20 Questions with Celebrity Realtor Aaron Kirman: Who has sold more than 3 billion in real estate
It was great to connect with rock star real estate agent Aaron Kirman. Aaron’s journey to becoming one of the biggest real estate agents in the world is truly mind-blowing, especially when you learn that as a child he couldn’t pronounce his name correctly, is dyslexic and hated school. He is a shining example of what is possible when we identify our passion, relentlessly pursue it and surround ourselves with great people as we persist towards and accomplish our goals.
Aaron Kirman has maximized his Everyday Power and continues to create a life that brings him and his clients joy.
In this interview, we touch on many topics, like work-life balance, success, mentorship, teamwork, and passion.
You can see more of Aaron as he is often on CNBC’s Secret Lives of the Super Rich.
Let’s jump right in!
Jeff: Aaron, what was your biggest obstacle in school?
Aaron: You know, school was never my thing. I had severe dyslexia. It took me years to learn how to read. I think I was super blessed in figuring out what to do at a very young age.
Jeff: When did you realize that real estate and homes were your passion?
Aaron: I always loved houses when I was a kid. At like 5 or 6 years old, I was always drawn to homes. My parents were not wealthy and were relatively middle class and honestly had no desire to move and probably, they couldn’t afford to do it. I was asking them to move and talked to agents and looked at houses with them because that’s how drawn to real estate I was at a super young age.
Jeff: How did your passion for loving homes snowball into the success you’ve created for yourself?
Aaron: So when I was eighteen, it was a different world. I’d always loved houses, and the process of buying and selling and I was drawn to it. I don’t know why.
It could have been the energy or karmic thing. Who knows? When I was eighteen, I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew what skills I needed to get there. It just felt like a perfect fit for me.
It was a different time back then. With all the reality TV shows and the glitz and glamor, it feels that everybody wants to be a real estate agent or is an agent.
Back then, that wasn’t the case. When I told people I wanted to be a real estate agent, they said, “why would you want to do that, that’s what my grandma does.” They viewed it as a very non-technological job or as a second career for “when you retire.” For me, it felt right, and it was something I knew I wanted to do. I felt this with force.
Jeff: Did you have mentors? If so, how did they impact your success?
Aaron: You know, I watched what other people were doing. I didn’t formally have mentors that were teaching me or that I followed, but I followed everyone that was successful. I watched what people were doing and how they were doing it. I saw whose models were working, and I started to emulate that. And that helped to propel my success.
Jeff: Tell us about your first job in real estate.
Aaron: At the time when I started, I was at a relatively large firm, and I was an intern there. Then, I got fired as an intern. I then got my license and opted to work at a relatively small firm. They were a very niche firm that specialized in architecture. I was able to build a reputation that was a little bit unique and different from the rest.
And that was actually, looking back strategically, a very smart decision because I became known at a very young age as someone that sells super cool houses.
They weren’t always the most expensive, but they were super cool. And that’s how I got started. A lot of people that wanted those super cool houses happened to be in the fashion, and art and the movie industries. So I was able to build a cool, interesting clientele very quickly.
Jeff: What did you tell yourself when you got fired and how did you recover from that?
Aaron: So it’s never easy to get fired, and you’re going to always have an ego wound. But, all you could do in that situation is to look forward and not back. All you can do is learn from your lessons. I think the lesson I learned, though, is I shouldn’t be working for somebody. It drove me to jump into the deep end and say:
I’M GOING TO BE MY OWN BROKER, AND I’M GOING TO SELL. I’M NOT GOING LET SOMEBODY ELSE CONTROL MY DESTINY.
Jeff: What were some of the biggest lessons you learned from your initial success at this smaller firm?
Aaron: One lesson I learned was that it’s better to swim with dolphins than to be a shark. I learned that it was really important to have teamwork and always work with either side of the deal.
And another thing I learned, was that you’re going to make a lot of mistakes and that’s okay, as long as you learn from them. A lot of the things I learned were results of mistakes I made in the past.
Taking it to the next level
Jeff: Aaron, where does your drive come from? What’s driving you to keep going? You could retire at this point and relax on the beach. What is driving you and pushing you to go on?
Aaron: You know, when I go to the beach, I get really bored.
I enjoy it for a couple of days, but I’m just not ready to do that. I really love building and growing. I love business, and I love success. It’s not the money that drives me. I love the growth, and I love the intellectual aspect of the game of business.
Everything changes so quickly. It’s a changing game, and that pulse I find very exciting. Change helps me keep the desire to keep going onto bigger and bolder projects. My team and I always love working on new projects; it makes life quite exciting and fun.
Jeff: What is your favorite lesson or concept to teach your team?
Aaron: It’s not just my team. I get hundreds of inquiries a day from people who want to be in real estate or be successful in general. There are so many lessons, and they are not specific to real estate. For example, I always focus on the importance of self-care. If you’re not taking care of yourself, nobody is going to take care of you.
Who is going to want your service if you can’t take care of yourself the right way?
WHEN YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, SUCCESS WILL FOLLOW.
Jeff: What does self-care look like for Aaron Kirman?
Aaron: I like working, so it doesn’t feel like work for me. But, I also take time for myself, whether that means meditating in the morning so that I could be a little more grounded. Or going for a hike in the afternoon or evening, or going to the gym. I hear a lot of people in real estate say “I can’t take off, I’ll miss too much.” And my answer is, “You should take off!” Because that’s what’s going to drive more business your way.
I love traveling. And, it’s so funny that I’ve met so many unbelievably wealthy clients just traveling the world. Whether it’s looking at art, touring a city, trying a new restaurant or trying a new hotel. I’ve been able to build so many relationships that led to business, while I was taking care of myself and doing what I love.
Jeff: I’ve been doing a lot of these interviews, and it’s it is interesting that for self-care, you mentioned meditation. That always seems to come up again and again. How does meditation help you?
Aaron: Meditating has changed my life. People have a thousand moving parts on any given day. You’re going to have stresses, irritants and for me, meditation does an amazing job in keeping me uber grounded. I find the days I don’t meditate are a lot harder than the days that I do.
My thought patterns are a lot more clear. I’m not into being reactionary, so I think it has been exceptionally helpful and important in my life.
Aaron’s advice for ambitious individuals
Jeff: What are some things that you tell young real estate agents in the game who are trying to get to where you are?
Aaron: There are so many things. One big one is knowing that building a business takes time and Rome wasn’t built overnight. It’s the same thing with the real estate business. I often tell people in today’s world, teams are really helpful because you can share information and really grow as a group.
The people that I’ve seen as most successful are ones that had mentors or were under somebody for a few years and really get to know the business procedures and protocols. I always tell people not to take it too seriously because part of the business is winning some and losing some.
IF YOU TAKE THE LOSSES SERIOUSLY, THE LOSSES WILL COMPOUND. SO YOU REALLY HAVE TO GO “YOU KNOW WHAT, THAT WAS NOT MY SELL. IT WAS SOMEBODY ELSE’S, AND THAT’S OKAY!”
Jeff: So many people struggle with patience, and they end up bouncing around from opportunity to opportunity. What role does patience play in business and life? How does somebody develop patience?
Aaron: I think that everything in today’s world is so immediate that patience is difficult. I think people need to take a step back. People need to enjoy the process of getting there, and people forget that.
You’re going to be up and down, and it’s going to take some time. But if you don’t enjoy the ride, there’s no point in getting to the destination because the destination may not exactly be what you want either. Your destination may change on the way as you’re taking that ride. Keep your eyes open, be patient, and enjoy it and, make sure that you’re on the right road for yourself as well.
Jeff: You spoke about building a team and how as a team, you can cover more ground, much faster. How does somebody even know where to start in building a team?
Aaron: I did not know myself a year and a half ago. Like anything else, you have to study it, calculate it, and figure it out for yourself what’s going to work. You have to keep in mind that it’s not just what works for you, but what works for the people who work with you, and your teammates.
I want to see everybody on my team be uber-successful. So my role is to help them be successful, and we all move forward. It takes a lot of leadership, a lot of circumnavigating, it takes a lot of communication, it takes a lot of structure.
I have to build protocols, build a marketing system, build a team of marketers that work directly for me, build an accounting system. This all keeps the infrastructure alive and well.
Jeff: When you think of building structures, what role have habits and routines played in your life and in your success?
Aaron: A lot. I have learning disabilities, and so naturally, structuring never came easy for me. Organization never came easy for me, but I always hire people around me that were better than me in those things, which is really helpful. The one thing that I was always uber-structured about was getting up every morning, getting my coffee and going to work. That has always been an easy structure for me that I lived by, that I enjoyed, and that has helped my success.
THE IDEA OF GETTING UP EVERY DAY AND MAKING THINGS HAPPEN HAS ALWAYS HELPED PROPEL ME TO SUCCESS.
Jeff: Should people change jobs until they find one they’re passionate about?
Aaron: A lot of people bounce around and move around. When you’re moving from job to job, sometimes people get lucky and find what they’re passionate about. But sometimes it doesn’t happen that way, and people are losing time. When you find something you’re good at, or you’re passionate about, I always tell people to stick with it.
Jeff: How do people find their passion?
Aaron: Some people are lucky enough to just innately know what they want to do and follow it. And, some people don’t. If you don’t, that’s okay too. The best way is to get out there and play. Have hobbies and interests. They will lead you to your passion.
Jeff: Who are some people that you look up to?
Aaron: Interesting question. I find inspiration every day from different people that rose to the top. When you search and learn people’s stories, it’s interesting how they got to the top.
The older I get, the more I appreciate people who give to charity and realize that there is a much bigger world that does not revolve around them. The more you take care of people, the more people are going to take care of you. The more you give, the more you’re going to get back. If everybody ran on that notion of giving, I think we would be in a better spot.
Jeff: How do you define success?
Aaron: I think success is defined differently by every person. For me, it’s a very simple one, which is “choosing to live the life that I want to live.” I’m living the life I want to live, and it may change tomorrow. I don’t know. I don’t define success by money or wealth or items accumulated.
I don’t even define it by trophies collected or the honors that I get. I’m blessed to have them because they help and aid in life. But if you’re not happy and if you’re not where you want to be, all of it is nothing.
Jeff: How do you define Everyday Power?
Aaron: I like to make a positive impact in the world around me and make a positive impact for myself every day. What makes me feel happy and powerful is knowing that I’m doing right by myself and others and that I’m moving in the right direction. Everyday Power is when the moves I make are impacting people in the world in the right way.
Recently, BBC published an article about me, and when they did, I got hundreds of emails from people that were like “thank you so much. My son has dyslexia, and you really inspired him.” That made me feel great because you never know what somebody needs to hear at that moment.