August 31

Aaron Rian on Seizing The Opportunity


Aaron Rian is one of the most well known and successful real estate agents in Oregon and Washington. Specializing in the Portland and SW Washington Luxury Housing Market. Aaron’s clientele consist mostly of athletes, corporate executives and high net worth individuals from around the world.

Aaron was born and raised in the Portland area, where he continues to live to this day. His extensive firsthand knowledge of the area gives him a powerful perspective on its most advantageous real estate opportunities, which brings immense value to his clients.

That in turn has brought Aaron top-level recognition of the excellence of his work. In his five-plus years as a real estate agent, he has been a Top One Percent Portland Metro Realtor and a Multi-Million Dollar Sales Producer. Aaron also won back-to-back “Top Real Estate Agent” awards from the Portland Monthly magazine in 2011 and 2012, and was recently added to the “Registry of Business Excellence™” by America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals organization.

Aaron has also begun to make his mark as a thought leader in the American real estate industry. He has appeared in such national publications as “USA Today” and “The Wall Street Journal,” and was recently featured in “Top Agent Magazine.” His first book, “Out Front: The Art of Closing a Deal,” was sold on Amazon.com and made the best selling authors list.

Aaron and his team are on track to close over 199 transactions with a value of nearly 66 million dollars in volume in 2012.

Contact Aaron:

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast where industry leaders share their tips, strategies, and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you. Do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed not only remove it but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you too much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes. Click on it to find out more. All right, let's get started.

Umar Hameed 0:40
Hello, everyone. Today, I've got the privilege of having Aaron Rian here with me today. He's the president of the Brokerage House. Aaron, welcome to the program.

Aaron Rian 0:48
Thank you for having me. I'm looking forward to doing this with you today.

Umar Hameed 0:51
So Aaron, you know, if you had a business coach, they would have told you the worst time in the history of the world to start a real estate company would be 2008. Because the whole world was collapsing. What on earth made you go? You know, that's what I want to do?

Aaron Rian 1:05
Yeah, I kind of fell into it. I was a builder and developer and I had just sold a financial services company I was building developing. Banks basically told me they weren't going to lend me any more money, right around Oh, eight, they weren't doing construction loans. And I, you know, my my alternative was to start selling real estate, I had a license because I was selling my own products. And, you know, I needed to do something, I needed to do something, you know, at that time, none of us knew if we were ever going to be making money again.

Umar Hameed 1:39

Aaron Rian 1:39
Oh, I actually just joined a real estate company locally here in Beaverton, Oregon, and started selling real estate got route, you know, got really good at the the client facing interactions, then just kind of built from there.

Umar Hameed 1:57
So when you went in, when you were selling your properties, you know, you built them, you love them, you sold them? Was there a difference in mindset when you were selling other people's properties? Like, was it the easy thing to step into? Or was there some differences that you went? Hmm, I gotta figure this out.

Aaron Rian 2:13
Yeah, there definitely is. So when you're selling your own product, as a builder, or developer, at least for me, there wasn't a lot of emotional attachment. Right, I did it for profit, I did it to earn a living. So my product was, I knew what my bottom line was, I knew what my margin was, you know, it was it was a business transaction. When you started doing it for other other people, other homeowners, it was more emotional. So making that adjustment to the motional aspect of real estate was, you know, something I had to get good at really fast.

Umar Hameed 2:49
So one of the reasons, if you choose to believe this maker put other people in our lives is to learn from them, because they kind of exemplify that this, like a mirror being held up. So what did you learn from your clients? because initially, you know, it's like, wait a minute, I used to do this business transaction, it's really simple to being confronted with people, because people have issues around money that are pretty deeply entrenched in their psyche. And also just the emotion of this is my house, I want this much. So what did you learn from your clients that kind of gave you insights into yourself?

Aaron Rian 3:21
You know, I learned, I mean, honestly, one of the main things that I learned at that time, I didn't have any children, I didn't have any kids, I wasn't married. So I learned patients really, really fast. And when you're used to doing your own thing, and running your own ship, and not having to answer to a client, it's completely different.

Umar Hameed 3:42

Aaron Rian 3:43
The different mindset, it's a completely different system, it's completely different process. So patience, and, you know, the understanding that while I did this every day, and this was my business, these folks didn't do this every day. This wasn't their business, they didn't understand what was going on. So you had to slow down, break it down to the the minor detail, and be very, very patient with people. And, you know, just really make sure that they felt like they were supported, and that they, you know, had an advocate for them.

Umar Hameed 4:18
At what point did you go from just being an agent to saying, you know, did you start a team first? Or did you start a company and start your own brokerage.

Aaron Rian 4:26
Started the team first.

Umar Hameed 4:28
So tell me about that transition. Because you know, a lot of realtors that get really successful go like, I'm going to start a team. And then all of a sudden you go into a leadership role, which is usually different than you thought. So what was that transition like and what were the challenges?

Aaron Rian 4:43
Yeah, so I'll start by saying this. You have a lot of realtors out there who tried to start a team that have no business running a business, right. They're great salespeople. They're not great leaders. They're not great business people. So that's one of the major downfalls to our industry and working with a real estate team. Right now there's one company in particular, that, you know, promotes this, if you can sell real estate, you can lead a team. And it's not true. I mean, as you know, right as as, as a knowledgeable business person, it is a different skill set to run a business than it is just to be a great salesperson. So, you know, for me, why I got into the leadership position and started the team was, I got really good at the daily sales to where it became overwhelming. So it actually started very, very minor, I just I hired an assistant that worked for me part time, she did all the paperwork, because of the aspects of the business that I was terrible at. And I just didn't like doing it. So I had her in the office, she would design my flyers, process my paperwork, load up my listings, then I got so busy that I got so many clients, I ended up needing to offload some of the new business that was coming in, because I just I didn't have enough hours in the day I was working. You know, basically from eight o'clock in the morning, I'm going to get to the office at 6:30, I'd be starting to meet with clients at 8:30. And I'd be working till 8:39 o'clock at night.

Umar Hameed 6:16

Aaron Rian 6:16
You can, you can do that for a period of time. But when you talk about doing it for three, four or five years, it becomes unsustainable. And so like, yeah, so I ended up hiring a buyer's agent to be able to take the buyers into the business, and then I continue to work on listings.

Umar Hameed 6:36
Yeah, that's where the gold is. So let's kind of backtrack, it's almost expected of people when you become successful as an agent, that you'll start a team. And you're right, that, you know, a lot of people have no business doing that. And they waste sometimes two, three years down that journey. What advice would you give people? Because sometimes we have an illusion of Sharma business guy sure on this, when they're really not? Would they be some questions that you would suggest that they could ask themselves that would stop them from making a really bad mistake like that.

Aaron Rian 7:06
You know, people follow leaders, is my philosophy people, you, if you're if you're truly a leader, if you're the guy that has to stand up and say, I'm the boss, or, you know, I'm the one in charge, or if you have to announce yourself as the CEO of your company, right? I think that should cause you saw build the ring in your head, that you have to make those announcements, you have to elevate yourself to a leadership position by announcing it as people just naturally following you. I think if you have people that naturally follow you, you're a leader, you can develop the skills that it takes to be an effective business person effective leader. I think those people that have to stand up and announce themselves and you know, have the whole self importance thing. Folks that, you know, should sit down and do a self evaluation and figure out if leadership is really for them. And if they're really cut for it, and people really do follow them.

Umar Hameed 8:06
So what time did you decide that? Okay, I'm going to go from being a team leader to I'm going to start my own brokerage?

Aaron Rian 8:13
That was an interesting transition. It was when I saw the brokerage that I was at, I saw things that were out of my control that I felt could be improved upon from a business, an operational and a system standpoint. At that moment, that was when I knew that it was time for me to exit and leave. And you know, I was the company's largest broker at that time. And I was one of the largest brokers in the region at that time for that company. So, you know, I, I didn't have a problem selling houses, I didn't have a problem getting new clients, I didn't have a problem. from an operational perspective, I basically was my own brokerage within their brokerage.

Umar Hameed 9:01

Aaron Rian 9:02
So there were things that I just saw that they were doing operationally that I knew could be done better and more effective. And that's when I decided to make that transition.

Umar Hameed 9:11
So going back to that time, my guess would be that you had pointed out some of the shortcomings to to the broker. And was that the case? And no, and obviously, they didn't do what they needed to do. What do you think that was? Because that's a common thing that happens in a lot of companies.

Aaron Rian 9:27
Sure. I think that, you know, there was conversations that I had with the lady that was, you know, that owned the brokerage or that was the main operator of that brokerage. And when I had those conversations with her, she was, you know, offended to the chain offended, almost offended that that I was that I was bringing this to her attention. She had a lot of her family members that worked in the office and that would process our commission checks or do compliance or whatever it was, right? So she wasn't the most friendly when it came time to address her about some of the changes that needed to take place in order for me to stay. And so, you know, it just kind of continued to go down that road of, you know, expressing concern, right, because at the end of the day, I was a client for her because I was paying to be there, I was paying a desk fee, I was paying brokerage fees. And she just didn't want to listen. You know, she, essentially and I understand it, she chose family over business at that at that time. And that's, that was kind of when the separation happened.

Umar Hameed 10:41
So how do you stop yourself from falling in the same trap? Because oftentimes, you know, we look at the systems you've got, and it's our baby, it looks beautiful. So how do you ensure that you know, you don't get blinders on?

Aaron Rian 10:52
That's an interesting, I think, I think we all have blinders on to some degree. You know, I think we all have blinders on in some, in some form or fashion. My my opinion, and the reason that I've been able to continue to grow the brokerage and retain a large majority of our brokers, our staff, everybody that works within our organization, or that's a part of our team, is because, you know, for me, a lot of it is you got to stay humble, right? You have to humble yourself to understand you don't know everything, and you're never gonna know everything. And you are always learning and you're learning from the people that are around you. And I learned, I'll be honest with you, I, you know, Umar, I learned from entry level folks that come into our organization, learn from people who have been here 10 years, I learned from New brokers that come into our organization, I'm constantly asking them questions, and then trying to figure out what motivates them. And you know, what they what they feel about the organization, what the perception is, I just tried to stay humble. And I try to ask a lot of questions to be to be brutally honest with you.

Umar Hameed 12:00
That's one of the traits of great leaders, we talked about what's leadership, and one of the things is that thirst for knowledge, and always being hungry to find out what's happening. And being inquisitive is an essential part of leadership. I was doing these workshops around the country, and I would do workshops for tire workers in Dublin, Virginia, PhDs and Boston Silicon Valley folks and people of all different walks of life, education, financial backgrounds. And I would ask them this question, you know, who's someone that you admire in a leadership position? And what was the attribute they had, that you found most exciting, and people would, you know, sit down make lists, then they shout out those attributes. And if you looked at the list that got generated was like a maybe 100 attributes on the wall. And it was different depending on which group you were dealing with what their education level was, then no matter what group it was, you said, Okay, we've got 30 people in the room, I'd like you to go up to the attribute you think is the most important and put five checkmarks next to it. So the most checkmarks are the one you like, and the next one before three to one, so we get the top five for all 30 some odd people, and then we just counted the checkmarks. And you know, what didn't make a difference? Which part of the country what level of education, what level of income, the five leadership traits were always the same?

Umar Hameed 13:17

Umar Hameed 13:18
And I don't remember all of them, but stuff that you would expect, you know, somebody that can communicate really well, somebody that has compelling vision, somebody that has respect for the people that they lead, and just similar kind of stuff. And it was that was like, wow, we all know what a great leader is like, we might articulate it differently. But the knowledge of the group really condenses down to what we really need. And it really doesn't make a difference. Who's there. So now you have a brokerage with many locations? I do. One of the things that I find. So in the location you're at, that would be head office in Oregon.

Aaron Rian 13:59

Umar Hameed 14:00
How many people in that location?

Aaron Rian 14:02
We're about 50.

Umar Hameed 14:04
50. So if I asked some of your employees, what's it like working here, they would articulate in their own way of what the culture was this great place to where they were open. And so how do you think they would articulate your culture at head office? Like, what would be some of the phrases they would use?

Aaron Rian 14:23
Yeah, I Well, first, I mean, to kind of take that question and break it down just just for a second. So I think that it would be naive for me to think that everybody has a completely positive outlook on the culture of the company, right? I mean, everybody, you know, I my philosophy or my theory is, if 70 to 80%, you know, 90% are giving us you know, the the feedback that we need, that's positive, we're doing a pretty good job because I always look at it this way when it comes to culture. I'm always working on that bottom 20% And I'm always working on the new 20% that comes in, right? hasn't bought in, they haven't been here long enough, they haven't had enough time with senior management, they haven't, haven't had enough time to get the wins and the successes that really get people to buy into the culture. So for me, you know, there's two different segments of of, you know, of that question, right, there's two different segments of our employment pool or our team that I would address in answering that question. So the people who have been established that have been here, you know, longer than six months that have been true team members, I would say that, you know, it's, it's run like a family organization, you know, we still know everybody's name, before anybody can get hired at any of our locations, I still meet with them, rather than face interaction or nowadays through zoom.

Umar Hameed 15:49

Aaron Rian 15:50
And I still want an opportunity to talk to them, and ask them questions, get to know them, get to know about them, their personal life, get to know about their family gets know about their business philosophy about why they want to work within our within our organization. So, you know, that that would be I would say, if they had to narrow it down to a few words, it would be fast-paced. You know, hopefully inspiring, you know, that's, that's one of the things that I would hope is that we have an inspiring culture that helps people develop and become better career oriented, you know, we want to help people through their career path, within real estate within business, you know, not just not just through their career, but also personally, personal development is important to us. Also, the other things that I would say that, from a cultural standpoint would be, you know, it's it's an aggressive organization, we're going through an aggressive growth phase, we're going through an aggressive we're going through an aggressive building phase, we're moving into new offices, where we're going to be expanding most of our departments, we're taking one of our departments, which is our inside sales department from 15, inside sales agents. 255, in a matter is huge, over the big growth, but it's to support our branch offices rather, in the field. So, you know, to summarize that, that's, that's what I would say, if they had to summarize our organization to just a few, you know, a few words, it would be, you know, family or, you know, family run, you know, kind of that family run feel, aggressiveness that would be, you know, hopefully inspiring to them, career and personal development focused, that would be what I would say,

Umar Hameed 17:38
Brilliant. So, notice, I asked, what would they say, and now what you want to say, because oftentimes, there's a disconnect. And if you're doing a really good job, it's the same thing. But then it gets complex, and it gets complex. When you have offices in Florida and South Carolina and North Carolina. One wants to strive that, you know, we've got the same kind of vibe there. There's different cultures, but still, so how do you ensure that in the places that they're still like the family feel that people feel cared for that? All the things that you mentioned? fastbase? How do you ensure that when you're at head office, that the same kind of vibe goes round?

Aaron Rian 18:13
That's, I mean, that's that's an excellent question. I, you know, I go, I do a lot of these podcasts. And that's probably the number one question that I don't get asked enough. Because that's the that's the trick. Right? That's, and it was one of the main, I mean, to be honest with you, you know, Umar, it was one of the major roadblocks in our growth plan. You know, I think we started expanding out of home office, probably around 2010 2011, right around there. And it was, it was, you know, it was a bumpy road for eight months, six, eight months. Because they don't get that day to day interaction. They don't get it, you know, we get to see them in the break room, we don't get to see them walking through the hall. So what the the main thing I think that really ties people in organization is we have really good leadership within our organization, we have realized, not talking about just me, but you know, I'm talking about sales management, operational management, instead, sales management, we have really good leaders that keep the points of contact, or the frequency of contact high. It's all about, you know, making them feel involved through personal contact.

Umar Hameed 19:28

Aaron Rian 19:28
Systems and through success, right. So we focus and monitor those things. And, you know, we talk to our remote employees, remote agents 567 times a day, and so frequently touches. That's the only way that we found that can keep them engaged at a really high level. And then we also have a lot of corporate events that we do through different technology like zoom or join.me or whatever it is that allows them to participate kind of like we're doing right now. Right? while we're doing a podcast, and as done, you know, verbally through through microphones, we're still looking at each other.

Umar Hameed 20:09
Yeah, it just makes it a richer communication.

Aaron Rian 20:11
Absolutely. And so we do have our communications in that exact manner, because of exactly why you and I are doing that today, just because of the quality of the interaction.

Umar Hameed 20:21
So one of the things I would suggest, if you guys are not already doing it is the power of story, because we can have our values on the board and most values in companies, quite frankly, are bullshit, because it's like, they've got stuff on the wall, and we ask the employees, what's it like, Here they go not like that. So one of the ways to make it real is, so what would be one of the values for your company?

Aaron Rian 20:43
One of the values for our company is its, you know, I think the number one value of our of our company is taking care of the client at all costs. Okay,

Umar Hameed 20:55
So let me pause right there. If I could for a second, how would you know that one of your agents is looking after the client at all costs? Like, what would that look like? What would you be able to see here or touch?

Aaron Rian 21:08
So one of the things that we do is, we always have either mice believe it or not, either myself, or one of our sales managers, our Director of Sales, colas, every property, so they have direct, so other brokers, clients, everybody has a direct contact to a member of our management team during every,

Umar Hameed 21:25

Aaron Rian 21:25
Action. In addition to that, we have staff members that actually call escrow lenders to follow up on the day to day interactions that our brokers and our clients are having with those vendors. And then also, we send a customer service survey, to escrow that gets filled out by the client when they send their closing documents, so that we get direct feedback from the client, also, at the point of closing, so that if we have an issue with a broker, an agent, whoever it is, we hear about it at some point during that transaction.

Umar Hameed 22:00
Brilliant. And I think that the suggestion I had was this is that deals are going to go south, and there are going to be problems. And every single broker in the history of real estate has said, we got your back where your broker, we're going to do a great job and capturing those stories, you know, hey, this was happening, there was a snowstorm, our agent drove 10 miles to make sure it was done capturing those stories really makes those values become real. And then it's not just you know, dead words on the wall, it's very much, Oh, I know what that looks like. This is what looking after the customer. You know, no matter what the cost is, looks like in real life, it helps you give kudos to whoever did the heroic thing. But it also trains the newer agents coming in in terms of Oh, so it's not just words, this is real. This is what somebody did. And that's what I want to aspire to.

Aaron Rian 22:50
Yeah, I mean, that's powerful. I'll tell you, you know, it's funny, my wife now, but before she was my wife, she worked as an agent in the industry and actually came to our company. And, you know, she went through a snowstorm, then it's just very similar to what you talked about, yeah, ended up driving through one of the worst and most dangerous conditions in Eastern Oregon to get to a client and ended up wrecking her Range Rover and getting rushed to the hospital. So that she was caught. Yeah, I mean, it was it was a whole, she wasn't her thing, you know. But, you know, she, she ended up actually having to go to the hospital, because for a client, you know, to make their offer, and they were taken care of and had that face-to-face interaction, and we're taking care of so you know, there are real stories like that that are have very, very powerful impacts. So I agree with you.

Umar Hameed 23:45
Yeah, stories are really powerful. It was such a delight, sitting down with you before we parted company. For other people that are starting teams are already leading teams, and they want to do better, what would be three pieces of advice you'd give them that would allow them to go Hmm, I'm glad I listened to this podcast.

Aaron Rian 24:03
Yeah. So I would rewind to the first part of our podcast right? at our first part of our episode here. Just because you're a good salesperson doesn't mean you are equipped to run a team, you know, have a free honest, very real conversation and evaluation of your skill set. And what your I would tell you, if you're doing it just for money, just for you know, to increase revenue, it's going to be a very, very tough path for you to to succeed. You have to you know, have a vested interest in your people. You have to have a vested interest, like we talked about in your culture, you have to have a vested interest in, you know, your people success. The third thing that I would say to you is, and this is one of the things that I've seen happening a lot in our industry, is people get into the business because they don't like you know, they get in the business. They start selling homes, they realize they don't like selling homes, so they want somebody else do it. You it's very, very tough and difficult to lead people to get them to do things you're not willing to do yourself. To this day, I still love going out and listing houses, when I get the opportunity to do it, I take any opportunity I can because I love it. And I'm really good at it. And it's, you know, the most dollar productive activity I can actually do in our organization, believe it or not. So, yeah, those are the three things that I would give somebody advice if they're looking to start a team.

Umar Hameed 25:29
That is brilliant advice. And I'll just back it up with I've got a client that is one of the leading recruiters in the country. And every day he goes out to the bullpen and makes his calls with everybody else. Number one, you know, I'm not doing in my office, I'm actually with you doing it. He walks his talk and he inspires people that even when you're at the top, you can't not prospect,

Aaron Rian 25:54
Right, prospecting is the key to any business. That's another tip I would give people looking to start a business or a team is that, you know, it's all about having the leads. And it's all about keeping your pipeline full, no matter what business you're in, if you don't have customers or people to talk to, it's going to be tough to be successful.

Umar Hameed 26:09
If you're not meeting with people, it's called being unemployed. Aaron, thank you so much for being on the program. I really appreciate it.

Aaron Rian 26:16
I appreciate you having me on today. It was a pleasure.

Umar Hameed 26:23
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro-linguistic programming, and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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