Lessons From My Dad

I want to share some of the life skills I learned from my dad that have carried me through the toughest times in my life and in business.

I hope you had a great Father’s Day on Sunday. My dad passed 3 years ago, but I always take time on Father’s Day to reflect on the great advice he’s given me. Here are ten nuggets of wisdom that my dad passed on to me, and I am now passing them on to you in the hopes you see great value.


Nugget #1: You always have to chase a buck!

If you even get a hint that an opportunity exists in business, pursue it. If you hear that someone has a friend or neighbor who is thinking about buying or selling, be proactive. Don’t just hand them your business card and ask them to pass it along. Take it one step further and ask if you can have the friend’s name and number, so you can call them. In the world of commission real estate, you must be proactive. Poor salespeople have skinny kids. Proactive salespeople make the most of every opportunity and reap the rewards.


Nugget #2: Put your money down and take your chances.

In commission sales, fortune favors the bold. If you spot something new and you think it has merit, try it! Don’t just throw your money at anything without doing your homework first, but you need to take risks in business. I’m always surprised at agents who won’t spend a dime and they can’t figure out why they can’t get their business off the ground. Being an entrepreneur is about taking calculated risks. No risk, no reward.


Nugget #3: The customer is always right.

When I was 14, my dad owned a clothing store and I was expected to work there. You find out very quickly when you work in retail how unreasonable the public can be. But my dad would always say “At the end of the day, the customer gets what the customer wants, and it is our job to deliver that.”  Sometimes we give great advice to clients and they don’t listen. In the end, it is your job to get them what they want.


Nugget #4: Treat customers like they feed, house and clothe your family.

My dad would suggest we go the extra mile with every opportunity. It goes beyond being treated the way we want to be treated. It is about treating customers the way THEY want to be treated. Build connections with them at every turn. Be genuinely interested in them. Ask a lot of questions, not just for the sake of asking questions, but because you really want to know them. The next time you see them when you refer back to those details. It shows you genuinely care.


Nugget #5: Show up early and stay late.

When I worked in my dad’s clothing store, he would insist we show up early so we were totally organized before we opened. Many Friday nights I wanted to leave early to go out with my friends, yet my father would make me stay past closing if there was someone still shopping in the store. He would say, “The customer can stay as long as they like and we’ll keep the doors open as long as they’re here.” I would say the same for your real estate career. Get in the office early and get after it before anyone else does. Develop the attitude of “just one more”. Give a little bit more. Stay a little bit later. Make one more call. No-one said real estate would be easy. It is hard work. The truly successful agents are the first ones in the office and the last ones to leave.


Nugget #6: Don’t take everything out of the deal.

This applies to how we negotiate with other real estate agents. My dad taught me not to take everything out of the deal. I’m not talking about your fiduciary responsibility to your clients, but we all know that some salespeople can push their weight around and demand too much from other agents. It leaves them feeling taken advantage of. My dad would teach me to build relationships with everyone. Be respectful, authentic and transparent. Be kind and sincere in your dealings with everyone. Make sure the real estate agent on the other side of the transaction feels that working with you is a great experience. Great listing agents empower everyone in the community to sell their stuff. Take the high road, do the right thing, and treat other agents honorably (even when they don’t do the same for you).


Nugget #7: A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

My dad was a true salesman. He genuinely liked people. When he joined real estate he didn’t have to do any marketing – he just talked to everyone. My mother used to say it would drive her crazy when they went grocery shopping because my father stopped and talked to everyone. My dad used to say “A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet.” It didn’t matter your station in life. He would see a homeless person and the next thing you knew he would be sitting on a park bench sharing his cigarettes and a coffee or a sandwich. He didn’t do it for charity. He truly wanted to know their story. He always tried to leave every person feeling a little bit better. That caring attitude made him a great salesperson.


Nugget #8: Hard work beats talent.

My dad’s superpower was hard work. He worked from sunrise to sunset from the time I was little and he expected his three boys to do the same. When I was 12 my dad moved furniture on nights and weekends and I was expected to help him. One day we were moving an elderly lady out of a second-story walk up and she had a ton of boxes. I was exhausted to the point that my little legs were shaking. I remember leaning against the truck to take a break and my father told me to keep going. I literally started to cry and my dad looked at me and said “Those boxes aren’t going to move themselves, and those tears aren’t going to get the job done any sooner, so get up there and get going.” I thought he was being harsh, and I was angry at the time, but looking back it was a great life lesson about the value of hard work. When it comes to real estate, there will be days when you are exhausted from driving buyers around who can’t make a decision, or from dealing with an irate seller who is being unreasonable, but don’t give in. Push through. That’s how success is earned.


Nugget #9: Take pride in your appearance.

Even though my dad came from very humble beginnings, he worked very hard and ended up owning several successful businesses throughout his life. One of the things that he absolutely enjoyed was the pride he took in his appearance. Even when he didn’t have money, his shoes were always shined. When he worked at the shoe store, he went to work every day in a shirt and tie. He didn’t dress to impress himself, he did it to show respect for his clients. Every time you walk out the door, take a look in the mirror. Is this the image you want to present to clients?


Nugget #10: Be proud to be a salesperson.

My dad taught me that sales is an honorable profession. Somewhere along the line salespeople have been categorized by the public as grifters and con artists. Salespeople who have operated with poor intentions over the years have done our industry a great disservice. Nothing happens in this world unless someone sells it. Don’t lose sight of how important we are as a profession. I recently heard another trainer say “Thank God for the death of the salesperson and the rise of the consultant.” My thought was, “Good luck with that, nothing moves unless someone sells it.” Sales is the beginning of the food chain. Great salespeople care a lot about their clients and they do an honorable job.

Last piece of advice: don’t let your ego get in the way. Never be too proud to knock on a door. My dad taught me not to be embarrassed to ask for opportunities. Every time you prospect, rather than thinking of it as “begging for a sale”, think of how much help you are offering someone who needs your service.

Be well my friends,

Chris Leader
Leader’s Edge Training

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