Agents got talent: kicking goals in the ring

Real estate professionals by day and singers, actors, reptile experts and kickboxers by night, many agents have hidden skills their clients don’t suspect. In part two of our Agents got talent special report, Noel Mengel sat down with industry high-achievers to uncover their alter-egos’ talents and how they’ve helped them in their real estate careers.

Bianca Denham

Ray White, national director of special programs


Like many successful people in real estate, Bianca Denham devoted herself to a completely different kind of career before she found her true calling.

The first many of her colleagues knew about that was when she sang to 3000 of them at Ray White’s Connect 2022 conference on the Gold Coast in August.

“At school I was always one of the kids who was into drama,” Bianca says.

“I knew I could sing but I didn’t do anything with it until I was 18. Then I hopped on a plane to London, the starry-eyed person getting out of their small city to see the world.”

She threw herself into music, working with producers and co-writers and putting together a band, Hansom Pilot, which would be the focus of the next 10 years of her life in the UK.

When Bianca returned to her home city Adelaide, she learnt the ropes in real estate as a sales agent with Ray White.

She then combined sales with a training role and since 2018 has worked full-time in corporate training for the company.

Last year she was appointed national director of special programs, writing and delivering training programs around the country.

She’s since gone on to become the Ray White Group’s head of performance and recognition.

“I am lucky to work at a company that is so good at providing us opportunities to grow,” Bianca says.

Hansom Pilot experienced all the highs and lows that everyone in the creative arts goes through.

The band recorded their album Season One at the famed Rockfield recording studio in rural Wales but it wasn’t enough to push them to the next level.

“Music was truly my passion and I gave it my all,” Bianca says.

“Trying to make it in music requires talent, hard work and luck.

“What I loved about real estate was that if you applied hard work and followed the process, you can eliminate the need for luck. 

“I thrived on the knowledge that if I simply made more calls, knocked on more doors and did what I said I would do, success would come. That spurred me on during the tough times.”

Bianca Denham

Bianca says music taught her about tenacity, self belief and the importance of establishing a personal brand, all of which she has employed in her real estate career.

The most important thing to understand about being successful in real estate is that it’s not about the houses,” Bianca says.

“This industry is all about the people.

“The fact that buyers and sellers still want to interact with a human mediator is our great advantage, so embrace that.”

Bianca says it’s not hard to stand out in real estate and gaining that attention often comes down to the simple things.

“Just be consistent, follow up, under-promise and over-deliver,” she says.

“It will take 12 to 18 months before you start to make a decent income.

“Expect that, if you do the volume of work, make 20-30 connected calls every day at a minimum, the rest will follow.”

Bianca Denham

Her experience in music taught Bianca much about resilience, the value of working in a team and how to bounce back when things don’t go to plan.

Real estate can sometimes really get you down,” she says.

“It can feel isolating and there always seems to be those moments where you have a run of bad luck.

“I think it’s really important to have a network around you to lean on at those moments.

“Someone who can put a little perspective on the situation and help you pick yourself up and dust yourself off.”

Rohullah Paykari

LJ Hooker Dandenong director

Kickboxing champion

A sales agent who brings energy and discipline to their working day will always have an edge.

Rohullah Paykari’s cheery personality and drive to help his clients is a winning combination in his role as the director of LJ Hooker Dandenong in Melbourne’s east.

But most of them don’t know of the steely drive and will to win he brings with him from his secret life outside of real estate.

Rohullah is a former professional kickboxer and twice Australian kickboxing champion, winning the World Kickboxing Association title in 2010 and the International Kickboxing Federation title in 2012, both in the middleweight division.

Rohullah was born in Afghanistan and developed an interest in martial arts before migrating to Australia at 14.

He made his start in kickboxing in a gym in Dandenong and his speed and natural aptitude in the ring soon stood out.

“I still remember my first fight, which I won by a technical knockout,” Rohullah says.

“I was exhausted and I got lucky with a punch to win the fight.”

As with any profession, there is a vast amount of hard work before any luck comes your way.

“When I began competing professionally I was training twice a day, running four to five kilometres a day for fitness then up to three hours in another session in the gym with sparring, conditioning and skills work,” Rohullah says.

Fitness and discipline are just part of the story for a professional in this demanding sport.

“There are a lot of technical skills you need to master,” Rohullah says.

“Technique is even more important in kickboxing than in boxing. In boxing you have two weapons but in kickboxing you have your knees, elbows and feet as well as your hands.

“If someone connects you can get knocked out so you need to be prepared with your technical skills and more cautious about what is happening in the ring.”

Rohullah Paykari

Rohullah loved his time as a kickboxer but retired to pursue his goal of a career in real estate.

That paid off when he opened his LJ Hooker Dandenong branch as director in 2020.

He knows that the discipline that took him to the top as a kickboxer has been instrumental in his success in real estate.

He brings the same meticulous preparation and attention to detail that underpinned his sporting career to his work as a real estate director.

His advice to anyone with the ambition to one day be the director of their own agency is to get the fundamentals right.

“One of the biggest things I tell people at work is to follow those basics,” Rohullah says.

“Do your prospecting and be honest with people. Obviously you work hard and work smart, but hard work beats talent.

“You build that client base by doing the right thing by them. If you are honest and have integrity, people will sense that and will always come back to you.”

Rohullah is also a keen proponent of building relationships face-to-face.

“Technology is great and we do a lot of electronic contracts because people are busy but I still encourage buyers and sellers to meet me in person for signing,” he says.

“When people hold the pen and sign a contract, there is more feeling goes into it than doing it on a computer or on a phone.”

Read Agents got talent: never smile at a crocodile.

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Noel Mengel

Noel Mengel is a freelance journalist and author based in Brisbane.