Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tough Lessons

Sometimes, we don't always get it right.  But you will easily correct mistakes with one simple rule.  Stay true to your core values!

Last month, Angie wrote a blog about our our core values.  Angie, Cameron and I spent over a month debating, changing, refining and making sure that they were the core values that really epitomized what StepStone was all about -- not just to the staff, but to our agents and our clients as well.

Every business needs to spend time developing and sharing their core values.  Some recommended reading on the subject are Good To Great by Jim Collins and Traction by Gino Wickman.  Put these on your MUST READ list!

Companies that are able to grow and sustain growth revolve around good people.  But what defines someone as a good person to be on your team isn't always the numbers or results.  

Jim Collins equates this to the people you work with (or in your company) are people on a bus.  Good companies know where they are going and try to fit people who help it get there onto the bus.  But Great companies fill a bus with like-minded people and then let the people decide where the bus goes.

Well, we put the wrong person on our bus.  And that led to a tough decision, but one that was clear.  We hired someone who didn't meet our core values.  While the numbers looked good, we made the decision to let him go because we are not trying to be a good company, but a great one.

When someone is not meeting your core values, it brings the mood, direction and overall productivity of your company down, even if that person is performing at a high level.  

Before reading Good to Great or Traction, I believe we would have held onto our sales person and allowed him to bring overall productivity down because we would have believed in the numbers.  But by having our core values well-defined, thought-out and debated before the hiring process even began, the tough decision became easy.

Whenever someone on your team doesn't meet your core values, you must let them go.  It's not even really a choice.  And since we did, the mood and productivity of our office is again accelerating.  We will hire a new salesperson, then more staff, then more salespeople and even more staff as we continue to grow and grow.  But those that stay with us will always meet our core values.

We will not sacrifice our values for numbers.  But will load up the bus with great like-minded people and enjoy the ride!  Because that is how companies become great!

I encourage each and every one of you to not only real Good to Great and Traction, (and other books I could recommend), but spend some time defining what your core values are and how you want to grow a company around them.  You'll be glad you spent so much time on it.  It will be the basis of future decisions and will allow you to ride the bus to success!

Photo credit: abraham.williams via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

StepStone Realty Core Values


Over the last two and a half years, Dan and I, with help and support of Cameron, numerous friends, collegues and the agents who joined us early in, have worked on building StepStone Realty to what it is today… a thriving brokerage of over 120 agents and counting dedicated to the support of Investor Agents.  We spend a ton of the time working on building and improving systems, recruiting agent and building resources for existing agents. Just recently we decided to take a minute to step back and take a good look at where we are and where we are going.  Going through that process has reinvigorated our excitement for what we are doing and given us a new clarity on our direction.

A big part of that process was to determine the core values for StepStone Realty. We believe that by striving to uphold these values our success, and yours, will follow. I want to share them here with you and hope that you can get behind them. If so, I feel confident we can reach our goals together.

When Dan and I first started investing 12 years ago, we didn’t do it the easy way. We learned by trial and error and we kept ourselves afloat by spending our Saturdays buying things at garage sales that we could resale on eBay.  At the time, it didn’t feel like it was working but we never stopped trying and 12 years later I’m grateful for the hard-lump lessons we learned along the way.  Steve Jobs once said “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from non-successful ones is pure perseverance”, and I believe Dan and I are evidence of this. I see Drive in my agents everyday… the trips across town in rush hour to get a contract signed, the constant effort to learn more and more, the big ideas and the creative solutions. Stepstone Agents don’t rely on someone to tell them to do something… they just do it!

Agents. Fellow Investors. Employees. Clients. Customers. Sellers. Buyers. Vendors.
We believe that people are not just a means to an end or a tool to further our own goals. We believe that the roll everyone plays is valuable and that all people deserve to be treated with respect and honesty. We value developing relationships and uplifting people.

This is a biggie for me. When we first started talking about opening the brokerage up to Investor/Agents my first concern was how the investor community would perceive us. There were a few “brokerages” who’s mere mention would cause noses to wrinkle and eyes to roll. I have made it my mission that StepStone Realty and it’s agents be known for their high level of integrity. It’s important to me that every agent on the team embrace this value.

Several months ago, the coolest thing happened … an agent in San Antonio got stranded and within minutes of asking for help on our private Facebook page she had several other agents responding to her request for help. To me, that felt like validation that this community we are building is real. As investors, there is not a lot that binds us together. Being a part of StepStone; however, is being part of a community that supports and cheers for each other.

While I’ve put Independence last on this list is certainly is one of the most important values for most our agents. Another thing that makes StepStone Realty distinctive from other brokerages is that we allow our agents, our independent contractors, be just that… Independent. Many brokerages want to dictate how you work, when you work, and ensure that you are constantly working for their benefit. Entrepreneur’s cannot be successful without the freedom and independence to break new ground, try new ideas and let their drive carry them to their goals.

While we are just now sharing them with you they are the values that have driven StepStone Realty to be among the fastest growing brokerages in Texas. Thank you to all our agents, employees, and partners for embracing them with us. We look forward to growing with you all in 2017! Happy New Year!