Thoughts From Our CEO.

Service or Mission

For those of you who know me, you know I’ve always had a funny relationship with Real Estate.  I’ve been a successful agent, I’ve owned and operated a successful Real Estate team and yet, clients and colleagues alike laugh at my frequent comment of “I hate Real Estate”.  The statement itself is probably a bit superficial and more so for a light hearted laugh, but the spirit and the story behind the comment carries some weight.

At its core, I believe Real Estate is wonderful; it builds community, a sense of belonging, lifestyle, wealth building, etc.  If it weren’t for these elements, I probably would have left Real Estate three months into my journey.

Joshua Oliver, CEO

Joshua Oliver, CEO

Mission Driven Business : “it’s not about you, it’s ALWAYS about them approach”

I come from a background as a clinical therapist and while that is just a title, many of the core values truly embody who I am.  I have always found tremendous alignment with the helping professions and the most authentic version of me lives and breathes this spirit.  I came into Real Estate when my younger self was blindsided by my naïve view that tremendous therapy meant tremendous benefit.  Without diving in too far, essentially I was working in a broken system and regardless of the wonderful clinical talents, the broken system meant we’d take one step forward and three steps back.

 Out of pain and striving for ideal, I made an abrupt and passionate jump into entrepreneurship.  Initially, I went full force toward business school and a few months before I made the commitment to that journey, I had a friend say, “If that’s your goal, why are you going to spend another $100K on grad school? Why don’t you pursue Real Estate?”.  It’s funny what we will do and consider when we are in pain.  Without really second guessing it, I thought, “Hey, you have a wife and two kids and you abruptly quit your job. Maybe this is a decent pathway to meet your financial and mission driven goals.”

I was done with my course work and passed my Real Estate exam within just two weeks;  (still makes me laugh to this day – part of my issue with Real Estate) and I was ready to dive in!  I figured I’d give it my all and then continue on to business school if it didn’t work out.  Fortunately or unfortunately, it “worked out”.  I was just a few months in and I was off to the races. Now, from an outsider’s perspective, this was to be celebrated, but I was in authentic internal crisis. I found myself thinking, “You went from helping people with legitimate issues to slinging houses, are you serious?!”.  I don’t say it lightly when I say I considered abandoning Real Estate altogether.

As with most wonderful stories, a few family members and friends helped me find and identify an alternate pathway and one that seemed to work.  I would commit 100% to ONLY helping people move their lives forward and recognizing the real estate transaction itself as simply a tool to complete the journey.  What did this mean?  It meant, I would NEVER pressure someone, I would NEVER make a decision based on my success over the clients’ best interest, I would NEVER let someone buy or sell a home they shouldn’t, I would ALWAYS give honest feedback, I would ALWAYS care for my client as a human being and I would ALWAYS value their LIFE STORY over their story of being a home seller or purchaser.

I found alignment, peace and success in this approach.  It meant often nodding my head “yes” to the traditional sales tactics that are taught, all while knowing I was never going to do it and instead focusing on my mission. It meant showing more houses than I “should”, it meant spending more time listening than I “should”, I meant doing whatever was necessary to help that person fulfill their life story NOT their real estate story, it meant never trying to “move people along” so I could move and grow my pipeline, it meant never calling with some cheesy sales call simply for the purposes of the next referral, it meant never going to clients party for any reason other than going to someone’s party…

It’s taken me ten years to fully understand why “I hate Real Estate”.  It is almost always taught and practiced as a “Service Oriented Profession”.  Now, most people and companies will say the complete opposite and dress it up with a powerful people-centered mission statement, or they may even give to a charity for every sale they make, or they may talk about a higher vision that masks the money-driven focus, etc…BUT as someone who goes to the sales meetings, attends the classes, and know the tools that are used – THIS IS ALMOST NEVER THE ACTUAL FOCUS! It certainly doesn’t mean there isn’t good being done, but to me, there is a HUGE difference between service and mission focus.

I heard a tremendous quote the other day, “Don’t focus on the money, focus on the mission and the money will chase you”.  I can often be seen as a bit of an agitator in the Real Estate profession and that’s because I believe whole heatedly you can ALWAYS focus on, teach and live the mission of Real Estate.  I think there is very little place for all of the other sales teachings.  The sales teachings are simply that; designed for more sales and yet as human beings we innately object sales tactics.  We can literally feel it in our body when we are being “sold”.  Yet, we continue with these sales teachings and tactics in about 99% of what is practiced.

To me, if we instead focused on how to be better listeners, how to better understand your clients’ needs, fears, and emotions, how to manage difficult conversations, how to manage your own emotions and thoughts so you can effectively communicate, how negotiation can actually work MUCH BETTER WIHTOUT fear, lack of transparency, etc., how to celebrate a clients’ success EVEN at your own “loss”, how to enter an appointment as a true listener without thought to your own end goal, how to overcome your own desire for pleasure (commission, a sale, etc.) to actually provide the best pathway, and…

HOW ALL OF THIS WILL ACTUALLY LEAD TO BETTER BUSINESS…To this day, I will NOT work with or recommend anyone who operates from a “Service Oriented Approach”.  I will ONLY work with and refer “Mission Driven Businesses”, not because they have a mission statement, but because their teachings, focus and practice actually and authentically are driven from a “it’s not about you, it’s ALWAYS about them approach”.  The people I recommend will tell clients when to work with someone else, because it’s simply a better deal.  They will not stop at a problem when it’s not technically “their job”.  They will always be honest and transparent.

So, do “I hate the Real Estate profession”, no.  BUT, do I think most of the sales teachings and practices are wrong and outdated, yes.  Do I think everyone in the profession is service focused (through no real fault of their own) no, BUT, do I think most people are service oriented, yes.  Could I refer other Real Estate agents and teams, because they are authentically mission focused, yes.  But, the majority, no, not even close.

I think as the profession changes, with consumers having more and more information, better access, etc., the only way for things to head is for the human element to become the most focused, talked about, and taught component. Without it, I think the value will be cut and cut to the point where Real Estate agents become a burden, rather than a value add.

The great news is, we have a HUGE opportunity!  We’ve made plenty of advances on technology – worlds better than previously, but very little to no advances on the human element.  I think that if the teachings moving forward are mission focused with the core element being the human being, Real Estate will always have its place.  Furthermore, I think the future leaders of the Real Estate will be the ones with the highest focus on the human element.

This is my commitment and the commitment of our company, Living Matters.  My story has always carried this torch and I will cease to own a Real Estate company if this ever changes.  This is why we do what we do and in all the talk about technology being the future of Real Estate, I will proudly lead this charge to the less traveled path!  Most of the resources are aimed and most of the people are aligning with technology.  It seems a new company starts every day with this endeavor.  Personally, I think we have more than enough, but human focused companies? I don’t hear of many starting every day. I think it’s time for a little more energy and resource in that realm of human beings.

In closing, the pathway I’m talking about certainly isn’t the helicopter ride to the top of a mountain that is often sought in today’s world.  It is the beautiful, cold, often exhausting and exhilarating hike to the top.   But, trust me, if you had the choice to be in the body and soul of the person who took the helicopter or the person who hikes, you’d choose the hiker all day every day!

Thanks for being you!  You are enough just as you are!



P.S. – For the business minded people who want to chat, I assure you it’s still very lucrative…AND it’s more

fulfilling…AND the world actually benefits…let’s talk!

Living Matters