Miri is a local real estate expert now in Chicago Illinois in the neighborhood of Naperville. She is also one of the authors in the new real estate business book, Becoming a Local LeaderⓇ. This book features 22 hyperlocal agents. And through their story, they share their strategies on how to build one’s business through relationships and referrals in a specific geographic area. 

I know Miri’s story is going to relate to a lot of people because she knows what it’s like, even right now, to be moving to an area, to relocating, to not knowing anyone, to need to build a brand, build a database, build a sphere of influence, and get clients through relationships and referrals. 

When you chose to be a part of the book and when you look at your chapter, you had a main message that you wanted to give agents out there, maybe agents who are brand new to the business or trying to figure it out. What is the main message you want to share?

I think it’s two parts. The first one being that it’s really easy in today’s world to look outside of yourself and try to copy what other people are trying to do. I think that you can get very easily caught up in that and be looking outside of yourself. “I don’t want to be like this person or that person.”

The number one thing I want to impart is, trust yourself. The best thing you can do is be genuinely you, whatever that is. Trust yourself and come to this business. The second thing that I would say, and it’s something that in retrospect, I didn’t do it soon enough and I would really recommend anybody going into real estate do this as soon as possible, is research and find a mentor. Mentorship is so important. Find somebody that really resonates with you and use them as a mentor. You really get them to give you feedback and help you grow. I think that those are the two things that I would say are the most basically important things that I’d like to impart to people looking to get into real estate.

If you were to try to teach someone how they can trust themselves, how can they genuinely be them faster? What kind of advice would you give?

I have a wonderful mentor right now. One of the things that we talked about is your why. I think if you want to learn to trust yourself in whatever you’re doing, it is to sit down in a quiet place with a journal and really write out your why as detailed as possible. Why are you doing this? What’s in this that is driving you? What is motivating you? Bring it down to the most essential thing of why. And then every single day, you know if it’s every morning as part of your ritual, I have a morning ritual where I do a little motivational thing and I do really just recommend that for everybody, but make that part of your ritual to say, “This is my why.” And I think if you can really bring that to mind, then it will be easier for you to stay in yourself and not be looking to, “Oh. Well, this person. Oh my God, look at what they’re doing.” and really pull yourself out of that. This is my why. And then, really build confidence in that. Your why is no nobody else’s. So, as long as you stay really grounded with your why I think that you can genuinely come out whatever you’re doing. Ask yourself,

Why did you get into real estate? Why do you love it? Tell everyone a little bit about you and your career up to this point.

I didn’t start out being a real estate agent. I came into it later in life. I graduated from University of Texas and studied languages and went into marketing PR, corporate, nonprofit, and then events as well. And then, I got married. I had children and was a stay-at-home mom for quite a while. So, my story is not unlike many others. And then, as my marriage ended and I had to look into going back into working, I had to sit down and do some hard thinking. I did come from a marketing background. So that piece of it, I knew that I was going to use that in some form or fashion. 

And the other thing is, I grew up in architecture. My father’s an architect. I grew up around homebuilding. I bought several homes and remodeled many homes. And so, that is something that I enjoyed throughout my entire life. It was sort of just putting those two things together. And so, my why was, I want to use my skill set that I already know that I have a lot of experience in and I’m strong. And then also, I know that I love the process of home, what that means to have a home, to be in a home, and to help other people through that process. And so, that is genuinely my why. When it comes right down to it, it’s really learning what somebody else’s view of home is and helping pair that person with the ideal. 

Now, you know, you also talked about your morning ritual. Has there been evolution of that? How did you get it? How did you put it together? Why do you think it is the way it is?

It’s definitely an evolution and it’s constantly evolving. One of the things that I started to do after my children is really get into yoga. So, as part of a yoga practice, there’s always the meditation that comes along with it. And as time has gone by, I haven’t been as steady with my yoga practice, which I’d like to get back into. But I’ve certainly kept the meditation piece of it. And I have found that in order to really get grounded, it really is wonderful in the morning to just spend a few quiet moments and have 15-20 minutes of what I call that deep meditation. It’s really just grounding myself. Breathing and grounding. Sometimes I have only 10 minutes, but I still take that time to just clear my mind and focus on my breath and just ground. And then from there, I either read a motivational thing or if I have more time, I might watch a little podcast that has a motivational thing to it that kind of just revs me up and gets me going. After that, before I start planning my day, before I look at social media, before any of that, I remind myself of my why. Why am I doing this? What is it that is motivating me to continue to be a RealtorⓇ? And it’s that thing. Find me the person that I need to connect with and that I really will help them find their ideal home. From there, I go on.

Are there any other parts of that morning routine? Do you do this as soon as you wake up? Describe the whole thing.

I ideally like to do it as soon as I wake up. That’s the ideal. I like to set up and take those moments to just breathe and do that whole thing. Now, I’m a parent. I have a partner. Life gets in the way, you know. People have different ideas of what they need in the morning. And sometimes they’re very respectful of that time, other times not as much. So, I do try to be flexible about it. Honestly, if somebody needs something, something’s going to trip, you know, a million different things can come up in the morning. Somebody is calling you or a client is calling you and they need your first thing in the morning, obviously, you’re going to address that. That’s the part where it’s evolving more. I’m getting a little bit more and more selfish about that. And about letting people know that this is just my time. It’s such a little slice of time and I’m just going to take it to center myself and start the day off right with the right frame of mind. And then, I can tackle things in a much better way.

And there are people that like to get up in the morning and exercise right away. I think that’s great. I also like to fit exercise into my day but for me having that quiet grounding time and sort of resetting my head is the first key step.

Let’s talk about first, the benefits that you’ve got from a mentor. And then, we’ll kind of get into how to find good mentors and how to leverage them versus waiting for them to help you. How to get help from them, how to pick them. But first, what have been the benefits you’ve received from having great mentors?

One of the things that we all know is that so many people get into real estate. It looks like it’s such an easy thing to do, right? Anybody can get to us to sell a house. This is supported by how many people end up with a license yearly. I don’t have the exact number but very few of them end up with real estate as a career. 

I know the numbers. Last year, 400,000 new agents joined. 200,000 out the door within their first year, and 95% of them will be out the door in five years. It is a big failure rate. Therefore, you need to learn how to do it. That’s what mentors are for.

Exactly. The attrition rate is very, very high. Mentorship for me has been that person that snaps you into reality because it is a sales job and you bring a skill set. And so, you have to be very clear on what that skill set is that you’re offering. You need to be able to relay it to somebody else and be very assured of it. And so, that’s where mentorship helps. As well as the reality of the numbers. It is a business. You’re trying to build a business. And so, you have to really have goals. And you need to set clear goals. I think having a mentor is really good for that. They really can help you outline your plan. And also, somebody that can really, not only be your cheerleader because you want somebody that’s going to approach you in a positive way, at least I do. People respond to different things. Maybe there are some people that respond to somebody being a taskmaster, but I respond more to a cheerleader as a mentor. So, that is maybe an individual thing. I’m always looking for somebody who’s going to be a cheerleader but they are also going to remind me if, “Look. This was your goal and your four days away. Are you going to beat it? What are you going to do?” to keep you just sort of on that path so that you can look at, you know, this is a career long term. And it does really take that. It takes looking at your month, looking at are you meeting your goals? What can you do to reset if you aren’t meeting those goals? And having that somebody that’s there to, in my case, positively reinforce the steps that you need to keep taking.

Just to clarify, because I know there are different words in the industry. Coach first mentor, how do you see those as different? Or do you see them as the same?

They can be one person. It certainly can be one person that’s your coach and your mentor. Or you can have two separate people, obviously. You can have somebody that is very successful and that you follow, and that is willing to communicate with you and impart with you some sort of knowledge in the business, or in some ways be a positive cheerleader and celebrate your victories and have a separate person that sort of likes the task. Or that can be the same person. 

Now, I will say that has been a very hard thing to find. It is not easy. I don’t think it has been for me to find a mentor. It’s definitely easier to find a coach. Especially, if you are going to pay to have a coach. I can actually talk about that. If you are able to, I do recommend that you hire a coach. But it can be the same person. 

It has not been the easiest thing to find a mentor for me. I did a lot of research in the past. Houston, for instance. And at that time, I really wanted a female mentor. It was just sort of a personal choice. I think everybody has, whatever it is, I wanted to see a woman who was a mother, somebody that reflected me that was successful in the field. 

Real estate can be very competitive. So, there wasn’t a whole slew of people that were willing to step up to be that person. What I found now and I have found a very good mentor that was part of the business, I found them in my company. I reached out to several people. There wasn’t a person that lived where I lived. But I did reach out to several people. And I had an email that I sent out. 

What was that email? What was the pitch? 

“I’m here. I’m a woman like you. I admire what you’ve done. And I’d love it if you spend any time teaching me.” Basically, saying I admire what you’ve done. I would love it if you would be able to impart to me some of the knowledge so that I can also grow in this business and do the same for others. Many people don’t respond, and that’s okay. I actually don’t take that as a negative anymore. I think that’s the other thing. Then, you know that’s not going to ever be a match. And then, you have people that do respond. I think you really need to not take the first person that responds, but really kind of do that conversation of back and forth to find that fit, to find the person that is going to be willing to communicate and get you as much as you get them. 

One of the things that I write about in my chapter in the book, and that’s really the next step that I’m wanting to take on my personal growth is I want to be that for other people. I want to be available and open myself up to be a mentor for the next person that’s saying, “This is a career that I want to pursue. What are your experiences? What has worked? What hasn’t worked?” and to be that cheerleader for somebody else. Because honestly, there’s plenty of room. There’s plenty of room in this business for other people. I think that there’s a lot that you gain from being a mentor, as much as even maybe even more than being mentored.

Now, one of the things a mentor would also do apart from cheerleading, which some people need or want and best benefit of, is also saying the reality of things even if they don’t like hearing it. One of the things in your chapter, which I really want you to explain more of, was you said, “One of the most surprising things that I learned in real estate the hard way was in thinking that I had the support of those closest to me when in reality I did not. I think a big reason why people don’t do well in real estate is because they think that they’re going to have all this support and all this business from all these people that are in their Facebook, phone, and LinkedIn, and they’ll get all this help, and then it doesn’t happen. They didn’t necessarily have a plan to not need. It’s great to have the support of people close to you but have a plan just in case they don’t.” So, please explain what you mean by that statement. Maybe you have a story to share.

I do. As I started my real estate business, all that time I had been very active in my children’s schools, in different arts organizations. I had served on boards. So, I had the slew, really, of people that I thought, “Oh, here I am. I’m going to come. Now, I’m a RealtorⓇ.” I’ve given all this time, effort, and energy. It’s going to be easy for me to convey to them and people are going to come to me. I learned very quickly, that was not the case. 

Everybody knows a RealtorⓇ, number one. I really like to know a person that doesn’t know a RealtorⓇ. It would be interesting to run into somebody that doesn’t know any RealtorsⓇ. Everybody knows a RealtorⓇ. Then, there’s this that people might see you in one certain way for whatever reason, and it takes a lot to change that. They see you as this person that is a volunteer or does cool things, or whatever. It takes some time to change that perception that people might have in view. So, I ran into that as well. But the other thing that was really, maybe a little bit more difficult for me was finding that what I thought were closer friends or even family members, not close family members, but you know, people that were family, friends, or in distant family members would not use you because it is a very touchy thing for a lot of people. They don’t want to necessarily have somebody that’s close to them. They want it to be a business transaction. And so, there’s that aspect of it. 

As a RealtorⓇ, you do get a lot of insight into people’s financial life. There are a lot of people that don’t really want somebody that is part of their family circle or friends circle to necessarily have that knowledge, and they prefer to deal with somebody that’s much further away that’s just a business transaction. And so, that was a very eye-opening experience for me.

I talk about it a lot. My famous story is my dad’s best friend is a RealtorⓇ. They play tennis every week. As soon as I got into this business, I noticed the same trend that you’re talking about. I noticed this idea that people have a personal relationship with people and/or they have a professional relationship with people. And just because you have a personal relationship doesn’t mean you’ll get a professional relationship. And just because you have a professional relationship with, let’s say, your person that you refer business to like your mortgage broker, doesn’t mean you’re going to have the personal relationship with them, where they now want to actually do business with you for themselves, their personal self versus just professional self. And the goal of a RealtorⓇ is to develop both. You want both sides to it because if you just have one you might lose to someone else who has both. 

I said, “Hey, dad, who are you going to use as your RealtorⓇ when you sell your home?” He says, “I don’t know.” I’m like, “Really? You have no idea?” And I was like, “Can you play tennis with this guy every week?” He’s like, “No, I have no idea.” And in my head, I’m just thinking this. And then I go to him, “Next time, we will play tennis together.” I’m like, “Hey, do you know what my dad said when I asked him this question, who he’s going to use?” And he’s like, “What?” “He didn’t know.” He’s like, “What?” I’m like, “Have you ever had a conversation about real estate or finance or anything?” He’s like, “Well, no. We just play tennis every week.” And I’m like, you need to have another conversation. And you need to, as you said, change people’s perspective. Add a layer to the relationship, add information. 

So, what did you do to change people’s perspectives? Because there are people who are getting into real estate and they’re like, “People know me as this and now I got to be this.” Or, “I’m reinventing myself.” Or, “I’m a new person. I got to change people’s perspective just to think that I’m just as competent as someone who’s been in the industry for 10 years, even though I’ve only been here for one or two years.” So, what would be some of your advice, or tactics, or strategies to how do you change people’s perspective to then go from being a friend to also a client, or being someone with a professional relationship to now being close enough to actually want to do business to?

That’s the tricky part but the lightbulb finally did come on. I recognize that. Well, this one was twofold as well. RealtorⓇs can have a very bad connotation, right? People feel like RealtorsⓇ are in your face and are always trying to get you to buy or sell something. And so, it’s sort of a little bit of a tightrope walk, where you do want to start to talk about yourself and your business with your circle of friends, or with your sphere of influence. Some of that I found easier, in the beginning, to do through social media to start to talk about, you know, in the mix, you don’t want to bombard people, because I think that that’s where you lose them. But in the mix, so I’ll start to talk about, well, this is knowledge that I can impart. I took different courses to improve my knowledge in different ways. I just start to feature those things and to also just give that information out freely to people so that they start to see you as a person that has that knowledge. And then also in conversations because everybody talks about their work. 

Honestly, I wonder if your father hadn’t heard about this other person’s work. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t. So, that was the part that was hard for me but when the light bulb came on, I’ve become much better at it, which is now I do talk about those things in conversations. I don’t lead with them. I don’t bombard people with it. And I’m not a hard sales person anyway. It’s not my personality anyway. But I do have those as part of my regular normal day conversations. And the more I did that, the more naturally it came. The more that I was able to say, “Well, this is what I’m working on.” Or, “I learned this fact today.” Or, “I’m helping this person in this neighborhood.” Or, “You should see this house that I showed today.” And just in those ways, then it became a more natural thing. And that’s the way that people start to see you. Ah, okay, well, that’s her business, just like they talk about theirs. And that slowly changes people’s perception. Now, will they use you? Maybe, maybe not, but at least they see you in that way. They might refer somebody else to you. I had a friend that didn’t use me but referred somebody else to me. And for me, that’s a win.

Yep. Absolutely. And everyone listening, I was excited that there’s no magic bullet. It really is repetition. It’s hard work. It’s sharing information of value about what you’re doing in your profession. And then, following up in conversations to ask if people have questions, ask if they need anything in terms of what you do for a living. I know that’s what it took for me to change majors going from health and fitness to real estate and tech. It was just, “Well, I’m going to keep publishing and doing this stuff over and over and over again, and you guys are going to keep seeing it.” And now all of a sudden, Grant is the real estate guy versus the fitness or event guy, which I was in previous. It takes time. More time for some, less time for others. But all you can do is do it. 

Well, consistency is a very keyword. It’s a constant struggle. I find that too. And as a RealtorⓇ, I think maybe that’s why you have all of this attrition because you might have some very successful time, and then you think, “Whoa!” I’ve done it myself, especially in moving where I lose that momentum and I don’t have that consistency, and then you have a downturn so you have to say, “Okay.” Now, I’ve got to get back up. I know how to do it. I know that if I keep at it, if I’m consistent, then there will be success in the end. But it is a lot of work and there’s a lot of consistency.

And I think this is a good time for one of the things that I’ve learned from one of my mentors. I find moments to say this myself over and over and over again, because it puts you in a good state when you feel this way, and is trading your expectations for appreciation. I don’t expect these people to be my client or give me their listing. I would appreciate it. And because I would appreciate it, I’m now going to be consistent in the things that will help me earn and therefore appreciate their business. If you expect it, you get lazy and complacent. If you appreciate it, you do the work and you stay consistent.

Complacency is the worst thing, as I think any entrepreneur would agree. Complacency is the worst thing you can do. You have to keep consistent. You have to keep growing too because things change so rapidly so you have to keep on top of it. You have to keep educating yourself.

If you were to think back to the beginning of your career, or in those moments where you were trying to figure out how to get to the next level, knowing what you now know about the authors in the book and what this book is all about, why do you think agents should pick up the book, Becoming a Local LeaderⓇ?

I think I keep coming back to this because it’s wonderful to learn. It’s sort of like having a little bit of a coaching and mentor without much class and very little input. Absolutely learning from other people’s trials and what has worked and hasn’t worked is one of the ways that I’ve grown and gotten to the place I am. So, I think that that’s important information for anybody that wants to be a RealtorⓇ. But also, equally important is learning what does work and seeing yourself too. Like I said, we are all different. There are things that are going to work for one person that might not necessarily work for another. But having a little bit of different perspectives, I think that anybody can find themselves, or most people will be able to find themselves amongst that. Like, “Ah, well, this resonates with me. I’m going to try it.” You know, just really having it in one very safe space to look at. These are the years of experience that these people have had. These are the things that they wish they knew. Now, I have them right here in front of me. And then, these are the variety of things that they’re trying that are working. Well. Let me see what sounds good for me, what resonates with my why, what really speaks to myself. I’m gonna try it.

If people want to get in contact with you to learn from you, to build a relationship with you, how can they do so?