Hi, Tanja here, and welcome to TMJ TV, a weekly video series aimed at real estate leaders and teams that want to grow themselves and their business in the least amount of time. Now, my next guest has 11 years’ experience in real estate. She leads a team of 72 offices nationally and around 83 leaders, and just won the Stevie International Gold Company of the Year Award out of 3000 nominations. Please give a very warm welcome to COO of Stockdale & Leggo, Anna Thomas.
Anna: Hi, Tanj. How are you?
Tanja: I’m great. Thank you so much for spending some time in the chair—I was just gonna say, “on the couch,” but we’re in chairs right now—hacking into leadership, and what it means to you, what it means to Stockdale & Leggo, and what you see in the future.
Tanja: Before we go there, I just wanna start by saying thank you.
Anna: No. Thank you. No. Thank you for having me.
Tanja: Well, here’s what I wanna thank you for. Two and a-half years ago, I called you. I was an unhappy vendor that had pretty ordinary service from a number of agents and then I actually had a really great experience, and it was from one of the guys from your brand and it had me consider what’s missing in an industry where you’re partnering the sale of people’s biggest asset. I rang you to give you some great feedback on the agent that was awesome, and then we connected.
Tanja: Then three months later, we did the first event for 52 women in your organisation. So it just feels really fitting for me to start this conversation by saying I’m very grateful for that conversation…
Anna: Thank you.
Tanja: …and for your partnership. It really was the beginning of me now, two and a-half years later, having the chance to sit down and interview you as a key leader of influence. So…
Anna: Thank you.
Tanja: Thank you so much.
Anna: I appreciate that.
Tanja: So, you are a mover and shaker, first of all, you’ve just won out of 3000 businesses the Gold Company of the Year. As a result of winning that, you’re automatically into the People’s Choice Awards, which means the people choose you.
Anna: Yep. Absolutely.
Tanja: Which means a lot to you, I know you said before we started. So tell us about that award, how it came about, and what that means to you.
Anna: Yeah. Absolutely. How it came about was my team. So we have a media specialist, and she asked me whether she could actually put us forward for the award.
Anna: Okay. All right. Let’s go. Let’s give it a go. So part of it…what it was was we actually had to demonstrate what we had been doing for the last 12 months in terms of initiative, what were our views on leadership culture, and what we’re actually doing to try and change the industry.
Anna: So it made me really think about, okay, what had I actually achieved or we, as an organisation, had actually achieved. It was challenging in the sense of I kept looking and going, “Have we actually achieved enough?” Will we actually be recognized for what we’ve actually done? Because I don’t actually have a real estate background, so I’m coming from a completely different league…
Tanja: Me either. So that makes both of us.
Anna: I’m always looking at the people and what impact does it actually have on the people, and that’s people who work with us, but it’s also, as you rightly point out, you know, it’s people’s lives that we’re impacting as well. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a tenant, landlord, vendor, or purchaser. We’re actually part of something that’s extremely special and such a privilege to be a part of. So how do we impact that on a positive way?
Taking that a step sort of back and going, “Okay, well, have we actually serviced the people who work with us? Have we made it easier for them to actually service their clients?” When I started to look at it that way, I went, “Well, actually, hang on. We actually have achieved a lot.” I think the industry’s an extraordinary industry, and it’s forever ever-changing. It’s got some phenomenal leaders in it that, you know, are really sort of setting the pace, but I still think there’s more room…
Tanja: Of course.
Anna: …to be able to improve. I think it’s an industry that still has a long way to go, and I think we can look at other industries like, you know…like the, I don’t know, like the car industry or like the finance industry.
Anna: Absolutely. You know, I look at Flight Centre, and I look at their whole philosophy around service. It’s amazing, but then, you know, if you take it internationally and look at, you know, around the globe what other organisations are doing, there’s just so much…
Tanja: It is healthy to look over the fence of the…of real estate, isn’t it, and look at other entrepreneurs and other, you know, amazing startups that have kind of become ridiculously agile and adding a lot of value. So did you find, Anna, that reflecting on what you have done over the last 12 months, did you have a little moment of, “Woah? Far out?” But did you have a moment, “Wow. Look at what we have done?” Or…
Tanja: Oh, come on. Maybe you’re too modest.
Anna: No. I went, “Okay. How do we do it better?”
Tanja: See, I do know this about you though. You don’t look back often, do you?
Anna: No. I look back if I’ve made a mistake, and I think that’s really important. As a leader, you need to go, “Okay. What can I learn from this? What did we do well? What didn’t we do well? How do we actually raise the bar?” I’ve got a really big philosophy. If you sit in an ivory tower and think, you know, “Hey, the world’s all fantastic…”
Tanja: With a long beard.
Anna: Absolutely. Yeah. You’re never gonna go anywhere. So for me, it is always going, “Okay. Well, let’s raise that bar.” Because you know what? That’s what customers are expecting of us.
Anna: So if we don’t actually continually go, “Okay. What are we gonna do better?” then you’re kinda sitting still.
Tanja: We get stuck. Okay. Let me ask you this. So you don’t look back, only if you make a mistake so you can learn and rectify. Do you celebrate your success?
Anna: I do with my team, very much so. Without my team and without the people in the organisation, we wouldn’t be where we are. Do I actually stop and go, “Oh, wow. Look at me. Did I achieve that…”? No. Because I know it’s not…I is a really lonely place, it’s a we and I know without the people that we have within the organisation, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Tanja: Well, I know you celebrate your success collectively because you do produce some of the best, you know, end-of-year productions and events, and where I’ve seen you in numerous costumes and performances. It’s good fun, too, you know.
Tanja: So what were the… What are three things… So in winning the Gold Company of the Year out of, you know… and you were the only real estate brand, is that right?
Anna: No. I think there were about another 10 or 15 other real estate brands, yeah.
Tanja: Okay. All right. So…
Anna: Some I have to admit I have never heard of before but obviously being an international…then yeah. You’re gonna go up against that.
Tanja: So it’s an international award, about 15 real estate brands, around 3000 companies from various industries, you won.
Tanja: How did you win? What did you articulate that you believe had them go, “Wow?” Because I said, “What does Stevie stand for?” You mean…it’s crowned.
Anna: It’s crowned.
Tanja: So you’re crowned as the Gold Company of the Year. So why do you think you won out of 3000? What are you doing?
Anna: That’s a great question to ask. You know, I think it’s because we look at things differently.
Anna: I always think you need to know what your competitors are doing, but I don’t want to follow. I have a really strong mantra with my team on that. I don’t want to follow. Let’s be aware, but let’s set the pace in some other direction, which is basically I think that’s what we demonstrated when we actually put in the award.
So we looked at things like leadership, culture, people, digital strategy, service. A part of what we have done last year is, we implemented an entire technology platform, which was like, phase one, whereby there’s somebody…
Tanja: Okay. You don’t do things by halves, though, do you, right?
Anna: No, no. So phase one was that. You know, we did mail merging. We did, you know, a marketing 24 by 7 portal. We looked at our own website and completely relaunched that. You know, we relaunched our welcome mat, so…to give our people the state-of-the-art technology in order to be able to service.
Then from there, part of phase two was actually implementing an entire digital strategy. If you look at it, we’re all busy. So from your point of view, you wanna be able to go and service yourself when you’re ready, but you still wanna have that sort of live interaction with someone. So we’ve taken a combination of, like, artificial, you know, intelligence as well as real people as well, trying to create a service. That’s the next phase of what we’re rolling out. So we’re currently testing that in 10 offices with us to iron out any bugs, and then we’ll roll it out.
Tanja: Artificial intelligence.
Anna: Yeah. A bot.
Tanja: A bot? Yeah.
Anna: Yeah. A bot. So the bot would go, “Hi, Tanj. How are you?” you know, “I am a robot.” So it would actually tell you that “I’m a robot. I’m here to help you.” Then it might say, you know…
Tanja: It sounds amazing.
Anna: Oh, it’s extraordinary. So you might say, “What’s the land size?” and the robot will go, “Oh, the land size is this.” You might go, “Okay. Well, how many bedrooms are there?” “Okay. Four bedrooms.”
So there are common questions that we know people wanna know. But we’ve had a look and researched. Most of our inquiries are coming in after 10:00pm at night, and, you know…
Tanja: This is really important stuff. You must know and you must be able to track when are…when and how and how often are people enquiring and engaging and wanting to reach out. So did that influence your whole 24/7 initiative?
Anna: Absolutely. I was really a little bit hesitant to start. I was going, “Oh, a robot, a robot is actually gonna respond. Oh, what service is that actually creating?” But when we actually did the research on it, it’s actually really common. Like I don’t know whether you’ve ever gone on Harvey Norman’s site. There’s a robot actually talking to you. There is another site called “Lemonade.” There’s a robot actually talking to you, And there’s another one. Finsure has an app, and it’s extraordinary. It goes, “Hi. My name is Liz. How are you, Anna? I really want be a friend of yours.”
All fantastic service.
Tanja: We can have robot chai.
Anna:. That’s beautiful. But to me, it’s like, okay, how can we actually take that and provide a service, but be really honest about it and be transparent about it by going…
Tanja: That I like. Yeah.
Anna: …”Okay. There’s not a real person that you’re actually talking to. We’re here to service you.” Then what we’re starting to try and put in, to go, “Okay. Would it be okay, Tanja, if, you know, Mary Jane called you tomorrow morning to…”
Tanja: The human.
Anna: “…answer any further questions?” Yes. So the human will actually still have that interaction. Because it’s an asset.
Anna: It’s a scary thing to go through, so you still need to have that human aspect to it as well.
Tanja: I agre, and so what I can hear is you’ve developed an initiative that gives people the information they want when they want. Whether it’s robot or human, the information is still accurate, and you’re backing it up with someone with a heartbeat that’s gonna be able to connect with their story. The parts that are robot, I mean, I don’t know if they can or not, but, you know, you can’t take it to the level that a human can do.
Great. Well, many things that then you demonstrated in why…you know, how you’ve demonstrated innovation and leadership there. So congratulations and…
Anna: Thank you.
Tanja: …good luck. So 15th of September, you find out about the People’s Choice Award. Okay. Well, we’ll be watching the Stockdale & Leggo Anna Thomas Facebook page on that day, and really, all the best.
Anna: Thank you.
Tanja: So I know leadership is something…and a subject really near and dear to your heart. It has been ever since I met you two and a-half years ago. Define leadership for you.
Anna: Leadership for me is about rolling up your sleeves and actually being able to do anything you’re gonna ask a team to do, but you also need to have an emotional connection with your team, very much so. I mean, I look at it and go, you know, the stuff that my team share with me is a real privilege, and I empower. So I think, as a leader, you really need to empower people as well. I know they know the answer, and you actually have to trust that they’re gonna give it their best shot. Because that’s what everybody…you know, has their best interest at heart in being able to move an organisation forward.
So it’s about, you know, it’s about being innovative. It’s about actually being creative. It’s about actually having a go, and it’s about standing up when you stuff up. You know what? I’ve stuffed up. I’m gonna own it, and let’s actually, you know, fix it up at the same time, too.
Tanja: Do you do that?
Anna: Absolutely. I do.
Tanja: What’s the response from your people when you stand up when you stuff up and own it?
Anna: I think they appreciate it. Like I’ll never forget we went to go live with our website, and then one of my staff pulled me over and said, “I think you need to come and have a look at this” , and I go…
Tanja: Oh, gosh.
Anna: …”What do you mean?” So this is the, like, you know, I think a couple of days before we went to go live, and there was another fairly big global company in another industry. I looked at it and go, “Oh my God. That’s our website.” So I rang every single principal, and I said, “I’m not launching our website.”
I got a little bit of flak for it, and they said…
Tanja: I can imagine.
Anna: …”Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s in a different industry.” I said no. I said, “You know, we spent two and-a-half years putting this together, building it from the ground up. I’m not gonna launch this.” You know what? It’s the best thing I ever did because I reckon we came up with a much, much better website.
Tanja: Yes. So they go…
Anna: Although there’s angst and stress attached to it, but I thought, “You know what? All I can do is be real and be honest and go, ‘Okay. These are my reasonings why.'”
Tanja: Well, you know, as the COO of, you know, a brand that has 85 leaders across 72 offices, you’re gonna have to deal with a lot of different opinions.
Anna: Oh, yeah.
Tanja: I know you are very resilient. What do you do, Anna? Because you have…you also have a big heart, and… However, there are times when you cannot focus on being liked, you have to lead. Have you had many times where you’ve had to disagree with principals or disagree with the common… That laughter is the laughter of “Yes, for sure.” This is like, “How long have you got? How many examples do you want?”
But, you know, what’s that like for you? Because, you know, as a leader, we go home, and not many people know what it takes, especially to lead a business the size of this. How many employees totally?
Anna: A thousand and fifty.
Anna: A thousand and fifty.
Tanja: One thousand and fifty people. All different opinions…
Anna: Absolutely. Yep
Tanja: How do you stay resilient and unaffected?
Anna: You know…
Tanja: Or what do you do when you are affected?
Anna: There’s a couple of things. For me, you know, I really believe in what I’m doing. But I believe in our company, and I believe in the people who actually work within our company. I look at this way. I go, “Okay. There’s 1050 people who work in the group. They’ve either got boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, and you know what? They’re part of our family, and we’re partly, you know, responsible for that at the same time.”
But then I also go, “How many other people’s lives are we impacting in terms of they’ve either bought a house of ours, they’ve rented a house through us, you know, they’ve bought investment properties off us?” That’s a massive amount of people to impact. So that’s actually what keeps me focused.
Tanja: Yeah. So what I can hear is the distinction of responsibility.
Tanja: So you really get the responsibility of leadership at an ecology level, not just, “Oh, yeah. I’m leading the P&L at the end of the financial year.” “I’m providing an environment for my people to have great lives to then take home to their family. I’m providing an environment for our clients to have a great experience.”
Tanja: Biggest challenge as a leader.
Anna: You know, sometimes I think as a leader, you can often be thinking ahead of where the rest of the organisation is, and I had looked at a speech I wrote, well, probably two years ago for our AGM. I went, “Wow. I could actually stand up and say that speech today.” So…
Tanja: …and would it be more relevant today…
Anna: I think so.
Tanja: …than it was? Yeah.
Anna: Because I think maybe the rest of the world has caught up.
Anna: You know, that is often a challenge, is, you know, you’re actually trying to get 1050 people all to row in the same direction. You know, particularly my leadership style is very much everybody has a right to have a voice, and you need to be able to be heard, and you need to take all that feedback on board and then be able to drive, you know, that forward.
As a leader, sometimes you have to make unpopular choices, but I do it from, you know…coming with love, coming with care, coming as being an extremely passionate person, because I wanna be able to drive it forward. You know, people, culture, that is more important to me, and I go, you know, “And the money will come.”
Tanja: Sure. Yeah. Yeah. This is like as…this is Gandhi or Mother Teresa. “Lose yourself in service of others.”
Tanja: So what are you doing at Stockdale & Leggo to elevate the state of leadership within your business owners?
Anna: Absolutely. Perfect. We have actually partnered with Deloitte’s and Deloitte’s Private after we read “The Real eState of Leadership.”
Tanja: Thank you for actioning, you know, taking an action from these insights.
Tanja: That’s the intention.
Anna: Yeah. Oh, we really took that to heart, and we had a look at our entire leadership. Not only us, as leaders, but we also looked at the group at the same time as well. I sat back and went, “Okay.” I think it was something like 82% or 72% of, you know, people said that they were really good leaders…
Tanja: Eighty-two percent. Yeah.
Anna: …and then I’m going, “Well, hang on. Ten percent of those actually were only generating an increase in revenue. Okay. There’s a discord here.
Anna: What’s actually going on?” But then when I also looked at it, I went, “Okay. How many really strong leaders do we actually have?”
Tanja: Define “strong leader.”
Anna: For me, it’s like, you know, you lead by example, you know. Like I pick up the phone, you know. I’ll go and stuff bags. I’ll go and sit down at reception. There’s nothing, as I said before, that I wouldn’t do that I wouldn’t ask my team to do.
Tanja: So it’s real servant leadership. You’re willing to be of service to your people…
Anna: Lead by example.
Tanja: …and therefore, the clients. Yeah.
Anna: You know, if you want someone to follow, you’ve gotta be able to lead, and you’ve gotta get them to come along with you. You know, and you create that vision. You create that passion that, you know, everybody is rowing in that same direction.
So what we did was we actually came up with The Stocky’s way, and we came up with actually six different pillars that we came up with, and for me, there were two really, really important ones. One was leadership. The other was culture. Then from there, we took in to people, and then we took in, you know, organisation, digital strategies, finance, and all that sort of stuff attached to it. So what I wanted to create was I wanted to create some rigor behind it. Hence the reason why we went to Deloitte’s, going, “Okay. Well, this is what they actually specialize in.” They’ve got like something like over 2000 business coaches. I went, “Okay. Out of that, we should be able to create…”
Tanja: There’s gotta be a massive amount of mastery there.
Anna: Absolutely. But we created it from the ground up. So what we did was we actually got principals to rate themselves, and then we also rated them. It was really interesting watching the difference…
Tanja: Was there much of a difference?
Anna: I think a lot of…which is natural. A lot of people were actually a lot harder on themselves than, you know, what we actually were. But then from there, we actually defined what we meant by each one of them, and then we’ve actually put an entire 12-month program to get it to be able to do it.
Tanja: So is that 12-month program with Deloitte’s to bridge the gap?
Tanja: Okay. Great.
Anna: Definitely. But what we’ve done is we go, okay, everybody’s in a different life cycle. You know, we’ve got some people who have just joined us. We’ve got other people, you know, who’ve been with us for 30, 40 years. Okay. So how do you create a leadership program…
Tanja: Great question.
Anna: …around that to be able to service everybody? We’ve done that by listening to what everybody was giving us, but also where we wanted to take the company at the same time, too. So our first session actually starts on the 20th of October, but you actually have to be invited to be a part of it.
Tanja: Okay. How do I get invited?
Tanja: If I’m one of your leaders, how do I do that?
Anna: I personally ring you and invite you to actually be a part of…
Tanja: …and what’s the selection criteria to get the Anna Thomas call?
Anna: Yeah. The selection criteria is you actually have to have demonstrated some form of leadership skills. We also need to have a strong culture within your organisation. You need to have a people plan. I’m not just talking about a recruitment plan. I’m also talking about a people plan in terms of training, development, coaching. You have to have engagement with a franchisor, or at the same time, too, you also have to be able to demonstrate that you know, you know, basics in terms of numbers and things like that. But…
Tanja: Do you have to demonstrate business growth…
Anna: Yes, you do.
Tanja: …at a financial level?
Anna: Yep. Absolutely. But not only just a financial level. It’s also a listing level.
Tanja: Sure, yeah, yeah
Anna: But it’s also whether you’re up for actually taking on the rigor and actually having to go away, do work, partner with someone… So you have a mentor buddy, and then you actually have to come back, and you actually have to present those to your actual team.
Tanja: Good team.
Anna: Yeah. Absolutely, and, you know, originally, it was like, okay, not one size fits all. I went, “Okay. Will everybody really wanna do this?” Just because, you know, this is something that I’m really passionate about and I wanna elevate the group with everybody together, it may not mean that everybody, you know, wants to do that. Because they are in varying different cycles. So that’s why we have gone, “Okay. The cycle had better work.” There’s like a criteria to be a part of this.
Tanja: So you’ve gone through that process.
Anna: We’ve gone through that process, but our first actual session is…
Tanja: Is coming up.
Anna: …on the 20th of October.
Tanja: Do you find then, because it is selection-based, that the quality of attendees is a quality that will…are more likely to implement the learning?
Anna: I think so. But it’s really interesting. I’ve got actual people going, “How do I get on to it?”
Tanja: Which is great.
Anna: Which is exactly what I wanted to be able to…
Tanja: That’s the culture you wanted to create, yes.
Anna: Absolutely. It’s like, “I wanna be…
Tanja: So the reverse psychology…
Anna: …like that.”
Anna: Great. Perfect. Well, let us help you and let us show you how you can actually be like that.
Tanja: So that 12-month program kicks off very soon…
Anna: Yep, 20th of October.
Tanja: …in October.
Tanja: Is it monthly? What does it look like?
Anna: So there’s several different ways we’re doing it. There are actually workshop labs that we’re actually starting with. Then from the workshop labs, then you’re actually broken…be broken down into group sessions. And then from there, then you’ll also have one-on-one coaching at the same time.
Tanja: Great. How will you measure and manage the return on investment?
Anna: That’s a good question. We asked Deloitte’s that same question.
Tanja: Because, in my observation, this industry loves training and development, and… Awesome and I do see an opportunity for corporate levels and principals to, you know… and Douglas Driscoll and I were talking about this in a recent episode and I loved something that he said. “Training needs landing gear.”
So I really think a huge opportunity for the industry, let alone any brand that’s listening or watching this, you can’t just go to the training and get your CPD points and never look in the workbook again, which is what most of us do. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. You must have a strategy for implementation. Then you’ve gotta have a strategy for measurement, management, and review.
So, you know, I don’t wanna put you on the spot, but… However, is it something that you’ve really considered? “Nice initiative. How can we measure the return on investment on this?”
Absolutely, because there has been considerable investment.
Tanja: Investment. I know.
Anna: Why are you doing this?
Tanja: It’s a great brand you’re partnering with, and great brands, you know, don’t come cheap, right?
Anna: Yeah. Absolutely. One of the things that we’ve done is we’ve taken like a screenshot of where everybody is currently at, and that’s not just about financial performance. It’s also about leadership. It’s about their culture. It’s about the people.
Tanja: Team engagement.
Anna: Yeah. Remember when I said we actually…we got everybody to rate themselves? So one way of our measurement is actually gonna be, okay, when we’ve completed the 12-month program, we’re gonna actually get everybody to measure themselves a bit.
Anna: But also I think through the success of this, I think naturally revenue growth is actually just gonna come.
Tanja: Yeah. Like training comes in two things. You’re elevating their skill set and the key piece, really, no shortage of work done here for you guys. The next piece is the individual willingness, the skill and will. So you gotta develop the skill, and then you gotta be willing to apply the learning and apply it consistently.
Tanja: So you got a mentor program, which is great.
Anna: So they’re gonna keep them honst
Tanja: Which is fabulous.
Anna: So they’re actually gonna be accountable you know. They’re gonna go, “Tanja, have you done…”
Tanja: Yeah. Have you done XYZ?
Anna: “Why haven’t you done it?”
Tanja: Yeah. What’s getting in the way?
Anna: Yep. We’ll give you an opportunity to do it. If you still haven’t done it, then you’ll be removed off the program. So it’s really…
Tanja: Choice and consequence.
Anna: …very much, okay, you’ve gotta be prepared to put in the hard work, and you’ve gotta go back in, and you’ve gotta practice putting it in your business. Because there’s really no point in doing it if you’re not actually going to. So that’s why we’ve broken it down into modules.
Tanja: So it’s more palatable.
Anna: Absolutely and it’s like, okay, go away, practice this, come back, present it, give us some feedback, and then let’s, you know, move on from there.
Tanja: Do I have to complete all the modules or can I…
Tanja: …pick and choose, so it’s fully completion?
Anna: Nope. Nope.
Tanja: Oh, is there like a graduation, throw-the-hat ceremony?
Anna: To me, it’s like even though every person is through…going through a different sort of type of life cycle, everybody can learn.
Tanja: Of course.
Anna: Because we’ve tailored it to… Okay. So your business needs, my business needs, they’re all gonna be very different. It’s actually ended up being an individualised program.
Tanja: Which is great, you know, different markets, different clients, different team. Okay. Great. Well, really look forward to seeing what, you know, transpires and I will be calling you and going, “How’s it going?” and learning from what you’re learning.
The other thing I know you’re particularly passionate about, Anna, is women in leadership and women in business. So you have produced two, I think, now events for women in real estate. Why is that something that’s important to you? What is the future that Anna Thomas sees for women in real estate?
Anna: Yeah. Do you know what? It’s funny. I think when we first met, you know, it’s something that we were both really passionate about, and it’s about being able to empower women. I was really touched after that first event that we actually ran.
Tanja: It was amazing.
Anna: It just honestly blew my mind.
Tanja: We did archery.
Anna: I know. It was fantastic.
Tanja: That was fun.
Anna: It was really symbolic.
Anna: But what touched me was the lack of confidence of so many extraordinary women in that room. So I went to look at it, going, “Okay. Well, how do we make it bigger?” If our group is actually feeling this… We can’t be the only group that’s actually feeling this. So what I wanted to do is I wanted to actually take it to the industry and go, “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are. We’re gonna actually offer this, you know, to the industry.” As you know, I mean, it’s something that I’m really passionate about. You know, I catch up with the property girls, you know, in there doing that.
I suppose it’s easy from a woman’s perspective. Oh, okay. Well, I am a woman, so I can relate to that, but it’s also not forgetting that, you know, guys also have their own, you know, sort of issues that they go through. So, you know, it’s realizing partly to be able to empower both. But obviously, I can have a bigger impact in the sense of, you know, being a woman and we ran our second event, and we had, like, over 250 people…
Tanja: That’s awesome.
Anna: …you know, there, which was amazing. We’ve had some extraordinary speakers. But this year, what we’ve done is we’ve actually put a committee together. So this is where I’ve gone, “Okay. I’ve given…”
Tanja: It’s getting bigger now.
Anna: Absolutely. Well, but also to have gone, “Okay. I’ve taken it as far as, like, I can.” I want to be able to add “we” and add a committee. So, you know, we’ve got, like, Deloitte. So we’ve got Domain. We have got Kylie, you know, from CoreLogic. We have got Rebecca Zagame from the Zagame Automotive industry. We’ve got Alicia Stephens who is the Young Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award, you know, winner.
Tanja: Winner, yep.
Anna: So they’re all really completely different, dynamic women that I think will make a massive, you know, sort of difference to where we can actually take it.
Tanja: What’s your vision for the collective?
Anna: Ooh. I’d like to take it internationally.
Tanja: There you go. There’s the vision.
Anna: I want to touch as many women as we possibly can do and to empower them to be able to believe in themselves.
You know, it’s funny. I mean, I find it challenging, you know. As a woman, you know, I was like trying to be superwoman. I was trying to be a mom, you know, I was trying to be a really good wife, and I was trying to, you know, work in an organisation and sometimes I go home, I’m going, “My God. I’m not doing any of this really good at all.” You know, I’m in one place and I’d be thinking…I’d be feeling guilty because I should be home with my kids and then, like, I’d be thinking with…about my kids, I’m going, “Oh no. I really should be spending time with my husband.” So I’m like, “Oh.” How do you balance actually all of that?
It’s interesting. Have I got it yet? No. But I’m learning a lot more to go, “Okay. Right. When I’m at work, I’m 100% at work. When I’m at home, I’m 100% at home.” So it’s almost like I’ve compartmentalised.
Tanja: It’s a really, really, really important topic because time management always comes up in surveys as one of the things that people wanna get better at and I do know women intrinsically can kinda whip that guilt whip of, you know, being at work and missing the kids, and then you’re with the kids and then you know you’re thinking about the emails you haven’t sent. So we’re not really present wherever we are.
So that’s really good learning and teaching to just go, well, if you’re doing the dishes, do the dishes. If you’re, you know, working with a franchisee or a client, be with them. When you’re with the kids, be with the kids. Because yeah, “This moment is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present,” as they say.
Tanja: So who inspires you as a leader?
Anna: Do you know what? I’d actually have to say my husband.
Anna: I know…
Tanja: So Peter Thomas.
Anna: Yeah. Absolutely.
Tanja: Why? What are three qualities around…about Peter?
Anna: I’ll tell you why. Because he was one of the first people who actually went into real estate franchising.
Tanja: Okay. How long ago?
Anna: I was gonna say 1987. Yeah, 1987.
Anna: You know, he hasn’t gone and bought another group out or anything along those lines. He has done it from the school of hard knocks, you know and I think that says a lot for, you know, the type of person that he is. He’s an extremely passionate man, and I think, you know, he’s a strong man, too. But, you know, his vision has always been really clear to, you know, have a really strong, extraordinary company and it’s, you know, it’s gone forwards, backwards, sidewards, you know, in any journey…
Tanja: Everywhere in between.
Anna: …of a company. But if you think about it, he is one man who has had extraordinary people around him to create what it is today.
You know, we’ve been in the industry for 83 years. We’re not three, four generations or anything along those lines. That’s a pretty phenomenal achievement…
Tanja: It’s a massive achievement.
Anna: …when you really look at it that way.
Tanja: Kudos to you, Pete. Absolutely and, you know, you’re right. It’s not easy and to just, you know, keep a business alive, let alone, you know, since ’87, is very significant.
Tanja: So we have referred a couple of times to the executive summary of the report of findings that we’ve done with CoreLogic. If you take a look at those top three points on this report…
Anna: God. Do I need my glasses?
Tanja: I don’t know. Do you?
Anna: No. I’m kidding.
Tanja: If you were to pick one that you believe is an industry we need to address, which one and why?
Anna: If I actually said… even though in your report it’s quite high… It says 82 principals…
Tanja: Eighty-two percent.
Anna: …feel qualified to lead their business. I actually question that, to be really honest with you.
Tanja: You’re not the only one questioning that, but yes. So you’re saying the statistic is “82% of principals say, ‘I am qualified to lead this business.'” You’re going, “Hmm, let’s have a look at that.”
Anna: Yep, I am…
Tanja: Yeah. Great.
Anna: …you know and if I look at the industry, I think it’s actually quite an insular industry. It looks very much inside itself. If you stand outside the industry, I think there’s a lot from a leadership perspective that I think we could all learn, and that’s not to say that there aren’t extraordinary leaders within the industry, because I think there are, you know, some phenomenal people there.
Tanja: You’re doing that. You’re partnering with Deloitte. You’re getting a committee together for the, you know, women in, you know, property group that you’re building and with the vision to take it internationally. So, you know, it’s one thing to have an idea. It’s a very different thing to action it and what I know about you, Anna, is you will always action your ideas and I don’t really ever think anything really gets in your way, but you do also do it in a consultative, collaborative way as well.
On that note, and to finish up, if 82% of leaders think they’re qualified to lead… I know what you are doing with Stockdale & Leggo. If you have a message to the industry around that point, or an invitation, what is it? What would you invite other corporate leaders, what would you invite other principals, what would you invite other businesses inside of that statistic to look at?
Anna: I think you know what? Not to be afraid to go, “I don’t know it all.” Like I can look at our own group and a lot of, you know, our leaders that we have got there have been phenomenal salespeople, and they’ve come up actually through the ranks, so, you know, they could’ve automatically have leadership skills but you can always be better and you can always learn and I think as a leader, the moment you actually stop actually learning, then I think that’s the moment that you actually stop…
Tanja: You stop.
Anna: …being a leader.
I think, you know, there’s a lot of bravado in the industry. I think that, as leadership needs to be looked at as well and, you know, you’ve gotta take feedback, what the community thinks, you know. I don’t think we’re transparent when leaders, I think personally, do need to be transparent. They don’t necessarily think we are good at communicating. Again, I think leaders need to be really good at communicating and it’s interesting. If you have a look, I think there’s a section also in the report where it’s actually got the staff talking about the leadership skills.
Tanja: Yeah. There’s a very different viewpoint.
Anna: Yes. It’s like, okay. Hang on.
Tanja: It doesn’t match right now.
Anna: No. It doesn’t match. So, again, probably the self-awareness of really being able to look at yourself.
Tanja: Yeah. So what I can hear is you’re saying it’s okay, as a leader, to not know it all. Go outside of the industry for innovation, and explore other best practices from other industries, collaborate with your people, and step outside yourself, and have a bit of self-awareness to check-in, and be okay to receive some feedback, and never stop learning.
Anna: Absolutely. I mean, we’ve gone to, like, car sales. I mean, you know, they’re an extraordinary organisation, you know and we have sort of almost like swapped leadership mentoring, you know, where they were sharing information with us and we were sharing information with them. Two completely separate industries, but there’s lots of learnings that we can actually share there, you know.
One of the other things is, you know, we have looked at…okay, a lot of salespeople don’t necessarily have the income to be able to open an office.
Anna: So how can we actually partner with other people to be able to kind of like I suppose provide a shared services model? So it’s a lower-cost model, but let them do what they’re good at in the sense of, “Okay. I’m really good at listing and selling. Oh, god. Hang on. I’ve got to manage people, and now I’ve got to balance the books and, ooh fruit, now I’ve got to actually recruit. How am I gonna train and all that sort of stuff?”
So for us, it’s like, okay, we’ll take that pain away from you. Start with what you know best, listing and selling, then come through the Deloitte’s program and we’ll actually teach you the leadership skills.
Tanja: Fantastic. Well, congratulations…
Anna: Thank you.
Tanja: …on turning your ideas into a reality, being an innovative thought leader, winning the international award, the Stevie Award for Gold Company of the Year…
Anna: Thank you.
Tanja: …with 3000 other, you know, businesses that entered, and really all the best for the 15th of September…
Anna: Thank you.
Tanja: …for the People’s Choice Award and, you know, and again, thanks for the conversation we had two and-half years ago and the privilege to sit here today and still learn from Anna Thomas from Stockdale & Leggo.
Anna: Thank you. Thanks, Tanj.
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