Lesli Akers - President of KW Luxury International
In this episode of the Road To Growth podcast, we are pleased to introduce you to Lesli Akers. Lesli is the President of KW Luxury International. As the Hall of Fame Team Leader of one of the world’s largest, most profitable real estate offices for nine years, Lesli Akers knows a few things about growth and adding value. Under her leadership, the Keller Williams DFW Southlake (Texas) market center grew to nearly 700 agents and consistently ranked among the company's top performers. She is passionate about teamwork and succeeding with and through others and exemplifying the core values of Keller Williams.
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Unknown Speaker 0:00 You entrepreneurs today we have Leslie acre. So if you're in the real estate field if you're with Keller Williams especially luxury you know of her, she is the head of all of Keller Williams luxury, yet she also runs a team at a Texas she kind of talks about her mindset and how she has been able to build her team. Build her brokerages and and now kind of building out Keller Williams luxury. Unknown Speaker 0:28 Please subscribe, take a listen. And of course tell your friends Unknown Speaker 0:34 welcome to the road to grow success of an entrepreneur, raise the bar learn firsthand from successful business owners and create your own path to success. It's time to hit the road to grow with Dean lead of the Americas group realtor. Unknown Speaker 0:51 I am glad to finally be here with you Leslie. It's it's been, I don't know months, maybe a year I don't know a long time to get you on the mic. Unknown Speaker 0:59 I know Vinnie, what is up with that? I am so sorry, I have looked forward to this. You know, like I say, when I met you, I was so impressed with you and your presence. But I think what I took away more than anything was your work ethic and how you, you take action. And so when you invited me, I thought, absolutely, you are doing some innovative things in your business and more than happy to be a part of it and honored to be so thank you. Unknown Speaker 1:28 So I know why it probably took you a good amount of time to get on here. You wear so many hats. You're you have your own real estate team. You're head of luxury for all Keller Williams International. You also run a couple different market centers. Anything else? Correct. Unknown Speaker 1:45 I also have a real estate team and a small expansion team as well. Unknown Speaker 1:53 Wow. And I'm guessing let's just start now you got a lot more that's going to be coming up in the next months and years, huh? Unknown Speaker 2:00 Absolutely big plan sets. You know, it's, it's interesting. It's not about how busy Do you want to be. It's when you're passionate about what you do, which for me, my passion is quite frankly serving others and more of a servant leadership perspective. And so the more people you're able to impact, and when it's actually your business, your business just innately grows, but because it's coming from the right place, or at least that's what I choose to believe. Unknown Speaker 2:29 So, talk me Where did this passion come from? You just little kids start slinging houses. Where did it all come from? Unknown Speaker 2:36 You know, I wanted to be a realtor from the time I was 12 years old, Vinnie, honestly, and I loved the realtor that my parents had her name was Kathleen and I bought wore her out while they were. She was working with my parents because I had a million questions and you know me, I asked a million questions. It's so but after we bought our house in Austin, my parents bought it I was like, Oh my gosh, I am going to be a real estate agent. And I will tell you that God kind of had other plans. So after school I went in to the healthcare industry, I actually was in senior living and senior housing. And it was a fantastic I've always been in sales. Because I look at sales different to me, sales is such a great opportunity to help me people make really great decisions on a purchase, right? So I feel like if you come from a place where you can inform and answer questions, and represent a product that you truly believe in, that it's more about educating someone and helping them with something they may need. Right and so Unknown Speaker 3:50 well, where did that mindset come from? And that seems like a very mean well thought out idea, especially for if this was a young age having this mindset But it's pretty powerful right there. Unknown Speaker 4:02 Well, I've always been in sales, or as my mom would say you were always a convincing child. And so I always, you know, I don't know why. I just think that was one of my gift sets. But at the end of the day, I wasn't thinking that at 12 but after college, I actually graduated from Purdue. And right after college, I took a sales position course I sold jewelry. Oh, you'll love this many. I sold jewelry out of my dorm room. Okay, so one of my best friends in Well, I should say she's older than me, but she's awesome. And she started this great jewelry company. And at the time, this was way before you were born. There were there were these necklaces called added beads, and every sorority person and just college young lady wanted these necklaces of gold and Lapis and whatever. Well, my friend had all these and she would sell almost wholesale. So she would ship it to me and I would sell it to all the folks at school. Now, that's when I was at Ole Miss, right? I started my college career at Ole Miss the University of Mississippi. And that's where I was selling it. And they had a very heavy sorority based school. So it was a great business. Then, after college, then and I went from Ole Miss to the University of Texas, and then graduated from Purdue. So I also believed in I always say, I honed my social skills in college and time management, right because you got to meet all these people. So after college, I took a role in sales with vector marketing and that is the company that represents Cutco. No and and so vector marketing was actually courses being taught at different universities all over the country in it was some of the best sales training I ever had. And I loved it. And so I took that passion for sales, but I will tell you they call me the velvet hammer. So I may be a hard closer, but it's more about coming from a place of contribution and finding out being very consultative and not overselling something. Right. Unknown Speaker 6:28 Let me jump in for one second. So for people listening right now Cutco, at least in the San Diego market, and you know, I guess Southern California market is very big on for the sales of realtors, realtors, and giving us a product to give to our clients. So I don't know if it's the same out there in Texas. Unknown Speaker 6:46 Oh, yes, yes. And when I was with them, I mean, Vinnie, this was a long time ago, when when I was doing it. They weren't allowed to have corporate accounts like that. This was all door to door by appointment, and I was really proud to say I was ranked when I left that I was ranked number 17 out of 20,000 sales associates. And so I enjoyed the competition of it. I enjoyed the interacting with people. And you know, we had these huge I'll give you an example. What I learned through that process was the importance of lead generation. Because every day I would make calls to people I knew I worked my sphere. Okay, I worked my sphere, who did I know? Who did I know? And then who did they know? And who did they know? And then I really looked at it Who can I help? Right now even though it was from a place of you've got horrible knives, you need help. But still, my intent was, who do you know that I need to know right? In in So anyway, I honed those skills of lead generation and setting appointments following a schedule and not stopping till I had all the appointments set that I intended to set. And so I would go on a presentation and if my my appointment wasn't there I go door knock next door, and I'd go until I met with enough people that hit my goals for the day. Right? And when I was that, that's why you and I connected by the way, this is how you do your business. I've watched you and so for me to be able to do that right. And then what I found is on those presentations and those knife appointments, believe it or not, even though we had these huge sets that you could sell or whatever for me, it was important to sit and find out what was important to them. Show me the product you have now tell me what you like about that the most. What do you wish your product did? What are you looking for now? You even know what you're looking for in a knife. Let me tell you more about quality and why there is a difference. And then helping them educating them on what was special about a knife and why and ours were expensive. Okay, but what I would say is they were a great value. So I explained the value, I learned how to present a value proposition through a very consultative approach. And so from that, that would always sell just what you needed. Right. Not oversell you with hopes that you'd add to it. Right and most people did. So after that, I went into the senior housing and applied that same concept of the consultative selling. But this was so personal because you're affecting people's lives right at the highest level. It was probably one of the toughest sales I ever had because here I am working with seniors and the seniors are looking At a retirement community, you have to remember this. This was back in the late 80s, early 90s. They were looking at a retirement community as an old folks home, or the last stop, right, if you will. And so what I wanted to show them is no, this is all about lifestyle and service and fine, and, you know, at a supportive environment. So it was probably one of the toughest sales I ever had. But what where I honed my sales skills in that was really getting good at listening, and coming from that place of how can I genuinely help and serve you and your family? Right. Unknown Speaker 10:41 And that that was wonderful. I did that career for a while I was a regional marketing director and the National troubleshooter and then went on to do many other things in that field, including my own consulting company. And then I've finally got to go into real estate my dream and night 96 with a little unknown company called Keller Williams. And at the time, nobody really knew who we were I was in the Dallas Fort Worth area. And but I joined Keller Williams book and get this now, unlike today where we're the leading training company, in real estate in the country, right. Back then we didn't have training yet except it was organic. Just who in your office could help you. I joined Keller Williams, because of my sales and marketing background, that I was able to brand myself and I knew how to position myself. Right. And so that's how I chose Keller Williams. Fast forward. I love real estate, I cannot wait to get in it. year and a half later, I had an opportunity back in my senior living career that I just couldn't pass up for a very strong title position. And so I took it came back into real estate in 2001, with another company, and quite frankly, joined a team and help that person who is in the top, one of the very top in our market, helped him build his team. And then I built my own team and then I got recruited in 2008 to run Keller Williams, South Lake DFW office and took that office from about 300 agents to over 650 through my tenure there and had the opportunity to apply that servant leadership for all those years. Unknown Speaker 12:42 So did you have a plan or two? Well, first, it was joining real estate it didn't really work out you got to title then you got back into real estate. Unknown Speaker 12:51 No, it worked out. I was actually up for Rookie of the Year. It worked out really well. And by the way, sowing those seeds Write your first year in the business. And if I may, Vinnie, what I recommend to new agents all the time, your first year in the business is about learning. Okay? You need to be a sponge. It's like building a house. If the foundation isn't poured correctly, the walls won't be straight. The framing won't be right in you won't have the quality, right. Same thing with your real estate career, you got to build a very solid foundation. So be a sponge and learn. In my first year I'm learning. I'm getting out there, I'm sowing seeds. And I had good success. But by the mid year of my second year into it, so a year and a half into the business. I had almost triple the business in my pipeline, but I was offered a senior level title back in the retirement industry. So to run a sales and marketing division of a very large retirement Corporation. And so I took that title position meaning a, a high title within the company, but it was in the senior living industry. Unknown Speaker 14:12 So did you have a plan when you made jumps? Or were you recruited in a lot of these different little jumps over? Or do you open to opportunities as they kind of came about? or How did that work out as some people will kind of go with the flow and we'll have a more concise gameplan Unknown Speaker 14:28 you know, mine wasn't truly planned, I just expected to be successful. So for me, I was always looking for that opportunity to grow personally and professionally, and nail it, whatever I was going to do, I'm very competitive. Okay. And so I was just going to nail it. And what was interesting and what I find in life is when you're coming from a place of serving people, and I mean serving from a service Heart, right helping them make the best decisions they can make for them. I found that opportunities presented themselves. When I was selling Cutco for vector marketing, I got approached by several investment houses that wanted me to go more on to the financial side and sell more in the stocks and bonds and get more into the investment side of things. So it's interesting and then as I've been selling real estate, you know, people want to know what you're doing when what you're doing is working at a high level, except for the more people that I was around, they might be attracted to me to help them take their business to the next level. Okay. Unknown Speaker 15:47 So how do you weigh stuff to bring more on your plate because you're you you're building a team and then you're taking on basically Platt has at Keller Williams the luxury And kind of just adding more hats yourself? Do you have a process where you sit down and wait things out? Is it going with your gut? Or how does that work out? Unknown Speaker 16:09 Well, it's interesting. It's a, you have to have a plan, right? Yes, at this point, yes, you have to have a plan. But opportunities sometimes come when you least expect them. And yet, it's kind of like being prepared. As long as you're prepared in your skill set and what you're doing and you're open to opportunities, then yes, you have a plan to keep growing in those areas. But sometimes those opportunities come out of nowhere, right. But if you're prepared, you're able to step into the right ones. And so, like at Keller Williams, we're a company based on performance. So opportunities arise when you're performing at a very high level. Okay. Unknown Speaker 16:56 Well, you're gonna ask you to talk. Unknown Speaker 16:58 No, no, yeah. Talking about bass. see opportunities coming out of like, at a very high level? I mean, you haven't. And we've talked about this before in the mic in the past about some of the not the highlights, but the cut the downlights the the dark times that you've had to kind of work through and it seems like it made you stronger. Can you talk about maybe some of those lower moments? Unknown Speaker 17:20 Sure. Absolutely. Well, you know, I, I feel very fortunate, Vinny. Okay, so my dad is the former head football coach at the University of Texas. And he was an assistant coach for Darrell royal for 10 years, and then he was head coach for 10 years. And so I'm telling you this for a reason. So a lot of this that you see comes naturally because I live with a great leader, right? And my mom's probably one of the best salespeople I've ever met in your life and is genuine in suede, and it's just awesome and so anywho My brother actually played quarterback for my dad. Now he wasn't first string. He was third string. My brother was barely 510. I still would tell you he's really wasn't quite 510. And this was the same guy that after college was on a semi pro basketball team, you getting this picture, right? So he thought he was seven feet tall, but he wasn't. He was like five, nine and a half. And, but he had the heart of a lion and a heart of a champion. And so anyway, as I was going through my brother, worked for the Pacific Institute, and then that's where you you teach people, if you will, how to think. All right, some of the folks like Tony Robbins trained there. very notable people have trained there. My brother was a facilitator of that information. He was genius at it. And anyway, so it was my dad and he led his teams through visualization. And positive thinking and setting goals and how to think differently, right? So he might my dad at a company together, where they coached business owners and executives all over the country in all different disciplines. And he was very impactful. And my brother was also my business coach, and just my life coach, and he's phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. And by the way, you might find this interesting too. So, we shared our lockers through school, my brother was just like 16 months older than me, maybe 1916 or 19 months older than me. But we were in the same grade. Okay, from sixth grade on so our lockers were side by side forever. And we're very close is what I'm trying to say. We were almost like twins, right? Only he's a lot taller than me, believe it or not. And so anyway, I'm telling you for a reason, very, very, very, very close. Our whole family is very, very, very, very close. And you have to be when you when you have a very public presence, you'll find that your family, you get so protective of your family because your inner circle has to be on guard, if you will. Does that. Does that make sense when you're in the public eye, and so we're extremely close. Anyway. So fast forward. And this was while I was still team leader at Keller Williams, South Lake, and we find out that my brother has renal cell carcinoma. And to date, they don't have a cure for renal cell carcinoma. And what was, you know, really shocking for me is a year before one of my dear friends and past clients had died very Quickly from the same disease. And so when my brother gave me this news Unknown Speaker 21:07 I was scared to death, right? Because I thought, Oh my gosh, he's only gonna have four months to live. And I remember it just, you know, just plain as day finding this out. So, he had a surgery and my entire market center in my opinion, prayed him through the surgery, I found out that he had had we didn't know this till the day of his surgery. He had a 5050 chance not of being cured, but just of surviving the surgery. And he survived it and I'm going to tell you, our whole family grew through this process. It's amazing how very trying times brings out the best in you by overcoming it. Right. It's it's an interesting and I can tie that back to today later. So anywho he survives his surgery. He's he's going through everything going through treatments. He was on a clinical trial. It wasn't working well. And so my brother said, You know what, I'm not doing any chemo, I'm not doing any drugs. So for my brother, we relied on prayer and nutrition, he had a nutritional specialist for that type of cancer. And he tapped into what he does probably better than I would say, the top 1%. And that is he controlled his thoughts, through powerful personal affirmations about his health, through visualization of being healthy. I remember the day that he found out, he asked all of us to never speak about it again. He didn't want to talk about it. Didn't want it discussed. Because in his mind, he was overcoming it and he was healed. He was already healed. He's just going through the process of getting his body healed. And you know, my brother lived just over three years from the point of being diagnosed, which was a miracle in itself. And that journey was wonderful and tough at the same time. Like, again, I said, you know, we were, he was my coach. We also had another small business together. And we were like twins, right? And so I would come home from the market center on Thursdays, and I was the night duty and would help with my brother's care. And we were able to take care of my brother throughout the whole thing. So that was probably the most impactful obstacle I've ever had to overcome in. You still overcome it, right? It's a grief is an interesting thing, but I feel That one of the gifts of going through that Vinny was to be able to genuinely empathize with someone. Okay? Because grief is interesting. And it's something that until you've been through it and just like today people are grieving the environment we're in right now. It's a grief of not being able to do the day to day that we're used to and it's literally a grief but when you've been through it, it actually grows a whole other side of you that you're able to help someone else through it. It's he gives you a different lens to look through. And so as hard as this was I'ma tell you is hard. Unknown Speaker 24:47 My father Unknown Speaker 24:50 just all this happening at the same time my father had developed dementia. And my brother was a master in my in He and my dad had a business together. It was called Akers performance group. And again, where they coached, you know, companies all over the country. And you know, my brother would tell me things like, man, Dad was kind of getting off subject or all these different things. But what we realized was my brother was really covering up he could be that crutch for my dad and my dad had dementia, just starting at the time. And after Danny, my brother passed, oh my gosh, it was just like a downward spiral and my dad's dementia kicked in really heavy. It became very difficult on my mom the stress on my mom, she actually start losing her eyesight, from the stress who has macular degeneration. And, you know, I'm watching all this take place and here I am with a company whose core values are God and family first, then business and I had to really examine this Vinny and look at myself. And what I realized is my my agents meant so much to me, I had kind of indirectly had them put as first family versus my second family. So to make a very cognizant effort of making my ages my second family versus my first family, and that is when I came down to Austin, I realized I need to move home. And this is interesting, Vinnie, this was at kind of a pinnacle of my career as a team leader, right. I was a black belt recruiter. I had one of the most productive market centers in the country. Always in the top five in production, you know, we'd close anywhere from 1.8 to just over 2 billion a year, some of our highest paid agents and we're getting ready to move into a billion thing that I've been working on with our ownership for, you know, almost two years, 40,000 square feet. This was a big undertaking. We're getting ready to move into that building and all this is all happening at the same time, right. And I had to make the decision to put my first family first. And so I came down to Austin and asked john Davis, who was our president at the time, what opportunities were available in Austin. And you know what in now this is where those doors start opening and the right opportunities come along. It just so happened that the President luxury at the time Cathy Nye was looking for her replacements so that saying when one door closes, another one opens, but you got to be prepared to walk through it. I was able to say okay, I'm gonna make a plan to wear that. would make sense right and time. And so I made that transition. And now I'm gonna tell you it was hard leave my agents. And I mean hard, right? And quite frankly, what I ended up leaving. Now you need to understand when I became team leader in 2008, I brought my team with me, I was a mega agent in my market and I had a team. I brought my team with me. My team continued to sell and work with my past clients, I wasn't allowed to sell. They sold on my behalf. Okay. So throughout all this, so now I'm saying goodbye to my daily routine with my agents, my staff, all the business personally that I've built over the last 23 years in that area, to moving income home I literally moved in with my parents to help take care of them. Okay, and it's, it's You know, again that grief of some of that, you know, you find that you are codependent at times on people you don't even realize like my agents. So I would say that was probably the biggest obstacle and and to overcome so far in my life and now with my father in far advanced dementia and dealing with that it's tough Unknown Speaker 29:30 in this process with the info the dementia your your brother passing away, was there ever a moment where you just wanted to like, give up on the world just want to sleep and watch Netflix or just kind of like get out of your daily routine? Unknown Speaker 29:46 Oh, yes you you want to get out of your daily routine you you but here's what I find is that miracle and I will tell you Vinnie, I have a very strong faith. Okay. And without that, I don't know I think it would have been darker. I will I can positively say that to you. And, you know, you just go into at least I do. I go into let's take care of it mode. And you just do because you're gonna do and I'm blessed with you've met me with an inordinate amount of energy. And I'm thankful for that. And I have that can do attitude will do attitude and I won't give up and so, I do you want to plug out, you do but the desire to move forward is stronger. Okay, it is for me. And you know, and I have found that the more you can pour into others, the more it strengthens yourself, especially in those tough moment Unknown Speaker 30:56 while talking about passion, plugging helping others I'd be doing everyone a disservice if I didn't ask if a new agent was looking to get into the luxury industry or just into the real estate industry, what kind of advice would you give them? Unknown Speaker 31:11 You know, I would say learn all you can. And here's the thing luxury is is a component of real estate, okay? And it doesn't matter which segment of the market you're working in you you need to learn what to do. You need to learn that you are running a real estate business. And part of that real estate business is selling real estate. And it's it's not you're not a real estate sales rep if you're running a real estate business, right, because you have all these other components. And the biggest part of selling real estate, if you will, is lead generation, meaning you've got to have people to work with, right so you want to hone your skills in leads. Generation, you want to hone your sales skills, it's not enough to generate a lead or a prospect or you know, make your contacts you have to be able to convert those into appointments. Because if you're not having a face to face, either by zoom today, right or physically in person is that just activity but it's it's not productive activities. And so then you know how much activities create how many appointments and the more appointments you go on, the more people you meet with, the more business you'll have. And that is just how it works. And so once they understand that getting into real estate, you're actually getting into the business of generating people to go on appointments with and I like to look at it as you're getting into the business to really help people get to their dreams. to their next place and when you can come from that place it just takes on a different feeling. Okay, now breaking into luxury, luxury is a different price point. And in either one of these and not just price I mean luxury is a lot of luxuries and interesting deal. Let me tell you, and luxury looks very different today. Okay, luxury is by the sheer essence of it. price point, location, amenities, lifestyles, school districts. I mean there's so many things type of construction product. I mean, it's just it's a whole other thing. And luxury looks very different all over the country. where you're at in Southern California. Luxury looks very different. At a million dollars than a million dollars looks in it Name somewhere else, you know, in Kansas City, it looks very different. Right? 500,000 in some markets is more luxurious than a million and others. So luxury is an interesting thing. But it real estate in general, whether you're talking about your traditional price point or luxury, you need to know the market statistics. You need to understand your market. Why is this construction here in this zip code have a different value versus this over here and this over here? why certain neighborhoods command a different dollar amount than others? And what is the value of that location versus this location? Right and being able to put all that in place because our job is to be able to consult with the consumer. Consult with our clients and give them the information and advice so that they can make an informed decision. We're not making those decisions for them. We're to guide them in making the best possible decisions they can. And so with luxury, what you'll find is typically, the more you know about the luxury market, and again, what makes the difference in these price points, knowing more about the amenity difference, what's the difference between a category three and a category eight? granite, if you will, what's the difference in this type of marble versus this type of marble and why is that important? Right, just, you know, your your sales presentation is different, your your approach is different because your clients expectations are different. So it's understanding those nuances. So I think the easy answer would be just to say training, Unknown Speaker 35:57 the more training you have The more knowledgeable you become with more knowledge you become more comfortable and more powerful knowledge is power. Right and I've often said if you want to be the best negotiator the quickest way to do that is to master the contracts and addendum right? Not know them not go to a class three times mastery of the contract, because that's where your negotiations really that's where you're the expert because it's how you consult your clients through that. Okay, that was a long answer, wasn't it? Unknown Speaker 36:42 Yeah, it was long precise, but it was a good one. You know, let's let's let's finish it off with what's next for Leslie what's what's the future hold that we're talking to a year What's happening? Unknown Speaker 36:55 Oh my goodness. So many things. We are you know, we've been growing, covering Luxury international I'm so proud of our luxury specialists we have over 2600 luxury specialists within Keller Williams luxury International, which is the boutique of Keller Williams and Keller Williams being the largest real estate company the world has ever seen by the way, and our luxury specialists sold over 31 billion this last year. So I'm really excited to see the energy around luxury. I also you know, I'm an operating partner out in San Diego. I'm this year looks like moving in seeing luxury advancing continue to grow and and bring great value to our specialist as well as I'm looking forward to being able to pour in to our associates all over the country and certainly in my market Center in San Diego and I'm looking to start doing more coaching for our leadership and our associates. I'm really excited about that you'll be hearing more about that. Unknown Speaker 38:11 Fantastic well if everyone if you want to listen to right now want to keep up to date with what's going on with kW luxury or other are looking to sell in Texas or find a good realtor in San Diego, what's the best platform for them to follow you or reach out to you or better direction? Unknown Speaker 38:28 Absolutely reach out to me direct my email is Leslie LSL i.ak e RS at kW Comm. And of course, look us up we would love to help you and you've got a lot of great choices there in San Diego. Vinny Of course, being one of them. He's amazing, very impressive. And sure we'd love Hey, by the way, being able to identify your migrational markets. Or your feeder markets, Vinnie, meaning those cities and states that are moving to your local area and from there and where they're going. There's your migrational markets. San Diego and Texas. I got to tell you Southern California moves to Texas a lot, and vice versa. So we'd love to help you. And I have a market center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is also comprised of over 50% of Texans and Californians, by the way, so. Yeah, so if I could help you in any way, please don't hesitate. Unknown Speaker 39:37 Well, you thank you again for being on the podcast. Roger, bro. I loved your story. I mean, I think you need to add a little more energy. You're kind of like bland. But it was great. Thank you again, Leslie, for being on the podcast. Hopefully everyone listening. Got some great good tidbits about this. Thank you. Unknown Speaker 39:59 Well, thank you for Manny, I appreciate it. Take care. Transcribed by https://otter.ai