A tale of three brokers

Some real estate brokers are too influenced by chatter. They are stuck inside a dated playbook written by newsmakers, vendors, speakers and consultants.

They’re followers. As a result, their brokerages look, sound and act just like everyone else. They reproduce the same mistakes their peers make and reap the same uninspired results.

Other brokers are leaders. They listen to the marketplace. They understand their agents and act and respond accordingly. They create new things, eliminate old things. They march to the beat of their own drum and allow themselves to be influenced by what happens outside of real estate far more than what happens inside.

I’d like to tell you about three of the latter.


For the one-year anniversary of his new brokerage, John sent out special invitations to his agents. The only information included was a date and location.

All showed up at a playhouse that morning for a set of Vaudeville performances. All left at 10 p.m. after an outdoor concert led by the lead singer of Kansas and the guitarist from The Romantics, with “Carry On My Wayward Son” still humming in their ears.

I left perplexed over how John made this happen and why he chose to spend money on this.

Hours later at a midnight meal with the band members, John leaned over and handed me his phone filled with love notes from his agents.

“Most brokers invest in things their agents don’t need and don’t want – websites, technology, buyer leads –  the list goes on,” he said. “I recruit agents who don’t need me for that. This frees me to invest in things for them that they can’t do for themselves.”

He invited me to stop by the new office the next day to illustrate what he meant.

I took him up on the invitation and stepped into an office that was far from typical in real estate. Think We Work, only better. A bazaar of sorts brimming with agents, buyers, sellers and employees mingling together in a manner that I’ve never seen before in real estate.

John doesn’t lose sleep at night worrying about venture-backed brokerage companies or new business models. Instead, he studies them. He picks apart their models and execution. He notes their strengths and isolates their weaknesses. Then he plans his next moves accordingly.

His vision for phase two of his new brokerage will take the company to a whole new dimension as a result.


Tim took over his brokerage from his dad ten years ago, amid the recession. They were in the red with zero growth and low market share. While all of his competitors were clamping down, Tim did the opposite.

He rebranded the brokerage from all angles. He refreshed the logo his dad created on a napkin 40 years earlier. He commissioned a new brand story. He remodeled his offices. I toured one a few years back that included a swanky hangout for agents and clients where they could meet and have a cold brew on tap.

A year after he took the reigns, his was voted “best brokerage” by readers and local residents. It was the first of many subsequent wins.  

Tim expanded his brokerage’s services. He beefed up the commercial, industrial and land divisions. He replaced a few managers who were too wedded to the past with smart people filled with vision and passion. Then he focused on cracking the code on new agent recruitment.

Today, he’s a recruiting and training machine that guides agents from newbies to successful producers in a few short years. Sellers want his logo on their yard signs. Buyers seek out his agents.  

Once in awhile, Tim calls and asks me if there’s anything happening in the industry he should know about.

I always have the same response. “No. It’s all noise.”


“I really don’t understand why more brokers don’t do what I’m doing.”

Amy’s unwavering knowledge of her true customer inspires me. She begins and ends each day thinking about those agents and how she can make their careers and lives better. As a result, Amy steers clear of the distractions and costly diversions that often weaken brokers.

She ensures her agents have every opportunity to do what they do best – represent clients – and are not waylaid by processes that interfere and zap their time and energy. As a result, the money she has saved from not licensing legacy vendor, search-based website systems has been applied to building custom systems and processes that eliminate the tedious work that bogs agents down.

Therefore, her agents list more. Her agents sell more. Her agents live more – enjoying more family weekend barbecues, vacations and time with loved ones.

Her brokerage is their support system, which they each willingly and happily contribute to in higher splits creating a profitable business in ways I’ve never quite seen before from a residential brokerage.

You are the future

There are many more leaders in real estate brokerage, each with amazing stories that are rarely documented. These people don’t write op-ed articles. They aren’t featured speakers at big events. They don’t mire themselves in comment streams about things that don’t impact their local real estate market or their agents.  

In dialogue, they won’t display any fear and paranoia about portals or convey overzealous enthusiasm about data and apps. Their passion is their agents, their business, their community, social causes and potential for growth.  

Many of these leaders likely don’t even view themselves as members of the industry. They are too focused on their businesses to notice. They understand the key to profitability and sustainability is understanding their agents and enabling them to succeed.

They tend to also create great emphasis on building a brokerage culture that provides support, makes agents feel wanted, needed, appreciated, respected and uplifted.

These simple things used to be the principles that guided brokerages – things too many brokers have been seduced away from. I know I’ve been inspired by their stories. I thought you might be, too.