Lesley Peters '01
Real Estate Consultant and MAPS Coach, The Peters Company at 'Keller Williams Realty'
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How did you find your way to where you are today? Share a little about your professional journey.
After graduating from Furman, I moved to Atlanta to marry my Furman sweetheart and accepted a position as an insurance underwriter at State Farm's regional office. I quickly learned that insurance underwriting and cubicles were not for me.
I decided to completely switch my career path and enrolled in a Master of Arts in teaching program. I then began teaching kindergarten and first grade at a Title I school outside of Atlanta.
After five years of teaching, it became apparent that teaching wasn't my forte either. I was incredibly frustrated and determined to my find my passion.
My dad, a banker and real estate investor, told me that I'd be a great real estate agent. I told him, "No way! You have to work nights and weekends. And you don't even have to go to college to sell houses."
He didn't give up and in a few weeks, I started my real estate licensing course.
My husband Andy said, "Go for it, but don't quit your teaching job until you can prove that real estate is going to work for you."
I started selling real estate while still teaching full-time. Working 80-hour weeks was exhausting, yet in six months of real estate, I had made what I made in a full year teaching. And the best news: I loved it.
My entrepreneurial spirit was the perfect match for a career in real estate. In my first full year, I sold 24 homes and was named "Keller Williams Rookie of the Year" in my office. The stars finally aligned and it became obvious that real estate was my calling.
Three years into my career, my real estate business was still booming and I begged Andy every night to quit his job and join me in real estate. After about six months, he couldn't take my begging anymore and joined me in 2008. That seemed like a great time for him to leave a handsome salaried position and get into real estate. Ha!
Every year, even throughout the real estate downturn, we have grown our business by 10 percent or more. In 2015, we were named the number one Keller Williams real estate team in Georgia.
What motivations fueled your career path?
My determination and competitive spirit have always been internal motivators for me. There is not a day—even on weekends and vacation—that I don’t wake up thinking about how I can push harder to reach even higher goals.
This year when our team was named the top Keller Williams team in Georgia, it simply wasn’t enough. The next day, I woke up and thought, “Next year, we’re going to be the number one in the Southeast.”
Yet, it isn't just about winning for me. As a working mother, I am determined to build a legacy for my children and their children. I want my great-grandchildren to remember my name and my contribution to society.
When providing advice for professional development, what are some tools or resources one should consider?
Recently, I learned that the top real estate agents in the country are in class 52 days a year. Honestly, I'm not surprised. I have definitely spent 52 days in the classroom this year, either in training or teaching. I truly believe that we never arrive.
A couple of years ago, Andy and I were invited to be members of Keller Williams co-founder and chairman Gary Keller's top agent mastermind group. In that group, we have the privilege of visiting Keller Williams International in Austin once a quarter to mastermind with 100 of the most successful real estate agents out of over 130,000 across the country. It's humbling, motivating and an honor to sit in that room with the best and brightest in real estate.
As members of Gary's group, we are required to be real estate coaches with Keller Williams International MAPS Coaching. Why? Because we learn when we teach and coach. To build the best real estate team, we must motivate, lead and coach our own teams.
I have the privilege of coaching real estate agents across the country. This experience has made me a better leader in my own organization.
I am constantly reading either for Gary's mastermind group, The Peters Company book club or my own personal gain. My two favorite books this year were "Grit" by Angela Duckworth and "The 10x Rule" by Grant Cardone.
Keller Williams for years used the DISC Personality Assessment and the Activity Vector Analysis (AVA). Not only did we use these assessments before we hired any employee, we also used them to help our team members better understand one another.
We even ask our real estate clients four questions based on the DISC Assessment when they begin working with us to help us understand their personality. That way we know how to serve them best. Keller Williams has just come out with their own personality assessment called Keller Personality Assessment (KPA).
How have mentors impacted your professional development? How did you develop those relationships?
Coaching has been one of the most powerful contributors of our real estate success. Early on, when Andy and I began to dominate our local market, we knew that to keep growing, we had to find a mentor outside of our market that we wanted to model ourselves after.
We knew who we wanted to be when we grew up, so we literally stalked him. After a year, he agreed to take us on as coaching clients and we are one of five teams nationally that he coaches.
Since hiring our coach, our business has increased more than 40 percent. Even better than our business increasing, we have more leverage in our life, which has enabled us to have a "life worth living."
What do you wish you would have known getting started in your field?
I wish I had given myself leverage through others. In real estate, you truly do it all—you're the administrative assistant, marketer, bookkeeper, showing assistant, buyer specialist, listing specialist and sometimes even counselor. It can be exhausting without leverage.
For the first three years or so, I was working 70-hour-plus weeks and didn't really have a life worth living. I burned myself out. If I'd looked at real estate like a business, I would have invested some of my profit back into my business and hired an executive assistant.
I would have had a better quality of life and could have served more clients at an even higher level. We now have an operations staff of three and can't imagine my life without them.
Are there any unspoken rules or recommendations that "they" don't tell you?
I think there are two common misconceptions about the real estate industry. First and foremost, I believe that the general public thinks you join a real estate company and they just give you clients— buyers and sellers. Not true!
As a real estate agent, the most important thing you must do every single day is lead generate for business or you'll be out of business quickly. In my 11 years with Keller Williams, I have received one buyer client from my office.
The second most common thing I hear from people about real estate is, "Gosh, real estate sounds so fun. I love looking at houses."
After 11 years, that statement is humorous to me. Would you believe that a real estate agent only spends about 10 percent of his or her time showing houses? The other is spent searching for clients, marketing, negotiating and solving problems. It's the biggest purchase many individuals will ever make and there is a lot of room for error. The best agents are the ones who are quick on their feet and proactive problem solvers.
How has your liberal arts background shaped your career path or supported your success?
Furman builds leaders in all industries. Furman develops the whole person—intelligence, perseverance, determination and the ability to work well with others. You can't graduate from Furman without "grit." That grit has made us who we are today.
What extracurricular activities helped you develop professionally?
I was incredibly involved at Furman. From orientation staff to vice president of Kappa Delta's recruitment to vice president of Panhellenic recruitment, I learned how to build relationships quickly, how to motivate and lead others, and the value of hard work.
What was your major(s)? And how have you applied it in your career field?
I have a business degree from Furman and Andy has a communications degree. Both of those degrees are beneficial to a real estate career.
Why do you make giving back to Furman a priority for you and your family?
We love Furman. Not only did I find my spouse there, my friendships from Furman have stood the test of time. We believe in giving back and hope that one day our children will also make Furman their collegiate home.
What are your priorities when it comes to Furman and your giving?
I believe you invest in things you care about—things that have meaning to you. Furman definitely holds a special place in our hearts.
What impact to you hope to make with your giving to Furman?
Outside of giving to Furman, we'd love to help build a strong Alumni Association in the metro Atlanta area. We hope to continue to connect with alumni who share our love of Furman.