Jonathan Lahey (Team Leader of the Fine Living Group) is a best-selling author and an award-winning realtor in the DC metro area. Since choosing to focus on real estate, Jonathan has consistently finished in the top 1% in the nation as a realtor selling over 250 homes per year. He’s been the featured speaker at national real estate conferences and has been interviewed on many coaching groups and marketing panels.
Listen to this informative Publish. Promote. Profit. episode with Jon Lahey about using a book to sell more than 250 homes a year.
Here are some of the beneficial topics covered on this week’s show:
– How you can use your book as an effective business card.
– Why having a good mentor can help lead you to success in your business.
– How it’s important to remember you should listen to your mentor.
– Why being an award-winning author gives you immediate credibility.
– How you need to have the right team to build your business.
Connect with Jon:
Guest Contact Info:
Hey, welcome everybody. It’s Rob back with another episode of our Publish. Promote. Profit podcast. Got a great guest for you today. Jon Lahey is the team leader of The Fine Living Group. He’s a bestselling author and an award-winning realtor in the DC metro area. Since focusing on real estate, he’s consistently finished in the top 1% in the nation, as a realtor selling, I think last year you mentioned, it was almost 300 homes. Congratulations. Incredible.
He’s a featured speaker at national real estate conferences. He’s been interviewed on many coaching groups as well as marketing panels, and now you finally made it Jon, by being on the Publish. Promote. Profit podcast so congratulations.
Awesome. Thank you. Thanks for having me here.
Great to have you, man. We didn’t talk about this, but I come from real estate background. I actually got my real estate license at 18. I became a broker at 19. You can tell by the gray hairs, that was a long time ago. When real estate was priced between 70 and $100,000, we were doing almost $100 million a year in transactions. I have a lot of experience in real estate, also, a lot of bruises and broken bones and stuff like that. I’m really excited to talk to you today.
I do want to focus probably more on the success stuff, because that is your book as you see it right behind Jon’s shoulder there, The Road to Success. You were sharing with me some things about that. Maybe we could start there. Tell me a little bit about your journey, people believing in you or not and what that was like to become a top 1% realtor, a bestselling author, et cetera.
Absolutely. I got into real estate back in 2004, 2005. People say it’s by accident. If you talk to realtors, they’re like, “Oh, I got into real estate by accident.” For the longest time, I always thought it was by accident until I realized it was actually very guided, it was my destiny to be in real estate. Not to sell houses, but to impact realtors and clients’ lives.
I’ve always had that vision of, I want to build something big in terms of an organization, a team. I want to be a leader. I started out 24 years old and I remember going on my first meeting to meet with an insurance agent because I read in a the book somewhere. It’s all about books and I remember I read a book and the book said, “Hey, go ask for referrals from other people in the industry.”
I was a 24-year-old, 25-year-old, fresh out of licensing class and I said, “Hey, I just got my license,” and this guy is my insurance agent for my condo at 24. I’m like, “Hey, would you refer me business?” Because that’s what I read in the book. He looked at me and he said, “I would never refer you business. You’re a 24-year-old, you’re brand new out of licensing school.”
He’s like, “I know other people who’s been in the business for 20 years that I trust, and I don’t trust you.”
Wow. At least he was honest.
He was so honest that it blew my mind and I’m like, “Okay. Well, I may have to change my game plan here. I guess, that’s not as easy as it was written in a book,” but he gave me some tips. He said, “Hey, you need to earn that trust. You’re a 24-year-old. There’s other people who’s been in industry for 20, 30 years, they earned that.”
He said, “You need to earn it based on how you do things for people. It’s not about what you say or what you do,” and this is the first time I heard this. He said, “It’s how you make people feel. It’s how you make people remember you, and then you’re going to get business that way.” As a 24-year-old I’m like, “All right, well, if that’s how we’re going to have to do it, it’s going to be how we’re going to do it.” Right?
I guess it was four years later, four, three, four years later, the market crashed, and I was hanging on for dear life. I’m like, “What do I do next?” Because my vision was always, again, to build a team, build an organization and now, our team is called The Fine Living Group. Our vision is, to be able to empower and inspire real estate agents all around the country and especially here on our local market. Give them all the tools necessary so that they can have fine living.
Again, I was a nobody, so nobody was listening to my vision, nobody was listening to my plans. It was hard for me to get agents to listen to me and be like, “Hey, come work with me, come partner up with me, I will change your life.” They’re like, “Who are you?” It was always that, “Who are you? Why should I listen to you?”
Then, one day I had the opportunity because again, the vision was big, and I needed a vehicle to get there. I’m like somebody somehow and I always believe that life’s happening for you. Somewhere along the way, I got connected to a publisher for Jack Canfield. He’s like, “Hey, we’re looking for somebody to contribute in this book, this new book that he’s writing. Would you want to be considered?” I’m like, “Sure.”
At that point, I don’t really read books. Now, I read books, but at that point in my career, I wasn’t somebody who loves reading and obviously I didn’t like to write. So, it wasn’t like, “Oh, absolutely.” I was like, “I guess I would love to be considered.” He’s like, “Hey…” I started to research how this worked.
He gave me all the tools and he said, “You can really leverage being an author and people who are authors, who are bestselling authors, they are position in authority. When you talk people here and people listen, versus when you are just a person selling stuff. That, once you write a book, make it a bestselling book with him and then you can tell people you’re a bestselling author.”
Long story short, I said, “All right, fine. Let’s do it.” Became a bestselling author and hey, our business grew. Not in terms of just selling more homes, but doors opened for us. I’ve had a chance to speak on TV. Got a chance… I remember not long after I wrote that book, my first speaking engagement, a mortgage company reached out and they were like, “Hey, we were looking for a keynote speaker. I noticed you’re a bestselling author here locally. We would love for you to speak on stage at our next convention.”
I was like, “Really?” Of course, I was like, “Wow. It worked.” Just combining the book with social media and different things we were doing, we were able to leverage and put me in position of authority. People started to listen, so no regrets in writing that book.
In a little bit, I want to get into how you’re using the book specifically, but talk to me a little bit about, this was not an overnight process for you. As you shared, you started in ’04, the real estate crash hit in ’08. It went on for several years.
I mean, stock market was still like 50% down in 2010, 2011. Then, there was the financial crisis in Europe, which bled over to us a little bit. What was the journey like for you? Certainly there were that you struggled yourself, that you wondered even with the success that you had had, “Is this going to become what I want it to become?”
Oh, absolutely. I remember when the market crashed in ’08, for one whole year, I sold no homes. Like nada. I’m like, “Dude, am I going to stay in the business?” “Should I go find something else to do?” I remember in 2000, it was around 2009, I got interviewed to be on a team. Actually, it wasn’t an interview, I was more like begging to be on a team like, “Please let me be on your team,” and they said, “No.”
“No, there’s no room for you on this team,” and I’m like, “Well, if that’s the case, maybe I should…” That’s when the vision started, I’m like, “Maybe I should build my own team. Let’s find a way, let’s find a way to do this myself without me depending on someone else.” That was 2009 and then 2010, I became full-time. The whole time I wasn’t full-time in real estate yet. 2010 I turned full-time into real estate selling what, seven homes in a year and realized it wasn’t enough. I’m like, “This is not enough money.”
Then, I realized what every successful people did, they got a mentor. I’m like, I wish I got a mentor from day one because I would’ve just been more successful immediately. 2010 hit sold seven homes. 2011, I found a mentor and when I found that mentor, it was simple because he just told me how to do things, how he did it. Versus me trying to recreate the wheel and it’s part of what I wrote in my Road to Success book is, find a mentor. Find somebody who’s doing what you want to do, who’s already doing it, who’s already accomplished it.
Learn and just copy, because if you can copy, you can succeed. That was one of the biggest lessons I learned in 2010, 2011 is find a mentor and don’t delay, pay for them. Whatever that mentor wants to get paid, pay for it. It’s money worth spending because you’re going to get that money back so much quickly.
So, every year from 2011, all the way till this year, every year we’re growing anywhere between like 50 to like over 100% growth every single year, because it’s different stages of growth. But it’s all because there’s a mentor there to, “Hey, you’re looking at the wrong thing. Ride this ship here. Hey, here’s how you do this. Here’s the actual way to do it. Here’s the process. Here’s the system.” Versus, “Here’s the idea. Now, go create it yourself.” Right? That’s the big part of my success journey is finding the right mentor in the right stage of your business.
When I got back into real estate after an absence, the first thing I did was also hire a mentor, The Mike Ferry Organization, one of the biggest real estate coaching organizations in the country. I’ve become friends with some of those guys, Matthew Ferry, who is Mike’s son, Tom Ferry, his other son, did a book for him so totally understand what you’re saying.
Just out of curiosity, was it a local mentor or was it one of the big national coaching organizations or anything like that?
Both. You could never have too many mentors. My first mentor was the local broker guide, the broker leader, owner of the local brokerage here. He was my mentor for a short bit until I realized I need somebody who can teach me more. Then, it was a national guy, Craig Proctor.
So, Craig Proctor was my mentor for the longest time and just taking all his concepts, his systems, his language, just learning from him, just absorbing what he taught and that was huge. Every step of the way, life will put the right mentor, the right leader, the right person in front of you to learn the problem, so it’s awesome.
I completely agree with you. I mean, I try to tell our potential clients, I’m running a challenge right now. I try to teach those that are coming to our various challenges. Look, you have two things to invest. You have your time to invest or your money to invest. Most people that don’t have a lot of money, think that money is far more valuable than time. That is the absolute wrong way to think, because you only have a limited amount of time on this earth.
Money, you’re going to make more money next week, more money the week after. I mean, in some ways you have an unlimited resource of money, especially if you focus correctly and understand just the power of some of the principles that you’re talking about. What you did, even with just selling seven homes, which the average realtor only sells a few homes a year. They make barely minimum wage, the average realtor, but the average realtor doesn’t get the mentorship that they need.
And so, I don’t know. I guess a plug that I would give to some of our clients, because we’ve done a lot of books for great coaches. Lars Hedenborg is a great real estate coach, we did a book of his. We did a book for Matthew Ferry. We did a book for Tim and Julie Harris. They’re some of the top real estate mentors in the country. If you can’t afford to pay a mentor, which might be 1,000 or 2,000 bucks a month, at least buy their books and start diving in and putting into practice. Because you can never make up the time that you’re going to waste, trying to figure this stuff out yourself. You’ll end up unfortunately abandoning it like a lot of people do, so I didn’t know you were going to say that. I’m really, glad that you said that because I mean, I think that’s the number one thing is mentorship. It reduces the timeframe of success. Just do what your mentor says and it will reduce the timeframe maybe from, you’ll never be successful to starting to be successful in just a few months.
I love what you’ve said there. You said, “Do what your mentor says.” One of the hardest things to do is to do what your mentor says, because I remember taking all these notes and I’m like, “Gosh, I can do better than this,” so I started tweaking it.
I can do it a smarter way.
I can do it better and smarter and so, I started tweaking little things. I tweaked the website, I tweaked the script and I’m like, “Nothing works. It’s not working.” He’s like, “That’s not my stuff. What the heck did you just change it too? Just copy it. You can copy, you can succeed and buddy I’m telling you.” I’m like, “All right.”
I had to swallow my ego. I’m like, “All right, well, I guess he sold way more homes than I did. All right. No more me. I’m just going to copy and paste. Literally copy and paste,” and it’s working and I love it.
Congratulations. I love that for both you and the people that you mentor now, which obviously that’s the whole thing of what you’re doing, growing your business via mentoring those that want the same kind of success. Why don’t we change gears, let’s talk a little bit about the book.
How are you using the book in real estate? You didn’t participate in a real estate-related book. You participated more in a success-related book. So, how were you using that book to grow your vision?
Well, first off, it’s on my business card. It’s everywhere. If you Google me on my bios, on my LinkedIn, first thing you see before the real estate side, bestselling author. It’s my new tagline that I’ve been using now for years, and people talk to you because of that. People don’t talk to you because you’re an award-winning realtor. There’s so many award-winning realtors.
They’re afraid you’re going to try to sell them something.
Right. Then, you’re a salesperson. No, but when they see, oh, you’re an award-winning realtor, you’re a bestselling author, they talk to you. I was in Cancun two days ago at the beach and I met this couple and we started talking about life. They’re in the fitness industry and I told them I’m in the real estate industry. We swap parts.
He looked at my card and he was like, “Bestselling author, wow. Tell me more about that.” I’ve never had somebody say, “Wow, award-winning realtor, tell me more about real estate.” They’ll tell you about like, “How’s the market?” People say, “How’s the market?” But when you’re bestselling author, “Wow. Tell me more about bestselling author. Tell me, what did you write?”
You get into a deep conversation, and we talk about mentorship, and we talk about The Road to Success because that’s what I’m passionate about. What I do is, one part of my business is selling houses. The other part of my business is mentorship and being able to be in a place of authority, where people actually want to be mentored. Being able to say, “Hey, I wrote a book. I wrote a guide on how to be successful in life. In fact, read it. Here’s a chapter. Here’s the actual book. You want the book? I’ll give you the book. Read it, because there, I wrote about how to become successful. What’s the shortcut to go from where you are and where you want to go.”
Then, when they read it, they’re like, “Wow, you must know what you’re talking about because you’re a bestselling author.” It really puts me, puts the author in a position of authority versus just a random person babbling on about success. Because anybody can be successful if they’re just surrounded by the right people who are successful.
You’re selling 300 homes; you’re obviously doing that with a team of people. It’s not something that you’re doing yourself individually, so your focus, I guess, is primarily on building the team. Are you using the book? Is that the whole process of… Maybe talk to me about how you’re using the book in that regard or are you?
I am using the book in that regard and you’re right. What I do is build a team. I think Zig Zigler said, “You want to build a business, build the people.” You build the people, the people will build your business. We’re not just selling homes. I do have clients here and there that I work with, but my primary focus is building the people in the organization. But to be able to have the right people in the organization, you need to have those people actually come to you versus you chasing them down.
Because there’s a difference between you chasing people down, you’re cold calling agents, “Hey, agents, come work with me. I have the right tools. I have the right systems. I have the clients,” versus being able to get them to come to you. It’s a reverse of the model of what most people do.
Yeah. If you chase, they run.
Right. Exactly. Prospects, you chase prospects, prospects run away. Right? I’m like, all right, with the book, it’s having the right bait, the right message in place and then they come talking to you. They come seek you out, versus you chasing them down which I love better because I don’t like being rejected.
In my company we call it being the hunted instead of the hunter.
Same exact concept. I use that all the time to open the doors to have the conversations. In some cases, the agents don’t know that I’m a bestselling author and then I just bring it up. I just bring it up, “Hey, by the way, have you heard this book? I actually wrote about this topic,” and I give them a copy or I email them a copy.
I’m like, “Hey, read the book or read this chapter that I talked about how to be successful in life.” It’s just part off in the long-term nurturing process, some of the agents that we connect with, some of the people that ends up being mentored by me. It’s not like overnight, “Okay. Let’s be mentored,” it’s a relationship. It could be weeks, could be months. I have people that have been connected with me for years through the journey.
Yeah, but the book frames the relationship right out of the get-go. Right?
It frames you as the expert, as the authority. Even though it’s not a book on real estate, it frames you as the expert and the authority. That whole frame just changes the nature of the relationship. Instead of you being another recruiter, you’re now somebody that mentors people to success and has written a book on the topic, so I love that. Very, very powerful.
Any cool stories around that? I mean, obviously you had the one in Cancun that just happened a couple of days ago. Any cool stories about realtors that have come to you because of the book or that you’ve recruited and brought on your team?
Oh, absolutely. I think one of the best ones is, we recently expanded our team to Florida and we expanded our team to California. One of the agents that we ended up connecting with got connected to us years back because of the book.
And so, she came along, she saw that I wrote a book on success. We got connected and then she got relocated or her husband got relocated to Florida. So, years have passed and I had trained her years ago, like four or five years ago and then we moved to a new company. We moved to eXp Realty, which it fits our vision of expanding to the marketplaces, so I reached back out to her.
Again, this is like five years ago we got connected because of the book, we never actually got a chance to really work together until recently. We’re open in Florida because of the conversation about the book years back. Now, I can say Fine Living Group Florida is open, Fine Living Group California is open. All these conversation starters that happened years ago in the right vehicle, in the right systems and processes, it accelerates everything.
Thanks for the things you shared today. Where can people learn a little bit more about you? Go to your website perhaps like what’s a great way to connect with you to learn more?
People can go follow me on Instagram @foodierealtor. What I didn’t tell you is, I’m also a foodie. I love food. I love to travel. I love books. If they want to connect with me on Facebook, I’m also there, just search my name.
I’m also on LinkedIn, but if you want to connect with me on real estate, my real estate website is thefinelivinggroup.com, thefinelivinggroup.com. That’s the best way if you want to talk about real estate or just follow me on Instagram and connect with me there.
Or thefinelivinggroup.com is where they can learn more about you and the various teams that you’ve built across the country. Great to have you on my friend, thanks for sharing some of your successes and the whole idea of mentorship and how you’re using your book. Really, really cool. Thank you.
Absolutely. Thank you, Rob.