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Episode 115: Business Lessons From Mountain Climbing with Mike Novak

Mountain climbing is an intense and demanding activity, both physically and mentally. Much like building a successful business. Just as climbers need to pace themselves and be strategic in their ascent, entrepreneurs also need to take a measured approach when growing their companies.

Brian Charlesworth

Brian Charlesworth

Chairman & CEO

Brian is a highly accomplished entrepreneur, business builder, and thought leader in the real estate industry. With a track record of success in software, telecommunications, and franchise businesses, Brian has a talent for identifying and realizing business opportunities. Driven by his passion for technology, Brian is dedicated to using his skills and experience to bring about positive change and improve people's lives through the advancement of technology.


Mountain climbing is an intense and demanding activity, both physically and mentally. Much like building a successful business. Just as climbers need to pace themselves and be strategic in their ascent, entrepreneurs also need to take a measured approach when growing their companies.


In Mike Novak’s case, he was able to use his background in climbing and carry the lessons he learned from it to  his life and in his business. 


Not only has it enabled him to push through tough times, but he also learned how to take an unimaginably large challenge, break it down into smaller steps, and just simply put one foot in front of the other until you reach your goal.


Brian Charlesworth joins Mike Novak, Team Lead at The Novak Team brokered by REAL, as he shares his journey from owning several businesses to running a successful real estate team, the most impactful experiences he had, and lessons he learned along the way.


Top Takeaways:


(05:45) Mike’s type of Grit

(11:04) Mike’s thoughts on where the industry is today

(11:39) Who are the agents who will continue to win at a high level over the next years?

(13:26) Why Mike decided to start recruiting and building a larger team

(16:09) The mistake they made in their hiring process and how they fixed it

(19:10) What Mike is most excited about this coming year

(20:33) How to make agents stay within the team 

(23:10) Why you should play to win, not to survive

(26:24) How to ensure that the agents you’re hiring fits your culture.

(27:29) Why having a supportive spouse is important for those working in real estate

(28:30) What Mike’s morning routine looks like

(30:09) The two sources of learning that have worked massively for Mike and his team

(31:52) What Mike loves about Sisu

Connect with Mike Novak



Phone: (360) 393-0396

About the guest:


When Mike Novak graduated high school, he got into the construction industry with his father who was a builder.  That quickly turned into real estate development where they built condominium projects and a lot of single-family homes.


However, when the recession hit in 2008, their company suffered major losses and setbacks like most builders did. He lost almost $7 million of his own personal cash and holdings in that crash.  What was left was a single-location bar and grill restaurant to keep him afloat.


From 2008 to 2017, Mike was able to grow the restaurant into seven locations, with over 400 employees, raking in $17 million a year in volume. 


Unfortunately, in 2016, a law was passed to change the minimum wage in Washington space and he believed that was the nail in the coffin for their real estate business.  They needed to have a backup plan real quick. That’s when he decided to get his real estate license. 


Today, Mike Novak is the Team Leader and Top Agent of the Novak Team.  He also ranks the #1 Real Estate Agent in all of Snohomish County for 2020 and 2021.  Mike is considered a leading-edge thought leader in the Real Estate space and has been nationally recognized for his work with marketing, processes, and business track record throughout the industry. 

Podcast Transcript:


Brian Charlesworth  00:35

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the Grit Podcast. I'm Brian Charlesworth, and the founder of Sisu, and the host of this show. And today, I'm here with Mike Novak from the Novak Team. And geez, I think I've known Mike for about four years now coming up on that anyway. Because Zach, who is with Sisu, used to be a writer for you. And when he started working for us, he was a writer for us. And I think he was a writer for both of us at the same time.


Mike Novak  01:01

Yeah, when he was in college, he was doing a lot of my ghostwriting for blogs and some to work with.


Brian Charlesworth  01:06

So yeah, and that was the exact same thing. He was doing my ghostwriting for blogs as well. So now that I have him full time, I don't have a ghostwriter anymore.


Mike Novak  01:14

Do I actually, he's been a hard one to replace.


Brian Charlesworth  01:18

Yeah, so. So anyway, Mike has a vast amount of experience with construction and all kinds of businesses like restaurants. And now he's been running a real estate team for quite a while we're gonna dive into that. But, Mike, the first thing I'd like to hit on is maybe a little bit about your childhood, because I think this is something we don't see as much today where people actually learn how to work as a job.


Mike Novak  01:43

Our current generation has some mindset struggles, and I feel like we're better handled in the 80s and 90s. You know, so what do you wanna know about my childhood? Specifically, just how I was raised? Or where do you?


Brian Charlesworth  01:54

Well, I mean, I guess one of the most intriguing things to me is that you grew up climbing, you know, peaks, mountain peaks all over the world, tell me more about that.


Mike Novak  02:03

I was, you know, kind of a chubby kid, honestly, until I was about 12 years old. And then my dad wanted to really get into mountain climbing together. And so we started just kind of like doing hikes and smaller things together. And then that quickly, kind of snowballed into going all in and mountain climbing. And so it was, gosh, I think it was 1997, that we really kicked off, climbing pretty hardcore, and started climbing a lot of the local mountains we live out in Washington State, which is just got all of these beautiful volcano mountains out here like Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Mount Hood. And we just started kind of ticking off all those mountains here. One of the most impactful experiences, I would say, was when I had as a child, as we were doing a training climb on Mount Rainier one day in 1997. And this guy ran into us there, and we started talking to him more, and we connected with him at a super deep level. And as we got to know him better over the next couple of days, because we're kind of staying in the same camps, we understood that he actually was a Navy SEAL for 15 years back in Virginia Beach, which a lot of people know what that means. Getting to know him better. Like we got to spend about three years learning from him and mastering our craft of climbing mountains. But more important than that was kind of the mindset and the physical preparation, this guy put into what he was doing. And that was super impactful. Like my dad kind of took a step back at that point. And let this guy kind of take point on that. And some of it was intense, like, Man, I'd be sitting around, you know, eating my cheeseburger, he'd punch me in the face, you know, there'd be a fight that goes right after that. And that was just kind of part of the experience of being raised by a Navy SEAL. Yeah.


Brian Charlesworth  03:39

Yeah, if that happened today, you know, he'd be arrested, right?


Mike Novak  03:44

I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything, though.


Brian Charlesworth  03:47

Yeah, yeah, I totally get it. So how many peaks have you climbed and what are some of the I know you've traveled throughout Europe climbing peaks as well?


Mike Novak  03:54

Yeah. I mean, we started you know, with Washington, Oregon, California. And then, in 1999, we went to Europe and did like Mont Blanc. We did the Eiger, we did Matterhorn, kind of the classic mountains over there. So I was 14 years old when we were doing that. And then we took it kind of up another notch and went to Denali in 2001. And 2002, which is, you know, Mount McKinley up in Alaska, the coldest mountain on the planet, kind of a hellhole and the place to go. And then Bolivia, Peru, and Russia, as well. Yeah, the only place I haven't really been in is the Himalayas.


Brian Charlesworth  04:28

So is that on your bucket list?


Mike Novak  04:31

I mean, I kind of got out of it in 2004. Like my dad became kind of disinterested around 2002. As he got older, he just wasn't as into it anymore. He felt like it was too abusive on his body. And so I kept going for a couple more years on my own. But in 2004, I discovered extreme whitewater kayaking, and that kind of took over that adrenaline rush that I was getting from climbing out and focused on that for two or three years at that point.


Brian Charlesworth  04:53

Are you still kayaking?


Mike Novak  04:55

No, I wouldn't be married if I was still kayaking. I'm not my wife, right? Short. We've been married for 15 years and together for 17. And I met her when I was whitewater kayaking. And she basically said, Hey, that's not going to work. We're going to grow a family. Whitewater kayaking is awesome. Like the places where you can see the bonds you can form with other people, your brothers that you're kayaking with are really cool, but oftentimes at the extreme edge of kayaking, you're one struck away from killing yourself. You know, that's literally the definition of the class by kayak.


Brian Charlesworth  05:27

Yeah, that stuff is intense. Yeah. Well, we'll get Oh, I'm glad you survived that. And so, you know, this podcast is called Grit. Is that Grit that I see on your wall over there? Insurance? Yeah. Okay, so what is it? Obviously, you have a title Grit, what is your type of Grit?


Mike Novak  05:48

I mean, Grit is something that I've just been, it's kind of got instilled in me as a climber, to be honest with you, you know what I mean? Like, it's something that if I look back on my climbing background, that's probably the biggest thing I got out of it was the ability to push through tough times and setbacks. times where you don't think you're going to be able to push the runway and still get the job done. You know, like, mountain climbing is very good at teaching you lessons that carry into the larger part of your life. And a lot of those lessons of resilience and Grit, you know, definitely when I'm climbing mountains, it's very, like, just give me an example. Like, if you're looking up at Mount Rainier, nearly 5000 feet, you got, you know, this just kind of this unimaginably large challenge. It's up in front of you, like, you know, another 9000 feet to climb. But if you just kind of break it down to micro steps, he was putting one foot in front of the other, and turning your brain off until you get there, you know, I mean, so just kind of compartmentalization and things like that. Were Paramount lessons that I learned that carried into the business from climbing,


Brian Charlesworth  06:45

How much of the climbing is actually climbing like hiking with your feet and how much is with your hands?


Mike Novak  06:53

It depends on how extreme you want to go. Like, we were doing big mountain climbing and so like if you go climb Mount Rainier, on the easiest route, you will use your hands, maybe four or 5% of it. If you go climb Mount Rainier up, like around Liberty Ridge, which was one of the more classic hard climbs, you're going to use your hands 50 60%


Brian Charlesworth  07:10

Okay, and you've done both. Yes. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Very exciting. So, I have a friend that I drive with here that has been his last week in Europe. And I guess I should say Switzerland, maybe a little bit France. But he hiked over 100 miles of mountains. Just like every day they were on a new mountain. Yeah, they would end up in a new city just backpacking, you know, just


Mike Novak  07:35

European mountains are really different from those over here. Like a lot of the European mountains, they are fairly steep. And so there's a lot more hand movement there like the Matterhorn, for instance, is not really that difficult to climb. But on the summit day of the Matterhorn, your hands are engaged the entire time.


Brian Charlesworth  07:49

Yeah, I've been up every chairlift around the Matterhorn, but I can't say I've climbed the Matterhorn.


Mike Novak  07:55

You look at the ridge head, it looks really, really steep. But you get on him. It's like 40 or 50 degrees, which is enough to meet your hands.


Brian Charlesworth  08:03

Yeah, cool! Well, that's a great experience. So you went from that to… didn't you get a jump into the restaurant business for a while?


Mike Novak  08:10

Well, first, so when I graduated high school, my dad was a builder. And I got into the building industry first with him. And that turned into real estate development pretty quick as well, building condominium projects, and a lot of single-family houses. I did that from 2003 to 2008 and in 2008, when the recession set in, our company had major issues and setbacks like most builders did. And I was out of it at that point, I lost almost $7 million in 2008 of my own personal cash and holdings that I had. So I was like, I literally had a net worth of about $8 million. When I was 21 years old, I lost all of that in the 2008 crash. So that put me into the restaurant issue. We had acquired a restaurant, my wife and I in 2007 as just kind of a side investment for me as diversifying our assets. We're just passive owners of the stretch mark company. But after the recession hit designate that restaurant company is the only thing we have left. And it was just a single location. It was just like a bar and grill kind of concept. And we leaned into that single location. And then we grew it into seven locations, from 2008 all the way to 2017, and 425 employees. So it got pretty big pretty quick and was doing about 17 million years at Miami, in volume.


Brian Charlesworth  09:23

Okay, so again, you and I have both been knocked down. And I would say most entrepreneurs have been knocked down, right? You get up and that's part of it. Right? So when that happens, it's how are you going to respond? So how did you guys end up getting into real estate?


Mike Novak  09:37

in 2016? I don't want to get political here. But in 2016, they passed a minimum wage change in Washington state that I felt was going to be the nail in the coffin for the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry has a lot of problems in Washington State. And I felt like that was gonna push it over the edge. I did the math and you know where they push them away shows $15 an hour it was a raise from $9 an hour. I didn't think that consumers would adapt their purchasing behavior quickly enough for us to be able to raise prices and still make money. And I was correct. We ended up losing $50,000 a month, the first month that went to action and the flow of people coming into restaurants dropped off significantly as well because people couldn't afford to go out to eat at that point, if you had raised prices, so that November of 2016, I looked at Rachel and I said, my wife, I said, we're in deep shit, and I need to go get my real estate license and go make sure that we've got a backup plan because I don't think our restaurant company's gonna be here in four or five months, the numbers don't work. And I don't think this is going to be something that lasts. And that's ultimately how we got the real estate. Okay, so that was 2016. Do you say? Yeah, November 2016, is when I passed my real estate test. Okay.


Brian Charlesworth  10:44

Okay, so still not even six years in the business yet. Okay, cool. Well, I think that's part of what makes you successful here in real estate, Mike, is you come from outside of the industry and have all these other business experiences. And a lot of people don't have all those business experiences. So very interesting stuff. So tell me, what is your thought on where the industry is today?


Mike Novak  11:07

The real estate industry?


Brian Charlesworth  11:09

Yeah, what's happening?


Mike Novak  11:11

I mean, I think that there are a lot of changes happening. I think that a lot of brokerages are probably going to be gone in the next five years, I think the EXP model really moved the cheese for agents, and for brokerages, and a lot of people have gone to that cloud model, you know, real brokerage, which your wife's a part of were a part of has shown up as kind of a second player in that market, I think there's still room for a third and the fourth player as well. So I think that may be one of the biggest shifts going on. The other big shift that started, you know, 15 years ago is really the shift to separate people that were traditional old school agents to people that have mastered marketing, like people that have mastered marketing, are going to continue to win at a super disproportionately high level, in my opinion over the next few years. Like if you understand marketing, if you understand lead generation and lead conversion, you will go so much further than somebody that just is gonna go sit in an open house as an example.


Brian Charlesworth  12:03

Yeah, you talked about the traditional brokerage going away. And when I say traditional brokerage, I think of a brokerage that doesn't operate like a team. Like there are tons of brokerages that aren't at Real, aren't at eXp that I think you're gonna be around for a long, long time because these guys are doing like 3000 homes a year.


Mike Novak  12:22

Do you mean, the teamerage like the world? Yeah, they're not going anywhere.


Brian Charlesworth  12:28

Yep, yep. So I guess my thought around that is if you're a broker-owner, you need to start running your business like a team. Yeah. Or you're in trouble. Yeah. And I think that goes true. I think that holds true for solo agents as well, the solo agents that are in one of those brokerages that don't run like a team that is in trouble, unless they are like the marketer or the high power listing agent, like you're talking about, right.


Mike Novak  12:53

And the shifting market is exposing people super fast like we are seeing agents dropping out left and right, we are seeing a disproportionate amount of market share that's opening up like we just signed three new construction communities on our team that was originally going to different agents, and the builders pulled them from those people with us just because of our reputation. So the shift is happening in real-time right now.


Brian Charlesworth  13:13

Yeah, I totally agree. It started about 90 days ago, from my perspective, so. Okay, so talking about your real estate business, right before this call, you mentioned to me that you have decided instead of having five power agents. I don't know how many homes 50 homes each or something, which is what power agents do, right? Right, you've decided you're going to start recruiting and start building a larger team. So what does that look like to you? When you think of that vision, what is that?


Mike Novak  13:45

Well, so I did this wrong before in 2019, I stepped out of production, I was out of production completely already. And we had 20 agents on our team. And we had hired super fast and loose without going really deep yet. And so we backed that up. And we went back down to our core five agents, I went back into production. And we implemented the micro team model, which means a showing partner assigned to buyer agents and listing partners signed by two listing agents. And that was really helpful for our business. Like my personal production. I'm the highest producer on our team. And it provides a lot of cash flow to continue to grow our team and also just for our personal income as well. And that really fueled our growth over the next couple of years. So as we've gone really deep, we've realized that we need to add some width or we're going to be exposed as a company like if one agent, God forbid something happened to them like they get hit by a bus tomorrow we would have a huge gap in our business right now. One of our top agents, you know, his father passed away, unfortunately, in Q4 of last year, and because of that he wasn't, you know, really fully engaged, which you can completely understand. And that really affected our team's bottom line which made me realize that we need to go wide. Now that we've gone deep so we added a director of growth to our team whose sole job is to recruit, attract, and hire onboard coach agents and ISAs to our team. And he's done a fantastic job already. He's been in this role for about two months. He's been on our team for three years. He's already having five people. Okay, awesome.


Brian Charlesworth  15:25

So you should know Zack is running a webinar here.


Mike Novak  15:28

I'm already registered for it. Cool. Yeah,


Brian Charlesworth  15:31

I was gonna say, I think the timing is crucial for that. Because now is the time that you're gonna have a lot of these agents looking for a place to land?


Mike Novak  15:40

This is the best hiring market we've seen in five years.


Brian Charlesworth  15:42

Yeah, I totally agree. It is. So take advantage of it. Right? Exactly. Yeah. Okay, exciting. Well, I do remember the time when you were saying to me, Hey, I'm going to burn the walls down of our business. And that was when you had your 20 agents, and you were like backing it back down. So now you're scaling it back up. And it sounds like you have put a lot of systems in place. So what are those systems that you have in place to be able to scale this back up?


Mike Novak  16:09

The most important one, probably the most important difference is our hiring process. Like we hire pretty cautiously and pretty slow. And we used to hire super fast, like basically, if somebody could fog a mirror, then we were gonna bring them on as an agent on our team. But we worked with our catch really closely when our coach and steals my teeny help kind of map out that transition from having a ton of agents to being a small, powerful team. And you know, he's really instilled in us a really slow, methodical hiring process to apply to agents so that we hopefully make better hires. So hiring one is a big part of it. Onboarding is another big part of it. Having someone directing it is also important. Like, I don't have the bandwidth and the capacity or the natural talents to be the recruiter or the trainer. Like that's not what brings me joy. What brings me joy is selling a lot of houses and leading our people. But the day-to-day management of it is not something I love. So having the right person driving the process is a super important part of it as well. And then, of course, having a fully operational ISA department like we've got three full-time ISAs now, that provides a lot of leverage for our agents, they can just focus on fulfillment instead of trying to be an ISA and an agent at the same time.


Brian Charlesworth  17:18

Okay, so, so you talked about this, who is this recruiting person? Do you have one ISA that leads your ISA team or have a lead Isa? Okay, so you have this ISA team, you've surrounded yourself with this lead Isa, what about operations, who manages the operations on your team?


Mike Novak  17:37

So we're adding a Director of Operations again, a key who, you know, like right now we've got a handful of admin people that report to my wife, and it's just kind of bogged her down. So we are adding a full-time director of operations over the next 30 to 60 days like we're actively interviewing people right now for that position, but that person in our world is gonna be the person that runs the day-to-day of the business, you know?


Brian Charlesworth  17:59

Yeah. Yep. So two years ago, spring brought in a Director of Sales and a director of ops and it's totally, totally changed our world. So


Mike Novak  18:08

yeah, he was like, You need that leverage. If you're gonna scale, you can't do all of it yourself.


Brian Charlesworth  18:11

Absolutely. Absolutely. So do you have your ops person in mind? Are you looking?


Mike Novak  18:17

I have one person that we're pretty convinced is the right one. But you know, until it's final, I don't know for sure we're still actively interviewing other people just in case.


Brian Charlesworth  18:25

All right, good. I've seen a lot of people have great success by bringing those people in from outside of the real estate industry. So


Mike Novak  18:32

Yeah, I mean, we all try to promote from within as much as we can. But to me, that's like his executive skill set kind of position, and it can be really hard to home grow those skills, you know?


Brian Charlesworth  18:41

Yeah, yeah, for sure. TCS, TCS do a great job at being a TC in many cases, they have a hard time converting up to being a director of ops, right?


Mike Novak  18:51

Yeah, have a hard time leading other people. And oftentimes, they also have a hard time kind of just running with things like the needle on oversight or guidance, and we need someone that's going to drive that whole part of our business and check in with them weekly about it.


Brian Charlesworth  19:06

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Okay. Very exciting. So what are you most excited about this coming year with this shift?


Mike Novak  19:13

I don't think I could be more excited right now. You know, we were in Park City at the hatch mastermind in June. And Eric gave a presentation about being a wartime CEO versus being a peacetime CEO, and that we're heading into war right now it's time to shift how you lead your people. I feel like I'm conditioned for chaos. I think my wife is as well. And I love it when things get tough. So I feel like this is just ripe with opportunity. Like I said, I think the hiring is going to be an opportunity that we've never seen before over the next 12 to 24 months. So I'm very excited about that. And I'm also really excited to take a couple of poor agents we've had over the last five years and help them just really build a huge robust business, you know that they have the potential to sell 80 to 100 houses as they scale their micro teams. And then of course, adding a lot of agents you know, our goal is to add three more agents that are shorter than 10 agents next year. So we have a lot of hiring plans.


Brian Charlesworth  20:03

Yes. Okay. First, next time you're in Utah, you need to let me know. So I can take you out for a good time.


Mike Novak  20:11

I was talking to Zach, but you guys were gone by the time we were over there. But next time for sure.


Brian Charlesworth  20:15

Okay. The other thing is, you know, as you guys are scaling this up, and you're making these changes, and you're doing all this stuff, you have these five agents that appear to have been with you now, for


Mike Novak  20:30

five years. Yeah. team started,


Brian Charlesworth  20:33

what have you done to keep these guys around? Because, you know, I remember, back when I first got in the real estate industry, teams had an impossible time keeping agents around for more than two years.


Mike Novak  20:46

Ya know, a lot of teams struggle with it. There are a lot of things that I think we've done well, to keep people like that on our team. And in our world, the biggest thing we've done is help them build a runway for growing a team within a team. Do you know what I mean? Like, I tried to make sure that our vision is so large, that it's got plenty of room for their vision as well that it can encompass all of that. And so I typically will lead by example, like, for instance, the showing partner model, no one believed the show partner model would work because they didn't think people would want to see houses with anyone but you. So I went out and proved to our team first myself that this model does work, and then shared it with my top agents who now all have showing partners, of course, and now they're all planning to hire a second partner. So a lot of it is testing things on myself, and then sharing with them how they could also implement that, and then they follow suit on it and run with it as well. But I've been able to take these guys from selling like five to 10 homes up to selling 50 to 60 houses and creating massive wealth for them. And the other big thing, I don't think that everything should be fair and equal, so they disproportionately make more money. Like after what we did is we basically created two agent roles on our team, we have a team agent, which is an agent that sold less than 100 homes in a year. And we have an elite agent who sold 100 Plus homes. Once you've sold 100 Plus homes, you make a lot more money in our world.


Brian Charlesworth  21:57

Yeah, yeah. Okay. So I think that's crucial. You said something that I think is so spot on. And I think Spring's done an amazing job of this as well, she has a bunch of agents that have been with her for four or five years. And it's because they have an opportunity to grow within the organization, right, there's no reason for them to leave. Right. So I think it's really important that everybody, make sure that there are opportunities for these top agents to level up and be able to lead others to be able to grow an organization within your organization. What that really means is, in order for you to create that kind of atmosphere, who do you need to become as a leader? What tips have you had to make, to be able to engage them to be able to do that?


Mike Novak  22:45

I've had to change my leadership style a lot over the last five or six years, I've had to invest a lot into developing myself, going to a lot of different masterminds, getting in front of a lot of different people that are smarter than I am so that I understand the best ways to do things in our business. So I have to, like you're saying, I have to continually make my skill set and my mindset better and improve so I can better lead my people and be challenging them with things that I know are going to work.


Brian Charlesworth  23:10

Yeah. So okay, if you were to give advice to our listeners, which I think are mostly business owners, slash team leaders, what would that be like for the next 12 months? What is an absolute must do for the next 12 months,


Mike Novak  23:24

I would say play to win, don't play to survive. I think if you plan to survive, you're not going to be taking the kind of risks to get the opportunities you need to actually like having an amazing business, I think there's gonna be so much opportunity, but you have to step outside of your comfort zone a little bit. And you have to play to win. Playing to survive is not going to go well for anybody like you got people pulling back. Lead spend as an example all over the place. Like I talked to my Zillow rep. It seems like people are canceling their accounts left and right. Well, guess what? I'm doing Zillow, I'm negotiating more leads, you know what I mean? And I know the prices are going on sale. So I think leaning into your business, being willing to take a little bit of risk, and knowing that you can absolutely crush it over the next 1224 months is the path to success. Okay,


Brian Charlesworth  24:07

I agree with you. Do you have any other examples of the difference the between those two, you shared one, which is spending more on leads instead of pulling out on leads,


Mike Novak  24:16

investing in people would be the other big one like you need to be really 12 months ahead on your support staff and also on your agents of where your goals are at like it takes agents, about six months to start producing consistently. And so being far in advance of that and not leaving until you actually have an urgent need to hire is going to be super important as the leader as the visionary. You have to think about where you're gonna be out in two or three years. And we started to think about those key hires. Now, to get there. We're not thinking about how to make money in 2022. We're thinking about how to create generational wealth and 2025 right now.


Brian Charlesworth  24:50

Yeah. So it's a really, really solid point. If you don't bring the people into your business today. They can get you to that next level. You won't get to that next A lot of times we think, oh, we'll just kind of add employees as we grow. Well, you need people to actually help take you to that next level.


Mike Novak  25:11

Yeah, I think if you do it that way, you end up hitting the glass ceiling a lot, and you feel like you're never gonna break through it. Again, when you add the right person, the right WHO you just shatter that glass ceiling almost immediately, you know what I mean? Like, we haven't hired anyone on our team for two years. Hiring the director of growth against five hires in a month, like that's an exam.


Brian Charlesworth  25:28

Yeah, it's a great example. So you told me I think you said you were gonna hire Did you say three people this year


Mike Novak  25:35

One more, I think it's about 4% as a team, and then 10 more agents next year.


Brian Charlesworth  25:40

Okay, so a the question I have for you. This person came in, they've already hired five agents, why only three more this year? Do you want to put a ceiling on them,


Mike Novak  25:49

I just don't want to go so fast that we don't have time to properly get people up to speed on their business. Like we don't, we don't need to add agents for bottom line profitability. You know, I want the current agents, I have to be very successful. And I just want to go slower than when I've gone before like in 2019. Again, I added a lot of of agents really fast. And I'd rather go a little bit more cautious and slow and make sure that we're getting the right people like the culture fit to us is super important. I feel like we're risking our culture with every hire that we add to the team. And so making sure it's the right fit is super important to us.


Brian Charlesworth  26:22

Okay, so what do you do to make sure these people are a culture fit? What are you doing to onboarding these agents,


Mike Novak  26:30

it starts way before the onboarding, it starts in the hiring process. So one of the key things I've done is I've removed myself from our hiring panel like I sit in the room, but I don't drive any of it. I've got my key leaders that have the final say on who gets added to the team, I will share my thoughts if they asked me. But ultimately, I have decided that it's better if these people determine who should be brought into our culture versus me telling them it should be brought into our culture, that's probably the most important one. The other one is getting to know who that applicant is connected to, like, who is their spouse. Does that spouse support this person's ambitions? So we often will meet the person's spouse just to have like a casual happy hour with them. And the department that is considering joining whether it's the ISA department or Asia department before we consider bringing them on the team. So we understand their holistic life beyond just real estate, like what home life looks like for you? What do you go home to? Is your partner really on board with what you're telling us they're on board with? Or is there a mismatch there as well? So it really starts way before the onboarding and starts in the hiring process.


Brian Charlesworth  27:28

Okay. I think that's really key that their spouse supports. And I think it's a great idea. Maybe you could expand on that, though, just for our listeners, like, why is that so important in real estate?


Mike Novak  27:41

I think oftentimes, people will tell you that their spouse is on board, and they're okay with this person being gone till eight o'clock at night sometimes, which is the lifestyle that we subscribe to. In real estate. Sometimes it's not like a permanent condition, but it is a season often as you're building. And sometimes the spouse really isn't okay with that. And they may have not communicated together. And so it's kind of nice when you sit down with both of them. And this is not like an interrogator interview format. It's just sitting around having a beer with them. And asking, you know, how are you planning to support your spouse, as they grow their business, knowing there could be some long nights and weekends and just listening to what they say, you know, and that actually matches to what the person told us. Sometimes there's a mismatch there and the person that's trying to get hired doesn't even know it yet.


Brian Charlesworth  28:24

Right. Okay. Something that I seem to observe in you from afar. I believe you have a morning routine, is that correct?


Mike Novak  28:34

I'm very ritualistic in that. Yes, I have a certain process I follow every morning or at least Monday through Friday.


Brian Charlesworth  28:39

Can you share that with us?


Mike Novak  28:40

Yeah, I mean, I get up at three in the morning. I have two buddies of mine, Colton Whitney and Mike Roland are both clients of yours as well. And we Marcopolo each other at three o'clock. If you don't check in by three o'clock. You owe the other people 50 bucks. So we have some immediate accountability for it. But I get up early and then I sit around with my dog for about 1520 minutes and drink my coffee. and I do the affirmation of my gratitude every morning. And then I hop in the car and drive to the gym around 330 I get to the gym, and I workout with some of my buddies at four o'clock, around 515. When I come back home, I get all my stuff ready for the day. And then I'm typically in the office by about seven at 730. And so I try to get a lot of my work done before our people start showing up to the office. So I'm just kind of ahead of the day but that is really my routine. Like I don't like to wait till the afternoon to workout. I feel if it works if I wait till that it just gets pushed off because things come up. So just getting up early has been key for me.


Brian Charlesworth  29:32

Yeah, three o'clock is early. So that's a great routine. I appreciate you sharing that with us. What time do you have to go to bed in order to get that?


Mike Novak  29:40

I'm typically in bed by 930 like lights out at 930 pretty hard. I haven't been time alarm that goes off at 930 told me to hey, it's time to shut it down and go to sleep. And this sounds really ridiculous and metro but I use a sleep mask to make sure I actually fall asleep really quick.


Brian Charlesworth  29:55

Awesome. Does your wife go to bed at 9 - 9:30 as well?


Mike Novak  30:00

She does. Yeah, she gets up at 3:30 am. She's in the gym by 430. So she's right behind me. Okay.


Brian Charlesworth  30:06

Okay, I love it. Thank you for sharing that. So as far as learning goes, Mike, like, what's your favorite source of learning? Do you read a lot of books? Do you listen to a bunch of podcasts you go to? I know you have personal coaches that you hire, that is what works best for you.


Mike Novak  30:21

Coaching has been the highest return on investment of anything I've ever spent money on. You know, I've had some less successful coaching relationships. But I feel like when you get it, right, like you, as the person that's showing up to get coached, are showing up in a place you're ready to learn. And you get the right coach, it's ready to teach you and has actually been really trying to go. That's where the magic really happens. I've had that with Eric, I had that with another coach as well. And that's been really powerful for me. And that is definitely the key reason why we've grown as fast as we have in six years is because of the level of coaching we've had. I've had a coach in real estate since day one, I still have a coach, I'm probably gonna use it on the coach just because I want that accountability. I want that sounding board. I want that copilot in my business. And that's been massive. For me. 31:01The other big one is masterminds. I believe in getting in the room with people that are smarter than me. And so we participate in the hash mastermind and one other private mastermind as well. And where we meet two or three times a year, we travel together, and we talk about life and business and learn from one another. And that's where I've learned most stuff. I don't listen to podcasts. It's too time-consuming. Like I can't listen to something for 90 minutes or two hours. Like I told you before I got on. I like bursts of information. I will read a book or two at a time as well. I typically listen to it on Audible when I'm doing cardio. Just plug it out on the treadmill. So I use my time better. But coaching and Masterminds have been massive for us.


Brian Charlesworth  31:39

Yeah. Okay. Thank you, Mike. I really appreciate you being on the show today and appreciate it's been fun to watch you grow from a Sisu perspective with you being I think you're probably one of our first 10 customers coming into our hands.


Mike Novak  31:52

It's been awesome to watch your guys' growth and have a front-row seat to it. Like we, we love your product. Our team loves it. I talk about it to people all the time. Whenever I'm speaking, I try to mention Sisu and how tracking your numbers is so important. And we came from CTE. And there was no solution to this problem. Other than that, until you guys came around. And it just changed the game for analytics and real estate, in my opinion. So it's an incredible product, and it just gets better. Like your guys' development pace has been nothing short of impressive.


Brian Charlesworth  32:19

Thank you, we work very hard at that we feel like it's our biggest strength. So


Mike Novak  32:24

you guys are awesome at it. You listen to people and you implement things that make sense.


Brian Charlesworth  32:29

Well, again, we're grateful to have you as a customer and grateful to have you on the podcast today. And for all of you listeners, go check out and see some of the things that Mike's doing, because he's really doing some unique things. So Mike, if somebody wants to get a hold of you, what's the best way to do


Mike Novak  32:43

that? Send me a message on Facebook or on Instagram is typically the best way to reach out and then we can connect from there and take things on the market at that point.


Brian Charlesworth  32:51

Okay. Okay, everyone, Mike Novak from the Novak team. Thanks again. Mike. We'll catch you soon.


Mike Novak  32:57

Yeah, Brian. Thanks for having me on, brother. Yeah, we'll see.


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