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Hi, Tanja here, and welcome to TMJ TV, a weekly video series aimed at real estate leaders that would love more time to grow their people and their business. Did you know that leaders spend up to 80% of their time navigating the people, performance, and productivity issues within the business? Now, this means their focus is off recruiting for results, delivering strategies for success, and gaining the market share that they desire. Well, I’d love to help. Every single week, I’m going to share insights and free downloadable tools to help you and your people achieve your success in the least amount of time. I hope you enjoy this next episode of TMJ TV.
Tanja: We talked before about the ability to seek to understand the world from other people’s perspectives, which, as you would know really well, helps you identify what people value and kind of a sense of their why. And “why” is one of those words that’s being thrown around like confetti, you know, like “disruption,” and “Uber,” and “Airbnb.” And I know you did a rant recently, which was like, you know, debunking that whole thing.
Tanja: I am keen to know, though, for you, Tom, and I’m interested to hear that you kind of…when you came back after your recent treatment, and we are all glad that it went really well for you, and you went, “Okay, let me try this not working 90 hours a week thing,” and then in two weeks, you know, you saw you were miserable. You get that it’s your DNA, just to be abundant and ebullient with your energy. Why do you think that is you? What is it that if you forecast your life to when you’re 90 and you look back, what is the fuel that keeps you fired up to serve to the level that you do?
Tom: Right. I think the first thing is I have been gifted, and I’ve used the term, “Some of the best gifts in life come badly wrapped.” I’ve had a gift that was not beautifully wrapped, but what it did is the first time I got sick, it taught me the fact is that time is a non-renewable resource, that it is valuable, right? And that it is more valuable than anything else on the planet. So with that in mind, I then began to live each day not trying to get through the day but what I’m going to get out of the day, right? Because there is no such thing as an unimportant minute, right? So what I think I’ve learnt is that if I’m good at something and I like doing it, I should be occupying all my time in those moments, because otherwise, I have this sense of guilt. So…
Tanja: What’s that? Tell me about that. What’s the sense of guilt?
Tom: The sense of guilt is saying to me, “Hey, listen, you love doing it. You’re good at it. It contributes to other people. Just do more of it. Just do more of it.” And, like, to me…and I’m learning to cope better with it, and that is that I have to accept I will never be a person… And I’ve been fortunate enough to have a family that actually prefers my way of life. They actually like me…
Tom: …being, you know, being this way. They like me knowing that their Dad is not the type that for two, three hours is sitting on a picnic blanket, you know? They get that. They understand that. But look, I just want to touch on that thing, you know, Tanja, that you said, because I think it’s an important thing that people grasp in their head. And that is that I think a lot of people actually are hoping that something reveals itself to them before they get cracking, right? I think that you shouldn’t think that. I think that what you have got to have the ability, Tanja, is… And people don’t know I’m good at quitting. I’m actually…
Tanja: Are you?
Tom: I’m very good at quitting.
Tanja: See, well, I think you’re right. I don’t think we perceive that of you.
Tom: I’m very good at quitting. I actually think that quitting is a great strategy.
Tanja: Yeah. If you’re clear.
Tom: If you’re clear. Because too many people, too many people, what they do is they hit a wall, and what actually happens is they spend 50 years hitting that wall, right? – They hit it…
Tom: …they hit it, they hit it. And they keep saying, “I’ve been told I’ve just got to grind through, grind through, grind through.” What I say is that staying or quitting needs you to be able to make decisions. Because every time you are hitting that wall is opportunity cost. Because every time you keep doing that is stopping you from doing something else that might not be hitting the wall, right?
Tanja: Yeah. And it potentially could have you in flow, not force.
Tom: One hundred percent. One hundred percent. And it gets really bad when you’re hitting the wall and you are not in flow.
Tanja: Yeah. My view on that is if we are just on autopilot and we don’t stop to reflect and ask, “What am I learning from this?” then we will just keep hitting the wall rather than step back and go, “You know what?” have a little bit of self-evaluation. And do you think having some pretty big pauses forced upon you in your life that were badly wrapped forced you to have some of that reflection and reassess your life?
Tom: A hundred percent. If you were to ask me what was the last, you know, eight months…last cancer bout, July to December, that was a seven-month retreat. That’s a seven-month retreat.
Tanja: And you had one of the best years yet.
Tom: Amazing year. Because what it actually does, it helps you to elevate yourself from being in the picture to step outside the picture and to look at it clearly. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re having…whether you’re sitting at a monastery, or whether you’re sitting at a Buddhist temple, or whether you’re sitting at a chemo ward. The point is if you’re actually not in the frame, you can actually look at the frame better.
Tom: Yep,That’s the point we’re getting at, you know? But I just think that life is so much better if you’re doing stuff you’re good
Tom: That’s the point we’re getting at, you know? But I just think that life is so much better if you’re doing stuff you’re good at, if you’re doing stuff that you like, and if it’s contributing to other people, things are good.
Tanja: Things will work out all right.
Tom: Things work out well.
Tanja: Before we touch on the point that you feel is one of the most important, one of the things you’re—you and your brand—is known for is authenticity. You have not been backward in coming forward about owning who you are. A big mistake I see, Tom, certainly that leaders make is in many situations, they’d rather be liked than lead. They’d rather collude or not rock the boat or not avoid disconnection from others instead of making the tough calls. You have no issue with not being liked, which is completely counterintuitive to 99% of humanity. I think it’s a lesson that everyone could learn from.
Tanja: You weren’t born that way. You chose that, right? True?
Tom: A hundred percent. I don’t…
Tanja: What do you want to say about that? Because I think this… And look, some people don’t even like that about you, that you’re… You know, they will view it as arrogant, right?
Tom: Tanja, you know me.
Tanja: Yeah, I do.
Tom: You know I’m a nice guy.
Tanja: Oh, man, you are a…you are divine.
Tom: I’m a nice guy.
Tom: But here is the deal. I don’t fall in and I don’t compete or participate in the game of the popularity contest. I do not point fingers, but I’ll tell you what I do very well. I describe a situation as it is. And too many people do not want to describe a situation as it is. So I don’t say, “It’s your fault.” What I say is, “This is the situation.” Like I had a conversation.
Tanja: – So you depersonalize it.
Tanja: Yeah, which is a great
Tom: I had a conversation the other day with a guy that said to me, “Tom, you don’t understand my market. There are no listings there. It is so tight. I’m doing everything, but there’s no stock.” And I said, “Okay. What I want to do is to make sure that what you’re saying is absolutely 100% correct.” So we pulled out the listings out of Core Logic in the farm area, and I said, “This is the situation. There’s actually 21 listings. And out of those 21, you’ve got 1.” And he went on and he said, “Yeah. That’s over price. That’s a management… That’s that.” Now, his business owner did not have that crucial conversation with him. So we had a person that was believing in their head that this was reality. So what I think I do very good… and I do this. If you ask people, I’ve got a very high engagement rate from my staff and I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of business staff around the country, like hundreds, over the last 14 years. I’ve got a very high engagement score of people not because I make them feel good and say, “You’re the best.” It’s because they know when I describe a situation, I’m actually saying it as it is, and I’m not saying, “It’s your fault.” What I’m saying is, “What are we going to do about it?” So what I think I’m good at also in management is that I will quickly revert. After I had discovered the problem, I will quickly change it and say, “This is what it is. You tell me what can we do about it.” So I’m making them have skin in the game, but more importantly, they’re actually smarter than me on that issue because that’s what they’re doing every day. And then I finish off with these three questions. And every coaching leader must nail these. “Okay. Thank you for those six options. Can I ask you what are you going to do? When are you going to do it? How will I know it’s been done?” Now, if you start having these quality half-hour coaching conversations with people where you listen to their problem, you describe the situation, you ask them by powerful questions how they will actually find a solution to that… Like, I mean, a great… Sometimes, Tanja, they’ll say to you, “I’ve got no idea. You’re the expert. You’re the boss. You’re the…been in real estate for 30 years.” I’ll say, “If you woke up tomorrow and you knew the answer, tell me what would it be. What else? What else?” And let them get into flow, flow, and then actually wrap it up and say, “What are you going to do? When are you going to do it? How will I know it’s going to be done? Great. I’ll see you next week.” These are the sorts of conversations certain members in a real estate team need from a principal because you get what you tolerate, and what you measure, you manage. And you need to have this type of conversation in your business, not “Let’s go with the flow.”
Tanja: Yeah. And use excuses why we don’t have results.
Tanja: So what I can hear there is the balance of empowerment and personal accountability. So sitting…
Tom: Empowerment, yes.
Tanja: …with them, having, you know, inviting them to look at, you know, what are the options, empower them to see things differently, and then kind of hold the mirror of accountability up to go, “Okay. Well, what are you going to do about it? When are you going to do it? And how will I know it’s done?”
Tanja: And then hold them to account. Because one of the ways that people feel valued is if they know that, you know, if they haven’t come back to you… Not easy to do when you have 20,000 members, right? But with principals that have got a team of five or six, show some interest and go, “Hey, Tom, that thing we talked about, you were going to get back to me 5:00pm yesterday. I haven’t heard from you. How’s it going?” That makes a massive difference.
Tom: One hundred percent. And, Tanja, if you’re in an office and an environment where you’ve got total interaction with your people all the time, I recommend frequently just ask them, “How’s things? How’s life?” Actually, that’s what you…
Tanja: “How’s life?”
Tom: “How’s life?” Because I can tell you pretty much every business problem is actually something that has been created by a personal problem…
Tanja: Hundred percent.
Tom: …that keeps them off-track, you know?
Tanja: Or how you do one thing is how you do everything.
Tanja: If you’re always saying, “I should get up at 5:00am and join, you know, the 5 a.m. club,” and you’re hitting snooze three times, it’s just not a must. And they’re saying, “I should be prospecting. I should eat clean. I should not have another glass of wine.”
Tanja: You know? So…
Tom: That’s a good point. Because what leaders do, if you actually look at their organization, they have got a number of musts, whereas struggling businesses have got leaders that are saying, “We should have block out time for everyone to do their prospecting. We should be doing a training session every week.” What I noticed about the stellar offices that are getting high margins in their business and they’re not having to pay 80% for their salespeople—they’re paying lower but the people are happy—is they created a set of values that are musts, those have stood the test of time. And people are attracted to their business because it’s an attraction business, and they actually don’t get depressed on a Sunday night going to that organization.
Tanja: Because they have standards.
Tanja: And they’re certain.
Tanja: And people…
Tom: People love that.
Tanja: By people, not products, or not a vision. That’s one of my favorite quotes. “You don’t believe the message unless you believe the messenger.”
Tom: I love that. “You don’t believe the message unless you believe the messenger.”
Tanja: Now, most businesses or most leaders, and I say this with respect because we’re all working with the best intentions, right? Until we have a greater level of consciousness. So many leaders go through the motions of vision, or why, done, purpose, done, values, done. And they put them on, you know, black words on a white piece of paper, frame it in the boardroom… And it’s called a boardroom because it’s boring in there. Nothing gets created because they’re busy talking about stuff in the past rather than for stuff in the future. And that makes no difference. And then if I’m your leader and I’m wishy-washy with my standards or I’m not inspiring you to believe in the future that hasn’t even been created yet but we see, that’s where leaders have high levels of turnover. That’s where you aren’t an attraction office.
Tom: What you just described there is an adult day care center where they’ve cut a few pieces of paper stuck on the wall like it’s, you know, the big balloon and cake day, right? Let’s get real. Tanja, these people, they’re not putting big posters on the wall saying, “The customer comes first.” They’re with the customer there and then. It is what you do, not what you say. That is leadership. Leadership is action. Leadership is behavior. Leadership is not intentions. It’s what you’re actually doing. And I think that’s why I reckon that you’re going to interview a lot of people in this project and they’re going to find it very difficult to articulate exactly what that words are. I mean, I remember I did…when I did my Master’s. I did a Master’s in Management, and I remember doing very early, year one, it was understanding leadership. And I can tell you, you can go through all the literature, you can go through all the textbooks. There is not one clear definition of leadership. But what I will say that any business owner that is watching this will know, that the profit that your accountant gives you on the 30th of June in your business is the applause for great leadership.
Tanja: Yeah. And people get rewarded in public for what they practice in private. And you don’t get to coach 20,000 people, you don’t get to have 10,000 people sit with you in their lounge room, in their car, or, you know, in the bathroom on a Sunday night. You don’t get to have a 30-year career, unless you’re true to you who you are.
Tom: Yeah. Well, I think the truth comes out now because everyone’s watching everything that you’re doing, you know. So you can’t be like, “Ooh, I turn this switch on now these people are there.” The reality is, Tanja, we’re…you’re the same. You walk in, you know, the way you speak to people at an airport, the way you speak to people at your local store, it’s, you know, that’s who you are.
Tanja: And you’re, you know, as the old saying goes, “Your vibe attracts your tribe,” and it’s just been my honor to sit with you…
Tom: Thank you.
Tanja: …and hack into your view and insights on leadership. And, you know, on behalf of all the people that watch you every week and appreciate all that you contribute, thank you to you…
Tom: Thank you so much, Tanja.
Tanja: …and thanks to your family for sharing you so generously, too.
Tom: Thank you so much. Thank you.
Tanja: Thanks, Tom Panos.
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