GAP Glenn Sanford | Real Estate Journey

Glenn Sanford is CEO of eXp World Holdings, Inc. and Chief Strategy Officer at VirBELA CEO SUCCESS Enterprises.

2:15 – Glenn has 35,000 real estate agents

5:15 – Who were the influences you’ve had throughout your life

8:18 – who was your very first attitude coach and what was Glenn Sanford like as a child?

11:03 – grandfather made his living in the bee-keeping business. DNA of entrepreneurship

14:56 – What sticks in your mind or gut about your grandfather, Otto?

18:03 – What lessons did you learn from selling Kirby vacuums door to door? Learning how to sell so that I’d always have a job. How important the value of what you’re selling is.

22:39 – What were some of the questions you asked yourself when you started EXPrealty. Your vision has to be big enough so that people want to follow you on the journey.

27:51 – Who are some of the new acquaintances that you have met with your new success that have influenced you and what did they say? Tom Hopkins. Publisher of Success Magazine. Stuart Johnson. Stefan Swanepoel.

31:41 – When we look at real estate business today, what do you think the biggest mistakes from heads of agencies or brokers are making?

38:07 – ran 6 real estate sales teams at one time

39:18 – You are attracting the best of the best to EXP. What’s the attitude of those super producers and huge brokerages and why are they coming to EXP. Once you see EXP you can’t unsee it.

44:19 – knowledge through the decades, lesson at birth. Don’t be afraid to knock on doors

45:26 – Attitude lesson at 10. A vision of the future

46:01 – Attitude lesson at 20. Don’t be involved with scammy businesses

46:59 – Attitude lesson at 30. Leverage

48:01 – Attitude lesson at 40. The message behind rev share

50:30 – Attitude lesson at 50. Anything worth doing is worth doing bad at first. Be willing to make a mess

52:11 – A message of hope or encouragement. Getting clear on your intentions wherever you’re at.

53:06 – Show close

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Connect with Glenn directly:

Glenn@glennbill.com / 317.590.7757

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Glenn Sanford

With us on this episode is somebody that has completely redefined the real estate brokerage industry. We are here with Mr. Glenn Sanford, CEO and Founder of eXp Realty. Welcome, Glenn Sanford, to the GAP.

Thanks, Glenn.

Where are you coming from? I’m curious. It looks like you’ve got a beautiful house there wherever you’re at.

I’m in the Pacific Northwest. I’m North of Seattle, about an hour and a half, right on the Canadian border. I’m literally looking at White Rock, British Columbia, Canada, where I’m sitting now. It’s right on the ocean. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I live fairly remote. I say fortunately because obviously with COVID going on, it’s nice to be remote. Unfortunately because this was where I would come back to every time I travel. It was like my little repose to decompress. I’ve been decompressing since March 15th, 2020 here up on the Canadian border.

We may invert our structure on this interview, but ladies and gentlemen, Glenn Sanford, is the Founder and CEO of a real estate company that has 35,000 real estate agents and co-owners, which is a beautiful nuance to what you do. eXp has grown to 35,000 agents faster than any company in the history of the world. That doesn’t happen by sitting at home in the corner of the United States. What was it like for you to take this from the original 15 guys to 35,000? What’s that travel look like? We have audience I know that used to travel, are getting ready to start traveling when the world opens back up. What’s the day in the life of somebody like that do and what’s the attitude for all that?

One of the people I listened to probably in 2008, 2007 was Don Hobbs. You probably know Don. Don used to have a company called Hobbs/Herder. I went to a Mega Managing course. One of the things that he said that stuck with me so well was the purpose of a business to serve the needs of the owner. Once I heard and internalized that, I designed what I thought the perfect lifestyle would be as a business owner. One of the things was I wanted to be able to work from anywhere. That became one of my business constraints. I need to be able to work from anywhere, to work with anyone, to work on anything and work at any time. We call it the four A’s.

That led to my thinking. It’s like, “Where do I want to live?” Then I got a chance in 2015. I think Debbie Biery was on your show. Debbie and I traveled the country in 2015 to 2016 by Motor Coach. Not because we had to, but we wanted to see if we could. Could we run a fast-growing real estate company? At that point, we were a little smaller. We ended up with around 1,800 to 2,000 agents that year in 2016, but in 2015, we were just coming up on 1,000 agents or so. We had gone through this phase, but we were growing it. One of my big things was, how can I be entirely mobile and be able to be engaged with the folks that I need to be engaged with business-wise? That’s how I ended up in a remote part of Washington State building the fastest growing real estate brokerage.

If you understand that change is tough, it actually gets a lot easier. Click To Tweet

In the history of the world. Let’s talk about Don Hobbs from Hobbs/Herder. How old were you when you were following him? What got you to start listening to him? Who were some of the other attitude coaches that you may be have had through your life?

I got into real estate as an agent in 2002. I was big on internet lead generation, but I was looking at branding and all the other things. I ran into Hobbs/Herder initially because of his role in being the branding expert for the real estate industry. He and Greg Herder ran that company. I followed them. I saw what they were doing. I was more of an internet guy. He was more prints and a lot of postcards and mailings. He ran a course called Mega Managing, which was how to run a real estate brokerage. I’m going, “I need to learn that.” I was already running a real estate brokerage but I’m like, “I need some additional training and tips.” I went there and it was amazing that he introduced me to a couple of different authors.

One that I followed before was Price Pritchett. There was a book that he introduced called High-Velocity Culture Change, which when we made the switch to eXp was phenomenal. I gave everybody in the company this little book. It wasn’t very big, but it helped people understand that change is tough. If you understand that change is tough, change gets a lot easier. That was certainly one of them.

I’ve been a huge Zig Ziglar fan. I got a chance to connect in person with one of my mentors, who I listen to cassettes of in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, and that was Tom Hopkins. Tom put together the How to Master the Art of Selling. I listen to those religiously. A few years ago, I finally got into a relationship with Tom Hopkins.

I was a big book guy, a big audio guy. I didn’t go in and do a lot of one-on-one mentorships. I considered myself to be somewhat uncoachable. I make a bad employee. I’ve got fired from every job I’ve ever had because I’m always driven to do something bigger than whatever is in front of me. That tends to rub the bosses the wrong way. That has been my MO also.

You maybe remember, Tom and I are very good friends. I’ve been to twenty of Tom’s real estate trainings as I have a real estate background myself. I could call him up now. I know we both spoke at the eXp convention together. Unfortunately, you guys scheduled me the same time he was. I only had about fourteen people in my room, but that’s okay. Tommy is a good one. One thing everybody has in common is childhood. I always like to think back on what makes us who we are. I’d love to know who was your very first attitude coach? What was Glenn Sanford like as a child?

My first attitude coach had to be my dad and probably my dad’s dad. My grandfather had a third-grade education but he was in the bee business. He may have been in sixth grade. Anyway, he didn’t finish high school or any of that. He discovered at one point How to Win Friends and Influence People, the Dale Carnegie book. He gave that book to every one of his grandkids and of course, his sons and daughter. He would preach the most important word in any language in somebody’s name. He would talk about all the different axioms that came out of that book. My dad also ended up becoming a Dale Carnegie instructor, a trainer.

GAP Glenn Sanford | Real Estate Journey
Real Estate Journey: People are more interested in hearing themselves talk than actually letting the other person talk. So if you allow people to talk, then that creates space for them to invite you into that conversation.

From there, I could sing some of the songs from the old Dale Carnegie days I learned when I was a kid because they did this rah-rah song to get the attitude going. When I was 17, 18, I sold Kirby Vacuum Cleaners door to door. If you’ve never been around that, they have a Kirby songbook. Literally, you think about this whole idea of, how do you get your attitude up? There are a lot of interesting things that people would do. Getting out of your comfort zone.

Once you’re okay being goofy, then to some extent, it gives you permission to bring a different persona to a situation that you’re in. One of the things I’ve been complimented on generally, I’m a fairly positive person. That doesn’t mean I’m always, but for the most part, I skew on the continuum to being positive and somewhat motivational, even though I’m a bit of a techie, which tampers that a bit.

I’m telling you, you’ve started out our season great. You’ve done some great things. I’ve got to know, was your grandpa and your father both named Glenn? What was their names?

Otto was my grandfather and Jim or James is my dad’s name. He’s still around. We still chat. He’s still a very motivational guy. He’s now in his 80s. He’s across the border, so I haven’t had a chance to see him in person since 2020. I’m looking forward to being able to cross the border and get together with him.

How did your grandfather make money with less than a high school education? What was his trade?

They moved from Nebraska to Northern California, the Red Bluff area certainly before I was born, and I think maybe even before my dad was born. They got into the bee business. They raised bees and sold honey, which was one of the reasons why I ended up in Canada. They would have the bees in Northern California in the winter, then they’d take them to Northern Alberta in the summer. They literally have stacks of bee boxes. They were in that business.

My dad and my uncle were heavily involved in that business, going back and forth between California and Alberta. Then they got into the cereal manufacturing business. My grandpa was involved. My grandma was involved. My dad was involved, and a lot of family members were involved. I ended up sitting at one of the label machines at one point, putting labels on stuff at ten years old. We ended up going from honey to being one of the largest cereal companies in Canada. We had 16% of the cereal market at one point making granola, which honey went into that. Then he ended up selling that to Kellogg’s in 1978, I think.

The DNA of entrepreneurship is in your blood. Certainly, I’m sure as you look at your father, I’m sure he’s an old man now. I’m sure he has a grasp of what you’re doing, or does he not care?

If you don't believe in what you're selling, sell something else or find something you believe in because it'll change the game. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting, you’ll learn stuff all along the life path and obviously, there are a lot of things that have taken place. He sold that business when I was 13, 14 years old. We moved to Oklahoma to get in the oil and gas business before the oil collapse in 1980. We went from rags in some respects when I was born in a single-wide manufactured home in Northern Alberta, to eventually the second largest home in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, about 10,000 square feet in the mid-late ’70s. Then he proceeded to lose everything in the oil and gas business, but very much continued to be an entrepreneur, continued to figure out things. He got back into sales. He ended up making a lot of interesting sales. At one point, he worked for me as a real estate salesperson for about 3 or 4 years.

I bet he was good.

Yes, he was. He was the type of person who puts his hand on your shoulder and says, “You should buy this house.” It wasn’t like the mafia. It was very much of a very parental, “You should buy this house,” and people go, “I think we should.” He was the top salesperson on the team.

One more question on Otto. He sounds like a cool guy. Do you remember, did he ever say anything to you that stuck with you? Is there a memory that stuck with you or when you think of him walking or whatever. What’s the one thing that’s in inside your heart or your gut that always stays with you about your grandfather?

He was a good friend. I think that was the key. He literally eat, breathe and slept, How to Win Friends and Influence People. He literally would quote the chapters and talk about the different things that came out of that book. Quite frankly, if I open up the book and I scan it, all would come zapping back in, I’m sure.

Not to put you on the spot, but do you remember a quote even from the song? What do you think the most powerful thing of Dale Carnegie’s course, How to Win Friends and Influence People was? What was the mantra that came out of that, that maybe sticks with you now?

There are a few things. Certainly, asking questions and getting people to open up. People are more interested in hearing themselves talk than letting the other person talk. If you allow people to talk, then that creates space for them to invite you into that conversation. There was a lot of stuff. A lot of it became part of my mantra, and then there were other books. There was another book called Conversationally Speaking, which I thought put the touches on how to use the right types of questions and open-ended versus closed-ended, and how to lead people down a path. It was about conversations. That was a book I read in probably the ‘80s initially, and of course the Tom Hopkins book.

Zig Ziglar is another one. I loved his Q&A type of stuff. All these people were super positive, uplifting folks. It was amazing even remembering about Dale Carnegie. In the Great Depression, he was trying to figure out something that people might show up for. He put a course together called How to Win Friends and Influence People. People wanted that. They didn’t know how to engage effectively with others or there was a big desire to learn more about that. He was the guru in the Great Depression and forward. Then we had Napoleon Hill and a bunch of other folks that did their thing, but Dale Carnegie was in a league all his own.

That’s true, and everything is still relevant now and is still widely studied. You’ve dumped on us about 7 or 8 great books. We always appreciate when our guests give us more information and references to stuff that we should do. How long did you sell Kirby Vacuums door-to-door? What were the lesson or lessons that you learned about door-to-door vacuum sales?

That was an interesting time. I was 17, 18 years old. There are a couple of reasons why I got into Kirby Vacuum Cleaner sales. One was I answered a blind ad. I didn’t know I was going to go on a job interview to do Kirby Vacuum Cleaners. It’s something about, “Selling industrial cleaning equipment.” That was the ad. Then you get there and you watch this long video and you find out it’s a Kirby deal. I’m going, “I’ve got nothing else going on. I might as well sell Kirby Vacuum Cleaner.” What appealed to me about the initial ad was I wanted to learn how to sell.

GAP Glenn Sanford | Real Estate Journey
Real Estate Journey: When things are going well, anybody can make money, but if you can actually build a defensible business model when everything’s not going well, then you’ve got something that potentially can scale.

The one thing I realized early on in life was that if I learned how to sell, I’d always have a job. That was very formative for me. I wanted to do the hardest sales jobs I possibly could because if I could master those, then I knew I’d always be employable. When I did Kirby Vacuum Cleaners initially, I sucked at it. I couldn’t sell any Kirby Vacuum Cleaners. There were all the objections, all this stuff.

Eventually, I started to sell Kirby Vacuum Cleaners pretty well. It did well. These were not inexpensive vacuum cleaners. This is 1985, 1986 someplace in there. The vacuum cleaners were $1,000. Think about that, $1,000 for something that pulls dirt out of the carpet. You could buy vacuum cleaners at the store for under $100. These are expensive vacuum cleaners. If you get all of the attachments, it was $1,250. I would get about $250 every time I sold a Kirby Vacuum Cleaner. I would get another $50 to $100 when I sold all the accessories.

At that point in time, even if I sold one a week, that was good income. It wasn’t bad. I was making $1,500 a month in the late ‘80s, but I sold more than that. When I finally got good, I started selling 4 or 5 of these a week. I was making $4,000 a month at 17, 18 years old. I did it for about a 6 or 7 months. I believed in the product, so that was key. The reason why I got good at it is I believed that everybody needed a Kirby Vacuum Cleaner. I bought in the fact that this was the machine that you needed.

The challenge was that I overheard a conversation of my boss at the time with his wife, who ran the Kirby place, of what he paid for the machine that I sold for $1,000. The moment I heard the price he paid for the machine, all of a sudden, all the value dropped out from my perspective. I spent the next 4 or 5 weeks trying to sell Kirby Vacuum Cleaners. I go on the demos. I go and do my pre-card. I go knock on doors. I’d ask people. I did all the work and I couldn’t sell another machine to save my life because all of a sudden, I didn’t value the machine. I didn’t think it was the best machine anymore. It probably was the one point in time where I realized how important belief in the product that you’re selling had to be for you to be successful. That’s probably one huge tip that I have. If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, sell something else or find something you believe in because it will change the game.

That is an unreal story. You don’t have to tell me but I’m guessing he paid $100 to 150 for the machine. It was a 10X sale.

He’d got up in their pay plan in such that he was buying at a pretty good discount. About $850, $900 of it was all commission.

We have a lot of business people and real estate agents that read this. The season title is Influencers and Innovators. What were the questions that you were asking yourself when you started eXp Realty? What are some of the great questions that our GAPers can ask themselves when they’re sitting there, trying to bridge that gap that could maybe unlock, “I’m not asking myself that?” What would you say would be the 2 or 3 best questions people can ask themselves to create change and innovation in their life and to become an influencer?

Fortunately, I had some great mentors. I mentioned my dad, my grandpa, even the sales manager that I had in Kirby. I learned lots of things along the way. I’ve always followed great mentors. I never had a coach, as I mentioned. I’m not coachable, but I like to connect with people who have done things at a higher level in some capacity.

Make sure your vision is big enough that other people want to join you in executing that journey. Click To Tweet

In 2009, when we started eXp, we started at the bottom of the housing market crash. In 2008, 2009, real estate wasn’t changing hands very much. I had 3 going on 4 physical offices in 2008. We scaled everything back to one office in Bellingham, Washington. I’d also come out of technology. I’d worked for AOL at one point. I built an online service called Interactive Cafe. I started an eCommerce logistic company called eShippers.com. I had this technology sales background, and then I built my real estate career.

When 2008 hit and we scaled everything back, we recognized that in our pockets, we had something. Even 2 or 3 years prior, iPhone had come out. We just got social media and cable internet in pretty much every home in America. This was an interesting time to think about the future of real estate. For us, we’re like, “One, I can’t afford offices. Two, if I’m going to be in real estate, I need to figure out a way to build a profitable real estate brokerage in a bad market.”

I’d read enough books. I’ve been a business guy enough over the years to figure out that most businesses that succeed start at the bottom of a market. Anybody can start when the market is going well and things are going well, anybody can make money, but if you can build a defensible business model when everything is not going well, then you’ve got something that potentially can scale. That was one thing.

The other thing is I’ve always played with this idea that your vision has to be big enough that other people want to follow you on the journey. We’re talking about real estate, but in any industry, a lot of times, what I’ve found, even when I was a younger entrepreneur, is if my vision wasn’t very big, nobody wanted to do it with me. One of the things I’ve always thought about is to make sure your vision is big enough that other people want to join you in executing in that journey.

In 2009, as crazy as it sounds, but we said we want to build the first nationwide real estate brokers that are not dependent on bricks and mortar. We also wanted to think about what would be all the reasons that I would want to be at that brokerage if it existed now? What would it need to have for me to want to hang my license there rather than going and starting my own real estate brokerage? Those were a lot of the formative questions that we went through.

We’re again at the bottom of the housing market. There are lots of real estate agents. They’re somewhat out of work, whether it be managing brokers or otherwise. We said, “A lot of people will be willing to invest early on now because they know that there are not a lot of other opportunities out there to grow something. If they can see that this is the future real estate, they don’t want to help us.”

Those are some of the things that we played with. We’ve been literally excited about everything. Even from day one, I wasn’t that fundamentally concerned as to whether people would buy into the model or not. My bigger thing was wanting to make sure we had enough people who believed in the vision early on, so we could support what we thought was going to come eventually to us.

Those are two unbelievable nuggets. When we do our show, people say things that I know can change somebody’s life. I think you dropped two bombs on somebody out there who’s walking on the beach or sitting in their car going, “What am I supposed to do?” Jump to the bottom of whatever market there is and start figuring it out.

GAP Glenn Sanford | Real Estate Journey
Real Estate Journey: A lot of people will be willing to invest early on right now because they know that there’s not a lot of other opportunities out there to grow something.

With the success you’ve had, I’m guessing that you’ve got to meet people that maybe you didn’t think you would be able to meet. I’d love to know new friendships, new peers or new acquaintances that have maybe woke you up or helped you grow. Who were they? What was their advice? Is there anybody that comes to mind?

There is. I mentioned getting a chance to connect with Tom Hopkins. I got a message on LinkedIn. Literally, I was in bed. I pulled up my phone. I had a little pop-up that said, “Tom Hopkins wants to connect with you on LinkedIn.” Initially I’m going, “Maybe it’s not the Tom Hopkins. Maybe it’s a Tom Hopkins,” but then I open up LinkedIn, sure enough it’s Tom Hopkins. He’s written lots of books, but I’ve read 2 or 3 of his books. I listened to his audios like a disciple. I’m like, “I’m accepting it and I’m sending him a note.” Three weeks later in Scottsdale, Arizona, we’re having lunch. I’m like, “This is like a dream of mine to meet somebody who is this huge mentor in my life, even though we had never met in person before.”

Another one, the publisher of Success Magazine, Stuart Johnson. Stuart, to a large extent, has taken me under his wing around organizations that are somewhat unique in scale. He brings a lot of CEOs of people who built companies primarily in the direct sales space, but companies that work with a lot of independent contractors that have scaled up and all of the challenges they went through. Through that, he introduced me briefly to John Maxwell and I’ve met some other folks in that space.

There’s a whole bunch of people that I don’t want to say I took for granted meeting along the way, but in the real estate space like Stefan Swanepoel, that guy is a freaking rockstar. I got to meet him in the early days. We’re only 300 agents in eXp, but he helped mentor me a bit because we were doing something unique and interesting that he took the time to spend some time providing some sage counsel. Those are a few. There are many people that I’ve met. I tend to keep my head down though. For me, it’s more about working on the business than who I meet per se, but there are a few more I’m sure.

I wore out Tommy Hopkins’ tapes and I turned in my Lemonade Insurance Card. I think everybody needs this, and feel free to say it with me. Tom had a thing that he used to make us remember. It was called the Success Salesperson’s Creed. Do you remember it? “I am not judged by the number of times I succeed, but I am judged by the number of times I fail. The number of times I succeed is indirect proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.”

There you go.

I am all in with you with Tommy. I used to drive around 465 in Indianapolis as a young realtor. I would listen to closing the sale. I have this thing called the Source of Sales Program, which he helped me create. It’s for real estate agents. Let’s get back to you. When we look at the real estate business now, I’m sure it would apply to many places, what do you think the biggest mistakes that the brokers, the heads of real estate are making and the agents are making? What do you go, “People need to stop doing that or looking at it this way?”

A lot of managing brokers are salespeople who likely weren't really set up to truly succeed as managing brokers. Click To Tweet

There are a couple different pieces there. One, I think a lot of managing brokers are sales people who likely weren’t set up to truly succeed as managing brokers. Meaning that most managing brokers would have made more money, would have been able to put more money away, would have been able to build a retirement if they leveraged their sales career rather than going down the path of being the managing broker. Obviously, there’s some that have done well.

I call them the most underappreciated and underpaid professionals in America. I love sales managers, but it’s probably the worst job in America.

You’re having to compete in a space, especially if you’re running a brick-and-mortar-based operation where I call it the nuclear arms race of real estate. Which is that if I have a Windermere office, which is here locally, and somebody puts a RE/MAX office across the street and somebody else puts a Coldwell Banker office across the street. One person adds this amenity, they’ve got big screens in the boardroom. Then, everybody has got to put big screens in the boardroom. If they allow people to come in and use all the desks for free, everybody has got to give desks.

The managing broker is basically screwed because they’re in this arms race of trying to figure out how to keep their agents in their office versus somebody else. If somebody offers a better split or somebody who does this or somebody that. It’s a tough game to be in that business. The second part is that there are still a few broker-owners that still believe that their brand is the most important brand. They struggle with their real estate agents.

I talked to an agent to a team here, but they were at one of the ones that I mentioned. The managing broker didn’t like that the agent brand was competing with the brokerage. As a result, they moved to another brand. Now they’re going to come to eXp. The reality is that we are, as broker-owners, there to facilitate agents building their financial future. If that’s not our primary goal, and that’s not our primary mission, then we’re missing the boat as broker-owners because that’s the only thing that’s important to an agent, “What am I doing to help me, as an agent, secure my long-term financial future? Whether it be in the short-term lead generation, lead conversion or thinking about how do I run my business as a business?” That would be the broker-owner piece.

One of the most beautiful things is it takes a humble man and somebody with foresight. Every one of those 35,000 agents is an owner in that company. I think that’s the secret sauce of eXp.

It is. There were a couple of things that alluded me as an agent. I started as an agent at Prudential. I went to the broker-owner at the time and asked if I could get ownership and he said, “No.” Then I went to Keller. I was at Keller for a little over three years. I wanted to buy a significant stake in the office. They offered me 1%. With that 1%, there was a whole bunch of stuff I had to agree not to ever do, including things like I couldn’t compete with the brokers if I started a brokerage for a period of two or three years with a competing broker. I’m like, “It would be crazy for me for 1% to sign that agreement.”

I always wanted to have ownership. When we started eXp, I called myself a focus group of one. Meaning that if it was important to me, then I want to add it to the model. By the way, I don’t want to beat up any brands, but the reality is I have a history and one of them was I was at Keller. I love the concept of their profit share model. Their profit share model made total sense to me. When I saw it versus looking at RE/MAX or Keller at the time, when I saw the profit share model, I was like, “I’m going to build my team here because I can create some residual income.”

GAP Glenn Sanford | Real Estate Journey
Real Estate Journey: If you build it, they will come. So if you put on all the ingredients, we’re going to attract some of those folks eventually.

The challenge was after three years and 184 people, it turned out that I hadn’t calculated how many unprofitable real estate offices there are in the Keller system or any system and its profit share. If there’s no profit, there’s nothing shared. With 184 people, I had $6,000 in income from that in 2006. In 2007, I could hire a broker for way less than I paid in, which was about $115,000 at one office.

I literally came back after seeing my 1099 in 2006. I literally said, “If we ever build a company, we’re going to do a revenue share, not profit share.” I made the follow-on statement that even a mediocre management team that understands their cost to run a business should be able to figure out a way to at least break even. I figured, “If we could create a break-even model, I go out and recruit. I get the revenue share.” That, for me, made way more sense than the profit share model. Some people, it works for it. Some people have done well with it. There are profitable offices, but the ones that my agents were affiliated with weren’t that profitable. That was one of the things with revenue share then the ability to get equity.

The other piece, I was a glutton for punishment. I ran six real estate teams simultaneously. I started as an agent in 2002 on a team. I started my first team in 2004 and by 2006, I had six real estate teams, so Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Arizona and Nashville, Tennessee. I had 2 or 3 mini teams that were incubating. As a result, I was in the Top 50 nationally with Keller with that model but I had to go out. I had to go negotiate with each of the team leaders.

Primarily in the Keller system, I had to negotiate with the team leaders to allow my agents to be in their office and, to some extent, compete with the agents in that local office, then send referral fees back to Bellingham, Washington, where I was. That aggravated them to no end. What I wanted to solve for was, “How do I build a nationwide team and not have to deal with all the politics that we had to deal with back then?”

I’m going to respect your time, but I got one more thing I want you to talk about. From what I’ve seen, the biggest teams and some large brokerages and the top agents, you are attracting the cream of the crop in real estate. Obviously, the best of the best. Everybody in the country probably is getting a personal phone call from you and you’ve talked to them. Talk to me about what’s the attitude of those producers, team leaders and huge brokerages that go, “We see the vision we’re moving on?” You don’t need to name them. A little capsulation of, “Let me tell you, here’s what they’re seeing. Here’s why they’re coming to eXp, and here’s what’s going on.”

Ironically, I’m an introvert by nature. You might not be able to tell that. That’s one of the reasons why I forced myself into sales because I knew how much of an introvert I am. I still am an introvert, which to some extent means I’m more of a systems guy. I’m about putting in systems. I’ve always operated from a field of dreams perspective. If you build it, they will come. If I put on all the ingredients, eventually we’re going to attract some of those folks.

Even a mediocre management team that understands the cost to run a business should be able to figure out a way to at least break even. Click To Tweet

To be honest, I haven’t had as many of those conversations as you would think. Certainly, I meet them at events. I’ll run into them. A lot of times, they’re reaching out to me to pick my brain on different things. There are a lot of amazing leaders, some of the best of the best. Where I haven’t spent a whole bunch of one-on-one time with them, we’ve got 700-plus iconic agents in eXp. I don’t know how many teams are doing over $100 million a year in production, but it’s a lot. There are a lot of teams doing over $100 million a year production.

It’s crazy. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.

If you’re not in real estate, $100 million a year of production is a lot of production.

That’s an office for a lot of people.

I know it’s probably not in every state that we have in, but you look at California, the number of multi-hundred-million-dollar producers from Kyle Whissel to Branco to Dan Beer, and I don’t even know all of them. I don’t want to say too many names because I’m going to leave some off. There’s a ton of these big producers. You can look there in Texas, Florida, all over the country. We’ve got all these massive producers. The big thing for us was we wanted to build the infrastructure that when agents looked at it, they would literally have to do this big double-take.

I think Jake Kinder said it best, “Once you see eXp, you can’t un-see it.” That’s the thing that I wanted a mega agent to look at our model, to be able to make a business decision and realize that if they didn’t come, they were making a mistake. That doesn’t mean that everybody doesn’t want to come. A lot of people were saying, “I’m stuck. I own offices with this brand. I have financial reasons why I can’t make a move.” I have folks that go, “If I could make a move, I would be with you guys now but I can’t afford this and this reason.” They’re real reasons like they’d literally have to almost declare bankruptcy to come over because of the contractual relationships they have.

I’ll give you this quick little story. I was on Facebook. I literally saw top teams. John Singh, one of the top teams in Vancouver, Canada, was on there with Denise, one of the most positive individuals that I’ve ever heard speak. They’re having a little talk about how they’re running a multi-hundred-million-dollar operation in Vancouver. Then I go from there to talking to Veronica Figueroa. I literally was going through.

On my Facebook Feed, we literally have a personal development company called eXp that gives back to the industry with positive uplifting, “How do you build your business?” I was thinking about the fact that no other brand has that type of face on social media. I’m not pointing fingers to these guys, but you don’t see this happen with Coldwell Banker agents and RE/MAX agents. Occasionally, you might see a little bit with Keller Williams, but even that’s pretty small percentage-wise. With eXp, it’s a whole different country and it’s a whole different flavor of Kool-Aid if you want to call it that.

You have been so fun to talk to, but we’re going to have to do what our GAPers love, and that is called Knowledge Through the Decades. What we are going to do is one word or one sentence, it’s a little on the spot. What was the attitude lessons at each decade of your life? We start with childbirth, which is a little bit crazy. I know you probably don’t remember being born, but when you think of the attitude lesson of a newborn baby, what do you think that lesson is?

GAP Glenn Sanford | Real Estate Journey
Real Estate Journey: Let’s keep on going. Let’s not slow down what we’re doing. Once something’s working, just keep on leaning in and you’ll figure it out.

I do get a story though from my parents. They tell me that I would walk up to the beehive boxes. I would knock on them and ask if anybody was home. I think I was destined for real estate, “Is there anybody home?” That was probably my first phrase.

Attitude lesson, don’t be afraid to knock when you’re a newborn baby. In ten years old, so I want you to think your 3rd, 4th grade. What do you remember learning in 3rd, 4th grade when you were ten? Do you remember your teachers put yourself back there? What was going on there?

It was soccer and there was this show we used to play in school that had this theme from one of my favorite artists over the years, Pat Metheny. I remember those being very formative, and then soccer and team sports then the vision of the future.

Then you graduate from high school. Did you go to college?

I did. I was a college dropout.

So am I, it’s all good. Do you remember being twenty or do you remember your 21st birthday? What was going on? What do you think the attitude lesson from being twenty was for you?

I was in Phoenix, Arizona and towed my car right before I turned 21. Then I became a stockbroker in Las Vegas when I was 21 years old. Have you ever watched the movie, Boiler Room? I was exposed to that at 21 and realized I didn’t want to be a part of that, but I enjoyed stocks and investments. I’ve been an avid investor ever since but formatively, it was don’t be involved with scammy companies.

Then you get out of Las Vegas and I’m guessing at 30, things are starting to happen for you. What was your attitude lesson? Do you remember your 30th birthday? Who was around and what do you go, “When I’m 30, here’s what I figured out?”

Right on that point in time, I was starting a company called eShippers.com, an eCommerce logistics company. I also was doing some stuff. I had a mentor of mine. He was big on postcard mailing. He would do and test 1,000 postcards. He was waiting for a postcard that pulled 5 to 10X at any other postcard. Once you find something that works, leverage the heck out of it.

That’s some great message and great thoughts. Then you’re 40. I know how old our company is. I know how old you are, but I’m guessing you started going there’s more or something. You remember 40, what’s your attitude lesson there and what was going through your brain?

I’ve said it before, but if I ever build a real estate brokerage, it’s revenue share, not profit share. That was a big driver for me. I’ve always had a fire in the belly. I’ve always been internally a fierce competitor. That was one that literally was, “If we do something, this is what it’s going to have in it.” That was 40, and I started eXp when I was at 42.

If you're not in real estate, a hundred million dollars a year in production is a lot of production for a lot of people. Click To Tweet

The revenue share, I get that, but it’s like the meaning behind the rev share, we’re in it for everybody here. There’s not a king and everybody is going to get a piece. I’m sure all 35,000 eXp agents are appreciative of the revenue share, but I think it’s the message behind the revenue share that resonates and that gets people in their heart and in their gut.

Quite frankly, what I realized on day one when I got into real estate was I didn’t own the business. The business owned me. Having come from business mentors and understanding concepts like you need to be putting yourself on salary and that you need to run a business. It’s got to be scalable. You’ve got to be able to exit out of business and businesses got to be able to run. I never called myself Glenn Sanford’s Real Estate Team. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I felt that most people wouldn’t want to join an ego. They wanted to join a concept.

I wanted to make sure that whatever it was, it was saleable. Then the other piece is as an agent, I wanted an exit strategy, and it didn’t exist out there. If eXp existed and I could have joined as an agent, even though I’m doing very well now with eXp, I would have much preferred building my real estate business on eXp than starting and running eXp.

I get it. We’re going to get into the last decade. You’re still a young man. I can’t believe you’re very young and very accomplished. I’m guessing you had a great 50th birthday, eXp started popping probably right when you were 50. Tell us what the attitude lesson is now for you that our GAPers can read to. If you would, after that attitude lesson, speak to our audience who are standing at that bridge wanting to cross it. Number one, what’s your attitude lesson from 50? Then what’s your message of hope for our audience?

Anything worth doing is we’re doing badly at first. I was willing to make a mess. I was willing to go out there and do things. Even at 50, and this was in 2016, we’re approaching 2,400 agents. We were going through this huge curve and we had many people in the company. Some being consultants, some being directors literally saying, “You’re overseeing your ski tips. You’re going to have to slow down.” I’m like, “Keep on going.” We were in hell and it was messy. Let’s keep on going. Let’s not slow down what we’re doing. Once something is working, it’s almost like that old mentor also said, “Keep on leaning in and you’ll figure it out.”

Any final words to maybe the real estate agent that’s failing, maybe the business owner that’s going under, maybe a person in relationship that’s not doing good. Do you have a message of hope? Is there a mantra that you live by? What’s a word of encouragement that you can give our people that are not in your position, but they sure would love to be someday?

I think getting clear on your intentions. Wherever you’re at, it’s wherever you’re at. Own that and if it’s a great place, awesome. If it’s not a great place, own it. You can’t make a change in anything that you’re doing unless you accept where you’re at now and get real with that. If things aren’t going well, don’t make excuses for it. Own it. Once you own it, now you can accept the new perfect present that you’re in and make the changes for the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, that was Glenn Sanford, Founder and CEO of eXp Realty. One of the biggest innovators and influencers in the real estate brokerage business. Glenn, we are happy and proud of you. We’re proud that you came to GAP to share with all of us. We can’t thank you enough. Thank you so much.

Thanks.

We’ll see you.

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About Glenn Sanford

Glenn Sanford is the founder eXp Realty, CEO of eXp World Holdings, Inc. and Chief Strategy Officer for VirBELA. After being involved with a number of internet start-ups in the 1990s and early 2000s, including a stint at AOL, Glenn started a highly successful real estate career in 2002. In 2006, his fourth full year in the business, Glenn and his team closed over $60,000,000 in real estate almost entirely from online lead generation and was ranked as one of the top 50 teams nationally with Keller Williams. After the downturn in 2008, he and his team developed the first cloud-based brokerage model that uses a 3D avatar based online office to collaborate and communicate while abandoning the physical bricks and mortar infrastructure normally associated with real estate brokerage. In the last 11 years, since launching with 25 agents, eXp Realty has grown to over 62000 agents in all 50 states, DC, most of Canada, the UK, Australia, France, South Africa, Portugal, Mexico, Columbia and a number of additional countries (currently 19 total as of Sept 2021).  eXp Realty refers to itself as Agent-owned and the company became a public company in 2013 and in 2014 started to distribute equity to its productive agent owners. eXp Realty provides the first ESOP style Stock Ownership Program for its agents and brokers as well as a revenue sharing program all designed to enhance the agent-centric business model.

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