Episode 49: The Working REALTOR®: Lessons Learned in Real Estate

Everyone’s been put to the test in their career. On this episode of REAL TIME, we invite two members of the REALTOR® community, Anu Joshi-Mehendale and Dusko Sremac, to reflect on their top lessons learned in real estate as they approach a decade of experience in their respective practices.

Get advice to help you minimize mistakes, set yourself up for success, and stay motivated in your own practice – new or established.



Erin Davis: Question: What do you wish someone would have told you when you were starting out your career? Would you have done anything differently based on their advice? I’m Erin Davis and welcome to REAL TIME, the podcast for REALTORS®, brought to you by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Our guests today are Anu Joshi-Mehendale and Dusko Sremac, two very different REALTORS® from two very different backgrounds. What do they have in common? Like any entrepreneur, they’ve both experienced their share of trials and victories building a business in real estate. Are you ready for some lessons learned? Let’s dive in.


Erin: First off, thanks to you both for joining REAL TIME. Let’s do a quick round of introductions. Who are you, where you’re from, and how you got your start in real estate?

Anu Joshi-Mehendale: Thank you, Erin. My name is Anu Joshi-Mehendale and I’m a real estate broker based out of Caledon, Ontario. Just finished 10 years in the industry, so very happy to be here. Got started out fairly early. I actually interned at a property management company the year after high school, and I was going to be starting university. It was a suggestion from a parent to go ahead and get my real estate license. Here we are 10 years later.

Erin: Okay. In this case, father knows best. It was your dad, right? He’s the one who suggested it?

Anu: Yes, it was. That’s right.

Erin: Okay. I’d love to get into a little later on why he suggested this for you, but we’re going to meet our next guest now. Dusko, go ahead.

Dusko Sremac: Hey, my name is Dusko Sremac with the Real Estate Partners at Real Broker here in Calgary. I have been licensed for almost seven years. The way that I got into real estate was we started investing into real estate about eight to nine years ago. By trade, I’m a journeyman electrician. I was always around real estate and fell in love, and then I ended up quitting my job and going full-time into real estate.

Erin: Okay. Nice to meet you both. I love that you’re both at just about the decade mark or thereabouts. We’re going to explore not only how you got here, but where you’re going. I’m really excited about this conversation today. Caledon, Calgary, it’s fantastic. It’s just very organic today. Let’s dive into it. Anu, as you mentioned, it was your dad who suggested to you that you get into this. Why? Why did he suggest it for you? Was it something in the family or what led you there?

Anu: Yes. My dad actually got his real estate license several years ago, and that’s still on his docket for an eventual retirement career. Now I’m happy to bring him into my team. He’s actually working with me now. I don’t think we saw all of that when he first suggested that I get my real estate license. I think there’s a lot of things in the real estate industry that are attractive to a lot of people. Obviously, the promise of flexible schedules and the ability to earn, great potential for earning amongst many other things. I think there was a lot of things that led him to invite me to get my license and it’s been a really, really steep learning curve since then for sure.

Erin: Dusko, you didn’t come to real estate just like it was in the family, like Anu. As a matter of fact, I love the story of you being at the airport and just as you put it, blowing up the bridges. Tell us that story because that’s one of what Oprah used to call an aha moment. Tell us how you got there.

Dusko: At the time I was involved in real estate for a few years, picking up rentals, looking at building infills. I had a business partner, and I remember after Christmas break 2017, it was January 7th, 4.30 AM, I’m in our terminal. My bags are checked in and I just sat there for about 15 minutes thinking, “This does not make me happy. If I’m going to do this, I have to go all in.”

I remember asking security to get my bag back, got my bags, called my girlfriend, now wife, and I said, “Hey, where are you?” She said, “I’m just pulling into the driveway.” I said, “Turn around, come back. I need to come home because I quit.” That was the TSN turning point for me.

Erin: No kidding. Okay. That was a real moment for you. I love that it came out of the blue as you got your bag back and all of that. It’s a fascinating story. We’re going to be talking now about what do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out? Is there anything that you would have done differently? We’re going to start with you, Dusko.

Dusko: I think just having realistic expectations of what it takes to build a steady, consistent, strong business. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in social media and the way that our industry has shifted where there are models that are less sales and more recruiting. Now you get sold on this vision of success and what success means to you or what it should mean to you. It doesn’t really matter what fields you’re coming from and the level of experience. It does take a long time to build a strong, consistent business. I wish someone would have told me from day one because my expectation was to go from zero to 100 sales in year one. That’s just not realistically how it works.

Erin: How did you get that impression? Where did you get most of the ideas of real estate that you had when you asked for your bag back?

Dusko: I think like many agents now, social media. You see all the sales, you see the upside, you see the income, the freedom, but you’re not seeing the 10 years of experience and sleepless nights and working 24-hour days for years and years of building it in the background.

Erin: Okay. You were also around someone who had bought a bunch of properties too and that led you to believe, well, I can do this, right?

Dusko: Yes. I remember my first boss when I was 21, I think at the time he owned 50, 60, 70-plus units, duplexes, commercial spaces. I just saw the amount of wealth and opportunity that was built. It took him 20, 30 years to get there. I just knew that this is something that I want to do long-term and no regrets, that’s for sure.

Erin: Good. Okay. Anu, what did you go in thinking when you started this? You went to school for this too, right?

Anu: I actually went to university for communications. That’s what I joined in. I ended up switching my major to political science. That’s led me to participate in organized real estate right now. I participate at the local, provincial, and national levels, the public policy angle of things. For real estate, at the time, we had a real estate college and every REALTOR® getting licensed in Ontario at the time went through the same program. It was six courses to get your license. I did do that while I was in my, I think, first year or second year of university.

I started pretty early. In terms of expectations and stuff, I don’t remember even following agents on Instagram. It wasn’t a big thing back then when I was first getting started. Instagram was, but not the REALTOR® profiles and the flashy agents and stuff. When I got into it and started doing it seriously, I realized that there’s a lot more to it. Just like any other business, if you want to be successful in the real estate industry, you have to put the work in. My colleague here mentioned, the 20-hour workdays and all of that, that was not something that is readily available information.

We learn a lot on the job and a lot of that comes from experience, actually doing the deals. When I was 19 and had my real estate license, nobody was giving me their house to sell. I spent a lot of time working with mentors, with senior agents, just following around my broker of record to see what he was doing at the time. Just to learn more and more about transactions, more about the industry, and get all of that experience even before I touched my first deal. Nobody told me that it would be that much learning before I started, even in the realm of earning anything.

Erin: Yes. I think that it’s almost like anything, right? Dusko, you come from an electrical background. You can read all the books that there are, all the manuals, but until you actually get in there, any career, and I come from radio, you could study radio all you want, but it’s not until you swear on the air that first time that you learn that you’re not supposed to do it. You know what I mean. You have to make your mistakes and learn those things.

Dusko: The one difficult part is when we’re looking at even the trades, electrical, when I left, we had a 50-person crew, and it is life and death when you’re working on large gear, big voltages, but you always have the support and supervision of those that have a lot more experience than you.

In real estate, you get licensed, whether you have 10 years or no experience, you can do the same amount of transactions. You have the same power to do the same deals. I think this is a very difficult industry because there is nobody looking over your shoulder to help you through a transaction. Brokers are there, of course, but no one can guide and lower the liability except for you, the agent.

Erin: If I’m hearing this correctly from both of you, it’s your responsibility to find someone who is going to show you the ropes. Were you able to do that? We’ll start with you, Anu.

Anu: Yes, for sure. I’ve actually been very lucky to have mentors in my life at various points in my career. I’m a firm believer in the saying that once a student is ready, the teacher will appear. I’ve been lucky. Obviously, I had to seek out those opportunities, but they did show up in accordance with my hard work and my dedication. I think that holds a lot of weight.

What you’re putting into it, you will eventually get out. Maybe not right away, but eventually, yes. For me, that did come in the way of mentors, people that showed me right from wrong. Even now in my career, I have people in my life that will tell me, “Anu, that’s a stupid thing to do.” I’m thankful for that. It’s not so great to hear it in the moment, but that professional experience that somebody else has, someone senior to me in experience and in the industry, can guide me.

I am extremely lucky to have that. Even to new REALTORS®, if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s all right. None of us did. We learned on the job. The capacity to learn and the capacity to adapt and the willingness to learn, I think, will make your trajectory better. It definitely did that for me.

Erin: I’m excited to tell you, we have a Working REALTOR® episode in the works right now about mentorship coming up. You’re preaching to the choir here, Anu. I see that Dusko is also nodding his head there. I think you want to add to the conversation about mentorship.

Dusko: I think as a whole, as an industry, we need to come together and help one another. If I’m receiving an offer, even, and I know that there’s things that are being left out, I’m still going to advise and help out that other agent and say, “Hey, maybe look at these two sections. They were left blank. Maybe consider adding A, B, C,” or guiding them in the right direction as to who they should be speaking with.

Again, it’s super tough. Like Anu said, you have to strive and go out of your way to find that mentorship. Thankfully, I was able to join a team where I think that I probably saved three to five years of struggling. My education was very much fast-tracked.

Erin: Anu, interestingly, and I mentioned this right off the top, how differently you’ve chosen to go your routes. You’re not into the large team idea. You know that you’re better off alone. That’s a really powerful thing to realize, isn’t it?

Anu: Yes, for sure. I think that came through a lot of exploration on my end. It didn’t just hit me one day. I had to go through all of– well, I started off as a solo agent. I did end up joining a team. I learned a lot from that and the team lead became one of my mentors for several years after that as well. I learned a lot there. I realized about myself, the way that I work, the level of professionalism that I expect from myself and from others, the best way sort of forward was for me to be a solo agent.

That comes from reflection. I think that the business model for a team is fantastic and it works for a lot of people. I think solo agents, that model also works for a lot of different people, but it really comes down to who you are as a person and what kind of business it is that you want to build. A lot of our personal traits show up in our businesses, whether it’s positive or negative. Having that sort of self-awareness of who you are, what you bring to the table, what your weaknesses are too, what you can’t do and bringing in people that can eventually serve your clients because at the end of the day, that’s what it is.

We’re not in a house-selling business. We’re in the people service business. How can I serve my clients to the best of my ability? How can I facilitate transactions? How can I help them make comfortable decisions with often the biggest purchases of their life? A lot of it just comes down to a lot of self-reflection. Who do I want to be? How do I want to show up in my business? It’s not just a business question. It’s more of an existential question. Asking it early on will make the rest of your business building smooth sailing.

Erin: Dusko, what do you have to say about that?

Dusko: Very different businesses. The day I got licensed, I already knew I did not want to be a solo agent. I wanted to grow a team and that was since day one. Looking at it from a business standpoint, it’s more what is scalable and I can’t scale myself. I recognize that it is a people business and I do have a fiduciary duty. At the end of the day, nobody cares if I’m busy or sick or having a bad day. People need to see homes and deals need to get done.

For us, we started our team when I had less than 12 months of experience and we’ve gone from having two agents to over 30 agents. Obviously, six years later, we do about 500 transactions a year in our local market. A big part of that growth was just finding the right people and building a very strong culture.

Erin: Now we’ve talked about the first 10 years, starting out, building, as you say, Dusko, and learning and making mistakes, Anu, you referred to. A little bit of truth or dare and we’re all out of dares. How about some truths? Tell us, if you don’t mind, about a big mistake. This is not to embarrass you but to make sure that other people learn from it. Go ahead, Anu, I’m going to ask you to go first.

Anu: I had a near miss, it felt like it could have gone really, really negative, but luckily it didn’t, so there’s a happy ending to the story. I was selling a condo to a friend of mine and they were looking for two parking spots, which is sometimes very difficult to find. We ended up finding a place with two parking spots and forgive me for getting a little technical, but one of the parking spots was titled and the other was exclusive use in a condo.

What happened when it was, I believe it was the day of closing, they called me and said, “Anu, I thought we had two parking spots and our lawyer is saying we don’t have the two.” I was like, “What are you talking about?” “We looked at this, we looked at the status certificate together. We went through this together, you have two parking spots.” They at this point were panicking because they spoke to the property manager, they spoke to the lawyer and they were like, “No, we don’t have two parking spots.” I said, “Okay, you know what? Give me an hour, we’re going to figure this out.”

I hung up the phone with my client and immediately started crying. This is not something– I mean, I can laugh about it now, seven or eight years later, but at the time, it felt devastating because there was an ever so slight possibility that I may have missed something or we may have done something incorrectly or what have you. I spent that hour going through the status certificate, tears in my eyes and trying to find where is this exclusive use. The property manager at the time for the building that they bought was new, so they didn’t necessarily know what was going on.

I did end up finding it, found the deeded spot, found the exclusive use spot. It ended up that they did have the two parking spots, everything was resolved, the client was happy, everything was taken care of. That was a very, very close call. That taught me that always, always, always be very diligent. To this day, due diligence is first and foremost the most primary thing that we have to do for our clients.

Erin: Good. I’m glad it turned out okay for you. Jeez. All right, Dusko, what about you?

Dusko: The appropriate ones, okay? Two really quick ones. One is ask for help early. I remember writing one of my first offers, someone walked me through it. Amazing. That weekend I’m writing another offer, but not on a detached home, now it’s on a condo. I spent hours writing it up, trying to save it, buying titles, getting everything submitted. I end up submitting the offer and I get this phone call from the listing agent. She has about 20 years of experience, I have about 20 days of experience.

She goes, “Hey, is this your first deal?” I’m like, “Yes, it is.” She’s like, “Yes. You wrote this on the wrong contract.” Now I’ve wasted four hours. Next time, definitely after that, I asked for help very early on the process.

Tthe other one is double-check with your clients if they’re joking or not. I had a home inspection, the client’s looking out in the backyard and goes, “Wow, a trampoline. I wish the trampoline was staying in the deal.” I’m like, “Oh, mental note.” I call the agent after the home inspection. We waive conditions, but I go, “I’m going to buy that trampoline for my client from the sellers.” I buy it. Possession day is here. We’re doing a final walkthrough.

The client goes, “The trampoline’s here.” I’m like, “Yes.” He’s like, “Why did they leave that here?” I go, “Why do you sound so disappointed? You were so excited that during the home inspection, I bought it for you. That’s your trampoline.” He goes, “What am I going to do with a trampoline?” It was the most uncomfortable one minute of explaining to him that he now owns a trampoline ever. Now I always double-check and I go, “You’re sure you want the trampoline? This is not a joke.” It’s like, “No, we want it.” Moving forward, I double-check with everybody. I asked for help very early in the process.

Erin: Okay. Oh, the good old saying, if you lose, don’t lose the lesson, but your heart was in the right place, even if the trampoline, it turns out wasn’t. Oh, my goodness. Okay. Let’s flip it over to the positive. What was a big milestone for you? They ask movie stars, when did you know you’d made it, but what was a milestone and it doesn’t have to be material. It could be something spiritual. It could just be like, “I’m on top of the world.” How about you Anu, what was your milestone?

Anu: I’m not great at celebrating my achievements. I’ll just say that right off the bat, but something that was life-changing for me in my career, as I know it is in my first year and a half or so, I was actually doing a full-time job in marketing. During that time, I was trying to do real estate part-time, but I had this epiphany and I truly believed that if I was going to give this my all, that’s the only way I’d ever succeed.

That summer, I still remember when I said, “Okay, you know what? I’m going to let go of this job and I’m going to go headfirst full-time into real estate. It’s just going to be swim or sink at that point. Sink or swim.” I’m still swimming. It wasn’t easy, but making that move really early on my career really helped. Of course, I was living at home at the time, full disclosure, I was still at home at the time. I didn’t have to worry about a mortgage payment or a rent payment or anything like that, which was huge.

With that support from my parents, I was able to take that leap. If I hadn’t taken it, then I probably would have been stuck debating between this part-time full-time situation, but I’m so thankful that I was able to do that and everything that came after that. I’m a very big proponent of doing real estate full-time, also any business full-time, a lot of respect for people that do side hustles. That’s just my personal mentality that go all in.

Erin: Yes. Dusko, your milestone moment.

Dusko: I think it was just over two years ago, my son was born. I think that really changed perspective and priorities for me and my business. I’m extremely competitive in everything and anything. I cannot play games with anybody because I’m the worst loser as well.

I remember the first four, five years of my career, the only thing that mattered was making the top producer list and where our team would rank. That’s the most important thing every single month. As soon as my son was born, it shifted towards, “Okay, how do we grow the business, but how do we also prioritize family time and our families?” At a similar time, my business partner also had his first kid.

We were going through the same transition at the same time, which is good. I can honestly say in the last two years, I don’t remember the last time I looked at a top producer board. I don’t care about what other people are doing. I’ve gone all in on just focusing in on our families and our business. You’d think that business would fall, but each year we’ve still had growth.

Erin: I just love the stories that you tell of taking the leap and there’s the bridge for you in both very different ways, but Dusko, having a family and changing priorities does not necessarily mean changing the goals, does it?

Dusko: No, and I think you can change the schedule up. There’s ways to become more efficient and prioritize the important events at work and at home. For me, for instance, we don’t do lunches anymore, meaning we’re not going to take random coffees or lunches with other agents because again, at the end of the day, what is top priority? Top priority is running our day-to-day business, taking out clients and family time. There’s very little that we sacrifice on the family side. We just have to be extra efficient. We’re still working long days, there’s still 20-hour days, but we’re always making time for family every single day.

Erin: It would seem to me, Anu, that that would be one of the real benefits of being part of a team of a brokerage. How do you manage that? How do you handle when something happens in your own personal life or you decide you want to do something or go away or just have some Anu time? What do you do? How do you handle that?

Anu: Absolutely, a great question. Here’s where teams do come in. Full disclosure, I do work with buyer’s agents. I work with my partners that will take over certain parts of my deal. I have a virtual assistant. I have a grassroots assistant that helps me with certain things. It’s a very different team setup, but I agree with Dusko that the business that we built, scaling is an issue.

I ran into that much later in my business, about halfway through when I was realizing I reached my potential. I couldn’t replicate myself. I couldn’t show more than six clients a day or what have you. There is a cap for an individual. The natural next step is to build a system. Build out a system, have team members that participate in executing that. I know Dusko does that very well on a very mega level with his very large team. I do that on a much smaller level. It looks a little bit different for me, but yes, there is delegation involved.

There is other teammates that have that expertise that step in. At the end of the day, my job is to service my clients. How I do that, how I facilitate that is going to be up to the system that I build. I think Dusko brought up a great point as well in terms of family time.

Early on in my career, and even until very recently, I found myself working very, very long hours. That is something that I think in real estate or in any business to be successful, you have to be agreeable to that because that’s what you’re signing up for. I think you can be an average agent, you can be an average business owner, you can be an average anybody, but if you want to reach the top, you want to reach the heights of success, whatever that might mean for you, it might mean crazy transactions. It might mean higher gross commissions, what have you, whatever your measurement is to reach that, you need to be putting in work.

You need to be putting in the effort, the time that it takes to learn that art, I can call it an art now after 10 years, that all takes a lot of effort right off the get-go. If you’re willing to put that in, I do think it’s extremely rewarding. One of the things that we talked about earlier is the promise of this industry is, for example, flexible schedules. Some agents, maybe not as experienced, would say, “Oh, you get to make your own schedules and have your own time.”

If you want to be doing a certain number of deals, you’re earning a certain amount of money, you actually have to work a lot more than is expected, a lot more than the average agent will tell you. If you want to be productive, whatever that means to you, you have to put in the work. Eventually, there is an output. Eventually, you will have flexibility, you will have stability in your business, you will have all of these things, but it does take time to build that. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of learning, and a lot of inputs to be able to achieve that.

Erin: You both talk about starting basically in the past decade or so, and you’ve got all this experience now and wisdom under your belts with so much more ahead of you. Looking back, what opportunities do new REALTORS® have, new ones that might be become harder as you get more established? What do you think, Anu?

Anu: I think that new REALTORS®, the biggest thing that they have is that they’re not yet committed to any one thing. I used a lot of my time up front when I was new in the industry when I was learning. All I was doing was learning. I barely transacted in my first two years. I was just learning and learning, learning different things to do. I used to shadow senior agents. I used to hold open houses for them. I used to do paperwork for them. I was literally learning everything grassroots.

My colleague and I, we talked about doing the door knocking, doing the online legion. There’s so many ways to get business in our industry. Learn as much as you can and then figure something out that makes sense to you, that works for you, and that you can commit to, and then take that forward. I think a lot of agents and we meet agents all the time on the other side of the deal or at professional events and whatnot.

It happens to everyone. It’s human nature. There’s this stagnation, not just of themselves and their business, but also sometimes their mindset. “I’ve been doing this long, I know what I’m doing,” that kind of thing. I am a lifelong student. If there is something new in the industry, there’s constantly changes happening. It is my job as a real estate broker to learn about it, to figure out how to implement that in the best possible way to serve my clients because, at the end of the day, that’s the game that we’re playing.

I think that that takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of reflection and it also takes awareness that even though you know everything up until this point, technology is changing. The industry is changing. People are changing. The way we do business is changing. Marketing is changing. Online lead gen is changing. The only thing that is guaranteed is that change. If you’re able to keep up, like Dusko mentioned it before, this is where the agents that are in it, full-time, full effort, get to shine because we’re doing this every day. We’re reading the news. We know what’s happening in other countries, other regions. We are using all of that knowledge together to help us achieve our end goal of servicing our clients.

Erin: Dusko, what experience can a newer REALTOR® have that helps you as you move on that you might not have now at this point in your career?

Dusko: First off, Anu looked at my notes and she stole my answer. I have very little to add now, but I’ll expand on what Anu said because I agree with her 100%. I think the luxury that a newer agent would have, there’s two. One, you should not have very high overhead. You’re not going to have an admin, you’re not going to have the desk fees, the advertisement budget that a senior agent would have.

Second thing is time. When I’m looking at what my open schedule looks like day to day, I have very little time now. When I first started, I was three to four hours a day on Tom Ferry or on YouTube trying to learn scripting and how to be better. I was asking senior agents. I was door-knocking. I was trying to do online legion shooting videos. If I could go back or if I could advise a new agent is figure out what you like to do because everything works.

Door-knocking works, online legion works, social media works, but it’s like what do you want to do and what will you stay consistent with? Because I find a lot of agents, they’ll say, “Oh, well, I saw Anu door-knocking and she did 10 deals off of that. I’m going to door-knock.” I would rather do no deals than door-knock. I’m going to tell you right now. I’m door-knocked out and same thing with social media. You’re starting to see this huge push. We saw it for a few years on TikTok and Instagram. Now it’s shifted towards long form and YouTube. What’s next? Again, it’s what you’re going to be happy with and what you’re going to be consistent with.

Anu: Those were so great. Honestly, I will tag onto that. In terms of finding out what it is that you can commit to, I think that’s a great point. I think people that are new in this industry put too much weight on what’s out there. Also, going after the new shiny thing. TikTok was really shiny a little while ago. Every agent was on TikTok, and before that, it was something else, and before that, it was something else, and tomorrow it’ll be something new. We have to find a balance between keeping up obviously with the trends, but building your business based on you knowing where you can show up and how you can show up.

Dusko: I remember when I started, I looked at– we had one of the top teams in the world, in our marketplace, and we still do. I saw, well, he’s doing billboards and he has this type of website and this is what he’s doing, so I’m just going to replicate that. Well, if you have 50 to 100 agents in that budget, you can replicate that and you’ll have somewhat similar results, but not really. I get phone calls weekly of agents asking me about what websites we run, what we do for PPC, what we do for SEO.

In the back of my head, I’m like, this is a 7 to 30-year play. When we’re making a business decision, we’re not making it for ROI three months from now, three years from now. I’m thinking, what’s the return in 5 to 10 years on all these big decisions? I feel like so many people just think three to six months, but they need to be thinking three to six years because that’s what really compounds a strong business.

Anu: I agree. There are two different hats. There is the hat as the registered REALTOR®, there’s the agent, and then as the business owner. As you start to scale and you start to grow, I think you have to also balance what– I mean, you mentioned that your schedule’s all booked up. A lot of it is going to be your business growth tasks, maybe not your client servicing, maybe that’s where the team comes in. I think that there are those two hats. Again, lot of potential in this industry, but you do get out what you put in.

Erin: What keeps you motivated as you move into your second decades, both of you in the phase of say, a setback or challenge, and how do you make sure that you’ll learn from it and set intentions to apply what you’ll learn in the future? We’ll start with you. Well, let’s start with Dusko.

Dusko: Looking forward, the next, let’s say, even five years, the way that we lay things out is financial growth of the business. We have a fiduciary duty to our clients, but we also have a duty to our agents and our staff and employees. If you include the backend staff, the admins, and our partners, we’re really responsible for 50-plus people because there’s other sub-industries that rely on our business as well and we take that very serious. When we’re looking at growth and investing, we’re at a point in our business where now we’re starting to diversify into other asset classes as well because we don’t want to have all of our eggs in one basket.

Erin: Okay, and Anu.

Anu: In terms of setbacks, I think as time goes on, I think we become more resilient. we’re more knowledgeable, we know how to bounce back from something better. I think things do get easier. More so, we get more capable of processing them and coming back from them.

The other thing also, is your purpose for why you’re in this business has to be abundantly clear, both to yourself and to all the partners that you’re actually working with. There has to be this vision for what you see for your future. It may not be just a monetary goal. I actually think that money is the least motivating factor. For a lot of people, I know it’s a push. When we get into really thinking about how we want to show up in our business, that purpose actually stems from something deeper inside of us, who I am, what I want the contribution to the world to be. I think asking those kind of questions.

Some criticism is, “You’re just a REALTOR®. What’s the big thing?” No, I’m actually interacting with people’s families, with people’s biggest financial decisions. Advice that I give could set them on a completely different wealth trajectory for generations to come. We do hold a lot of that responsibility, and showing up with that sort of purpose in mind, whatever it may be, and it varies from person to person, but having a purpose, I think, fuels your movement forward and it makes it easier to get past the little bumps.

For example, in my first couple of years, probably my three or four first years, I actually wanted to quit real estate. Over and over, I just wanted to quit. Every deal was too hard. Every client objection was too difficult to deal with. I couldn’t do it, and I hated it, and I wanted to quit. Eventually, we got through that, I got through that, and a lot of that came from reflecting. “What kind of business do I want to build? What kind of person do I want to be?”

A lot of that has helped how I approach clients, how I approach problems because the problems keep coming. More money, more problems. As you grow, you will get to encounter different types of problems. You’ll have different types of responsibilities. All that comes with growth. Having that clear purpose moving you forward I think makes it easier to deal with these setbacks.

Dusko: Just to add to that too, I mean how many agents do we know or do you encounter day-to-day that say that they’re burnt out?

Anu: Oh, yes. For sure.

Dusko: I feel like a lot of that burnout comes over time. I remember my first few years, I’d lose sleep over the tiniest little thing. Over time, you get a bigger gas tank, and you learn how to manage that stress and responsibility a lot better. You’re right, 100%, the money is not a factor after you become consistent. You start saving money and you’re covering costs. That’s not going to keep your business going. You’re going to get burnt out. You need to have a greater purpose and good to keep that going. Can I just say? I very much appreciate that you snuck in “More money, more problems,” into that response too. Very much. That has to get clipped.

Erin: That will be in our Best Of if not on our social media. For sure. There was something that I’ve heard you ask in interviews, Dusko, too, which really just underlines what Anu said there. You ask a question about money when you’re interviewing somebody,

Dusko: Real estate attracts people from all different industries and walks of life and levels of experience. One of the first questions I ask is, what prompted you to interview us? Why do you want to get into this industry? What’s the big factor? I would say 99% of them, if they’re not willing to say it, I’ll say it for them and I’ll say, it’s the money. It’s the promise of potential income and quick income. It’s good and bad because a lot of people come into this industry. Ideally, you want to have 6 to 12 months of savings saved up. Very few are going to have that.

We call it commission breath. It happens in every commission-based industry where people, maybe they start making decisions or maybe they start getting extra stressed and not making the best decisions themselves because they need a paycheck. Unfortunately, that’s going to happen in every industry that’s commission-based.

Erin: What is the best advice? You’re giving such great advice in this episode and we can’t thank you enough. The best advice that you ever got and that you actually took to heart? I’m going to start with you, Dusko.

Dusko: The best advice that I got was to partner with someone. I was fortunate enough to find a business partner that had a different level of skill sets than I did. At the time, he was not a registered REALTOR®, he just got licensed recently. His strengths are tech. SEO, PPC, or marketing, and mine were sales. That has helped us greatly. I love having now partners that I can bounce ideas off of because sometimes I come up with terrible ideas.

I feel like the reason we’re able to scale and build a very strong business is because we have a very open and honest relationship with one another in our inner circle. We can bounce terrible ideas off of each other and we can call each other out because that’s a relationship that we have. I feel like when you’re a solo agent, or maybe when you’re a solo team lead, there’s nobody there at that same level to say, “Hey, you need to stop because this is a terrible idea.”

Erin: Okay. Anu?

Anu: Fair enough, Dusko.

Erin: Best advice.

Anu: I do have mentors that call me out all the time. You know what? I definitely see the value of having a strong partner that’s in there with you. That’s definitely important. Honesty between partners is important, but also honesty with yourself; who you are, how you want to show up. We’ve talked about that theme a lot. One of the best pieces of advice that I have received as a REALTOR® is if you have a choice that you can make in one of those situations, you’re going to lose the transaction, and the other one, you’re going to lose the client, lose the transaction every single time.

To this day, it has informed the way that I deal with my clients, the way that I service them, the way that I make decisions in my business. They’re always, always client-oriented, never transaction-oriented. I found myself saying this to my clients, “If you don’t close on this house at this price today, it doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is that you’re happy, your family is secure in this decision because there’s a lot more there that’s at stake than this particular deal or this particular transaction.”

That consultative approach of always, no matter what, keeping clients in front of me and just that is who I’m servicing, right? If you have a choice between losing the transaction, losing the client, give up the transaction every single time.

Dusko: To put a dollar figure there and put things into perspective as well, each deal should be actually good for eight other transactions. That includes future deals plus referrals. A lot of the agents that are like, “I just need to get this deal done,” I’m 100% with you, Anu,” I’d rather burn 30 deals a year than burn one client a year because the ROI in the future of having that strong relationship, rapport, and referrals is priceless.

Anu: I agree.

Erin: That was that advice. All right. You got one thing you want people to take away from this podcast and what would it be today? All right, Anu, to you.

Anu: Yes. For any new REALTORS® or anyone that’s in the industry, thinking about maybe scaling up wherever you are in your business, just make sure that you’re being honest with yourself, why you’re in this, what your greater purpose is, and allow that to help you build a business that works for you and for whatever it is that your priorities are. It may be your family, it may be your other goals and ambitions in life.

Be all in and allow yourself to be purpose-driven because that is important and that’s what’s going to keep you from burnout. That’s what’s going to keep you from fizzling out like many agents do. It’s not an easy industry, but it is an extremely rewarding one.

Erin: Dusko.

Dusko: Anu keeps looking at my notes, and I just have to call her out. Mine would probably be whether you’re licensed for one month, one year, or 10 years, if you’re lacking consistency in your business, it’s lacking the consistency of you putting in that work. What I mean by that is even after being licensed for almost seven years, getting a lot of referrals, I still every single day am very consistent in reaching out to past clients, future clients, and trying to build my name and better rapport with people.

It’s not easy, but I can promise you it does not matter how long you’ve been in this business. If you’re lacking consistency in the amount of deals you’re doing, it’s just a lack of consistency of you working on your business.

Erin: Excellent. Thank you both so much for everything that you’ve brought to the table and the conversation today. We wish you both just great success from Caledon to Calgary and into your second decades. Best of luck to you both. Thank you so much.

Anu: Thank you so much, Erin, for having us.

Dusko: Thank you, Erin.

Erin: I just love how those two lanes are pointed in the same direction, fulfillment, balance, and a sense of purpose as REALTORS® in Canada. REAL TIME is brought to you by the Canadian Real Estate Association, CREA, production from Alphabet® Creative, and technical support from Rob Whitehead. If you want more real estate resources, tools, and insights, you can visit us anytime at CREA.ca.

If you liked this episode, please do explore our other episodes, including more from our Working REALTOR® series. Whether it is growing your business or balancing work and life, you’ll find thoughtful advice from REALTORS® across the country. Oh, and don’t forget to rate or review the show because we always appreciate it. All right. I’m your host, Erin Davis. Thanks for joining us. We’ll talk again soon on REAL TIME. Bye for now.