Always Be Learning Everything with Todd Conklin at Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties

Growth will always require discovering new strategies and shifts in your mindset. Many leaders are not willing to make time to find new ideas. Today’s guest is Todd Conklin, CEO & Head Coach at Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties. Inc Magazine ranked his company #3522 on the 2021 Inc 5000 list. Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties and Coldwell Banker Commercial Prime Properties is a family of professionals dedicated to creating exceptional real estate experiences for their customers and communities. Todd shares his mantra of “Learning Everything” in this interview. We look at the ever-changing aspects of business growth so you can discover why learning everything is so important — and what it means.

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Todd Conklin: The Transcript

About: Todd attended San Diego State University and began his real estate career in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he specialized in high-end resort properties. Todd quickly became a top-selling agent in the area and opened his own office in July of 2006. Since that time, Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties has blossomed into a thriving, multi-market, 300 agent franchise which includes a commercial real estate division—Coldwell Banker Commercial Prime Properties. Now a published author and founder of a top-notch coaching company, The Corner Office Coach, Todd continues his passion for enterprise by helping other CEOs grow their businesses and change lives. He currently resides in Grand Junction, CO, with his beautiful wife, Shannon, and their three sons.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Todd Conklin: [00:00:00] So I’ll always be learning everything and the, everything is super important, but you know, the. Leadership is there’s no difference. Right? Leadership was the same five years ago. It was the same 10, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. I think what, what if we want to be a fast hypergrowth organization? It is much better to do it, but on the shoulders of giants. Right? And so to be able to lean on a coach, will lean on a mentor to be able to read books and listen to podcasts. And always be getting smarter and, and hopefully God willing, we, we avoid some of the mistakes that other stuff made. I think it really is the only way for you to be a hyper-growth organization. Otherwise, you’re, you’re just making all the same old domestics

Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to [00:01:00] grow?

Gene Hammett: Do you believe that you know it all of course. It’s a ridiculous question right. Now, how could you know it all? Well, in today’s episode, we talk about always be learning everything. This comes from our special guest, Todd Conklin. He’s the founder CEO of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties. They were number 3,522 on the Inc list this year. And he’s got a mantra, always be learning everything. The acronym is Abel, but we dive into what this really means. He talks about his journey of becoming the leader of a company, doing billions and transactions and, you know, hundreds of people on his team. And what does it take for him to be that kind of leader? Well, But I’ll always be learning something. We talk about what it means to be a learner, what it means to, to have coaches that push us and challenge us. And one of the real benefits there, one of the things he actually said after the recording was over and feel certain that we can talk about this, but he is like I’ve looked at coaching [00:02:00] and those that have skin in the game, those that are paying to the coaching, actually take more ownership of it. And he’s noticed this across some of the people in his team, and he’s, he’s noticed it within himself too, when he’s paying for something, he shows up more fully. And so you want to make sure that you have the right people in your team that you’re investing in.

That can challenge you. I just got off the phone with a client of mine. Who’s going through a really tough time in his business. There’s some layoffs coming. The business is poised for more growth. But they’ve got to get the right people in the right seats. Everyone knows this, but he’s got to change the way he’s evolving and leading. And I share that with you not specific names, but just, we’re always going to be evolving. And that’s one reason why growth think tank has sort of a saying around evolve or die. So if you don’t know the details of that, that’s where that comes from. Well, here’s another little thing before we get into the interview with Todd. If you are in the space of leveling up as a leader and you truly want to be more confident, more direct or hold people accountable for things, then let’s have a conversation about what’s really getting [00:03:00] in the way, because I’ve done this hundred of times, and I know I can help you zero and I help you move forward. Help you develop a plan, not only to grow your company but become a more effective or extraordinary leader inside your company. Not just the leader that you need to be, but then the leader that your team needs you to be hopefully that sounds enticing. Just go to and schedule your call. What we’ll do inside that call is ask a few questions just to get to know what’s going on and really got to dig into what’s getting in the way of you growing and leading your company with power and clarity. Now, inside these conversations, sometimes we will talk about, working together. Sometimes we will defer that to another call, but I want to let you know that if you take a chance and do this with me, you will not be disappointed. In fact, I really know that you’ll get value out of it because I just I’ve done so many of these and every one of them has been profound. So just go to and schedule your call. Now here’s the interview with Todd.

Gene Hammett: Todd, How are you?

Todd Conklin: I’m great.

Gene Hammett: We’re going to have a great conversation today talking about always be learning. But before we dive into that, let’s [00:04:00] talk about your company. Coldwell banker distinctive properties.

Todd Conklin: Yeah. For, for a brokerage started back in 2006 was never intended to grow. And last year we were just shy of $2 billion in sales and about $15 million we’re having right now.

Gene Hammett: That’s pretty impressive. When you think about this, this market that we’re in and I guess you’re, you’re getting the benefit of the hot market.

Todd Conklin: For sure. Yeah. 100%. Please just don’t ask me what the market’s going to be next year.

Gene Hammett: I want to ask you, but what, what do you think is, is going to shift. other than prices are going to change. And interest rates are going to change. They may not be the same as they are today, but what are the other shifts that are going on inside this world?

Todd Conklin: I mean, there’s just, there’s a bunch of different silos of that. You know, that you’re still gonna have the people that have to buy, I have to sell. And you know, you’re, you’re gonna have people that are investing in the real estate side because of inflation. You’re going to have people that can’t afford the real estate because of inflation. It’s a really interesting. Conundrum. The one thing that nobody has yet been able [00:05:00] to solve is the inventory issue and, you know, economics 1 0 1 supply demand. I just don’t see us building our way out of, or any other avenue to solve the inventory.

Gene Hammett: I don’t see it changing either. I mean, we have 32 rental properties. I don’t know if I ever told you that Todd, as a little side business, that me and my wife have is a part of this growing empire. If you will. I say that with tongue in cheek, but you’re having trouble getting windows.

We’re having trouble getting other pieces that have delayed projects and imagine a lot of like new development. There’s just so many problems with that. And the cost overruns I’ve got to be just astronomical right now

Todd Conklin: for sure. And, and yet people are still building and yet people are still willing to pay prices that we just thought would be unachievable, two years ago but here we are,

Gene Hammett: let’s switch gears a little bit because you have a team of people around you. It’s not just you, doing this for billions of dollars in sales. You [00:06:00] have what, 50 employees and about 300 agents is that about right?

Todd Conklin: That’s correct

Gene Hammett: That you’ve been leading this team, and I know you have support across your different department heads and C-suite, but you talked about the value of learning and you able to have a phrase for that always be learning. What does all that mean to the growth of your organization?

Todd Conklin: Yeah, so it’s always be learning everything and the, everything is super important, but you know, the leadership is there’s no difference. Right? Leadership was the same five years ago. It was the same 10, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. If we want to be a fast hypergrowth organization, it is much better to do it, but on the shoulders of giants. Right? And so to be able to lean on a coach, to be able to lean on a mentor, to be able to read books and listen to podcasts and, and always be getting smarter and, and hopefully God willing, we, we avoid some of the mistakes that other stuff made. I think it really is the only way for you to be a hyper-growth organization. Otherwise, you’re, you’re just making all [00:07:00] the same old damn mistakes.

Gene Hammett: Well, I know the value of coaching and I want to make sure this is clear because I think someone got confused one time. You’re you’re not a client of mine. We’re just having a good old-fashioned conversation about leadership and growth. Is that fair to say you’re not a client, but you have distinctively seen value from a coach in this aspect. I’d like to just spend a moment here. We don’t have to give out names and things like that because everyone’s in different industries. They’re not going to use the same kind of coaches you would use, but what. What have been the real value points you’ve gotten from having a coach in your corner.

Todd Conklin: Yeah. And I might, if it’s okay, just something that somebody told me a long time ago. So whenever I heard your coach, for whatever reason, it didn’t land right. And somebody framed it differently and they said, listen, the bottom line is you have to have people in your world that understand what it is that you’re doing, where it is that you’re trying to go that have done it before. It’s the gray hair whisker or yeah great hair wisdom. That people have, and some of that is going to be friends, [00:08:00] right? Some people that are in your circle, I mean, you know, them personally, some of them don’t even know your name, you get them through a book or, or through a podcast. Yes. Sometimes you have to pay for access. And that may be in the way of a coach. They are all coaches and mentors in some capacity. And so I think the, the idea that, Hey, you know, you absolutely have to pay for a coach. It’s probably not really accurate. I have found great value in all. So I do have coaches, I pay for, they, I find a different level of access and focus from somebody who I’m paying to, to help me through a, a challenge and solve a problem. But all of them play a role in ensuring that I’ve got the right mindset, the right skill sets, and I’m in the right direction.

Gene Hammett: So what are the benefits from these coaches in your life?

Todd Conklin: You know, it’s interesting. And I think everybody that’s watching your podcast probably gets this and we can all get a little smirk, but, you know, they say it’s lonely at the top and what that means to me, is that we all, we all [00:09:00] get each other right there. There’s one person that’s going to have to make the decision. That means there’s going to be one person. That’s going to take, take it on the chin. If it’s, if it’s wrong. We as leaders tend to give all of our accolades away to others. So when we get that piece. And so to be able to have conversations with people who have been there before, it, it gives me peace. It gives me confidence. Now that’s certainly the wisdom, but I think the peace and the confidence to be able to have really great, vulnerable, humble conversations with other people that have been there before has been, I didn’t even know that, that I get a price on it.

Gene Hammett: So we’ve been talking about always be learning everything. One last question around coaching. What is one moment inside your journey as a leader that you had to change the way you see something or see yourself that you could share with us that we’d benefit from.

Todd Conklin: Yeah, I think mine was very much mindset. I think, I didn’t, I didn’t grow up with at all, so I definitely, probably. Lived in the space of limits, not abundance, fear, [00:10:00] right? Not, not, not growth. So I’m having a conversation with a coach one time where I was kind of on a tirade and I was telling him what was going on and why I wasn’t gonna be able to do this and that and the other. And he stopped me and he said, Well, I cannot believe that you have built an organization is big as you have with that kind of thinking, like, how did, how were you able to do that? And it just was like a two-by-four to the forehead to go. Wow. Yeah. I, I think small oftentimes, and, and despite the fact that I was this hypergrowth company, I had a tendency to fall back into this sort of limiting belief system. So I think that was without big, without question, probably the biggest moment for me and so much so that I, I will recall that conversation over and over when he, anytime I have got some opportunity in front of me and I began to think that what if, I now think, well, okay, you think that’s the end, but what if it wasn’t the end? What if you could even do more? What would that look like? What would have to happen in order for filling [00:11:00] the blanks?

Commentary: I just talked about mindset. He talked about thinking smaller and that sometimes he needed to be challenged, to think bigger. What challenges you to think bigger? What, what really keeps you thinking about something it’s almost impossible? Well, I’ve had many conversations with leaders that are visionary and most of the things that they’ve tried to do, people have said that’s impossible and they’ve done it anyway. In fact, they’ve done it. Despite what others may have thought about them. And maybe that pushed them along a little bit, but I want to encourage you to look at your own mindset and think bigger than you are right now. Cause sometimes that’s exactly what it’s going to getting in the way is thinking small and thinking narrative I would like for you to think about what it would be like to lead your company in a different way, more innovative, more powerful way. Think bigger back to Todd.

Gene Hammett: I appreciate you sharing that with us. I always talk about this. I do think we learn from books and podcasts and videos and all these other things out there, but no, none of those formats talk back to you. They don’t challenge you. So if you have to pay for access on something like that. [00:12:00] It is hugely worth it. I know it has in my life. I’ve had more than a dozen coaches over the last 20 years. And every one of them has had a profound impact on who I am as a leader, as a business owner. And even as a husband, if that may sound so crazy because both you and I have an agreement here, but we talked about always be learning everything, but there’s some correlation between how you’re showing up at work and how you’re showing up in your personal life. How do you see that working?

Todd Conklin: Yeah, I think that’s why it is always be learning everything and in my space. Right. I, I don’t think that the saying is how you show up here is how you show up everywhere. And so if you’re, if you’re not showing up for your kids, whether. I think you are not, you are not showing up for your business. If you’re not showing up for your health and vitality, whether you think you are not, you are not showing up for your spouse and so on and so forth. So, hitting all of them and striving to be your best version in all of those [00:13:00] areas. I think that’s the only way to be a hyper-growth organization and to continue to deliver great value you got into, you have to do it all.

Gene Hammett: I like to get specific here. What, what are, what are we really talking about here and how personal life and professional life are, you know, helping each other, supporting each other or getting in the way in some cases.

Todd Conklin: Yeah. Well, I think there’s a bunch of different layers to that. And I might say like the first one that comes to mind is integrity so if I’m. I’ll, I’ll phrase it differently. Okay. So if you think about being completely exposed, let’s just assume that your life was on television, right? And so people that you admire that you respected have the opportunity to see how you interacted with your kids. Are there any areas in that, that you would be embarrassed about? If somebody had access to see everything that you were doing from your health and vitality perspective, what you were eating, what you were drinking, the level of exercise. And care you were giving to your, to your body. If [00:14:00] somebody could see, would, are there any areas that you would be embarrassed about, same thing with your, with your business? Those are all areas of opportunity. What it meant to me was a level of integrity. If I say I wanted to be a particular kind of person. I needed to be that person behind the curtain because it started within not, not exterior. It was all very interior. And, and the stronger I’d got in each of those things that, you know, listen, we screw up all the time, right.

So I’m not, I’m not suggesting that anybody’s perfect, but, but the commitment to becoming better, right. That humility to say, Hey, I’m, I’m going to look behind the curtain and I’m going to judge myself. Ability to be honest enough with yourself to say, Hey, I’m probably not showing up quite the way I need to. Right. And then the hunger to be able to do something about it. If I can do that in all of the areas of my life, it’s going to get better. Right. And the other piece to that would be, you know, I think anybody who has had a challenging, personal relationship and then gone out and try to build a great business, knows how difficult it is.[00:15:00] And so working on my marriage and making sure that that. We’re solid, has, has completely changed my career. You know, I haven’t always had a great marriage. I’ve got a great one now. And, and, it took a lot of work. Took a lot of learning. It took some coaches, believe it or not in that space, for us. And, it’s had a massive impact on, on all areas of my life.

Commentary: Todd just said something that I know for a fact is true. That if you have stress in your marriage, that it’s going to impact your business. I’ve had stress in my marriage. I’ve been married for 20 years. I’m coming up this August and I want to make sure that you understand that you’ve gotta be able to lead at home as well as leading in the office and in your professional life. And the correlation between that is so profound that I want to make sure it’s very clear. That when you are not really able to have the kind of conversations you want to at home, how are you going to have them at work? How are you really going to be able to lead the team members and have these direct conversations that are necessary to [00:16:00] give feedback to people, and healthy conflict? All of that’s important in-home and at work and they are interrelated. Things are going well at work. It’s probably going to be a little bit easier at home if you’re paying attention to both, but if it’s going bad at work, it’s going to spill over in the home. We all get that and understand that. So just reminding you that you want to make sure that you are continuing to work on all of the aspects of your life. You know, we haven’t talked about health, but health is another area. If you’re not living the healthy lifestyle that you know that you need to live, did you going to feel that impact? They’re all connected. Back to Todd

Gene Hammett: Now you’ve been sharing with us openly about this. Always be learning everything. How do you, and how does this translate in how you lead your team members? Cause I know there’s, you have a pretty big organization. You guys are growing fast. Are you able to, to be the coach that you need to be for your team members? Do you have the space in your calendar to be able to do that? Cause a lot of people are just over-scheduled and overwhelmed. How do you manage that?

Todd Conklin: Yeah, now, that’s a really good question and I believe so strongly in it that yes I make mistakes. So, but I, I also [00:17:00] understand that I am not the answer to all of the questions. And so I, my, my framework for, for any, any of the people I work with really, but it’s always like, all right, let’s identify the goals they gotta be very clear. Let’s figure out the plan. Do you believe 110% you can achieve? If you execute on that plan, that you will achieve the goals? Yes. Great. And then we figure out how do you have the skill set? To be able to achieve them. Right. And then of course there’s tracking measure and blah, blah, blah, blah but the skill sets once we get to the skill set piece is when it gets fun for me to be able to say, okay, I can teach this thing, or I can’t teach this thing. I’m going to go out and bring in a trainer or coach or connect that person with somebody that can help them. So it is 1000% a critical, and central piece to our organization is to make sure that we are always learning

Gene Hammett: Well, when you take on the next iteration of your company, what do you see for yourself as a leader of this entity that you have now? Or are [00:18:00] you moving toward a more passive role and more of a chairman, or do you continue to do what you’re doing now at a different capacity?

Todd Conklin: I’m going through it right now. So that’s a really interesting question. I don’t know. I will answer it this way. Back in 2006, I was when we started, I was not the man for the job. And so I went out and became the man for the job and that man, that leader got me through 2010. But the guy that needed to leave that organization and after 2010, I wasn’t the man for the job. I had to go out and, and learn that and get exposed and have coaches and mentors and et cetera, et cetera. And that, that continues to happen. I mean, God willing, it’ll never stop. I love it. That’s that always growth-focused. And so, yes, Technically operating as the chairman today, but the, my, my focus is in solving more problems.

I’m, I’m a believer that, we, we focus on people, and in our organization and in our industry, we have [00:19:00] real estate agents that, that serve customers and the consumer has a problem. And if I can help solve the problem for the consumer. If I can help make it easier for my agents to solve the problems with the consumer that is doing good work, right. That has God that is doing God’s work. And I don’t need to worry about the money. Money will come, right? The growth will happen. All the growth that we have experienced has not been intentional. What’s been intentional is solving more problems and still I’m going out and solving more problems. That’s my one and only focus these days.

Gene Hammett: Now. I want to go back to this phrase you said in the beginning, you weren’t the person to do the job, but you had to do it anyway and you had to become that person. But I hear you right. This tells me that you have been doing some coaching because you have a sense of self-awareness around this, that you, you, you have the ability to step into something before you can create it. And that’s how you actually created what you have today. Are we in alignment with kind of that phrase?

Todd Conklin: Yeah, I, and I have my framework for that. Are there my three H’s. I don’t [00:20:00] know if that means anything, but, first one’s humble. Next one is honest and the next and the last one is hungry. The, the humble piece is. You’re gonna have to be humble enough to actually want to look and identify, areas that, that you may be weak. Maybe that you’re not the man for the job. Right. And that’s fully transferable in every piece of life, but then you have to be honest enough to say, that’s that that’s an area. Right. And oftentimes it’s wonderful to say, yeah, I want to know, but then we get into it kind of drink our own Kool-Aid and we’re like, oh no no no, so you gotta be honest enough to, to be able to call your stuff out, but then you gotta be hungry enough to pick the phone up and ask for help. You gotta be hungry enough to read every book you can find and, and work hard and then work harder. You know, and then work smart. I don’t do it all. You gotta be hungry and we all know everybody watching this is the reason they’re watching it ’cause they’re hungry.

Gene Hammett: I agree, those listening in. Hopefully, you’re getting as much out of this as I am, because I love talking to leaders in the trenches like [00:21:00] this, Todd, we’ve had a good time sharing this conversation around, you know, always be learning everything and then even getting down to the part where you’re honestly talking about. I wasn’t the man. So I had to become someone else. And you have a framework behind that. Really appreciate sharing all of this wisdom.

Todd Conklin: Thank you very much and appreciate it.

Gene Hammett: My job is to help, identify things that I know that you’re struggling with. And this one concept of always be learning is I think getting in the way of a lot of CEO’s that are not expanding. They’re not growing, they’re focused on the work, but they’re not doing the work themselves and not becoming the person that they know they can be. Whether that be something’s getting in the way that you’re not willing to do address. It’s a blind spot. All of those things are critical for you to be able to be the leader that you know, you can be and be the leader that your team deserves.

So make sure that you’re tuning in to more episodes here. What Todd shared with us is really an interesting way to look at it. Hopefully, you’ll take this to heart. I’m not saying I should be your coach, but if you think I can help you, I’d love to invite you to come into my world. Let’s [00:22:00] have a chat about your business.

See what’s going on. If I do this, you know, 10 times a week with different people, most of them are paying clients, but I’m willing to treat you the same way if you’re willing to take a chance on that conversation. And it’s absolutely free. Just go to and schedule your call. When you think about your own journey as a leader, make sure you think of a growth think tank always think of leadership and culture and people is such a critical part to the growth of your company, and lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.




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