Applying Ray Dalio’s Believability from his book Principles | Silicon Beach | Venice Beach | Real Estate

By David Bramante  |  March 18, 2018

During our Mentee Mastermind conversation at Keller Williams Realty Downtown Los Angeles on Friday, we were discussing how to best deal with the issue of completing and properly documenting the 10 property previews per week requirement.

The book, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent written by Gary Keller and usually referred to as the MREA, states that a top-producing real estate agent will follow the following formula for success:

  • 10 owner conversations per day
  • 10 database entries per day
  • 10 personalized notes per day
  • 10 property previews per week

So as our 17 real estate agents at KW Downtown LA were discussing the amount of work required to follow the MREA and stay in the Mentee Mastermind contest, coined during the conversation the #AlphaAgents project, we struggled as a group on how the agents could properly document the previews online. (We started with 18 agents, but one agent tapped out this week).

The initial recommendation was that our KW agents would take 10 selfies at the properties they visited (open houses for residential agents and property visits for commercial agents).

What we have seen over the last two weeks has been all over the place… some of the agents in the group took photos of property exteriors and interiors, some took photos of only addresses with their selfie, some took pictures of the MLS print-outs usually found at cooperating agent open houses… and yet many more did not do any previews at all. We want uniformity for the contest.

The top three agents in terms of completing property previews for the week were Rosie Mazariegos, Summer Gorjian, and Matthew Blessing. In my mind, they had the microphone.

So as I opened the conversation up about how to best resolve the issue of proving property previews, I expected one of my top three to steer the conversation and teach the rest of the group and set the rules for the contest in this specific category.

They would talk about taking multiple photos at each open house which include some sort of selfie, open house sign and an interior right? Nope. All of a sudden agents who had not completed any open house previews whatsoever felt comfortable chiming in on how this party of our Mentee Mastermind / Alpha Agents contest should be conducted and that overall this requirement was too difficult.

This sounded the alarms in my mind because the book I recently read and had recently become addicted to, titled Principles by Ray Dalio, was being ignored. What I was listening to and experiencing was a violation of one of the main principles in Ray’s book, and that was a violation of his rule on “believability” and so I needed to correct the conversation and remind the group of this core belief.

As one of the agents who hadn’t completed any previews from the week continued to talk about this and that with the contest’s previews and social media posting requirements, I realized that she was confident, that she was persuasive, and that she had no believability in the category of previews. Worse, my top three quietly listened to her and this was dangerous.

Alarming… she had the entire floor during the conference call and 16 other agents were actively pondering her thoughts. They may take her advice and form their businesses around what she was saying, which was not based on anything other than opinions.

As the Team Leader of KW DTLA, I have routinely experienced this issue, but never was it more painfully obvious. I was actively looking at all my agents’ stats on the call in my Google Sheets tracker and sure enough, an agent with a glaring zero in this category was weighing in happily about this category. An agent with zero credibility in this category was happily sharing her opinion and knowingly or unknowingly trying to influence the agents in the contest.

These are the moments where I need to get involved, remind the group of our core principles, about the book Principles, and the concept of believability. I politely interrupted our talkative and “unbelievable” agent (on this topic) after a few seconds, and reminded the Mentee Masterminds that our brokerage, KW DTLA, believes in believability and that the opinions of the most active agents in the preview category had the floor.

I called on Rosie first, since she had done 20 property previews in the week, then I called on Summer who had done 17 previews. As the book Principles states, the person with the most experience takes on the role of teacher, while the challenger and would-be debater (or show-boater) takes on the role of student.

This was one of the moments, though seemingly very minor, that I was able to course correct the group and specifically outline one of our brokerage’s beliefs in 2018. It felt great and it probably seemed relatively minor.

What happened is so routine that no one usually notices, and so dangerous that those who are aware of this rule need to setup and make the group aware of what is happening. I couldn’t believe I had to re-introduce the concept of believability.

PS In case you’re wondering what the group settled on, we stated that there needs to be 10 images posted on Instagram, with descriptions of the properties and the hashtags: #AlphaAgents #KWDTLA and #KWDowntownLA. The posts should be shared to a linked Facebook account, so that our office can quickly find and count the preview posts for each agent.

PSS The featured image of this post is from my Instagram, where I’m doing handstands in front of agent’s open houses… to preview that I visited the open houses and I’m believable.

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David Bramante is the Team Leader & Managing Partner of Keller Williams Realty Downtown Los Angeles, and the manager of BRE Investment in Echo Park.

He has been a top producing California Realtor since 2005, helping clients sell, buy, invest and lease residential and commercial real estate in Los Angeles.

As a real estate consultant, he has hired, mentored and coached over 150 Realtors in Southern California, including many top producing Realtors in Los Angeles County.

For questions about the above blog post, becoming a real estate agent, or joining Keller Williams Realty, send an email to David directly at david (at) breinvestment.com or davidbramante (at) kw.com. 

Robert Hahn’s ideas of the future of real estate brokerage | Silicon Beach | Venice Beach | Real Estate

By David Bramante | March 4, 2018

I just finished reading “The Future of Brokerage Black Paper” by Robert Hahn and Sunny Lake (see below), and I’ve sent it to a handful of top agents and brokerage owners for them to read and weigh in on the ideas. I want to strike a conversation up with these agents about the issues I have been actively wrestling with as a Lead Agent of BRE Investment and now as a Team Leader at Keller Williams Realty Downtown Los Angeles, and I want these conversations and some answers to my questions like… yesterday.

When I ran BRE Investment LLC on its own and out of an office in Silver Lake, in the historic landmark Neutra Office Building, I had a handful of full-time and salaried employees at the brokerage company. And what started out as a boutique real estate company which handled property management, leasing, Airbnb supervision, and brokerage sales in Silver Lake and Echo Park, it eventually dissolved back to its core competency of services… my core competency of real estate sales in Echo Park.

This was a boomerang back to my origin story, because the success of my sales in the area allowed me the opportunity to expand our services, and that uncontrolled expansions which I allowed was the reason we had to retract. As I have told many people over the last few years, I wish I had never expanded our services and I wish I had brought in some commission-based agents. I thought about it on a weekly basis for nearly two years but did not act on any of it, because I allowed myself to be distracted by the new problems we were handling.

Through the experience of running BRE Investment and leading the scope creep of its services, I learned that I had made several mistakes in my calculations of what an effective real estate team / boutique real estate brokerage was about. And looking back, I was ultimately not able to create the winning formula for a boutique brokerage with an eye on expanding into other hip areas, like Venice. What was missing with BRE Investment in those years?

As a recap, I believe me being the only rainmaker on the team selling real estate, and having a staff that focused on the wrong services (management, leasing and Airbnb) was a losing formula. After two years, I went from a single agent to an agent with a team and offering “full-service real estate services” to a single agent yet again. And not much to show for it, except from an imaginary PHD in real estate brokerage. My experiment in expansion had gone terribly, terribly wrong. I slowly and sadly fired the staff one by one, and focused on real estate sales exclusively as a one man band like the old days.

I was older and the world around me in Echo Park had changed. My peers in the area, like Courtney and Kurt, and Tracy Do Real Estate, had increased the size and success of their real estate teams and had dialed in their marketing to very impressive levels. Things on the Eastside had gotten much more competitive in 2017 compared to the old days of 2005 when I first started selling real estate in Echo Park. I realized at that point in early 2017, it made little sense to be a single rainmaker agent, in any way that I looked at it, and I wanted to join a brokerage again.

I started examining my real estate business decisions with regard to building a real estate brokerage. I started reading like a maniac, trying to crack the code on what had gone wrong. I had clearly missed something so obvious. Neglected what haunted me every week. All that wasted time and energy, and all those wasted paychecks I cut every two weeks. It was was a transfer of my commission wealth to my salaried employee’s wealth, and I had brought in all the business… so that stung and made me sick.

And so in that mindset I began examine joining a real estate brokerage again. I had worked at Sotheby’s, Re/Max, Re/Max Commercial, Marcus & Millichap, Keller Williams Realty Santa Monica, and briefly worked with Brock Harris’ mentor Leslie and with Clint Lukens at Clint Lukens Realty.

I ultimately decided to go back to Keller Williams, but this time in Downtown Los Angeles. I knew the ownership and after joining I began discussing taking on a leadership role in the office. While me coming into the brokerage alone was a shift at the office merely because the office didn’t have a Team Leader for about six months, my activities were to be focused on the numbers: agent count and company dollar. I wanted to work on these, and continue to sell with my clientele, but with a vengeance. I brought BRE Investment the brand into KW DTLA, and was given a mandate to change KW DTLA once and for all. Previous leaders without sales experience and without experience in managing an office had all failed. So this seemed like a win-win.

The main request was that I recruit, recruit, recruit because that would directly impact company dollar. This was something I felt I should have done, only after the fact, at BRE Investment. And so I would take my skills as a listing agent with a bizarre appreciation for cold calling and start contacting the agents in the area.

And so after six months as the Team Leader of Keller Williams Downtown LA, and as the owner of BRE Investment 2.0, I’ve been reading hard and fast on how a skilled salesperson can quickly become a proficient manager, and how focusing on being a leader is significantly better than micromanaging as a manager. I am consuming books at an alarming rate, and I love it. And I’m re-reading the ones that bring the most value to me and my agents, recommending some of them so that we’re all on the same page and speaking the same language and so that I can change the culture from the inside out.

I started as the Team Leader on September 1, 2017 and officially took control of the position on October 1, 2017. So now six months into the role, we have Keller Williams Realty’s Family Reunion event in Anaheim. After being at the event and hearing Gary Keller’s Vision Speech, I tracked the activity online as I thought about the ideas. I was quickly on Inman.com, and I found and read Robert Hahn’s and Sunny Lake’s “black” white paper on the idea of the future of brokerage, and what they envision is the financially successful future of the broker-agent relationship. This is the very problem I have seen and thought about for years.

Experiencing the different pressures of a real estate brokerage first hand, and having started several real estate tech companies myself, Robert and Sunny are asking the questions everyone in real estate should be asking (and should have been asking for a while):

  • How is technology going to affect the industry for its current-role players?
  • What’s the most financially sustainable version of a real estate brokerage now and in the future for its current players?

From where I stand, these are the two important questions of the day. These are the most important questions of the day. So even though it’s always on my mind and in my conversations, Robert Hahn is making me think hard and fast about the future of the real estate brokerage.

I’m approaching my role as Team Leader at Keller Williams DTLA like a would-be CEO of a real estate tech company, and I’m only more interested in that now that Gary Keller has announced to the world that KW is a tech company (as of 2018). I actually met with the Josh Team at KWRI in Austin in early December 2017, and spoke to their team about some of the tech ideas that I had.

I’m obsessed with the book “Lean Startup” and tech culture, have taken Ruby on Rails classes at General Assembly, created real estate tech companies and now I have all of that experience juxtaposed against the new experiences I have had as the Team Leader of the office for the last six months. And I’m asking my self how to I reconcile all I have learned with the future of real estate brokerage.

Blog Notes:

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David Bramante is the Team Leader & Managing Partner of Keller Williams Realty Downtown Los Angeles, and the manager of BRE Investment in Echo Park.

He has been a top producing California Realtor since 2005, helping clients sell, buy, invest and lease residential and commercial real estate in Los Angeles.

As a real estate consultant, he has hired, mentored and coached over 150 Realtors in Southern California, including many top producing Realtors in Los Angeles County.

For questions about the above blog post, becoming a real estate agent, or joining Keller Williams Realty, send an email to David directly at david (at) breinvestment.com or davidbramante (at) kw.com. 

Everything that happens around you is your responsibility. Everything.

By David Bramante | February 10, 2018

Since I’m the Team Leader at Keller Williams Downtown Los Angeles, I have been reading as much as possible about leadership and team building. Helping real estate agents is a tricky proposition, because they’re entrepreneurial spirit and legal independent contractor status can feel like you’re herding cats some times.

I’m diving into these topics as quickly as possible since I want to be the best leader I can be for the agents in the office. The structure of Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win is great… war story, business application, and summarized principle.

My biggest take aways from this book are:

  • Simplify everything to the lowest common denominator so everyone around you understands it.
  • Prioritize everything you do (don’t make to-do lists, instead make priority lists).
  • Lead through decentralized command… explaining the purpose (the big why) and do not micromanage.
  • Everything that happens around you is your responsibility.
  • Bonus: Wake up as early as possible to challenge yourself mentally!

Several of these big take aways that I listed above are echoed in many of Gary Keller‘s books, like The ONE Thing which is interesting considering how different the actual content of these books are.

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David Bramante is the Team Leader & Managing Partner of Keller Williams Realty Downtown Los Angeles, and the manager of BRE Investment in Echo Park.

He has been a top producing California Realtor since 2005, helping clients sell, buy, invest and lease residential and commercial real estate in Los Angeles.

As a real estate consultant, he has hired, mentored and coached over 150 Realtors in Southern California, including many top producing Realtors in Los Angeles County.

For questions about the above blog post, becoming a real estate agent, or joining Keller Williams Realty, send an email to David directly at david (at) breinvestment.com or davidbramante (at) kw.com.