David Walker says he’s holding himself accountable – win or lose, the overall success of his real estate career rests entirely on the efforts of he and his team.
In this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents, the Ray White agent reveals the mental shift that pushed him to succeed in real estate, how he’ll pound the pavement to take his career to the next level, as well as his thoughts on celebrating losses in one’s career and why learning from them will help make you a stronger agent.
In this episode, find out:
- How you can avoid getting ahead of yourself by setting goals
- While knowing your competitors will help keep you at the top of your game
- The importance of believing in yourself as the best agent for your vendor
Tim Neary: G'day everyone. It's Tim Neary here. I am editor of Real Estate Business, and host of the Secrets of the Top 100 Agents show. Thanks for tuning in. This is the show where we bring in and chat to the very best agents in Australia. Very pleased to welcome on the show today, ranked number 40 in the REB top 100 agents ranking for 2017, from Ray White Wahroonga and Turramurra in Sydney, it's David Walker. Hello David and welcome to the show.
David Walker: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Tim Neary: You're very welcome. Now, this is the second year running that you've been on the top 100 agents ranking. What's the secret to the continuity?
David Walker: I guess the secret is there's real no secret. I think from what a lot of friends that I've got and acquaintances, colleagues, are sort of there or high level, you see the same consistencies across their business. For me, probably more a headspace thing and just what you try and compete with on a day-to-day basis is probably more a battle in your own mind. Whereas, if you look at the top people and they're in constant competition with themselves and nobody else, so I find that that's the secret, if you like, to think of it as such, between top agents and maybe agents that would like to be at a different level.
Tim Neary: And you talk about headspace and we certainly go into this and talk about this with a lot of the top agents in the country. I guess a lot of that has to do with confidence and you wouldn't have that when you're starting out. I'd like to talk a little bit about that, and if you can go back to when you started out, how long have you been in the business?
David Walker: I started actually as an 18 year old with a bit of a hiatus in the middle, so all in all, 13 years.
Tim Neary: 13 years? If we could go back 13 years, I guess starting out in the business, you start with a clean sheet of paper and a pencil. The first thing you want to do is get yourself established, start getting a bit of a database?
David Walker: I think for me, I looked at it back then when I started as more of an apprenticeship. I was just taking in as much as possible, learning from as many people as I possibly could. I had some really good mentors back then who taught me everything, but really just put my head down, worked hard, and set myself some goals and did the groundwork and pounded the pavements, and did everything that I should have been doing. But I think the most important thing was that I was learning and I was training, and I was trying to be better every single day. I think that really put me in good stead.
Tim Neary: Did you start with that goal in mind that you knew that you needed to get in the right headspace, and you needed to build something out of it?
David Walker: Not really. Like headspace wasn't really talked about I guess 10 years ago when I started. I didn't know what was normal, so my normal was for six months literally, sat there making phone calls in a dark office, from 8:00 in the morning 'til 8:00 at night, and it was just call after call after call. That's just what you did, that's what I was taught how to do, so that's what I did, and grounded my way through.
Tim Neary: And that was the basics?
David Walker: Yeah.
Tim Neary: That would have been a pretty tough thing to get through. What made you get through it?
David Walker: Probably just more in my own mind, I had a light at the end of the tunnel, so I knew what I wanted to achieve down the track, as an 18 year old, just to have the opportunity to be selling beautiful houses and to be doing things like that. I looked at all my friends who were at university, and although I got a decent mark in the HSC, I had no desire to do that. I just enjoyed it. I enjoyed speaking to people, but I think the most important thing was I didn't try and get too far ahead of myself and realise that if I listened to the people that were doing the right things and doing the business, and I did learn a lot from those early mentors, so if I listened to them and watched them closely, and followed in their footsteps, then I knew that one day that I could probably be making a living out of it.
Tim Neary: So you started out, you were working in the office, you were making the phone calls, you had the picture in your mind of where you wanted to go. When do you feel it started to take off for you, you started to get out of that office and started to go out and start doing real estate?
David Walker: My journey was probably a little bit different because I was doing real estate in a different area. I was on the Northern Beaches when I first started, and then a few years in, I actually was approached by a seller of mine, a vendor of mine, who asked me to go and become a stockbroker for him. I ventured into the world of stockbroking after a few years, and I think at the age of 21 I was up on the Gold Coast selling stocks for him. Then, I didn't want to sit behind a desk all day, so I grew pretty tired of that, but learned some amazing things doing that as well, and then went and travelled the world for 12 months, and came back to real estate, probably really about six or seven years ago. But did it in the area that I grew up in which is Wahroonga and Turramurra.
That's where really I sort of, at that point in time I was a 25-26 year old, bit more maturity, and wanted to set myself up and start a career. At that point, that's when I really put my head down and took things a little bit more seriously, but wasn't until I got married and had a child on the way that everything became really clear in my mind.
Tim Neary: Was there a breakthrough point where you went from being a rookie to being an estate agent, started getting going?
David Walker: For me, my moment and probably sounds quite cliché, but I was with my wife in New York, and we'd just walked around Central Park for four or five hours, and we were walking through New York and I still remember the moment really vividly. At that point in time, I was in real estate and that was about four years ago. Had a business partner, we were working together and again, from him I learned a lot, but I just thought I was ready to take it to the next level and New York was the best setting for me to realise how small we are in the world. At that point, I thought, "Well, you get one crack at it" so I came back from New York and at that point, that's when I decided to open up my own business with business partners and took it from there.
Tim Neary: And just took it to the next level from there. What changed? I know you've said mentally you made a shift, but in terms of the day-to-day stuff that you were doing, what did you come back and do differently?
David Walker: Structure. For me, I changed my structure. I put in place everything that I felt that I wasn't good at it, or that I could do better, or that I wasn't going to do. I put a really good team around me to help me get my business to where I wanted it to be, so I guess I looked at it and stepped back a bit and said, "Well, what does an amazing business look like? How do I want it to look?" And then I came back and put that in place, so took the risk of putting people on and built my team around me, and I think it was by putting that structure in place and taking the risk by doing it, my skill level didn't change overnight.
I was still the same person I was six months ago, but I put the structure in place to I guess get me in front of more people and also I think the headspace shift, it was just I wasn't going to be a 9:00 to 5:00 person anymore. I was ready to really take it to the next level.
Tim Neary: And taking it to the next level in real estate, what does that look like? What does that ideal picture look like?
David Walker: Having a great team around you, so with me, I'm the leader of my personal team, but what my team does for me, they get me in front of more people. In terms of a listening presentation, I tried to make my listing presentation the best it possibly could, so I worked on that and I'm continually changing it. I think that's important as well, because if you're just saying the same thing over and over again, week in, week out. It becomes quite stale and boring, so always trying to change that and do things differently, because in the end, if a vendor's choosing two or three agents to come in, you've got to have a point of difference.
But I think having amazing people around you, it doesn't matter how good you are as an agent. If you don't have people that you get up for every morning and work with and enjoy working with, that lift you up when you're not feeling great, and you can lift them up if they're not feeling great, and you celebrate the wins and you celebrate the losses, because I'm a big believer that you've got to celebrate losses as well. I think having an amazing team, and I'm lucky to have a great team in my own personal team, but I've got great business partners and have got great other characters in our office as well.
Tim Neary: I want to talk a little bit about that in particular, but you said something that was interesting. Celebrating losses, interesting. How do you do that?
David Walker: It's difficult, but you know that when you lose a listing or you lose a deal, you're just one step closer to getting one. As I alluded to at the beginning of the chat today, I'm a big believer that we in a battle with ourselves. If people out there who constantly are talking about the market or competitors and what competitors are doing, and this person's doing that, and that person's doing that, I find that all a load of crap. Because if you just compete with yourself, then you're the only person that's letting yourself down.
So if you lose a listing or you lose a deal or you don't get up in the morning and go for a run, or if you aren't making that call that you should be making, or if you're not following up with a person or dropping a pre-list, if you're not doing that, that's your own fault, it's not anyone else's fault. So once you realise that in life we're in a competition with yourself, no one else, that was for me the moment that I realised that any excuse that I ever made was on me. If I was saying, "Oh, the reason I didn't get that listing was because my competitor did a lower fee" or, "The reason I didn't get that listing was because the vendor was this or that," it's about me, it's not about them.
I stopped focusing on my competition, and in saying that, my competition they're ... Most of them are really good people, and most of them are probably one of the most competitive areas in the country. I've got within 20 metres, two or three others that are in the REB Top 100 as well, so I've got great competition and that probably drives me as well. Because my competitors, as I've gotten to know them, they're all really good people. By knowing them and knowing them a bit better, it makes me stay on my game as well, because I know I've got to be.
Tim Neary: I like the way that you put that. You said if you make any excuses, you're essentially just lying to yourself, aren't you? Celebrating the losses is probably a little bit of taking stock and saying, "What did I do? What role did I play in that? How can I be better the next time around?" Let's talk a little bit about being better the next time around. The listings presentations, you said that it's something that you focus on, obviously quite heavily, and also something that you change and change up in order to -
David Walker: Always, yeah.
Tim Neary: ...keep it relevant and interesting. When you go into listing presentation, what do you want to achieve? Obviously other than getting the listing.
David Walker: So firstly I guess on one level, I want my energy to be the same as a vendor's energy. I want to have a connection with them, and I want the energy that I give to them, make them realise that I'm here for the right reasons. That's not something you can really teach or show people how to do. You've just got to learn to adapt to that. That's the first thing. I think if you don't connect with somebody it's going to be very difficult for you to get them to trust you. For me, it's point of difference as well, because we all again, if you're competing with some really, really top class people and agents in the area, you can't just be the same.
Because in the end, that's when it's going to come down to fee or marketing and there are people in the area who are doing cheaper marketing and cheaper fees, and if you don't connect with somebody and show them your value add, and show them how you're going to help them get a better price, then they're just going to choose the people who are different fee levels.
Tim Neary: So the point of difference and it's a good point, if there is no point of difference and you are competing in that Upper North Shore of Sydney area, which is a prestigious and well competed area, well represented area, then it will boil down to fees.
David Walker: Yeah, absolutely. You've got to have points of difference. You've got to know your points of difference, you've got to know why you. You've got to truly believe you're the best person for the job. If you go into a listing presentation and think ... I always say to people in my team like genuinely, "If you go into that property, do you genuinely deep down, cutting back all the layers, do you think you're the best person for the job?" Because if you don't, you may as well not go into the listing presentation. Every single presentation I go into, every single house I go into, I do have a deep seated belief that I'm the best person to sell that house.
Tim Neary: I like that way you that put that, that deep seated belief. I remember watching Eddie Izzard, who was one of the best standup comedians in the world, talking about, he was doing a documentary on himself, and he said, "Before I go into every show, I have to believe that I'm funny." Essentially the same. We're not talking about comedy here, but you have to believe that you're the best person for the job. David, we're getting to the end of the show and again, just thanks for your time, but just before we end off, I wanted to get ... Talked about that mindset in the beginning, and we talked about that great team in the beginning. I wanted to get a sense from you of what that perfect real estate day or week looks like. How do you start your Monday and how do you end your probably Sunday, Sunday night isn't it?
David Walker: Yep.
Tim Neary: It's a seven day a week thing. What does a perfect week look like for you in real estate?
David Walker: There is no perfect week, but really for me, it's all you've got to be in the right headspace, which starts with energy and exercise. If you are feeling good about yourself, then you're going to be putting out to the world the energy that you're feeling yourself, so you've got to be feeling good, you've got to have good people around you. It's why the people that I have around me, people in the office, business partners, they all give me energy because they're good people. It's where you sort of say you become the people you hang around. If you have good people around you, you're going to have the right energy, so on a perfect week you would surround yourself with good people.
You would be working hard, putting your head down, you would be setting a few minor goals, and each day is just I guess a series of small decisions we make. If you can purely just have a week where you make the right decisions and you've got good energy, that's the perfect week to me. Obviously you want to get as many listings and as many sales that you possibly can, but if you are doing all the small things you know you have to do, then the listings and sales will come. I think a perfect week to me is being in the right headspace and having the right energy, because then everything else will take care of itself.
Tim Neary: I really like the way that you say that. Have the right headspace, do the right things, have the right energy, and the rest of it will take care of itself.
David Walker: Absolutely.
Tim Neary: It'll roll into place. David, it's been fantastic having you in the studio this morning on the show. Thank you very much for coming in, giving us your team.
David Walker: Pleasure. Thank you.
Tim Neary: Nice one, thank you. Remember to follow us on all of the social media stuff. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can follow me on Twitter, @TimothyJNeary, if you want to do that. RealEstateBusiness.com.au is where you'll find us. There's plenty of stories there on the business of real estate across the whole of Australia and on my guest today, David Walker. Thanks again for tuning in and we'll see you next week. Goodbye.