He’s one of the most-talked-about figures in the Australian real estate industry and The Agency’s CEO Matt Lahood lives by the motto “great leaders are those that empower and inspire others”.
The Agency prides itself on being an industry disruptor and in a year as disruptive as 2020, Matt has had many distractions to contend with over the past 12 months. He recently addressed the Transform 2021 group to share some tips on how to keep your focus.
CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLES
Matt has been in leadership positions in the industry for more than 20 years and at the helm of The Agency since 2017. He said one of the most important lessons he has learnt in that time is not to get bogged down worrying about things that are out of your control.
“I just control what I can control and I also say that to all the agents – you control the controllables,” Matt said.
Matt mentioned his mother’s passing 25 years ago and – evoking the words of real estate influencer Tom Panos – described it as his “gift badly wrapped”.
“I was going at 100 miles an hour and my mum died and I thought, well, what’s really important? If I lose a listing, is that really important? If I crash a sale, is that really important? If I dent my car in the carpark… everything else became not as important.
“I think that’s been sitting with me now for 25 years in leadership roles, where if something goes wrong I’ve said, ‘well, it’s not life-threatening’, and I’ve trained my agents to think the same way.”
IT’S A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
In addition to being mindful about knowing what you can and can’t control, Matt also discussed the importance of making sure you remember to put things into perspective.
“People worrying about a photo shoot, or something that didn’t get in the paper, I just have no connection to that being a distraction versus when you lose someone,” Matt said.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic also offered a lesson in checking your privilege and it was something he was forthright in communicating to his agents when they were allowing the minutiae to get the better of them.
“People are dying, people can’t go to funerals and all the dramas that we saw with that, and we’re talking about, ‘I got an offer that didn’t get accepted’.”
He said he would sit down with agents and say, “look, while you’re fixating about a listing you just lost, someone’s parents are being told that their child has a serious illness, so let’s just put this into perspective”.
“So that’s how I sort of run the team, and run my life.”
YOU CAN’T HAVE THE RAINBOW WITHOUT THE RAIN
Matt has attracted more than his fair share of headlines over the past five years and during the Transform session, he said he discussed the importance of not reading too much into what’s being written about you.
“What’s a headline? It’s tomorrow’s fish ‘n’ chip wrappers,” he said.
“I’m used to headlines, some days they’re good, some days they’re bad but I’ve got a saying that I use with the team, it’s ‘You can’t have the rainbow without the rain. It’s not rainbows every day, you’ve got to be able to deal with the rain’.”
Matt also reflected on some advice Harvey Norman founder and Executive Chairman Gerry Harvey gave him years ago.
“I’ve learnt a lot from [Harvey] and he told me years ago, ‘any PR is good PR’,” he said.
“Whether we choose to believe that or not is another thing but all I’ve done is kept growing.
“I’ve gone from zero to 330 agents, I’ve got 14 new agents joining us in the next month, I’m opening up three new divisions, so when you’re in the spotlight, you’ve got to rise with the rise, and you’ve got to fall with the fall.”
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
“What you’ve got to be brilliant at is actually delegating,” Matt said, joking that he wasn’t entirely sure whether his team were giving him a backhanded compliment when they praised his abilities to delegate.
“I only handle the things that I really think I’m good at, and my team tells me what I’m good at, as well as what I’m not good at,” he noted.
“So the things I’m not good at, I’ve got people doing that. I do a lot of recruiting and the reality is, I don’t do anything past the conversations on it, in terms of onboarding, paperwork, the contracts etc, my fingers are not anywhere near that stuff, because it’s non-dollar-productive.”
He said when it came to listings, earlier in his career, his primary concerns were always having a conversation with the owners and ensuring he conducts the vendor management process to the highest possible level but leaving the ancillary work to support staff.
“I wasn’t doing the photos, I wasn’t cutting keys, I wasn’t doing second and third inspections, I wasn’t taking mum and grandmother through to have another look, I wasn’t going down to measure up if the fridge fits. You’re better off to hire people to do that, even if they’re part-time – you’ve just got to do what you’re best at.
“Personally now, I’m best at – I believe – helping the agents close deals, helping them list. I’m good at recruiting and helping them grow their business. So that’s four things, anything other than that, I’m not touching it and my team don’t want me anywhere near it either because they know that I’m not good at the rest of it.”
REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING
“There’s enough for everyone and I think sometimes some agents win that battle but they lose the war,” Matt said.
He said he has been part of many deals with agents in association over the years and many of those he has done conjunctions with have gone on to work with him.
“We don’t have to be throwing bombs at each other in this industry,” he said.
“So what? Let’s share one and then the next one. When you go in, hopefully they’ll share one back.
“The good people, they’re good to each other in this industry. There are always gorillas, and water finds its level. The gorillas just get washed out – the tide will wash them out.
“It’s been important to me to have a good name in the industry, I’ve been selling for years but now I’m growing businesses and it’s very easy to make phone calls and say ‘hey’, and they go, ‘we know what you’re like, because we’ve dealt with you’.
“If I’m not like that I’m not going to grow this business.”