Learning Leverage the Hard Way

By Allison Teegardin|

Photography by Ryan Kelly| September 21, 2018

Jennie Wolek of the Keller Williams Realty Advantage (Okla.) market center knows the pains of failure as well as the rewards of the rebounds.

In 2010, after nine steady years in real estate, Jennie Wolek enrolled in her first BOLD. She was hungry for new learning opportunities and looked forward to enhancing her business. Little did she know, but the experience would be one of many to have a profound impact on her life. With each BOLD would come new lessons that would propel her forward. In BOLD, a transformative eight-week program by KW MAPS Coaching, she remembers being pushed out of her comfort zone, restructuring her mindset and truly recognizing the missing link in her business – consistent lead generation.

The importance of lead generation had been a constant refrain in her life, but still, she avoided it.

“I knew it was important, and yet I wasn’t doing it,” Wolek says about her hesitation with calling her database daily. “BOLD coached me to change my mindset from, ‘I’m bugging people’ to ‘I’m great at helping people.’” It infused her career with a newfound energy that allowed her to approach each call knowing she had something great to offer. Her genuine desire to help was well received by clients and her business doubled in one year.

Band-Aid Hiring

To keep up with the influx in clients, Wolek would have to hire a team.

“When you go from 20-something units to 50-something units in a short time, it’s chaos without help,” she reflects. This increase in business as well as the pressures of raising a family propelled her to quickly make her first hire. Hiring without training or a KW MAPS Coach proved to be a costly mistake.

“Because I had not been at this level in business before, I was in the middle of the chaos of how busy I was, so I hired out of desperation … I made Band-Aid hires,” Wolek says. “I hadn’t yet attended any training to teach me how to hire and train a team, and I didn’t yet think of myself as a business owner either. I saw myself as just an agent who needed help − fast.”

It didn’t take long for Wolek to experience the consequences of her rush decisions.

With her first hire in place to assist with administrative tasks and another to help with buyers, she was still just as busy as before. By not properly training, Wolek was paying salaries for positions that weren’t helping bring more money into the business. This increased pressure caused her to believe she needed more team members to ease her situation, although her KW MAPS Coach advised otherwise.

“My coach and I talked about how my production wasn’t at a place to have a listing agent,” she says. “However I was so stressed, I decided to trade time for money with his blessing.” Even with a coach advising Wolek in a successful direction, her mindset was her true navigator.

“Many think a coach will push you to do something you don’t want to do, and that is not the case,” she says. “You are only held accountable to what you say you want.” A coach will coach but it’s up to the individual to choose the play they want to make.

Still overworked, Wolek was now in a tough spot financially and emotionally. A lack of training and accountability for her team members led to further strain. “I didn’t properly hire, train or hold my team accountable, which is a very expensive lesson I learned,” she says.

Wolek withdrew and began to lose even her passion for selling real estate and helping people. “I didn’t want to talk to anybody,” she recalls. “I wasn’t a good leader because I wasn’t growing and nurturing my team at that time and I just burned out,” she remembers. In the same week in March of 2015, both agents left the team. Still having her administrative team in place, she knew it would be okay.

She recalls the moment she felt pity for herself and that it lasted just a second before she realized she had been given a clean slate and it was time to start fresh.

When you are at the bottom, the only way to go is up.

The first thing Wolek did was get right back into BOLD. In fact, that year she took BOLD four times and has taken it a total of 14 times to date. This time though, Wolek got even more strategic with her BOLD experience.

Rather than staying close to home, she purposefully took BOLD in cities that were approximately two hours away so she could extend her referral partner network.

“When you go to a market center two hours away from your own, it is very likely that agents there will know people in your city and vice versa,” Wolek says. With 32 percent of her referrals coming from fellow agents, Wolek’s strategy has paid off. Last year alone, she received 111 agent referrals and returned as many as she could. Through her blog and KWConnect, Wolek maintains relationships with her referral network by sharing business tips and sparking big thinking among the group – something she is extremely passionate about. She is also an avid user of the Agent-to-Agent Referral Platform and has connected with over 1,700 agents!

Wolek has also attended Career Visioning several times to tune up her hiring process. Through CV and the help of her coach, she has rebuilt her team.

Jenny Wolek

Paying It Forward

Going from financial strain to gain has allowed Wolek to not only take care of herself and her team but the community they serve as well. A certified Quantum Leap (QL) instructor, she is passionate about inspiring young adults to dream their biggest life possible.

Already donating a percentage of her commissions to her clients’ favorite charities, Wolek formed her own nonprofit, Keys to The City, which is also funded by a percentage of her closings and used to offer training, classes, mentorship, and scholarships to young adults to pursue higher education.

“I know when I get up every day and I am talking to people, it helps bring in business, which helps my agents on the team have an awesome big life, and it allows me to keep doing what I love – traveling, training and sharing,” Wolek says. “When you know why you are doing what you are doing, it is easy to go to bed at a good hour and get up to tackle it with a time-blocked schedule.”

Having learned from her own lessons, Wolek advises that if you are lost at the moment and need to get back on track, understand your personal talents, find and follow your passion and do not stop. You only fail when you quit.

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