The following is a chapter from the book REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate. The author of this chapter is Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. @sherrychris
I was drawn to the real estate industry 30 years ago as a first-time homebuyer. As I went through each step of the home buying process, I thought to myself, “I can do what my agent is doing, but I can do it better.” So, I set out to make a career change and started my journey into the real estate world.At that point in my life, I did not envision how greatly this career would challenge me and help me grow and cultivate my individual goals and values by inspiring curiosity and passion in my life. Today, I can’t imagine working in any other industry, and am so energized to be at the helm of such a dynamic, forward-looking brand – Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate.
I have always prided myself on being committed to my work and, in return, my work has given me the strength and satisfaction to keep me motivated every day.
The real estate community offers opportunities to be an entrepreneur at every level. The flexibility in the industry to challenge oneself and create one’s own goals can be exhilarating and rewarding. As an agent, you become an independent contractor, holding yourself responsible for the work you are doing. The success you achieve is reached exclusively by your own efforts and that should not be forgotten as new roles are taken, however, the value of collaboration and teamwork should never be underestimated at any point in one’s career – there are always opportunities to learn.
Along the way, the next generation of real estate professionals will find, as I have, that it is absolutely necessary to ground oneself in strong values in the pursuit of happiness and success. Throughout the course of my career, I have learned many lessons that have not only crafted who I am as a person, but also as a business leader and member of the real estate community. The key is to identify a passion and challenge yourself to think differently to help strengthen your industry and bring it into the future.
After three decades, I offer you the following guidance as you work to achieve greatness.
On the way to the top, do not lose sight of the virtue of respect. Work selflessly and aim to give more than you expect to receive.
When I began my early career in Canada, I made a promise to myself that no matter what happened, I would continue to grace the community with a sense of humility and unassuming pride. Grandstanding your accomplishments will only make them less valuable to others. Instead, share and collaborate openly and unselfishly. Be open to learn from others, even your competitors, and never stop. I am still learning new things everyday and enjoy my role as both teacher and student.
There will always be competition. The key is to acknowledge that your competitors are also your peers, and they will be just as passionate as you are about the industry. Always respect your competitors. You are never going to be the only kid in the playground. So, get out there and learn how to play nicely with the others. I am fortunate to be part of a community filled with forward-thinking professionals who not only care about what they do, but also truly care about the people they are helping and working with. Building interpersonal relationships and remaining open will ultimately bring value and joy to your success. Remain humble and you will enjoy building meaningful relationships.
Creating a successful career in any business is not always easy. Throughout my career, the real estate industry has seen its fair share of ups and downs. You should approach the most challenging situations with tenacity and examine new ways to overcome and succeed. Success may not be immediate, but this approach will be beneficial in the long run.
Every professional faces rough times, and it’s essential to have the dedication to never give up on your dream. There are many things in life you can’t control. In my case, we launched the national brand of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in 2008, just as the subprime mortgage crisis swept through the real estate industry. I didn’t let the economic situation stop our growth. We worked harder and only concerned ourselves with what we could control, and for our first five years we have been one of the fastest growing national real estate brands in the country.
Surround yourself with greatness
Build an A-team and empower them to do great things. Your team should grow and evolve as your company grows, but they are your support system and their strength lies in your encouragement and direction. Be exceedingly picky in choosing whom you want to represent you and your brand.
When it comes to building a strong, stable environment, you must trust your instincts and learn to hire slowly and fire quickly. It’s not easy, but don’t be afraid to let someone go if it is for the betterment of the team. As long as you treat everyone with respect, as a leader, you have the power to choose who will stand by your side.
Become a teacher and share your knowledge with your team. At the same time, look for your own coaches that can provide you with a high level of accountability. My mentors have guided me throughout my career and taught me invaluable lessons. I would not be in my position without the support of my team and guidance of my mentors.
Be fearless in the pursuit of new ideas and remain unafraid to take calculated risks. Create a vision that is unique to your industry, company and clients, then make it happen. Do not be afraid of failing. Your greatest success stories will often parallel your greatest risks.
Throughout my career I have taken many risks, which in retrospect were absolutely necessary to my growth and that of the company. Regardless of whether they succeeded or failed, there was undeniable value in the endeavor.
One of the first things I did when we built the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brand was to create a set of core business values, which we call PAIGE: Passion, Authenticity, Innovation, Growth, and Excellence.
These values stay with me in every aspect of my life, and they are qualities that are consistent across my team and our franchise network. Building a brand is very similar to building a home. You need to have the foundation set before constructing the walls.
In life, as in business, you are going to be presented with different challenges and obstacles that will determine and shape your reputation. Be true to yourself and true to others, and you will find success in real estate or in any field you choose. You will find that your reputation precedes itself as you continue to give back to others and openly foster a community of collaboration.
Do not put on a façade, but rather strive to be the same person inside and out, doing what you say you will do. I’ve learned, when you do things differently, you have an obligation to share for the betterment of all.
In closing, love what you do. If something isn’t making you happy in work or in life, then find a way to fix it. There is always a way. It may not be easy and it may not be immediately apparent, but it will be worth it.
About The Book
Most real estate books fall short. REAL goes beyond mere tactics and strategies to focus on the core of what really matters - You. In addition to the authors' lessons learned, this book also includes contributions from some of real estate's most influential thought leaders: Marc Davison, Spencer Rascoff, Sherry Chris, Krisstina Wise, and many more.
If building a real estate business that lasts is important to you, this is a book you surely won't want to miss!