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Kurt Uhlir is a marketing expert that loves to scale companies fast and big! This is what gets him most excited! Kurt has helped grow companies from launch all the way up to having revenues over $500 Million. He's a speaker, coach, and consultant who has advised leaders from private-equity-backed CEOs to the President of the United States. He's also appeared on national TV shows including The Wired, TechCrunch, Thrive Global, USA Today, NBC, ABC, and others. Today, Kurt shares top tips people need to know to scale and grow their business as well as lessons he has learned along the way.
In this episode, hosted by Mike Swenson, we discussed:
Timestamps: If You Want To Jump Ahead To Your Favorite Part
00:00 - Intro and overview on Kurt’s career
02:49 - Areas of opportunity where we can grow and learn from Kurt's experience.
15:35 - How to create hyperlocal content and its importance.
30:27 - How Kurt approach his personal growth and his leadership growth
39:01 - What is time and financial freedom mean to Kurt
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Full episode transcript:
Introduction: Welcome to the REL Freedom Podcast. We inspire you to pursue your passion to gain time and financial freedom through opportunities in real estate. I'm your host, Mike Swenson. Let's get some REL Freedom together.
Mike Swenson: All right. Welcome, everybody to the newest episode of the REL Freedom Podcast. Today, we're going to talk a lot about marketing and I am joined by Kurt Uhlir. A little bit of a background about Kurt, he is a marketing expert, He’s built and run organizations with revenue over $500 million. In addition, he's in demand conference speaker, advisor, workshop facilitator. He's worked with startup founders, private equity CEOs, and even Advisor to the President United States. In addition to that, he's also appeared on TV shows, such as the Wired, TechCrunch, Thrive Global, USA Today, Business to Community, WGN, NBC, ABC, and many others. In addition to that he is the Chief Marketing Officer for showcase IDX. Kurt, why don't you just give us a little bit more information of what people need to know about you and your background?
Kurt Uhlir: Yes, thanks for having me. Well you mentioned, I am with Showcase IDX, but I'm really here to talk much more about my background with other companies, some of what I've learned here too, but helping coach,-- usually the underdog and so much of my career. I've worked in technology and innovation spaces to the point that I'm the lead inventor actually on the core technology behind waze and check-ins on Facebook and other platforms, and Instagram. And so we’ve always [inaudible 1:39:00] upfront my teams, taking cool technology that nobody has used before, and rolling it out in ways to grow the brand. Some cases that has been with big enterprises or companies have grown, but most of my work outside of day to day, and even now is coaching solo entrepreneurs or teams to basic fight back against the underdog. It can be in real estate, we'll give some examples on that. And I know that's very relevant to some of most of your listeners. But I've taken those same things and taken them to independent ranchers within the US and use the same tools and see them benefit there and many other industries. So there's a lot of core things we think we can talk about from the background, my team have seen, and I've seen that help people grow their business and fight back and kind of this new influence economy.
Mike Swenson: So why don't we just get started then as we think about the real estate space. A lot of the listeners here are the kind of the average realtor, whether it's a solo realtor, whether it's you're on a team, or whether you're supporting realtors. Talk a little bit about what you see in the industry right now and ways that realtors are leveraging marketing in a great way to be successful. Then ways that they aren't, and maybe some areas of opportunity where they can grow and learn from your experience.
Kurt Uhlir: Yeah, I think how agents are leveraging marketing well is, they consider themselves those that are doing it well. They know that they're really a media company. It's no different than when we look back 15, 20 years ago, 50 years ago, where people were paying to have their face on a billboard or a bus stop so that people were aware of them and to be talked about. The same concepts apply today, it's just a lot cheaper and there's a lot more niches to be able to go into and target as well. So people are doing well realize that it's not just about sharing about their most recent listing, listing open house. Iit is about sharing content that's relevant and actually letting people into your story as much as they're comfortable. Now where the not doing it well, to some degree, it tends to be the 99% of agents that actually aren't doing it well, because they're missing one thing. Note, you know, all of the brokerages want to change this, but if you look at the NAR stats, on average, an agent changes brokers every five years, then every five years for the last two or three and before then, it was six years. So you know, I talked to MLS’s and associations and I'll ask people, “How many have been in the business for 10 years, 15 years? And how many of you change businesses or change your brand to the franchise, two or three times hand stay up?” Then I asked the question, “How many of you feel like every time you change brokerages felt like you're starting over and almost all the hands stay up?” And that's because what they're missing is building these two most important assets that I think that they have is, they tie so much to the brokerages and their great brokerages and even if you change brokerages, a lot of people said positive things about their previous brokerage. But ultimately the brokerage is looking for the brokerage business themselves. And the agent has to worry about building their personal brand; there's a lot of things we can talk about that, and building their contact database and cultivating that in a way that's good for their business. Because ultimately agents are 1099 contractors, whether you’re in a team and you want your team just say, you may move with the team. If you're not focused on those two things, and most agents aren't, they're chasing a shiny object. When you chase the shiny object you don't focus and invest on the two things that are going to grow your business the most.
Mike Swenson: Few things that you had said in there that really resonated with me is, you’d mentioned about marketing in the past, you know, here's our listings, listings, listing sales, sales, sales. Well, people want to know that you can produce, right. So, it's really important and yet at the same time, we know that the average person moves every 7 to 10 years. So, if you're marketing with just that, it's probably going to turn people off for the 6 7 8 9 years that they're not using you, they only care about the sales, you know, give or take a month or two before or after they use you. And so it's really focusing on how do you build and strengthen those relationships with people and they want to give you referrals during those 6 7 8 9 years as well. And so if all you talk about is listings and sales, it starts to get pretty dry and they tune you out.
Kurt Uhlir: Yes, very much. It's like, I can't tell you how many, we have a mortgage broker here. And I live in Roswell, Georgia, I can't tell you how many times I've recommended this individual, because he does marketing right. And so he tells stories about a difficult close that they had, that had nothing to do, like,-- yes, it kind of does remind me he’s mortgage broker. But I find myself sometimes listening to a 15 minute video because he talked about, ‘Hey, he had an investor, I'm an angel investor. I invested in a number of companies.’ And he had a closing where, because of a lot of the federal regulations now, he never knew this before him, but the individual had invested like $50,000, then a medical marijuana company, out of the West Coast, completely legal. And back at this point now by several big venture capital companies. But because he wrote a $50,000 check, he was getting turned down because he was invested in a medical marijuana company. And it was literally told in that way about; would you think about where you invest your money might impact your ability to leverage, get a mortgage, a second mortgage, on a vacation property, anything. And I was floored, because I had no idea about that. I haven't invested in anything like that myself. But it made me think about past investments. So literally as a 15 minute video, that afterwards, I was like, I just listened to Allen for 15 minutes. And then I probably told 10 people about that. That same story can be told from an agent's perspective, and that every agent has that whether you do three transactions in a year, or 80 transactions a year You have stories that either are potential clients, or close clients that you have that to bring people into, and the way that he told that story, it was a story, it wasn't, ‘hey, I'm the mortgage broker, please refer me?’
Mike Swenson: Yeah, and I think that's hard for the people to understand that concept. Because they think, well, the thing that I have that I want to talk about is the sales that I have, or somebody brand new that doesn't have any sales yet. I don't have any stories to talk about. So how do I get that interest going to where I'm starting from ground zero? How do I build that? What advice would you give to a new agent about how to tell great stories? Or how to build from ground zero?
Kurt Uhlir: It's great question. You let people into the story. I might downplay and not even point out that I'm a new agent, I'm just not going to highlight that, ‘hey, I haven't done a transaction, or I've only done five.’ We have a full stack software engineer at our company that left a couple years ago, and is now an agent in Indiana. And so I mean, Jimmy, we're friends on Facebook. I see his post, you never would know that, like of course, the sphere of his immediate sphere of influence knew that he changed careers. But anybody else would not have known that, and even then you knew right away, I mean, what did Jimmy do? Hey, he was new to the business. He was a hard worker, he took open houses for anybody in their brokerage and team that wanted to do an open house. He said, I'll go do open houses for you if I'm not busy. And then he shared about every one of those. And then he had stories from talking to people, just as he naturally would be about what they were looking for and how he struggled. And, you know, one story I remember, right, I mean, he'd been an agent for like three weeks, and a couple had bought a home 12 months earlier and realized that the agent basically sold them a home that didn't meet their expectations at all, because they were going for the quick clothes and they were double ending the deal, rather,-- and so now they're sitting there like what do we do? And so he was able to tell a story that really lets you realize how he cared about people and he’d want to respect your investment and your real needs and not just closing a deal. And it’s like, [inaudible 9:29:00] for two weeks. That was a wonderful story to share.
Mike Swenson: Yes, and I think it's one of the things that we talk about with our agents as far as opening up because, you know, people want to work with people they know like and trust and how do people know like and trust you, if they're not a part of your immediate sphere, or maybe it's somebody that you've lost contact with over the last few years. The best way for them to know like and trust you is for you to open up a little bit, for you to share. You know, we advise our agents to make videos because it's the fastest way for people to know like and trust you. Same thing with the podcast, right? Like, who's this Kurt guy? And what does he do? Well, I could go and I could watch five or six videos about you. “Okay, now I get him. Yeah, he seems like a really nice guy,” that's totally different than just going to a website and reading a bio. So you have to have just like, an athlete has game tape out there, of how they perform in sports, or whatever it is. And it's the same thing with us that, you know, we need to have game tape out there showing what our personality is, so that people can warm up to us and learn to like us and trust us through the power of media, just like you mentioned.
Kurt Uhlir: Right. And so you know, if you're an experienced agent, you're doing dozens of deals in a yearly basis or more, you have different topics to talk about but even as a new ageny. You do what my friend Jimmy I mentioned, you just pick up open houses for other agents on your team, enough stuff comes through that you can talk about, ‘Hey, there's a bad bathroom or we're actually about to put in a new bathroom and a stubbed out kind of storage area in our basement’. Gosh, that would have been a topic that we could have come up when people were showing this house, it should be like, ‘Hey, here's opportunities here. Do you have something like this? Should you put in the money and do that and then finish out that bathroom beforehand? Or should that be something that you leave for the next buyer?’ That's all something from being an agent two days in, that you could do as a topic, there's always something like that, or you don't have to show the exact house and you can talk about we're an open house and they're struggling to sell because of and talk about market parameters. You have something to share. And then in some cases, there is just the story of you. You have to have content that's good for people when they're not actively buying and selling, or when they're warming up, there's usually if there's a couple, there's one of the two partners that's like starting to think about it six to 12 months before they even talk to their their spouse about it. Well, okay, what's the content for them? Well, that's going to be different. And you know, you also have different people, depending on your niche. I'm a business person. While I work in Marketing, I'm a scaler. I take organizations and I scale them, like 500%, or more like if I can't do that, I mean, want to talk to a company to some degree. And so Okay, so when you tell me more of your entrepreneurial story of getting started, whether it's from zero to five transactions a year, or 50 to 80 transactions a year, you're going to tug on things that are going to go. I have might want to talk to you.
Mike Swenson: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You know, one of the other things that you're passionate about is websites for real estate agents. Talk a little bit about kind of the pluses and minuses in there. What have you seen in the market? What do people do well? What are ways that you know, opportunities for growth that people have around their website?
Kurt Uhlir: Its great having a website that their consumers will actually use. Real estate is very different than anything else is that, not in plumbing, not in accounting, being a lawyer, nowhere else you have an industry where if you don't provide the tools and experience on your website, like we can in real estate, you can guarantee if you have a website that your client or you don't have one, but that your clients won't use, I don't care whether it's kurtuhkir.com or it's kurt.kw.com. Like, if that's not a website that your clients will use, I can give you 100% guarantee that your clients will be called by at least one competitive agent because they will go to Zillow, Trulia or, Redfin, probably the first two from the numbers. And in most cases, if you read their financials, it seems like Zillow actually provides that contact information out to about 10 different service providers. So they're going to get the premiere agent, but they're also going to get recommended to a mortgage broker, who's then likely going to refer somebody as well. That's the biggest thing that I see that's actually hurting people is having websites that people won't use. And the other side is even if they do have a modern website, hopefully powered by Showcase IDX, but talk about that, but it's investing the time into it. Very few agents have the tens of thousands of dollars to pour into hyperlocal content that's going to be built out to rank against Zillow. But you can do that, like we have a team, there's a 10 person team, but four agents only do work on their website. They wrote the review that everybody would want. They came to us, somebody helped them build their initial site and they invest a couple of hours every week on creating local community pages. So they're investing that rather than paying outsourcer person, and they get 12,000 unique visitors a week from Google. That's 50,000 a month get a good conversion rate on that. There’s a reason they're 10 person team, but only four of them are doing that. But most agents aren’t investing that time they go I have a website, check the box. Hopefully it's more than a business card site. But my broker gave you gave me a website. Well, is it a website that you would use, send it to 10 of your friends and ask them and listen to that direct feedback to them and be be open to being humble when they go, “This is horrible”. I mean that does happen. I've looked at an insane amount of real estate websites that are out there, and many that are not customers have Showcase and I've learned a lot more too, so.
Mike Swenson: Now I just want to touch on this because I know it is really important. You had mentioned about community pages. For those people that don't understand what that is. What would I do to create hyperlocal content or why is that important?
Kurt Uhlir: It's important because it's going to be rare. Tonight I live in a suburb of Atlanta, it would be rare in Atlanta or even Roswell, Georgia to rank for Roswell condos, Atlanta condos, those are big words that literally companies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, building links and doing work to try to optimize that. Now we do have some customers that are able to compete against that, but they come about in a different way. As opposed to creating community pages about mention Roswell, Roswell condos, Roswell townhomes, Roswell land for sale, we live a lot by the Chattahoochee River, and they built out a two and a half mile Riverwalk, which is gorgeous. So people literally want to live within walking distance, that Riverwalk is one of the Riverwalk entrances. So I would create a community page, literally single family homes in a price range within walking distance of that. Those hyperlocal pages, you have a really good chance if you do it well to be able to one, rank on Google with that, but also, it changes how you interact with people. So things have changed a lot with COVID. Most states are starting to open back up. I have an agent in Florida that I talked to, and he didn't realize how much it changed his business when we did those community pages. It shifted much more of his introduction, he ended up and then when he recommended there was always a feeling of sale. When I ask you Mike for your contact info, we meet out and I'm like, ‘oh, you're looking for a condo by the beach,’ and then he goes, you know, ‘since your family's down for the weekend, would you prehaps wanna see an open house, I could give you this page on my site. A little shows the open houses, if you're interested, you talk to me later, just go to them. And he turns his phone around so that they can enter the email. And so the community page, then one, it's great for Google. But it also shifted his conversation to now be a value add, as opposed to ‘let me have your contact info Mike so that I can then basically sell you later.’ And he found like, because of his website does work very well and performs, 80 to 90% of people he does that with that he meets do register on his site. But even for those that don't, he now has a process in place that every Sunday he looks back through sent emails and goes, Oh, these two people didn't register. Now you can reach out to them directly. And it can be geographic focus, or it can be a niche focus as well.
Mike Swenson: That's fantastic information. And I think the thing that agents are missing too, is they're missing the long term view. They think, well, okay, how does creating a page like that help me get a closing this month, or next month. And what they realize is, if I don't do it now, and then I don't do it next month, and I don't do it next month, and I don’t do it next--. Now I'm two years down the road, and I still haven't done it. And so we always give the analogy, there's, you know, the two best times to plant a tree are 20 years ago and today. So you've got to start with something to allow it to grow, whether organically or not.
Kurt Uhlir: Yes. It's like, the community pages also make it really good to do some paid media on because they're very hyper focused, and so you can get some lead gen right then if you try to send it out to people that also good thing to include your newsletters. But you're right, it takes time I mentioned that website of somebody who are going to 12,000, unique organic visitors on a weekly basis. It took them six to eight months before they started seeing a trend up, they started trending pretty well. But that six to eight months where it kind of feels like nothing's happening. But that's most of the things if you want to scale businesses where, if you want to get in shape, you have to eat right, you have to do push ups and run. I mean, it sucks, and it takes a long time for it to take effect. But but if you don't it consistently, it's not you're never going to get that investment. You're never going to tell anybody they're buying rental properties or saving for a down payment. Don't even worry about saving 50 grand in the bank. No, you're going to tell him put $100 away every month that you can, if you have more put more down. That's the same thing that happens with marketing as well. You just need to know where to apply it.
Mike Swenson: Yes. Well, I think it's difficult in our industry where the average agent isn't gonna make it more than two years. And so you might have 70, 80, or 85% of agents don't make it two years. So to tell them to do something with a long term mindset. They're already thinking so short term of like, well, if this doesn't work, I'm gonna go back to my corporate job. And they have to realize like if I plant seeds, and allow them to grow, you'll have the wind at your back down the road because you've done these things. But if you come into real estate thinking, I'll give it a year to see if it works; If I renew my license in two years, and it's not going very well, then I'm just going to be out, you've completely missed the boat of how you're approaching your business. Because if I were approaching a business in a different industry, it's like, I'll try it out for a year or tw and then I'll go back to something else. Most business owners don't do that and yet as agents, they tend to think very short term.
Kurt Uhlir: Yeah. You mentioned like, the vast majority of agents, I mean, I've heard it's upwards of 85% of agents are not an active agent 18 months out. And that's pretty much across all brokerages. And so, some brokerages are trying to change that, but still 18 months, it's not even making it to two years, you cannot even make it a year and a half. I think a lot of that at least from my experience. It does come to that consumer retention, that lead retention that I kind of mentioned. So not just with my work or Showcase IDX, but outside of there, my wife runs a marketing agency. That team we've dug into and we've looked at just over the last year about 50,000 agent and team websites, we leave the big portals, the big brokerages kind of out of that, and over the previous two years, probably twice that number. There was some overlap, but we then be able to follow up do some of my speaking and talk to agents directly. And what we find was,looking at those 50,000 agent websites matches up with third-party research, because going to Showcase IDX, I'm a little biased, but our data, our research showed the same thing that third-party research shows, And so that website is so important so that you don't have competitive agents in the mix, that most agents would miss it. There's other things as well, but I think it's a new agents or agents that have been an agent for a number of years, and just aren't hitting the numbers that they want. They haven't hit the numbers to shift out of being a part-time agent or a full-time agent. I think they really have to ask themselves, why do they think that most agents fail? And so, unlike the agent websites, the data shows, hundreds of thousands of consumers tracked sending them to thousands and thousands of websites that the average website provided by a great all in one Boomtown or Real Geeks or done by some of the outdated IDX’s, you send 100 qualified leads that you're going to lose 47 to 94% of the qualified leads, whether it's pay-per-click, whether they're organic, whether they're your sphere of influence, imagine sending 100 qualified leads, and 94 of them are going to use Zillow so that you’ll know a qualified agent comes in. And I kind of give that talk sometimes that associations and then a lot of times, the question I'll get is, Does that hurt new agent or longer-term agents? And I think my opinion is, it’s the bigger impact for the newer agent. It dollar wise affect, you know, somebody who’s been agent for 10 years, it's doing 90 transactions a year. They miss a transaction or two, it doesn't change their job or their career, if you're a new agent, and like, I have an aunt, I try to send my aunt Bobby to my website, she knows Curtis, the marketer and now I'm a new agent and then she doesn't like my website or I don't have one, or to go to the broker site. She ends up going to Zillow, competitive agent calls, that competitive agent is always a baller. They're doing 50 transactions, otherwise they can't pay the fees or they're not doing the percentages of Zillow. And so what happens now she's my aunt, who loves me to death, and helped raise me is with a dilemma of do I support her who I know is a new agent and may be good at other things or the person that knows my area very well, and just gave me their frickin pedigree, which is awesome. As a new agent, God, like that's my aunt, and then you go through your entire sphere of influence. So I think, not looking at the data to see why people aren't using the sites or listening to snake oil from an agency that calls up that has an inside sales team that calls you as a new agent says, Hey, I just got your license, can I sell you a new website for two grand? I'm not saying you shouldn't give them two grand, but maybe you should talk to at least two or three other people and you should be not people that call you it’s a great way for agents to get business but I tell every consumer you need to talk to two or three agents to vet them, see where this connection weigh them against each other. You definitely need to do that with anybody you're gonna some help with some marketing help. And most agents can do this themselves. You know, new agents don't have to spend that much money. I've talked to a lot of people that, how did they get the website that's now driving thousands of leads for them? Their 14 year old daughter installed WordPress for them on a self-hosted site and installed an IDX for them. And then literally,the agent voice notes content about community pages, and their their daughter or son transcribes that and puts it on the website and doled it out. You can do this on the cheap.
Mike Swenson: Okay, so let's shift the focus a little bit. We've talked a lot about the solo agent, the client facing stuf. Talk a little bit about leading and running a company. Whether I'm a team owner of a real estate team, or whether I have a business in the real estate space, what are some lessons that we can learn from you in terms of building and running a company and scaling a company because you love to scale? I know every team owner would love to scale really fast. So share some of that wisdom with us.
Kurt Uhlir: Yes, happy to. I can only share a lot of it, because I've done it wrong so many times. The strange thing, when you really examine is, doing the wrong thing and doing the right thing, feel exactly the same until your wire coyote went off the cliff and you realize that it was the wrong thing to do. And so I can tell you how to build businesses and scale things wrong. What holds people back a lot of times and the best way to actually overcome this is stop listening to experts, like I have a background, it's verifiable, you can go look at tens of millions and hundreds of millions of dollars, from companies that we've grown. We took one company from 85 million a year in revenue to 1.4 4 billion, then I've come over and I've helped coach thousands of individuals solo entrepreneurs that have scaled their companies, and they've given me testimonials. That's very different than influencers or experts that tell you how to do marketing, but they don't really do very much marketing themselves. Or, hey, like, there's some great real estate coaches out there. But if you look at their business, you get most of your money from coaching, not from doing real estate, I'm gonna be that consider that a little suspect, social media expert, the same type of way.
There's some levels-- you just have to be an operator. And so, a lot of those things is, I stop listening to so-called experts, and I go find out who's really growing businesses. And like Gary Vaynerchuk, Grant Cardone, like before Grant became who he is now, he shared true expertise on what he's doing. Gary Vaynerchuk, he's an operator, he's doing things himself. And so I will never outsource anything or listen to somebody where I don't try some of them myself. Can I weigh what they do? Like, there's a SEO marketing expert called Neil Patel. I love Neil, for a lot of things. But Neil has a lot of junk that he puts out that works really well for him, because he runs a giant marketing agency and is a huge influencer, that won't work for the average person. So if you can weed out the 50%, that's kind of junk. He's got 50%, that's pretty good and 10%, that's gold. You just have to know what that is.
I actually have a number of people that come to me and they'll send me a YouTube video. Every once a while, they'll be like, Hey, what do you think about Neil saying this? I'm happy to weigh in on my viewpoint of that. And there's some stuff he does is really good. But the other part is, I spent a lot of time scaling on the marketing side doing things called “niche neighborhooding”, my friend, Rachel Miller, she runs moolah marketing, she's kind of an audience collector. She really encourages everybody, whether you're the leader of a 20 person team, or you're a solo entrepreneur, you need to spend 10 minutes a day on social media, engaging with people that you might even view competitors of yours, but at least are comparable, you know, selling similar products, other home service companies, other service providers, to people in your community. You need to engage with them, one that does help you reach more people, so that's good. But you need to actively be seeing day in and day out, what's working well, or what's not. It's really rare for me to see, look at Showcase IDX, it's really rare for me to find a real estate technology company where I go to their Facebook profile or Instagram, and I see engagement.So I'm not going to follow them. I'm going to follow friends that are running SAS companies that are doing eight figures, nine figures a year and I'm going to Okay, these are working well, how do we implement that in my business. So that's some of the biggest things for scaling, just figuring out what that works with and especially for the team size that you're talking about, where you're wanting to become that team leader, you've got to find, number one thing is find a tribe of people, other business owners that are either just ahead of you, or your same place that you get together with at least every other week, if not every every week, and you share intimately. You don't have to pay visage. You don't have to pay any anybody like that for that coaching, you can assemble it with other people and you share what you're doing, what you're experimenting, what's not working for you and share it back and forth. That right there will shift your business day in and day out. And it's got to meet people that are hungry, and you go in literally like and get people to commit. If you miss more than one meeting a month, you're out. If you're not actively engaged, you're out. If you're not bringing something you've experimented with next month, we'll give you a warning then you're out because you need people that are thirsty. And we all have ebbs and flows. So build some grace in there. But you've got to have that people around you that are operators and practitioners.4
Mike Swenson: Talk a little bit about personal Leadership growth.So you know, Kurt, I've started a company, it's starting to grow, as I get to the point to where I'm leading companies of $500 million. There's a lot of difference there between a solo entrepreneur realtor and leading a company of $500 million. How do you approach your personal growth and your leadership growth, as you've grown throughout building and leading and growing other companies to a really large scale?
Kurt Uhlir: Yes, great question. A few ways, and I'm still getting it right, there's still a lot of imperfections I'm still figuring out.
First is I have mentors. I always have people that are several seasons ahead of me, often in years, but definitely, if it's in business, whether,-- because I literally have mentors and coaches, for business, or spiritual and for family, in some cases, the person can handle multiple hats. But if it's somebody that, you know, I want to get coaching from, because if I'm not good at home, I'm not going to be good at work long term. And so who will I take marriage advice from? Somebody who's at least 15 to 20 years further along in their marriage than I am, because they have to have years on that, business wise, it's got to be somebody that's two or three orders of magnitude ahead of where I am, that has no benefit from me succeeding or failing, except for they're wanting to help coach somebody else to grow like that. I always have mentors on there.
The other side is, I'm really big on trying to figure out what I'm not good at, and handing that off to people, and a lot of times I figure that out, too. I try to ask everybody on my team. I wish I asked this every meeting, I've worked with some people that ask at every meeting, but every meeting, when I remember, I tried to ask, ‘What questions should I have asked you that I didn't?’ And then, ‘What am I missing in our business?’ And so that allows other teams to speak into things as well. And sometimes I'll vary that second one more, too, is ‘How am I not serving you best?’ Because as a business leader, and a team leader, I know a couple things. You know, one, I never expect anybody in my team to work as hard as I do. If I started it, if I'm getting the majority of the equity from the team. Because like how could you? You own that team, you own the major profit sharing, nobody should ever work as much as you. I have people that I work with me, and I'm thankful for those people, but I don't have an expectation of it. And the other side is like, I'm really happy just coaching people to the point that I can't afford to keep them anymore. Like, that's wonderful. Usually we're growing enough like I can compensate you more, we have more higher roles that people can grow into but you also can't promote everybody. But it warms my heart when people leave, and then they come back to me ten years later, or they don't come back at all. And so a lot of how I've grown personally has been going back actually trying to rekindle relationships with people that wouldn't answer my calls anymore, and asking them why. And realizing some of those tendencies are still with me. As I mentioned, we have some big company, I’ve helped make dozens of people millionaires. And there's dozens of people from where I was in an earlier stage of my career, that will not take a phone call from me today. There's another dozen or so that I've been able to get them to take a phone call, and at least restart a conversation realize I'm not the same person I was. I think that dozens of people I've made millionaires change their life, change their wealth situation, that I was such a bad boss and leader. They won't take my phone call no matter what. I have tried all of them, I've sent snail mail, I’ve sent packages, I've emailed, I've called, nothing. And it's like, wow! but for those that have given me grace, and I’ve started a conversation, and it's not all warm and fuzzy, but being open to be like, why did it take you seven touch points before you talked to me again? And then literally just asking questions about why they feel that way, not being defensive at all. Man, that's how you grow as a leader. And it is humbling, as all get out.
Mike Swenson: Yeah, and one thing that you mentioned, as far as you know, people that have been successful that have left you is, you know, put the shoe on the other foot. Have you stayed at the same company your entire life? No. For most people, that's no and for a lot of them, they had really good experiences, they had really good things to say about their past company, but because of their own personal life changing maybe their family life changing maybe different needs, different income goals, that sort of thing they moved on, that doesn't mean that in some cases, they maybe were a bad boss. In some cases, maybe there was a bad situation, but in some cases you were a fantastic boss. And it was a fantastic situation and you don't hold any ill will for leaving that company. And yet, if somebody leaves our company, sometimes we get better and we get upset about it and the reality is, that's just life; to have somebody stay at your company for 10 20 30 or 40 years, that just doesn't happen like it used to, and that doesn't necessarily mean that now you have to look introspectively, right, you have to run the synopsis here of why did they leave, they're not going to tell you everything, right, you're gonna have to read between the lines a little bit, so there's spots that you can improve. And yet, there's some time, it's just different life events, they move on, and it is what it is, and you can't be upset or bitter about it, as long as you've done everything that you can to continue to use that as an opportunity to grow as a leader. But just like you moved on, and you're happy where you're at in your next spot, we can't be upset that person didn't stay with you for the rest of their lives.
Kurt Uhlir: Yes, a 100% agree. And a lot of that even just comes to like,-- especially as an agent, or as a business leader, you have to keep in contact with those people, whether you're an agent, an individual agent, or team leader, like how much time do you spend in your database, past clients, past employees, past co-workers, past bosses, interacting with them, like literally logging into LinkedIn, seeing what's going on and sending a message. You know, our company is part of a large real estate company, a woman who was an incredible salesperson for me at a technology company we sold Oracle, I just noticed joined underneath the same franchise. I literally just kind of popped up and I sent her a note, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I'm in a subsidiary, I'm not not fully connected. How cool is it, we're back kind of under the same parent again.” That takes a lot to do. It's very meaningful as a leader as well. Because when you keep that, like I have a list of 400 people that I trust their opinions implicitly, they recommend somebody as a new hire. Well, now technology helps me stay in contact with them, and not just the CRM. But so like, I'm hiring again, I'm hiring an MLS Relationship Manager, I have a lot of agents applying for it, and I’m hiring onboarding specialists. I did a video, because videos’ are great way to the future, as you mentioned, and that's how you connect. Here's who I'm looking for. I use the mail merge thing to send it out. And man, the responses I get back from people, and I don't hear from everybody all the time. But I've got a couple of really good contacts. And so one I very appreciate for the contact, I follow up a couple on two different things. One, when it's somebody that I've sent out like five of those over a couple of years, I tend to hire a lot. And I haven't heard anything, because I need to know what's going on. Some of the key things that can be personalized. Some cases, it could be a relationship, but on the people that send me recommendations, I thank them. And then I always try to look for something so I can find a way to ask them. Why did you recommend them to me? Was it just that they need a job? Okay, happy to hire people who needs jobs. Or was it something about me? Like, I just got a recommendation for this relationship manager role. And then when I fall back up, I learn things about why they recommended this, that they thought they'd be a great personality with me. Like, oh, that's really cool. Now I know those things that connect with others and that helps me to be a better team leader.
Mike Swenson: Yes, that's great. So kind of lastly, as we talk about the goal in this podcast, some of our top buzz words are financial freedom and time freedom. So, you're busy building and growing companies pouring into people, helping them to grow, helping them become millionaires. Talk a little bit about time and financial freedom. As you think about your life moving forward. What does that look like? Maybe currently, or maybe in the future for you. All this work has to be for something at some point, right? And whether you do what you love, and you want to do it till the day you die, or you want to retire and not talk to another person for the next 10 years in some private island that you've purchased yourself. But what is kind of time and financial freedom mean to you here looking forward?
Kurt Uhlir: Yeah, it's intentionality. It's intentionally taking the time to put together that picture. And especially if you have a partner or a spouse, making sure that your spouse is on board with the same picture that you're picturing. It's amazing how many people I talked to where they hit what they thought their number was, and their views with their spouse is different. And what they realized was, you're not done, because you’re at a different destinations right now. For me, in most cases, I don't really need to work again. And so my wife and I work for two main reasons. And so like that helps keep me motivated day in and day out. So financial freedom is great and so we've achieved most of that. And we won, we're big givers. And so we know that the more that we earn, the more that we're capable of giving and blessing others and so that's a big deal. Another one of my friends realized he'd sold off a sass company. He's incredible in the marketing world as well, but he was selling a sass company at the time it was $100 a month and he owned all of it. And so him and his wife we're traveling in another country where they've been investing tens of $1,000 a monthly basis in schools, and the principals talking about how expensive schools are, how expensive teachers were, and how thankful they were for this person's help. And he's like, well, what does that cost, and he realize the cost of a teacher was $11000 a month, everything, all expenses, all salary, all housing, supplies, everything, $11000 a month. And he had been literally off the gas for a while in his company, because it was well beyond coasting good. And he went, how easy would it be for me to sell 10 or 11 more subscriptions a month. Everyone is a new, everyone then is another teacher that just ramps up? He came back reinvigorated. He had that long term picture that put together what financial freedom looks like for him in his life. So we kind of have that. And the other side is, I'm really big on building leaders. I've been asked by a couple of people, I'll probably end up writing a book on high achieving servant leadership. Those are two things most people don't put together, but they go very well together. And the best way to create new, high performing servant leaders is by leading them well, letting them see how you lead, how you respond well to adversity. When there's growth, there's adversity, when things aren't going well, there's adversity, when things are okay, it's usually okay. But letting them inside and multiplying the effect out. So, that's what I look for in people that have that potential, and that's what financial freedom looks like for us. I had a mentor who recently passed, the last 15 years of his life was doing that not in business, but literally mentoring, usually men, 8 to 11 at a time, for the same type of reason. He didn't have to work at all, but he had made enough money and financially freedom, that's what he wanted to do, he still probably worked 70 hours a week to literally the last two months of his life. That's what freedom look like. And soI think everybody has to know that. You need to have a super clear picture of that, because as you mentioned, things take longer and marketing growth than you want and a lot of things don't go well- transaction, how many people I've been, you're literally at closing. And it doesn't go through yet. But you've done more than a couple dozen transaction that happened. So how do you pick yourself up? You see what the future looks like?
Mike Swenson: That's awesome. Thank you so much. So if folks want to get a hold of you, or if folks want to learn more about you, what's the best way that they can do that, Kurt?
Kurt Uhlir: Two best ways would be, www.kurtuhlir.com. That's my personal website. That's the hub just like I think everybody else should have. The hub of how you can find out everything that I'm doing, companies that I support, people that I'm coaching a lot of times. Or on LinkedIn, I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn, I share a lot of things, literally, for the business owner and the sole entrepreneur, the team leader, because that's a little bit more of a segment for that. You want to see the behind the scenes, you can always go to Instagram and see my two-year-old. But if you want business coaching things, you're gonna see that on LinkedIn.
Mike Swenson: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming.. I really appreciate you taking the time.
Kurt Uhlir: Thank you. Thanks for having me.