Obsession, The Power Behind Great Real Estate Brands

Obsession, The Power Behind Great Real Estate Brands

How to create a real estate brand like James Tostevin has using the power of ‘obsession’ and become ‘locally-famous’ in your marketplace.

Funny things obsessions are.

They drive people to do all manner of crazy stuff. And of course some pretty unhealthy stuff as well but I’m not talking to you about that kind of destructive, ‘disempowering obsession’. I’m talking about another kind, an ‘empowering’ form of obsession. A ‘locally-famous’ real estate agency brand building kind of obsession. More about that in a minute.

Let’s talk obsession first…

This ‘other’ kind, the good kind of obsession has been the catalyst for many great achievements throughout recorded history.

Great sporting achievements like Muhammad Ali’s obsession with physical fitness and ‘being the greatest’ which paid dividends in the boxing ring. Great artistic achievements like Picasso’s obsession which resulted in 25,000 original works of art. Great humanitarian achievements like Ghandi and his obsessions, which brought about independence for his country.

And great business achievements like…

…Steve Jobs and Apple.

Steve Jops

Jobs was obsessed with the liberal arts and with technology. He was also obsessed with simplicity. Many have argued Jobs was a creative genius. Gifted. A rarity. Maybe they’re all valid assessments of Jobs.

However, I’d argue he wasn’t a ‘born genius’, as much as his genius was the product of the merging of his three obsessions.

You see his three obsessions drove Jobs to be creative. He had to be to satisfy all three obsessions. It drove him to find solutions also. Often innovative solutions. Obsessions drove Jobs to go beyond what most mere mortals do, to create the ‘simple’ beautiful products he’s famous for.

Here’s the thing…

Obsession (talking the good kind) forces people to take SUPER-HUMAN-LIKE-ACTION to achieve their goals. Obsession (again the good kind) empowers people to go where others won’t. Obsession gets people so focused on what they’re going for that they waste little valuable energy and time on less important things.

Great real estate brands are also the result of two or three obsessions merging. Take independent agency owner Daniel Hayes of Hayeswinckle Agent in Geelong.

Daniel Hayes of Hayeswinckle Agent

I recently asked Daniel what his obsessions were and he said “I used to be obsessed with just working. Easy for me to rack up 100 hour weeks.” But Daniel said that singular obsession alone comes with some pretty negative consequences in respect to life outside of work. That’s actually often the case when we become singularly obsessed with something.

When a secondary obsession is introduced it can all change in very positive ways.

Again take Daniel. Realising his singular obsession with work was effecting his ‘life’ outside of his agency, he made a change. His simple solution was to become obsessed with not just work, but life also. Daniel said “Having a work/life balance is the most important thing these days. It’s the way I live my life now. And it’s a big part of our business culture. And culture is king.”

Daniel explained it this way “I used to gloat about the long hours I worked. Not now. Balance is way more important. I hate seeing my agents not having boundaries when it comes to work encroaching on family life. I don’t like people working back late at night and missing out on time they could be enjoying with their family.”

In ‘Real Estate Business Top 100 Agents Ranking’ for 2013, James Tostevin was ranked at number one in Australia, recording a massive sales volume in excess of $200,000,000. James is not new to winning. For the past 10 years, James has held the number one ranking at Marshall White. That’s an amazing effort in itself considering the competition he has from fellow team mate Marcus Chiminello who came second in the Top 100 2013 Rankings with sales of just over $180,000,000. Both incredible achievements.


I asked James what his obsessions were. James didn’t need to think about my question. He said “Prospecting, that’s my number 1. Followed by looking after my listings and my third one is my desire to remain the number 1 at Marshall White.”

James said “These three obsessions have had a massive impact. Without them I could not have achieved what I have achieved.”

James’s obsession has driven him to be highly disciplined and organised. It’s also helped him to become a master of rapport building. Agents pay James just to listen in on him making prospecting phone calls so they can glean some of the magic rapport building dialogue James uses and is an obvious master at.

I credit my own crazy obsession with needing independence laced with a healthy dose of ambition for many of my achievements.

This need of mine to be completely autonomous, free to do it my way, and at the same time always reaching for the next level up, drove my agency from a completely unknown struggling business to ‘locally-famous’ – a million-dollar agency in 3 short years.

It’s no wonder I chose the independent agency path over a franchise.

Not that I have anything against franchises or the people who go that way. But for me, freedom, my independence, is paramount. I would have suffocated in a franchise. Combine that with my other obsession, ambition, I felt a franchise would limit me moving into other territories, going where I want to go.

What’s even more interesting is my creativity is proportional to the degree to which I obsess over being independent and ambitious. When those two obsessions are equally amped up, my creativity is always off the charts. So for me my creativity has been a by-product of my two obsessions merging.

Here’s my point, people are at their best when they allow two or three obsessions (the empowering kind) to guide them.

When I live and breathe my two obsessions simultaneously, in a kind of unison, things work best for me. At those peaks my creativity is magnified. My energy is magnified. And my focus is laser sharp. Achieving goals. Feeling that fulfilment from creating what I have envisaged. Joy. All the great high points in my life are where my two obsessions were at play. The same goes for James Tostevin and Daniel Hayes.

Of course I’ve had my fair share of low points too.

What I have noticed in reflecting on both the highs and lows is that both obsessions of mine were predominant in those high periods. And only one or none of my obsessions were in effect during the low periods.

Over the past 20 years I’ve become known for creating some pretty cool ‘locally-famous’ real estate agencies. My own independent agency was recognised internationally as “Australia’s Best Estate Agency” in terms of our website, branding and marketing.

If you reflect on your life’s high points you may notice a pattern. A pattern of your obsessions showing up in unison. If you look at your low points you may also notice that your obsessions (the good ones) weren’t there as much.

So one of the big keys to creating a great real estate brand in your marketplace is to ensure you have two or three obsessions equally present that are driving you. Before you go out and adopt Daniel’s or James or even my own ‘obsession-combination’, you’ll want to make sure your obsessions work for you and not against you.

Remember at the start of this article I said there are two kinds of obsession?

They are:

  • ‘Disempowering Obsessions’ – aka bad obsessions
  • ‘Empowering Obsessions’ – these are the good kind

Your disempowering obsessions will cause you to go off track. Whilst your empowering obsessions will help you to achieve great things. The trick is working out what your ‘Empowering Obsessions’ are. Luckily they leave clues.

Here’s an easy ‘4-Step Obsession Discovery Exercise’ you can do to find your obsessions

Try this now for yourself…

  1. List 3 of your greatest successes/periods you enjoyed success.
  2. List 3 of your worst failures/periods you experienced struggle or failure.
  3. Look back, right back to when you were a child. Now map out the positive ‘up’ periods – See if you can identify the presence of a couple of obsessions or three.
  4. Now map out the negative ‘low’ periods – notice which of the obsessions are missing.

The goal of this exercise is to find the mix of obsessions that exist when life and business is great.

Once you have found your ‘Empowering Obsessions’ all you need to do is use them as your daily compass. Let them dictate to you what actions you should take.

It really is that simple.

People ask me how to get motivated, and how to create a ‘locally-famous’ brand. I tell them, start with finding your two or three ‘empowering obsessions’. They’re going to be like fuel in a racing car. Without that fuel, there’s little chance you’ll win any race.

Here’s to your obsessions!

Please comment!

Please tell us, what is your obsession?

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