Real estate professionals who put themselves in coaching compared to those who don’t, do better. When it comes to real estate coaching, look no further than Tom Ferry. Jason Pantana, business coach and National Speaker for Tom Ferry, is here with your host Bill Risser. Join Jason as he talks about his journey into real estate and coaching. Find out how the Tom Ferry International has been so successful for all these years. Learn how to market through social media and how to find your niche in all this. Discover all this and more in today’s episode with Jason Pantana.
I’m excited. Sean Carpenter, who’s probably my number one guest-getter on the show, has connected me with somebody I’ve known for a long time because of what he does in the industry. We’re going to be talking to Jason Pantana. He is a business coach and the national trainer for Tom Ferry. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to share a little bit about where he grew up and how he ended up in Nashville. What I want to get to with Jason is talking about how important coaching is in the real estate space, and why not talk with the number one coaching operation in the country? It makes sense. Jason, welcome to the show.
Thanks so much for having me. I’m pumped. I owe credit to Sean Carpenter. He’s been a long-time friend and an awesome guy.
I’m sure you guys have run into each other many times in different cities around the country.
We have spoken to different events. We’ve got a long history. I’ve known him for most of my real estate career.
We’ll talk about getting to Nashville and what took you there. First, let’s talk about Lynchburg, Virginia. As we are doing this episode, where you live in Lynchburg are buried in a bunch of snow. As a kid who grew up in San Diego, I have no idea what it’s like. Share a little bit about growing up in Lynchburg?
I grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia. I moved to Nashville when I was 21. That’s where I am now. Lynchburg is a small college town. There are several colleges. There is Liberty University, Lynchburg University in the area and Radford. Tech down the road and UVA up the road. It’s definitely a college town. Everybody calls it a cul de sac town and I love Lynchburg. My family is still there. It’s home. It’s a cul de sac town because it’s one of those places that people come and they don’t leave.
They don’t leave because it’s a nice, not too little, not too big, right size town. It was peaceful. I had a great suburban life, family, friends and school. It was a wonderful place to grow up. I don’t know what else there is to say about it, other than it was what a lot of people would hope for as far as a place to grow up.
There’s a huge benefit to small-town living. What family feels like, neighbors are neighbors. It’s not like growing up in a city where everybody pulls into a garage and it goes into their home.
I was there over the holidays visiting family and I was like, “There’s where I ride my bike.” I was showing them stuff because we were driving down the area. I was like, “It was such a different way of living too because I’d be on my bike and gone literally all day with all the neighborhood kids.” We had a blast. It was a good grip in the ‘90s. It was a good life. It was fun.
You ended up going to school in your hometown, which is awesome. I always liked to find out what was the field of study? What were you focusing on? What was this big plan as you’re eighteen years old, which turned out always a little bit different?
I went to Liberty University. My dad is a retired professor from Liberty. He taught Statistics and various other things in that department. I was always destined to go there. When I went to Liberty, my motivation and intention were to leave and become a rockstar. I have a twin brother. We are musicians. We grew up and our dream was to be successful musicians. College was the waypoint on the path to where we were. I had no focus or interest in doing college when I went to college. I had bigger and different plans. Those plans didn’t pan out the way I expected, but life’s beautiful in the way that it works out for your best interest over time.
I went there. I studied. I initially started studying Computer Management Information Systems. Mostly because I was afraid of Computer Science and I was like, “That’s going to put a damper on my ability to be a musician and a rock star. It’s going to be time-consuming, so I’ll take the lesser of the two.” I have an older brother. He’s a software engineer and an entrepreneur. I wanted to be like my big brother. I was going after technology. I got into classes and I was like, “This is not where I belong. This was not the right place at all.” I changed majors and went into Business Marketing. I did that for three years. My brother and I had a producer who caught ahold of one of our EPs, invited us to move to Nashville and record.
We were like, “We made it,” which couldn’t have been more untrue. We moved to Nashville. I dropped out of college and did what all aspiring musicians do. We waited tables at the Macaroni Grill at the Opry Mills Mall to make ends meet. We played gigs. We did whatever we could. Honestly, that went on for a few years of trying to make it and not knowing what we were doing. It was the 2000s. The economy was crummy, not to blame it on the economy. You always look back and say, “You could have done things differently,” but it worked out the way it was supposed to work out.
After 2 to 3 years, I was like, “This is going nowhere.” I decided to reinstate myself in my college program and finish. I finished the last remaining credits remotely, which I enjoyed doing that way. When I went into college, I was lucky enough to have had several full rides. My dad worked there and I had a full ride. I went to a high school that gave me a full ride because it was associated with the university. I played in a band there that gave me a full ride. I used one I hadn’t already started to finish up. I got my degree in Marketing a couple of years late.
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It’s Nashville, so does that mean it’s country music? Was that your thing or is it going to be anything going to that?
It could be anything. Nashville is super eclectic. We were directed into the pop-country scene a little bit. As to how far we got into that scene, I will leave that undisclosed, but it wasn’t far enough to wait tables at the Macaroni Grill.
If someone does a deep enough dive online, we can find something, but it’s pre-YouTube, which is good for you.
We were MySpace users back in the day. It’s the 2000s.
Let’s talk about real estate. How does that come to the picture?
Real estate was completely random, unplanned and never part of anything I was ever thinking about doing ever. A lot of people say, “I’ve always loved houses. I used to go to our open houses for fun.” That was not me at all. That is not why I got it. The way I got into real estate was while I was waiting tables, I got married. My wife and I purchased a condo. Our realtor was pretty lousy. It was a pretty lousy experience, but we got the condo. I was intrigued by the process and was aware of a lot of gaps like, “You could have done this.” I was thinking about it, but then I never thought more about it.
I went back to trying to be a rock star, waiting tables, all that kind of stuff and finishing up school. Anyways, when I would wait tables, it was a super busy turn and burn restaurant. For one reason or another, I was pretty good at selling people stuff. I could sell them all. I could upgrade things. I knew not to sell dessert because I wanted the table to leave, so I could get the next table seated and then make more money that way. I was pretty strategic about it.
I had several tables that, for some reason or another, they would take an interest in me. They’d ask me questions about my life and what I was doing. I don’t know why exactly they did, but it would happen routinely. They would say, “What are you doing here in Nashville?” I’d say, “I’m a musician.” It’s like dad’s advice. They’re like, “What are you going to do if that doesn’t work out for you?” I was like, “You didn’t want marinara on the side or you did?” I got to segue because I’m like, “Where are we going with this?”
They’d be like, “What are you going to do if the music thing doesn’t work out?” I was like, “I’m going to be an actor because I was a smart alec. I’m going to be an astronaut,” just to say, “Screw off. Don’t invade my life.” I remember there was this one guy. I don’t remember what he looked like, but he was a table I waited at. He was instrumental in getting me to go back and finish my degree. I basically said, “I don’t need that degree.” I have my reasons.
He was like, “I don’t think you know when you may or may not need that degree. The way I would look at it as you’re endeavoring in life. You’ve got this quiver on your back and it’s one more arrow in the quiver. You may or may not need it.” I thought about that for a long time. It was a long time ago. I decided, “Let’s see if I can get one of my scholarships reactivated,” and I did. I was like, “I guess I’m doing this.” He was instrumental and there were several tables that would say to me like, “If it doesn’t work out, you could do great in real estate.”
For whatever reason, that would keep coming up. Honestly, my cynical thought was that must be what people say to college dropouts working at the Macaroni Grill, “You should go into real estate.” I don’t mean to be overly cynical about it, but that was my perception as a young twenty-something at that point in my life. I was like 21, 22 or 23 when all that was going on.
I would hear it again and again. One day, I guess it would’ve been 2010. Nashville had these historic floods that showed about nowhere. The restaurant I worked at was located on the Cumberland River, which completely came out of its banks and this mall that I worked at went entirely underwater. I was there the night that the water was creeping up. They basically told us all to leave and go home.
We have security footage. The restaurant got destroyed and then the restaurant decided that they were not going to fire us because I don’t know the specifics of it, but if we quit, it would not obligate them to as much financial commitment to us. We all had to quit our jobs to get money. People were like, “I’m going to get unemployment.” I was like, “I’m going to get a job. I think I’m done.” It was a pivotal moment for me. Within that flood, I graduated a week later. It all came to a head and I was like, “I’m going to get a job in marketing. I now have a degree in Marketing.” I put my resume out, literally everywhere, to every company I could possibly think of.
It was 2010. There was no money anywhere. Nobody can hire me. I have no experience. I have this weird gap in my college resume. I could not get hired anywhere. I had my resume in so many places. I was on a walk with my wife one night unemployed and I got this voicemail from a robot saying, “You’ve been selected for an interview at X time on this day. Please come prepared.” It didn’t say who the company was. I put my resume in so many places. I thought to myself, “I’ll look up the address and I’ll figure out what the company is.” I couldn’t figure it out. I was like, “I’ll just generic-fy my resume and hope for the best for the interview, and then I’ll figure out what the company is when I get there.”
It’s a reasonable location, but it’s like several businesses and there are no signs anywhere. I can’t figure out what this business is. I walk in and there are 30 other applicants sitting in the waiting room, filling out clipboards. I’m like, “The clipboard will definitely tell me what I’m interviewing for.” I got this thing to fill out and there is no information at all about what I’m applying for. This is a testimony to how many resumes I put out there. They called me back to go interview and there are two interviewers and me. The first thing they asked me out of the gate is, “What specifically caused you to apply for this position?”
I looked at them and I was thinking quickly on my feet. I was like, “There are about 30 other people out there interviewing right now. I’m guessing you’ve been at this all day and you’ve been asking that same question to every single person. I’d be curious for you to tell me, ‘What attracted you to this position?’” They were like, “We love that question.” They proceeded to tell me what I was applying for. Somehow my resume had gotten into the pot where they wanted me to sell benefits and insurance to people who were dying. I was like, “No. Thank you. I do know why you did not promote this now as to what it was.” They probably bought my resume off Monster.com or something like that.
I was getting nowhere with getting a job after like a month or so. People go for two years looking for jobs, but I was young and didn’t know. I said to my wife, “What does it look like if I try to go into real estate? I used to hear it all the time. I should go into real estate. What does it look like if I try to get a job as a real estate agent? I didn’t even know it was 1099. I had no idea.” She was like, “I think it’d be good.” She was working, so we had some money, which was great, but I didn’t have enough money to cover getting licensed or whatever was involved. I called the guy who was my loan officer because my realtor was already out of business by that point in time because he did not make it.
My loan officer told me not to do it. He’s like, “I don’t think you’re the right fit for this. I don’t think it’s a good idea. I wouldn’t do it.” I was like, “I’m going to,” but in that conversation, I understood that there are things called brokerages and brokers. I would need to call the broker and get instructions on what their requirements are to be licensed at their office. That was what he told me. I went to Google and searched for real estate brokerages, real estate firms in the area. I made a list of twenty firms in order. The last one on the list was the one I wanted. I figured I was going to be doing some swing and a miss.
I proceeded to cold call these brokers and get on the phone with their principal brokers that I thought were the boss. I didn’t understand how the office worked. I tried to convince them to pay for me to get licensed and bring me on. I got hung up on. They are like, “We don’t do that. Are you kidding me? No,” again and again, but I was able to polish my script a little bit. I made the last call to this company called Village, an independent firm in the area that I had known some of their agents and thought they were cool. I was interested to work with them.
I get this guy named Todd, who answers. He’s the receptionist. He answers the phone, who is also a musician. He’s a cool guy. I started chatting with Todd and he started asking me questions. He wants to connect me to the right person. He’s like, “Here’s the deal. I can connect you with Bobbie. She’s the principal broker. She’s in charge of all the agents or I can connect you with Jen. She is Bobbie’s daughter. She runs our marketing department.” I’m like, “Get me Jen,” because it was unexpected. I go to Jen and it goes to her voicemail. I hit zero to come back and I was like, “She didn’t answer. Let’s go to Bobbie.” I go to Bobbie. I talked to her and lo and behold, she says, “Come see me tomorrow morning at 9:30.” I was like, “Okay.” I put on my awful suit. I had long hair and earrings.
I went into the office to interview for what I thought was a job. I had no idea. I thought I was going to get a paycheck, but I went in there and I told her what I needed and what I was wanting to do. She told me, “No. We don’t do that. I’ve invested in agents in the past and it’s always turned out to burn me. It’s never worked out.” I kept countering her politely until eventually, she said, “I don’t think I can say no. I have to say yes. I’ll make a deal. I’m going to recoup it out of your first three closings and then we’ll be even.” I said, “Sold.”
They funded me to get licensed, the money I needed to get my exam. I took it. I was their Rookie of the Year. I did very well in sales. It was at that office that I met another mentor in my life. His name is Brian Copeland. He was an agent at that office. He got me started in the speaking world. There was a random day where an agent was supposed to be teaching a class on how to use a Mac. This is 2010. This is old school. He got sick and couldn’t do it. They knew I had a Mac, so they’re like, “Could you fill in for him?” I’m like, “Okay.”
Brian was in the class who also had a Mac, but for whatever reason, he thought I was pretty good at teaching and training. He started throwing my name in the hat as I was building my real estate business to speak at boards of realtors and things like that. Before I knew it, I was traveling and speaking. There was this big opportunity that came up from the National Association of Realtors. They were starting this initiative called REThink Real Estate’s Future.
It was going to be basically a traveling roadshow of a handful of pretty established speaker types in the real estate community. Brian recommended they use me. I filled out an application. I was completely under-qualified, but they agreed to meet me. I went to DC for mid-year to meet with the team, get grilled and interrogated. Long story short, they selected me. I got on airplanes and went all over the place. I traveled and spoke. I’m still selling during all of this, but I ended up getting a booking agent.
I’m now on the road speaking and training more. Talking about technology, marketing and how to build your business as an agent, all the while building my own business. I did that for several years. Eventually, I got a phone call from Coldwell Banker Corporate, their headquarters. They were like, “We’d like you to stop selling real estate. Move to Jersey. Work out of our Realogy headquarters as our Director of Learning and Engagement.” I...