I Built a Billion-Dollar Business in Just 10 Years, And These Are the 9 Mantras I Live By This excerpt from my forthcoming book offers exclusive insights into the gritty (not glamorous) details of building The Agency from an idea to a billion-dollar global brokerage.
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As an entrepreneur, I learned early on that without risk, there is no reward. In my new book launching this April, The Dealmaker, I share everything from the challenges of outgrowing my father's textile company to starting a new business while raising a family and maintaining a strong marriage.
Billy Rose and I founded The Agency in 2011 to be an innovator in the industry, not an imitator. Our number one goal was to disrupt the industry and create a culture of collaboration and connection. We learned quickly to meet adversity head-on, which required endless stamina, grit and determination.
How did we do this? Here is an exclusive excerpt from my forthcoming book with keen insights on the gritty (and not as glamorous) details of building The Agency from an idea to a billion-dollar global brokerage one decade later.
Roll Up Your Sleeves
The one thing I will tell you is that — even though we were doing most everything correctly — starting a business from the ground up is not even remotely glamorous. It's an immense amount of hard work. Blood, sweat, tears and then more of the same. Billy and I were working 18 hours a day and sleeping six hours if we were lucky. I'd be talking to him on the way home after we'd just left the office, then I'd sit in the driveway of my house and say, "Okay, I'm going inside to have dinner. I'll call you back in an hour." I'd catch up with my family, eat with them, and then Billy and I would be back to work from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
We couldn't stop innovating and coming up with new and exciting ideas. When you're truly invested in something, you want to give it everything you've got; you have to if you want it to be successful. That includes rolling up your sleeves and executing tasks you wouldn't typically engage in. In those early years, Billy was making runs to the Home Depot so he could swap out toilet seats, and I was acting as the office valet, moving cars so our agents could get to their listings on time. I literally became Deedee Howard's personal valet!
Just because you're the boss and the one who's invested the money — $1 million in our case — you can't avoid getting your hands dirty. It's actually quite the opposite. It was our responsibility to keep our staff happy, and anything short of that was unacceptable.
Here are nine mantras I live by and I've learned along the journey:
- Forgoing financial security to gamble on an uncertain opportunity isn't for everyone — and fear of change is a very real and common phenomenon — but if you don't take a leap, you'll remain stagnant.
- Change is often a gift, even if it's not a change you asked for, and even if it might not seem that way at first.
- When the time comes to spread your wings, you have to believe in yourself and in your conviction that it will be the most important professional decision for you.
- Oftentimes in business, things don't go as planned or work out as neatly as you'd like them to. You have to be able to roll with the punches and make the best out of the situation, whatever it is.
- Holding on to frustration and resentment can be toxic; it doesn't benefit anyone, namely you. Letting go is the best course of action.
- There's no need to tear someone else down in order to achieve your own goal, especially when family is involved.
- Starting a business from the ground up is not even remotely glamorous. It's an immense amount of hard work. Blood, sweat, tears and then more of the same.
- When you're truly invested in something, you have to give it everything you've got if you want it to be successful.
- Just because you're the boss and the one who's invested the money, you can't avoid rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty.
The Dealmaker will be released on April 11. Preorder a copy here.