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Leadership at Work and at Home

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Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Katie Lance podcast. I am so excited for our conversation here today. We have a very special guest in the house today. I am so excited to speak to you today and to chat with a dear friend of mine. Our guest today is the CEO of Remax Holdings, Inc. and he’s the author of the new best-selling book, Start with a Win. We couldn’t be more pleased to have him on the podcast today. So Adam Contos, welcome to the show.

Hey, what’s going on my friend. It’s great to see you.

You too. I am so excited for you. So excited for your new book. You’re a bestselling author. How does that feel?

I haven’t been named best-selling yet. So, you know, we’re still working on that. Thank you, Katie. And I mean, this is like week one. Or actually like week one and a half. So we won’t know until, you know, several more days where we hit on anything, but the numbers are looking good. So thanks to everybody for buying the book and thanks for all your support and the feedback is great. So that’s good. Nobody’s calling me going, I thought this was going to be a little bit better, so it’s always a good start, right?

That is a good start. Exactly. So let’s, let’s dive right in. What inspired you to write the book?

Wow. Okay. So, you know, like over 80% of society, I wanted to write a book, you know, there’s so many people out there that want to write a book, but the reality are, uh, you know, really only about 3% of people actually finish writing a book and even fewer then go on to publish it where there’s actually some sort of a, an item in their hand that they can sign and hand to somebody. So, um, I wanted to, I wanted to be part of that. The, you know, for lack of a better term, the cool kids crowd of, of the authors out there. So all of you, not authors get it together and let’s write a book folks, but, um, but ultimately it was interesting cause I, you know, I’ve got a podcast start with a wind and uh, I got a call from a publisher saying, um, Hey, do you want to write a book? And like, heck Allen, write a book. Why do you think I’m doing a podcast? It’s because I haven’t sat down and written a book yet. So, um, and that was in fact, Katie, that was a year ago that I got that call from him, you know, how long it takes to get this thing done.

Exactly. So, uh, you know, it, it, that was that little nudge that, you know, we kind of all need a little nudge in certain parts of our life. That was my little nudge for writing a book. And, and then, uh, the process started. So it was, it was very, um, very introspective, I guess you could say to, to take in and dig down deep and in the history and look at the stories and things that you’re involved in and do some research and talk to people, things like that. So it was just a blast. So I’m honored to do it and, uh, um, you know, love your book. And I wanted to see if I could do my own

Well, thank you. I appreciate that. Uh, and it’s, it’s a great read. I mean, I encourage anyone who’s listening, you know to pick up a copy, whether you’re a leader in business leader, in life leader, in both areas, it’s a really, well-written lots of great stories, as you said. And just, uh, um, it just really kind of an easy read. I kind of flew through the whole book, so said it’s a good Testament to just, you know, the, just your stories and how you come across. And I love your podcast. You know, I’m a big fan of the podcast. We’ll make sure to link all that, you know, the book and the podcast, everything, uh, so people can check that out too.

Well, thank you. And I’m a huge fan of yours as well. And by the way, congratulations for being back up on stage at Inman, getting back in person there. That was really cool. So nice to see you, uh, you know, out sharing your thoughts and wisdom with everybody in the industry.

Thank you. Yeah, definitely a lot of fun to start to start getting back out there for sure. So, well, I wanted to kind of talk you a little bit about, about leadership because obviously that’s a huge focus of the book. Um, and you know, I know a lot of the listeners, a lot of them are in real estate. A lot of them are entrepreneurs. Um, can you do maybe one or two tips for someone who just wants to kind of just be a better leader, uh, in life or in business?

Yeah. This is a great question, Katie, and it’s interesting because being a leader, isn’t really a thing, but leading is a thing. So, you know, people get this title on there. They’re like, I’m a leader. Well, no, you’re not. I mean, it’s really your, your title is demonstrated by your actions and it’s, it’s demonstrated by improving yourself so you can improve others. So when, when a lot of people end up stepping into some sort of a, you know, a management title or a leadership title, um, regardless of what it is, or maybe they’re, they’re just, self-proclaimed, they, you know, maybe they put, um, you know, a C uh, CEO or a leader status or whatever it is on their business card. That’s a big responsibility and everybody needs to be willing to shoulder that responsibility when they start saying that or being called that. So, um, really what, what tips you asked one or two big tips?

Um, first of all, what you have to do is you have to improve yourself so you can improve others. That’s really leading, you’re enrolling them in the ideas of being better, doing better, uh, giving more, creating a better, uh, world that we all live in. And then the second thing I would say is we have to be present. We have to be visible and we have to be available to redistribute that learning. So, um, during COVID was, it was a great example when people who had the leadership title just disappeared, just thin air they’re gone because they weren’t, they weren’t willing to be vulnerable and transparent and, and put their trust on their sleeve where their trust on their sleeve. So people could see and understand, um, how they feel their values and how much they want to help others. And they just thought I’m going to ride this thing out in, you know, hiding someplace and that wasn’t leading, that was hiding. So, um, you know, we just, we have to be always learning, always giving and always present, uh, as leaders.

Well, and I know that’s one of the things I noticed just from the early days, you’re, you’re early one of the, um, the leaders that I saw really, really vocal. And you were doing all these Facebook lives. I saw you all over my Facebook feed and Instagram, and I, you know, you, and I think part of that is you had set up this foundation where you’re, you’re already active on social and you’re, you know, you’re in the trenches. And so it wasn’t like, oh, how do I, how do I get on Facebook? Right. You were just, you were out there. And so it’s not, I love what you said. It’s not just a title. It’s a, you know, it’s this, the state of mind, it’s, it’s how you act. So, uh, I love that.

Thank you. Yeah. It’s um, it’s funny you say that because, uh, and thank you, Katie, coming from a social media expert, that’s, that’s a big compliment and you, and I talked a lot about that. In fact, full disclosure people, Katie consults, my company. So, um, you know, it’s, it’s really cool to, uh, to go out and, and see what you can possibly do when, uh, you know, when people see you, because when, um, that I use in the book, presence creates trust. And that’s, that’s really important is where is everybody present at most of the time, you know, they’re scrolling with their thumbs on their phone. So if you’re gonna be present, be present where they’re at and instead of going, oh yeah, I was in the newspaper today. I mean, you know, I’m gonna, I’m going to fax you a copy of my latest advertisement, you know, whatever it might be. So, um, but yeah, you’re, you’re right, Katie, it’s, it’s about doing that. And that’s, that’s kind of a vulnerable feeling to do that, but you know what people are supportive of you putting yourself out there to, to, uh, demonstrate kindness and values.

Totally. And, you know, that’s kind of a good segue to talk about, but the next question I was going to ask you about, you know, how we act in stressful times, um, you talk in the book about avoiding the experience of being overwhelmed by relying on time-tested frameworks, to organize your thinking, especially during stressful situations, like what we all went through over the last year and a half, and there’s all kinds of stressful situations that come up, uh, you know, day in and day out. So can you unpack that a little bit? I read that, I read that sentence in your book, but I would love for you to just kind of unpack that a little bit. Like, what does that mean to you?

Sure. So, I mean, every day we wake up, we have challenges that we face all of us do, everybody. It could be, you know, maybe you have an eight year old and they wake up and they’re like, ah, I have school or I have homework, or my friend was mad at me yesterday. I don’t know what it is, but the reality is we all have stress in our lives. And, um, as we progress through life, that stress changes. Uh, the, the overwhelm that comes from the stress, uh, changes. And the reality is there’s, there’s one thing that will kill action and stop results faster than anything else. And that is, uh, overwhelmed, it’s fear, doubt, and overwhelm. And it all comes down to that emotion of fear, which the response of fear is fight flight or freeze. So if you think, you know, overwhelm, what does overwhelmed do for a lot of people causes them to freeze, or they argue, which is fight, or they avoid, which is flight.

So if you just, if you see those responses, just know, okay, this person’s probably overwhelmed. They’re overwhelmed. Um, how do we treat that? Well, we, we approach that with love, with love. What is love? Love is unconditional giving love is the intentional emotion. Fear is the default emotion. We’re programmed genetically to have fear in our lives and to look for those fear triggers in our lives in order to keep ourselves alive. Uh, because, you know, we’re, we’re the same creatures that lived in a cave a couple hundred thousand years ago and had to step foot out to go find something to eat or drink without getting eaten ourselves. So, you know, the, I mean, that’s the reality of, of genetically where we come from, uh, and simply what fear is, is, um, it’s worrying about the unknown. It’s thinking about the unknown and, and telling ourselves the worst case scenario, because that is just our way of processing, what could happen and how do we defend ourselves against it?

So the reality is when we’re fearful, when we have that doubt and overwhelm, here’s my trick go to the spa. Okay. And everybody’s like, yeah, yeah. You know, I get a pedicure, what not that kind of spa. Um, the, the, the spa I’m talking about is just an acronym spa stress plan action. Okay. So stress would be that fear, it’s that overwhelm. So recognize it and, and take a look at it and say, okay, here’s, here’s the thing that I’m stressful about. What’s the opportunity here? What if, what if I did that? What if I got it done? What’s my target I’m going after. And that opportunity within that. Okay. The P let’s make a plan here in order to do that. So, all right. If I were to do that, here’s what I would do. And then the a action action is the one thing that overcomes fear in this world.

What’s the plan do. It gives you the guts to do the action, and it gives you the step-by-step process. But what we’re looking for is go take action, go take action on this. So go to the spa, which is a happy place. And you’ll get through those challenges in that overwhelm. And, you know, mental health is real mental health problems are real. And they’re the majority of those is because of fear, doubt, and overwhelm. And they just start in, by the way, depression is fear, internalized anger is fear externalized. So that’s really what you’re seeing when somebody is angry, their fight flight or freeze, it’s the fight part when they’re depressed, fight flight or freeze, it’s that internal fight. It’s that flight, it’s that freeze kind of all beating on each other, uh, in, in a depression manner. So, um, so just recognize those things and just go to the spa, make a plan and go back to,

I love that. I love that. And I, you know, that it translates really well to how I always think of you. I mean, every time I see you, you’ve got a smile on your face. I see walking around at conferences, you’re just, you’re you, you’re just one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. And, and you and I, I am lucky. I, luckily I can say, we go way back. I’ve known you for quite, you know, many, many years, and you’ve always just been really steadfast as far as just who you are. And, uh, and just being really genuine and approachable and, and, and positive. And so I would love to hear you talk a little bit about how do you turn that negativity into positivity? Isn’t the, life’s not always positive, right? Stuff happens as you said, but is there maybe a tactic or a tip that you might have for just maybe something that you do in your own life, or maybe turning a negative into a positive?

Sure. I mean, the reality you’re right, Katie, I mean, our numbers, let’s not be Pollyanna here. There are going to be some things in your life that suck. Okay. I mean, it’s, you know, maybe you may, maybe you’re not paying attention. You crash your car. I mean, it’s one of those things. You’re like 100% of that was my fault. And now I have to face all these problems that have to do with it. Or maybe, maybe you made a decision in a business, uh, you know, process or something like that. And it was the wrong decision and it ended up collapsing on you and it turned into a failure. It happens. It happens. Here’s the first thing to realize to this point in your life, you’ve survived 100% of these problems. Okay. So you can survive this one. Also, we just need to get past it and figure out how to, how to create a constructive response to it.

So really when you are so overwhelmed, when your gut, your brain, your heart, everything’s all tied up in a knot and it just, you want to sit down and cry it. Sometimes that is how bad it’s been there. Then there, we all visit that dark place every now and then I was just, we’re all human beings that, you know, you talk about me walking around with a smile on my face. I visited that demon on occasion myself. Um, the one thing I do know is that being self-destructive is not the solution to it. So let’s just start with that. Everybody, you know, hitting the bottle, finding an escape with something, you know, something that you put in yourself or do to yourself or whatever it is. That’s not the solution because the same situation is going to be sitting there after you’re done with all that.

So let’s just, let’s go fix the situation and move on and find a happy result or a learning result out of it and take it as that. So, um, thing, first thing you need to do is hit the reset button. I talk about, uh, I’ll sit down and I’ll meditate. If, if nothing more for, you know, 10 minutes or whatever it might be. There’s, there are a couple of great meditation apps out there. Um, know I like focus at will. Uh, I let’s see what else. Um, I’ve got like three or four of them in my phone and I just, I grabbed one of those or I’ll just go on like Spotify and I’ll pull up some Baroque, piano music. I love that. Yeah. And just, and, and, and I’ll close my eyes and I’ll sit there and I’ll do some deep breathing, like the yoga breathing, where it’s like three parts of your chest, your belly, your center chest, and in your shoulders where you like deep, deep breathing and deep, deep exhaling.

And you know what, it’s magic. It allows you to sit there and go, okay, I’ve hit the reset button. And really that’s what it takes. And then say, go back to the spot. What are my opportunities here? And maybe it’s all right. I, I got a ticket for being in a crash. I’m gonna have to go to court, whatever it is, but you know what? I’m gonna walk in with a smile on my face and, and own up what I did and move on with life and, and get past it. And life will be okay. Or maybe I need to go make the money to pay the ticket who knows or fix my car or something like that. But the reality is just make a plan and go do it, but you can’t do it when you’re in the wrong state of mind. It just doesn’t work. Nobody wants to deal with somebody who’s angry and off and upset. Things like that. They want to deal with. Somebody is constructive and positive and a can-do attitude and is grateful for their opportunities. So reset button, and then move forward. It’s happens to all of us. It’s not magic. It’s, it’s human nature. So, uh, we just have to, we have to make that decision ourselves.

I think that’s great advice you have to, yeah. You just have to set that reset button and, you know, it’s interesting. We are, you know, we’re recording this podcast and it’s going to be published, you know, the next few weeks here. And we’re in the last quarter of the year and 20, 22 is a, is upon us where there’s something about like the new year where like you do get to hit that reset button. Right. It’s just like this, ah, it’s the, it’s the new year. And I’m sure you’re talking to a lot of folks right now who are doing like 20, 22 planning and be like, every agent I’m talking to right now, you know, they’re like knee deep in, in and planning and setting goals. Um, do you have any thoughts or advice around business owners and as they are setting their goals for 2022, um, perhaps some things that business owners or real estate agents should consider when setting their goals for 2022,

Uh, this is an amazing question, Katie, and, you know, I like throwing curve balls on these things. So, um, yeah, so let’s, let’s consider this all right. This is an amazing question, Katie. And, and I love this because you, everybody asks me this question about, all right, how do I set my goals? What goals should I set? I’m going to make my top three goals, all this other stuff I like to think of the end result. And that’s fantastic because that’s what a goal is, is the end result. But what I like to think of more is the process to get there, because you’re either going to make it to your goal, or you’re not going to make it to your goal, but I don’t want you to stop when you decide you’re not going to make it to your goal or to stop when you make it to your goal.

That’s one of the biggest problems with goal setting or one of the biggest challenges with goal setting. As we, we, we draw a finish line in our business plan and try and get there. So how do we, how do we adapt that? So we don’t have a finish line, but we have continuous effort and continuous enhancement of our business and our, you know, the bottom line, whatever it might be. Well, instead of goal setting, you should be growth setting. So consider that. So there’s, there’s, there are two mindsets here. There’s the goal mindset and the growth mindset is what we’re talking about. The goal mindset is great because that’ll help you kind of pattern where, how your growth needs to be. But the growth mindset is truly the process of creating results in your business. So what you should consider is what parts of your business do you want growth in and how much growth are you shooting for in that part of your business?

And then reverse engineer that to how much am I going to grow every day, every week, every month, every quarter, and measure your growth. Because next thing you know, you’re going to be exceeding those goals that you originally set. And a lot of times goals are, let’s throw a dart at the wall and, or let’s take last year and let’s add 10%, whatever it is. And everybody’s like, why, why did you do that? Why don’t you figure out truly what you’re capable of instead of where you’re stopping at? And that’s what I like to look at when it comes to growth is truly what are you capable of instead of what are you stopping at now, Katie, let me give you a quick case study on this. I was coaching a gentleman in another industry and he came to me and, and he said, Hey, Adam, I’m like number third in my company.

It was in medical sales, I’m number third in my company. And, um, you know, here’s our product that we sell. And I want to, I want to be number one. I want to blow it out of the water. I said, okay, um, why are you selling what you’re selling? And this is, you know, this is a question we could ask real estate agents. Why are you selling 20 houses a year? And they’re like, well, that’s, that’s what my capacity is. You’re like, so did you like work your way up from zero to 20 and go, alright, that’s about LA can do, or did you just rent, cover your eyes and randomly pick a number and go, oh, 20, yay. You know, something like that, or you, what are we basing this on for crying out loud as I, and I looked at this guy who was coaching, and I said, um, how much you selling per person per location per market per day?

And he broke it down. And what we found out was he was selling what you could, you could articulate to be four of his particular items per area that he was working in. And I said, okay, what’s your total addressable market here? He’s like, oh, uh, we never figured that out. I go, okay, let’s figure it out. It was like 25 that makes, so you’re selling four and you could be selling 25. And he’s like, well, it seems that way. I said, okay, let’s go after 20. And he goes, all right. So we went from, instead of four units, he went that quarter. He ended up going from four units to 11 units on average. And he blew the rest of the company out of the water. Like what happened? He goes, I don’t know, I got a coach. And I mean, really what it, what it boils down to is what is your true capacity versus what do you think you’re trying to accomplish?

And it was, it was magic because then his whole company caught on and it was like, boom, we are now doing three times our capacity that we were before, simply because we took a look at what we shouldn’t be doing, what we should be doing and how to ask the right questions of our customers. And it’s the same thing in, let’s take it. Let’s move this over to real estate now. Okay. Um, I’m calling this many people each day. Okay. Where did most of your customers come from? My repeat and referral business. Okay. How much of your day are you spending on that? Well, 10%, probably or 20%. Um, cause I’m calling all these leads that I’m buying them. Okay. How much of your business comes from that? Uh, 10 or 20% of my business. I’m like, so you’re spending like 80 or 90% of your time on 10 or 20% of your business?

Well, yeah. Wait a second here. We’ve got it backwards. So let’s spend 80% of our time where 80% of our business comes from and flip this whole thing on his head and say, what’s my capacity for what I have. And then we’ll fill it in with how I need to with buying leads. So it’s interesting when you look at growth, instead of goals, I want to call a hundred leads a day. Okay. How many of your actual customers are you calling? Who’s your top 50 customers because you get four times or eight times the amount of business from your top 50 than you do from your people. You don’t even know call them first. So there’s a lot of different secrets in this, this growth goals, business planning process, but look for the levers. That’s all I got to tell everybody, who’s listening, look for the levers, start at where you’re most productive and maximize that, and then fill in the blanks.

That’s great advice. There’s I’m telling you guys, that’s what I’m talking about. This books it’s full of all these nuggets from it from Adam. I absolutely love that. The, I gotta remember that, you know, it’s all about your capacity. Um, that’s, that’s such a great, great analogy. Great, great case study too. So I know we’re, we, you know, we’re, we’re kind of getting towards the end here today, but I wanted to just ask you just really quickly on a, on a personal note. Um, I just feel like as, as a friend, as someone who sees you, like I said, at industry events, you seem to just balance business and your family and everything else that’s important to you, you know, so well, um, do you think it’s important for leaders to lead by example in that?

Oh my gosh, Katie, that is an amazing question because the, um, I mean, th the reality, first of all, for everybody listening is there’s no such thing as life balance. A lot of people like I’m out of balance. Well, yeah, you are. Um, we’re all out of balance. Okay. The, the, the question is, are you intentional with all the aspects of your life? Uh, the, the clearest thing, or the most clear thing that I can see as a business leader, when I see businesses struggling is it’s not the business, it’s the person and what you’re referring to Katie, you know, with respect to business leadership, family, everything else that comes in is they’re focusing on trying to grind out a result in their business, and they’re killing themselves in the process and everything else is suffering. And the reality is how we do one thing is how we do all things.

Can I say that in a book, how we do one thing is how we do all things. People will be like, no, I’m, I might not be in the best shape and I’m ridiculously good at business, whatever. Okay. Um, you know, it, or my family life sucks, but my business is awesome. No, it’s not. Um, you know, so th the reality Katie is we have to work on all the aspects of our life, very intentionally. And when we start making that intentional effort in all parts of our life, all parts of our life will benefit. So it’s, when you, you think of, you know, this, this whole philosophy, you know, rising tide raises all ships. Well, that tide is our life holistically. The ships are different parts of our life, and you can’t have one ship rise. And another one, not because what’s happening to that one sinking.

So we have to focus on lifting all those ships up together. And those ships are things like our friends. Okay. And I’ll tell you, I have, I can probably count my close friends on one hand, maybe adding a couple of fingers, but the reality is I keep my very, very close friends, very close, and I am very, very intentional in my relationships with them, my family, as you know, Katie, I’m very proud of my family. I have three kids in college and my amazing wife, Kelly, and I, I mean, it’s, it’s an important part of my life because I tell my, love them all the time we talk all the time, uh, we get on FaceTime or whatever it is, and, and see each other. Cause my kids are off at college. But, um, but it’s important that I recognize that. And you know, what’s interesting is when I started doing that, my relationship with my customers, with my partners in business massively improved. I mean, it was like, whoa, because we’re not hiding anything. We’re not hiding behind our hearts and our feelings for something else. So you take a look at that. You take a look at your finances. Um, you take a look at your, your ethics and your values. And there are some interesting studies out there about ethics and values that, uh, particularly like, um, if you cheat on your taxes, if you cheat on your finances, things like that, you’re going to cheat on your business partners and your customers.

So just be honest, be upfront, be fair, do the right thing and, and focus on these things and watch all of these business aspects increase and watch the smile, come to your face more and more and more often because you’re not hiding from anything. You’re not running from anything. You’re proud of what you have and where you are and where you’re going. And you’re here to help other people find that too. So it’s, it’s about balancing all those things, by the way, health, fitness, nutrition, things like that. I know with kids, it’s hard sometimes because there’s like I Mac and cheese for dinner tonight. You’re like, all right, cool. It’s snowing out. It’s comfort for whatever it might be. Um, but, but we can live a balanced, healthy lifestyle, but we have to hold ourselves accountable to that. And we can still be very, very happy with it. I had pizza the other day and I track all my calories and was great. So, um, but you know, you don’t have to kill yourself doing it, but you can be happy doing it. And it makes you happy everywhere. So focused on that, Katie, one thing for your listeners after you listen to podcasts, go tell your loved ones. You love them. And think when’s the last time I did that. That’s what everybody should be thinking about. That’s really important to me. So anyhow, it’s intentional. It’s not balanced. It’s intentional.

That’s such a good takeaway. I’m writing that one down intentional. That’s what it’s all about. Just being intentional and who you say yes to and who you say no to, and not hiding things like you said, just, you know, being who you are and, and, uh, being a little vulnerable too. And, and, and, uh, that’s awesome. That’s, that’s a good advice. Um, Adam, this has been so much fun. I know we could probably chat for like another hour about all that.

It’s so nice to see you again. I love talking to my friend, Katie Lance.

So much fun. So for all of our listeners that are out there, get a copy of the book and, you know, get a copy for all your friends. And you know, if you’re a broker, get one for your office, like I’m not paid to say this. It is a great book. It is awesome. You want to go to StartWithaWin.com/book. Add it to check that out. Adam, anything else you’d like to share as we get towards the end here today?

Oh gosh, Katie. Thank you. First of all, thank you so much for having me on here. Huge gratitude to you. Uh, and you know, I know you’re busy traveling and everything like that, but you took the time to do this. So thank you so much also for all the listeners, all author proceeds from sale of the book will be donated to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. So I don’t make anything on the sale of the book. It costs a lot of money to write a book. Katie can tell you, but, I’m given all the author proceeds too so anything the publisher sends me goes straight to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. So this is for the kids and there are a lot of great nuggets in here to help you start with a win. So check it out. Thank you all for your support and love you guys.

Thank you so much, Adam. And thank you so much to all of our listeners here today. If you enjoyed the podcast, the best thing you can do is share it out. Take a screenshot of whatever device you’re listening on. Tag me, tag Adam, share it out on your social media platforms if you really enjoyed the podcast. We would love if you would give us a five star review. All right, well, thank you again, Adam. I absolutely loved our conversation here today. Start with a win. I love that. Call a loved one. Tell them that you love them. I love that takeaway. Until next time we hope you have a great day and we’ll see you next time on the Katie Lance podcast.

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