A Letter From Gary Keller: Four Truths for Times of Uncertainty

March 16, 2020

In a live-stream address from Keller Williams Realty International headquarters, Gary Keller offered powerful advice on how to prepare and pivot during times of market uncertainty. Below is a follow-up letter he sent out after the broadcast outlining four timeless truths to put into practice to thrive in a shifted business landscape.

Keller Williams family,

Make no mistake, we’re in a shift. It’s a different one than we’ve ever seen before. Its cause in and of itself warrants caution. We owe that to ourselves and everyone around us. The health challenge that has shown up in our lives is very real. It must be respected and we must take all necessary actions to keep each other safe. 

The economic effect of this challenge is both uniquely real and surprisingly familiar. It’s called a shift, an economic shift. This isn’t the first one and it certainly won’t be the last. Shift happens. And when it does, you must shift with it. You need to pivot quickly. If you don’t take action, you’re literally turning your business into a game of chance. And there’s no reason to do that. The actions are simple and highly effective. They’ve been time-tested and proven. 

Make no mistake, you need to pivot. You need to pivot today.

So what do you do? 

In 2009, Jay, Dave, and I wrote a book called SHIFT. It was written on the heels of what turned out to be called the Great Recession, one of the most harrowing financial periods in American history. And, we came through it. We survived. And then, we thrived. Because we shifted. 

What SHIFT teaches us is as relevant today as it was then. And hopefully, you will pick it up and read it. The prescription that we lay out in the book proved to be not only accurate, but when taken seriously and implemented, highly effective. 

As a way of re-introducing you to what we wrote, Jay and I sat down and put these thoughts together for you. It’s time to pivot. 

1. Wake Up and Pay Attention

Make no mistake where we are. Don’t let how you feel about this situation dictate what you do about it. When you’re dealing with less, you must do more. This isn’t a choice—it’s an imperative.

Although it sounds trite, what is still true is that tough times call for tough-minded people. In normal times, rising tides keep all boats afloat. When tides recede, only boats that respond appropriately stay in the game. All others are grounded.

In 1979, musical artist Kenny Loggins’ father was sick and facing uncertain odds. Unwilling to allow his father to slip into complacency, Kenny wrote these heartfelt words to his father, in his famous song “This Is It“:

There’ve been times in my life
I’ve been wondering why
Still, somehow I believed we’d always survive
Now, I’m not so sure you’re waiting to hear
One good reason to try
But what more can I say
What’s left to provide
You think that maybe it’s over
Only if you want it to be
Are you gonna wait for a sign, your miracle
Stand up and fight
This is it
Make no mistake where you are
This is it
Your back’s to the corner
This is it
Don’t be a fool anymore
This is it

Kenny wrote this song to his father as a way of saying “Your situation is real. And you need to get up and get after it.” Today, we all face a similar moment. We need to pivot and face our new reality. 

2. Learn to Live on Less

There’s an old saying, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” This applies to dollars too. When a shift happens it pays to understand that the first dollar you make is the dollar you don’t spend. The way you do this is to lower your expenses. 

The real power of this pivot is realizing that reducing your expenses is not a one-time event. Cut expenses every month for the rest of the year. Make it a game. And don’t forget to acknowledge and reward those who help. 

Review everything. Review every line, every month. And don’t stop until January 2021. You’ll be amazed at what you would have missed each time. You’ll often be encouraged by how once you cut something, the next month you’ll discover that you can cut even more.

And please remember, financial pivoting isn’t just a business concept—it’s a personal one too. It doesn’t help to lower your business expenses if you don’t keep your personal expenses in check. Why save one dollar when you can save two. Learn to live on less. 

3. Double Down on Leads

Dig into your goals and determine how many leads you’re going to need to achieve them. It is an absolute certainty that it will take more leads to accomplish your sales goals today than it did yesterday. This is why you double down.

Think of it this way. The number of people out there you can do business with is never zero. There are still people that need you, you’ll just have to work twice as hard to find them. Even in 2011, the worst year of the Great Recession, the number of sides per agent was nearly the same as in 2019. Make no mistake, there’s still a lot of opportunity. There’s just less. So you must pivot and get more. 

Dust off your lead generation options. Choose the ones that make the most sense. Time block a minimum of four hours a day for lead generation. And never stop.

4. Lean into the Market of the Moment 

To succeed in a market, you must understand it. No two markets are the same, which means a solution for one won’t necessarily work in another. Take a step back, look around, and identify the opportunities your market today has to offer. Every market will explain how you can best work in it and how people can best make it work for them. 

Whether it’s the type of property, the price of the property, the financing of the property, the type of seller, or the type of buyer, each market always has its own unique combination to unlock. When you’ve talked to enough people you’ll understand what your market has taken away and, more importantly, what it still has to give. 

The market will show you where you need to pivot. 

Every shift leaves an opening. A reason to stay in the market. Every problem eventually presents a solution. A way to help someone when they need it most. Today isn’t yesterday, and tomorrow isn’t determined. When the desire to do more comes from a place that’s bigger than ourselves, anything is possible. Potential can become reality. When we pivot, we help others pivot, and together we all have the opportunity to achieve more. 

Onward,

Gary Keller


In addition to the proven techniques Gary shared above, he encouraged agents to lean into the giving economy. 

“As we learn to live on less, it’s important to remember there are people out there who could use the things we no longer need. Whether its clothes, furniture, or canned foods, now is the time to donate anything you’ve been thinking about giving away. In the wake of a recession, a sharing economy is what keeps a country together.”

Pivot: Shift Ahead

To access livestreams, on-demand video, and other helpful resources that will help you navigate the changing business landscape, visit (and bookmark) the Pivot: Shift Ahead homepage. 

Let’s Pivot

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