More with Kathleen Black, Elite Coach and Trainer

by Jerome Knyszewski
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Kathleen Black, CEO of Kathleen Black Coaching and Consulting, talks about how to take a company from good to great

Kathleen Black proves that hard work brings success on every stage of your business journey. From working her way to the top 1% of realtors recognized by the Toronto Real Estate Board, to now running her own real estate coaching and consulting agency, Kathleen has made a name for herself through never-ending effort and focus.

Over the years, Kathleen Black has become the most sought-after real estate coach and trainer in North America, overseeing the success of several firms in the United States and Canada. She has also founded the Kathleen Black Coaching and Consulting (KBCC) firm, which continues her work of helping out real estate firms that want to break out in the industry.

Throughout her long career, Kathleen Black had designed an internal process or program that she followed as she perfected her craft as an agent for more than 10 years. This program became the foundation of KBCC, which she formed in 2015. At KBCC, Kathleen sharpened her programs and developed her systems further, so that she may pass them on to her clients. She has also designed and crafted coaching systems and methods to give her clients everything they need to succeed professionally or personally.

Aside from running her own firm as CEO, Kathleen Black is also a successful business coach, a highly in-demand resource speaker, and educator. REP Magazine named her as one of the Top 100 Elite Women Driving the Future of Real Estate. In 2018, T3 Sixty also listed her as one of the Top 20 Emerging Leaders.

Check out more interviews with industry leaders here.

Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Kathleen Black: Our company stands out because we build strong businesses, in an industry that is often still relying on old methods and models, which are increasingly less and less effective.

We stand out because we actually track, and have a strategy that works to expand, where teams are making much more money than traditional brokerages and offering superior value, where team members are able to sell much more and have more time.

I think in an industry where we have all male top thought leaders, we stand out in being a female led team, but also a team that is committed to efficiency, productivity, and profitability, without looking at it as if it’s a bad name.

We bring a systematic, process driven approach which allows us to be more agile and to lean into technology changes, instead of fearing them.

Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Kathleen Black: Long days at the office along with constant work-related emails after hours can all contribute to workplace burnout.

But even without a physical office to go to, burnout can happen working from home, and it feels like it’s even more likely now due to the added stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to not feel the burnout, I recommend following these four key steps.

  1. Get Strategic

If you start out strategically, with a strategic model, you will consider future needs for more time, relief, or somebody who can oversee parts of your business as you grow.

A strategic model will give you clarity and strategy. Once you get those two components, you need to be able to take your existing business to create a business structured to grow.

A strong strategic model will allow you to reinvest in the business in the right places to offer the top client experience to the public, while also reinvesting in your business platform.

2. Create your ‘Perfect Week’

We’re all living in a different reality right now, we’re not leaving the house, we have different people pulling on our time, and some people may have their kids at home with them, along with other distractions.

So how do you find the element to work this other aspect of life into your day to day when everything was running smoothly before?

You have to sit down and create your perfect week, not because you want to, but because you absolutely have to. You need to grab control of your life again, to do yourself and your business the ultimate favor, succeeding.

If we make every effort to live each week and begin each day trying to have the perfect day, it just might happen.

Life isn’t perfect, but the perfect week gives us a game plan to follow and guide us through our days.

3. Focus on your Non-Negotiables

When planning your days or weeks, make sure you take your non-negotiables into consideration. These are the things that no matter what is in your day’s plan, won’t change.

Now that we’re in a day and age where we’re having issues in regard to the many things that are being thrown at us on the daily, we will go into overwhelm.

Overwhelm can mean we’re snapping at our loved one’s, having skin reactions, feeling anxious, and more. Overwhelm makes us want to surrender, and take shelter, but unfortunately we cannot do that. We have to operate in this new normal.

By ensuring you’ve covered your non-negotiables, you’re ensuring that you can make sure your cup is filled and that you’re okay. When you’re okay, you will not be overwhelmed, you will be at 110% for your clients, loved ones and family.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

A lot of Real Estate agents overlook practicing the key steps in their sales process, like scripting and presentations, which puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with agents who are consistently practicing their materials.

It’s crucial to have a daily or weekly allotted time, where you can ensure the conversations you have with your clients are seamless and professional in every aspect.

Mastery is nuanced. To understand nuance, you must live among it, bathe in it, and breathe it. Mastery becomes the essence of us. We practice mastery without thinking.

This is when you successfully turn something that you consciously knew you didn’t know into something you know and, finally, into something you know unconsciously.

This is where you can present a presentation while focusing 100% on your client. The presentation no longer requires any mental bandwidth or conscious focus. Your body knows to have your finger click next on the laptop to move the slides without needing to look at the screen or visually assess which slide is next.

Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Kathleen Black: I don’t think there has ever been one person. A lot of my opportunities actually came from overcoming challenges, so some of the people who gave me some of the opportunities I had are also people who presented massive challenges for me and my career.

At the end of the day, it’s relying on great mentorship, there’s not only one person I can name.

There were definitely brokers who gave me great advice and now we’ve built programs in place that we’ve created together, like Paul Baron from The #1 Century 21 Brokerage for the country, C21 Leading Edge in Canada.

I’m grateful for our team, I have an amazing group of people who support me and there’s no way I would be able to do what I do without them.

We have a collaborative leadership team who are very entrepreneurial, and who take ownership over what needs to happen. It’s very collaborative without a director style delegation, everyone owns their portion of the business. That is how we thrive.

Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?

Kathleen Black: A good company sells their products, makes conversions, and succeeds. A great company exceeds in selling their products, making conversions and building relationships. A great company doesn’t stop when they’ve met their goal, they keep going, and persevering to make as many sales to best benefit their clients.

Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?

Kathleen Black: You do not build a business and stop. This is not a matter of completion. A business is a product of evolution and refinement into the ever-expanding nuance that is mastery. It never really ends, and you would not want it to.

A business on standstill is a business with downhill momentum.

New problems are good. The same problems are not so good. Your business will get to a point where it is bigger than you, but first, you need clarity on who you are and what you want, so you want to do what it takes.

That is the key here. You will need to get to a place where your energy is high, and you want to do what it takes to get it done. You want more time. You cannot imagine living this way two years from now. What about five or ten years from now? How does that vision feel? I am guessing not so good.

So, what are you willing to do about it today and why?

In the end, I stopped giving my ear to those who did not support me. I got really picky about who I would ask for advice and whose unwarranted advice I would no longer take.

I stopped caring about vanilla solutions in a world of rainbow ice cream. I prefer salted caramel gelato and a second scoop of pistachio served in Italy, thank you very much.

Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

Kathleen Black: Winston Churchill once said “Never waste a good crisis”, and I look at that and say “Never waste a good storm”. Tension creates focus, and if anything, you want to elongate the amount of time that you have that tension. The focus that is created from tension is invaluable to any business owner.

I like to say that if you could bottle that tension, that fear, that little bit of angst that is created in turmoil and sell it to people when the sun is out and the economy is strong, and confidence is high, you would make billions of dollars.

When the economy is stronger and our businesses are stronger, we can become a little bit lazy, we have buffets of opportunities on the table and we know we’re never going to get through all of them. When you have times of tension, it’s like a call to arms as a human or as a business to become more efficient, to become more organized.

It’s one of the best times to align a team when you lean into that tension and use it rather than waste this storm. The tension will allow you to be 10x better than you were when you came into this situation.

Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

Kathleen Black: In my experience, the most underestimated aspect of running a company tends to be agile focus. We need to be compassionate, we need to be connected with our teams but we also need to be hyper focused on what’s most important so we can lead people through difficult times and still bring value to the marketplace.

You need to be willingly agile and ready to adapt and evolve.

They say all boats rise with the tide, except for the ones that are tied too close to the shore. I think that when the tides rise not everyone will necessarily come with you, and that’s okay, as a leader to allow that to happen.

Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?

Kathleen Black:

Mindset

A leadership mindset is what we all need right now, we all need to be strategic, proactive and responsive.

It is absolutely vital for leaders to be responsive right now to what’s going on around us. When people are experiencing fear, or stress, it’s important for us to be able to adjust into an optimal mindset as soon as possible.

If you lose your power to impact an outcome in your life, you lose all power you have in the situation.

Emotional Quotient

It’s crucial now, more than ever, to establish meaningful connections with your clients, which is where “emotional quotient”, or emotional intelligence, comes in, but only if the Real Estate team can take all the unsimplified jargon out and understand it for what it is.

Using EQ to understand different personality styles is vital to creating and maintaining relationships, especially during this unprecedented period of time.⠀

It will help you identify observable behaviors associated with various personality styles and how to successfully connect with each one, by customizing your communications.

Client Process

It is crucial for you to know the client process that you and your team will be following.

If your customer experience process has changed as a result of business moving online, make sure you have internalized that new process so you are able to confidently explain next steps to your client and are able to create a chain of commitment that will lead you into your next meeting and start you and your team on the right foot.

Communication

For real estate teams, clear direction on who, when, and how to connect and communicate within our business and community is key. The goal is a commitment to keep our promises and serve to the best of our ability together.

With so much happening, it’s important to keep your circle informed and proactive.

The open lines of communication are there, and it’s important to position what’s going on in the industry so people do recognize that there is a change that is occuring, but it’s not stopping you from giving them resources over email, phone or a zoom call.

CRM

It can be scary to think of putting years of contacts and experience into the cloud, but the database can serve as an extension of our brain. When your brain isn’t trying to remember each and every detail about your clients you have the free space to focus on the people who are actually buying and selling. The use of a system will outperform willpower.

Technology

Before any call, no matter how many times you’ve done them, operate test runs. Practice and record these run-throughs with your team members. Watch the practices with your team before your meeting, so they’re able to understand what the team’s expected standards are.

Know your technology, know your presentation platform, know what links, attachments or assets you may be sending or presenting to them. All of these are ways in which you can work on bringing your most prepared self to your consultation, just like you would for an in-person meeting.

Results/Tracking

Tracking ensures you can make changes faster, predict future production sooner, and keep your finger on the pulse of the business. You need to know how you’re performing from opportunity to client, client to deal, and past client to valued member of your community.

Members of your community are happy to help and recommend you and your team; they trust you, and trust you will take care of their family and friends. As a solo agent, you are risking your own time and money when you operate below the capability available for a salesperson in the industry.

Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Kathleen Black: Take the humanistic approach. We’re all looking to relate to people, especially when we’re looking to a brand that we all love and trust. Instead of thinking of your business as a faceless entity, think of the humans who work there and those who interact with the brand.

Relationship build. Your audience, and your clients are some of the most important people when it comes to building your brand and getting people to entrust your brand. If you build a personal relationship with your clients, they’re going to consider your brand a friend.

Loyal customers stay for the way a company creates and delivers a product, not the product itself.

There is a concern when it comes to how engaged you should be on social media, and how it can make or break your brand. But if you stay connected with you audience, and build a strong, trusting relationship with them, you will diminish your reputational risk.

Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Kathleen Black: The transition from top producer to team leader has its challenges. Without a proven system, your business is starting from scratch, and in today’s day and age of rapid advancement, no offence, but who starts from scratch? We are not looking to invent the electricity for our database system, we want to use that plug on your office wall!

When you are ready and have the blueprint to your model of business growth keep these things in mind:

1. Partner with someone who compliments your strengths, opposed to replicating them.

2. Ensure your business blueprints are tried, tested, true and actively used in the current market.

3. Base your growth In technology.

4. Don’t devote your time to 1.0 when version 10.5 is for sale: Your Time is Money.

No one can help you get more of that resource.

Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Kathleen Black: Conscious living. I think people who are conscious about who they are, their values, and what they’re bringing to the world are typically better parents, better team members, better community supporters, better people.

I find the ability to ‘do good’ is just more naturally present for people with a conscious mindset. If I can help people raise their consciousness and see their abilities and power, they will ultimately serve the world through their greater purpose with ease. If KBCC can have any influence on people leading themselves versus looking at others, that’s a win!

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Kathleen Black: You can follow me on my social media:

LinkedIn

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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