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— by David Serpa

“Dear Serpa” Broke New Agent

Dear Serpa,

Ok, I’ll take a chance and throw myself out there in private lol. What’s your advice to a newer agent who doesn’t have any repeat business, extra money to “buy” leads, to buy a dialer, or buy all the extra stuff brokerages tell you “you need” to get solid leads? I already have business cards, flyers, door hangers, and mailers (leftover from prior to COVID).

I used to door knock (pre-COVID) on occasion and my SOI of family/friends KNOW I’m an agent and I personally am not going to constantly call, email, or text them every 1-2 weeks asking if they “know anyone” as they tell us to do. I may be wrong for thinking that but I just don’t agree or even like it. And talk about cold calling…ugh! Who in this day in age likes some random stranger calling them soliciting!? I’ve actually had people tell me “you Realtors need to

stop with your lame scripts because you all sound the same” CLICK!      lol #rude

The agents I see who are all doing well are doing so by REFERRALS, not cold calling etc. and have been doing real estate for years. Yes, I’ve seen some newer agents toot their own horn about getting a listing or “opening escrow” blah blah blah, only to find out they didn’t have to go out and actually get it themselves. When you’re new, you don’t have a database (yes, I know everyone in your phone/SOI-but I’ve explained that already)….

I’ve run out of money and now have to go back to work (yay! A company took a chance on me and offered me a position.  It’s at the bottom of the totem pole but I humbly accepted to get my foot in the door) for a bit to save up again.

Help! Is it me getting in my own way???? (like I’ve been told since I’m “not putting in the effort” -which I highly disagree with….


Re-reading this, I sound horribly negative but I’m really not, it’s just been my experience so far. Gahhhh🤪!

And yes, I do my daily affirmations, I pray and I stay grateful for everything!

I started following you because you post so many things I agree with, honest & realistic. Zen Business was on point!

Broke New Agent

Dear Broke New Agent,

First off, I want to thank you for reading Zen Business! I genuinely appreciate your time and money spent on my book and I take neither for granted. While reading your letter I was very much aware of the fact you are not alone! I want you to know this pain you are experiencing bonds you to the world more than you are currently aware of. The difference between a newer agent and a more experienced one is the experienced agent has already been adapting to the new market around them, while the newer agent is trying to build a foundation of success on an outdated mindset.

This mindset is not the agent’s fault, necessarily, as they are only listening to what successful agents, their Team Leads, or their brokers are telling them to do. Being a new Realtor without start-up capital during a pandemic where all of your free or cheap options seem to be taken away from you requires imagination. We are in unprecedented territory. The truth of the matter is; embracing a career in real estate is embracing a life of constant change. There must be a willingness to adapt to the market and your environment around you if you wish to not only survive but flourish in real estate. I am not alone in revisiting my entire business plan and my personal life because of Covid19. I have kids, I have clients, the world is changing.

Change with it. This year has been a massive gift if we are willing to accept it gift wrapped.

In the west, we are afraid of honoring the death cycle in life and in business. We tuck away death, and our failures, in a closet, and pretend they don’t exist. The fundamental willingness to die, or to fail, is life! The failure rate in this industry is astronomical, embraces every failure on your way to success, and knows each success is temporary. You know how to fail! Get comfortable failing, learn from your losses, and keep going. Real estate is changing rapidly. This does not make our industry unique. Just look at the world around you! Tristan Ahumada, the co-founder of Lab Coat Agents, posted the other day; “Is the ‘hustle culture’ dead?” People have realized there is more to life than the grind. This is why I wrote Zen Business.

Embrace flow. I have a feeling you already know you have been swimming upstream for quite some time. You knew it when you started cold- calling. Learn to trust your intuition, my friend. No amount of coaching you into a square hole will make you fit. Embrace your shape, love your design, and put it to work for you. Too many coaches, brokers, and team leads coach every member of their team the exact same way.

I am proud of you for having the courage to write and for knowing, instinctively, you were never meant to spend your day on a phone making cold calls to complete strangers. Some people can do this day in, day out, to great success! I am not one of these people. For me, service is at the heart of every successful movement I take forward in my career. How can you serve? Who can you serve? Then take a moment to understand you are worthy to serve in this capacity. You have to believe you are worth it before anyone else will! Have a real conversation with your heart if you want to be successful in real estate without completely breaking it. Know what you will do, and what you will not do, and don’t compromise.

Without further ado, here is my post-Covid19 advice for new agents!

  • Build a team invested in your success I know of a lender who does free CORE Coaching. Her classes often start full and end empty, very few people are willing to do what they need to do, even when they are shown how to do it. Do you want to be successful? What would you be willing to do to attain this success? I know an escrow officer willing to door-knock with her Realtors, in a pre-COVID world, how many Realtors consistently took her up on the offer? I know Realtors who would accept you onto daily coaching and accountability call, without charging you for it, would you do what they suggested if you knew it would make you successful? I occasionally show up to meet Realtors who have asked me for help over coffee, and more often than not, they don’t show up on the day of the appointment they requested. There are many ways to cross the river of success but very few people get there alone; take the advice, take mentorship, take the coaching, but put it to good use.
  • Drop bad accountability partners No one loses weight with an accountability partner. It has to be important enough for you to change. The moment you enter into a spiritual partnership with another individual is the moment you decide you would rather live in uncomfortable truth than a loving lie. If you want it bad enough you will stop hanging out with people who make excuses for themselves, excuses for you, and are constantly looking for external sources to blame. Excuses are toxic. Real estate is cyclical. If you stick around long enough you were going to encounter a down market. Therefore; we must get over it and get paid. You don’t have to look far to find someone who ran into a market everyone else was running out of and found success in doing it. Talk to those people.
  • Educate to dominate What do people need right now more than anything? Information is paramount. How can you provide it and make yourself into an area expert while doing so? Right now, buyers are in a very competitive market. Could you go live on a local Facebook group and explain how to win in a multiple offer situation as a buyer, or how to get into a multiple offer situation as a seller? Could you go live on your own page and explain what forbearance is and how to contact your local HUD Counselor to keep your home? You could read some local papers and opinion pieces and give your own market update. Being new, if there is something you don’t understand there is a good chance others do not understand it either. Educate yourself, and then educate the world.
  • Digital Door-knock your passions None of my deals in my first year came from family or friends, nor did any of the deals from my second year. I hate calling anyone and asking “do you know anyone who needs to buy or sell real estate?” Yet alone friends and family. So, I won’t do it. What are you passionate about? One of the worst things in the world for any service-minded person to do is to call and ask for business. It feels greedy, greasy, and abrasive. What does your local non-profit, church, or school need and how can you help them get it? I am passionate about animals, veterans, empowering people, and combatting human trafficking. If I spend a month supporting one of these things I get to help them help people. If I get a deal out of great! If not, I still helped clean up my corner of the world. Zig Ziglar said “you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
  • Video creates evergreen content for free. It doesn’t have to be Perfectionism leads to procrastination which leads to paralysis. Help people the way you would want to be helped. For me, video is a natural answer to many of your problems if you are willing to embrace it. Video creates evergreen content, service to someone who needs to be served, and a great reason to call. When you are creating video highlight what is important to you, and don’t talk about real estate. Talk about everything around the real estate; highlight local restaurants, highlight local businesses, interview local politicians, and bring it all back to real estate at the end. It’s a lot easier to call and ask someone if you can interview them about their restaurant trying to stay open than it is to ask if they know anyone who needs to buy or sell real estate!
  • Consistency is king Many people jump from one thing to the next, never fully committing themselves to the one thing which will bring them success. Every few months they find themselves distracted like the dog in the movie Up by the latest “squirrel” or shiny object worth pursuing. They switch from rope-to-rope pulling out the slack but continuously stopping before the rope goes taught and they start to pull in the benefits attached to success. Gary Keller and Jay Papasan wrote the book The One Thing and I highly recommend it! What is the one thing you can do, which by doing it, will make everything else unnecessary or less necessary? For me, this is content creation. I enjoy making videos and writing books so I prioritize three hours a day, at the beginning of my day, for these activities.
  • Get comfortable being seen. If a tree falls in the woods, but no one is there to hear, did it make a sound? Be seen working. Don’t be afraid to make a spectacle of yourself. I ride a moped in my home town while wearing a suit, wayfarers, and a purple helmet Monday through Friday. If someone wants to meet for lunch their options are severely limited, as I’m not leaving my farm, and there isn’t anywhere fancy in my little corner of the world. My time here on earth is limited so I leave my farm as little as possible. When I am on my farm, I want to be seen. You don’t have to have a wrapped fleet of Teslas with personalized license plates and a moving van to be My $350 moped is electric. I have no interest in fancy cars. I have a blast riding to listing appointments while scooting around town. My clients and community know my ability to serve them has less to do with the vehicle I drive and more to do with the person driving it.
  • Dress for success Treat yourself as a professional and the rest of the world will follow suit. For the past two years, I have only put on a suit a handful of times. I started working in my sweatpants as often as possible, and when I saw clients I would show up in a t-shirt and jeans. When COVID hit I realized I needed to make a change. I had started drifting. I stopped thinking of myself as a professional and my kids and clients followed suit. I made a decision to start wearing a suit, even while working from home, and I have witnessed drastic improvements in my business and in my personal life. I am less likely to take unnecessary breaks, make unimportant phone calls, or even sit down to watch YouTube, and I’m more likely to clock out at the end of the day. Besides: who wants to lay down on the couch and watch Netflix in a suit? I love working from home! You can’t beat the commute or the company but I have to go about my day with intentionality or I will give way to drifting. If you are not working in real estate, daily, why would someone suddenly call you and pay you to practice real estate?
  • Depending on your personality type, I may suggest joining a team Many successful agents will join a team when they move to a new area or are at a shifting point in their career when they have realized their ego is less important than paying the bills without their blood pressure going through the roof. There is no shame in being a part of the right team.  While interviewing agents about joining my team  they  would  often  say  “I  don’t know if I want to join a team or if I might just build one for myself.” I would respond; “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I am going to say it; how is that working out for you so far?” Being humble enough to know there is time to learn is a good thing. A team is not a substitute for work, but the right team will help you to cure yourself of some of the ailments you currently suffer from.

In closing, you don’t know what you don’t know. None of us do. But if you are green, you are growing. If you are not growing, you are dying. In Zen, you would have difficulty finding anyone who considers themselves an expert or a master. We are perpetual students of our craft and of life itself. This doesn’t mean we are stuck in a mode of perpetual seeking. A person must allow themselves to find some answers from time to time or they will flirt with insanity and may even give way to Nihilism (the thought that life is meaningless). Life is beautiful and tragic when you take time to observe it with clear eyes. Our lives are fleeting so what will we do with this moment right now? Take a deep breath. We always know which step is the next step and it’s a good thing we can only take one at a time, anyway, my lab-coated friend. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. What’s the next step?

We will often go to work for someone else for significantly less than we are worth because we are unwilling to change the habits we need to change in order to be worth more money. We commit to working 40+ hours a week for someone else because we have not figured out how to work less than 40 efficient hours for ourselves. If you get on the right team you will make more than a doctor without the student loan debt and the monthly expenses.

Daily affirmations are great, but the feeling needs to follow you throughout the day. When participating in prayer you are, quite literally, shaping the universe around you. You continue to shape the world around you when the prayers stop. Whether these momentary thoughts are positive or negative they are sending ripples into the universe to manifest our reality. A negative stone dropped in the lake of time will not eventually cast positive ripples. Be intentional with the stones you are dropping, my friend. You are aware of the negativity and I applaud you for it, but what you do in the moments after you catch it is the key to unlocking a better life.

I suggest reading my most recent blog The Power of Present Goals and setting some of your own. The difficulty is we pray, we meditate, we do affirmations, and then we move forward without the mindset we were able to attain through prayer, meditation, or affirmations. Zen is not meditation. Zen is more the art of bringing the meditative mind with you throughout your day. Transitioning into a life of radical acceptance requires being at peace with what is and your role in it if you should ever hope to change it.

In Christianity, Jesus said “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” when starting his ministry. Yet we wait to get to there. Before Jesus started publicly preaching and gathering his disciples he went into the desert to be alone. He spent forty days and forty nights by himself, fasting and praying. I believe it was during this time Jesus experienced Nirvana, the blown-out state of acceptance, the absolute knowledge of I am enough. Then Jesus entered into a state of Bodhicitta, the altruistic service of other sentient beings when he stepped out on his journey. He understood what He was feeling was not unique to Him and addressed all of humanity, setting actions into motion which would change the entire world. He said;

“’…the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.’ From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

So, we understand there is no need for the negativity you have recognized occupying your letter. Not for other agents, not for the industry, and not for yourself. This only creates more hell on earth for everyone.

Haven’t we had enough hell in our lives? Why spend another moment creating any more of it? Set the past behind you, my friend, and step bravely into a new future.

I hope I have given you solid steps to success and have accompanied these steps with the supreme knowledge that real change starts between your ears. I find the negativity often stems from a feeling of being separate from God. Take a deep breath, my friend, the Creator, the Infinite Intelligence, the Supreme Being, the Grand Architect, is within You, at the helm of this ship, and in the breeze taking us to new places. We must only keep going upright and headed in the right direction one gust of wind and one step at a time.

What’s your next step? I encourage you to step bravely, with your shoulders back, and your chin up. You have already come so far on this journey! What’s a little further?

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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