Advice from the Trenches: Find a Mentor

Every day, people who are just starting out in their career or who have been at it for under 5 years and are still figuring out the ins-and-outs and ropes of the industry come to me and ask me, “Morgan, what is the most important thing I do, to grow my agency?”, one too many young real estate agent has asked me.

And to answer that, I usually need a drink! Lots to say–both as standard advice, as best practices, but also for each individual agent, it is very different.

But today I want to focus on one of the best pieces of advice for younger agents: find a mentor. Having a world-class mentor is the least repeated but most important advice I can give to anyone out there.

And hint: not only for real estate agents. The same holds true… in any profession or any mission you want to excel at.

Just pretend you were in a different industry, like a designer. How do you become a great designer? You can work hard, you can practice a lot, you can define a unique style and push it yourself, and so forth. But just imagine you worked closely with (and under, as a mentee) one of the greatest designers out there? You would see, day in and day out, how he or she thinks and acts, how he or she makes decisions, how he or she deals with challenges and problems. You’ll start noticing patterns, even subtle and subconscious ones that, taken together, make the designer a great designer.

And the same applies just as much so for real estate agents as well.

Work side by side (well, under–but the same, for our purposes here) an amazing real estate agent. You’ll start learning very quickly from him or her, just watching him or her in action. As a successful agent, your mentor will have a great nose and a great sense of what leads to follow and what not to, how to talk to potential leads, lines to use to help charm them, the pitfalls to watch out for and the technical details to be on top of, and so forth.

Sold? I’ll oversell: the historical angle makes it more interesting. I happened to write my university thesis on the history of the elite universities and something I learned that I still remember (since I’ve forgotten like 99% of what I’ve learned!) is that, to simplify a complex story, for most of history, almost all “professionals” learned as mentees. They used to go by another name: “apprentices, a word mostly forgotten except by a hit TV show once upon a time. But the way doctors and lawyers and anyone learned was just spending a few years working side by side a great doctor or lawyer. Then universities came along and figured out how to get everyone to get their stamp first; but I’m a fan of the older system. Apprenticeships are a super-power fast-track to amazing learning that it would take you 20 years of experience to get otherwise.

So how, young man, do you go about becoming a mentee to a great agent?

It’s not as hard as it seems, because if you look at it this way: if you’re willing to [a] do the grunt work that he doesn’t want to do (after all, he’s at the height of his career and won’t want to do the grunt work, and you’re at the start of yours, so you’ll have to do it anyway!), and [b] you happily work with a commission split that is heavily tilted in his favor–who wouldn’t say yes to that?

Of course, the downside to this approach is that, with a commission split tilted in his favor, you’ll make less money. But that’s fine because your goal is to become a sponge and learn learn learn. Indeed, you’ll learn so much, it might even be worth it to do it for free. Even I myself, sometimes want to be an intern to the masters of the universe to learn from them how they do it!

Finally, a pro-tip: even if your commission split is tiny, make sure you’re listed alongside him on the listings. Co-listings, for the win. This is an important detail because, in addition to the learning, you’ll start building up an official track record and it’s hard for me to think of a better starting point than this.

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