April 5

Isaac Verge on How to Build a Winning Culture in Your Organization


I am an expert investor who has the knowledge and personal experience of owning multi-family and single-family homes. I offer guidance that my clients can depend on with expertise in share-sales, apartment buildings, and mixed-use commercial buildings. I am ready to help you grow your portfolio.

[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 0:41
Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of The No Limits Selling Podcast where we get industry leaders sharing their ideas, philosophies on how to make their businesses grow faster, and how to get their employees to be better, stronger, faster. And today, I'm joined by Isaac Verge, he is the head honcho at The Verge Real Estate Team. Isaac, welcome to the program.

Isaac Verge 1:01
Thanks for having me.

Umar Hameed 1:02
So this is gonna be an interesting conversation. When did you, because the reason is going to be interesting is you know, you went from like just starting out in real estate and building a team that's doing exceptionally well. And during that journey, there's a lot of lessons there so we can kind of deconstruct that, and get those epiphanies and share them with our listeners and our viewers. So tell us when you started to into the real estate business, and what crazy idea led you to be a realtor?

Isaac Verge 1:28
Okay. So, around 2007, I was in a another role with another company, wasn't, wasn't the perfect, you know, lifetime fit for me. And so, my wife and I made the decision to sell the house, we were in and go into a duplex so that we could essentially live at a reduced cost. And that would allow us to put her into school to pursue a career as a nurse. And and then I would figure out what I was doing. And through the process, we hired a hired an excellent agents who gave great advice and had a lot of little unexpected sort of extras along the way that, you know, would have expected from anyone. And it was just such a high level, you know, positive experience that I got interested, I previously been interested in real estate, obviously, if you own property, you pay attention, but And he sort of planted the seeds of you know, what could be a really cool way to both grow some investment property plans for the future, but also to get into a world where, you know, your whole success is tied to your client success. So, you know, very rewarding sort of, sort of a role. And so yeah, he planted the seed. So started the courses shortly after that I took my time and officially started as a realtor in 2009, September.

Umar Hameed 2:57

Isaac Verge 2:58
And ended up mentoring under the agent that had kind of planted those seeds. And, and yeah, it's obviously been been quite a journey since then, starting out, as you know, green and solo and all of that to being a part of the amazing group that I'm a part of now.

Umar Hameed 3:14
Excellent. So as you started on this journey, you know, the there's ups and downs, tell us about your first win were you realize, "Okay, this is for me, I've helped somebody get a house." Was it the first house you sold or was it a little later on, we kind of felt like a found my calling?

Isaac Verge 3:30
Well, so I was I was very fortunate because I was able to find clients, you know, right out of the gate, my previous role, it was a management position. And so when I was in that role, I really made a conscious effort to try and create the best possible work environment for my staff. And so my very first client, I was licensed for, you know, a day or two or three, I made the announcement on social media and all that. And she said, "Hey, I'd love working for you. I'd love to work with you. I know you're new, but I'm new to,

Umar Hameed 4:03

Isaac Verge 4:04
up together. And I just feel like I was so blessed to have somebody put their trust in me not necessarily in my experience. But knowing that, you know, we would we would figure it out." And so we were able to start it in the beginning of September, we are booked to get them into a property in mid-October. So it didn't it didn't take long for me to hit the ground running. So I would consider that more of a lot of success, yes, but more of a blessing that somebody [garbled].

Umar Hameed 4:34

Isaac Verge 4:36
So how many transactions did you do in the first year?

Isaac Verge 4:38
First year 53.

Umar Hameed 4:41
Which is like freaking awesome, right? Because most realtors end up doing less than 10, so 53 is huge. What do you think that came from, was it like you had a sales mindset or you just kind of open yourself up and things started kind of flowing your way?

Isaac Verge 4:57
Again, I think it's, I think for me it was a lot, a lot of it was network. But it was probably only about a third of the clients, I helped that were clients that I knew from a past life, so to speak. And the rest would have just been, you know, being on top of things, you get a call you, you return it immediately. You know, I definitely put in the time, I definitely was very responsive, I tried to lead with value always. And from the beginning, you know, this isn't about sales for me at all, it's about helping people get what they want.

Umar Hameed 5:30

Isaac Verge 5:31
And there's a sale attached to that. But if somebody wants to buy and your focus is on service, and on on helping them make the right choice. And, you know, being a party to that I think the sales just sort of happened. That's, that's sort of the byproduct of service.

Umar Hameed 5:49
I'm going to throw out a hypothesis and kind of give me your take on it. And if it sounds good, go with it if it sounds like bullshit, please say so. So I think intent is a really important to when we're doing something and some people, some realtors talk about customer service and making sure the customer gets what they want but their intent is to make a sale. And it sounds like your intent is to make sure that they get exactly what they need in the way that they need it and the byproduct is the sale. A, do you think that's a true statement and how important do you think intent is to when you actually go to do an activity?

Isaac Verge 6:26
I think, I mean, I would agree with that statement. I think that, you know, we're in an industry and there's a lot of excellent, excellent, excellent agents out there. But I think, a common theme that you'll you'll find with all of them, and maybe I'm making assumptions based on utopian perception of our industry. But the ones that do well do lead with service and their intent is service, it's not about making a sale, I mean, my goal, my goal is always to to have a relationship, and I want to be a part of, a part of their lives and their, in their kids lives and their brothers and sisters and their parents lives. So you know, for me, it's it's about making sure that I'm doing everything I can to, to make it so that they can imagine wanting to go in a different direction. And...

Umar Hameed 7:17

Isaac Verge 7:18
...their friends are talking about real estate that that we have a relationship where they, where I am top of mind, or where my team is top of mind.

Umar Hameed 7:31

Isaac Verge 7:31
And I would say that the best deals that I've done in real estate are the ones where I've told the client, "Hey, that's not a good deal," or "You shouldn't offer that much," or, "You know, did you notice this issue or that issue," or "The ones that I've talked to people out of it, I honestly think are the best deals that I've done." And if I was worried about a paycheck,

Umar Hameed 7:52
That would not be the case.

Isaac Verge 7:53
Sorry, my phone started ringing. I thought I turned all my notifications up for this.

Umar Hameed 7:57
It's just a client saying, "Hey, my cousin wants to buy a house, where are you?"

Isaac Verge 8:01
And I will return the message very promptly.

Umar Hameed 8:04
Brilliant. So when did you start your team? Like how many years into the business was it before you started your team.

Isaac Verge 8:11
So with, with the goal, being responsive and service oriented and on top of things, but also being busy out of the gate, and being fortunate enough to start to see repeat and referral business, you know, fairly quickly, I got to the point where I was kind of really battling with the guilt of not being able to reply to people as fast as I could. So I knew pretty early on that I needed help. So my first hire was and I had a few administrators, but my first hire was was an unlicensed assistant that could help me with the back office stuff so that...

Umar Hameed 8:45

Isaac Verge 8:45
...I can focus on that. My first official team member was actually my administrator for both two years. That Sarah, she was Nicholson ventures. She's married now Sarah Laporte, and she officially was licensed in 2016. And, and that was a game changer because it really allowed us to, you know, broaden our service level and not you basically not be not be late or not miss on something because there was two of us working to support but with that it created, you know, some pretty, pretty high growth. So, so yeah, route 2016 was officially when the team was formed.

Umar Hameed 9:07

Isaac Verge 9:10
And, and it's grown from there.

Umar Hameed 9:29
Superb. So before we kind of leave the early years, what would be three pieces of advice you'd give a new realtor coming in that would allow them to be successful the first year out?

Isaac Verge 9:40
Well, number one real estate's a contact sport. So you got to get out there and you got to talk to people and you know, maybe you're, maybe you're 80% is working your social media, maybe it's going door knocking maybe it's doing open houses for other agents who have the listings and you're brand new but honestly just asking for the business. From day one, if any of my colleagues in the local industry do end up hearing this podcast, they'll remember the times that I said, "Hey, if you're ever too busy, I see you're really doing well, I would love to take care of the clients that you just can't get to." I'm always asking for business not not necessarily just to clients, or just in general, but even my fellow agents. And our team has been pretty, pretty fortunate with referrals from agents from both in market and out of market, as well.

Umar Hameed 10:30

Isaac Verge 10:32
I think just making the contacts, you know, having conversations and, you know, put yourself out there, if you fail, you fail forward. I mean, you go to a listing appointment, and you're brand new, and you don't know exactly what you're doing, but you go as prepared as you possibly can. And then you analyze after and figure out where you were lacking and then make sure that you improve on that for the next time. But if you're paralyzed by, you know, trying to be perfect,

Umar Hameed 10:57
Oh, yeah.

Isaac Verge 10:58
you want to get out the door. So you know, fail forward, you know, do your best and, and constantly trying to evolve and learn.

Umar Hameed 11:05
Brilliant. So how many people in your team right now?

Isaac Verge 11:08
We are up to 13, I believe?

Umar Hameed 11:13
13. And how many agents are in that 13?

Isaac Verge 11:16
That would be 11.

Umar Hameed 11:18

Isaac Verge 11:18
11 agents. We've got we've got a couple coming on but and we have a brand new agent that started with us in the last couple of weeks, so forth.

Umar Hameed 11:26
So very lean in terms of like, you've got agents, and then you've got a couple of admin people to kind of make the whole magic happen in the backend.

Isaac Verge 11:32
Yes, yeah, we that was that was actually a big, a big adjustment for us. Because, you know, over the years, we had, you know, basically an administrator, but our operations manager was a realtor. And we had a team meeting and she, you know, either did the best thing ever, or the worst thing ever, but at the team meeting, she's like, "You know, you know, we really need we really need an operations manager to help sort of quarterback, everything."

Umar Hameed 11:59

Isaac Verge 11:59
[Garbled] and, you know, she fell into that role. And she's, she's been doing an excellent job. Support is key.

Umar Hameed 12:05
[Garbled] the army, you don't mention something like that, because you're going to get volunteered.

Isaac Verge 12:11
That's right. But she's she's doing great with the role and I think it's, you know, she's, she's operating under 80% now, being in that position.

Umar Hameed 12:18
Ah, brilliant. So just minding your own business, you're running a business, you got an admin person helping you and then all of a sudden, you're in charge of a team. So tell me some of the mistakes you made when you first started to lead a team? And then what were the lessons learned, and let's gonna examine that for a minute, then we'll go deeper into the team.

Isaac Verge 12:36
Sure. So I would see that taking on more like, so we're trying to, we want to attract people that they're we're not, we're not employees, we're essentially all partners. So we want to attract people that are, are independent and needing guidance is totally, is totally good. But before we kind of figured out the hard way of putting in place onboarding systems, we, we added a few brand new agents, to the team. And, you know, as much as you know, as much as I, as I feel, it's a massive benefit to go into an organization that you know, collectively is, you know, sold, you know, well over 1000 homes, and, you know, has encountered many, many, many, many scenarios, being able to take, you know, that collective, you know, 30 or 40 years of knowledge, and then put it into bite sized chunks for somebody who's brand new. And you certainly know how to set up a website was, was something that we needed to learn from, so we had to, you know, great, great young guys that joined us in 2019.

Umar Hameed 13:48

Isaac Verge 13:48
Well, a lot of our growth has been the last few years, but 2018, we had two that were, you know, green and green at the gills. And I found that it was a massive time investment to be coaching and mentoring somebody brand new. And it just, it created some criticism challenge. And I don't I don't think that we delivered for them in a way that allowed them to grow as quickly as they wanted to. And one of them relocated up to Toronto, the other relocated to decided to get solo agent. And, you know, we wish them well. But we learned a lot from that.

Umar Hameed 14:22

Isaac Verge 14:22
And so we've, we've kind of been a little bit more specific and selective in our process of onboarding. And we're not actually looking for growth, we're looking for culture, we're looking for somebody that's going to come in,

Umar Hameed 14:39

Isaac Verge 14:39
it's going to be you know, in line with our, with our values and and if they and we've got systems in place to offer them better support starting out.

Umar Hameed 14:50
So let's talk about culture because I think for a leader there's three main duties. First one is having a kick-ass amazing vision of what's possible and people say, "I want to go on that journey." The second one is culture, how do you get people to their behaviors, and their mindset kind of aligns with what you want to build. And the third one is long term shareholder value, how do you make your organization more valuable? But the most important element is that middle piece, that culture piece. So how did you articulate your culture the one you wanted? And how do you get people to align with it?

Isaac Verge 15:25
It's a great question. It's a challenging question to be honest, I feel, I honestly feel like we've been very fortunate to just attract, like minded,

Umar Hameed 15:35

Isaac Verge 15:36
people, there's some things that we do as a team to, you know, promote that camaraderie, we have our we have our regular meetings, we started a tradition in 2016, where the whole team goes away for a retreat once a year. We basically just spend spend time together, you know, having some food, some drinks, going golfing, you know, last year, we, you know, bit some climbing. The year before, we discovered, one of our team members is deathly afraid of heights, and we did a ropes course in the...

Umar Hameed 16:06

Isaac Verge 16:06
...in the tree. But you know, once a year, we have that, that we, that we do to inflict...

Umar Hameed 16:11
On the team? Nice.

Isaac Verge 16:12
Every every Christmas, we do awards, but we don't do the typical, you know, top sales, or, you know, any of that week. We look at the qualities of the individual and what they bring to kind of create this, this this pattern. We try and come up with sort of a comedic, but also, you know, poignant award for them to honor what they bring to our, to our group and it's really, it's really cool. I think, when, you know, when I think about our group, everyone is looking for how they can add value to everyone else.

Umar Hameed 16:47

Isaac Verge 16:48
It's no, I don't think there's any takers on our team. If that makes sense.

Umar Hameed 16:52
It does. It makes perfect sense. So for a lot of agents that go from like being solo operator with an admin or two, to all of a sudden they got a team, there is a learning curve and some people do it well. And some people do it badly. What advice would you give new team leaders in real estate, that you know, here the, just like you did for new agents, here are the three things you need to know to be an effective team leader?

Isaac Verge 17:16
Well, you have to always be responsible. So basically, you have to, you have to be willing to have their back. So you have to know that the person you're bringing on is somebody that you would, you know, go into the corner for at any given time. And not to say that we have a lot of those challenges, but you know, they obviously come up I mean, this this is this is life, and this is business, so, so being willing to step up for your team members, I think is key. And if it's not somebody willing to step up for them, you can expect them to step up for you. So that would be the first thing. Second, you know, focus on, on, in my opinion, focus on getting the right people on the bus. There was a great book, actually the guy who...

Umar Hameed 17:58
Jim Collins?

Isaac Verge 18:00
Yeah, Good to Great. The the gentleman who, who suggests I get into this business actually gifted me a copy of that book. And...

Umar Hameed 18:08

Isaac Verge 18:09
... thought that was such a fantastic read. And, and so keep having the right people. We don't have a lot of churn, we don't have a lot of turnover. And I think it's because we're very, very slow in bringing people on. We also involve the group in the decision. As far as I'm concerned, every every member of the team is a stakeholder, every member of the team is a partner. And so if somebody is going to come in and share in, in our, in our journey, we want to make sure that everybody is on board...

Umar Hameed 18:41

Isaac Verge 18:42
...with that person. And then the other thing, I think as a team lead, I think your obligation is to provide equal or better value to your team members than what they get back to you in terms of, in terms of your whatever arrangement you have for splits. So, so we're constantly looking at, you know, how we can implement one more thing, and perfect that one thing, make it a system, and then move on to the next thing. And each thing that we, that we implemented our business, we do with intention of providing better value, better experience, better support to to our team members.

Umar Hameed 19:19

Isaac Verge 19:20

Umar Hameed 19:20
So going back to that book, Good to Great from Jim Collins, really what he was talking about was the beliefs that a little five CEO has versus another CEO. Where level five CEOs, "it's all about us" versus "my ego and my accomplishments," it's about building the right culture. So for individual agents, they have beliefs around real estate, sales, money, self worth, most of those sit in their unconscious, and sometimes you have agents that could be doing so much better, and you can see their capability, but sometimes they can't see it themselves. How do you help them cross that chasm from their potential to their overcoming their fears. Can you think of a specific example, don't name names, but say, because that gives us a true answer, "Oh, yeah, I was helping an agent... da da da da da." So do you have one of those you can share with us?

Isaac Verge 20:12
So without getting into specifics of who there's an individual on our team, who has a tremendous amount of experience, tremendous amount of knowledge, but seemed almost like there was a little bit, not as much of a rudder on the ship.

Umar Hameed 20:29

Isaac Verge 20:30
And so what we did was we actually created a role for them, which is, and I guess, the more more specific I am, the more people will know exactly what I'm talking about. We created a role...

Umar Hameed 20:41
So gonna pause there, so create a role. So it's almost like that Jim Collins, that the right person on the bus, but they were on the wrong seat, so you helped him get to the right seat.

Isaac Verge 20:49
That's exactly the case. So, so there, we needed to put them in a position where their talents were being used and appreciated and he was able to see a difference. And I actually, I would say that, I would honestly say that that's probably the same thing that we did with our operations manager, because she was the one who brought it up but ultimately, she's fallen into that role and done such a fantastic job, and is really thrive in that role. So, so I think, yeah, you're absolutely right, it's, you got to have the right people there but then you have to have the right people, they're doing the right things.

Umar Hameed 21:23

Isaac Verge 21:24
I'm not, I'm not the guy that's gonna, you know, sit in front of, you know, Canva and design, our social media graphic for the latest listing, I'm just not that guy. it'll take me four hours to do.

Umar Hameed 21:34
And it'll be ugly.

Isaac Verge 21:35
[Garbled] There's, there's people in our group that are absolutely exceptional with the graphic design, and they love it. And you know, they feel good doing it, and they feel good about their contribution. So yeah, creating a space where people can contribute in the way that they're best able to contribute so that they can have that feeling of worth and value. I think that that's that's absolutely key.

Umar Hameed 21:59
Nice. So you're part of Keller Williams, right?

Isaac Verge 22:02

Umar Hameed 22:03
So when I look at different teams in Keller Williams, which is a great organization, Keller Williams has a, a culture,

Isaac Verge 22:10

Umar Hameed 22:10
and then the individual teams have their flavor of their culture, and they don't like 100% alignment, but they're not 180 degrees apart so they're similar in a similar direction. So how do you navigate that, where you kind of keep the look and feel of the verge team, as you want it that is highly successful, and you don't lose, but you don't get out of alignment of Keller Williams?

Isaac Verge 22:33
I was actually really a great company in terms of their requirements for branding. And it's a platform that's really built for agents by agents. And so we've never felt that, you know, we had to do things that took away from our vision.

Umar Hameed 22:55

Isaac Verge 22:56
The support is there, they made the, you know, we've got an excellent broker of record, and obviously some titans in the industry that we can walk up to and call for advice and plug into their training.

Umar Hameed 23:07

Isaac Verge 23:08
But there's no, there's no specific requirement other than the RECO requirements, which is the real estate Council Ontario, for branding as Keller. So essentially, they've given us an opportunity to run our business within their business, and run it the way that we want, you know, with the, with the vision and direction that we that we decide. But there's such great vision and direction and such great support in the organization that...

Umar Hameed 23:36
Oh, absolutely.

Isaac Verge 23:36
They've they've provided us with some good opportunities to grow and good guidance. And, and we've implemented, you know, a lot that we've taken on from coming over here into how we run our business. But we're not your typical Keller team, we do things a little bit differently. And, you know, that's probably not a conversation to get into on the podcast, but we're...

Umar Hameed 23:57
But you have to be authentic, and I really appreciate that you have to be who you are, because then you own it. And Keller Williams obviously is a great organization that's incredibly successful. So Isaac, before we part company, is there a mind hack, or a technique that you use to be more productive or be happier, or be a better leader? What's one piece of advice you could share with our listeners and viewers that would help them become awesomer?

Isaac Verge 24:25
So for me, it's it's living by a schedule, to be honest. I set big goals for myself every year and and I put them right into my into my calendar. And, and I live by, I live by that calendar. So I try and get the hardest thing out of the way, hardest thing in my day out of the way at the beginning of the day, so that the rest of the day is is a success and a win and easy to accomplish. But I think mindsets a discipline and I think if you're not consistently investing in your mind, whether it's by reading or plugging into training or listening to great podcasts, and actively making the decision to amend your thinking and to be focused on what you want, as opposed to what you don't have. Yeah, I think that's, that's the biggest thing I have. So when I just a quick story about the mentor who kind of who helped me get get started in the beginning, real estate's not a cheap business to be in. And, you know, there's some cost and, and, and as soon as, as soon as you start thinking about money, you know, you're not going to be successful, you're not gonna be able to make money, because you're not focused on service. And so I was really stuck in my head about, "Oh, geez, I got this expensive, got this expensive at this expense." And he just, he gave me a little a little mantra that I ended up programming as my alarm clock that I woke up to every morning.

Umar Hameed 25:56
Which is?

Isaac Verge 25:57
Which was, which was, my income exceeds my expenses, so I woke up to telling myself that. So I was not focused on the expense, but I was focused on the opportunity.

Umar Hameed 26:07

Isaac Verge 26:07
And focus on, you know, what was possible. And, and I think that, that it's such a funny mind hack, but I think that that was a huge thing for me. And, and it was, you know, how do I, you know, how does the business grow, the rest sort of falls into place. So, as a result, now, you know, we decided to take something on as a team, we're not, obviously we're mindful of our budget, we're mindful of what we spend in operating our business. But we're not looking at those expenses as as a barrier, you know,

Umar Hameed 26:07

Isaac Verge 26:23
when something we implement it, and we know that if we do things methodically, and we track that the return on it should exceed the investment into it. So [garbled] exceeds my expenses.

Umar Hameed 26:50
Isaac, thank you so much for being on the program. I learned a lot. I took some notes, and thanks so much.

Isaac Verge 26:56
Really appreciate it. Thank you.

Umar Hameed 27:02
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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