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Hi, Tanja here and welcome to TMJ TV where today we get to turn the tables on our next guest because he’s usually the one asking questions from best practice leaders and agents. He’s been in the industry for 30 years. He averages around five auctions every weekend. He’s a regular real estate expert on Sky News. You’ll see him on Facebook on a Sunday and a Monday giving his shoot from the hip No BS real estate rants where up to 10,000 people tune in. He’s an author, he’s a trainer, and a carriage of up to 20,000 people that receive wisdom from him every single day. He has a family and get this, he has a full-time job as a general manager of sales for News Corp. This is one man that will never use a reason to get in the way of his results. It is my privilege to sit with you, Tom Panos.
Tom: Thank you, Tanja.
Tanja: Welcome and thank you for joining us for our key leaders of influence conversation around what is leadership and how is it relevant for today and tomorrow in real estate.
Tom: Pumped about it. Pumped about it.
Tanja: You have, as I’ve just said, you know, you have no shortage of experience and over the years, you’ve interviewed hundreds and thousands of best practice leaders and agents. What are the fundamentals that you can see thinking back around effective leadership?
Tom: I think, Tanja, the audio matches the video. So the bottom line is that I just say the stuff, they’re doing it and because that is proof every day to the people around them, that the people that influenced by them actually trust them, like them, respect them, actually wanna copy that person, adore them, envy them. So I think it’s this ability to actually, having what you say and what you do in alignment. So I see that with great leaders. I can’t help but notice this, they are smart, like, good leaders are smart. They have the ability to read the play on what’s going on in a market place. They’re able to jump on to trends very quickly. The other thing, Tanja, that I think that they do very, very well is they catch people doing things right quickly and they catch people doing things wrong quickly. So what actually happens is that this behaviour is set in the office because there is a saying, you get what you tolerate and they don’t tolerate shit.
Tanja: Good leaders don’t tolerate shit.
Tanja: Yeah. There is a great quote, the standard you want passed is the standard you accept.
Tom: A hundred percent because you’re training people to be that way. Every time you don’t…every time you allow something wrong in your business and you actually don’t address it, you’re saying, “Thumbs up, keep doing it.”
Tanja: Yeah. That’s okay. And then you have to suffer the impacts of, “That’s okay.”
Tanja: Who has inspired you the most? I mean, you’ve had an extensive career, you’ve worked with the greats. So who do you learn from? Who inspired you the most in your journey?
Tom: So for the last, you know, like, twelve, thirteen years, I’ve been working as an executive in News Corporation and, like, that’s what I do. I mean, for the major period of the time, I’ve had budgets of around $300 million to $400 million to look after. So with that in mind, it’s the people that are around me that is mostly in my face. I mean, Rupert Murdoch, without a doubt. I mean, you learn so much from what he does. He’s got this incredibly uncanny ability to be able to have high IQ, high EQ, and to be able to sniff opportunities and to be relentless in chasing them. There is a…So he has a hype of many men because I’m gonna faint.
Tanja: We’ll just put them into category.
Tom: Tanja, the ones that I got most out of are probably people that have been outside of real estate because if you actually look at the real estate model, let’s be really clear and accept that the majority of real estate leaders have a path which was salesperson or property manager, real estate agent, maybe have put on one or two PA’s and at some point, actually said, “I’m a business owner.” Now that model wasn’t even in the case, like a decade ago, this business unit model didn’t even exist. So a lot of the times, what we’ve got is a business owner who basically went from sales agent to leader. So they’ve been hacking away and learning what to do and what not to do by trial and error.
Tom: You know, in recent years, people like you have come along: trainers, YouTube, Google, the world of self-education and what’s actually happened is that people are also learning by getting information from other people.
Tanja: Well, you know, in the intro, I kind of shared a slice of what you do, it’s pretty extraordinary. And I said, you know, what I know about you and what I appreciate about you is you just don’t let reasons get in the way of results no matter what. This is something that I think all leaders need to adopt because, and you would say this is a courage, we either have reasons or results, we either have excuses or great experiences. What is it that you have? What’s in your DNA that’s just made you that way?
Tom: It’s hard to define if that’s the way that you are because you don’t know any better. I mean, for me, I’ve always just had this incredible ability, if given a situation and that there were lots of situations that might arrive out of the situation. Just picture that there is an event and that there is ten possible things that can happen. I’ve being gifted, Tanja, with the ability that I will seem to focus on the one reason why it’s gonna work and I wanna spend my time and energy in participating in the options that aren’t gonna work. So how do I get that? I don’t know.
Tanja: But you read, you educate yourself?
Tanja: You’ve done a lot of, you know, training and courses and learned from the best and the reason I ask this question is you mentioned before the journey to leadership is often you’re a sales agent or a property manager and you go on and you can potentially open your own office and then you’re in that dance of navigating being in the business and on the business. And you would have heard, as I hear a lot, you know, I don’t have time, I don’t have time, but we have the same 24 hours in the day. You seem to fit unloading your day. You also have an extraordinary team that, you know, help you and I could see you give back to them. You go and have a meeting with Judith at the manicure place and get a manicure and have a conversation about the day or the week. What would you say to leaders who are using the excuse of I don’t have time?
Tom: They’re lying to themselves, they’re lying to themselves, They’re lying to themselves Like, as we’re speaking here today, I’m letting you know that I’ve had my 12-month financial year’s gone by. I’ve had a fantastic financial year.
Tanja: Awesome and you deserve it. You give so much.
Tom: Amazing. Having said that, I’ve also spent seven or eight months out of that 12 months in chemo. Having said that, I’ve run my auction company which I do about ten or eleven every Saturday. We’ve got that. I mean, I’ve been doing my job at News Corp, you know, as speaking although there is about 175 events, whether they’re big or small, regardless they are time. They take time, right?
Tom: So in addition to that, you know, content curation for the Real Estate Gym and all that. So when people turn around and say they don’t have time, it’s maybe because what you’re doing, you really dislike, and I get that. I get that. And I’ll share a very quick story for you.
When I got better, Tanja, and you’ve, you know, you’ve been very nice during that part of the journey. You’d send me things, and send me your thoughts and other herbs and vitamins and juices and everything, but what I was gonna say is I tried when I came back and I recovered 100%. I made a decision that I’m gonna try and live a normal life where I’m not working 90 hours, where I’m working say 40, 45 hours and I did it for two weeks. It was the worst two weeks of my life. Worst two weeks of my life.
Tanja: Yeah. Because it’s not innate to who you are.
Tanja: Right, and were you trying to do that to just invest more in your health and well-being because you thought that’s what you should do?
Tom: I was doing that because I thought to myself that I have to follow a lot of what everyone is saying and that is, you know, life balance which makes it really interesting because it makes me realise that life balance to me is about you being in flow. You can’t force yourself to take someone’s bestseller book that says what you’ve gotta do is do one hour of meditation and do that and do that. No. You have to be the subject and the scientist. If you are in-flow and your flow is that you love doing these five core things and it feels effortless and you’re good at them and you like doing them, do that. That’s your gift on the planet. Do that. Do not feel guilty. Do not sit there and listen to other people’s opinions who don’t have to live with the consequences of the advice that they give you, right?
So that I can sit there and I can say, “Do this. Do this. Do this.” And then you go up and do it and I don’t have to actually have anything to do with the results of that. So, you know, for me, as I’m sitting there, I’m thinking about the audience that this is going out to. I just think like there is three or four things that come to my head that a leader needs to understand. If you’re a leader, you are the CEO. If you’re the CEO, you are the Chief Energy Officer of that business.
Tanja: A hundred percent.
Tom: Understand, if you’re in business, you’re in HR. If you’re in business, you’re in marketing, so accept. If you’re a real estate owner you are not a real estate agent that has become a real estate principal, you are in the business of human resources. You are in the business of marketing. So you are in the business of recruitment. So all of a sudden, what we’re seeing, Tanja, is a heap of things that you probably aren’t buying books on, a heap of things that you aren’t going to lectures at which are the things that your people want from you. And because they’re not providing it and we’re probably gonna touch on it, it is creating a situation now where your report shows that only one fifth of people are saying I’m in love with the leadership in my business, one fifth.
Tanja: Yeah. One fifth. So it’s a huge opportunity. And you refer to the real estate of leadership survey that I’ve done with Core Logic where we just wanted to do…get a helicopter view on what are the desired futures of professionals in the industry? What is the current reality and what is the leadership gap? You know, my belief, Tom, is everyone, leaders, teams, no matter what role you play, we’re all working with the best intentions. We’re all operating at the level of consciousness we’re at, at the time, but if you put your hand up to lead, there is a responsibility in place and responsibility is the ability to respond to what your people need of you when they need it of you.
Tom: Well said
Tanja: And not every leader, …I think good leaders are not the ones with all the answers, but they know how to cultivate the wisdom from young rookies and seasoned professionals. What in your experience are the things that define the leaders that will stand the test of time in people management? Forget the books and the marketing and social and, you know, paying the lease, I think people are our greatest asset. So what are the qualities that will, see, leaders and teams be relevant tomorrow if they apply them today?
Tom: Okay. I would say number one, is the ability to actually see the world through the eyes of your real estate agent.
Tom: Because…let me use a metaphor. Just picture a beach ball with different colored panels: red, white, green, blue, and you’ve got the principal that’s got the ball and he’s looking at it and he is absolutely adamant that the ball that he’s looking at has got the blue panel. And then on the opposite side is his sales agent or her sales agent, and that person is looking at a red panel, and you’ve got two people that are actually looking at the same thing but they’re absolutely adamant that what they’re seeing is blue, the other person seeing is red. A good leader has the ability to let go of what he is looking at and try and look at the world through that person’s eyes. So when people turn around and say, “Hey, listen, I don’t wanna have this, you know, 800 pound gorilla. I don’t wanna have this same person.”
I say if you’re a good leader, why don’t you be as good as the best coaches in sporting world. They’ve got some gorillas, but they have learned how to actually optimize and get the best out of that person and still be able to keep a team unit not falling off the rail. So I would say number one would be able to be seeing the world through their staff’s eyes.
Tanja: And seek to understand before you pass judgment. Look at the world from their view and then watch. What’s the next thing?
Tom: I would say the second thing would be understand that the biggest asset that you have as a leader now is to increase the earning ability of the people that are actually in your agency. And the why that you do that is you’re able to help them through good quality coaching style leadership, understand that they probably have self-limiting beliefs.
Tanja: Who? The leaders or the team?
Tom: The team.
Tanja: Yeah, of course, yeah.
Tom: And on certain things that if you’re able to help that agent change his or her story, that you’re able to get them from writing $400,000 to $800,000. So we start saying as a key competency in the new connection economy that a great leader, what they bring to the table is not a window shop front, not the fact that they’ve got a premier all subscription, not a fact that, you know, they’ve got a great training provider or they’ve got access to this CRM system. Everyone has got everything. So you turn around and you say, “What is it? What is that unique thing?” It’s the ability for you as a business owner to get someone and to work with them and take them to improve their earning ability by you being a coaching leader. So you have an obligation if you’re a leader now to learn performance-based techniques of coaching.
Tanja: Yeah. Because if your people don’t value themselves, how are they going to be able to articulate the highest value for the property that they are about sell.
Tom: Correct. Correct. One hundred percent. Tanja, like, if that leader is looking after those people, those people are looking after their vendors, you have got a very happy ecosystem in real estate when you have that going on. But that plan that doesn’t work…well, I had a situation where I had a leader, I went to do a session, you know, like in many months ago, Tanja, and the owner of the business said, “Don’t worry about those guys there. They’re dead wood.”
Tanja: Yeah. I remember you talked about this on one of your rants.
Tom: Correct. I mentioned it on Facebook a few months ago and I actually said to the leader, “I’m just curious, were they dead when you hired them or did you kill them?” And there was silence. But even though it’s funny, Tanja, it’s a fair question, isn’t it?
Tanja: It’s 100% fair question.
Tanja: This is what I’m talking about with the level of responsibility that leaders have. If a leader is saying, “Don’t worry about them, they’re dead wood.” Well, A, that’s not humane. B, as a business owner, that’s a resource there that is having a slice of your market share pie. So if they are not operating on all cylinders, I believe it’s the leader’s responsibility. It’s what you signed up for to get interested in breathing life into them because this is an energy game. Not only because that’s just decent ‘human-being-ness’, but if you put your business hat on, every individual is accountable for generating business to your business. You call them dead wood, well, then you’ve just written off a percentage of your revenue generator.
Tanja: You know, it’s interesting, and I hear this too, Tom. You know, leaders, and we’ve all done it, in many areas of our life, but we’re talking about leadership. It’s easy to point the finger. It’s easy to avoid responsibility and lay blame and judge the ineffectiveness of others. And what you’re saying is great leaders are more interested in or they make like Gandhi. You know, they lose themselves in service of their people. They understand they are the greatest resource and asset and they do everything that it takes to breathe life into them and give them the resources to succeed and there is a difference between leaders that love seeing people rise above them versus, “Oh, hang on, I’m feeling a bit threatened and intimidated by your growth.” Have you seen that in your journey?
Tanja: So, Tom, I’m interested. I wanna ask your opinion. If you were a new agent today, in today’s day and age, in the current, you know, environment, would you invest your time and energy in becoming a super team, like climbing the ladder and becoming a super team or would you choose to become a principal and lead a team?
Tom: It’s a situational question and I’ll tell you why because there is no right or wrong answer. If you are the sort of person…if you are the sort of person that is sitting at an awards night and you have your staff going up there and then getting the top award and everyone’s acknowledging it and everyone’s clapping and they look like the hero and in your heart, you are jealous, right? You should not be a principal. You should actually be that sales person and you will make more money and you’re also gonna have your currency which your currency is that you wanna be recognised and valued as being top gun, you’re better off staying as a sales person.
Tanja: And that’s okay by the way.
Tom: 100%, 100%,
Tanja: If it’s your currency, don’t try playing a different currency because you’re gonna be bankrupt.
Tom: A hundred percent. Like, Tanja, the best people in REB top 100 that are getting all the awards, they’re sales people. They make that unit. That’s what they are. They are people that basically have said, “Hey listen, I do not want to be trying to get the best version of 20 other people. I am in it for me, I’ll have a couple of people that are gonna work my weaknesses while I work my strengths. They’re my assistants. Call them what you like in their pod. But alternatively, if you are the person that has got this incredible idea in your head that you’re gonna have people that you’re gonna be coaching and they’re gonna be writing good numbers and that you’ll actually be spending your time and energy getting the best version of them and when they get on stage, you are so happy, you are happier for them, then you should be a principal.
So I think it boils down to is, when you ask yourself that question, if I’m sitting at an awards night, am I happier for one person than I am for me, right? Then you should be a principal. Otherwise, I think what you’ve gotta do is take advantage of what the smart girls and guys are doing. You can write three, four million in GCI with a group of people working in your unit and you can have an extraordinary life in real estate.
Tanja: Without the headaches of leadership, if that’s not your flavor
Tanja: Because there’s a lot to deal with.
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