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What Can Real Estate Agents Learn From a Sushi Chef?

My family moved to beautiful Denver, Colorado five years ago. During the first few months after the move, I went back and forth to Phoenix to manage my real estate business as I transitioned to my new job as CEO of Realvolve.

Sushi_chef.jpgOne of the things my family loves to do is eat, and one of our favorite meals is sushi. On a summer night in July, on my birthday, my family took me out for sushi before my flight. New to the area, we queried Yelp to find recommendations. We arrived and sat at the sushi bar in front of one of the chefs.

Successful real estate agents and businesses require technical acumen and the artistry of finding and maintaining meaningful relationships... stay with me here to find out why I BELIEVE this.

Quiet Energy & Wisdom

As my family enjoyed the delicious food and each other’s company, I had the feeling I was being watched, studied. The chef deduced it was my birthday, yet instead of the obligatory “Happy Birthday!” sentiment, he discussed the virtues of being a Leo (he was a Leo, too) and described who else in history shared the same astrological sign.

After a couple of sakes, the banter made for light and pleasant conversation, yet I felt something was different about him. This man had a quiet energy and wisdom about him, and was humble, yet confident and assertive.

As we concluded our meal, I asked the chef if he owned the restaurant. He chuckled and said, “I am the low man on the totem pole.” I thanked him and he asked for my email address to send periodic dinner specials. I happily shared and caught my flight to Phoenix. Around 1 a.m., I received the following message: 


It was a pleasure serving you tonight on your birthday! I hope you had a nice evening!

I’d like to take this opportunity to properly introduce myself. My name is Yasu Kizaki, one of the founders of three restaurants. I am the eldest of four brothers; my second brother, Toshi, is the head of the organization, and is the master chef of all of our restaurants. Our youngest brother lives a few minutes away from the fish market in the city of Fukuoka, located on Kyushu, the southernmost island of Japan. He handpicks the freshest fish from the market and sends them to us.

Apart from making sushi every night, I also take care of public relations, marketing, human resources, and special events, such as the Sushi Class I teach every two weeks. In addition to what I do at the restaurant, on a completely personal level, I help local non-profits raise funding. I normally raise $40,000 a year.

That is all from me this time. I hope your stay in Denver will be a great one.

I hope to see you very soon.

Sincerely,Yasu Kizaki

I Met a Master

joey-roth-master 2.png
Compliments of Joey Roth, joeyroth.com

I was blown away. Although short and somewhat canned, the email was nonetheless specific to our conversation. He recalled fine details about me, and took the opportunity to share things about himself. He also shared his “why,” or the things that are important to him.

Did Yasu do anything really remarkable? No. He was an attentive host and many restaurants send email to patrons. However, Yasu was authentic and REAL. I have since learned that Yasu’s Sushi Den is not only one of the top sushi bars in the United States, it’s one of the busiest Japanese restaurants in the world. Yet there he was, sending me personal email in the wee hours of the morning (I'm sure he inputted my information in his CRM - and I'm grateful he did).

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Yasu has since become an inspiration and something of a muse for me. What impressed me so? The food, yes, but more so was Yasu’s passion. He moved to Denver twenty five years ago with limited resources, knew scant English, and yet was brave enough to open a sushi restaurant. (Not many people were eating sushi 25 years ago, and few if any in Denver.) Yasu followed his heart and follows it to this day. Even after nearly three decades of performing the same functions, he is no less attentive to every piece of sushi and sashimi. Each garners nothing short of his utmost focus. He pays equal attention to his relationships.

Our Passion: The Art & Science of Real Estate

Few people in the public would consider real estate a craft and fewer a form of art, but in practice it’s a combination of both, not unlike making mouth-watering sushi. Building a successful real estate business requires technical acumen and the artistry of finding and maintaining meaningful relationships.

What if all real estate agents gave this great care? You can be just like Yasu. Be different. Be authentic. Be real. Be a shokunin. A Japanese word, shokunin translates roughly to craftsman or artisan. However, such a literal translation fails to convey its deeper meaning. A Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means having an acumen, and an attitude of social consciousness. The shokunin has an obligation to work stridently for the general welfare of the people, be it spiritual or material.

When work, commitment, and pleasure become one, you reach that deep well where passion lives in your craft and nothing is impossible. When you’ve discovered your purpose, people do take notice. They connect to your “why". Imagine changing approaches so that everyone we meet, our simple goal is a relationship (and not a transaction).... then our days become a fun function of meeting people, connecting with them, and putting their information in the best Real Estate CRM the world has ever seen! 

Dave Crumby

Dave is the founder and CEO of Realvolve, a state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) platform built expressly for real estate agents. Dave began his real estate career as an agent in 1996. Dave authored in 2013 the book titled 'REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate’ that has since become a best seller. The book features Dave's experience and the wisdom of other successful real estate leaders, such as the CEOs of Zillow, Trulia, Better Homes and Gardens, and many others.


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