Connie is a 2016 30 under 30 Realtor featured on the cover of Realtor Magazine. She has completed over 100 million dollars in San Francisco real estate sales. A former Cal Berkeley graduate with strong expertise with team building, San Francisco Market knowledge to help her clients find the house of their dreams. Join us this week as we interview Connie to learn more about her extraordinary Real Estate career!
[0:01] Intro: Hey everyone, and welcome to another episode of Crushing Real Estate with Bryan Pham, where we interview real estate professionals around the industry. If you enjoy this episode, please subscribe to the show and leave a very positive review. We released an episode every single Sunday, so stay tuned. Enjoy.
[0:22] Bryan: Hey guys, welcome to Episode One of Crushing Real Estate, today we have a very special guest, I’m very excited to have her, her name is Connie Chung. We actually go way back together in high school at Cabrillo High School down in San Gabriel in Southern California. So, a little bit about Connie, she’s a 2016 30 under 30 realtor in Realtor Magazine. She has sold over $100 million in real estate in the San Francisco area. Connie, welcome to the show.
[0:55] Connie: Thanks for having me, Brian,
[0:57] Bryan: Definitely. Can you tell our audience a little bit about yourself?
[1:01] Connie: Oh, gosh, sure, I am, what it is a really wonderful and grateful business partnership with my best friend, which isn’t always the case in real estate, but we make it work. And together we’ve done some really great work in San Francisco in the Bay Area and we have grown our team actually just within the past couple months, and we’ve got two agents that we’re working with, and just trying to chug along.
[1:30] Bryan: Wow, that’s really cool. I mean, everyone I talked to in San Francisco, like they’d know all about you and you know, like what you’re doing, so you’re quite popular, even among my investor community so it makes me really proud to, know like, I know the great Connie Chung.
[1:47] Connie: Oh, that make me happy to hear.
[1:51] Bryan: Can you talk a little bit about how you got into real estate and why you decided to become a realtor?
[1:56] Connie: Sure, my earliest memories of real estate involves going to open houses in San Marino with my parents. Yeah, I didn’t really know what we were doing, we were just looking at houses. I think my parents, my dad especially, always had the American dream to buy a home and to own a home. The sad thing is we never bought in San Marino, which my mom regrets to this day, just seeing what it’s become. But I remember just being in awe of the really beautiful manicured lawns and one home in particular, I remember like I have a memory of seeing a huge backyard pool with the cool spiral slide going into it and oh gosh, this was so neat. And but never thought a real estate as a career, I didn’t even know that was an option. I have an aunt and uncle who actually practice real estate, both of them actually do it more on the side so I’ve always heard of being a realtor, but didn’t know that you can do it full time and make a decent living from it until I became older, and my husband and I would go to open houses and relive my childhood memories by just popping into open houses, checking up the design and I just love architecture, interior design, actually. So, I thought, oh, how about going into, exploring interior design as a career? Because I was at a point where I wanted to try something new but then when I spoke with a design friend, she mentioned going back to school for a degree and I was like, okay, I know, I do not want to go back. So, yeah, I’m just not an academic but then I thought, oh, why don’t I learn the business aspect of real estate and become a realtor. So, I had coffee with a neighbor and I like, simultaneously went through getting my license and then started exploring different brokerages and just had coffee with a neighbor who I knew vaguely and said, hey, I’d love to pick your brain and understand what it’s like to be a realtor full time. And she was really inspiring and also followed up and said, you know, we’re looking to take on the mentee, we’d be happy to mentor you. And I thought this sounds like such a great opportunity. So, simultaneously, as I was exploring real estate, I was also looking into going into startup, I had worked at a nonprofit for many years before, and just wanted to change in kind of a more dynamic environment where I was around more people and more young people so that inspired me to apply to a bunch startups. But I did not get any of the jobs I applied to, so I was like, okay, real estate looks like this is a task.
[5:09] Bryan: But life works in funny ways, right? Because like, one door closes for you and the next door opens up. And if you go back a little bit more for our audience, so San Marino is a very high-end area in the San Gabriel Valley, down in Southern California, all the houses there are like averaging 1 or 2 or $3 million. So, they’re very, very high end. I mean, that’s a great story, Connie, like, you talked about how one door is close to you and you gone to real estate and you found mentorship, like what were some of the bigger challenges that you face when you first began your career? And how did you build that client base that you had?
[5:49] Connie: Yeah, the biggest challenges I faced were really mental, I would say learning the aspect of, the transactional part of real estate to anyone, I always told them it’s that you can learn, of course, there are always these nuances in a contractual terms. But the mental part is what really held me back and it still does, it’s something I’m still constantly working on today. But for example, I always had this impression and stigma of realtors just being very salesy, and cheesy and I felt like, oh, I need to be like that. But at the same time, that’s not me so I struggled with the imposter syndrome, like, oh, I just, am I realtor? Like, but I don’t look like a traditional realtor, so it was something that even, telling agents, like people I’d meet, if I went to a party, they’d be like, oh, what do you do? And I would just shyly say, like, oh, I’m a realtor, you know, like, and I remember having drinks with my old boss and I’d shared this with him, he’s like, Connie, you just need to own being a realtor and just say it with dignity. And I was like, yeah, that makes sense but then I still would have a hard time. I’m getting better at it today after five years of being in the industry but owning being a realtor. Yeah, owning it and knowing that, yes, there are those types of realtors but there are also the very polished, full of integrity, honest, hardworking realtors, like myself, and so many colleagues that I know, to really just embrace that and be able to tell other folks that this is what I do, this is my profession. It’s something I’m proud of, even though internally, I know a very proud of it but externally, it was really hard to put out there.
[7:43] Bryan: Yeah, I’m really happy that you face those mental barriers, and you got through them. I mean, myself included, and me being inside the investment side of things where I flip houses, there’s a lot of times where I do have that imposter syndrome, where people come up to me and ask for help and asked how they can contribute and for myself, I’m always trying to figure out better ways of doing things. So, I totally understand what you mean, you know, but I realized that what really helps is that if you project yourself in a very confident manner, like a lot of flow in the situation would change into your favor, you know, so I like that mental barrier. Like I still faced the imposter syndrome all the time. I think right now, like, I mentor, probably a good group of people into real estate investing, whether it’s flips or, or buying holds, like, I totally know what you mean. But I feel like the more you give back, the more you get and the more you receive, I like your approach too.
[8:43] Connie: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it’s so inspiring to see you Bryan because both of us, we’re not in that traditional, we don’t look like the traditional developer, investor or realtor so it’s really cool, that we’re breaking those barriers. And also, what I love about the work you do is making, investing, flipping homes, accessible to people in our community who otherwise wouldn’t think of that as a possibility.
[9:11] Bryan: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, I grew up in San Gabriel, like, we’re always very sheltered, we always have our own safety little bubble that we only know what’s possible. For us to be able to achieve, you know, like yourself, like 100 million dollars in sales in San Francisco, like, it sounds like completely absurd as we were growing up. But as we start doing it, you know, like, I’m very impressed when I when I heard stories about you, Connie, like, I was like, whoa, like, she went to high school with me like we have people like that, that’s crazy.
[9:41] Connie: Yeah, exactly. That’s cool and I’m simple, yeah.
[9:48] Bryan: Okay. I know that being a realtor, like 30 under 30 is a really, really big deal. I know, you mentioned that you reached out to people and you have exposure when you’re younger with mentorship and asking for help, like, do you have any systems that keep you motivated on a daily basis? Like, do you have any metrics that you follow every single morning to make sure that you hit a personal quota?
[10:11] Connie: I don’t, I wish I did. But I recently did the, what’s known as the ninja training, and they have the ninja nine, as they call it, where there’s your, there are nine highly effective habits to being highly effective people and successful people in accomplishing goals. And I tried implementing some of them for the first few days after I finished the training, because I was so energized and motivated. Some of them include waking up at 5am, which I did for a couple days, and then I was like, this is not for me. But a couple other things that I enjoyed and took from that I unfortunately got out of the habit of doing but some, but I do encourage anyone to do, one was having a gratitude journal who, after waking up, you would write the series things that you’re grateful for. And it would include three affirmations or two affirmations. And one of them that I wrote, it was the one I kept remembering to write because it was something I was struggling with was that I am enough, like reminding myself, even though I’m always pushing myself to do better, to do more, like that feeling is so exhausting and it’s a reminder that what I am doing already is so great. And I think especially for the immigrant mentality, like Asian American experience, or just young professionals experiences, it’s so in our culture, it’s like, okay, what’s the next thing but for me, I had to remind myself, okay, wow, like, what I have done already is so incredible, let me take a step and remember that. It was a nice–. Yeah, go ahead.
[11:55] Bryan: Crazy, like hearing you say stuff like that, you know, like, you know, obviously, we look up to you a lot and knowing that you do follow these morning routines like that, that’s actually really inspirational, but it’s also a very common theme I hear among really successful people is that they have these set routines where they write down their gratitude of what they’re grateful of. I think, myself also do a journal similar to that, like, I write down what I’m grateful for, and most of the time I, it pulls me through, even though the worst of days, you know, like, sometimes I feel like things are going wrong for me, like, a lot of things are moving in the wrong direction but when I sit down with my journal every morning, like I look back, I’m like, wow, like, why am I stressed about these things like, my life is not that bad. Like, I’m actually in a position to push forward. And that’s something that I feel like, it’s a common theme among yourselves and other people, I talked to you and interview, that we do have this great that, they do have this journal to stay grateful for things that you do have. So, I like that a lot, Connie, that’s really good.
[13:05] Connie: Totally, I want to hear what’s in your journal.
[13:09] Bryan: So, in my journal, so I write down my five goals, goals that are extremely big. So, I write down things that I want to change the world, or I want to have an impact, or I want to do this and that. And then I break down five more things about things I’m grateful for. Usually, it’s like, I’m in good health, my parents are in good health, like I’m in a position to help other people a bit and create a bigger impact, which sort of led me to starting my podcasts, it kept coming up over and over. And when you keep writing down things into your journal, like your subconscious mind, will kind of just give you the answers that you need. And my answer is, I want to make a bigger impact. And I like to talk to people you Connie, that I know, we have a very, very similar upbringing, I mean we grew up in the same hometown, same high school and everything, so knowing what I know about you and myself, I’m very grateful that I have met you and we’re talking right now, you know?
[14:09] Connie: Likewise.
[14:11] Bryan: Okay, I mean, besides like your grateful journal, your morning routines, do you do any affirmation, or do you meditate on a daily basis?
[14:20] Connie: I don’t meditate but in that journal, it’s called the Five Minute Journal and I’ve been recommending it to folks, even though I’ve stopped, I’m like, oh, it’s only five minutes a day and sadly, it can even get in the habit of writing in it for five minutes. But I do put in there, able to create your affirmations every day. I do work out and that’s part of kind of my motivating, kind of the way I help to remind, to practice my affirmations in my head, like, okay, you got through this. If you could get your butt up and make it into class today to work out, then you can do it anything.
[15:01] Bryan: Yeah, definitely. Do you feel, I know, you have started a family, like, do you feel like having a family has impact the way you work and the way you deal with clients and people and your motivation?
[15:12] Connie: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it’s having a family, especially a little one has made me so much more conscious of my time and being effective. I always, I even had a stigma of working parents and always thinking, oh, well, working parents probably can’t do enough, or like, they wouldn’t work as hard. Gosh, I have so much more respect for working parents, because you’re working double and even harder, and so much more efficiently, because your time is so precious. And for example, we do a lot of client dinners and events after work, because that’s when a lot of our clients are free. But that’s also such a valuable time because that’s when I get to be with my husband and my daughter. So, there was one month in June, where we were doing two or three client dinners a week and it was exhausting. It’s just a lot to be sociable at my age, I feel. But I came to the realization like, wow, this is definitely taking a lot more of my energy so I’m going to put boundaries, and try to stick to it, no more than two client engagements in a week in the evening. And sometimes I’ll have to block out my calendar in advance because we send out calendar leaks to our clients to set up a time to get together. And so, I have to block it off some of the days so that they don’t all get booked up by our clients. And those are kind of ways that I try to be more mindful because my whole intention and my value when my cup values, being with my family and spending time with them and so making conscious effort to do that is really important for me.
[16:54] Bryan: Definitely. I mean, it sounds you have a whole lot going on already. Like, can you walk us through your day? Like how do you structure day, from the time you wake up into the time you end your night, like what goes on? Do you do the hardest things in the morning? Do you do a client facing stuff in the morning? Like how do you structure your day?
[17:11] Connie: Yeah, that is something I’m still always working on. And it’s so different. I would love to say that I spend my first couple of hours working on the hardest thing or like the business development or the marketing kind of the fun creative stuff that I don’t always get to practice or muscle every often. But you know, it’s hard, I am guilty of getting sucked into emails and putting out fires, responding to client inquiries, and then going about, oh, what else do I need to do? And it becomes very reactionary so I would say, to do what I do, because it’s not the most effective. But I do to-do list and whenever I find myself, the longer my to do list is, the more efficient I become, because then I’m like, okay, wow, you got it, like knock all of these out, Connie, go.
[18:06] Bryan: Oh, wow, that’s really good. I mean, if you switch over to the client side, like what’s your approach to helping your clients find the dream house and find the perfect house that they want to buy?
[18:17] Connie: Yeah, I would say it’s really understanding their needs and their lifestyle. For example, we just met with clients yesterday and her whole goal is to live as close to work as possible because she works so much. So, really getting to know them by asking them questions of like, where do they work? What, how do they like to commute, by if they prefer to walk, that definitely limits our radius, if they bike or taking uni or drive? In, for example, this client just wanted to be able to walk really easily and spend her weekends brunching and going out with friends, which is still finding something that’s relatively close to a neighborhood of cafes and restaurants, and just kind of getting to know them, and what is it that they’re, well, how they live their daily lives in an ideal situation. And I was able to understand that we’re pretty sharp on honing in exactly what neighborhoods they want to be on, even down to maybe what street. Because in San Francisco, one street can look totally different than the next block over so honing in, as you may know.
[19:35] Bryan: Definitely, I mean, I feel like a lot of– Do you ever feel like, a lot of your work is very EQ based, instead of IQ, where you are just connecting and reading your clients?
[19:46] Connie: Oh, absolutely. I would say gosh, it’s like 70% EQ, there’s so much empathy, and shadowing of a person or client’s behavior that just actually made me think back to a meeting we had earlier this week with new clients. And one of our teammates, it’s so funny, I actually wanted to follow up with them and tell them like, oh, that was really good, what do they call it, mirroring, where are our client, she kept putting her hand on her chin, and like the thinking pose, and then I saw the same and I was like–. Yeah, and it’s so subtle, but it definitely is just really understanding the room and reading the room, which I think is huge.
[20:39] Bryan: It’s like a different science.
[20:43] Connie: Yeah.
[20:44] Bryan: That was really cool. I mean, and on top of that, like you also had to negotiate really well to especially with the seller’s agent, like, do you have any negotiation tips that you yourself use or you recommend someone else using?
[21:04] Connie: It’s funny, I always thought negotiation was two people coming to battle. But one thing I’ve learned about negotiating anything, it’s what makes Kenny and I so successful, and our team so successful is that we learned that it’s really having our client’s best interests at heart and making it work. So, what that looks like is when we’re talking to, say we’re representing the sellers, and there’s the other party representing buyers, it’s like, okay, let’s all, how can we all come to an agreement where both parties feel like they’ve won? Because that’s when I feel like we win, is when both parties do well. So, it’s really always being firm for me, especially because I know I can be very much, seemingly a people pleaser. But funny enough, when Kenny and I go to negotiate, I usually have to play bad cop and he gets play good cop. Yeah, so sometimes we have to take on those different roles. And then, so ultimately, whenever I’m negotiating, I always keep in mind to be firm and hold my ground. Yeah, always being positive, because that’s ultimately how to get the other party to want to work with you. So, we’d always say like, you know, this is what we’re offering, or this is, these are the terms, let’s make it work or like, we want to make this work. So, you always want to continue the conversation and it’s something we tell our team, as well as every negotiation is a continual of the conversation.
[22:40] Bryan: Yeah, that’s a really good tip. I mean, honestly, like, my perception, when I think of negotiation, I first started, I’m like, I had to win, you have to lose, you know, the bait mentality, you know, but as I got more into them, like, okay, like, why don’t we create a situation where you both win, right? You get a price that you want, a price that I want, like, there’s no hurt feelings, and guess what? They’re going to tell their friends, and they’re going to tell their friends about you and your business just grows naturally. If you make a situation everyone wins in negotiation. So, I really like that approach, Connie, like, that’s really, really good. Yeah, let’s talk a little bit more about your real estate goals, like, what are your real estate goals in next year, in the next five years from now, what does that look like for you?
[23:24] Connie: Well, we are growing our team, which is still great, because that has really helped our goal of scaling. That’s something I keep thinking about as of late is, because the real estate is such a service based industry, that’s what makes it so challenging to scale is because what we’re known for and what our success is attributed to is the level of service we offer. It’s like very concierge level, where our client’s like, oh, actually, Connie, do you have a CPA who can do the taxes for my investment portfolio? Or do you have a cleaner or a landscaper? So, it’s, and every time it’s like, you know, wanting to provide that service and point them in the right direction. But that becomes hard to scale because it’s all of our individual time and energy. So, we’ve been thinking about, okay, how can we bring on good people who understand our level of service that we want to provide and also who can be an extension of our brand?
[24:30] Bryan: It’s true. How big is your team right now?
[24:33] Connie: So, there’s four of us, total.
[24:35] Bryan: Okay, that’s a good size.
[24:37] Connie: Yeah. And actually, should tell you one of them, also went to our same high school and is Cliff.
[24:47] Bryan: Oh, ha, nice. I need to reconnect.
[24:49] Connie: Yeah, and I think one thing in our goal is, for, Kenny and I, we created our partnership and we’ve always grown very organically, even how we became business partners was very organic, it was that we would work next to each other and meet up at a coffee shop, and do a lot of our work from there. And then we thought, like, hey, what would it be like to partner up together? We tested it out with a few clients, they’ve benefited from it because we were actually at different brokerages. So, we were able to leverage the relationships we both had built at our respective firm. And then we also been in Clemson for from that. And then we just had so much fun working together. So, we thought, okay, how can we make this a real thing. And we’re very intentional about creating a partnership while also valuing the friendship because that’s, we were friends before we became business partners, and our friendship meant more than the business. So, we always said, if there was a point where we would have, where our friendship was at risk, we would have to dissolve the business and then have hard conversations of, okay, if we came to that point, what would that look like if we had dissolve our business? So, we had a really clear thought process throughout from the beginning and then when it came time to growing, I know, we were just taking on so many clients and we were on the verge of burnout, that we were like, okay, we need to take on an agent. And we took on Ali, who’s been fantastic and just such a go getter. And, but there was some resistance to that because there’s a lot of responsibility when it comes to being, an employer and being responsible for someone’s livelihood and income so, we were very thoughtful about how we structured what that role look like. And then when it came to adding another team member, we weren’t actively seeking out someone, or I guess we’re casually we’re getting we talking about it. But then a good friend from high school, reached out and said, hey, I got my license and you know, in class as well. I was just like, you know, for me, I always love working with good people. That’s like what I prioritize, and I was like, Cliff, come work on our team, we will mentor you. So, it was just such a natural, organic progression.
[27:24] Bryan: Wow, I love it, Connie, I love that organic–. I hope it stays organic, as you scale. Obviously, that’s most difficult part, right, maintain your values and the brand that you have already, that’s really good. I guess since we’re running out of time, you can jump straight to the next couple questions. So, would you start your real estate career over again, what would you have done differently?
[27:49] Connie: I almost wish I would have started earlier in real estate, because wow, it’s such a powerful empowering field to see. Growing up, I always thought oh, you know, of course, I would own a home, that’s what everyone does, right? But being in the Bay Area, and just in California, in general, with prices being so high, it’s incredibly tough and challenging but to have been exposed to that at a much younger age would have been really cool. And if I could do things differently, I probably would have said to let go of the lot of the mental challenges I held on to, like, I wish I could have owned being a realtor much younger, and been okay going to parties and saying I was a realtor instead of being what’s known as the secret agent.
[28:46] Bryan: I mean, it’s never too late, right? I feel like in the five years you’ve been a realtor, I mean, you create a great reputation for yourself already, especially here in the Bay Area, s very admirable. I guess the last question is, what’s your favorite book, Connie?
[29:05] Connie: Oh, that’s a hard one. I do love reading a lot. I can’t think of my all-time favorite one but also I’m having a total brain fart and can’t even recall the last book I read but, you know what book I read recently, Sour Grapes by Jenny Inga, I believe, a young Asian American writer in New York. And it was a really sad, dry, were humorous, a dark story about a young Asian American growing up with really hard-working parents who weren’t really around much and her experience in a very well written, poetic way. And I, for me, I think I gravitate, I don’t have like one favorite book, but I do gravitate towards coming of age books, and storytelling, because I’m just one who, I feel like I’m, even though I’m a mom now and in my 30s, like, I feel like I’m still coming of age every day, and trying to be a better person and learning and growing.
[30:32] Bryan: I’m very much the same way. Like I’m always like, okay, I’m becoming better every single day, I have to do better every single day. And hearing that from you is like, wow, like, all of us, we do have that growth mindset in common. I really like that. Oh, how can the listeners find out more about you?
[30:53] Connie: Oh, well, you can follow me along on Instagram, I do post some fun stuff. That’s not just really real estate, but also kind of more personal, a lot of cute photos of my daughter. My Instagram handle is @SeeConRun, SEECONRUN and that goes way back to high school when I used to run cross country. And, also find our team @ConnieandKenny and that’s our business page. And also, folks who are interested can always shoot us an email. My email is Connie@ConnieandKenny.com.
[31:30] Bryan: Awesome, thank you for your time, Connie. Really appreciate it.
[31:36] Connie: So, great to chat with you, Bryan. I’m always inspired to hearing from you, so this was really lovely.
[31:41] Bryan: Awesome. Thank you so much.