In Part 1 of our interview, she describes leadership in action, the value of "leaps," and steps that she takes with her team to guide them in building their individual businesses as well as the Advon brand and company in the marketplace.
We are also now pleased to provide a transcript for our True North Podcast interviews. Read on for Part 1.
Beth: Hi it's Beth Offenbacker, welcome to the next True North podcast. Today I'm delighted to talk with Genevieve Concannon with Advon Real Estate in Northern Virginia. Genevieve is a broker, and an owner of Advon Real Estate. She's also an Eco Broker, and she has a really fascinating background, bringing the sustainability element into the work that she does with organizations and individuals here in the greater Washington D.C. region.
Beth: We're gonna talk a little bit about the concept of team building, and I've titled this podcast It's Your Time, because she's really talking about some of the elements that go into, not only helping the individuals who are part of Advon grow their own businesses, but grow the Advon brand and company in the greater D.C. region. So we're gonna talk a little bit about the nuts and bolts of that.
Beth: Encourage you to check out Genevieve's website which is www.advonre.com, to learn more about her and the great work that she does. Enjoy the podcast, this is going to be in two parts, so look for part two coming next week.
Beth: So Genevieve, let's start at the beginning, always a good place to start, what inspired you to start your own brokerage?
Genevieve: Hi Beth, and thank you. So I would have to say that after really working with so many great people, and having the opp to hire, and train, and manage, and bring together so many different collaborative people, I really had one of those light bulb moments that I wanted to bring all of these people together into my collective, and start something that was going to be my own legacy.
Genevieve: And that was really what inspired me, was seeing that I had done some really great work with some other wonderful people, and that it was really time to do something that had a focus and a vision for Northern Virginia, and that was what it was. It was just having the opportunity to do something that was going to bring a little bit more direction and focus for a boutique, indie, broker in our marketplace, because I really hadn't seen it done the way that I had been able to work with the agents that I had been working with, and I thought it was time to do it. So that was my inspiration, was having that one of a kind moment that it was time to do it.
Beth: And that's what leadership is about right, it's seeing that opportunity and saying, "There's a gap out there, and there's something that I can contribute," right?
Genevieve: It's very true. And it's kind of funny, because I was going through Leadership Arlington, which is now Leadership Center for Excellence, and I was sitting at my table with these amazing people that ... I have to say that I can in front of a room of probably 2000 of my colleagues in the real estate industry and not feel an ounce of being, scared isn't the right word. You know when you speak in front of a group of people, and you kind of get the butterflies in your stomach. I don't get that when I'm around my colleagues, but when I'm around a group of my shared leader group, like the Leadership Center folks, they make me have the butterflies a little bit more, because they're people that I admire so much.
Genevieve: I got the butterfly moment from them, they're like, "You should just do this." And they encouraged me to actually take that next step to actually start my brokerage. And I'm so grateful, and thankful that they saw that extra light in me, and that extra encouragement was there. And obviously my amazing husband gave the nudge also and said that, "It's okay. You can do this." And I had it within myself as well, but sometimes when you have these wonderful collective group of people that all support and rally behind you because they see what you're capable of, even though you know within yourself that you're able to do it.
Genevieve: It's the people that you admire the most that say, "It's your time. You should do this." It's one of those moments, and I really think that the people that you surround yourself with, and the people that you bring into your circle of empowerment I guess, maybe a circle of mentors, and the people that you bring together into that group, if they believe in you that much it's time to go, time to do it.
Beth: Right, it's time to take that leap.
Genevieve: Yes. Might be a little bit scary, but all the good stuff happens on the other side of scary.
Beth: The things that you're talking about, you've mentioned the words collective, you've mentioned inspiration, you've mentioned, in essence, taking this leap. I think all of those things, Genevieve, are indications that you have a pretty clear sense of your role as a leader. Could you talk a little bit about what that really looks like for you?
Genevieve: So I really appreciate you saying that because I don't ever wanna be the person that dictates how something should be done, because I understand that everybody is different, and everybody operates in a different way, and that we all have our unique capabilities. We might be creative, or we might see a vision in a different way, so I really feel like if you surround yourself by people that are smarter, or better at certain things. So someone might be better at pulling together analysis, and someone might be better at putting together a beautiful, creative, vision of how marketing should be.
Genevieve: So if you can work with people that can collaborate in a really beautiful mosaic, that's when you have something that really sings well. And I like, as a leader, to say, "You know what, I know you've got this, but how can I empower you and give you the things you need to be successful?" So that is something that I strive to do, and one of the things, it adds on, which is my real estate brokerage, I really strive to do as a leader is, give all of the tools that someone would need to be successful. And then if someone doesn't have those tools, that's on me, because I haven't provided it. But I can guide, and I can coach, but everybody can take what they know already and move the ball forward.
Genevieve: Something that I've always found very interesting in a collective group of people, when you're a really high performing team is, the sort of Drexler Sibbet model of a high performing team, and everybody understanding what their part is, and what the greater goal is. But if we all see what the goal is, and understand what our part is, and how we can contribute to it, and if we all understand how we contribute, and how we move each other forward. And if I as a leader can say, "I think you've got this, but how can I help you and how can I support you," and then I let you run with it, that's me leading from behind, and I would rather do that, and know that we're all working together, than being the type of person that says, "This is mine, and this is how you're gonna do it." I don't believe in that type of leadership. I'd rather everybody be working together, and me supporting in that way.
Beth: So there's this piece around, really, two sides of leadership, right. There's this element around creating that for others, and then you've talked about with Leadership Center of Excellence, creating that for yourself too. How do you balance those two halves of the leader, Genevieve?
Genevieve: Great question. So I feel like there's the constant learning, and I'm never going to know everything, never ever ever. And if I'm not constantly learning, then I'm dead, right? So as a leader, if I'm not learning something, and then sharing that with my people so that they can grow and learn, and then take that and run with it, I think that that's where the balance is. So I have to learn, and then I have to grow, and then deliver that to my people, and then they will want to grow and learn. And then we can do that together.
Genevieve: So I feel like that's where the balance comes in. I've found that in different organizations where I've been in the past, there's either someone who just says, "This is the way. My way or the highway." But then they're also the person that says, "This is the way that its been done for 30 years, so there's not going to be change." Or there's the type of person that will say, "I just learned this amazing way, what do you think of it?" Or, "Do you wanna go and learn this technique?" And then people will learn it together. Or they'll say, "Hey I have an opportunity for you to go and learn something, and then do you wanna teach it to everybody else?"
Genevieve: I think that that's where balance comes in, because when people have an opp to teach the others what they've learned, there's just this camaraderie that comes from the other parts of the team learning from someone else. And that person who's a part of the team having the capability of then teaching what they know and becoming a master at it, because of it. And I think that's where true balance, and true leadership comes from, where you're giving someone an opportunity to learn, grow, and then teach, so that they can all feel like they're doing something together. That's how I see things growing and becoming more solidified, and codified within a group.
Beth: So there's this cascading effect from that approach, right, where you can see things building on each other I think to some fashion right?
Genevieve: Absolutely. And you also see where people have their strengths and their weaknesses, because there are the people that wanna learn, and wanna grow, but they don't have the capability of teaching because they're uncomfortable in their own skin, and they don't necessarily know how then take what they've learned and deliver it. That's a discomfort, and something that they just don't know how to do yet. I don't know that I've mastered how to tell people, or train ... Not tell people, but train people how to then teach it. I'm definitely not a teacher in that regard. My mother was a teacher, and sometimes I would be sort of resentful of the learning moments as a child, but now I am so grateful that she was able to pass some of that on. But I am so grateful for the teachers in my life that have the capability of really passing on knowledge in that sort of way.
Genevieve: I see some people struggle with passing on what they've learned, but they know it. So I think that they can only become masters after they've been able to teach it to someone else.
Beth: Yeah. I know that's talked about a lot. And I find that to be an eternal truth as well, you really have to have a level of confidence, and a degree of mastery to be able to do that. I think that has other impacts as an organization, so thinking about dealing with clients, could you talk a little bit about how your philosophy of leadership connects with your philosophy of client service Genevieve?
Genevieve: Absolutely. So it's interesting because in real estate there's so many people that don't understand process. Or they, let's imagine the first time buyer that is getting peppered with everybody else's input. Maybe their parents bought before them, but it's been 30 years since the last time someone bought and sold. So they're getting information that's antiquated, so they have to go through the layer of actually sharing information with them, and helping them to understand what an actual process is like.
Genevieve: So from being a leader, and sharing information in a way that's not condescending, can be very difficult when you're dealing with people that, you don't want them to feel like they're not smart. We live in an area where we're dealing with lots of lawyers, and doctors, and very highly educated people, and so they may have information that's been delivered to them that is inaccurate, and not everything that you read on-line is true. But they've become very educated because we have the power of the internet, so you have to say, "You know what, I wish that what you knew is true, but let me share with you some actual anecdotal evidence of what has recently just happened," and sharing about what's going on in the marketplace, and just having actual information about what's happening currently, rather than what had happened five years ago, or 10 years ago, or even 30 years ago, when someone else had an experience.
Genevieve: So by delivering the service, by actually being active within the market, delivering the information in a way that will help move them forward by understanding process and being communicative, that's how this type of leadership, and working through things, and understanding how they operate, that's so important. And one of the things that we do at Advon is, sit down and have very, very in depth discussions with all of our clients, whether they're buying or selling, to understand what is their true method of communication, and what are their actual needs. Because it's an evolution. Some people don't know what they really are looking for until you sit down and have a deep dive conversation, and it's very important to do that, and that's how we train our agents to have those discussions.
Genevieve: A lot of brokerages, when they bring their new agents on, or even seasoned agents, they don't have those discussions about how to move their clients forward in a transaction, because they just assume that it comes, I don't know, in utero. I don't know how they assume that it's happened, they're just ready for someone to go and start making transactions happen. But if you don't constantly teach, and train, and have dialogues and role play to move a client discussion forward so they have an excellent experience, and understand process, that's where things get lost in communication.
Beth: So one of the things that we talked about recently when we had coffee, which I would love to hear some more about, and I think our listeners would to is, the visioning process. So we've talked on a granular level thinking about role plays, and other strategies that you use with clients to help them understand what's happening, and what to expect, and to be informed buyers or sellers. Could you peel back the onion a little bit about the visioning, because I think one of the most fascinating things about the real estate industry is, there is a large brokerage, right, but then you have individual agents that are running their own portfolio for lack of a better description. And that idea of how do you help them see that big picture, and get to those points of success that they really wanna get to for their own individual portfolio?
Genevieve: Oh Beth, that's the fun stuff, yes. So I'm gonna roll this thought back, because, so we are in the beginning of the year. So let's roll this back to about October, when I start talking about business planning, because real estate is cyclical, we are in an area where people, yes they're constantly buying and selling. But, real estate is a type of industry where if you're not constantly talking to people and moving your dialogue forward with your sphere of interest, or any of the number of pillars that you have for potentially having business, then you can potentially go from your high point of your roller coaster to your low point of your roller coaster. And that's the way that a lot of people visually represent what real estate can look like. I almost said roller coaster can look like, real estate. The real estate roller coaster.
Genevieve: So a lot of folks that get into real estate think that it's going to be so easy. Well it's definitely not. It is a business where you're constantly talking to people, and growing relationships, and business. And so what I have come to understand in more than 17 years in the industry, and 10 years working in Northern Virginia is that you need to start your plan for what your year is going to look like at the beginning of the last quarter.
Genevieve: So what I do with my agents is we go through and we write their business plan in October. We then review it again in December to make sure that it's on track for what they've been doing for all of their pillar work. And then to make sure that they're going to stay on track going into the new year, in January what we do is we actually start doing a vision board that will be a part of their goal setting for their actual business plan.
Genevieve: So what I mean by a vision board, is literally taking apart magazines, and books, and printing things from the internet. And some people can do this digitally if they wanted to make a Pinterest board of all their things that were their goals that they wanted to achieve. A vision board can be ... So I said that I wanted to help 150 families this year, and I wanted to pay off all of my debt, and I'm going to take my family to the Turks and Caicos for a vacation. Anything that you say that you're going to achieve as your goal, how are you going to actually attain this.
Genevieve: So you put the big goals there, which can be all the grandiose things and the actual objects of desire. But then the things that's so important about the visioning process, is actually putting the things that are the action items that get you to the place of your vision. And the reason that this is so important is because you have to actually imagine yourself doing those things constantly in order to move yourself forward to attain the actual item.
Genevieve: It's, I believe Jim Rowan used to do this. Great, amazing, mentor to so many people, one of the great real estate coaches and advocates, Tom Berry, he does a lot of coaching, discusses this, as well as Darren Hardy, who talks about ... I guess Jim Rowan was his number one mentor, they talk about doing this, and having it up and visual, and something that you look at every single morning so that when you are designing your actual business plan, you know what your goals are, that you have to make your 12 phone calls and have all of the face to face meetings and appointments to achieve the goal that you have set within your business plan.
Genevieve: And the thing about visioning all of this, is that once you start seeing it up and visual, it's kind of like when you decide that you're going to go and buy a Honda Civic say. It's not that Honda is so very skilled at actually marketing to you that all of a sudden Honda Civics are gonna start appearing everywhere, they're not that skilled yet. It's that your reticular activator in your mind just starts seeing, and pointing them out to you.
Genevieve: So it's the same kind of concept with having your vision board, if you are always seeing this, like every morning when you get up seeing like, I am going to achieve 15 sales this month, and I am doing all of the calls to get this action to do this thing so that I can take my family on this trip, and pay off my debt. You will do the things that give you the action, that give you the power to do, and have the goals that you set, because you're imparting this on your mind to have the actions, and to set the mindset and the tone and that, in your mind daily.
Genevieve: So that's a part of the visioning activity. And we do that with our agents at the beginning of the year. And it's a fun, engaging, collaborative, activity that gets everybody excited and full of gratitude sort of mindset to start the year off, and look at it every day.