February 13

Ryan O‘Neill on Re-imagining The Real Estate Industry


Ryan and I discuss what we could do differently to make new realtors successful faster. And strategies to reduce the number of realtors that quit the business because it was a lot harder than they thought.

Ryan O'Neill shares how he built a team that will do over $439M in real estate in 2018. Ryan knows his success is a result of building a great brand, a solid reputation, and a ton of goodwill with all of his agents and client base.

The youngest of five O’Neill siblings, Ryan grew up in New Prague, Minnesota and went on to graduate from the University of Notre Dame in 1997. As the founder and leader of The Minnesota Real Estate Team, Ryan began his real estate career in 2003 with an emphasis on investment property. Over the years, Ryan is honored to have worked with so many outstanding clients from around the entire Twin Cities area in all types of real estate transactions. And currently, as the Broker and Sales Manager for the team, Ryan enjoys working with team members to ensure each and every client has a positive and successful experience when working with The Minnesota Real Estate Team. Ryan is also half of the piano playing duo, “The O’Neill Brothers.” Ryan, his wife Kathy, and dog Pokey live in the Bloomington area.

Podcast Highlights:

  • Realtors need to have passion if they want to last in this business
  • All successful realtors have a strong work ethic
  • Realtors need to be open to coaching, listening, and feedback

Contact Ryan:

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone, this is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster, get ready for another episode

Umar Hameed 0:38
Today, I have the privilege of having Ryan O'Neill, a friend, and the leader of the Minnesota real estate team of RE/MAX Advantage Plus. Ryan, welcome to the program.

Ryan O‘Neill 0:47
Hey, thank you so much Umar. Really a pleasure always a pleasure being on with you.

Umar Hameed 0:53
The reason I'm excited is because you know, you've taken you've done all the stages of real estate to build, you know, a successful team a successful business. And I wanted to share a quick story with you and then ask you the first question. And the story I wanted to share with you is this. I was reading Andy Grove, his book, he's one of the founders of Intel.

Ryan O‘Neill 1:12

Umar Hameed 1:13
And it was a story about, you know, in their history, at the beginning, they were the, you know, the leader in memory chips for computers. And they dominated, the Japanese were coming in with chips, and Intel's internal thoughts were were the best Japanese don't stand a chance. But the microprocessors were coming into their own at that point. And Intel was trying to decide do we invest in where we dominate memory chips? Or do we invest in this new thing called microprocessors. Because they were part of the company that had, you know, got this dominance in memory chips, and they've got a legacy and a history, it was really hard for them to make a decision. And this went on for months and months. And in this one particular scene, Gordon Moore from I'm not sure if you've heard Moore's law, you know, computer processing power doubles every 18 months.

Ryan O‘Neill 2:05

Umar Hameed 2:05
He and Andy Grove are thinking about you know what to do. And then Andy has this thought and the thought is, if the old team got fired, and we were the new team coming in to head up Intel, what would we do? And the instant answer, both of them go is microprocessors. It's not even considering memory chips. But when they were part of the legacy, you know, it was a hard decision to make. So with that frame in place, what I'm looking to do is, if you and I were starting a brand new brokerage, bringing in agents that are fresh, what would we do differently to help them go from you know, a standing start to being to making a living in the first year? Because it's such a attrition rate of realtor? So I was hoping we could workshop how do we how we build this company that would get 8% of Realtors coming into the business to be successful in the first year?

Ryan O Neil 2:59
Yeah, I think it's a really good, really good question. And, you know, hearing your story you know about about Intel? You know, I think what's interesting to me in and I started in the business in 2003. So, you know, over the last 16 years, I've had the good fortune of meeting a lot of really wonderful folks, agents, who are maybe seasoned, some who are brand new, some who are just getting into the industry. In You know, it's it is very interesting to me, Umar, because there is a significant number of agents with really all companies all brokerages that get into the business, maybe they'll do a transaction, or two or three. And then after a few months, or six months or a year, they end up exiting the industry. And so I think, I think a lot of it, you know, in thinking about this strategizing kind of workshopping, a lot of it comes down to expectations, I think upfront for you know, what's being provided to the new potential agent, the new, you know, as far as thoughts on, hey, what should I expect, getting into this industry? What is the industry all about? And how can we give those folks real world data on what it's really like, in of course, you know, that sounds great in principle, and you would think, hey, Omar, you know, the schools, you know, the realtor schools, that that people go to across the country, they should really provide that data, you know, for people that information so they can make good informed decisions, whether or not this is the right career. But I do feel that there's some disconnect in the sense that, you know, I've met so many one well intentioned folks that get into this industry, and then, you know, again within a year or six months, you know, leave the industry. And again, I'm certainly not faulting them by any means at all. But there is this large disconnect. And it is, I think, for brokers across the country. It, it can be kind of a question mark, like, you know, what, what's going on here, why is this happening.

Umar Hameed 5:26
So couple of thought. So thanks for sharing that a couple of thoughts. The first thought that comes up is health clubs. How many people join health clubs, because the thought of working out and being healthier and sexier is so compelling that we will pay for a membership we don't use. So with that kind of frame in mind, I wonder how many people come into real estate, and they're really seeing it through rose colored glasses in terms of, yeah, I know what the stats are for agents, but I'm gonna be the exception, that I wonder how what percentage is self delusion, because oftentimes, we only hear what we want to listen to.

Ryan O Neil 6:08
It's a really good point, in what's interesting about Umar is I think it's natural for us to, you know, in today's social media, digital entertainment world, you know, it's fun to watch all the various real estate shows, and, you know, with with, you know, kind of the the happy buying and selling experiences, and in some senses, I think it makes the career look great, which again, it very well can be and often is, but oftentimes, I think it maybe gives an impression to that it's a lot, maybe easier than people think I've had multiple agents over the years. Again, not just with our team, you know, but but really, friends across the industry, who will say to me, gosh, this job is way, way harder than I thought it would ever be. And I think I think maybe it is the, the rose colored a romanticizing of, of what it's really going to be like getting into this industry. And you know, one thing I found a lot Omar is when an agent really has comes from a background where they've had maybe another job, that was a 40 hour a week, you know, or...

Umar Hameed 7:28

Ryan O‘Neill 7:28
40-hour week plus position, where they had to show up at eight or nine in the morning, they had to do stuff during the day, some of it, they liked some of it, they didn't like. Those people that come from some type of work ethic that that are used to getting out of their comfort zone, doing things maybe that they don't want to do every day. Those are the people in my opinion, that have really shown the propensity to succeed over time in the real estate industry because again, no broker really, or no team leader is is managing so much with their folks that they're calling people at nine in the morning saying, Hey, where are you today? Why don't we you know, what are you doing? Why didn't you call this? Why are you not at the meeting? No one's really doing that. There's varying degrees of it. But I think that's what can be a challenge.

Umar Hameed 8:20
Definitely, I'm almost thinking that there's a guy called Chet Holmes, he wrote the million dollar sales machine. And there was

Ryan O‘Neill 8:28

Umar Hameed 8:29
There's one section in there that he was talking about when he's hiring salespeople. And he thinks he's got the right salespeople in mind, he pushes back really, really hard telling them that they're going to fail, or they don't have what it takes. And what he was looking for was very much like the true performers, and the true believers would push back. And you don't know what you're talking about the...

Ryan O‘Neill 8:49

Umar Hameed 8:50
...people that were posers would say, although they were really strong through the entire interview, at that point, they go well, okay, thank you very much for your time and kind of step away. And not that I want team leaders to do that, necessarily. But I wonder if there's some kind of greater vetting we can do beforehand and also almost like an apprenticeship that would serve the person coming into the industry in a way that they would pick up the necessary skills. Because at the end of the day, it's more profitable for Ryan O'Neill to have an agent that is with him for five years producing really well, then somebody coming in for doing two deals in that year and then just leaving.

Ryan O Neil 9:38
You're right. You're right, Umar. And I think that, you know, there's a variety of different business models out there for real estate brokers on who they want to find. And, you know, and training and whatnot, you know, at least with what I've always done, you know, we're, we're, you know, small in you know, for me, it's my time...

Umar Hameed 10:00

Ryan O‘Neill 10:00
...personally invested with that person, but even more so on a human level, it's about trying to do the right thing and saying what's good for this person long term. In other words, I want to sit down with them a year, two years, five years from now and really feel like they're enjoying the career, it's what they want to do, you know, etc. But But I think, you know, I think your point is, is spot on about about, you know, having a, an agent, maybe could be described that that has a little passion, or a little fire, if you will, that if they're getting objections that, hey, this isn't maybe the right career for you that, that they're able to come back and say, why this? You know, why they believe it is? Because, truly, you know, for me, Omar, it all comes down to, you know, what is that? What is the motivating factor that gets the agent out of bed...

Umar Hameed 10:00

Ryan O‘Neill 10:03
...in the morning? You know, I've seen a lot of times with, with young parents, that, you know, if they're the primary income earner, you know, their kids, their family, the need to make money is is there that they need to do something that why is their son or daughter there? You know, so I think, at least for me, and for fellow agents, brokers, you know, that may be listening it, I always try to determine, you know, what is that why in, do they really need to do this job, because at the end of the day, if they don't have that pyre of that fire and passion, I find that, over time, it's very easy to just fade out in the industry, and maybe it isn't a kind of an apprenticeship, you know, we tried to do a lot of shadowing, you know, we're newer agents come on board and work with kind of senior agents the first month or two to see what they're doing and how it works. But so much of it, Umar in it, and I think comes down to how is that person wired. In other words, they can learn so much about the the paperwork and the listing process, and houses and construction. But ultimately, this is a human business, it's about relationships, it's about talking to people building relationships, and it's hard oftentimes is, you know, probably better than, than almost anybody. It's hard to rewire people in some senses, you know, for someone like me, if you've got someone that that they just have personality wise, it's, it is, it makes it difficult for

Umar Hameed 12:27
Make sense. And it's really kind of interesting in terms of, you know, it's a people business and connecting with people, I think the ultimate connection ends up being the connection with ourselves. And, you know, those, those hopes and fears and anxieties, because, you know, when anything is going well, you don't touch those issues. Normally, everything goes [garbled] well, but soon as tough times come, you know, we kind of zero in on those vulnerabilities within ourselves, and they become larger than life and stop us dead in our tracks.

Umar Hameed 12:27
Right, right. Yeah, it is. It is, you know, I, I think, I think trying to and I and again, in a small way with our team try I try to help people understand and that initial meeting, you know, that the those first, hey, I'm my license is going active, really trying to determine that, why trying to find out what is their work ethic, you know, what, you know, are they going to spend some time doing this job, because, again, the romanticization of this can make it just seem so wonderful, you know, you you show wonderful homes, and you make large commissions. And, and again, that's sometimes the public perception or people getting into the industry. And for those of us that are, you know, in this in the trenches every day know that it can be a 6070 hour, a week job, that sometimes can have a lot of upside, sometimes it is not as much upside, but it's like any job, you know, I mean, it there's no free lunch. And I just think the the for agents if they can have that mentality and realize that it is going to take time, you know, and they need, you know, some reserves, I'm a big believer, Humar that they need to have some, you know, know that it's going to take a few months to get something going, you know, you need to have some reserves, and instead of getting into it, and if you don't sell five houses in three months, you say, "Hey, I'm done. This is, this is,

Umar Hameed 14:35

Ryan O‘Neill 14:35
you know, you're starting a business. This is a brand new business, any business related, you talk to business owners [garbled]

Umar Hameed 14:35
And even if you've got, even if you're well funded to actually start making money, takes time and let alone you know, you're the, you're the business yourself.

Ryan O Neil 14:54
Right, right. You're exactly right. I just think having that mentality as well. Well as something that, that I think, can help the agent, because we all can be our toughest critics, you know, at the end of the day, and especially if you see other people succeeding in the industry are doing well you kind of scratch your head and say, Hey, why am I not doing well? Well, you have to remember, if you're looking at people at all various phases of business development of success, and again, this job, in my humble opinion comes down all about relationship building, in and at the end of the day, as we know, in any good relationship, it takes time, you've got to take time, it takes effort, dedication, and I think the more that new agents can have that mentality, they can take that leap Umar to that next phase and becoming a more of [garbled].

Umar Hameed 15:45
So here's a suggestion, Ryan, and I'm just making this up as I go along here. So bear with me. It'd be good in the interview process, when you really build up rapport with someone. And you, let me give you a data point, first of all, come back to this conversation. One of the biggest frustrations for me in podcasting is you and I are going to have a great conversation. And then I'm going to switch off the recording, and we'll chat for a few minutes later. And sometimes the richest content comes at the end of the podcast that we're not recording, and it's like, Darn it, I wish we recorded that. But let me come back,

Ryan O‘Neill 16:21
Right. {Ryan laughing]

Umar Hameed 16:22
because it's almost like the pressures off, not that you feel pressure in this, but we just are more freer. So I wonder what will happen if one of the interview strategies was to, you know, do the formal interview. And then once that's over, then say, tell me about something that, you know, we're time flies by we get into flow, what's that hobby or the passion or time in your life, and really get them to talk about that issue. And when the interview is over, they guards go down. And when they talk about that stamp collecting or working with their kids, coaching for their teams, whatever it is, take a look at their body language, and actually the language they use and the mannerisms of something that they you know, will work to the end of the day for have passion for desire for. And then come back to, you know, one of the areas in you know, real estate is prospecting, and connecting and asking for referrals. And just go back to one of those things that you thought they might be a weakness and really get a good sense of how they think about that. And when you get that gap between how they light up in the area they're really passionate about and what they need to do to be successful. I think that would be a great thing to probe them on saying, Did you notice that when we're talking about this activity, that you do not have that level of passion? I wouldn't that would give more insights to the interview.

Ryan O‘Neill 17:46

Umar Hameed 17:47
But more importantly, insights to the interviewee that kind of goes, "Yeah, I don't. So what do I need to do to get it?" Or what do I need to do to improve on that, because if I don't, you are not going to make it in this industry?

Ryan O‘Neill 18:06
You're right, Umar, I think that's a really good analogy. I mean, especially the way you are visualizing it in my head as you were describing it, I think ultimately, it comes down to helping them you know, determine that passion, in, in again, in a small way that that's actually it's interesting, because what I'll mentioned to people is, you know, for me, you know, prior to getting in the real estate industry, I was really involved with music, and my brother and I, you know, with playing piano and singing and, and, you know, my dad was always really supportive of it. Because ultimately said, guys, you know, life, life is too short, you do need to find that, but do what you want to do. And so I've tried with the agent when I'm talking to them, instead of looking at it saying, Hey, how can I make a buck off this guy or gal? And have them sell a few houses and keep churning more? Really try to you know, on a human level,

Umar Hameed 19:05

Ryan O‘Neill 19:05
I say, look, what, what is your passion? What do you want to do? Do you want to be a musician? Do you want to be a public speaker? Do you want to, you know, work landscaping. do that because I think to your point when people are following that the Money Follows the time invested follows. And I just think for a lot of people they look at real estate the romanticized you know, the rose colored as you talked about glasses, and just in make it look so fun, you know, I love houses is a common expression for people why love houses? Well, this job really isn't. You know, that isn't an important criteria. And I mean, certainly you got to understand our houses. But but it's not that isn't a reason to become a real estate agent.

Umar Hameed 19:52
Oh, definitely.

Ryan O‘Neill 19:52
Because there's a heck of a lot more to it than just I love houses.

Umar Hameed 19:55
So tell me about, if you think for particular agent and you know change names and, to protect the innocent, someone that was failing, that you were able to kind of provide that insight that allow them to kind of turn things around. Do you have like one of those stories in your hip pocket?

Ryan O‘Neill 20:19
I do. You know, it's interesting, you asked that because I've, you know, there was a, an agent with us that that still is with our team that was coming from a actually was a prior landscaper worked very hard, you know, doing landscaping, and, you know, just a really good guy, really good guy, hard working person. And, you know, he got into the real estate industry was actually with another company for a while with a friend of mine at that other company. And the friend actually called me up at this firm and just said, Hey, you know, what, this agent, I'll just pick a name. Bob, you know, Bob was Bob's with me here, he's not doing great. You know, you know, I figured maybe you and your team might be another option for him, do you want to reach out? So I reached out to Bob had a conversation, you know, he came on board joined us in early on, you know, I noticed that that Bob was was continually trying to impress customers, buyers and sellers, and a lot of the impressing the, what was through kind of the spoken word in meetings, sitting down with a potential buyer or seller, investor, real estate investor. And it was it was a lot of talking Umar, it was a lot about, hey, this is what I am doing. And here's, you know, here's my experience. And, you know, here's how...

Umar Hameed 21:44

Ryan O‘Neill 21:44
...great I you know, I can help people and all this talking, talking, talking, talking, and no listening, no taking an interest in the other party and the consumer in what's important to them. And he struggled the first year to even on our team, and we ended up connecting and, and, again, this may seem Elementary to some, but I think oftentimes, it's just self awareness, having someone that can help you be self aware. And in this case, you know, he's he's a good friend of mine, I just said, Hey, Bob, here's something that that that you're doing, you know, in all your meetings, you need to stop talking, you need to take an interest in the other party, and just show interest in them, ask them about their kids, their family, get to know them build a relationship. In literally Umar, he made that one change. And this was probably I don't know, seven, eight years ago. And since that time, Bob has been consistently one of the top sellers on our entire team. You know, because of he's got a great work ethic, you know, he's a very hard worker, but he just made a focus on the consumer. And so I think sometimes, for agents with our advertising, with everything that we do, we make it all about us. I tell our folks, you know, people don't care, they don't care about us, they care whether or not we can help them, we can fill a need for them as a consumer. And we can, they can trust us. And I think when an agent, when a broker looks at it more from that perspective, and looks at their agents and helps them become self aware, it can take folks that are failing, that are trying so hard to sell, sell, sell, sell, sell, it's not about selling, you know, and that's what that what Bob was doing. And so that change Omar, he made that simple change, and, you know, becoming self aware of it, and consistently is one of our top sellers every year now.

Umar Hameed 23:43
Thank you for sharing that. Because I think it's a good lesson for any leaders that are listening. It's very much... So there's a process to doing our business. And we need to kind of really figure out where in the process people need improving. And if we can give them the insights. There's like you said, sometimes it doesn't take this, you know, super magical thing. It's what you described was you listening to him to uncover what the issue was, and then happened to be a listening issue for him as well. So you, you models, something pretty powerful. It's like, hey, you've been trying to figure this out. And I got this by listening to what you do so amazing.

Ryan O‘Neill 24:26
Well, here's here's one thing that I would add, I think for for an important thing for everyone in our lives. I think we all need to be willing to be coached willing to listen. And and and here's the last thing I think most important, Umar, we have to be willing to take feedback and be about being self aware of maybe, how are we coming off to others? How is my behavior impacting other people in what we may think? is the right is how it's coming off. It is not always the case. And that's where I think, again, any good business leader, any good agent who's looking to elevate their business, take it to the next level, you need to have that person or people in your life that will be able to give you meaningful feedback on Hey, this is what I don't like. Or do you realize you're doing this? Because a lot of times people just you know, it's kind of in Minnesota, we joke about it, they call it Minnesota Nice. You know, we really no one ever wants to say anything. Negative. And you know, my brother Tim, Tim, who was a you know, successful business owner, Tim is very good at this. He's He's good at it and doing it in a kind and caring way with family members, business employees, whoever, where he can give good feedback, that that's meaningful, that's helpful to the person without it being demeaning in the person feeling like, boy, I feel horrible right now. So I just think that's important for people listening, you know, think about those in your life, do you have that person? Who can really say, hey, what's my deal? How do I come off to people? What how am I known? You know, that's important, and you've got to be able to be willing to adapt and change if needed?

Umar Hameed 26:10
Absolutely. And I'll leave you with one last thought. I do a lot of videos. And this one woman was complaining about the audio quality. And the audio quality is perfectly fine. Thank you very much. And it kind of really pissed me off that she had said that,

Ryan O‘Neill 26:26

Umar Hameed 26:26
When I looked at it, it was like, yeah, it could be better. And because of her observation, after I got over myself, it took me a day to do that. I got some help and improve the audio quality significantly. But if she wasn't brave enough to tell me and I wasn't eventually able to listen to it, I still would have, you know, mediocre audio quality. And it's that ability to take feedback. And what you said at the beginning of this conversation was agents need to realize it's all about relationship. thing for team leaders, when you have that relationship with your agents. There's a level of trust there. So when you do give them feedback, it's not seen as negativity, but somebody helping me. So at the end of the day, is a relationship business. And the stronger the relationships, the better we do.

Ryan O Neil 27:15
You're right, you're right. And I think that sums it up very well. And being okay, to your point, Umar, I've had people give me feedback before, you know, if someone leaves our organization, if someone you know, I always ask for feedback, because at the end of the day, I don't claim to have the answers. And I want to continue to improve. And I think when you look at athletes, you know, top athletes, we look at top people in any field, they're continually trying to improve and adapt. And I just think from an agent perspective, it's no different. If you're brand new, you're looking to become successful, if you're looking to go from, you know, 10 deals a year to 2020 to 40. You know, be willing to be coached, be willing to listen to others because, you know, being a student of the game, which I tried to be, can really help heck and really help you and help you continue to grow. And I think that you'll look back years from you know, years from now and say, You know what, that has helped my business tremendously.

Umar Hameed 28:14
Brilliant. Ryan, thanks so much for sitting down with me. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Ryan O‘Neill 28:18
Yeah, my pleasure, Umar, and for anyone ever listening, if I can ever be a help or resource to you or your business, certainly don't ever hesitate to reach out to me. I have a heart for helping other agents, brokers, and you know, from my perspective, whatever I could ever do to help your business, I'm all for it. But I thank you for your kind invite Umar.

Umar Hameed 28:40
Excellent and just for the listeners is going to be all the links to Ryan on the show notes. So reach out he means it and talk to you soon Ryan. Take care.

Ryan O‘Neill 28:49
Thank you, Umar. Have a great week.

Umar Hameed 28:56
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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