Ego Driven Goals

Six weeks ago I launched a new real estate brand.  Five years from now it will be the largest real estate brand in New England, helping more than 20,000 families a year with their home buying and selling needs.  Twenty years from now it will be the dominant real estate brand in the world.  I’ve launched a handful of businesses in my twenty year career as an entrepreneur, but this is the one that will be my legacy.  My goal is huge, audacious, and totally practical.  This launch has required by unyielding focus on the details that will result in the success of the business.  There is little room for error.  Therefore, every single day I examine my business plan, strategy, and action steps.  Every minute counts…everything I do from here on in counts.  Today as I was re-examining my plan, strategy and action steps, I found a glaring error in my methodology.  This could have derailed my ship five years from now….so I am grateful to have found the error early.  I am going to share this mistake with you so that you can look for it in your own goals and dreams, but not before I impart the first lesson I hope you extract from today’s post – check, recheck, examine, poke holes, and test theories against your plan every single day.  You don’t want to spend a decade working off a faulty plan so read it daily and assume that you’ve made a mistake somewhere.

Now to my big error.  I have had forty plus agent recruiting appointments since launching my brand six weeks ago and nine merger and acquisition appointments.  I proudly share the goals of my company at each of these meetings because I only want to attract agents who believe in our vision.  Interestingly,  when I launched my brand I did a thorough examination of all of my competitors and I poked holes in their visions and goals.  For example, many large real estate organizations have goals for attracting a certain number of agents each year.  I noticed a flaw in this type of goal setting and realized that my goal would never be based on having a certain number of agents working at my company because to me it was more important to have a few of the right agents than many of the wrong.  So, when I set out to create goals for my company I didn’t put a number as to how many agents I’d recruit.  The goals for my firm would be based instead on the number of families my firm would help with their home buying and selling needs.  For example, my five year goal is that in year five we will be helping 20,000 families buy and sell real estate in New England.  For six weeks I’ve been touting this massive goal at each recruiting appointment I go on.  Then today as I was running through my plan, strategy, and action steps in my head…I realized a major flaw in this goal. It is the same flaw that I recognized in other companies who were using agent count as their goal.  My goal was totally ego driven….in fact the goal I had been touting was not actually my goal at all!

Here’s how I poked holes in my goal.  I could help 20,000 families this year in their home buying and selling needs.  For example, I could become a deep discount real estate firm that is the cheapest in the business for customers and the cheapest in the business for agents.  I bet I could grab up business quickly by becoming the cheapest….just like Sam Walton did.  But, I don’t want to be a discount brokerage even if  I were guaranteed to get to my goal by doing so.  As I thought about this further I realized that helping 20,000 buyers and sellers a year wasn’t really my goal after all.  Rather than a goal…this number is my scorecard.  My real goal is to build an awesomely amazing real estate firm where we teach agents to go after Big Hairy Audacious Goals in their lives…where we teach them a strategy for achieving them.  I want to build a company that attracts entrepreneurs who take calculated risk, create a strategy for achieving their vision, and then achieve.  I am building a real estate firm where we offer the highest possible concierge type of services to our salespeople…where we think about what our agents need before they do and we provide it without their having to ask.  We are becoming the Starbucks, Nordstrom, Zappos of the real estate industry.

Once it’s built, I will know it because the evidence will be the 20,000 families a year that my agents will help with their home buying and selling needs.

Being number one is an ego driven goal and it’s awfully hard to attract people to that vision.  Therefore, find the WHY behind the number so that the number becomes nothing more than a scorecard.  Getting buy-in for your vision is so much easier when you can articulate your why. Your why is your goal.  Your stature, market position, and other numbers will be the scorecard of your success.

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

5 Lessons Learned from Re-Branding

After fourteen years of owning a franchise, three weeks ago I launched my own real estate brand as I continue my journey of achieving my Big Hairy Audacious Goal of owning one of the largest real estate firms in New England, and then the world. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life, but my recent rebranding offered me some awesome lessons allowing me to learn in three short weeks way more than I could have learned in years. This was one of the hardest and one of the most exciting undertakings I’ve ever ventured into. I’m so glad that I did it because for the first time in at least ten years, I once again have the fire in my belly needed to take my business to entirely new levels. There were literally hundreds of lessons learned through the launch of this new brand, but I’ve narrowed it down to five that I feel any entrepreneur can apply to his or her own business.

1. The Price of Keeping the Wrong People – Three years ago I read the book Delivery Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos. I was so enthralled by the lessons that I followed up by visiting Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas to take a tour and learn from the people there about building an awesome culture. There’s one lesson that stuck out to me when I was reading Tony’s book. At Zappos, when an employee joins their company, they go through a training period and then Zappos offers to pay them a stipend ($2000 I think) if they choose not to take the job. WHAT? They pay people to NOT take the job. That’s right! Zappos figures that if you’re willing to take the $2000 over the opportunity to work there, you are totally not cut out for the job. I learned a similar lesson when rebranding my own firm. You see, my previous franchise popped up real estate offices in all my markets (they gave away 13 franchises for $1 each) in order to keep as many as my agents as possible. The owners of those offices did anything to buy my team members. As much as it hurt to lose some talent, I felt solace in knowing that my team was stronger in the end because the 80% of team members who believed in the new brand vision were all better off surrounded by other supporters. We would have had huge cracks in the foundation of our new company if we were holding on to people that didn’t believe 200% in where we were going. This is similar to the feeling that Zappos has…”We are so sure of our awesomeness….that we will pay you to go so that all the other team members have the benefit of being surrounded by raving fans who are just like them.”

2. Sticks and Stones – I have never had so much criticism, negativity, and name calling hurled toward me than I have in these last three weeks. Twenty years ago this would have been enough to cause me to crawl into bed and hibernate for three months. However, what’s amazing is that I’ve learned so much about success over the past twenty years that now I literally bask in the sun of all the naysayers. Their doubt, criticism, and disbelief is what fuels me to work harder. I graduated from the best business school in New England because I would re-play the words of my fifth grade teacher who told me I had learning disabilities and that I would never amount to much. That teacher made me better! I graduated from law school and passed the bar even after so many people told me I could never do it. Thank God they told me I couldn’t, because who knows if I would have had the fuel to get through it without them. Almost everything AWESOME in my life was the by-product of someone telling me I couldn’t. Now I know my new real estate brand is going to dominate in New England and eventually all over the world, because I already have the doubters gassing my engine. One of those doubters called my new real estate brand, “A Mickey Mouse Brand.” If only she had read the book, How to Be Like Walt, because then she would know that in trying to criticize me she had actually paid me the highest compliment one could have ever paid an entrepreneur like me.

3. Fear Motivates – Nobody likes change. We all know that. Not until recently did I learn how much of a motivator fear can be. I lost 20% of the agents who went back to the franchise I left. If there were no such thing as fear, none would have left. Why would they? Everything else stayed the same. We had the same staff members, same locations, and same owners. We had duplicated the tools being offered and we increased the amount of advertising in the marketplace so that we would quickly become a household name. We didn’t change much at all. However, we did change the name. The effect of the name change was that agents would no longer be recognized as a brand name agent in other states across the country. The offices that opened in our market convinced many that their business would forever be effected by the name change. This created fear. Some of our agents left. If there were no fear in the world, and we were all forced to deal with actualities then I wouldn’t have lost anyone. By the way, I don’t discredit anyone that moves in fear. In fact, when you get down to it, fear is what motivated me to get out of the same franchise that some of my agents feared losing. I feared what my future would look like if I stayed there, and felt the alternative, de-branding, was the best choice for our firm based on our vision of the future.

4. Others Can’t Hurt Us – There were a few times these past two weeks where I felt hurt by the actions of others. However, what I realized is that only I can hurt ME. Nobody has the ability to hurt me with words or actions, only I can do that to myself. We all control our own emotions, reactions, and feelings. When someone does something that hurts us, like says something to criticize, we can choose to accept that as pain, ignore it, or turn it into fuel that will energize us. On the few times that I felt emotionally hurt during this time of change, I’d quickly re-group, concentrate on my feelings, and bring myself back to the realization that if I feel hurt and pain it’s because of me….nobody but me controls how I feel.

5. Keep the Focus Where It Needs to Be – Ones focus must always be on the future, not the past. If I dwelled on who left, why they left, and how I felt about it, I’d have no time to build an awesomely amazing future. That was the whole point of re-branding anyway. The purpose of the rebranding was to offer a better future for our team members and no matter what happens we have already done just that. The future of the new company is one in which my partner and I have the ability to offer new and better services, greater localized presence, more business through advertising, SEO, and social media campaigns, and a high quality work experience for our agents and staff. For anyone that reads this blog, remember this, you cannot change the past, but you can create an awesome future. Keep your focus on your goals, vision, and dreams…and there’s no stopping you!

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.