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ACTIVATE Women: It’s All About the People!

May 15, 2023

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Just a few years ago, JSE Family of Companies was one company (FM Real Estate Team) with a handful of agents.

Today, they have 16 companies with about 30 employees and 200+ agents across 2 states, doing over a billion in real estate transactions per year.

But how did they do it? Jeff Shipley (owner) and his Executive Assistant, Laura Lesoine, shared their wisdom at ACTIVATE Women, reminding everyone of what’s most important: the people. Here’s a brief overview of their two-tiered secret to success.

Step 1: Find & Surround Yourself with the Right People 

The first step into growing and scaling a successfully company(ies) is to seek out the right people for your organization. Jeff and Laura shared a variety of strategies, one-liners, and tips that have become a part of their hiring philosophy for their businesses.

  • Find Your UA and Leverage the rest as soon as you can! – The JSE Company’s philosophy revolves around honing in on your strengths or UA (unique abilities). These are the things that come naturally to you and showcase you at your best. Whatever your UA is, you should be spending the most time as possible putting it into practice and encouraging your employees to do the same.
  • Drop Your Ego – As a small business owner, it’s important to remember that people are not an expense, but an asset to your company. Therefore, Jeff and Laura encourage leaders to hire and invest in people who are better than them. Seek out those individuals who have more experience, more knowledge in areas that they may lack, and can help make the organization better.
  • Look for an OKG (“Our Kind of Guy/Gal”) – Jeff and Laura value people that are a good culture fit for their organization over a particular set of skills and experience. When hiring employees, they ask themselves what kind of person fits the best within their company and if they are SMART, HUMBLE, and HUNGRY. They recommend using the chart depicted in the book “Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni.
  • Pay Attention – Behavior doesn’t lie. That’s why it’s important to not only listen to your employees but pay attention to their behavior when people aren’t watching. Jeff and Laura work to fill their organization with individuals who do what is right and react the way they would like in difficult situations.  These actions say a lot about their character.
  • Have a Vision – Jeff’s UA is that he is a visionary, and the way he has scaled his business is by focusing on his “why” behind his vision. It’s important to find people who have similar “why” and that can live out that purpose from within an organization. JSE uses their “MVVBP” (found in their handout) to engage the team in their mission, vision, values, beliefs, and perspective, and follows Simon Sinek’s advice in his book “Start with Why”.

Step 2: Attract and Keep Them!

Once they have found individuals that are a good fit, JSE puts a large portion of their efforts into keeping them. Here’s how…

    • Engage Them in the Vision – From vision meetings and huddles to teambuilding exercises and book clubs, Jeff and Laura are always finding ways welcome their employees into their mission and encouraging their own personal development. For the right individuals, these are nonmonetary values that often outweigh their salary.
    • Have Fun! – As a business owner, it’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, your employees are human beings who have personal lives. Be sure to welcome those other aspects of their life that make them happy into their work, have a little fun, and celebrate their accomplishments – both at work and at home. Encouraging other employees to spread joy and celebrate their fellow coworkers is a great way to continue to build a culture of joy.
    • Let Them “Fail Forward” – Failure breeds growth. That’s why JSE is not afraid to let their employees fail and recognizes the cost of failure is rather insignificant compared to the lessons learned. JSE has used things such as “Fail Forward Fridays” to encourage taking risks and going outside their comfort zones without fear of screwing up.
    • Help Them Go from E to P – According to the Keller Williams philosophy, the shift from an entrepreneurial mindset (doing what comes naturally) to a purposeful style of work (doing what comes unnaturally) often requires breaking through the Fundamental Ceiling of Achievement. As leaders, they encourage their employees to push themselves to reach their highest peak of success.
  • Make Hard Decisions and Live the Values – Once a good culture has been built, it’s important to protect it. As leaders, Jeff and Laura check in to their MVVBP often and make the hard decisions to ensure their company is living those values out. Once you lose your word you can’t get it back, so treat people right!
  • Work on Yourself Too – Don’t forget about YOU! While encouraging employees to grow is important, finding time for personal development is just as critical. Whether it’s reading books, listening to podcasts in the car, talking with mentors and coaches, and surrounding yourself with people that want you to do be better, set aside time to work on personal growth.

Where Do I Begin?

Not sure where to start with growing yourself, your employees, and your company? Jeff and Laura shared a list of some of their favorite books and references that have impacted their leadership philosophy and helped make them the leaders that they are today. Here are just a few:

For more about JSE Family of Companies, visit their website.