A couple of years ago I learned one of the most important lessons of my entire life. I was being mentored by a friend named Justin Prince and we had sat down with a prospect that he was trying to recruit to join his company. The other person kept bringing up another company that she already belonged to and over and over Justin kept giving compliments about that company.
Eventually the prospect said to Justin, “you have a lot of nice things to say about them, I’m kind of surprised. I expected you to tell me everything wrong with them when I came to meet with you.” I will never forget Justin’s response and to this day it has become one of the guiding principles of my life. Justin told her a story and said, “There are 2 ways to build the tallest building in town. You can either tear down all the other buildings until you are the tallest. Or you can just build the tallest building in town.”
I loved it! So did she. She eventually joined my friends company and she had full confidence that she would never be embarrassed to invite one of her friends to meet with Justin or I. The principle is so powerful. Too often in real estate and in life when we are competing for business or for a relationship people make the mistake of trying to tear down others so that they can stand out. The reality is, people see right through that. In dating, women tell me all the time how attractive confidence is and they say the number one way to know if a man is confident is to see how he reacts towards other men.
When I was still in the building stages of my real estate career I used to call a ton of For Sale By Owners and then I would find myself on a nightly basis competing in listing presentations for the right to list and sell these homes. There were only about 10 agents out of the 2000 on the board that would call FSBO’s so we knew each other well and we competed all the time. One of the other 10 agents became somewhat of a rival of mine as we were probably the top 2 that won the most listings. We competed and about 80-90% of the time I would win.
This agent had a girlfriend during a large portion of this time and after they broke up she stopped me at the gym one day. She said, “I have to know how you beat out my ex on all those appointments? He dominated everyone but you, he would get so mad.” I told her my secret.
I told her, “Your ex used to go in and tell the sellers that I was too busy for them coaching high school baseball and doing other things and he would tell them all the reasons I wasn’t a good agent. I know this because I would always ask the clients why they chose me or didn’t choose me and I made sure to get the real answer.” I proceeded to tell her, “I did an opposite approach. I would always say, listen, so and so is an amazing agent. Of course he is, he sold 75 homes last year alone. You would know I’m a liar if I told you any different because his numbers speak for themselves. I sold 85 homes, of course I am also an excellent agent and anyone that says different is just going to look stupid. If you don’t use me, use him. He’s great. I still think I’m better and here’s why… but either way you’ll be lucky to work with either one of us.” They picked me every time.
Another example of this was from about a year ago. A distant friend of mine had posted on Facebook that she was looking for the best real estate agent in the county. About 30 different people posted a response and 6-7 of them had tagged my name in the post. I called a mutual friend and got her phone number and left her a message that I’d love to help. Later that night at about 9:30 at night I ran into this woman at the gym and we started to talk. She told me that 3 different realtors had called her to tell her to work with anyone but me. She said it was funny cause she felt their insecurity and because of them she knew I was the one she wanted to work with. They told her the same thing all agents try to use against top producers, “He will just be too busy for you.” She told me that was ironic cause we had just spent 45 minutes going over everything while we worked out at 10:15 at night. She chose me and within 48 hours we had her under contract on a great place.
The lesson here is such an important one. Lift others up! Don’t try to become the largest building in town by tearing down all the other buildings. You’ll realize eventually that nobody wants to be around you and by then it will be too late. It’s fun to compete and to honor a worthy opponent that helps you stay your sharpest self. Someone that drives you to do more and be more all the time. Instead of cursing them, bless them. They make us the best version of ourselves!