As a former professional golfer, Chris Kwon learned his share of lessons on the links, the most important of which was to move forward, no matter how difficult the obstacle.
Today, the Arcadia, California native applies that lesson to his real estate dealings. And it’s paying off: now in his 5th year as a real estate professional, Kwon has increased his volume every year since he started, and had his best year in 2016, helping 28 families buy and sell and nearly 20 million in sales.
“It’s so important that I’m exceptionally good at what I do because a persons home is one of the most important investments that an individual can make, says Kwon. I believe that I need to always be sharpening my skills on a daily basis so I’m ahead of the curb and daily trends. I really believe that I need to provide an overwhelming amount of value to my clients so their needs are taken care of and my business can thrive.”
Kwon’s exceptional value manifests itself via the fact that he is a full service provider for his clients. The Fine Arts and Graphic Design grad combines his keen artistic senses with his business acumen and flair for communication to create a powerful message for both sellers and buyers. Nowadays, professionals need to wear so many hats, Kwon says. We not only need to sell a product, we need to know how to market effectively, manage a transaction, personalities, handle problems and provide solutions.
Kwon is a NAR realtor and has pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from each of his sales to a local school or charity. “I want to help the people that I work for all the while helping the people and community around us,” Kwon says.
Stefan: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show Respect the Grind with Stefan. This is the show where we interview people who’ve achieved mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors. Anyone who’s achieved mastery and examine what it took to get there.
Today on the show, we have a friend of mine, Chris. He’s well known as a real estate sales person down in California. He’s a marketer, he’s a video guy, and a pro golfer in another life. Chris, welcome to the show Respect the Grind. Thank you so much for joining me.
Chris: Thank you having me here, I appreciate it.
Stefan: Awesome. So Chris, you know Respect the Grind, it’s a show we got a lot of business people, we got a lot of real estate people. Why are so many people drawn to real estate? Like why is that just such a good business that everybody seems to have to get into or make money in at some point?
Chris: I think it allows you so much potential. There is not that nine to five, which are you don’t have to do it, right? You could work, you know, nine to twelve, and still, depending on what you do from that nine to twelve have a great career. But it gives you a lot of flexibility. But it also gives you the potential to make as much money as you want.
I mean, you look at the richest people in the world, they’re all, there’s a good portion of them that have real estate in their portfolios, part of the reason why they’re rich. So I think a lot of people like the potential that it offers.
Stefan: Right. Yeah, real estate it’s … all wealth in the world is either made or held in real estate. Now, before you got into real estate, Chris. I love hearing stories about pro athletes or people who do really well in sports. Tell us the story about you were a golfer, high level golfer. And what are some of the lessons you learned in sports that apply over in real estate?
Chris: Man, my golf career was like a roller coaster. I had ups, I had major downs, and everything in between. You know played when I was like five years old. Picked up a club then. Played all the way past college and played professionally afterwards. There was a lot of structure involved in terms of being an athlete.
In terms of golf, you wake up, you hit the gym, you go to the golf course, you’re practicing your fundamentals, your short game, you’re hitting your long irons, you’re practicing your driver. And you go to play and you have to work on the mental side, then you’re eating lunch. And then you’re back on the course again. So there’s a structure that you have every single day, even though you’re playing golf as a competitive athlete.
And so it was interesting. When I transitioned over into actual business world, a lot of those characteristics that I had transferred over with me. So I would wake up, do the same things, go to the gym. But instead of replacing all of the things that I do at the golf course, I’d replacing that with things with business. You know, working on the fundamentals of communication, prospecting, working on scripts. So they were just replaced, but the schedule was exactly the same.
Chris: I think that regiment helps you become successful.
Stefan: So would you say that success in business comes down to discipline? And I guess people who are athletes or musicians, they learn the discipline that transfers over?
Chris: Definitely much so. I think discipline is a huge factor in being successful. Because when you have discipline, it’s not a matter of whether you wanna do it or you don’t wanna do it or you feel like it or you don’t feel like it, you just do it. And then if you’re passionate about it, that takes you over the top.
Stefan: Okay, awesome. So tell me the story. How did you get into real estate of all things?
You’re a guy, I guess you’re doing well in sports. A guy like you, Chris, I’ve seen some of your videos online, they look really good. You got a fine arts background. And then how did you end up in real estate? Because I bought the realtor course three times myself. I’ve never gone through with it. I’m a real estate investor, I’ve got into flipping homes and land lording and things like that. But tell me how did you choose real estate out of anything else?
Chris: Well, you know, I think everybody goes through ups and downs in their life. I think everybody, whether it’s death or failure or success. And you just have these massive ups and downs. And things that you can control and you can’t control. And towards the end of my golfing career, I was doing okay in tournaments, and some tournaments I wasn’t. But the travel was eating up. At the time I had a very steady relationship with a girlfriend who is now my wife. And it wasn’t going anywhere. Reached the point where I was like I need to make a career choice, whether to keep chasing it and stay with the grind, or go find something that was a little bit more realistic, something that I know that I can make money off of and still sustain that.
So I was talking to my girlfriend at the time and she was like, “Well why don’t you go into real estate?” My parents were real estate agents, so I never was really involved in that at all. I never talked to them about it, but they said, well your parents are doing it, why don’t you try it. They’re successful at it, why don’t you do it? It was just as simple as that. And so got my books the next day and literally a month and a half, I would say like three months later I had my license, and I was off and running being a real estate agent.
Stefan: Cool. So for the kids at home, people listening to this. I always got people like 12 year olds, 15 year olds, 18 year olds, they’re always looking for a career. Would you say that real estate sales is a good career for someone coming up?
Chris: If it’s not your main career, it’s a good backup. I’ll tell you that. Because I don’t know what it’s like in different states, but in California you can get your license. Honestly it’s not very difficult to get. And it stays with you for four years and if you wanna renew it after the four years, you can renew it, it’s super simple. And you have a backup plan. You can go chase whatever you wanna chase, and real estate’s there for you. And you could always sell. And selling is not very difficult. I don’t think anything’s very difficult in life, it’s just not simple. What’s that saying, it goes everything is simple but not easy.
Stefan: Yeah, that’s the one. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.
Stefan: Now what kind of things do you think someone has to have to be successful in sales or in real estate sales? What are some of the things someone has to have?
Chris: Well, you can have different styles for sure, because there’s always gonna be different people. But I think it’s important to be more of, kind of a chameleon to to the different people that you’re dealing with. Because everybody’s different.
You know, they talk a lot about personality styles and understanding different personality styles and how to identify them. And then how to adapt to them. So just being able to say, hey this person is this way, and I know this person likes this type of stuff, based off of their traits. And then being able to understand that and having that skill I think is hugely important in being very successful in either business, or whatever it is. Because business, when it comes down to it is just people. I mean, if you can relate with people I think you can be very successful with business.
Stefan: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I like what you said about matching. And the word you used was chameleon. I’ve heard before there’s four types of people. And if you watch the Simpsons, or if you watch the show Friends, or any sitcom or any play, there’s those four characters.
Chris: Right, right.
Stefan: And you gotta be able to mold into those characters. Give me a story, Chris, of a time where you had to mold into the other person. Maybe you weren’t really, I guess being yourself, but you had to chameleon your way into matching somebody so that you communicate well with them.
Chris: Okay, so I wouldn’t say match. There’s this one instance that always comes up. I wouldn’t say match. But understanding which buttons you can push and not push. And I think that’s a lot easier when you’re close to somebody, like you have a partner, or your mom and dad, or your brother and sister. You know what buttons that you can push to set them off or not set them off, right?
I had this one client once, it was the craziest deal. It was the guy, very successful, very, very successful individual. And during the day, he would work from like 5:00 to like noon, and then right at noon, he would hit the bottle. So from like 12:00 to 8:00 at night, he’d be completely drunk. And so I’d have conversations with him at 8:00 in the morning and they were perfectly normal, everything was fine. I have a conversation at 3:00 and it was like talking to a totally different human being.
And the transaction, now I was representing a seller. And he was purchasing the house, and what happened was, my seller ended up buying a house that that guy was selling. So they basically swapped houses.
Stefan: They’re trading, yeah.
Chris: Yeah. So it was four sides that I was representing, and it was a lot of pressure. Dealing with his personality and knowing that okay, understanding that he was just drunk, super A and analytical and a driver at nighttime, but in the morning he was a very expressive person, he was nice, he had a lot of great traits to him as a normal person. But just knowing, handling that, and juggling that was a lot of fun.
Stefan: I think we’ve all got the stories of the crazy person we have to match. I remember I was in energy sales, this was when I was probably 18, 19 years old. Trying to find myself in the summer time, trying to find myself a job. And one of the ads in the newspaper was like make $70 an hour or something and I was like oh that sounds good. So I go sign up for this energy door to door selling contract thing, where you lock in the natural gas price of somebody’s home.
And I remember I knocked on this one door. I was working with this little circus carny. He was this little short, shrimpy kid, he’d been selling energy forever and he’d been across the whole country selling. And I guess he was sleeping in his car or whatever, and this kid was a really successful salesman. I remember we knocked on this one door and this lady opens up the door and she goes, “What the fuck do you want?” And he says, “I’m here to sell you some fuckin’ energy” and she goes, “Come in.”
So we go in and we’re sitting down at the kitchen table and the lady’s like, “Do you want a beer?” He’s like “Yeah.” So he’s just talking to her exactly how she’s talking. These two drink a beer, and then she signs up and he makes 80 bucks from that. And it was just such a strange thing because most people, you know, someone opens the door and says, “What the fuck do you want,” you’d be like, “Oh I’m so sorry,” right?
Stefan: This guy just went right back at her at the exact same tone, exact same language, and it communicated with her and got through it.
Now Chris, you know, everybody who’s successful on the show has an obsession. What’s something that you’re obsessed with, maybe in your business, your personal life, you’re always thinking about it, you’re always doing it, and it makes you good at what you do?
Chris: You know, I’m obsessed with, lately it’s been video, right? I got into video three years ago, kind of right around the time my daughter was born and was just chasing her with family vlogs and didn’t care anything about photography or video, I just wanted to get it on somewhere and just keep it for personal reasons.
Then all of a sudden I started just incorporating it into my business, because things were happening in my business that I needed videoing. And nowadays I’m completely obsessed over video, and I always are looking to create things and things to kind of propel my business, and I do it for vlogs and family vlogs and stuff. But I would say that’s something that I’m pretty obsessed with nowadays. And that’s kind of something that’s been working for me for the last several years now.
Stefan: Tell me a little bit about the power of video, Chris. Because video is something that I’m doing in a big way. I’m doing three days a week. 2019 next year is gonna be three days a week of video for myself, just content, content, content. Why is video content so powerful these days, and why do the people at home have to get into that?
Chris: Well, I mean video is so important. It’s just kind of where everything is going. People are just consuming more and more video as opposed to watching TV. Even though TV’s on a digital screen, TV’s going away. YouTube is like the biggest channel out there for video. And Facebook, with Facebook being out there and as big as it is now, most of the content that’s on Facebook is turning to video. Instagram is still popular because it’s an Instagram is a platform for pictures. But even still, you look through your feed and there’s still video on there going on. There’s some stat out there that says like 2020, everything’s gonna be, like 90% of the content out there is gonna be consumed in video form. Which I see as very, very likely happening.
So you’re either on board with it or you’re not on board with it. But if you’re not on board with it, cool, that’s what’s gonna happen. So I just see the trend. And you look at it in the last several years, everything has gone to video.
Stefan: One thing I noticed, Chris. So I’ve written five books now, and I’ve got a blog, a written blog; I’ve got podcast; I’ve got video, like two videos going out a day, or two or three videos a day. And what I notice is people just don’t read.
Stefan: Like 80% of books that get bought never get read. The number one most influential book in the United States is the Bible. Most people don’t even read the Bible, they go to church and listen to someone say the Bible to them. If they do read a book, it’s Harry Potter or 50 Shades of Grey.
Now when it comes up to the people with money, they read. But it’s interesting. I’ve got this theory with the social media, like Facebook gave away to Instagram because it’s Facebook for the illiterate. You don’t have to be able to read anything on Instagram, you just look at the picture.
Stefan: And the easier it is for somebody to consume, the more they’re gonna consume. Would you agree with that?
Chris: Oh, 100%. You just take a look when you’re driving nowadays. Even though in California it’s illegal to be on your phone, I see more people looking at their phone, or taking in content, watching YouTube, listening to podcasts, or whatever. They’re doing something with their phone more than they are driving. I mean, it’s just everyone. You go to the super market, wherever you are, everybody has a phone on them.
Stefan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris: So I totally agree with that.
Stefan: I’ve got this story I say about today’s customer. You know, today’s customer, he’s in his bed, naked, covered in pizza. His girlfriend’s with him, she’s naked, she’s covered in pizza too, they’re watching Netflix, and they’re both on their phones. Right?
Stefan: That’s the average person. They don’t wanna go out to a seminar anymore, they don’t wanna put their pants on. They don’t wanna go to the store and pick up the groceries. They want a drone to fly it into their house from Amazon, because it’s just easier and easier and lazier and lazier, and it’s human nature to just sit there and just bring it, bring it to the door.
Now let me ask you this, Chris, what motivates you to be great at what you do?
Chris: You know, it’s really family. That’s easy for a lot of, I’m sure that’s a lot of reasons for a lot of people. But, man, it’s a totally different feeling when you got somebody that you’re responsible for. I mean, I got two little kids, and a wife that count on me every day to push and grind. And so that’s an easy motivation. And once I get past that, what’s there left for me? You know, money’s something that’s never been really important to me, although it’s something that I work for every single day, it’s weird.
Stefan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris: But money’s just never been that important to me. Whether I got a million bucks or whether I got 20 bucks, I’m still kind of the same guy. So more like I’m kind of that artsy fartsy guy that was in school and liked art, and liked painting, and liked drawing, and graphics, and creating stuff, and just my imagination was all over the place.
I think probably, when I drive I’m more daydreaming than anything. I’m thinking about stuff and how to put maybe videos together, or things that I could have done differently, or just thinking about stuff that doesn’t make sense. You don’t wanna be up in my head sometimes.
It’s just finding self passion, beyond family. Just doing stuff that I like. And usually just everything else falls into place.
Stefan: How does art apply to real estate? I noticed you said you’re a fine arts guy, and you’re trained in that. Now I’m a musician, also was living as an artist, at one point I got into real estate and design and stuff. And I was coaching a guy, very successful real estate investor, earlier this week. He has a fine arts degree.
How does fine arts and aesthetics, how does that apply to real estate, and make you money? Because there’s a lot of people out there who wanna be artistic, but they don’t really know how to make money in something. How do those two things go together?
Chris: Well, when you put art and business together, you get something that’s pretty awesome. It becomes a masterpiece. So there’s people out there who …
Stefan: I’m giving you a gong. Bro, you just got your first gong. Instant replay for the kids at home.
Chris: I’m telling you, when you put art and business together, you get a masterpiece. That’s how people are different. Once you put that together, there’s some special stuff that happens. So in terms of that, right.
So how I use my arts degree background is that I gotta be a marketer. People want to see houses. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a product that you need to buy. But you also need to brand yourself. There’s a lot of marketing involved, in whether you’re staging a house, photography, how you’re presenting it with video. All that takes into place. And I think you have to have some kind of artistic opinion about stuff when you’re putting stuff out there because it’s your brand, it’s your house, it’s somebody else’s house. And if you don’t do that, you kind of don’t stand out. You’re like everybody else.
Stefan: I love what you say there about art and business together is a masterpiece. Steve Jobs of Apple, he created, it was a piece of art, the Apple iPhone, you know, the computer has one button on it. What an elegant creation, whereas the other one has, you know, a million buttons.
Chris, what’s a moment where you thought you were gonna fail, and this whole thing would be over and you’d have to maybe quit?
Chris: I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to that point, to be honest with you. There are times where you’re low, don’t get me wrong, when you’re like, “Man, I could have had a better year, I could have had a better quarter, I could have done this, I could have done that.” But I don’t think I ever get down to that point, where I’m like, “Man, I can’t do this, I’m not successful, I won’t ever get there.” And I think once you get there, I think you’ve missed a lot of indicators along the way, and you maybe put the blinders on.
But I’ve never gotten to that point. And for people that have, I think you need to reassess, and figure out where you are and how you get to the top. All that stuff, like you ever watch Rocky? Like all those, oh man, those encouraging things, or encouraging videos on YouTube, and they have that moody music in the background that’s like poetic. All that stuff, I think you have to have a little bit of that have to understand that.
But I never get to that point. I don’t think people should. I think they should always believe of what they’re capable of and just go for it. And I know what I’m capable of, so maybe it’s self confidence. I don’t know. It’s good to have. You watch all those basketball players after they hit a dunk and they’re like pumping their chests. You have to have a little bit of that, everybody does.
Stefan: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Chris, what do you think causes other people to fail? You’re in the real estate space. Not a lot of agents make it. I know this about real estate because I’m a hard core home flipper, hard core investor. One percent of the agents, one percent of the home flippers make about 350 grand. Top four percent’s making like a hundred grand, top five percent’s like eighty grand, and everybody else is like on the poverty line. What do you think causes most people to just fail when they get into business?
Chris: Structure. Discipline. Just easy stuff like that. And I think once you break it down, any kind of coaching session you go to, what they’ll do is they’ll break down your business, and they’ll turn into mathematics. And I think once you turn into mathematics and you make it super simple, and you make your goals very simple to achieve, I think that’s when it becomes very easy to be successful, because you’re not looking at the full journey, you’re just looking at little bite size victories, and little challenges that you need to accomplish.
And I think once you start to see it in micro challenges, right. If you look at it in small little things that you need to do, and then just finish that and then move onto the next thing, I think it makes the whole process a lot easier. I think when people get really, when I go to these conferences and people are in situations where they’re making only $10,000 a year, or one year at $30,000 a year, they’ve been in the business for three years and they’ve only sold like five homes. They just don’t have the disciplines and the small things in place to help them grow. And so that’s what I see a lot, actually.
Stefan: Yeah, I was gonna say, if you’ve been in the business for that many years and you’ve sold five homes, I honestly don’t even know what you’re doing all day. You’re probably just drinking wine, working out, obviously not working.
Chris: It happens more often than you think.
Stefan: Yeah, exactly.
Now Chris, if you can go back to the beginning, give yourself a piece of advice, what’s something you’d say to yourself?
Chris: I don’t know, everything kind of worked out really well. I would say what I learned from my … things could always be better, things could always be worse. But I think the way I got to where I am now, is I’m happy with it.
I would tell people, people ask me all the time how did you get started in the business. I would say just find someone to latch onto who has more knowledge than you. Who has more experience than you. Even if you gotta pay, do it. You know, it’s little investments that you need to make in yourself in order to be better. That’s, maybe I would have probably invested more in myself. That would probably be the only thing. I probably have no regrets on how I came here.
Stefan: So are you someone who hires coaches and mentors? Is that something you do, you go out and you spend money and you find people?
Chris: Of course. Yeah. I didn’t necessarily have to spend money. When I got into the business, I mentored under somebody and they took 50% of my split. After the first year, I easily made six figures. I had a great year. And I probably wouldn’t have had that great of a year if I didn’t have some guidance.
Stefan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris: You know? The best players in the world. Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, everybody, they all had coaches at one point. Somebody that they learned from.
Stefan: You got a gong for that. Oh damn, we knocked the gong over. Man, that’s the first time we had that, we knocked the gong over on the coaches and mentors. I love what you said …
Chris: There you go.
Stefan: There’s always a master and apprentice. Like they say in Star Wars.
Stefan: a master and apprentice.
Stefan: And I’ve heard Tiger Woods has four coaches. Is that true?
Chris: Well I don’t know if he has a coach now, but obviously when growing up, he didn’t learn all of it on his own. He had multiple coaches growing up. He went through Butch, he went through Hank. There’s so many different people that he learned from, and you never stop learning. And once you stop, then you’re screwed.
Stefan: Right. Right, I love that.
Chris, what are the top three books that changed your life?
Chris: So I fall into that category of I don’t really consume a whole lot of books. I consume a lot of media. And I’ve always consumed media as growing up. So I’ve learned a lot of my stuff in three different ways. Either through video, content, or real live content, and I figure out how to put two together. So, yeah. When it comes to books I actually don’t read a lot at all. And I’m probably the opposite of what most people are these days. I go to these conferences and everybody has a book they’re reading. And I’m like, sorry, YouTube.
Stefan: Okay, yeah, fair enough. YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world right now. And you can get a lot of free content out there. It’s one of those things where everything’s for free now on YouTube. But the implementation is why people hire coaches.
Chris: For sure.
Stefan: Okay. Well, Chris, we’re just about to wrap up here. If you could do it again, is there anything you’d do differently?
Chris: For real estate? Or just in general, life?
Stefan: It’s open, bro. It’s open.
Chris: Yeah, you know I’d probably, I’d probably still play golf. [crosstalk 00:23:32]
Stefan: Tell me more about that.
Chris: I probably would have chased it. Because the only reason why I stopped chasing it was because I had to come to terms of making a family. And that was something that I was like, okay, I wanna do that, I wanna accomplish that. And now that I have it, it’s easier to say maybe I could have chased it and still had this. But pursue that and still … I think there was opportunity for me to do that there, but not much regret there. I would say just a very little. You always think about it, right? Maybe I could have done this, maybe I could have done that, but … Anything for you?
Stefan: You know what, I wrote myself a letter once, and I put this in my sixth book, it’s not out yet. My book coach called me and she said, “Hey, I want you to write a letter to your younger self.” And I have two regrets that were in that letter. I said, “I have two regrets in life. I failed at several things, but my two regrets are number one, not doing it.” And the two things I didn’t do in the letter. One was I never sold vacuums. I wanted to sell vacuums as a kid. Never got to do that, my parents fought me so hard. Every day I’d go home I’d be so tired from fighting them, I had to give that up. So I’d never know if I was gonna be a good vacuum salesman or not. Right, it was I didn’t get to do that.
And then there was this girl I really wanted to date, never got to date her. So would never know if that relationship would work or not. So that was my didn’t do. And then the other thing that I regret is not doing soon enough.
So it was never the failures, it was always didn’t do it, and didn’t do it soon enough. Because those are the things … I think those are the things when we look back on our lives, that’s where the real holes are.
Now final question today here, Chris. What’s one thing that young people need to succeed these days?
Chris: I think they need to go all in on computers. I used to be in that category of people where I would say, “Oh man, I’d never give my daughter an iPad.” Never stick her, go into a restaurant and have her be on the iPad while I’m eating. I would say there is a place for that. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t give it to her all the time.
But I definitely think that computers, technology, social media, I think kids need to be all in on that. To be honest. While understanding social communication, and having skills. It’s always gonna be people and technology. I think from here on out, once you find the happy medium between both of those. And trust me. Once you actually tap into your creativity, that’s where people are making money these days.
Stefan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris: If you think about it. Uber, right? That’s just an idea. That’s a technology that somebody came up with and just found like a [inaudible 00:26:09] in the business. And all of a sudden, it’s not like one of the biggest businesses in the world. I mean, Amazon. Look at all these companies. It all sparks from an idea. Somebody had to think of it. But it’s all based around technology. So, for those people that are like, “You know what, I don’t want them to be on an iPad, I don’t want them to know how these things …” That’s crap. I think we need to know that stuff. You need to embrace it.
Stefan: Wow. I love that, I think that’s powerful. Chris, how can people get in touch with you if they wanna know more?
Chris: You can go to my YouTube channel, you can find me on Facebook. Chris, it’s a very generic name. Chris realtor. C-H-R-I-S-K-W-O-N realtor. Put stuff out there, like to be out there as much as possible. You can find me on Instagram at the same place. My handle’s pretty much the same all across all channels.
Stefan: Awesome. Thanks so much for being on the show, Chris. Respect the grind.
Chris: Appreciate it. Thanks.