January 27

How to Build an Open and Friendly Culture in Your Organization


In today’s episode of The No Limits Selling Podcast, we have Vanessa Oake Hogan, Broker/Owner at CENTURY 21 United Realty Inc. Brokerage.

Guest Bio:

Vanessa is the Broker/Owner of her family business, CENTURY 21 United Realty. She holds a Commerce Degree from McMaster University. She has had the great opportunity of working for Loblaw Companies, Summit Foods and Valeant Pharmaceuticals in various roles including Human Resources, Union Management Relations, Project Management, Marketing, Merchandising and Sales. Vanessa was a stay-at-home mom for 8 years. She feels the combination of all of those experiences has led her to where she is today. 

She is passionate about the Real Estate Industry. Vanessa has been invigorated by the role she plays at her office. She feels grateful to work with such an amazing management team, support staff and sales representatives. She loves the CENTURY 21 brand and all it offers as well as the family that comes with it. She plans on maintaining what her father has worked so hard to build over a period of almost 50 years. It is also her intention to be a progressive, forward-thinking organization that provides her business partners with all of the tools necessary to not only succeed but to thrive in this business and create their best life possible.

Find Vanessa Oake Hogan: Website, LinkedIn, Instagram

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[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 to 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 0:39
Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of the No Limits Selling podcast. Today's a special day for two occasions. Number one is September 1, one, we're recording this. And it just occurs to me, we have four months left till the end of the year, and which is a) and b) what a gift! You know, you got four months to do something spectacular. And you don't have to figure out the big thing. All you have to do is figure out what's one thing I am going to do before the end of the year that's going to make things worthwhile in my personal life and my business so I can be better, stronger, faster. So ponder that in the comments. Let us know what you're going to focus on. And in a moment as I introduce our most amazing guest, Vanessa Oake Hogan, welcome to the program. And what's the one thing you're gonna focus on this year?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 1:24
Thank you. Yeah, I do look at September as a reset button too. It's another, it's a second chance at a New Year? I don't know that's a big question personally, professionally?

Umar Hameed 1:37
Personally, what are you going to do to just for you or your family? What's one thing you want to make sure you accomplish?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 1:44
Well, I, through the summer months, for the first time in a while, I kind of fell out of my routines a bit too much. So I'm going to try to, I've already started to get back into all the things I need to do to make sure I'm clear headed and able to focus and efficient. So getting back to my routine, which I love is really what I'm focusing on, and then I'm better for everyone here at the office, of course better for my family, I'm happier. So just working on getting back to the routine.

Umar Hameed 2:14
So you know, what's gonna odd is this is that there are people out there, let's talk about them that think that they have to be there for the family, be there for their colleagues be there for their job and be there for this. And they're always giving, giving, giving, and they kind of get stooped and like the first step to being an amazing giver is to be strong yourself. Because I'm gonna do a workshop I invite somebody over. And so you know, we typically feel like at the end of the day, and they kind of standing there and stooped down a little bit. And then I reach over and I put my elbow on their shoulder and they just cave in.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 2:45

Umar Hameed 2:45
Now instead of breath, stand up strong. And then I put all my weight and extra weight on pushing down and they just rock solid. And it's just a great visual and kinesthetic symbol to people to go. Yeah, when I'm strong. I can be there for my kids and my family and my job. And that should be the first step. It's not selfish. It's selfless.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 3:03
Yeah, for sure.

Umar Hameed 3:04
Brilliant. So you were talking about be there for your staff. You're a broker. So tell us about your brokerage. How many agents do you have? And who's your favorite?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 3:14
Even Steven, I don't have him. 116. Now 116 agents and we have 10 staff.

Umar Hameed 3:23
Yeah, and where in the world are you you're somewhere near Toronto?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 3:26
Yeah, we're a Peterborough, Ontario. So we were northeast of Toronto.

Umar Hameed 3:32

Vanessa Oake Hogan 3:32
Yeah, they're the 407 highway as a toll highway that was introduced. I forget the year I want to say like four years ago, five years ago, it became fully usable. Maybe I'm I'm wrong there but that's really sped up the commute into Toronto. So it's it's a good proximity. You're you're in you know, away from the hustle and bustle, but I can get into the city.

Umar Hameed 3:55
Brilliant. Back in the old days, they used to have these bandits that would rob you. You know, when you were traveling roads now the 407 does it for you.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 4:03
Oh, yeah.

Umar Hameed 4:04
It's so expensive. Oh my God.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 4:06
It is so expensive, but it saves a lot of ime. So sometimes that's worth it. Yeah.

Umar Hameed 4:12
Definitely. So before you became a broker, you were a realtor?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 4:15
Yeah, I was in 2013. I became a realtor.

Umar Hameed 4:19
So recent!

Vanessa Oake Hogan 4:20
It is recent. I have grown up in the business. The the business, I'm running was my father's business. And I took it over, under 2016, roughly. But I, as I said, I grew up in the business. He's, he's surpassed his 50 year mark, as a realtor. So but I did work in this office. When I was going to university I'd come home in the summers for four months and work at the front desk in the early 90s. So a lot of the people that were here that are still here, believe it or not, but so I had a good taste of the business done a lot differently in the 90s than it is now but officially got my license 2013, Yeah.

Umar Hameed 5:00
Brilliant, I met this woman, her name is Sloane Benson. And she was working for a company out in Seattle called Green Point technologies. And she was like the Senior VP of sales. And she was like, freaking amazing and breathtaking. But the thing I like best about her story, is she started that the company as the front receptionist.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 5:18

Umar Hameed 5:18
She just worked herself up. And it was through excellence and brilliance. She achieved this, you know, high level in the company. And so, you know, dear listeners out there, when you're starting out, it's not what job you get is how you perform in the job dictates how well you do in life.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 5:35
Yeah, completely. I mean, I had a bit of a leg up, I guess, because it's family business. But I do agree with what you're saying. And learning all the different parts of how the company works is so valuable.

Umar Hameed 5:46
Absolutely. And a lot of times, you know, I've met friends that have, you know, their children coming into the companies, and they let them come in for a little while. And then they kick them out to go in the real world and then come back, and then they're, like, more seasoned, and have a better sense of what's going on. Because sometimes being in a family business, it has its advantages, but it's got it is hindrances. Well, yeah.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 6:09
Yeah. And I think you lacked that perspective, as well. So I am glad. I know, sometimes I think, oh, I should have just got into this business right out of university. And boy, I'd be so much further ahead. But I gained so much excellent experience in other jobs and with other companies that I use every day here. So, you know, I think that was valuable.

Umar Hameed 6:31
Don't tell your husband, but I'm going to tell you what turns me off. What turns me on is when you get somebody who's let's say, a chemist, and then they end up becoming a CEO and some other kind of company. And they take what they learned about chemical reactions and catalysts. And they map it over to leadership teams. So you're taking knowledge from one discipline, and applying it and another and creating something new on wonderful, takes my breath away.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 6:54
Yeah, I do love that.

Umar Hameed 6:56
Brilliant. So you have 100 plus agents. And so here's my theory. And please poke holes in it if you need to, and get it. And that's why you're here your expertise in any organization, or let's say your organization, you've got 100 and some odd agents, some of those agents are going to be A players that walk on water and do spectacular things. And then you've got some C players that you know, struggle a bit, then you got B players that know the business really well. But my theory is about half of them could become a players, but something in their mindset gets in the way of them stepping forward. So they got all the know how but there's a disconnect. Does that sound like a ridiculous theory? Or do you kind of go kind of makes sense? Or how would you correct it?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 7:36
Definitely, you seem right on track. If I could look at the whole roster of people here, kind of three different segments, just like you define there. Yeah.

Umar Hameed 7:45
And so one of the things that breaks my heart is this when I see someone, and you know, people just outside of your real estate office just in your life and your friends, when you see someone you and you go, Janet, oh my god, she could be a superstar. And for whatever reason, she can't see it herself. And that breaks my heart is, you know, sometimes it's easier for other people to see us truly than we see ourselves. What do you do when you come across a friend or a colleague, where you can see greatness in them? And for whatever reason, they can't see it? How do you kind of broach the subject? Do you taser them? Or is it more general?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 8:21
I think that's what we're trying to do as a company all the time is is come up with ways to motivate, inspire, how hold them accountable, through different programs, training, coaching. To help them be their best, as long as the desire is within them to do their best. There, there's a lot that can be done to inspire people. Like for me personally, if I just I listened to podcasts a lot, and I can listen to different real estate people on podcasts and get inspired within the first five minutes. Sometimes if you're looking for inspiration, it's there for you. So we try to present ideas and suggestions to the group all the time. And and I think you can have a big impact on people if they're ready to and interested and doing that.

Umar Hameed 9:11
Absolutely. I think what's kind of interesting is this, most of who you are as a human being, Vanessa, that defines you as the wonderful person that you are. Most of that stuff was done by the time you were seven.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 9:24

Umar Hameed 9:25
It was underlying beliefs. And from the age of seven on, there's another 5% of beliefs that come in. So most of the beliefs that you got, were spectacular and allow you to have this amazing family business, all this great stuff, but some of those beliefs get in the way of you being exceptional. And so for you, you look like a really well rounded, amazing human being. So when you look out there you see motivation easily. But there are other people out there that have made beliefs about themselves, and they can listen to the same podcast and go Yeah, you're right. So if I was Emperor for a day, which might happen actually So this possibility, it would be this, it would be if I could help people discover someone amazing. And the person I want them to discover is, is their authentic self, or discover themselves, what that allows them to do is see themselves in a different way. And they can see their strengths and all of a sudden go, oh, my god, yeah, could really leverage this and not be like, living smaller than I should. And when they see the negatives to kind of go, Hmm, how can we forget that? How can we get rid of that? How can we deal with that, and you know, it could be a phone call to Vanessa. Vanessa, oh, my god, I just discovered, I've got doubts around this, can we have a coffee and you'd be there to help them out.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 10:38

Umar Hameed 10:38
So that would be what I would do is discover yourself become fearless. And this is the last thing, which is like probably crazy talk. So don't hang up on me on this interview is, and this has been a lesson for me recently, if I could come to all the things that I do in life come from a place of love, than I would honor the person in front of me. And that would just change the dynamics. So that would be the three things, discover your authentic self, just have an amazing vision of what you want to build and come to life with love and your heart. I think that would be my one decree, then I'd resign as emperor.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 11:10
Yeah, I think that would be amazing. If everyone looked that way, for sure.

Umar Hameed 11:14
So you're leader? What's the one that you're you're playing with to get better at whatever area you want to get better at? Like, what's the current focus for you?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 11:23
Um, that's a good question. I think we've had a lot of growth. In our company, when I took it over, there was about 70, there were about 73 agents, and we've grown quite a bit and then adapted to all the new technology. I think I need to get clarity on what's next here for us. I mean, I know there's growth involved. But I want to get more specific. And I'm not typically a five year ahead, what's my five year goal? I don't typically plan out that far. But I think I need to get there. So that's one of the things I'm working on,

Umar Hameed 12:01
Here's the advice I can give you on that if you want it?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 12:04
I'd love it. I love advice.

Umar Hameed 12:06
So there's two things that need to happen. One, every single human being on planet Earth has a purpose in life, and most people don't discover what it is. And it's not that difficult to do when when we discover it. What it does is it gives you a direction for your life. And one of the brilliant things that it allows you to do is make that the mission of your brokerage, then you are like the poster girl without trying because you're actually just being and the second thing is figuring out your deepest values and the criteria you use around work to become the values and the criteria for the practice you're building. And that way, it allows you to build something of pricking amazing. And then once you've got that direction, then you can go okay, what do I want to build on this path? Because oftentimes you don't know what our path is. And we're like, do I do this? Do I do that once you know your path, and it's just super easy to say, I want to dominate North America or I want to whatever it is, but that pathway to getting those questions answered in a way that are authentic, that are right for you, and you bring your very best self out to play every day with your staff. Because not that you're not already doing that. But there's a more intensity, more passion, more certainty, and uncomfortableness in your skin when that happens. And so we'll talk offline. Well, I suppose we'll talk offline around that.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 13:22
I agree with what you're saying, yeah. And over the years, I've learned that it needs to be me, it needs to me. There's so many decisions that you make in a role like this. And they have to come from my gut. I mean, I like to listen to everyone's opinion. But at the end of the day, there are a few different ways you can go about doing things. But this is my company. And I mean, I work with an amazing team. And it's not like a dictatorship. But when a decision has to be made and everyone's feeling a certain way. You have to go with your values your gut.

Umar Hameed 13:51
Absolutely. So as you look out into the future, have you know what's going to happen in the world, Canada, and I noticed you've got to do you have three children? Yeah, I do. And what are you helping them kind of realize that would allow them to function at just build a happier, more joyful life? Is there any kind of advice you're giving them or directions in terms of a way of being?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 14:13
It's a good question, it's hard when you're parenting teens that's a whole...

Umar Hameed 14:13
Oh yeah.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 14:13
.. new world. And I do struggle with it, because you're losing the control for sure. So I'm just always trying to tell them actually what I just said, my my oldest or oldest son is moving out and going to university. We're driving him to school on Sunday. And I've put together a book for him with a message in it. And the message is, I just want him to go with his gut because I know he's a great person. And I know he's going to be faced with a lot of different decisions. And it's so easy at 18 years old to make the wrong decision and head down the wrong path. And at this point, you just have to cross your fingers and hope that everything you've taught them has sunk in to some degree. And so I just, I try to tell them to go with their gut.

Umar Hameed 15:09
Nice. That's beautiful. And I think the best advice.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 15:12
Yeah, so I don't know. And I try to keep tabs and I do a little bit of lecturing here and there because I feel like there's so much you want to tell them. I just happened last night, for example, but, and I always apologize while I'm doing it. And I know they might not hear everything, but I'm hoping something's sinks and so. So if I answered your question.

Umar Hameed 15:34
I'll share a quote with you. And this is for you and your husband. It's a Mark Twain quote is when I was 14, I discovered my father was an idiot. When he wanted, it was amazing how much my dad had learned in seven years.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 15:45
Oh, yeah, it's true. They kind of leave the planet for a few years I think.

Umar Hameed 15:50
One of the things that kind of really pissed me off, I was about 20 to 23. One day, I had this thought it's like, everything. My dad told me not to do that. I did turn out badly. And it was like, Ah, he was right.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 16:00

Umar Hameed 16:00
It just seems so unfair. But I mean, that's just part of growing up is you need to calm down. So you can learn the lessons, because best advice from parents, you know, sometimes you just don't believe them. Because you know what, what they know, it's like, they're all people.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 16:12
Exactly. And I know, I can tell sometimes they kind of glaze over when I'm talking. But yeah, you get you start to say those things. Hope they hear you.

Umar Hameed 16:21
My favorite mother threat I heard, it was on TV. It's like, I brought you into this world. I'll take you out.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 16:26

Umar Hameed 16:27
Hilarious. So as you look at other century 21 offices, is it one that's like, I like what they're doing is that one that's kind of shining for you right now. Or maybe just one aspect of what they do that you go, you know, I really liked that. I want to incorporate that into what we're doing?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 16:41
Um, there are so many I respect and I hesitate to mention any because..

Umar Hameed 16:47
We wont name names, yeah!

Vanessa Oake Hogan 16:48
Yeah. Oh, yeah, there. Because I'm, I'm in taking over a family business, I have friends that are doing the same thing within the within the franchise. And they're my go to, because I respect who they are as leaders, and they kind of are in the same boat, because they're taking over a family business. But there are others as well, that I call on just because, you know, you get to know each other through different conferences. I'm part of Chairman's Circle, which is a real amazing opportunity for me to get together with the best brokers from in Canada once a year. And so you build these relationships, you see how they operate. And I think that what I what I, when I'm drawn to certain leaders within the system, it's because they're always innovating. They're always they're hard, hard workers. They're deeply passionate about the brokerage. And that's exactly how I feel. So I think we share ideas, I hope I can add some value to the conversation, but I do call on them a lot to help me.

Umar Hameed 17:54
That's the way to do it. Absolutely. You know, one of my favorite organizations in the entire world is the NSA, not the people that you strap on your phones, but the National Speakers Association.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 18:03

Umar Hameed 18:04
And so the founder of that association, this guy had this crazy notion, he started speaking when there wasn't an industry of speaking in, in the world. And he had this notion that, you know, we need to make the pie bigger. And so this guy is dead and buried. But if you go into any NSA chapter, whether it's Toronto or Washington, DC, and you go in there, you'll get a speaker that's making several million dollars a year at the top of his powers, and you'll get a new speaker starting out, and they'll go to that speaker and say, you know, can you help me out? And that super successful speaker will say, Here's my playbook, this the email you send out, and just that culture of openness and helping people succeed, and building that kind of vibe, which is really hard after you're dead and buried to still have that living and breathing in all the chapters around the world, which is just magical. So what's the culture you want to build in your brokerage? Like, what's the vibe that would just make you that as Vanessa? Like, what kind of interactions? Are you looking for the agents to do? What kind of feel like if I walked into your office, what would I notice?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 19:07
It's always been since I worked here at the front desk, a family vibe at this office and..

Umar Hameed 19:14
Nice and bright, and we're not coming to Thanksgiving, no, not that kind of!

Vanessa Oake Hogan 19:21
..Just caring, supportive environment, you know, people are rooting for each other. And I know like my father was very involved with the team and built really close relationships with with the team. So it definitely was partly him but then going to my first century 21 candidate conference, I got the feel that okay, this is actually also a brand vibe. So definitely, for me, that's a priority and I think it's a priority because our agents I want them to feel cared for. I want them to feel like we're taking them under their wing. For those that need that I want them to know they can rely on us. And I think it's very important for retention to have relationships with your agents. So we're always trying to find ways to, to build that either through coaching or training or social events or coffee or whatever.

Umar Hameed 20:16
So love it. So I've got three last questions for you. Okay. Number one, probably the most important question I asked today. Vanessa, what makes you happy?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 20:28
Ah, I have to say the first thing if my family is not doing well, happy everyone. Yes. You know, then I definitely suffer.

Umar Hameed 20:38
The joy of your family.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 20:39
Yeah. And I mean, life is life. Not everybody's happy go lucky all the time. So yeah, I need to make sure that that family unit is chugging along in the right direction for me to come here and do my things.

Umar Hameed 20:54
Nice. Question number two, what's one technique mind hack that you use to be more productive, happier, healthier, sleep better, sexier? Like what's the one piece of advice you'd want to share with our audience that people could apply right away and just do better?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 21:10
It's my morning routine. It's crucial getting up early, meditating, but I'm working out having that alone time in the morning, too.

Umar Hameed 21:22
Love it.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 21:22
So that little morning routine keeps me centered.

Umar Hameed 21:24
I love that. In the last question, probably the most difficult question I'm gonna ask you. What's the question I should have asked you Vanessa, that I did not?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 21:32
Oh, yeah. That's a tricky question. You stumped me. Yeah. But my job what I don't like about the job, maybe? I don't know.

Umar Hameed 21:46
Okay, so what don't you like, what's one thing you wish was better in your job?

Vanessa Oake Hogan 21:51
I guess I always want to make sure everyone's happy. That's my nature, strength or weakness. So I can't, you can't always do that. So that's, that's something I struggle with.

Umar Hameed 22:00
Oh I'm not sure who said this quote, but it's a famous one, you may be able to attribute it to someone. The beatings will continue till the morale improves. Thank you so much for being on the program. I really enjoyed our conversation, and I'm looking forward to our next one.

Vanessa Oake Hogan 22:18
Thank you so much for having me. It was an honor.

Umar Hameed 22:25
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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