Chrisi Hagan is one of the authors of the new real estate business book, Becoming A Local Leader. This book features 22 top producing agents stories, who share their strategies on how you can become a Local LeaderⓇ. 

There’re a lot of differences you’ll notice between the different authors and how they grow their business through relationships and referrals, but there are some themes that tie them all together. One of them is definitely hard work, doing it all, and thinking about how one can serve the community in all shapes and forms and really getting involved, from the schools to the nonprofits to the local businesses, tying in your ties with either the military or with sororities and frats and universities. 

Chrisi really is an example of someone who has taken her past life experiences and brought it into real estate. When you read her chapter, you’ll think that you didn’t achieve enough that day. You’ll go out and have the energy to go do it because this woman brings energy. 

When you wrote your chapter, you had a main message that you wanted to share with agents out there. What is that message that you really want to get across to everyone?

At the bottom line, at the end of each day, we kind of have to figure out our fulfillment and what gives us that life of success that we’re looking for. I think it’s in counting your blessings. I have many things, like you said, in the past. My children are doing so many things now that make me so proud. We just have opportunities. So, we’re talking to people every single day and serving them in a phenomenal community and in our country. I feel like that message is touching everyone that I can every single day and doing my best to make their day better. Via the law of reciprocity, it comes back to me or to business. It’s really just focusing on others for a life of fulfillment. Mine comes through fulfillment just by helping them

I’ve gone through my own journey of trying to embody what you just said, because it’s easier said than done to some. I’m imagining an agent who sometimes has a really hard time counting blessings, sometimes has a really hard time being grateful and appreciative, sometimes has a really hard time feeling like he/she can just give and have faith that it will all work out. Can you relate to that and maybe give advice on how does someone actually execute that advice that you just gave?

That’s quite a question so I think looking internally, but sometimes you just have to have a journal right here in front of you and write down something to be thankful. It could be that you opened your eyes because you know what, some people didn’t. It could be that you spoke today. Some people couldn’t. It could be the flavor of that coffee today. Being thankful for anything and everything. 

I read a book once about 365 thank yous. That was essentially every single day writing somebody a thank you note because yes, it made their day and that turned around the trajectory of what they were getting. When they get a physical piece of mail, it makes them happy and feel fulfilled. But you yourself, just being aware. Sometimes it’s hard. I mean, real estate is a roller coaster. Life is a roller coaster. But just being able to realize something. Maybe it was the sound of my grandson’s voice on FaceTime. Something is there to be thankful for every day, even in the worst of roller coaster days.

We’ll get more into some of your strategies and beliefs, which I think are really important to help people out understanding how a Local LeaderⓇ think, how does a top producing agent think? But first, let’s help people get to know you a little bit. Why don’t you just give us a little story? Who you are, why’d you get into real estate, how’d you get into real estate, and then we’ll talk about your business?

I have many, many years of sales experience. I graduated from the University of South Carolina. Prior to that my family had moved around with that American dream and moved up the sales ladder in position. I’ve lived in Illinois. I’ve lived in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, and I’m in Ohio now. 

Moving around, I had the opportunity leading up to now with real estate to see a lot of different houses and purchases and processes. But in the meantime, I always had a sales background. And for quite a while with training as well, I worked for a national cosmetic company and was able to travel around, help people with sales, learn how to better themselves, and how to give better customer service. I figured at the end of the day, if you could sell a $500 day cream or a $500 night cream, there’s not a lot of difference when it comes to a $500,000 home or however much. 

So that being said, I was off for a little while staying at home when my children were small, and just ran a lot of freelance work and being featured makeup artists. Again, still a lot of sales and customer service, but at a time when our family dynamics are changing, life is what it is, so we did go through a pretty lengthy and unfortunate divorce situation. That kind of makes you look at your life and change things on what’s going on and what you need to do. Your goals change obviously at that point in time. 

I met the agents that were selling our family home and I just dove so deep into the home selling process and each thing that they said we dealt with. “Nah, I think maybe we’ll do it this way.” or “I think I’ll do that.” Or they came in to set up for an open house. They had those cookies and everything else already ready. So, by the end of the process they’re like, “You really had to think about doing this with us.” 

It was such a fun process and I enjoyed every bit of it that I thought maybe I’ll venture into and check it out. I did get into real estate about a year after that. I took classes, worked part time because I was still working at that point in time in human resources in a position that was keeping me and my timeframe in line with my kids’ schedule. 

I was doing real estate on the nights and weekends and lunch hours and all of that. You kind of look at life. Do you want to sit behind a desk? I had phenomenal coworkers. I loved where I was but I had a job that was going to go up at 3% cost of living raise and not a lot else that was going to go. I had to sit at a desk every day. I do have energy. I do have a personality that likes to get out there and go. Real estate just fits beautifully with my personality and my goals in life so I dove into it. My thought at the time when everybody was saying, “Are you sure? Benefits. A guaranteed paycheck. Are you sure you want to do that?” And I was like, “Yeah. If I don’t believe in myself, who will?” So, I jumped ship and went full time and have never looked back.

What were some of the fears, doubts and worries that you had? How did you get over that and make the decision and do well?

I had fears, doubts, and worries. What was I going to do about benefits, my state retirement? That was already happening and I was paying into it. I had at that point in time two minors at home now. They’re both as of this year no longer minors. But anyway, I had them at home to think about. And what about that paycheck each and every week consistently no matter what? 

But the bottom line, like I said, I looked at where I was and I kind of knew exactly on that path where I was, I knew exactly where I would be in three years, five years, 10 years if I stay there. I’m an extremely competitive person, and mostly with myself even more so than other people. But I knew that where I was right then and there with a part time business I had that was really going quite well for me was unlimited. There was nowhere that I could say where I would be in three, five, or 10 years if I went into real estate because I knew that trajectory was only up. My competition internally, I wouldn’t allow myself to fail. I wouldn’t allow myself to do anything less than give the best to everyone out there so I knew this was where I would be, or this is where I could be. That was the only option I gave myself. 

If you were to talk to an agent about how to be better at sales, what would be some of the advice you want to give? Books, courses, audios, or skills to master. What would be some of the sales advice?

They just go passionately within it. So, whatever you’re selling, if you’re selling this, why? What do you love about it? You’re into it for a reason. If you can pull out the products and the features and the benefits of it and bring it to life, then that product will be as amazing to somebody else as it is to you. 

For me, for example, it’s not about a house. Sure, it is making your home dreams come true. I’m all about memory making. So, when I go in, some people might look at sales and say it’s all numbers and the factual part of it. For some people, maybe it is and maybe that works for them. But if you’re not from a sales background and that’s not who you are, when I walk into a kitchen with somebody, it’s where your family is going to eat their holiday dinner here, what’s that going to look like for you. So, sales is a pretty broad factor to look at. 

And then, as far as books go, I’m nonstop. Honestly, I’m in my car all the time. That’s what we do. So, I don’t sit down as much to just flip open a book as much as I could and would but when I do it brings me great joy, but I have a lot of them also on audible or podcast. That’s my favorite thing to do. There are blocks in my schedule for it. So, I think being where people are that you want to be, not just listening. You don’t ever want to be the smartest person in the room. I always want to be somewhere where I’m learning something more. I’m a lifelong learner. So, I think John Maxwell. Just the regular, The Road Less Travelled, Who’s Moved My Cheese, those basic ones. But then I listen to a podcast. I’m on, like I said, gosh, nonstop real estate one. So really, I just type in real estate and whatever comes up. All things real estate. There’s several of them here within my brokerage and people that run it that I’m absolutely in love with. I think just searching a topic, and then seeing what’s new. 

On social media, oh my gosh, you can’t learn enough, right? Find what interests you in sales, whether you’ve ever sold or not. It doesn’t really matter. It’s not a coffee cup. It’s blue. It’s metal. It holds a flavor you love, whatever. It’s how you can bring it alive. Some people might be numbers, some people might be facts, some people might be benefits, some people might just be connecting you to that product.

One of the things you did talk about in the book, one of the lines I really liked was, “If you focus on people and enjoy life, the money will come.” Tell the agents more about that belief. How does that work? It sounds nice, but how does it work? Because some people have fears like, “Well, if I just focus on people and enjoy life, what if the money doesn’t come?”

Again, it’s faith. So, it goes back to the bottom line where the majority of my business comes. It’s not because I’m knocking on all of my friends’ doors every day saying, “Hey, we buy a house, we sell a house. Can we do real estate today?” It’s not that. I just live and I invest in people. 

So yes, I do some events, I send out emails and cards and all of that, but going out to have coffee and having brunch tomorrow is just being in people’s lives. Commenting on 15 people at least every single day on Facebook, commenting on their life and getting to know them, sending their kids letters whether they’re at college or they’re off at boot camp as well. Just being a part of their life. Naturally, it comes back.

And when you’re doing that, what is your intention around that? What is it that you’re trying to make that person either feel or do when you’re when you’re having those coffee dates, when you’re when you’re sending out those cards or emails? What’s the intention around it? 

I want them to know that I care and that they matter and I want to bring a smile to their face at the end of the day. My goal is to be on their holiday list. Now, I know not everybody really sends out cards anymore but that was kind of the goal when I got started. It was actually my very first client I ever sold a home to. They said, “Wow, you made our holiday list.” What do you mean? That’s kind of the gauge. Do they make our holiday list or not? Are you on the holiday card list? That’s exactly what I want with life, not just real estate, but life. I want to, theoretically because not everybody sends out cards anymore, but I want to make some of these holiday card lists by making their day better.

I know there’s agents who have military connections just like you. They have university connections in the groups alumni they are a part of. And they’re probably thinking, “How do I give value to these people and leverage these connections that I have to help me grow my business in a fun fulfilling tasteful way? I don’t want to come to these people and just hard sell and cold prospect. I have these relationships, I have these connections, I have these groups, how do I give value? How do I create a first impression? How do I nurture these relationships that actually do help me grow my business?” How have you done that because I know you’ve done that well?

Just staying involved. Being there, being real, being authentic, giving your time. You don’t just join a group and all of a sudden you are, “I’m your head real estate agent.” And here come the sales. I mean, it’s putting in time and hours and work but it’s in a place that you love. 

Like you mentioned, I do a lot with the military. I’ve got a couple of children who are in the Marines, the Navy, the army. I have a very thick connection to that. I’m the chair of a nonprofit. You don’t say I’m a chair of a nonprofit and then here it all flows in. I’m a chair of a nonprofit because I’m passionate about the mission of that group and who it serves. 

Now, by nature, have sales come from that group? Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been very blessed in that way. But I’m giving to that group because I believe in them and who they’re supporting. The same thing with my sorority from college. I was in South Carolina, but now I’m in Ohio. I do a lot at Ohio State and other local universities with my sorority because that was a time in my life that changed the trajectory of who I was and what I did. I want the opportunity to do the same for those young women who are going into the world and they’re going to make a difference. I want to give back to them. As a result, I’ve had a couple of first-time homebuyers. I was actually shocked at that young stage of life, the amazing things that they’re doing. They are able to buy the homes that they can. I didn’t think at that point in time that’s what was going to happen when I volunteered with the college, but that certainly happened. 

I’m the president of my local Alumni Association as well for my sorority. That’s going to have a totally different clientele. But again, you’re not going to spend your days and times and hours with the assumption you’re going to have a sale. You’re spending your time where you are with people who are like minded and that you have something that you love and you’re passionate about. And when you’re passionate about it, it just flat out comes out. And they know what you do. They all know that I’m in real estate. I’m not quiet about it. Whether I’m on a t-shirt or a button, or I sponsor an event, or they see my live Facebook post. They know what I do. But when I’m there, I’m there for them and the event or even the topic at hand.

Have you tried stuff that didn’t work? When you think about growing your business through relationships and referrals in your community and stuff did not work, you tried doing it and it didn’t work. What are those things?

I think it’s when I have an idea in my mind maybe. Worse sales might be. And so, I approach it from that aspect in going corporate sales, but if it’s not a group that I truly am passionate about and I struggle to bring the authenticity out, the genuineness that it shows it’s not there. I kind of backtrack and go back to where I am. And I go deeper in those ways. But it’s not saying I don’t try. I try something new every single day. Whether it’s a new form of social media. But sometimes it doesn’t work but that doesn’t mean it won’t work tomorrow. I mean, I might look goofy on Tik Tok but I really have fun looking goofy. And then, maybe it grows.

The first time I did a Facebook Live, did I love it? No. Did I have a lot of shares? Absolutely not. The first time I did a video with a client or local business, it wasn’t all that. But that didn’t mean because it didn’t work, that it wasn’t going to work tomorrow. So, I think a lot of times when something just flat out doesn’t work, because it doesn’t bring you any joy, then you might need to change up what you’re doing. But if it brings you joy, it might just be sticking with it and proving yourself or the manner in which you’re doing it. 

I kind of struggle when somebody says, “Oh, that just didn’t work.” Why? Why didn’t it work? And sometimes they kind of go a different direction but I’m always looking for something new.  Right now, I’m looking to volunteer somewhere else and people are like, “How are you going to have time?” I’m like, “Well, how am I going to not have time because I want to do that so bad. There’s volunteering with this horse farm locally. I wanted a horse. That’s going to be my way to go ride horses.” So, I think if you’re passionate, it’ll work. If you’re not passionate in the end, and it’s not right, then you need to just accept it, see what you learned about it, and try something different.

Video is a big part of your business. And I think a lot of RealtorsⓇ nowadays are seeing the benefits of doing video. And video for most is definitely one of those things where the first time you do it, you may not be the greatest at it. The first time you do it, you may not get that many likes and shares. The first time you do it, you may not look and sound great. And you really do have to push through that. Explain how video has helped you with your business and the journey that you’ve gone through to get good at video so you can almost manage people’s expectations as they kind of get into video and use video for their business.

I’d say that we’re each our own worst enemy when it comes to it. We could go back and cut a video to almost nothing if we wanted to be too critical. I think the beauty of video is really remembering that it’s our opportunity to show our personality and nobody’s perfect. Absolutely nobody. So, really kind of just accepting the fact that you’re being real and authentic in the video that you present and not perfect. You’re not aiming for perfection. People aren’t watching you for that. So, if they’re watching you on some form of social media, they are looking for somebody that they can connect with. 

So, I think that was the first part of it with video. But additionally, it takes time. So, trying different platforms. I’ve used various ones. Whereas, you have somebody who’s turning upside down on a bed and editing and not teaching me how to do it. I’m like, “Okay. I’m going to learn how to do that.” So, very quickly, I dove into different platforms. I learned how to do it myself. I’m in a recording studio with all kinds of lights. And it’s fun, you add on things that you want. Again, you’re passionate about it. 

My videos started off as me just hitting live and going not 100% what I’m going to say, but I have in the back of my head and just let it flow. If you have a script, they’re going to know you have a script. So just think about that kind of thing you say when you are in speech class in school and you have your bullet points. What are the bullet points you want to get out? And then let the story flow naturally within, and with local businesses.

What are some things that you were slow at the beginning that you got a lot faster at over time, and how much faster?

I would say that I think it’s obvious right here, I have the gift of gab and I was born with that. So, when I would schedule some of the interviews with local businesses, it would be a whole lot of gift of the gab at the beginning. I have a whole lot of random questions. And then at the end, I would continually, again, gab because I want to get to know them, which is still important. But then I have to go back and I have so much to edit in the middle. So, what I found is just setting up because I want to touch as many people as I can, but I still have to get my career going, my family going, my volunteer opportunities going, if I’ve set parameters. So now when I’m going to do an interview, it’s set for a specific time. They already have the questions in advance. Not to say that you don’t go off topic sometimes because you want it to be real and authentic. But then I find that the question flow goes to make sense, there’s no editing to do. And when we’re done, they know that we’re done. And I let them know when it will happen next, and then we go on. Now, if we want to go get coffee, let’s go get coffee. But it doesn’t turn a 20-minute interview into two hours. 

Why do you think agents should pick up this book?

Because we all have somewhere to learn. You always surround yourself with good people. There are 19 other chapters and they’re great people, right? I cannot wait to read about every single one of them because there’s going to be a nugget that I’m going to take from each one of them to make myself, not only a real estate agent, but a person in my community and a family member better. I feel it’s important to pick up and learn something from other people and surround yourself with like-minded folks. That’s kind of what this book is. In a nutshell, it’s like-minded folks, people who want to do and give and be better. 

What was the last nugget that you picked up that really helps you with your business? And then, where did you pick that up?

Honestly, last week I was on a coaching call. The whole theme of the coaching call was fulfillment. What is fulfillment in your life? And it was counting your blessings. Little did I know that right after that was going to be when we were going to chat and it was going to completely make sense but it is what I’m living right now. It is literally counting your blessings every single day.

If people resonate with you, which I’m sure there’s going to be a bunch of agents that do, how can they get in touch with you so they can get to know you, build a relationship with you, and learn from you?

[email protected]