checking in on your goals is a big step toward keeping them achievable. The January You will look a lot different from the December You, and sometimes things happen that can drastically change or modify your goals.


JON: Eden Elder is a REALTOR with Equity Colorado, and when she plans for the new year she pulls from her previous career as an HR professional in corporate America. Here’s Eden:


EDEN: You know, I plan the work and I work the plan. I've done this my entire life and I cannot see myself deviating from that anytime soon. It works. And so I stick with it. So basically I look at my strategic document. I check to make sure I still like the direction I set out in the previous year and you know, I might increase my numbers or the amount of monthly transactions depending on which child is choosing to attend what college and whether there's a scholarship involved or not, but it's the same routine every year. I'm a realtor. My job is sales and marketing. It's a numbers game. It's simple math. The trick of or the recipe for success if you will, is to be really good at the strategic planning in your first year. And if you do that well, all following years’ planning efforts are nothing more than adjusting some numbers and basing that on upcoming life events. It's really simple.


JON: The appeal of the new year is the ability to reinvent yourself. Just like moving to a whole new state and making new friends, the new year presents a blank slate, and the chance for you to write a completely new story for yourself that can have nothing to do with what came before, if that’s what you want.


JON: Statista reports that 22% of respondents made their resolution to learn a new skill or hobby, and for many people those thoughts of reinvention turn pretty quickly into contemplating a career change.


JON: Michael McAllister is the Founder and Co-CEO of The CE Shop, a provider of real estate education. He started the company in 2005 with the belief that the convenience of online learning would remove barriers to entry for those interested in becoming agents. Here’s Michael:


MICHAEL: A career change can absolutely improve your life, can absolutely improve your life. So I'm a big believer in the fact that we're all here to do something and achieve something, multiple things, multiple missions potentially, and our career is an opportunity to really do that and affect the lives of many, many people. So I tell everyone to really reflect on are you achieving what it is that you think you want to in your life and if a career change is something that you think would help get you more on track, absolutely do it. You know, a career in real estate. As I've said many, many times, it truly is one of the last true entrepreneurial opportunities in our country with very few barriers to entry. We see people come in our industry and be wildly successful from all kinds of walks of life. You know, corporate people that had very structured jobs to people that had been entrepreneurs and other industries.


MICHAEL: So I think a career change can absolutely improve your life. If you're unhappy in your life, I think you should actually have to really think about a career change. We spend an awful lot of our life there and as I tell the team here at The CE Shop, if you're not happy more days than not, then there probably needs to be a shift in your own role within the organization or maybe you know something else out in the world because life's way too short not to have fun doing what you're doing. So if you're not having fun doing what you're doing, you should think about a career change.


JON: Whether you’ve resolved to start a new career, hit the gym more often, or if you’re firmly against the idea of new year’s resolutions altogether, ongoing planning should be an important element to your business and work ethic. However you choose to plan, we hope that your 2019 is fruitful and full of exciting growth, for yourself and your business.


JON: That’s it for this episode of Shop Talk, thanks for listening! You can subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, and while you’re there consider leaving us a review. On the next episode, I talk education and the changing commercial real estate landscape with Mallory Meehan, Professor of Real Estate at Penn State.


JON: Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.