Real Estate All-Star

22 January 2021

By Tina Liptai

With 15 years’ experience across many and varied facets of real estate, it’s fair to say Thomas McGlynn has found success in every area of the industry that he’s turned his attention to.

However, as Thomas explained, it’s not the good times that really make a successful agent. Rather, it’s how willing you are to learn and adapt to challenging situations.

For Thomas, it was the Global Financial Crisis that proved to be the defining moment in his career.

Rising to the challenge

“I was enjoying a very successful career up until the GFC hit,” Thomas explained. “I had great wins and was learning a lot. But the South East Queensland property market, where I was working at the time, had been really solid and that probably covered up any inadequacies or shortcomings I had as a young agent.

“When you’re consistently winning, selling and achieving results, it’s easy to assume that it all comes down to how good you are as an agent. When the GFC hit, there was nowhere to hide and I realised very quickly the areas where I needed to improve.”

Thomas said that the GFC made for a much more challenging market.

“Personally, I found this very difficult to explain to clients,” he said. “I realised I wasn’t particularly good at communicating bad news, because I’d never had to do that before.

“I also found it quite hard to give clients the support they needed and guide them to the right decision, because I was working in a challenging market for the first time. I just didn’t have the experience to draw on.”

Thomas soon realised that there was no escaping tough conversations and, while the harsh reality of not making a sale for six months was confronting, the GFC shaped the type of agent he is today.

“It was a lot of hard work, but what I learnt during that period defined the next 10 years of my career,” he explained. “I realised I had to do things, like have those tough conversations with owners, that other agents weren’t prepared to do. I learnt to communicate more effectively and, although I didn’t know it at the time, that has helped to shape me into the leader I am now. I learnt how to listen. I learnt empathy. And I learnt how to give clients the best guidance possible when they’re in a tough position.”

Never stop learning

From his first day working in the industry, Thomas has been committed to ongoing learning and this has been a key part of building his successful multi-faceted career.

After finishing school, Thomas began studying a business degree and also accepted a role at a real estate business owned by his cousin’s partner on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

“Straight out of school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” he said. “But I was interested in real estate and I saw working with my family as a great opportunity to get valuable experience. So, I found myself in the position of working full time and studying at the same time. The juggle was difficult, but definitely worth it.

“I found I had a real passion for real estate and it was a great time for learning. I was in the fortunate position to go into this profession and experience first-hand the ups and downs of business, as well as gaining valuable experience at university.

“While it was difficult, and I didn’t really have to finish university, I decided to get my degree because I wanted to see it through – and I realised that if I put my mind to things, then I can do it.

“That belief in myself has helped a lot throughout my career. It’s OK to feel like giving up when things are hard, but, ultimately, it’s how you deal with the situation that makes all the difference.

“Work through it and you can get through it.”

While Thomas knows he was given a great opportunity to work at an agency straight out of school, it was his dedication to learn about all areas of the business that really set him up for the rest of his career.

“I started at the bottom,” he explained. “I started out as an office junior – collecting coffees, packing letters, distributing leaflets and helping with some property management. I then progressed to being a sales associate – working with clients and building relationships – and was lucky enough to be working alongside very successful agents. I then became a full-time sales agent.”

It was during this time, working as a sales agent, that Thomas became interested in auctions.

“I found auctions fascinating,” he said. “I began learning about the process and listing more auctions. I met a few very accomplished auctioneers, who dressed sharp and were very charismatic –and it seemed to me like something I’d like to be a part of.

“Obviously there’s a lot more to being an auctioneer than how you look and showmanship, but that’s what drew me in initially to start training,” he smiled.

Thomas-McGlynn

The art of the auction

Although he’d been working as an agent for about five years, Thomas was still only 23 years old when he began working as an auctioneer – and it wasn’t as easy to get experience as he’d hoped.

“No one wants to give an opportunity to a young and inexperienced auctioneer,” he remembered. “It’s understandable, but it does make it hard to get experience.”

Not one to be easily deterred, Thomas explained that his first five auctions were properties he listed and then convinced the owners to let him do the auction.

“For my first auction, I think I rehearsed about a thousand times in my mind,” he laughed. “I was very much outside my comfort zone. It didn’t go how I envisioned it, of course – but it sold! So, I got a good result.

“To be honest, I think the first 1000 auctions you do, you’re really just replicating the style of the auctioneer that you’ve been mentored by. That’s not a bad thing. But, over time, you need to focus on developing your own style and let your personality start to come through as you feel more comfortable in the role.

“All new auctioneers need to be aware of ‘putting on a persona’ when they’re starting out. You need to make a conscious effort to be yourself as you build your confidence.”

Moving into management

With experience in sales and as an auctioneer, Thomas was looking for his next challenge when he decided to branch out as a sales coach. He’d already built up a wide network and had the opportunity to work with industry leaders that he greatly admired, such as John McGrath and Matt Lahood.

Thomas spent seven years working at McGrath Estate Agents. Starting out working as Regional Sales Manager, Performance Coach and as Head Auctioneer for Queensland, he then moved into his first significant leadership role as General Manager of Sales in Queensland.

“It was inspiring to work with someone like John McGrath, given what he had achieved in the industry,” he said. “It was a really exciting time for me. I was happy to take on more of a leadership role, even though I though I knew no one was going to listen to me. I did have years of experience, but I was still relatively young – it was a good challenge.

“I was also able to spend more time in Sydney – and that was a real eye-opener! The level of professionalism in Sydney was something else. The market is huge and it’s very competitive, and it was all so different to what I’d experienced in Queensland.”

In 2017, Thomas moved to Sydney to take on his first national role as Head of Sales and Chief Auctioneer for The Agency. In this role, he helped to grow the business to 300 agents across four states. He also honed his leadership style and passion for mentoring up-and-coming agents.

“I think it’s really important for all of us, as an industry, to bring more equality to leadership opportunities, which I know is something REINSW has been working on with their Chapters,” Thomas said. “I know I am lucky and have been given great opportunities in my career, but we all need to work together to develop up-and-coming leaders. This includes doing more to encourage women to take on more leadership roles in the industry.

“As a leader, I’m also a big believer in being accessible and sharing your experience with people who can benefit from it. Even though I’m busy, any agent can come to me at any time to ask for help, advice and guidance, regardless of who they work for or what area of real estate they’re in.

“I’m here to help.”

New challenges

Today, Thomas has launched into his new role as the Head of Sales and Chief Auctioneer at BresicWhitney and said he is ready to take on fresh challenges. One of his first tasks is to get to know close to 40 agents and their teams to find out what he can do to help each of them.

“I want to find out what’s important to them, what they like and what they would like to see change,” Thomas said, adding that he’s always open to hearing the truth about a situation and not glossing over any potential problems.

“I enjoy it. I think feedback that’s constructive is always a good thing. It’s important to listen to people, especially in the real estate industry where the people and culture are such a big part of the success of any business.

“People need to feel heard and supported and, if I’m going to make changes that help with that, then I need to hear from them about what’s working and what isn’t.

“For me, being a good leader is about listening and being willing to keep learning. No matter where you are or who you are, the minute you think you know it all, you’re in a bad situation.

“There’s always something you can learn. You can never know too much.”

“All new auctioneers need to be aware of ‘putting on a persona’ when they’re starting out. You need to make a conscious effort to be yourself as you build your confidence.”

“As a leader, I’m also a big believer in being accessible and sharing your experience with people who can benefit from it. Even though I’m busy, any agent can come to me at any time to ask for help, advice and guidance, regardless of who they work for or what area of real estate they are in.”

“For me, being a good leader is about listening and being will to keep learning. No matter where you are or who you are, the minute you think you know it all, you’re in a bad situation.”

Why I love real estate

“I love helping people. It’s that simple,” Thomas said.

“I love dealing with people in business. I love the industry and helping clients with challenges. In order to get where I want to be, I help people get to where they want to be. There are not many industries like that and it’s a great feeling to be a part of it.

“This industry also has great opportunities for self-improvement and development, which I really value.

“In real estate, we can change people’s lives. Selling and buying is such a huge emotional decision and, as professionals, we get to help our clients through the challenging times using our experience and expertise.”

Career tips

Thomas shares his tips for building a strong and thriving career in real estate.

1. Seek out mentors

You need to find good mentors. Seek them out early and speak to them often. When you have good mentors, you have the opportunity to learn about the path they’ve walked before you walk it yourself. Mentors give you the ability to navigate the ups and downs with more ease.

2. Focus on relationships

Understand that real estate is a career about relationships, especially in your early years. First impressions count and the decisions you make about how you deal with people early in your career could impact you in the future. From day one, think about how you conduct yourself, your ethics, your behaviour and how you work with others.

3. Always play the long game

Quick wins might feel good in the moment, but real success comes from longevity. If you put in the time and work consistently, it will pay off in the long run.

4. Develop a growth mindset

Have a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset. This will set you up for long-term success. Remember, nothing is permanent and you’re always only a few good decisions away from growth and prosperity in real estate.

Leadership insights

Thomas admitted that when he first started in a leadership role, he thought the best way to do things was to lead and manage everyone in the team in the same way.

“This is because, at the time, I thought there was only one way to be a successful real estate agent,” he said. “Over time, and with experience, I learnt that everyone is not the same and that’s OK. We’re all wired differently and, to get the best out of every person, you need to understand what they’re good at and what success looks like for them.

“I’m happy to say that I learnt pretty quickly that a leadership style of ‘dictate and mandate’ wasn’t effective. It’s much better to empower people to work and be the best version themselves.

“It sounds simple, but it’s a real culture shift to empower and instill confidence, and be fair and equitable. It’s not simple, but it’s achievable if you want it. You have to put aside your ego and have confidence in your own ability before you can lead others. The biggest part of the journey is understanding why people should follow you and make them want to follow you, rather than just telling them to do it.”

Thomas said that a big part of leadership is creating good relationships and that this comes down to attitude a lot of the time.

“I think of it like this: The people in the agency don’t work for me, I work for them,” he explained.

“Once I had that shift in mindset, my whole leadership dynamic changed. The focus was more on communication and working alongside each other.

“I think of every person in the agency as my client. I need to get the best results for them, so they can then get the best results for their clients. I’m here to be a reliable, stable influence to guide them, both personally and professionally, which leads to breakthroughs in understanding what they need to work on and get better at.

“I genuinely care about every individual in the business and I spend a lot of my time getting to know them and understanding how I can best help them.

“It sounds like a small thing, but often it’s the small things that make a big impact.”

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