Have you ever looked at a successful person or business and thought, ‘I’d love to know how they think?’
I have. I always do, especially regarding the elite level of business people, performers, sports people AND estate agents.
And while Yvon Chouinard, Stormzy, Serena Williams and Lionel Messi may not be on my phone’s Favourite Contacts, I was recently lucky enough to get a sneak peek behind the curtains at one of the UK’s top agencies.
Location Location in Stoke Newington has won many industry awards over the years. From the Best Single Office Agency in 2019 at The Negotiator Awards to the Best Overall Branch in the UK in 2020 in the Best Estate Agency Guide.
They started in 2006, and fittingly for an agency whose office is next to a bus stop, they’ve been going places ever since – although in a far more consistent and reliable way than TfL’s buses.
Last week, myself and leading industry trainer and top bloke Stephen Brown were invited to one of Location Location’s mindset training sessions.
They call it Levels, and having had the privilege of watching it unfold, it’s one of the main reasons they are at another level when it comes to estate agency.
The session was held on a Monday afternoon in their office’s boardroom/training centre.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’d been told by their powerhouse of an MD, Vicky Bibiris, to expect something different. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Essentially, it was five sessions presented by members of their team covering themes of:
Expectations and Emotions
Thoughts Become Things
Culture, Values and Behaviours
The Compound Effect
A false start
First up was Expectations and Emotions, which Anna and Donna were delivering. The trouble was Anna was late. The tension was palpable in the room, especially because two outsiders (me and Stevie B) were awkwardly shifting in their seats.
“Where’s Anna?” was asked several times during the wait.
Then bounding down the stairs, she appears, smiling and revealing that it was all part of a role-play to get us to feel something about her ‘lateness’.
They asked their teammates how Anna being ‘late’ had made them feel and what they expected.
It was a very clever move as it did create emotions (I felt a little disappointed this elite agency couldn’t kick off a session on time, others felt anxious they later revealed).
It also highlighted our expectations (I expect people to be on time and be organised).
But what was fascinating was how open the team were about discussing their emotions. It was clear this group cares about each other as people, not just as fellow professionals.
The presentation went on to look at where emotions come from, and the impact risk and reward have on them.
There was also a handy section on managing emotions.
It was clear that this is a workplace where it’s ok to not feel ok, where ‘manning up’ isn’t helpful and where vulnerability, rather than being a weakness, is a huge sign of strength.
You don’t need eyes to see. You need vision
Next up was Thoughts Become Things – Christina and Jazz led this session which looked at the importance mindset plays in everything.
It covered how having a clear vision and set goals is a massive indicator of the chances of being successful in any endeavour.
What stood out about this session was the agency’s owner, Asad Riaz, sharing his experience of putting a vision board together in the past and how everything on it, including turnover, new house, car, etc., became a reality. He’s updated his vision board for the next five years, so he is not resting on past glories.
He made it abundantly clear that having a vision is one thing, but it’s meaningless without the attitude and capacity to work hard to bring it to life.
The team talked at length about how make or break having the right mindset will be as we all enter into more challenging times for the economy and housing market.
Again, another hugely interesting presentation.
The culture club
Pete and Drew were next up to deliver their thoughtfully put-together session on Culture, Values and Behaviours.
Recently, I’ve become fascinated with workplace culture, so this session was right up my street.
The guys looked at the difference between values and behaviours, including a quick quiz.
The High-Performance podcast (check it out if you haven’t already) was mentioned more than once during the day. When Pete mentioned it, I thought of something that the pod’s presenters often talk about – the importance of cultural architects within a team.
These people’s behaviours naturally reflect the values of the business/team/organisation. LL appears to have a team full of them.
They also shared a remarkable story about the late great basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his obsession with discipline, details and hard work.
Drew and Pete both spoke about the vital element that any successful group or individual brings to their work – consistency.
I noticed that during a discussion the team had about LL’s culture, values and behaviours, Asad and Vicky watched and listened without getting involved. This struck me as a mark of how influential and clear their culture is. You don’t get told how to act in the best sports teams and organisations. You see it, feel it and absorb it daily.
The culture here feels like an invisible map guiding their decisions and behaviour so that they always end up in the correct location.
One hand washes the other
Pantelis came next with a presentation on Impact.
Peppered with humour and wit, Pantelis spoke about how things can impact us positively and negatively.
He highlighted his work colleague Drew as someone who had positively impacted him.
This was due to Drew’s progression at LL and how he is developing as a person and agent.
Drew was visibly touched by this and later shared something I found really interesting. He said that sitting behind Pantelis every day and watching and listening to how he went about things significantly impacted his behaviour.
So unwittingly, both guys had helped each other in ways they hadn’t realised until they were at this mindset session.
How a little becomes a lot
We were more than four hours into the Levels training, but it felt like half an hour.
Time flies and all that.
Last but by no means least were Jason and Adam. They came in at the weekend to create their session (speaks volumes, eh?), which was on The Compound Effect.
It was a clever, fun and creative presentation. Well, you wouldn’t expect anything less from the pair, as they are the marketing minds at LL.
It brilliantly highlighted how the small things we do daily can hugely impact us positively and negatively.
It was a fitting finale to an intriguing, interesting and inspiring day.
One of the best life skills I learned during journalist training is watching people when no one is looking at them. It speaks volumes about what they are really thinking.
And I noticed during the presentations and group chats that they listened to each other.
Not just head nodding but real listening followed up with thoughtful responses and questioning.
It was only during the final session that something struck me.
The only time estate agency had been mentioned during the afternoon was when Stephen and I mentioned it when we chipped in with our thoughts.
I think that’s worth thinking about.
How many agencies do you know who would hold a training session that wasn’t anything to do with estate agency BUT simultaneously has everything to do with being great estate agents?
I spoke with Asad at dinner afterwards and asked him whether there was a little bit of him or Vicky that thought a Monday afternoon could be better spent prospecting.
His answer was definitive. “These sessions are far more valuable than three or four hours hitting the phone. Prospecting is, of course, essential but going into it with the right mindset is absolutely crucial.”
“Without the work, the magic won’t come.” – Jay-Z
Following the session, I’ve been asked by several members of our content club what I thought makes LL special.
It’s their togetherness.
The way they are so open with each other.
The affection they seem to genuinely have for each other.
They laugh together, and I’d imagine they also cry together.
It’s the way the leaders aren’t scared to show vulnerability.
How the team seem to identify as winners without being blighted by excessive egos.
Their obsession with learning and how their culture comes to life through how they act and serve each other, their community and, of course, their clients.
And something which only hit me a week after my visit. They trust each other. The team trust the management and the management trust the team. When you look at how cohesive organisations, and indeed societies work, trust is always the foundations they are built upon.
I got the sense that this is an intense place to work, with very high standards and a culture of working hard and looking after people.
Something Vicky said really stood out. When speaking with the team she discussed how they would react to the recession, “We won’t be outworked OR outlearned, that’s for sure.”
That last bit, ‘we won’t be outlearned’ – how many agencies or indeed businesses are even thinking like that, let alone living by it.
So, thank you to Asad, Vicky and the LL team for their hospitality, openness and kindness.
And thanks to you, dear reader, for taking the time to read and, hopefully, reflect on this.
PS: Some great phrases/soundbites I noted during the afternoon included:
“Always take extreme responsibility.”
“Recognise the importance of mind over mood.”
“It’s your choice how you react to something.”
“If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
“You need unwavering faith that you’ll succeed in the end.”