5 Steps To Successfully Grow Your Sphere Of Influence • Stan Ponte

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Stan Ponte is the second highest producing real estate agent in New York City! He’s a Senior Global Real Estate Advisor and Associate Broker at Sotheby’s International Realty East Side Manhattan brokerage. During our conversation, Stan talks about how his acting aspirations transitioned into real estate. Stan gives his daily workflow and how that’s been the cornerstone for his success. Last, Stan discusses the 5 steps to successfully grow your sphere of influence.

If you’d prefer to watch this interview, click here to view on YouTube!

Stan Ponte can be reached at +1 646.489.3066.


D.J. Paris 0:00
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Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real, the largest podcast made by real estate agents. And for real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris. I am your guide, and host through the show. And in just a moment, we’re going to be speaking with the number two Top Producing Realtor in New York City, Stan Ponte of Sotheby’s International, and we’re super excited to talk to Stan. But before we get to Stan, just a couple of quick reminders. Please tell a friend you know it is not everyday that we get to talk to super high end producers like Stan, please let other agents in your office know about this show. Send them a link to our website, keeping it real pod.com or have them pull up any podcast app search for keeping it real, hit that subscribe button. While we’re at it. If you could leave us a review on whichever platform you listen to our show, whether it’s Apple podcast, Google Play, Spotify, Pandora, etc. We would love that it helps us get more visibility so that we can reach more realtors, but it also helps us know what you like and what you don’t like about the show so we can keep improving. So please leave us a review and please tell a friend but enough of me. Let’s get on to our main guest now Stan Ponte

today on the show we have Stan Ponte from Sotheby’s International Realty in New York City. Let me tell you a little bit about Stan. Stan Ponte is a senior global real estate adviser and Associate Broker at Sotheby’s International Realty East Side in Manhattan. Stan has been named and this is beyond incredible. We’re so honored to have them and Stan has been named the number two agent in Manhattan by sales volume for his work in 2020, achieving 144 million in sales. According to both the Wall Street Journal and real trends. As a realtor in New York City for the past 21 years. Stan’s client lists range from first time homebuyers to CEOs, philanthropists, hedge fund managers, tech world and innovators and also entertainers. He is known for his extraordinary level of care integrity, and the absolute discretion he provides to his clients. I want everybody if you’re driving a car, don’t do this, maybe pull over first. But if you are passively listening, go to his website at Stan ponte.com. That’s p o n t e. So Stan, p o n t.com. For all things, Stan said, Thank you so much for being on our show. Welcome.

Stan Ponte 3:17
Wow, thank you so much. That’s some introduction. Well, it’s

D.J. Paris 3:20
not it’s not every day that we get to talk to somebody who is in one of the most challenging real estate markets in the country, or certainly the most, one of the most expensive real estate markets, and also thriving, and just doing well. And we are honored to have you here. I always like to start at the very beginning of the story only because our audience tends to love to hear how our guests got into real estate. So if you don’t mind sharing with us that story from 21 years ago, about how why you got into real estate and how that sort of evolved for you.

Stan Ponte 3:56
Yeah, you know, I do tell the story, even though it’s painful to keep reliving it. You know, I, when I read your bio, one of the things that struck me was you’re talking about mentorship. And I really do see mentorship as being willing to share the stories of our lives, you know, what has gotten us where we are, and sort of when it happened. And for me, I came to New York City from a small town in Massachusetts, and I was going to be a big Broadway star. That was my goal. Oh, kidding. Absolutely. I went to so were

D.J. Paris 4:35
you were you a song and dance man. Or?

Stan Ponte 4:38
Well, you know, I still think I’m the song and dance man. But the real answer is I can’t sing. I can’t dance. But I can but I can sell a song. And I can sell apartments but yeah, you know, it’s hard. You come to New York City, went to school of the arts studied at a really famous conservatory called the Stella Adler Conservatory.

D.J. Paris 4:59
That is Beyond famous still out there, my goodness,

Stan Ponte 5:02
Shakespeare and Ibsen and, you know, important stuff. And while I was doing these important things, I started hosting a shopping channel on satellite television, when people had big like, 12 Yeah, like dishes. So 7 million homes all over the country had the satellite dishes. And every day, I would leave NYU at 7pm and go to the Empire State Building. And from the 82nd floor, I would broadcast live this shopping show. But this is shopping shows before there were shopping shows this was like, the producer would get like 500 spiral hands, especially at this time of year, and basically sit live with my buddy from NYU film school on the camera, and I would just sit there eating this spiral ham, you know, piece by piece slowly seeing Oh, we sold 10 We sold 30 we you know, and the producers yelling at me in my ear, we have 480 spiral lambs keep eating, you know, I did a spiral ham is really good. But two and a half hours later that that that sugar coding relates, right? Get to you. Anyway, that’s a good example of why my acting career didn’t work. I was classically trained and hocking stuff on TV. And not even big TV like QVC, or home shopping network. This was on satellite TV. So it’s just all of it didn’t work. And so there I was, you know, literally couch surfing, living on a friend’s couch in Greenwich Village in New York, and waiting tables and doing all the stuff you already see your starving actors doing. And my good good friend who was my pizza buddy, because the best thing you can eat in New York City is pizza slices, because you get four C slices and a Diet Coke and like $1.99 at the time, and we would go and share, et cetera. So one day, he calls me or probably I probably didn’t, I didn’t have a phone and he came to the apartment, like buzzed the apartment, on the third floor walk up and off we go. And he’s like, You know what, tonight I’m treating you to dinner. I’m like, oh, okay, big spender, you know, dollar 99. And next thing you know, we’re sitting in this amazing steak restaurant, in the village in the Meatpacking District, actually, and treats me to this beautiful big dinner. And I’m like, well, that’s going on here. And it turns out that he had just gotten his real estate license and started doing deals in real estate, and didn’t want to tell me until he turned to have a month or so. under his belt. I’m like, you make money in real estate in less than a month doing? He’s like, Yeah, I do rentals, people like call the office. And I just go and do as they pay 15% of the first year’s rent. Mike has never even heard of that. So I laid in bed and been in the couch. Over macdougal street while people are like. For some reason the Village People throw the garbage cans make noise just because they’re having a good time. So the garbage cans wake me up at four in the morning and I stand in the ceiling. I’m like, I gotta do something with my life. And so I went to real estate school that morning. And two and a half weeks later, I had my license. And two weeks after that I had my first commission checks. And I just said 21 or 22 years later now 22 I guess as we head into 2022 Here I am.

D.J. Paris 8:45
What? Wow. Well, there’s a lot that happened in those in those 22 years. But I also just want to tell our audience because you New York City is very unique with with terms of rentals that is different from almost every other major city. I think Boston also sort of does it this way. But Chicago definitely doesn’t and most other markets don’t. And what I’m about to say, I don’t know how often it’s still in place today, but it used to be in Stan will tell me tell us but it used to be that the tenant would oftentimes pay that 15% commission so it’s an even tougher job than it sounds because it’s not just hey, I’ve got this great apartment for you. Oh, by the way, Mr. or Mrs. tenant, if you’re going to be cutting me a check for you know, several $1,000 On top of whatever the security deposit first month’s rent you might be doing. That is a tough ask. And I understand that is just how it’s done there. But, boy, that is tough. And so I honor you for for doing that because that is not an easy ask.

Stan Ponte 9:44
It was starting at the bottom of the beginning of the bottom. And it was tough, but you know, it was a chance. And I think you know, one of the hard things about coming from acting was I just felt like no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t even really get a chance, you know, I couldn’t get it an opportunity to succeed and with real estate, and I understand that a lot of the people that listen to your podcast and go watch the podcast, however, it may be our are maybe in the beginning parts of their career to some extent. And that’s what I always want to say is, you know what, every single day in real estate is a chance. And if you can grab the chance, if you can learn how to increase your odds, then you get a new chance every single morning. And the longer you do it, and the harder you work and the smarter you work, you increase the odds that not only will you have a chance, but you’ll have a success. So I am grateful to the real estate profession, because it’s an even playing field, anyone can do it, you need a high school education, you have to be 18 years old and a real estate license. And God save America and the Queen, it is possible to create a life to support yourself support a family, and and find a path to being a part of a part of the community where you can give back and participate and be a full, thriving person.

D.J. Paris 11:18
Yeah, it’s such an important point that you just made, I want to I want to step on it a little bit, because I think that, you know, being that also, you’re a New York guy. And somebody who really, you know, wanted to be in entertainment. You know, and you studied with Stella Adler, you went to the Stella Adler school, and that is a very, very well known and well respected sort of process to being an actor. And yet not everyone even gets an opportunity to do like a David Mamet play, or, or any of the great Broadway shows, because there’s a million other people vying for those very few finite positions that, you know, of course, New York, your your competition with the top people from entire world all come to New York for that profession. And then yet, you said something, also, which is in real estate, you know, anyone can really do it, we can all get our license. And New York City is certainly one of the most difficult maybe the most difficult place to build your business in real estate strictly because of the finances involved. And also, just just how, you know, it’s New York City, and everything’s tough. But, but the fact that anyone can do it, and it is a level playing field is a really important point and what you said about if you just keep trying to increase your odds of success, and the good news is that people before us have laid the foundation and we know what the fundamentals are I was talking to, I was doing an interview yesterday with an agent from Fargo, North Dakota, who has 10% of the market share in Fargo, which is incredible, like, like if Fargo is a small, you know, a smaller market, but but he said, you know, he was telling that he was saying that, you know, it’s not if your issue is leads, if you don’t have enough leads, then you’re just not staying in contact with with your sphere of influence enough. He said, lead should never ever be your issue. Because we know, everyone’s got to live somewhere, most people are going to choose a real estate agent. And if you stay front of mind, for the people that know like and trust you and you know, you should be able to increase the odds of getting those deals. But I want to start at the beginning. So you got your license, and you started doing rentals. Tell us how that worked. You know, what was it? Like? How did you sort of learn how to become a great realtor? What worked for you back then? And also what how do you advise agents today? who are who are newer, what maybe what they should be doing be there in your in your market?

Stan Ponte 13:55
Yeah, you know, first off, what I would say is it was it was a different job when I started, right. I mean, I didn’t even have a cell phone, you were sitting at your desk waiting for the phone to ring from someone reading an advertisement in a print newspaper. And you know, I’m 50 years old, I’m not 100 I know I sound 100 When I talk about things like print advertising and phones or anything. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. And that is the willingness to put in the time and the work and the ability to wake up every morning and then do it all again, even in the face of either success or failure. So when I was starting out at this tiny little real estate company, I showed up every day, seven days a week, I was the first one in the office and the last one in the office and when it was Labor Day, I wasn’t at the beach. I was in the office because guess what, there was no one else there to answer the phones. So I sat open the door there was a risk factionist desk right at the entrance, I just sat right down to the receptionist desk, I didn’t have to wait for the call to go to the receptionist, then to go to the manager, so he could, you know, meet out the leads, I just answered the phones, myself. And no one else is there. And you know what, if you’re calling on Labor Day, or Memorial Day or Valentine’s Day, or even Thanksgiving Day, you’re probably going to rent an apartment that day or the next day. Right and and that hasn’t changed. So I do have this great opportunity now to mentor brokers when they come into Sotheby’s because we have a mentorship program. And that’s the one thing that hasn’t changed, when a mentee comes in, and they are ready to work seven hours, 10 hours, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, while everyone else is on vacation. The next thing you know, they start bringing in all their own business and succeeding. So you know, it’s, it’s not exactly It’s like a It’s a terrible diet pill. Because it’s not one of those diet pills that you can just take one and lose weight. I’ve tried that. This is the get on the treadmill workout and burn more calories than you eat. And that’s what this is this is work harder, smarter, more, and the business will follow.

D.J. Paris 16:22
Yeah, I wish there were some, you know, we’ve done 300 And probably close to 30 330 episodes, roughly. And I am still waiting for a guest to say no, there’s this little secret that no one else knows about. And it, you know, does all the work for you. And I’ve yet to hear anyone give me that that secret because it likely doesn’t exist. Or if it does, those people aren’t coming on my show. But I have some of the most successful agents of the country like yourself on here, and so far haven’t heard it. But it is all about fundamentals. And it’s about getting up every day and saying and I love the fact that you said this in this way. And in all the interviews I’ve done, I don’t believe anyone has used this this sort of phrasing which is increasing your odds, I remember I was doing a top producer panel, or hosting a top producer panel for our local association here in Chicago. And we had these three big producers on stage. And we were asked taking questions from the audience. And, and this one, this, this very courageous, young realtor raises their hand and says, I’m really embarrassed, but I wanted to ask the panel, but what happens when your best friend chooses another realtor over you? And everyone laughed, because I’m sure everybody’s had that experience with somebody that was close to them deciding to use somebody else. And somebody from the panel said, Well, you know, you probably had an assumption that this person was going to use you. And but were you telling them that when they’re ready to use you that you want their business? Or were you staying in touch with them and reminding them what you do, and whether it’s, you know, really in a salesy way or, or in a in a more sort of subtle way. And and you know, and then that she said, Well, not really I just assumed she would work with me and, and the person on the panel said something to the effect of you need to learn how to increase your, your opportunity percentage, you know, here. And so you really just said that. And I just think that is such a smart thing to say. Can you talk a little bit about what you do specifically to increase your, you know, your not your close rate, but but just the chance that people in your sphere will will come to you and they need real estate help?

Stan Ponte 18:35
Well, I can and I think it starts with something I’ve practiced because I was taught it early on. And it works. So I keep doing it. And that is making sure that I’m reaching out to at least five people from my circle of influence every single day, every day, five a day, five a day, every single day. And the way I do that is I start my day, as I’m sure all of your listeners do. And I’m sure as you do, I’m reading every real estate blog and the papers that are important to me, the magazines are important to me, I’m looking at every new listing, every price drop, every contract signed, every closing, I’m reading all the dirt about what building is going to be torn down, what building is going to be a new high rise what the zoning law changes are going to be. So as I’m doing all of that which is which is the education that I need to be able to do a good job for the rest of the day. By doing that, I have found that individuals who I know who I deem is my circle of influence people who I know know people who are going to buy or sell or lease real estate if not them, they know someone within their sphere. People pop into my head because it has to do with them. If it’s a zoning issue in Soho on a street where I sold a pen Taos four years ago, I now make a little note to myself, reach out to this person and say, Wow, I was reading about this zoning that’s going on. I wonder how that might affect the apartment. Or I remember a good friend of mine, his wife, Heather has a cookie company. And she was opening up a cookie store in Madison Avenue. And I read it in one of the newspapers, that was a reason to reach out to him. So by the time I’m done with my homework, which is my morning work, I’ve got my list of five people, whether it’s text, phone, or email, because everyone has a different way of wanting to communicate. I mean, I’ve I’ve had clients that I’ve worked with for 510 years I’ve never even spoken with basically, they’re texters right? Is es GTM. And I know we have a deal. It sounds good to me. I didn’t even know what that meant. I love that I did my first deal. And it was best GTM and I turned to the person I was with, I’m like, What does that even mean? They’re like, Oh, my God, you did the deal. Sounds good to me. And like, I’ve got to learn how people are communicating differently. So it doesn’t mean you know, old fashioned dialing for dollars with the phone only. It does mean communicating. And if you do five a day, right, that’s a lot of contacts as the weeks and months and year progress. And that’s a, that’s, that’s where you can start to count on a flow of leads coming in. Because you’re making contact got to make contact.

D.J. Paris 21:31
It’s funny too, because it is really, I always say it’s simple but difficult, right? It’s like a pushup, it’s like, it’s a simple exercise, but it’s a really good one. It’s not a lot of fun to do there, there’s certainly some some pain associated with picking up the phone or doing the push up. That you know, there’s resistance there that that exists for every human. But, but if you have a reason to pick the so what I what I love about what you’re thinking your process is, I need to reach out to five people in my in my sphere, and I need to come up with a reason to reach out to them. So I’m going to see what’s going on in the in the real estate market. You know, maybe also, for agents that are in areas where maybe there isn’t so much news, maybe in a more rural area where real estate news isn’t isn’t as prevalent as it would be for New York. You know, go to social media, see what your clients are up to, you know, oh, they just got back from a vacation. Actually, Stan is on his way to a vacation. And we’re so honored by the way just as a quick pulling back the curtain on our podcast, Stan is getting ready to leave for a an amazing vacation. And he did he took time to find us to find time to help us out. So we’re so grateful because we know how busy Stan is. But again, if you were wanting to prospect Stan, for example, and he coming back from his vacation, and you’re following him on social media, that’s, that’s a phone call to Hey, I saw you just went to you know, X, and how was it telling me about it and it but the idea is finding a reason to call your clients and provide some sort of value, whether it’s real estate related or just hey, it’s the holiday season, how’s everything going? What’s up, you know, how’s everyone safe with COVID? You know, there’s lots of reasons to reach out and said, I’m curious, because obviously, you’re an ultra competitive market with I mean, New York City is known for their competitiveness. There’s some of the sharpest minds in the country, and most talented individuals among all industries flocked in New York to make it. And so you are in an extremely competitive environment. However, I’m curious, I wonder how many realtors are picking up the phone calling five people a day, every single day? I bet you it’s less than 1% of agents. And I don’t mean working your existing clients, the people you have to reply to to close out a deal. I’m talking about what you’re doing, which is finding a unique reason to call somebody who isn’t yet working with you. And saying hello and giving them so I suspect that is a very, very powerful tool for

Stan Ponte 24:08
now it is but it also matches me and you’re a bigger expert than I am when it comes to a macro look at brokers right? Because I’m just a real estate agent. You have a you have. I was talking to you right before we went live up to 800 agents that you’re working with that the firm that you created, right? So you’re looking around at these 800 people and I’m gonna say that from my perspective, you can agree or disagree that the people that succeed, of course have all these great tools. They’ve got ways of doing things, but in my opinion, the common thread is that they are their best selves. They are the most standard Ponte ish standard Ponting that’s ever been a standard pantum because there is no other person like me, which is I think a good thing It never has been, never will be. And that’s the same for every single human being on this planet. We are all gifted with individuality, which allows us to attract people to us. If we can manifest ourselves as fully as possible, that self actualization, that being yourself, right? Because listen, you say, oh, there’s all these brokers in New York City, it’s so competitive. If you were to put the top 50, New York City Real Estate Brokers on the stage, you would not be able to find one thing necessarily in common. You know, if we put 50, I won’t pick on any banking firm, because I have too many clients at all of those bankers, I shouldn’t even say that I’m in trouble. Let’s say we put 50 Somebody’s will stick with bankers, let them not hire me. 50 bankers on the stage, they’re going to be similarly dressed step. Dialed, there’ll be a tone, there’ll be there’ll be an approach, there’ll be something that side, well, if I want to do this, if I look sound do that’s not real estate, there are people who sell much more real estate than I am. And I wouldn’t want to be in a room with them for more than two minutes. They make me crazy. And then there’s others who are the nicest people ever. They’re super competitive people, super loving people, super everything. But what they all are, is there themselves totally. And that, to me is the real success, that that that self knowledge because you need it. Otherwise, this business can really get in your head, because you think you’re winning or losing every deal on your own merits. And although it’s always good to do a post mortem, especially when a deal doesn’t go, well, it’s also good to do post mortems when they go well. So you can identify parts of your business that are going particularly effectively. But the real answer is find your heart and align it with your mind. And not just business comes, but the world comes to you.

D.J. Paris 27:13
Yeah, it’s, it’s so well said, I want to pause for a moment to kind of let that sink in. And really, what I think we’re talking about is getting out of your own way. And the way to do that is to get to know yourself better and realize that we’re so fortunate to be in an industry where individuality is not always welcomed. Of course, there’s examples of that the Asian American realtor community had a very difficult time in the last few years because of, you know, just, you know, certain sentiment in our country and certain individuals have certainly more advantages than others. That being said, it’s I’m always amazed at the, at the individuality of these top producers that are also unique and different and come on our show, and have, you know, different backgrounds, different stories, and the ones that rise to the top. Obviously, like our guests, Stan, a tend to be really comfortable with themselves. And so I encourage everyone out there, if you are newer to the industry, or if you haven’t quite found your niche, that’s okay. And that’s normal. But if you can just keep plodding along and really learning about you and learning about the industry, your personality will start to emerge and stand in I’m I don’t have to say this, but I will because it’s so obvious. The reason I’m, I’m saying it, everyone’s already thought it but I’m going to say what everyone’s been thinking, it is clear that Stan is fully present. Even for this interview, he’s fully present, he’s fully he is himself. The self actualization that he mentioned is is it comes through in every syllable as he speaks. That is powerful. And it what it does as a listener, or as a client potential client of Stan’s is makes me realize this person is all in and I think clients want their service provider whether it’s an attorney, financial planner, investment banker, or realtor to be an all in you know person and and Stan I can feel that coming through. I know our audience can and the fact that you articulated it much better than I did is really an important lesson and there’s no shortcut to it probably either. But it is cool to watch agents who look totally different from one another. still go on and you’re right though like on the invest in the investor banking side investment banking side, there tends to be a template That that is very consistent. And maybe it’s better now than it used to be, but I understand what you’re saying. But in real estate, it really kind of anything goes. And I love that. And we’re so lucky to be in an industry where you can be yourself and largely be rewarded for that.

Stan Ponte 30:16
I know that an investment banking firm would not want me around, I’m really pretty, too loud, you know, I just not but not their stick.

D.J. Paris 30:27
Well, tell us a little bit I would love. So Stan is such an amazing producer and such a wonderful guy. And we are, we’re thrilled that he’s here, I would like to talk about, you know, how you decided to move from, you know, and I’m sure rentals are still part of your business, although I actually don’t know if they still aren’t, I’m happy to talk about that. But also that shift into luxury, because every realtor, or at least every realtor has had the thought, at some point, boy, if I could only get into luxury, that would, that would really be what I want. And of course, luxury is not for everyone. But it obviously has worked out well for you. So we’d love to hear the journey about how you were able to make the shift into luxury.

Stan Ponte 31:12
Well, you know, what comes to my mind is in New York City, when a studio is a million dollars. I think it’s basically all luxury, right? I mean, anyone, anyone living on the island of Manhattan, is, has either made their own money or is spending someone else’s, right. This is not, this is not a cheap Island to live on, by any stretch of the imagination. Honestly, I think that luxury, is another way of talking about in integrity of service. That applies regardless of the price. So when you say I don’t know, if you do rentals anymore, I don’t do a lot of rentals. But if it’s an important client to me, and a friend of a friend, I will certainly be a part of it, I might ask an Associate Broker that I work with to take the lead. I’m not wandering around looking at $2,000 rentals, in the afternoon, because it wouldn’t work for my business model. But I would certainly you know, pop by and make sure the ceilings are falling in or that I don’t know something wrong with the building before someone fancy, especially if they’re a friend of or clients, you know, son or daughter or grandchild or whatever it may be. So I don’t mean to sidestep the question of luxury. But I do think that sometimes people believe real estate brokers believe that there’s a difference. And having gone from the, you know, $1,200 a month, apartments near NYU, next to the water boiler, you know, steam room, all the way up to, you know, the most expensive real estate on the planet. I’ve had the benefit of doing deals in all of those places. I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something. I don’t think there’s a big big difference. You’ve got someone who needs a home. And I think a home a bed, a pillow safety, heat, water, electricity, right? Once you get past that, it’s just more, but the core of it is safety, where your mind can feel that you’re okay. And that luxury is the biggest luxury, especially when we think of a planet where only a small percentage of the people on the planet have that even those basics. So I, I could go on and on about, you know, every $10 million plus apartment or $30 million, plus how we micro target, how we have specific ways of reaching those buyers, all of that. But I think what’s more important is the integrity of the deal and the individual. The rest, I believe follows and it’s not just because I’ve lived it. It’s because I’ve watched so many other brokers through my career. Approach it in that way. And the next thing you know, you know, they’re like, Stan, you always told me I was gonna sell a $40 million townhouse. I just sold my first $40 million townhouse. I’m like, Of course you did. You were acting as if you were selling $40 million townhouses. When it was a $4,000 a month rental. You were working hard. There was integrity. You ran the comps. You showed up you were on time you did all the things you need to do. So if you want to break into luxury, just do a good job. And the zeros it’s a zero is zeros. It’s all like all of us every day. Is it $1 Is it $10 Is 100,000 It’s zero. Zeros have nothing to do with whether or not you did it

with zest to do a good job. And I’ll add one other tiny piece here. I think that as there are more zeros, one thing maybe that we could define as a difference with luxury, is that the client very much appreciate when you approach the transaction with a in a mentality of being the principal. So yes, you’re an agent, yes, you’re acting as the agent of the principle. But if you can, for the principle, also have that owners or sellers hat on, not just your broker hat. Yeah. And by the time you bring it the next step of the deal to the person you’re working for, you haven’t just processed it as an agent, you’ve processed it through their lens as well. So that you can mix the two together and bring the best possible options and information. You know, if we do this, these two or three things might happen. If we take this path, your risk may go up, but your risk reward might go up. And all of those things that sellers, and buyers really do love to hear. I think if you can do both put on that broker hat, and that principle hat, that may be one way to define being able to work in luxury real estate. That is

D.J. Paris 36:33
such a powerful statement. I want to I want to revisit that right now. Because I want to I don’t want to move past it just yet. Because what Stan just said is is incredibly nuanced, but important and what he said at least what I heard him saying, Stan, please correct me, or extrapolate if I am getting off target. But what I heard was, and I just went through this myself, so I haven’t I’m technically an agent, I don’t practice real estate myself, I’ve never gone out and and have worked with clients I’ve only ever bought and sold my own stuff. So I know very little about being a realtor, other than with the interviews I do, and the realtors here at our company. So embarrassingly, I’m not in the trenches with with, with Stan and all of our listeners. That being said, I am in the industry. And I just recently went through a purchase myself, and it wasn’t my first purchase, it was a primary residence. So I’ve been through this before I’m in the industry, it shouldn’t freak me out. And as I went through it, I was completely the process of buying a condo. And this is not. I mean, it was a major decision for me with financing and everything. It was just, we know how stressful it is. It was even stressful for me. And I was probably, you know, I’m a little bit more accustomed to it than maybe somebody who is. And I thankfully, I had a boss, my boss who was able to mitigate a lot of the stuff for me. But I was thinking, gosh, if I’m this stressed out about buying a condo, every single person who’s not in the industry has got to be most of most of them have to be even more stressed. And so what Stan just said was so important, because what he essentially said was, he’s identifying, you know, issues that come up and thinking about it not just from his own vantage point as the as the agent, as the guy who’s going to be receiving the commission when this thing closes, but also from the perspective of his client. And that is such an important thing. If you can be the agent that goes, Okay, here’s what’s coming in your head, you know, you’re sitting down thinking about, Okay, I have to communicate this piece of information to this client, here’s a couple of ways they might respond. And here’s what I’m how I’m going to handle each one of these responses. You are prepared that is professional, and you have done something that is incredibly important, which is you have thought about your client and their needs before just showering them with information waiting to hear what they say and then doing this reactivity thing. You’re very proactive, Stan, and I know I’m sort of making this little tiny point into a big thing. But I bet you that is so important to your success is almost predicting different scenarios that may happen and then being able to solve those problems in advance so that when you sit down with a client say, Okay, this just came up, here’s how we’re going to handle it. And that sort of thing.

Stan Ponte 39:41
Yeah, listen, I mean, you know, it’s, it is rough. Being in a real estate deal. It’s, you know, it’s a lot like sitting on a plane, which I’ll be doing in less than 24 hours, God willing. You know, you’re you’re sitting on the plane, and there’s a pilot and the pilot has As the instruments and knows what’s coming and knows, if there’s weather ahead, they’re adjusting the route of the flight to avoid the clouds, if they’re going to hit the clouds, before you hit the clouds, ideally, the captain comes on and says, you know, it’s gonna be a little rough guys, but rather than adding an hour to the trip, we’re gonna go a little higher, and it’s going to be a little bumpy. So, finish your drink, buckle up, and you know, the flight attendants are going to be seated. That’s what we want, when we’re sitting in the back of the plane. And when you’re buying or selling in a real estate transaction, you’re you’re, you are in the back of the plane, at some level, you will, you have to trust that all those conversations going on, from even the initial showing, right, here’s the home, you’ve put your love your joy your money into. And now you hire someone you’ve never met, give them the keys to your house, and hope that when they walk someone through, they can represent it with enthusiasm and truth and, and be able to convey to the buyer that this could be their home in a way that gets them to buy the home. So it ain’t easy being a client, I gotta say, you know, and the other thing I’m gonna say, because we talked a little theater, is, if you don’t know the story of Jacqueline Hyde, and you’re a real estate broker, then you know, the story of Jekyll and Hyde, because the most rational, nicest, most congenial person in the world, all of a sudden turns, because they’re, you know, they told the deal that you’re working on with them to three people, those three people gave them three different versions of what they think it might be, and they start to panic, which is why I always answered the phone. I really try from 7am till about 11pm, seven days a week, not to be too attached. But to be aware that if a client reaches out, Stan, can you call me? If it’s humanly possible? I do it. Because every moment that happens after someone has reached out to say, Can you call me if you don’t call them back? They keep calling people. Yeah. And person after person gives the wrong, terrible advice. And for the hour that I could have just sat on the couch or sat with my friends at dinner, and said, I’ll call that client later, it’s so much better to say I have to, I need a moment. And I’ll go, because if I let them talk to other people for an hour, I’ll be on the phone with them for five hours unwinding when I could have done it in three minutes. So I kind of went off on a tangent there. But

D.J. Paris 42:44
it No, it’s an important, it was a great tangent, it wasn’t a tangent at all, because it was absolutely, you know, apt for our conversation. Can you share with us your five steps for real estate brokers to successfully grow their sphere of influence their center of influence, I know, this is very important to you. And we’d love to get your your take on that?

Stan Ponte 43:07
Well, we did a little bit of it already. In fact, what we did was sort of steps three through five, which is that doing your morning work, I don’t like to call it homework, because that’s the end of the day, at least in my own mind, doing your morning prep work, and then making those five calls a day. But before that, I think in terms of the first two steps, is to have a kind of honest conversation with yourself, and understand who in your life is your friend, because you love them, and you want to hang out with them

that hopefully the rest of your lives together and who directly influence if your friend doesn’t know anyone who’s going to buy, sell or rent real estate, and you spend every night with your friend sitting and talking for four hours a night, you may not see the kind of leads that you’d like to see coming in. If you can find people that you have common interests with and share values and have fun with and like N just happen to know people who are buying and selling real estate. Now you’ve got a sphere or circle of influence. There’s a lot of ways to talk about it. It is so crucial to make sure that you can understand the difference between I’m having a casual moment and the difference between I’m having a casual genuine moment with someone who can help me do better in my career, especially at the beginning. You know when I started in this business, so it’s a lot of nights in bars with the IRS and pool tables like that was kind of my life. I wasn’t going to Gallas and, you know co chairing thing I didn’t even know it co chairing was you know As you learn, and you live, and you learn, and you continue to make sure that you’re balanced in your life, but balancing means acknowledging who’s who, what’s what. And a circle of influence person, a sphere of influence person is someone who can be a cheerleader for you, someone who is willing to introduce you around to include you in their world, whether it’s their nonprofit endeavors, or their work or their private life. It is, it is really these five steps, which I’m happy to share and are available online, are all about carefully constructing a world, which is generating contacts. There’s one goal, when people anywhere in the world say, Do you know a good broker in New York City? That I’m at least one of them? Yeah, I can’t do every deal. And I’m not necessarily the best broker in New York City. I’m the only knee. Yeah, that doesn’t mean I’m the best. But as long as that hand goes up, you’re in Chicago, when people think of who can I call and I’m moving to Chicago at dinner, someone says to a friend, the friend should say, Well, I know exactly who you can call. Yeah, that is what creates a sustainable business.

D.J. Paris 46:30
And that’s in a position that is earned. Right. And so I think that’s an important thing, for every one of our audience to understand is, you have to earn that’s that slot. And the way to earn it is professionalism is through going the extra mile is picking up the phone and calling everyone your sphere. As as Stan does his five calls every day, and continuing to grow and learn about the business. And just treating this running it like a business continuing to improve every single day. They Japanese call it Kaizen, which is just this constant little improvement. Day to day there is Scott Peck. I think it was Scott Peck wrote it’s never crowded along the extra mile. I think that was one of his, one of his books. And it’s it’s kind of funny, but it’s, it’s sort of a silly cheesy saying, you know, okay, yeah, it’s never crowded along the extra mile. But it’s actually true. And I’m, you know, standing, we’re talking about when you started, and you would show up early and leave late, and it wasn’t, you know, you weren’t putting in, you know, 100 hours a week, you were putting in more than 40. But But you were crushing yourself. And here you are 21 years later, and fundamentals, it sounds like are just win the game. I’ve always felt that way. And, you know, and you also mentioned, there’s really no difference if you treat the $1,200 rental, the same as you might treat a $12 million penthouse purchaser or seller, if you treat them the same. You will attract both of those kinds of clients because they both want the experience of somebody’s taking care of this with me or for me. And I like them. I know them and I trust them.

Stan Ponte 48:29
Yeah, absolutely.

D.J. Paris 48:32
And Stan is in he’s almost on vacation mode. So I’m just going to ask him just one or two more questions, and then we’re going to let him go let him go enjoy the end of his year that he has just desperately earned. And, again, we’re so honored to have you. What advice do you have for any of our agents or agents, our listeners who are agents, who might be you know, struggling around this time of the year so this time of the year is tricky, right? Because it’s the December holidays. Hanukkah is over this point. But Christmas is coming up Kwanzaa is coming up. I actually don’t I’m not even sure when Kwanzaa is right now, but we got a lot going on. There’s a lot of family stuff there. The market slows down a bit. What do you recommend to agents to do from now, you know, for the next several weeks,

Stan Ponte 49:25
you know, show the love, show the love. This is this is not just the holidays this year. This is like round four of a global pandemic, which is so hard. This is the perfect time to do those extra outreach calls. Those extra moments. You know, I was on the phone today with a beautiful, beautiful soul. She’s you know, I don’t know how old she is. She could be any age. She’s not young and You know, she’s got some questions around the apartment that she’s living in now that I put her in after I sold her previous apartment. And I just wanted to make sure that before I went on this vacation, if there were any extra questions, if there was anything that might come up while I was gone, and she had no, I’m still around, there’s no fee involved in that there’s nothing she just treated me like gold when we work together. And this is the time of year to remember that. From a real estate standpoint, it’s the best excuse to touch people call people. Some people do gifts, I’ve written around with real estate brokers who make, you know, a gingerbread house like a big one for every person they’ve ever sold a house to, and they drive around these gingerbread houses. I hosted a sing along every Friday night at eight o’clock. And again, can’t sing and dance. We started the program with that. But I can sing Christmas songs because everyone can sing Christmas songs and Hanukkah songs. And so I did that. And you know, that’s a way to stay in touch to, to show that you’re a real person. The other thing, though, that also caught my ear, when you talked about the holidays, was this is also the time of year where business can slow down, because people are traveling. And even if they’re not traveling, they’re focused on their families. And I think that goes to business planning. And making sure that your pipeline of income is never dependent on the next month, where the next two months or the next quarter, or even the next year. Yeah. And that’s hard to do. And I know I certainly didn’t start the business, I was I was hoping the deal would go through so I could pay my own rent. And that’s real. For a lot of real estate brokers. Yes, the key to success is to get out of that cycle. And to save and to spend as little as possible, pay your taxes quarterly, have a business meeting with yourself with your manager with someone you trust every quarter and annually. Get someone to be a financial advisor for you early so that you have things like disability insurance. So you have health insurance, so that you know when you get a commission check that how much of that is likely to have to be paid in taxes. Because if you’re approaching the end of the year, and a big tax bill, and it’s the holidays, and your phone’s not ringing, that’s not a good look. For Christmas, what you want to be doing is going on vacation and you want to be celebrating, and also recharging those batteries. And if the batteries are always running on low, whether it’s physically, mentally, emotionally, or just dollars and cents, it draining. It is raining and it starts to show and it does not attract real estate business people’s you know spidey sense kick in, and they start to realize, is this person doing this to get this commission? Did they just give me the very best advice they could have? Or is this bedient advice to close this deal? And you know what you might be able to get away with a few expedient close deals short term, but I don’t think and listen, I don’t I don’t know what other people do, because I do my own thing. But I know for me, that didn’t that didn’t work. And it was a rare moment anyway, because I just doesn’t read right for me, they’re trying to fast forward. But I certainly remember waiting for permission checks and being late for my rent. And that is that’s just not where you want to be. And you don’t have to be there. If you treat it and this is from your from your mouth. It’s not for mine. You treat it like a business. You understand your cash flow, you understand the busy times of the year and the slow times the year and when you need to take a break and when the market is going to take a break anyway. And you plan your plan and you plan and you plan like any business owner would.

D.J. Paris 54:23
And how how awesome is it that virtually every family in this country uses a realtor when they buy a home? Not everyone but like 90% of people when they purchase or sell a home use a realtor 90 something percent. So this is something that every almost everyone uses. And how fortunate you know if we were in other industries, there isn’t really many other industries of things that were universally are needed. So you talked about safety at the beginning and maybe that’s where we’ll wrap up is just making I’m sure that you as an agent, understand that this is not only one of the biggest financial, maybe the biggest financial decisions somebody could be making, you know, next to maybe their children, if they have children, their their education, or maybe their own retirement, you know, this is a major financial decision purchasing or selling a home, it you are a fiduciary as well. So you have an obligation to treat it with the proper level of respect that that it entails. And then also, just to continue to care, and give back to your customer base. Be professional, right. And obviously, this is an industry where the barrier to entry is actually quite low. You know, it’s, it’s anyone you know, can go get the license and pass the test. But if you can consistently, you know, just run your business, as if every client was the most important client, which they are, then you here we are now 21 years later, 22 years later, and Stan’s case, and he has now, did you ever think that you would be at the level that you’re at? Was that ever at as an aspiration of yours? Or did it just naturally happen? And from the results of doing what you do every day?

Stan Ponte 56:30
I remember, when I had no idea what I was doing that was new. There were certain names in the New York City Real Estate world that other agents would say, in our office, where I’d be out doing showings, and someone would bring up a name. And everyone would be like, Oh, yeah. And I would always think to myself, wouldn’t it be so cool if people knew who Stan Ponte was in New York City Real Estate? So that was my manifestation? The ranking? You know, you started the show with the rankings and the volume of business. I tiny bit of me cringes around it, because the real answer is one to 1050 75. Are you happy? Are you financially secure? Do you have time in your life to be love, loved and love other people and get people’s homes? For them? You know, rankings are today it’s a it’s a slice. It’s good for marketing, though, right? It’s good to put in the bio, nothing wrong with it. But it distills us all into this competitiveness. Yeah. And if there’s one additional thing I don’t want to forget to say before, before we end is that your best friends in the business are your colleagues in the business. So it is competitive, and we don’t sort of work together in the same way that maybe some other industries due there is a competitive nature. But I’ll tell you what, if that broker likes you, you’re going to have a better chance of getting that deal done, or getting your foot in the door when it’s a competitive environment. And there’s 25 appointments on the first Sunday. If they like you, they’ll make a room for appointment. 26 If they don’t, they won’t. And that relationship that not stepping on people, as you succeed that lifting other people up mentoring, taking those breakfasts and lunches, when people just starting in the business, who say, Can I buy you breakfast and ask you what you did? And can you give me some advice? That is the difference, I think, between feeling good about yourself, having other people feel good about you, and being able to face a challenging world, which we are living in and we cannot escape that in today’s environment. And doing it with some peace of mind and smile and hope for tomorrow.

D.J. Paris 59:07
Wow, with that is so wonderfully said and I concur with everything Stan just mentioned. So I would encourage everyone even to replay the last several minutes to really have that hit home. Because it is maybe the most important part of of being a real estate agent is understanding what the feelings that your clients are going through what what they need from you, and how you can bring peace to a very tumultuous sort of process and you can bring and including being cooperative with other agents we sometimes forget this is a cooperative business and Stan is absolutely right on Make friends in this industry be nice to other agents because there are going to be times when you know you may want to your offer to or showing to to get a little extra attention. And I have a top producer on my show every she comes on every month here in the Chicago area. And she talks she’s been doing this for 20 Some years and she says DJ you would not believe she said she goes I’m gonna write a book one day and I’m just going to scream i She’s collecting screenshots for all of these awful texts and voicemails, texts and voicemails she’s received from other agents that are just rude. I mean, she goes you would not believe the way that Realtors speak to me now the good ones are very polite and nice and sweet. But she’s it is it is not a given. So everyone out there you know build relationships not just of course with your clients but with other agents, you know, right whatever they say a rising tide raises all ships right. So let’s let’s raise each other let’s let’s let’s work together. It’s time it’s holiday season two. So a great way a great way to add and stand on behalf of all of our entire audience and we we absolutely are so thrilled that you took time just before your vacation to spend here with us on behalf of the audience. And myself. We want to say thank you for being on our show. We want to also tell everybody, please please go visit Stan on his website that is Stan ponte.com sta n p o n t.com Stan, if you are a renter, a buyer or a seller and an investor and you’re looking to work with one of the very best realtors in New York, Stan and his team would love to chat with you. So please reach out to him visit Stan and Stan ponte.com With Sotheby’s International Realty. And on behalf of Stan and myself, we want to thank our audience for continuing to listen and support our show. The best way you can help us grow is to please tell a friend think of one other real estate professional that could benefit from hearing this exact conversation with Stan and send them a link to this episode. The best way to do that send them right over to our website keeping it real pod.com and or just have them pull up a podcast app search for keeping it real and hit that subscribe button. Stan, wonderful conversation with you. We are so honored to have had you on the show. And what a what a great way to wrap up the year so thank you and we wish you continued success.

Stan Ponte 1:02:35
Thank you so much keepin it real pod.com Love it. Thank you so much.

D.J. Paris 1:02:41

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