How to become a principal in your 20s

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Becoming the principal of an agency is a daunting challenge for anyone – let alone if you’re in your twenties.

But for 2019 REIQ Young Guns, Jarrod Perry and Jessica Culling, it was, and is, a natural step in the progression of their already successful careers.

Their achievements not only illustrate their personal strength and character, but also exemplify to other young aspiring agents, that becoming a principal early on in life is realistic and achievable.

At 26 years of age, Jarrod Perry made the leap from sales agent to principal of his own agency, Hutton & Hutton Real Estate (Inner East franchise).

Mr Perry says that self-motivation was pivotal to his success.

“I’ve always been hungry, motivated to make something of myself,” says Mr Perry.

“Something I learnt very early on is that nobody was going to do it for me, if I wanted to make something of myself that was completely up to me.”

Jessica Culling, a sales agent at Kindred, has plans to become principal of her own agency next year, at age 24.

Ms Culling says her character, support and training have been key to her achievements.

“I believe my success is not only attributed to my tenacity, drive and dedication, but also to the support and leadership I have received,” says Ms Culling.

Mr Perry and Ms Culling also attribute networking and mentorship opportunities to the leaps and bounds they have made in their careers.

“When I came into real estate it was a bit different, I didn’t really know anybody so I looked for opportunities to learn from people I wanted to get in front of, like Phil Harris and Thomas McGlynn,” says Mr Perry.

“I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with both of them and they have had a big impact.”

“At Kindred I’m supported to continue my development as a leader with a focus on serving our members within our team,” says Ms Culling.

However, achieving success early in life does not come without adversity.

Pursuing success comes with challenges

Ms Culling has had to overcome the generational stereotype experienced by many – that millennials are unmotivated.

“I see this as a positive challenge which allows me the opportunity to prove the incorrect perceptions wrong,” says Ms Culling.

“Through my actions, results, dedication and ethics, each and every day I break down this stereotype.”

Ms Culling also says she has encountered aspects of ‘tall poppy syndrome.’

“I have had a handful of agents (external of Kindred) attempt to discredit me on public forums or disparage me, however this doesn’t stop me from persevering,” says Ms Culling.

“I must say though that now is the time to be encouraging each other and working together for the sake of progression in the industry, and I am pleased to say that this is my experience 99 per cent of the time.”

The challenges don’t stop once you become a principal, according to Mr Perry.

“Your sale results decline, you’re only one person and a lot of your time and resources are taken away from your everyday business of selling which impacts your income,” says Mr Perry.

“It’s important to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to take a few steps backwards before you start to move forward again.”

The skills and knowledge prospective principals must have!

Both Young Guns say sales agents must develop effective interpersonal communication skills in preparing to become a principal.

“Be good at having the ‘difficult conversations,’ whether it be with a client or one of your team members,” says Mr Perry.

“Tackling issues head on, in an appropriate manner is a key leadership skill.”

“I have gained the understanding and ability to serve my team, listening to and understanding them as people,” says Ms Culling.

“I believe this enables me to provide them with a culture and environment that empowers them to reach their full potential, which is in my opinion, the most important trait of a principal.”

Ms Culling says investing in quality education is also essential, as agents must establish a solid bank of knowledge that they can then draw and build upon.

“I highly recommend young agents start with the best education possible to create a strong foundation to build on,” says Ms Culling.

“I want to be a leader in this industry for many decades to come and my foundation is rock solid to allow this, even at my younger age, thanks to quality education.”

The ‘right’ motive is crucial to a rewarding career

Mr Perry also recommends aspiring agents consider the motive behind their desire, as superficial reasons do not necessarily lead to a rewarding career as a principal.

“If it’s for the money, don’t do it,” says Mr Perry.

“If it’s for the title, don’t do it.

“If you have an interest in helping others, developing skills or have ambition for growth and love real estate, then it could be for you. It’s very different to being an agent, but incredibly rewarding if you have the right ‘why’.”

Persistence, motivation and tenacity are vital to success

The Young Guns’ parting advice to young agents is to be persistent, motivated and tenacious in their pursuit of becoming a principal.

“Ask for what you want and don’t stop until it’s a yes – but also understand at the same time that it’s your responsibility to create the yes, to have the education, skill, ethics and attitude that makes it impossible for someone to say no to you,” says Ms Culling.

“I say go for it, don’t let the opinion of others hold you back, that’s the safe option and you can always ‘do nothing’,” says Mr Perry.

“Even if it doesn’t work out, you will have learnt something from the process and you will soon find out whether or not it’s for you!”

The REIQ will be awarding one real estate practitioner the title of ‘Young Professional of the Year’ at the 2020 Awards for Excellence. This award recognises excellence amongst young professionals in the industry (30 years or under) across all real estate sectors and roles.

Nomination submissions must be received by the REIQ by 5pm on Friday, 1 November 2019. Under no circumstances will late entries be accepted. Finalists will be required to attend a mandatory interview to complement their written nomination between 2-18 December. The REIQ Awards for Excellence will be announced and presented on 14 March 2020 at the Gala Awards Dinner in Brisbane. For more information about the nominations and awards process, please visit REIQ.com/awards, or call 1300 697 347.  Alternatively, visit reiq.com/nominate to go directly to the REIQ’s nomination platform.