Jennifer Maher – Suffering is Optional

Show Notes

Jennifer Maher podcast (1)

Welcome to the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast where you’ll hear the good, the bad and the ugly of how real estate agents overcame challenges and grew their business. Check out the Episode Notes at CrushItinRE.com/podcast. Here’s your host, Lindsay Favazza.

Be sure to check out Jennifer Maher’s socials!

  • Instagram: @jennmahermaher
  • Facebook: Jennifer Maher (Grandma)
  • Or visit her website: jennifermaher.com

Lindsay Favazza: Welcome back to the Agents who Crush it in Real Estate Podcast. I am looking at, on my screen, Jen Maher. She is a realtor and broker partner at J. Philip Foronda in New York. Welcome so much. I’m so excited to have you on here today, Jen. Welcome to the podcast.

Jennifer Maher: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Lindsay: You’re going to have a lot to talk about, I have no doubt, because I’ve seen in just the last couple of years of following your career that you’ve really done a fantastic job. You’re a leader within your company, obviously. I want you to take us back to the beginning. How did you get into real estate back in 1996, you said, that you started in real estate? You made some shifts as far as commercial, residential. Take us back to those early days, and how you transitioned within this business.

Jennifer: To be honest with you, I was in the restaurant business, and I found myself in a position of being a single mom, and uneducated. There wasn’t really much I could do. I did not go to college. I was a high school dropout, and I was in this situation. I, somehow, was like, “I’ll get into real estate,” because I wanted to be able to be the best mom that I could and spend time with the baby, and whatnot, and so I did.

I actually did real estate and catering as well, for about a year. I hated catering. It was nothing like the restaurant business. Literally hated it. I did so well part time that I said, “Okay, let me go full time.” I did. I came full-time, probably by 1998.

Lindsay: I was a single mom for a little while myself. I remember you go through a time where you’re like, “I’m going to get this done on my own. I going to make it happen.” A lot of people will look at it as not a good thing, but sometimes it’s a blessing because you really have a reset on your life. I think that’s really motivating.

Jennifer: I say that all the time. It’s very easy for me to understand my why. It always has been.

Lindsay: Absolutely. Talk about the early days in real estate, how you learned your way through at that time. Did you have any mentors or coaches? What training were you getting? What were you doing? Then talk to me about when the market started to go down, and what that transition was for you as well.

Jennifer: There was not a lot of great mentors or top-producing agents in my area, and so I got very involved. I actually founded the Women’s Council of Realtors in Putnam pretty early on, and got on the board where you had to go National Association of Realtors. That’s where I learned that you can get friendships and relationships with people from other parts of the country that were doing things that are really high level, totally different than anybody’s doing. That’s when that spark really got lit.

I was grateful that I got that exposure early on. John who is a coach in common, I met, probably, 15 years ago when he was just really getting started, or maybe 10 years ago, I don’t know, a long time ago, I coach with him way back when and really put myself more in a position of leadership all the time, which was a mistake in hindsight because I always ended up thinking I was the smartest person.

It took me a little bit later to realize, “Just surround yourself by people that are doing things at a much higher level than you want to.” I did get some great exposure to national people during–

Lindsay: I love that you were like, “There’s not anyone that I really know close to me, but let me seek out other opportunities.” That’s awesome.

Jennifer: I did, but then I would always just put so much on myself. That was a track for my career. I’d be like, “Oh, let me run the Women Council of Realtors. Let me do this. Let me do that.” It worked. It got me where I needed to be. Like I said, I didn’t have a lot of formal education. I got educated in lots of other ways. Doing all that, being on the Board of Realtors and the Women’s Council of Realtors, you just were in a position where you knew what was going to happen before it happened. You knew trends before everybody else knew it.

You were in a position where you had to know this stuff, which put you at an advantage. I would say a lot of that, even though I was putting myself in a position of leadership, you had access to even higher levels of leadership all the time.

Lindsay: Absolutely. Tell me about those years. Take me through, based on sales and stuff like that, how your career has progressed.

Jennifer: I’ve had an interesting career. I was an independent broker years ago. I’ve been with RE/MAX. I was with another independent company prior to J. Philip. I did pretty well. I was one of the top-producing in my areas, somewhere around $10-15 million that’s the max out. Now it’s higher than it used to be back then. Price point back then was probably about $200,000 and then medium price point or average price point. When the market crashed is when I really grew. When the market crashed, I actually owned my own brokerage at that point. I was like, “Oh, okay. Now I [crosstalk]–“

Lindsay: [laughs] This is what we’re dealing with.

Jennifer: I had gotten very involved, actually, also, in leadership in my community. I founded the Putnam County Business Council, was very involved with the Local Chamber of Commerce. My sphere that, really, I worked my book of business from, was elected officials and business owners, and they weren’t going anywhere. Their houses weren’t worth anything. They weren’t selling. Nobody was relocating unless they had to. I was like, “What are they doing?” That’s when I started bringing commercial and investment into my book of business. I completely morphed my business model into very client-based.

Rather than having to keep networking and keep getting to know more people, become super service to the people that I already had established relations with really well. Then I talk about creating people that became raving lunatic fans, like “If you’re not doing business with Jennifer, you’re making a mistake.”

Lindsay: Absolutely.

Jennifer: They would literally say that to other people, like, “You have to deal with her.” That came from just busting my butt for people, and being a connector. Literally, I was a connector in so many ways, not just real estate, but in the community. They still do it, and that’s not at all what I do anymore. I still get calls about everything in the community.

I just became that person, and then taught myself how to not just be someone who everybody knows, but top of mind when it comes to real estate. You can network, and be out there and be doing all these things but if you’re not planting the seed of being a professional real estate agent, really good at your job, they’re not going to think of you.

Lindsay: They’re not going to think of you when they need to think of you.

Jennifer: Yes. It didn’t happen immediately. I had to just change some things that I was doing and really service certain people, the people that I identified as connectors, and then that’s it. I had people that would be good for $5 million-worth of business a year, just one person. That’s where we went.

I guess that I always was more attracted to leadership. Then with the Business Council, backgrounds, I also loved business. I think the best year I ever had was about 30 million, and maybe more, because you don’t keep track in commercial as much like you do residential. You don’t–

Lindsay: It’s a little more difficult.

Jennifer: You don’t count it that way. That’s probably about where it was. I had actually was working on opening up a Keller Williams forever, and they just kept moving the carrot. I got really frustrated. Actually, Philip was coming, possibly, at that point, another top producing agent. We were going to open up a Keller Williams office. I was going to be the operating partner. It just didn’t happen. I got really frustrated. I was like, “Okay, I’m done. I’m just going to go back and open up my own company again.” Philip was like, “Oh, why wouldn’t you come with me?” I was like, “Why wouldn’t I come with you?”

Lindsay: Make sense.

Jennifer: He had a lot of strengths that I didn’t have. We talked about technology. I can be techie, but I don’t enjoy it. He loves it.

Lindsay: He loves it.

Jennifer: He’s like the [crosstalk]– I was able to then step into leadership within the company.

Lindsay: What year was that?

Jennifer: It’s maybe eight years ago now. God.

Lindsay: 2014?

Jennifer: Yes, it’s around there. [chuckles] I grew the Putnam office. I had this great little world because I had the Putnam office, and I grew naturally. My office was responsible for probably 40% of the income of the company. We had the lowest price point.

Lindsay: That’s huge. You were doing more sales.

Jennifer: We’re lucky naturally. I wasn’t recruiting. It was people that we just wanted to be in business. We had a great thing going here. Then, the pandemic hit. That’s when I stepped into the COO role for two years, because he needed it. The company needed somebody to just take that role on.

Lindsay: Tell me from that perspective, because like you said, you’ve been in a leadership role now, you’ve had times in your life where you’ve had to look at things and go okay, I got to shift, right. Now, we’re in the very start of the pandemic, no one knows what the heck’s going to go on, no one knows how long this is going to last. What were you thinking during that time, and how did you help the agents that were working with you to navigate through that?

Jennifer: When things shut down completely, I had immediately gotten to work on for the Business Council, which is a complete volunteer position. I immediately morphed into helping all kinds of people get unstuck, go for PPP, doing this and doing that, and watching what was happening. Not much was happening. I knew I have this personality when shit hits the fan, you want me on your team. The shit had hit the fan.

I didn’t get into that COO position immediately, but I started to become the one like okay, we’re going to do this Zoom, and we’re going to do this. Within a couple of weeks, I had three Zooms going a week, and Zoom happy hours, and Zoom training, and just all kinds of things. Then, when I started stepping out of my own little world, because my world was very isolated. We didn’t use J. Philip branded systems and all the same stuff. We did our own thing. I realized there’s a lot of things I wanted to do for the entire company.

I stepped into that COO role, and still building my own- we’re still doing my own book of business up until about last year. Last year is when I really stopped listing and selling, mostly. It’s been an adventure. I realized in this process that what I’m really, truly passionate about is helping people to go wherever they want to go, to help themself actualize their own capabilities and their own dreams, and to get unstuck, to be able to do anything and everything you want to do, and have healthy relationships, and just have everything that you want in life.

Real estate’s a part of that, but it’s not everything. That’s why I ended up stepping down because I’m not an operations person, Phil Faranda, if you’re listening. I don’t know how the heck that even happened. You’re just not.

Lindsay: You’re a leader. You’re a leader. He said, you know what? Who are the people going to listen to? You’re one of those people. I’d follow you. 

Jennifer: Well, thank you.

Lindsay: You have a presence.

Jennifer: I’m not a detail-oriented person. There was only so long I could stay in that position.

Lindsay: Yes. Long term, it wasn’t a good fit for you. Yes.

Jennifer: Yes. No. We redid everything in that time. We got onto Trainual, which is a great system for agents to access all of their training, and all of their tools, and all the technology in one spot. We got onto EOS, which is entrepreneurial operating system. We created department heads, and copied everything Anthony Lamacchia is doing.

Lindsay: Hey, imitate before you innovate.

Jennifer: Absolutely.

Lindsay: That’s what they say.

Jennifer: He says it all the time.

Lindsay: Exactly. 

Jennifer: He’s like, go ahead. We did all that under my leadership. I realized I wasn’t having fun anymore. I needed to get out of that role. It’s left in a really good place. Now, we have this core team, who are all growing in the same direction and all understand that process. I can go back to doing what I do best, which is grow the company through people and production.

Announcer: Let’s take a quick break to hear from Greg Janian, a prominent real estate lawyer who represents buyers, sellers, and lenders, as he shares his latest tip.

Greg Janian: Hi, folks. The first tip I’m going to talk about today is community. When you’re trying to build a business where you’re the sole provider of the business, which all of you are in this industry, you need to understand that getting out in your local community is extremely important. I’m not just talking about rotaries and chambers of commerce and networking groups. Find things you’re interested in, and follow up and be involved in them. For some of us, it’s playing golf and joining a country club. For others, it might be a book club, or an artist community, or friends, family.

The key is to be out. Be out and about. You can’t go home every night, get on social media, post something, and hope the business just comes in. Get out of the house a couple nights a week, meet new people, make sure they know what you do, and the business will come from there. Each of those clients, those three other people who might know someone who.

I always said, as an attorney, getting into the business at a very young age and starting a practice, I could be the best attorney in the world. If I have no clients, it doesn’t matter. For me, building a business early on meant being out and meeting people, and being confident in what I have to say to them, which will be one of my next tips coming up soon.

Get out and about in charity events, in charity auctions, golf tournaments. All of those things put you out in the community and get your name out there. Follow up with an email, a thank you. The more people who know your name, the more potential clients you have. Everyone out there is a potential client in this industry.

Announcer: Thanks, Greg. Now, let’s get back to the show.

Lindsay: What’s your focus, now, specifically? Are you selling again? Are you going to hold off on that for a little bit?

Jennifer: I’m not really selling again. I just got such a lesson on it this weekend. I took a residential listing from someone I don’t really know. Let’s just say it ended up with cops at her house. It was so bad. Okay?

Lindsay: Oh my. We’re going to have to sidebar with that conversation.

Jennifer: She’s just somebody that needed something that I couldn’t give her. It just got crazy.

Lindsay: Wow.

Jennifer: It was so funny that it came to this extreme thing, because it was like why are you doing that? Where you’re going is not what you want to be doing. You don’t need that money so bad that you need to do that. You can refer it or give it to agents. I give away a ton of my business to somebody else in the company. I think I just kind of like was still figuring it out. It was a good, hard lesson.

No, I am not looking to get into listing and selling. Obviously, my friends and family, I will always be here for. My daughters are both- my one daughter’s licensed and is in sales. My 18-year-old’s working on getting her license.

Lindsay: That’s so awesome. How does that make you feel?

Jennifer: Yes, great. They both work for us, too. They both work.

Lindsay: That’s awesome.

Jennifer: Actually, Olivia, the older one, just gave her notice. She’s not going to be a salary employee for the company anymore. She’ll just be doing sales. That’s exciting. Can still handle any real estate needs anybody has, but it will not be me. It’ll be clear, from the get-go. That’s just not where I’m at.

Like I said, that’s one thing with when I got into this business, you have to have a certain type of personality to succeed in real estate. You have to just be like Anthony. Not everybody has that kind of personality. When the internet came in, it actually leveled the playing field for the self the more dorky, sit behind the computer and blog and do all that kind of stuff. It opened up that arena.

Then, with teams becoming such a popular thing, it opened up the doors for even more personality profiles, that you can come in and make a lot of money being in a support role, or being in a more marketing-based role and whatnot, because now you don’t have to spend as much money on marketing if you have a good marketing person who can make your social media presence amazing.

I forgot where I was going with that, but it’s interesting– Yes, for me, the lead sales role has never been something I loved. I loved more the–

Lindsay: The coaching and the recruitment side?

Jennifer: Yes. The growth, like helping people grow. I can build out business models great. I can brainstorm all day long and help you structure a team, and do all these different things. I really enjoy that. I don’t enjoy being that lead agent, even though I’m pretty good at it.

Lindsay: Yes, of course.

Jennifer: I know now, in hindsight, I’m like if I had built a team a million years ago, I would die.

Lindsay: You’ve also been there and done that too. I think you do get to a point where you’re like, you know what? I don’t want to be on the streets doing the actual sales. I want to be able to coach and help. That’s really where your strengths are now, anyways, because you can only help so many clients, but you can help even more agents and realtors to get to where they need to be.

Lindsay: That makes total sense to me.

Jennifer: I’m desensitized. Literally. “You got the wrong picture on realtor.com. Why are you calling me? Call realtor.com. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s not my–” Okay. Everybody out there, it’s not how you handle a listing client. That’s basically where it went.

Lindsay: That what you were getting to. You’re like, “I’m done with this.” Tell me. Since you are so focused on helping and training other agents and things like that, what is your biggest piece of advice for an agent? Let’s say they’re a couple years into the business [crosstalk] coaching.

Jennifer: In the beginning, make sure you join a company that provides a coach, provides a mentor, and provides really good training, not just how to fill out a form and how to do those. I can tell you that I still suck at all of that. That’s not my strength, but building business is my strength. The company are lucky because they have someone like me that will help you learn how to grow and build a book of business.

We have people that are going to teach you how to fill out a form and where to find it and do all of that. Not just companies that say they have training and they put you in a classroom, and people who are going to be hands-on and will be talking to you about your specific book of business and your specific set of circumstances. How do I grow with this? How do I make this happen?

Then as you grow your book of business, stop looking to your broker to be the be-all, end-all for every single thing in the world. Lamacchia Realty is exceptional for the amount of services that they’re able to provide their agents. Even then, I’m sure that you have agents that go to coaching outside of the company.

Lindsay: Absolutely 

Jennifer: You have to invest back into yourself and into your business.

Lindsay: I had an agent on the podcast a few months back, I would say maybe six months or so ago. Her name is Rosie DiScipio. She’s one of our agents that’s with Lamacchia Realty. Like you said, she actually was on the team way back when it was a team model. She was here for that. She’d left for a little bit and wanted to see if the grass was greener kind of thing. She ended up coming back. She’s had so many different things that she’s been exposed to in the industry.

In the podcast, she was talking about the fact that she hired a life coach because she still felt like there was something that she couldn’t get past when it came to cold calling, something that she knew she had to do but she was still getting stuck on it. The only way she could get over that hump was to have this life coach that came in and not only trained her but really got into the nitty-gritty of why she was struggling with some of these things.

Now, her business has exploded. She made it to President’s Club for the first time. She’s got one of the top people in her office. She’s just doing so incredibly. It might even just be outside of real estate that you have to find that help. It could be that-

Jennifer: 100%

Lindsay: -you find a trainer and you get in shape, and now that helps you mentally. There’s so many different things. Whatever it is about yourself that you feel that you could improve, take the actions necessary to make the improvement.

Jennifer: Absolutely. I’ve done a lot of that in the past year. I got back into coaching with John about a year ago. Doing all that I did in that COO role for eight months– I can’t even tell you the amount of work that I  I did six people’s jobs all day, 80-hour weeks, completely 

Lindsay: I can imagine.

Jennifer: Getting in coaching with John, he didn’t give me the specifics, but he gave me the example of commitment, personal, where you make that. I was in a situation. I got married a little over a year ago, and my husband had a mini-stroke the week before I got married.

Lindsay: Oh, my God.

Jennifer: That was mid in the pandemic. Both my daughters were struggling. I had a granddaughter I couldn’t see. It was tough. I could have went in either direction. Thank God I had company and all these things. I then had to realize you can’t just see people to feel better and make everything better. You have to focus on yourself.

This past year, I stopped drinking. I didn’t have life-related issues to alcohol. I just saw it as a crutch and something that was in my way. I lost 30-something pounds and just really committed to deep intense personal working out and back into my roots of meditation, journaling first. It all has to happen first. I’m a totally different person. I’ve been able to come through. It really was the most difficult year of my life, but yet, I was the most productive, and in the best space than I’ve ever been by committing to personal growth, true personal growth.

Lindsay: How is he doing now? Is he better? Everything’s better?

Jennifer: He is getting better. He is. It’s tough because he got really sick, and then he had something else. He lost 28 pounds, and then he got COVID. He’s 15 years older than me. It threw him. It threw him. It was bad. There was a nurse basically for six months. Also, I had to run his law office, and take care of a lot of different things. It was intense.

Even now, I’m just there. I started at 4:45 this morning. I will be here in the office doing live seller calling at 5:00 PM. I won’t get home done until 7:00, and I feel great. Just plugged in and taking care of my personal energy.

Lindsay: What does your day look like then, now that you have this renewed sense of focusing on you as well? I think a lot of people struggle with that. They’re like, “Well, I’ve got kids, and I’ve got a husband, and I’ve got all these things. How do I make the time?” What does your day look like? How do you schedule your day?

Jennifer: I start [crosstalk] at the things that were taking up my time. It’s not that I was sitting around drinking, but it became like this, “Oh, let’s have a cocktail.” Then the day is over. You unofficially make that the end of your day. It did become a crutch. I don’t even think I got drunk through the pandemic, maybe once, but it still became like, “I need that one drink, or whatever.”

Then it just ended the day, which I convinced myself I need it because you’re doing so much I didn’t need it, it turns out. Now I can’t even find enough hours in the day because there’s so many projects and things that I want to do and get started on.

Lindsay: You want to do because you’re motivated.

Jennifer: I am so on fire. I drive everybody crazy around me. I get up, and I do try to simplify it. There’s something called the Great Eight. You do 10 minutes of reading, 10 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of exercising, and 10 minutes of that. I try to make that more. It’s an hour and a half routine of meditation, exercise, journaling, affirmations, and reading, but I will cheat. I will use preparation for whatever meetings I have as part of that reading because I don’t know anybody who prepares for their meetings. Now that’s a cheat, but yes, it’s helping me to be better.

Lindsay: Be more prepared for your day, yes.

Jennifer: Yes, because a lot of times it’s research or whatever. Trying to make sure I do that, but simplify it down to a minimum of 10, but on the weekends, try to make it a lot more intense. That journaling and the affirmations are super, super important, and gratitude too. I also write down 10 things every day. Not just gratitude, I’m sorry, because it’s not just, “I’m grateful for my kids. I’m grateful for my house,” the things that I did well, celebrating like, “I did this really well today.”

Lindsay: Yourself, absolutely.

Jennifer: I’ll write down too like, “I didn’t do this so well. I could have showed up better.” I even write down, “Am I hydrated? Am I rested?” I’ve started a digital sunset so my phone is nowhere near me when it’s time for bedtime.

I will allow my iPad, but I have everything off my iPad that I can get lost in a black hole like emails, Facebook. I don’t look at my emails until I’m done with all my stuff in the morning. I don’t get to look at any of it. On my iPad, I do have my couple of coaches. I coach also with Robin Sharma and Brian Johnson. I have four coaches.

Lindsay: Amazing.

Jennifer: I could just go on [crosstalk].

Lindsay: It’s what you have to do.

Jennifer: I just took three weeks off and went away by myself.

Lindsay: Where did you go?

Jennifer: I have a place in the Dominican Republic. I don’t think I’ve ever been alone in my entire life, Lindsay, I would say, for more than a day and s why I thought about it. I was 27 when I had my first daughter. I was a social lunatic before that. In the restaurant business, if we weren’t working, we were partying. Three weeks, that’s the first time of my life without any alcohol. What do you do? Usually, I’m in the DR like, “Where’s the rum? Where’s the–” Lindsay, now, I did yoga.

Lindsay: You must have been so relaxed.

Jennifer: It was hard coming back. I can tell I have to learn. It’s hard to come back and adjust to everybody. It was amazing. I was on the beachfront walking the beach.

Lindsay: That’s so cool.

Jennifer: I did work every day until 1:00, and then would do the reverse. I would get up early, work, and then the rest of the day was just for me. It was amazing, and it was-

Lindsay: I love that.

Jennifer: -just deep work and deep exploration and getting into that creativity. That’s where I’m morphing into the ancillary services. I started a virtual assistant company in the Dominican Republic.

Lindsay: Nice.

Jennifer: I decided when I was there, “I don’t want to own a big virtual assistant company.” I’m creating a company that is a hybrid of coaching with implementation because what happens with agents is they go to coaching and they’re like, “Yes.”

Lindsay: “It sounds great.” [crosstalk]

Jennifer: Then they have to break it down, and so they get a virtual assistant immediately coupled as part of their package.

Lindsay: That’s awesome.

Jennifer: They’re getting both. That’s what I’m working on now. I got to spend time and just– I’m doing this huge event that Anthony is coming to speak at. It’s obviously also a big training event. It’s also a platform to gauge where agents are at, and what kind of support they need, and so on, and so forth. I’m super excited.

Lindsay: That’s going to be awesome. I’m going to actually link. On the show notes, I’ll put the link for it so that if you haven’t registered, you should definitely register.

Jennifer: Definitely register. Definitely register.

Lindsay: It’s so awesome. You talked about gratitude. I just want to say that I’m so grateful for you taking the time today. I know how busy you are-

Jennifer: Sorry I talk too much. I get excited. 

Lindsay: Oh my god, you don’t have to apologize. That’s why I wanted you on here. I’m like she’ll talk, she’ll open up, she’ll be an open book. I’m excited I got to spend this time with you because we’ve seen each other and been around each other, but I’ve never had this time, this one-on-one time with you. I really appreciate it.

Jennifer: You did a great job at your event. It was awesome.

Lindsay: Thank you. We’re now doing those every twice a year now. It’s super fun. Just more opportunities to speak, which I know Anthony doesn’t shy away from a speaking engagement and neither do I. I love it.

Jennifer: Both of you are amazing.

Lindsay: It’s so fun.

Jennifer: My goal is to do this now in the DR in September probably.

Lindsay: If you need someone to come to the DR with you girl, then you just let me know.

Jennifer: Exactly. Exactly.

Lindsay: Thank you again so much. We’re going to put all the information for Jen in the show notes. You can definitely go and click there and find out more about her and what she’s got going on. Again, I appreciate you so much for jumping on today. Thank you so much for coming.

Thanks for joining us on the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast. We hope you’ve learned some valuable takeaways. Be sure to take action and grow your business. You can check out the Episode Notes and more content from the show at CrushitinRE.com/podcast. And if you’d like this episode, and you’d like to hear more stories, please share with others, post on social media or leave a rating or review. To catch all the latest from Anthony you can follow him on Instagram at Crush It In Real Estate on Facebook and YouTube. Thanks again and we’ll see you next time.