Do Professional Guitarists and Realtors have anything in common?
I just wrapped up 3 days at the Keller Williams Mega Agent Camp in Austin. It’s really great, no matter what industry you work in, to get around a bunch of other people who do the same thing you do, and to share and trade ideas. The Mega Agent camp is not for Newbie Agents, which is good because it means we don’t have to sit through a lot of beginner stuff, as is the case with a lot of real estate conferences. This one is more about mindset, attitude and taking action.
Gary Keller wants every KW agent to focus on becoming a “Master” at our craft. At a talk he gave a few months ago at our SW Austin Market Center, he challenged us all with this question – “if you’re not in this business to become a master of your craft, the very best Realtor your clients will ever work with – then why are you here? Why don’t you find something you want to be the best at and go do that?”
He also asked the question, “why do you think I am here talking to you?”, and answered himself by saying that when real estate markets get good, such as the current Austin real estate market, Realtors often forget to stay focused on the business basics, because the business starts to seem easier than before. Then when the downturn comes, as it always does, many agents are not prepared to survive because the underlying business fundamentals were abandoned during the good times.
That worries him. In other words, the good times can make us lazy and unfocused. Those weren’t his exact words, but that’s the message I came away with. So, the reminder to everyone was to always be striving to master your craft, regardless of market conditions.
Back to the Agent Camp and the cool twist. A guest speaker, who is a true master of his craft, spoke and performed at the KW Camp. Austin Guitar Legend Eric Johnson. Wow! If you don’t know who Eric Johnson is, he’s arguably one of the five greatest guitarists to ever play. Sylvia and I last saw him at a house concert in Circle C a few years ago, which was incredible. We’re both fans from way back as Eric is one of Austin’s own. We were stunned and amazed to see him live again, of all places, at our Keller Williams real estate conference.
For the Mega Agent Camp, he played three songs for the 3,000 KW Agents at the Austin Convention Center, and then sat down on stage for an interview with Gary Keller. They discussed the challenges of mastering a craft, and the dedication, sacrifices and effort required to rise to that higher level and to then keep pushing further.
So, what can a guitar virtuoso possibly have to say that would be inspiring and meaningful to an audience of 3,000 Realtors? A lot as it turns out. A whole lot.
As Eric Johnson discussed the ups and downs of his music career, the challenges and setbacks, the drive and determination required to keep at it when so many obstacles get in the way, dealing with people who make things difficult, bad business decisions and mistakes, to keep going when it would be easier to quit. As he shared his experience it occurred to me that 90% of what he said, as it related to his music career, could have been spoken verbatim by a top producing Realtor who had risen to the top. The language and focus was the same. It was about the journey required to become a Master, and the decisions one makes when commitment is challenged.
For example, he said (I’m paraphrasing) “I’ve seen a lot of people in my business who thought it was going to be easy. But as soon as it starts getting hard, they complain or get out”. He also said, “the problem is, once you become successful, it looks easy to others and they think you haven’t had to work hard. They don’t see everything you’ve done up to that point to prepare yourself so that you could become good enough to make it look easy”.
“So how did you get here, really?” Gary asked. “What’s the most important thing you did that allowed you to master your craft?” Eric said “just doing the basics. Practicing a lot, doing a LOT of scales, surrounding myself with people better than me who I could learn from”.
And we all sat nodding. And we were getting it.
The take-away for me was that no matter what we do in life, we all do the same thing. We either choose to pursue excellence or we settle for something less. We either focus and work very hard to keep getting better, or we drift off to float through life in the sea of mediocrity.
The other interesting thing I came away with is this. We heard from some very successful agents, the best in the world. Some of those agents have built teams that are amazing. One agent we heard from is a high school dropout who was bankrupt 10 years ago with no job. Now his Team sells more than 300 homes a year. How did he accomplish that? The same way Eric Johnson became a guitar virtuoso. He decided he was going to master the business, and he focused on the basics and stuck with it. Each top agent who spoke said the same thing. The equivalent of “practice your scales”.
For us, that means “know your market” and “know your business”. Never stop studying the market and never stop learning how to provide better service and create better outcomes.
So this got me wondering. Do Sylvia and I strive for mastery of our craft? Yes and no. I thought we did, until I rubbed shoulders with others who try harder than we do. That’s a kick in the pants. There is nothing more motivating than being around people who try harder. It would be like thinking you’re a serious music student because you practice 2 hours a day and you’re pretty good, then you run into a bunch of people who practice 4 hours a day and are great.
There was a lot of other interesting stuff to write about. I’ll wrap this one up though with a song from Eric Johnson. This is one he played for us the other day, and one of my favorites.