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Reinvention, Persistence, & Recruiting with Lance Berwald

December 16, 2019


This week, I interviewed Lance Berwald, manager of the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services North Properties Office in Edina, Minnesota.

Lance is a professional basketball player, turned Real Estate agent, turned manager.

During our conversation, Lance and I discussed:

  • The power of persistence in real estate sales and management
  • How important it is to simply make contact with your database
  • Transitioning from sales to management
  • Recruiting
  • And a fun bonus story about Larry Bird from the Boston Celtics.

I thought this conversation was especially fun. If you enjoy it as much as I did, please take a moment to post a review and share. Thanks for listening and enjoy!

Lance’s Links

Topics and Timing

Episode Transcript

Start of Interview

Bob Burns: The best adjective I can think of to describe my guest on this week’s show is, punk rock. He’s unabashedly and unapologetically himself. He can sometimes be controversial, but everything he says and everything he does is real. In my mind, in a world where you don’t always know what someone’s agenda is, or where they’re coming from, that realness is pretty refreshing.

Lance Berwald is a second-generation real estate professional. He has sold, he’s been on a top performing team, he is an instructor for the Minnesota Real Estate School, and he currently manages the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services North Properties office in Edina, Minnesota.

Lance, thanks for being on the show!

Lance Berwald: Thanks Bob. Good to have you here.

Bob Burns: So, a fun fact about Lance is that he is in the North Dakota State University Athletics Hall of Fame and was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lance, why don’t we start with a kind of a fun bit. Tell us a little bit about your pro basketball career.

Lance Berwald: Yeah just a short little spin on that. So, I was out of high school and was offered a offered a scholarship and accepted to the University of Nebraska. I went down there for two years.

The team was in a bit of a disarray and a bit of a freefall. It was just not a good place to be. The head coach passed away due to cancer, and an assistant took over who didn’t really like me as a player. So, I opted to leave and transfer. I transferred to a Division Two school.

I went north. Went up to North Dakota, to North Dakota State in Fargo and sat out a year, per NCAA rules, and then played two. You know, when you transfer down, which is essentially what I did, from a very mediocre Division One program, to a division two, your chances of frankly, having any type of a pro career is little next to none.

I was fortunate. I had two very very good years on a very good Division Two team, and then the Lakers thought enough of me that they drafted me. Now, I was released before the season. This is 1984, and yes, they were the World Champions that year. I signed a rookie contract, was released really before the start of the season, and from there, I had an opportunity to go play in France.

I told my wife, I married my high school sweetheart at an extremely young age – 18 and 17, and I told my wife, Sandy. I said, “Look let’s go do this. Let’s go have an adventure for a year or two. We’ll take the girls.” We have two girls, and she agreed.

You know, what was going to be a one to two year adventure for us ended up being a little over 14 years.

Bob Burns: Wow 14 years playing pro ball in Europe.

Lance Berwald: Yeah, it’s a good gig if you can get it, and you know money-wise, it was not the NBA, but it was much more than what I would have made in any normal job here. Plus, when you have the opportunity to live in cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Athens, The Canary Islands, San Sebastian, Spain, you know, you just you wake yourself up in the morning you pinch yourself. It was amazing for us. You know, Southside Minneapolis kid, who really never had delusions of grandeur, or never really thought that far ahead, it was a great opportunity for my wife and I, and our girls.

Bob Burns: So, it’s quite a gear shift to go from the Upper Midwest. Especially North Dakota, Minneapolis, that area to the south of France or to Greece or to Spain, but I bet you it was an even harder gear-shift coming back to the frozen tundra of Minneapolis after San Sebastian.

Lance Berwald: Yeah, I mean you’ve technically, what I had done for over a decade has taken myself out of the workforce here in the United States, for all intents and purposes. Whether that would have been going into education, or business, or even getting into coaching on some level. When I returned, I was on square-one. You know what, I wasn’t even on square-one. I was, you know, minus three.

Bob Burns:  You all but disappeared.

Lance Berwald: Yep, you do you. People forget about you. You’re recreating yourself. My college friends, my high school friends – you know, obviously they’ve advanced in the business world by then. Many of them went into education, they were tenured. A couple had gone into medicine, they were doctors – they weren’t performing their residency, they were full-fledged doctors.

And then, here’s Lance, a guy that played basketball in Europe for 14 years. Yeah, earned a very good living, saw a lot of great things, but what now? I’m a zero.

Reinventing Yourself

Bob Burns: That makes total sense, and it actually relates to the next thing I was going to ask you about – because in in your real estate career – folks listening, Lance and I officed out of the same office as salespeople way back in the day, and one of the things I always kind of admired and wondered about Lance is he has this crazy ability to almost like flip a switch. If he’s two deals short of his goal in a given month, he’s like, okay I’ll go get those two deals. He’s been in management, and he’s been back in sales, and back in management, and Lance has this, really you have this uncanny ability to relaunch yourself, and it just seems easy for you and effortless.

I never knew that about coming back to the states. You basically have been doing this ever since you got out of basketball.

Lance Berwald: Pretty much. I mean, in a nutshell, that’s been my life – is, you know, one thing life provides us, well actually three things, right? We get birth. We get change. Which we all go through, until we die. I mean that’s it. Those are the three things you’re guaranteed in life.

For me, when I came back, it was figuring out what did I want to do.

I wanted to be in sales. I did not want to go back to school and study. I had been on the six-year program to get my undergrad, and I had no desire to go back to school.

I had no desire to get into college coaching. I didn’t want to be the low coach on the totem pole. Starting there. Those guys work for slave wages.

So, I was looking at a lot of different things, and the main thing that kept popping up into my head – we had become very…looking for the word…we had become acclimated to a certain lifestyle and standard of living, and I wanted to replicate that as quickly as I could back here in the states.

Now, I knew some of the things were going go away, obviously, but I figured sales or the ownership of my own business would be the best way to do that.

I don’t know if I ever even told you this, but I for almost a year sold industrial and commercial heating equipment. In a five-state area: Montana, Wyoming, upper third of Missouri. I sold some really sexy stuff. We call them pipes and valves.

Bob Burns: Yeah, I mean it’s a good market for the heating business because it’s so cold here, but it’s not very exciting.

Lance Berwald: It isn’t. You know, it’s a lucrative business. There was some money to be made, but you know what, I didn’t like living out of my car. You know, spending the night in a Motel 8 in Bismarck, North Dakota. You know, or Havre, Montana. That wasn’t for me.

Yes, I traveled a lot while we were in Europe, but you know, it was short trips, and I was back home. It wasn’t a week out in the car making calls, and about nine months in, I knew it wasn’t for me. I had to figure it out.

So, I kind of re-evaluated things, and what did I want to do. I looked at some different business opportunities, which would have required quite a large investment on my part. Which convinced me not to get into those things, and then, you know what, I finally, just the bulb went off, and I thought, “You know what, I need to go talk to Susan,” my mother as you mentioned in my intro.

You know, I’m a second-generation REALTOR®, and I went to her and said, “Tell me about this real estate thing. What do I need to do?” and at that time, she just said, “You know what, you’ve got to go talk to a manager.”

You know, this is pre-Internet, any of that, and so that’s what I did, and I loved what he had to say about freedom, and flexibility, no cap on potential earnings, which is very true in this business, and you know, it was one of those deals. If you can envision it, and you’re willing to put the effort in, you can make it. It’s not easy, as you and I know, and people out there, but you can do it.

Starting A Real Estate Career

Bob Burns: That’s what’s so exciting about this. You evaluated all kinds of other business opportunities, and to start any other business there is a significant investment.

Not that there’s not an investment to get into real estate, but you don’t have to procure inventory. You don’t need commercial space. There’s no intellectual property. There’s no employee base. There’s no payroll system. You can basically start your own business, your own real estate business, with however long it takes you to go through the pre-licensure process. In Minnesota, I believe it’s 90 hours, and other states it’s less, in other states more. A couple thousand dollars, in the case of most markets, and now you own your own business.

Now, you’re not going to be automatically successful by flipping a switch and saying, “OK, let the commission dollars rain down upon me.” You still have to work extremely hard, but at the end of the day, as far as owning businesses go, owning a successful real estate practice is super simple. It’s not easy. It’s very hard work, but it’s pretty simple. Wouldn’t you say so?

Lance Berwald: Yeah, I totally agree with you. One of the simplest businesses out there to create, but it’s not easy to make it profitable.

The beauty is, yeah the amount down to get your business going, we’re talking a couple thousand dollars basically to get up and running. That really appealed to me as I looked at it. Well, if I’m a failure, I’m really out my time and two-grand. I’ll move on and find something else to do. I knew I wasn’t going to be, but that that was my general thought process.

This is a lot different than investing two hundred thousand dollars into a coffee shop. Which is one of the things I looked at, but you know, we had created – my wife and I, a very nice nest egg, but we also had daughters that needed to go through college. We had a mortgage to pay. We had some other things – private schools, we had some other things that money was earmarked for, not for Lance starting a business.

So, when I looked at this, that was the main thing that just kept popping up in my head. You know, eighteen hundred bucks, I can get into this business. I really only need to make one sale and I’ve covered my costs to do business. That was the beauty of this to me.

The Power of Simply Making the Calls

Bob Burns: Super-exciting.

I want to fast forward because, you know, several years went by and you ultimately wound up with an incredibly successful real estate business. What were some of the systems and what still are some of the systems that you use to support yourself to make sure your success is repeatable, predictable, and sustainable?

I like to say, “even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while” and looking at your history and your track record, everything that you’ve done seems to have been very much by design, very much on purpose, with a direction and with an infrastructure behind it.

So, share with the folks listening what that is.

Lance Berwald: I’ve been blessed for many years with a fairly large sphere. Most of my business, and I’m grateful for it, is sphere-based. From my time being a basketball player, from my alma mater, actually the three alma maters, my high school and the two universities I attended. Friends, family, neighbors, I’ve never had a problem with telling them what I’m doing and asking for business, not so much asking for business directly from them, but asking who they knew or know that may be looking to buy, sell, or invest. And to be frank Bob, my key has been utilizing that sphere of influence and making the phone calls. And when I feel I’m short on something, I need to get a deal or two, a lot of times what I’ve done is made a phone call and said, “Who do you know looking to buy, sell, or invest? Who can I help right now?” period end of story.

Bob Burns: It couldn’t be more simple.

Now, you’re in a management capacity, and you see a lot of agents that want to do the same thing that you did years ago: get into this business, and become very successful, and make a good living for themselves. But, at least from my point of view, one of the things that really stops people from realizing that dream is not lack of intelligence, not lack of planning, or process, but the unwillingness or inability, I’m not sure what it is, to just pick up the phone and have that simple conversation like you were laying out. “Who do you know…”

Would you agree with that?

Lance Berwald: I totally agree.

For some, it can be very petrifying to make that call. It really, truly can be. And a lot of times, you’ve got to get that first one made, and then everything follows through.

It’s almost like when you go to the gym. Nobody likes getting to the gym, but once you break the sweat, you’re okay with being there. It’s very much the same thing.

In my situation, I wish I could sit here and tell you that I’ve got all these wonderful programs and systems in place. I have some. I’m probably not as organized as others you’re going to be interviewing in the future with this. My thing has always been persistence, and knowing what I know, and who I know, and knowing that that’s my lane. I’m going to stay in that lane and stay in front of those people, period end of story. I don’t venture outside that lane very often. I truly don’t.

Larry Bird, Persistence, and Believing in Yourself

Bob Burns: It reminds me of a…usually in my classes when we get down to the idea of persistence, and mindset, and motivation, there’s a video that I play. It’s an interview of Will Smith talking to a talk-show host, this was years ago. Will Smith, the famous actor, rapper, man of all seasons, super successful. What he says in the video, and I’ll link to it on the website so everybody else can watch it, is he says, if I was talking to Lance, “Lance, if you and I get on a treadmill, one of two things is going to happen: I’m going to stay on it longer than you, or I’m going to die.” And that’s the only reason that Will Smith says that he has succeeded. He says he’s not the best looking, he’s not the most talented, he’s not the smartest, he’s not anything else but the most persistent. He’s either going to stay on that treadmill longer than you, or he’s going to die. It’s that simple.

It seems to align with what you were saying.

Lance Berwald: It’s pretty much what I’m saying. I’ll give you my little example.

I’ll go into the basketball world. So, I played with a guy in my last year in Spain. Of my 14 years overseas, seven of those were in Spain. And my last year, I was in a city in western Spain called Catedrais. Very close to the Portuguese border. Of all the cities I played in in Spain, it was my least favorite, but still a very cool place.

Anyways, the other American on the team…back then, you had either two to three Americans per team, and then everybody else was made up of the national players from that country. So one of the other Americans is a guy by the name of Kevin Pritchard. A little point guard that it played at Kansas when they won the national championship in 1988. A very good player – very athletic guy. Anyways, good guy, and we were talking in the in the locker room one day because he had spent a year with the Boston Celtics. And one of the stories he told me, kind of a two-part story, but the story was, you could never beat Larry Bird to the gym for practice.

Here is a superstar of superstars. You know, between him, Magic, and Michael, those were the three men back then, right? Those are the dudes. And so, whatever your cup of tea was in terms of style of play, Larry might have been your favorite player. And he said you could never beat Larry. He was always there ahead of everybody. Always.

If he started figuring out that someone else was trying to beat him, he’d come earlier, and he’d come earlier. You could never stay in the gym longer than Larry, because if he knew you were trying to stay in there, he was going to stay until you left. Very much like what you’re saying about Will Smith. He’s going be on there until he dies. This was Larry Bird.

The other thing he told me a story about with Larry and just how persistent the guy was. He comes up to Kevin, who was a rookie at the time, and says to him, “Rookie, let’s shoot free throws for paychecks.”

So, Pritchard’s on a guaranteed rookie minimum contract. Back then, probably $150,000. So, he’s probably getting about a $12,000 a month check. Bird’s probably about $2,000,000 a year at that time. Very different from what we see now in the NBA, but nevertheless, a lot of cash, right? A lot of money.

And he says to him as they’re standing at the free-throw line talking and jawing at each other, he said Bird wasn’t even looking at the basket. Standing at the free-throw line. Throwing up shots. Netting them. And they’ve got a couple ball boys running around picking up the balls, bringing them to him, and he’s just challenging him. Let’s shoot free throws for paychecks.

And I said to Prichard, I said Kevin, “What did you do?” And he goes, “Are you kidding me? He had me so intimidated, there’s no way I would have beat him.”

Bob Burns: So, he lost before he even picked up a ball.

Lance Berwald: It was already in his head. He wasn’t willing to even try. That’s kind of where I’m going with this. Sometimes, you’ve just got to try. Okay, yeah, if he would have lost, he would have lost probably around $12,000.

They go back in the locker room after he begged off and said, “No, I can’t do it. I can’t afford it.”

He walked in, Bird, in his locker, had a stack of uncashed paychecks. About eight or nine of them. All at around $200,000 to $300,000 apiece sitting in his locker. And he went and grabbed those checks, and he walks up to Kevin and goes, “Rook, this is what you could have won if you had” (sorry for my language) “if you had the balls to play me and shoot against me.”

Bob Burns: So, there’s a lot of real estate lessons in basketball I’m learning in this conversation.

Lance Berwald: I think, you know, a lot of its persistence, right?

Bob Burns: Also confidence. Whether it’s real or not. It just matters that it’s perceived, right?

Lance Berwald: You know, you perceive Larry as we did back then as the greatest, or one of the greatest. That, in and of itself, is intimidating.

I think sometimes as a new person coming into this business, you’re intimidated by the other REALTORS® out there. Or, just think of the vastness of this business and it’s, you know, we’re only selling houses, but the reality is, I think we look at this and we get so much information, coming from so many angles, it’s hard to break it up. It’s hard to focus in. What do I got to do? You know, how do I shoot those free-throws consistently, over and over like Larry, and have the confidence that you can just stand there and make them?

Real Estate Management, Recruiting, & Retaining

Bob Burns: It’s just spot-on, and I kind of want to pivot over to the management side of the business, if that’s okay, because really, I mean, if you were recruiting me right now, I’m ready to sign. You’ve explained the business to me. You’ve gotten me excited about what the possibilities are, and frankly, folks that are listening to this…there’s there some of them that are in management already, there’s some agents out there that are selling that are thinking about management, but I even think this is a valuable conversation for the just the regular salespeople out there, to think about what the real estate manager’s job really is.

There are many things that a real estate manager has to do, but ultimately, they’re responsible for the success of the office, or the company. And what that means is, they’ve got to do two things, and they’ve got to do them every day, and they’ve got to do them well.

They’ve got to retain their successful salespeople. Keep them with the company. Keep them happy. Keep them successful. Keep them growing.

And they’ve got to recruit new ones to the organization so the company and the office can grow, flourish and thrive.

Now, I know you’re good at both of those things Lance, but based on what you were just talking about, it sounded like a recruiting conversation to me. Is that how you talk to people that are thinking about getting into real estate?

Lance Berwald: Yeah. I’m kind of like Popeye. I am what I am and it’s all that I am.

You know, I don’t know how to fluff things. Bob, you’ve known me a long time. I’m pretty direct, to the point. Yeah, I can tell some good stories from time to time, but the reality is, I mean you hit the nail twice. You have to be recruiting, and you have to be retaining. The Big R’s, right?

You have to be doing those two things every day if you’re going to be a real estate manager, or you know what, you’re going to go out on your own and start your own company…

Bob Burns: Or, I’m going to interrupt you. If you want to be a team leader, same ballgame, different title, right?

Lance Berwald: Can I talk about a pet peeve I have with teams? Sometimes, not at all?

There are a lot of teams out there and I can only talk for Minnesota because I’m only licensed in Minnesota, but there’s a lot of teams out there that will tell you they’re going to train you, and they’re going do these things, but the reality is they’re just trying to play a number game within the confines of a real estate company. They just want to get you under them, and probably get that agent on a little bit lower split than they normally would get with the company. Making promises of leads, and help, and time, and you know what? What I have found in my experience as a manager, there are very, very few teams that actually truly train and take care of the agents under that team leader.

Bob Burns: Well, I mean the fact of the matter is, I agree with what you’re saying, the fact of the matter is being a team leader, being a leader, the word leader is in it, is different than running a successful real estate practice.

The skill set is different. The goals are different. The mindset, the daily structure is different, and I’ve seen so many people…I come from the music world, so it’s similar to the sports world. You can be a successful ensemble player, but if you want to stand up on the podium and leave the organization, very few of those skills transfer over. And I think real estate is the same way. Not to take anything away from you if you’re a very successful real estate agent, but if you want to be a successful team leader or successful manager you’ve got to wake up every day thinking differently than you wake up as a sole practitioner. Right?

Lance Berwald: Absolutely. I mean, when you become a leader, it’s not about you. Period, end of story. It’s about others, and you have to understand that going in. That, you know, your agents come first, and foremost. They are the stars. You know what? They are the star oboe player of the orchestra, or first chair violin.

You know what? You can be the leader of the orchestra, right, but the reality is you’re second fiddle, pardon the pun, to the actual orchestra people, and that’s…sometimes, people have a problem with that. They still try to function under the “I,” instead of the “We.”

Bob Burns: Right. So, let’s bring it back to…I think we need to have another episode where we just kind of dissect real estate teams, and look at really successful ones, and look at ones that could use a little bit of help, but I want to get back to the recruiting conversation. So, let’s talk about new to the business agents for a moment.

Walk me through, quickly we don’t have a ton of time, but walk me through the broad strokes of bringing a new to the business real estate professional into your office.

Lance Berwald: So, depending on where this person comes from. Referral from another agent in the office. I pull resumes, and I’ll call people that look like they’re looking for a position in sales et cetera. You know what? Sometimes I ask people in my sphere, “Who do they know that might be looking to get into a real estate career?”

Real estate is sexy again. This isn’t 2008 where everybody’s bailing the industry. They’re coming in in droves. So, there’s a lot of ways you can get yourself in front of people. Number one, you’ve got to be positive. There’s a reason why you stay in the business for 22 years, as I have. You know? There’s nothing out there that I could do that replicates the income, the lifestyle, the happiness that I’ve received from this business. There’s nothing out there, period end of story. I can’t say that enough. When I get up in the morning, I’m happy to come into the office. I’m happy to go have a coffee with somebody. I’m happy to go to a final walkthrough. I’m happy to sit down with a possible recruit and get to know them.

That’s first and foremost. You’ve got to be happy. You’ve got to sit down with that person. Be willing to have a conversation, and get to know them as quickly as you possibly can, to build rapport. Without rapport, you’re not going to gain trust. They’re not going to get into the industry, or even join your office, if they decide to go to class, if they don’t trust you. You have to build trust.

Once you have the trust, now we can talk about what’s your business proposal to them. OK? I spent a lot of time in putting mine together. What would a career look like at this office, here in Edina, Minnesota. What a career would look like with the brand that I represent, that we represent. And I have a list of probably about 50 items with 50 bullet points of the positives of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices North Properties, and frankly the positives of the Edina office. It’s all kind of intermingled. And I go through those, answer as many questions, and take it from there.

I also realize that my front door is a revolving door. I have to always be recruiting. That is a huge key. And when you first get into management, and you start running a real estate office when you’re a rookie, that’s a hard thing to understand at first, because nobody told me. I had been in the business about six months in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. You might remember that, and I finally had lunch with one of my fellow managers, who I have a lot of respect for. Who was a heck of a recruiter, and he’s the one that said to me, “You know, Lance look at that front door as a revolving door.” And I asked him, I said, “Kevin, why are you telling me that? He goes, “Well, what would you do if so-and-so, your top agent, left tomorrow. For whatever reason. They retired. They passed away. They got out of the industry. Who do you have on deck to replace them?”

That made me think, and I thought, “You what? He’s right.” And this is an easy business to jump around.

Bob Burns: Here’s a cold fact. Just to piggyback on what you just said. As a manager, or as an owner, you can do everything right. You can have the right culture. You can have the right training. You can have the right tools. You can have the right staff. You can have the right location. You can run the perfect business. And you will still lose approximately 10 to 12 percent of last year’s production this year, unless you’re recruiting.

Lance Berwald: Absolutely. It’s just part of the industry, you know. Some of it isn’t losing to a competitor. Some of it is they get out of the business. They retire. Unfortunately, people pass away. We go back to the three things life promises you. There you go. There’s change. Right? And it happens. You have to always be recruiting, and then doing your best to retain what you have.

Bob Burns: Let’s talk a little bit about the process for an experienced recruit. That’s a lot more challenging in some ways. They’re entrenched in their current environment. They’re plugged in with their current office, and their peers, and their tools, and their systems, and they’ve kind of built their business inside of a different brand than yours.

Is the talk-track different for an experienced recruit walking across the street to your office than they are for a new to the business agent? Or is it just the same kind of skillset but more persistent?

Lance Berwald: I think it’s the same kind of skill-set, but more persistent.

I think the difference is, let’s talk about fishing here Bob, something that both you and I like to do.

You’re talking about, since we’re in the Midwest, we’ll talk about muskies not whales. You’re talking about fishing for a muskie, right?

Bob Burns: People that have never seen a muskie…picture a long fish. It’s big, like a barracuda, but only in fresh water.

Lance Berwald: That’s right. Barracuda on steroids. Very difficult to catch. There’s just not that many of them out there. They call them the fish of 10,000 casts. So, you got to make a lot of casts to catch one. I would equate when you go fishing or an experienced agent, it takes a lot of casts before you’re even going to get a nibble or a bite.

And that’s what it starts with. And a lot of what I try to do with those people…I’m not pushy. I don’t try to force them over right away. I don’t go with the hard-sell. I just keep the lure in front of them. I keep myself available. I offer a coffee. I offer a lunch. Anything they want to talk about, I’m there. I get myself in places where I know those agents will be. Local Association events. If there’s an open house. New company comes in the area and they do an open house. Well, guess where Lance will go? When you’re 6’10” and 300 pounds like me, you can stick out like a sore thumb, and you can leave an impression. So, I try to do things like that.

With them, it’s time, it’s effort, and normally, I’ve had very few where I met with them one time and they’ve made the decision right then and there. It’s a process. Then it depends on them how long that process is going to be.

Then, you have to look at things where we are in the market? Where are they currently in their production? Where is real estate in general at that time? And then they still might not make a move, even with a great proposition put in front of them. Sometimes, it takes literally a catastrophe – office they’re at, where manager quits, they make a change, they close the office, something of that nature that really upsets their world. Then, you might have an opportunity to catch that muskie.

Bob Burns: So, here’s the really important thing that’s a subtext, a foundation to everything that you just said about the 10,000 casts, and it’s a timing, and a relationship, and a long-game sort of thing.

If you’re in management, and you think that recruiting is one of those things that you’ll get to after you deal with all of the other stuff. If maybe there’s time. You know, Monday through Friday, Saturday, Sunday – you’re busy dealing with issues. You’re busy running the office. You’re doing kind of administrative work, and then, if there’s time left over, you’re going to make a recruiting call or two. It’s going take you a long time to get to cast number 10,000, and actually meet your office growth goals, right?

Lance Berwald: Absolutely. First thing you’ve got to do every day once you get settled in the office, get your recruiting calls out there. It’s got to be the first. It’s very similar to being a strong listing agent who makes their calls every day, right? They set aside that hour to three hours, whatever, five hours, to make their calls. It’s the same thing.

I try to schedule a couple of times a day when I’m in the office, where I’m calling agents, or texting. A lot of times, right now, a lot of it’s leaving messages. It’s chumming the water. Trying to get the fish up.


Bob Burns: There’s so many parallels there, and we’re going pretty long in this conversation. I’m pretty engaged, and it’s pretty compelling, but we’re over the time that Lance, he’s got to get to an appointment, but I want to ask you for a few more minutes.

I have two more questions. Second to last question is: In both your basketball life and in your real estate life, you’ve had an opportunity to work with some incredible people. Can you share some of the things that you’ve learned from the mentors and the teachers in your life and in your business?

Lance Berwald: Yeah. You know, I’ve been really, really lucky and grateful with the people that have given me the opportunity to ask them questions, to learn. They’ve given me the opportunity to emulate them. Frankly, to follow in their footsteps. I’m not the most creative guy, but I’m really, really good at plagiarizing, and if I like something you do, I might go ahead and just take that, and then tweak it Lance Berwald style.

So, over the years, I mean since I got in the business, I had, you know my mother, which as you know Bob, she was a machine, and probably the best geographical farming agent I have ever come across. And in my past company, I don’t think they had anybody better than her when it came to geographical farming. She was amazing. She really was.

I’ve had some great leaders, managers, who put time and effort into me. My first manager, who’s still one of my mentors, even though we’re competing against each other now, at different companies. He’s the one that saw my ability to lead. He’s the one that came to me and said, “Let’s talk about management.” When he first asked me that, I said, “Why would I want to go do that? Why would I want to screw up my life and spend less time at my cabin. Spend less time fishing. Spend less time coaching. Why?” And he said, “You know what? Because you’d be good at it.” And he’s the one that got me looking at this, because we all love making a good living. It’s part of the reason you get into this business. But, it’s almost a letdown for me, Bob, when I’m a REALTOR®, and I close the deal, and I no longer have these people to help. Whether it’s a listing. Whether it’s a seller, or a buyer. Yeah, I like the paycheck, but it’s a letdown. I’m not going to be talking to this person as much as I once was.

Being a manager is the same thing. You know? I really get more excited out of helping my agents any way I possibly can. Much like a listing. Much like a buyer. That’s why I think I like the management side probably more than the actual selling. You make less money. Let me just put that out there to anyone that’s thinking about getting into management. You need to understand you’re going to make less money. If you’re making more money than your agents, you’re doing something wrong.

Bob Burns: Yeah, even Phil Jackson made less money than his players.

Lance Berwald: Yeah, very, very true. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it. You’ve got to like being…I’m a little large for the analogy, but I’ll just say Yoda. You’ve got to love being a Yoda, and I do enjoy that. I love being…part of the reason why I keep getting pulled back into management…I love being part of leadership. I love helping in the direction that a company wants to go. Those are the things I take pride in. Granted, I still have to go out and sell a house here and there to pay bills. But it’s really a gratifying job.

Bob Burns: I totally agree, but again, it comes back to what we were talking about with team leaders and with salespeople. You’ve got to have a “We” mindset, rather than a “Me” mindset.

Know Your “Why”

Bob Burns: Last question, Lance, is: What single piece of advice…we want a lot of different directions today…but if you could boil down one bit of advice that you’d give to everyone listening right now, whether they’re on the sales side, or with a team, or in management, or maybe they’re just an employee supporting the real estate sales process, what do you want to leave people with as the most important bit of advice that Lance Berwald could give them?

Lance Berwald: Just because we put on a class last Friday, as a company. We put on a day-long event for our agents. We did some business planning, and had a couple of agent-led panels that were great. One of the things that came up in there, and I would just throw this out there, if you’re going to be in this world, you have to know what your “Why” is. First and foremost, you need to know that, and what gets you up every morning, and why are you doing it.

Bob Burns: All right, we’ll leave it at that. Know your why, work hard. Anyone can make it if they work hard and know their why.

Lance Berwald with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices North Properties in Edina, Minnesota, thanks for your time today, and thanks for all the knowledge you shared with everybody listening.

Lance Berwald: Yeah. Thanks Bob. Hopefully we’ll do it again.

Music: “My Everything” by Roads used under license from Tribe of Noise.

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