The Realty Classroom Podcast Episode 85: Dean Miller Interviews Me During TRC Live!

The Realty Classroom Podcast Episode 85: Dean Miller Interviews Me During TRC Live!

In this episode, I got to be interviewed by somebody else, in the heat of my coaching moment. So, once a year, we hold TRC Live, as an event. In fact, we had it postponed for several years, and this was the first one, recently, that we did.

So, Dean gets to interview in the thick of this moment. You’ll see, I’m pretty intense, I’m fired up. I’m very focused on how I feel about these things. I think that’ll give you an interesting perspective that’s a little bit different from the standard podcasts that I do here.

Without further ado, here’s my interview that I did for Dean Miller, on his podcast Opportunity Knocks. Enjoy!


Being Friends With Dean For 20 Years

Dean Miller:                     Danny and I have become good friends through our relationship with coaching. You evolved, and found an opportunity to actually become a coach, as opposed to being the coached. You became the coach.

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah.

Dean Miller:                     You did a phenomenal job with your first organization. You’ve since transitioned out of there, and you’ve been running The Realty Classroom for how long now?

Danny Griffin:                  Seven years.

Dean Miller:                     Time flies.

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah.

Dean Miller:                     I think I may have been client number one, or two, or three?

Danny Griffin:                  You were pretty close. The loyal earliest.

Dean Miller:                     I think you purposely invited a couple other people before telling me because you didn’t want me to walk around and say, “I’m still number one.”

Dean Miller:                     Danny brings a wealth of knowledge. In addition to running The Realty Classroom, you own Griffin Realty Group.

Danny Griffin:                  Right.

Dean Miller:                     Which is a brokerage in Cape Cod and Boston?

Danny Griffin:                  Correct.

Dean Miller:                     You’ve got a nice team, you guys do a great production. You recently moved, or are in the process back from the Cape, back to the city?

Danny Griffin:                  Sure.

Dean Miller:                     Good for you, congratulations.

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah.

Dean Miller:                     Nice things when kids get older and start to move out, you can –

Danny Griffin:                  Well, when you said hustler, and I looked down at my blue coat.

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  I said, I probably belong outside in Boston, versus the cape. I’m starting to get my city roots springing back out.

Dean Miller:                     You know, you’ve got to wear socks once in a while when you’re in Boston, as opposed to on the Cape, where you’re living in flip-flops.


Chunking Things Up And Making It Simple

Dean Miller:                     You’ve got a lot of things that you work on. You’ve got The Realty Classroom, you’ve got the brokerage, you do public speaking. There’s a laundry list of stuff that you’ve got in the hopper that is now skipping my mind. So, fill in the blanks for me?

Danny Griffin:                  It’s all under real estate, to a large extent. As you said, I evolved out of being coached into wanting to coach so desperately, I think simply because I always took the approach to real estate that I should be an educator first. That I should give away plans, education, and that was this early-on obsession coming out of investment banking and big business. I had seen companies running with plans, so it starts there.

Well, when you get into that enterprise under such a huge industry like real estate, you start to say, “Well, wait a minute. There’s going to be other off-shoots of this.” So, the coaching and the brokerage, they go hand in hand.

You want to help an agent, you want to help an agent. Whether they want to join your brokerage or not, you just want to help agents.

You want to teach them something. You want to chunk it up, make it simple, organized. That endeavor, then, has this new off-shoot, where now you get into technology solutions. Because, the maddening part of the digital age is that you’re looking at these websites, and nobody will do what you want to do, and nobody is listening to the changes that the consumer is demanding. Ended up in the website business, as an off-shoot of the coaching business.

You have these clients that you want to help them solve technology as simply as possible, and you don’t want to see them get beaten up, or worse, come to you a mess.I don’t think I had a choice but to get into the technology side.


Real Estate Is A Business

Dean Miller:                     Most of the podcasts we’ve done so far do center around real estate, because it’s who I am. It’s not who I am, but it’s what I do, it’s my number one source of revenue, it’s the thing that I’m most passionate about professionally. This is not a real estate podcast. This is an entrepreneurial business thing.

Danny Griffin:                  For sure.

Dean Miller:                     I caution a lot of our listeners to not pigeon-hole us into the real estate world, because I believe as a true professional, when you got a real estate license, you don’t have a job, if you want to run it the right way. Many people look at it, and we talked about it today this is a business, it’s not a hobby. Too many people treat it as a hobby.

We sat down and spent eight hours today talking about strategy, and plans, and implementation, and execution. Let’s take the top list, because you have so many, you’ve got your hands in so many different cookie jars for projects you’re working on, what’s the common denominators that you’ve seen so far? Where people can find an opportunity, leverage it, maximize the return on it?

Danny Griffin:                  Oh my gosh, this is about small business, it’s about the passion to help small business people. The person that doesn’t want to sell themselves to corporate America. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re wired to be in corporate America, like I was I started in finance. You can find a fabulous living in there, in a setting like that. Fabulous, go for it, because that’s what you love to do.

Unfortunately, nobody told me this, but when I was up there locked away, I felt that way. It’s about that, and Gerber says this best in his book. It’s about that, almost, entrepreneurial seizure moment, where you’re like, “I’ve got to get out of here!”

Dean Miller:                     I heard that line in my head twice today, as we were going through stuff.

Danny Griffin:                  Because it is not about real estate, and if it becomes about real estate first, in fact, that’s the problem. You start talking about technique and tactic. What’s the best lead generation system? What do I say on this postcard? That’s what’s killing small business, is that people rush right to, “Well, how do I do the thing?” In Gerber’s book, “How do I make the pies?”

Dean Miller:                     Because people want something to touch, and see, and feel. A business plan is not something that most people are willing to look at, let alone touch, see, feel, and evolve.

Danny Griffin:                  Do you want to go grab a business plan and hug it, right? Nobody does. But everybody needs one.

Dean Miller:                     I think the true sick, twisted entrepreneur does, and ultimately many of us fight it.

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah.

Dean Miller:                     There was a point in the beginning where I realized that I was no longer just a salesperson, that I was running a business.Where I would sit down and I would work on my business plan twice a year, religiously. Then, there was a gap, where all of a sudden I stopped doing it. I looked and I said, “Holy shit, I’m doing well, but I’m doing it in spite of myself.” I started to have struggles, because I never went and reevaluated it. That’s a practice that I think more people need to do on a regular basis.


Small Business Isn’t Any Different From A Big One

Danny Griffin:                  Let’s go there, for a second, even though it’s a difficult situation, as you experienced. If you don’t go out and buy a franchise, you start guessing, from day one, based on your perception of how you think it works. There, in lies the biggest dilemma and problem for any kind of small business, that’s a “Mom and Pop” at the start, a non-franchise. You’re not plugging into something that’s already been figured out. That’s a mega problem.

So, when I got into this business, I’m coming out of investment banking, venture capital. We’re looking at all these businesses that are already established with plans. You know, and especially on the VC side of it, you know it if somebody has a plan or not, and you go looking at what they did, and you make a determination whether to stroke a big check to them or not, based on their plan. You judge them based on that. So many of them didn’t have one. So many of them had an idea, and they were trying to build off of that idea.

I think that’s the major problem with trying to bring … Right now, as we’re doing this podcast, there’s IPOs being canceled. There’s IPOs going backwards, because we have these companies that have these great changing ideas. Changing Uber, changing the way that people get a ride, but getting killed from a profit standpoint. You know what I was taught in venture capital? If they don’t know how to make money from day one, we don’t do it. We don’t do it.

That was what I was taught in 1991, that was the feeling of this company. That we’re going to go with people, because if they learn how to lose money, how do they ever get out of that trap?

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  Right? So, that comes back to, and what I meant by that business plan, I would love every small business person to be able to hit Google and find a small business plan for the business that they so desire to be in, there would be guidance.

What I’m recognizing, as we had our model up there for real estate, why does it have to be real estate? Do you not need a strategic business vision for a restaurant?

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  Or, a real estate company? Do you not need to know what it takes to be the right kind of leader? Do you not need to know what marketing leads to possibilities for converting clients, and keeping them, and closing them per se, over and over, and over? Even if it’s a restaurant, I close you out, you pay the bill. Hopefully you come back, and you repeat.

Dean Miller:                     Exactly.

Danny Griffin:                  It’s the same thing.

Dean Miller:                     That’s it, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

Danny Griffin:                  You got it! It’s the same. So, why is any small business really that different? It’s not.

Dean Miller:                     There’s too many entrepreneurs, and I’m guilty of it in the past, we always feel that there’s a better way that we can recreate the wheel. You referenced Michel Gerber and his book, The E-Myth, which is still, to this day, one of the greatest business reads I’ve ever looked at.

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah.

Dean Miller:                     I go through all of his books. Every couple years, I reread them. That whole entrepreneurial seizure thing really is a fascinating thing, once you understand it, to actually watch happen from other people.

Danny Griffin:                  Then, when you have that moment, you’re inspired to go start.

Dean Miller:                     Right.


But Where Is The Guidance?

Danny Griffin:                  The problem is, where’s the guidance? You can even go to Gerber, and you can get this concept of checklists, and modules.

Dean Miller:                     You’ve still got to do it.

Danny Griffin:                  I still go back to that quote that I heard from Nido Qubein at a conference one time, “Find somebody who has already put the right information in the right order. At least start by copying that.” Well, the problem is we have this creative insecurity. I don’t want to copy somebody, I want it to be me. I want this to be an expression of my ideas.

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  Well, wonderful. That’s the icing on the cake, but the cake is still built the same way.


Being Unique Vs. Being Profitable

Dean Miller:                     Is it more important to be unique, or is it more important to be profitable, at the end of the day? There’s a balance for people. Some people, it is more important to be unique.

Danny Griffin:                  I think you can have both, but I think it’s the … Again, here we go. What’s the right order? The right order is, is there anybody out there that already does what I would like to do? I’m not saying I’m going to copy them exactly, but do they have a strategy, a strategic plan in place, that if I just sat in their restaurant, if I just talked to them about their business, would they reveal to me a modular, linear assembly line-like process that leads to a result? Right? That’s all I’m looking for.

Dean Miller:                     I think that’s why we actually had success in the restaurant for the couple years that we did run it, was because we looked at it from front line to back, and everything in between. It’s funny, when you’re in business like that, when your hands are literally on everything all day, every day, whereas in real estate, you know, we’re not in the mud every day. We’re not building the house, we’re not putting the plumbing in. When you go to a restaurant and you look at it and say, it’s so much easier to see where the problems are, and where the breakdowns are, and where you can adjust. Whereas, when you look at a business, which is more, not hospitality, but service driven –

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah.

Dean Miller:                     – where there’s so many little things that we fail to pay attention to, because you don’t see it every day.

Dean Miller:                     We talk about your infographic, with the business model in an infographic form. You look at all those different modules and you say, “All right, I’ve got to immerse myself in this one, and this one, and this one, and this one.” Whereas, with a restaurant, you’ll mop the floor from the back to the front.You load the refrigerator from back to front.

Danny Griffin:                  But, those are the technical details of what is essentially the same thing. Let me make a comparison between these two businesses. If I walk into, which I did, into your restaurant and others, I could sit there, get up above it, and say, “What does his assembly line look like?”

Dean Miller:                     Exactly.

Danny Griffin:                  From the very beginning of how does he get the people through the door, to how does he create a happy past client who pays the bill and says, “That was a fantastic experience, I will repeat and refer.” There’s zero difference in that global, strategic, above the assembly line concept, from real estate to restaurants.

Now, you’re talking about technical and tactical implementation of things. Okay, because we’ve talked about this many times. When you looked at the buildings across the street, you tried to identify your ideal client for your product. Who could I speak to that I could market? What was the media? We talk about that right here!

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  How do I find somebody who is the right person to sell their house inside of this area? It’s no different. The restaurant down the street that we can look out the window today and see, versus you sending that postcard to that same household, for just a different service.

Dean Miller:                     That’s it.

Danny Griffin:                  I’ll feed you, I’ll sell your house. Identical media choices, and identical process for trying to identify ideal avatar, there is no difference. That is a universal, immutable principle for marketing to bring in people that you don’t know. Which, if you can’t do, you’ve got a serious problem.

Dean Miller:                     You’re done.

Danny Griffin:                  Right.


My Journey From Corporate World Into Real Estate

Dean Miller:                     Let me take a little step back.

Danny Griffin:                  Sure.

Dean Miller:                     What triggered your move from the corporate world into real estate?

Danny Griffin:                  Oh my gosh, I just had no idea what unemployable meant. I mean, really, it was … Stephen Pressfield has a fabulous book that I heard on a Joe Rogan podcast, he referenced it. It’s called, The War of Art. He’s just a very pithy guy, and the way it’s written is just really entertaining. It really speaks to something.

Danny Griffin:                  I have five kids, as you know.

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  I have encouraged every one of them to not dumb their creative side down.

Dean Miller:                     I love that.

Danny Griffin:                  Everyone of them. What is it that you want to be? Creativity can be expressed in business, through entrepreneurialism. I have an actress working here today with Cory. I have a daughter who wants to be in photography, videography. Even my hockey player, is he thinking creatively on the ice or is he trying to fit in?

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  My student, the twin boys after the three girls, my student. Is he being creative, is he getting into other things to see how academics fits into this all?This war on us is that you’re supposed to go get this job, you’re supposed to go to Harvard Business School, Danny. You’re supposed to fit in. All of a sudden, one day I’m having, forget about seizures, how about panic attacks?

I’m just like … I didn’t know what it was, other than the war on my creative. My creative was under assault, I couldn’t express myself fully. My ideas, which I was dying to express, and I loved business. I still love talking about finance and all that.

There was no creative expression, and I had this unbelievable desire to serve individual people, I don’t know why. I have a brand on me when I was born, be a person for others.

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  Give, and give, and give, and give. But, in a business context, too.

Dean Miller:                     Of course.

Danny Griffin:                  I want that fulfillment, and I just couldn’t express it. I had no other choice but to walk out the door.

Dean Miller:                     That’s funny. You used the word that triggered with me. The last time I was up here in Boston with you, which was probably six years ago –

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah.

Dean Miller:                     – when we talked about fulfillment.

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah.

Dean Miller:                     It’s always been one of the things that drives me. I’m proud to say … People bust my chops about it all the time, but I’m very proud to say I don’t get out of bed in the morning to make a dollar, I get out of bed in the morning to make a difference.

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah.

Dean Miller:                     That’s what fulfills me.

Danny Griffin:                  For sure.

Dean Miller:                     When I need to make money, the dollars will find me if I do the right thing. It’s like Zig Ziggler said, “You help enough people get in life what they want, what you want will come to you.”

Danny Griffin:                  There’s no doubt.

Dean Miller:                     I truly believe that.

Danny Griffin:                  Because it works! You don’t even have to believe it, I you do it long enough at something you love, you can begin to see it.

Danny Griffin:                  Now, the only business problem is, how do you monetize it?

Dean Miller:                     Well, that’s –

Danny Griffin:                  Unless you’re independently wealthy, it’s not a charity.

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  You can’t just keep saying that to yourself without figuring, how does this have monetary value so I can make a living doing it?

Dean Miller:                     When you go in with that servant leadership mentality, to serve people. Listen, anybody who gets out of bed in the morning to go to work, not expecting to get paid and compensated for what they do? They’re a liar if they’re going to tell you that’s the reality.

Danny Griffin:                  Sure.

Dean Miller:                     But, you have that mindset. That’s what I love about a lot of what you do. One of the things that I found unique about you, as a “real estate coach” is that you’re very much into the head stuff. We’ve studied Maxwell Molts, and psycho cybernetics.

Danny Griffin:                  Going there tomorrow.

Dean Miller:                     Yeah. I love it.


David Goggins’ Story & Meeting Michael Gerber

Danny Griffin:                  You go listen to David Goggins tell his story, and you listen –

Dean Miller:                     It’s incredible.

Danny Griffin:                  But, what’s amazing about it, as much as what he did is incredible, it’s more important to recognize that he made a simple distinction. Your animal brain is shutting you down at 40%, shutting you down. It is the enemy, because it’s meant to just get enough, and stop. Yet, you’ve got this subconscious, this creative, this thing that wants to grow and be heard, and expressed, that says, “That’s not enough.” There’s this incredible conflict.

Danny Griffin:                  So, if you don’t deal with the head stuff, you don’t know how to break through it. Now, Goggins’ thing was brute force.

Dean Miller:                     Right.

Danny Griffin:                  “I will break myself,” he says, “Into a fine powder by becoming an ultra-marathon, a Navy Seal, going to these dark chambers.”Okay, that’s pretty dramatic, and I love it. It pulls me, like when I workout or whatever, but I’m not going to become a Navy Seal at 53 years old.

Dean Miller:                     Right. No, that’s not happening.

Danny Griffin:                  I have a long way to go!

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  What do you do, what do you take from that? You understand that, everything in your business right now is an expression of the way that you see the world. You see the world, and you make choices to build your business based on what you know. Now, Michael Gerber, when I met him, slapped me over the side of the head with a message. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  When I met him face to face, after building the model around his book. He was a ripe 80, and he’s feisty. “You don’t know what you don’t know.” I walked out of there disturbed, in a good way, to say you must always be asking yourself if you’re doing the right things. Well how do I know if I’m doing the right things? Go outside and study a successful Mom-and-Pop restaurant, a successful Mom-and-Pop team, successful Mom-and-Pop brokerage. Or, go to the big dogs and say, how did the big dogs start?

Dean Miller:                     Right.

Danny Griffin:                  What, do you think they didn’t start as Mom-and-Pops? They just got through something, the early founders got through something that the rest of us aren’t. It’s a mindset sticking point. Again, I’ll say this. Every small business, success or failure, is a direct result of the way that person thinks. And their ability to elevate, and evolve. So, if you don’t deal with that, where are you at?

I mean, look, Tony Robbins has made a pretty good living off of challenging that alone. Now, some people will knock those people as gurus. Well, wait a minute. Isn’t the most important thing we have our mind? That’s the one thing that we have, that we can exercise, control, work on. If you don’t deal with that in small business, I’m not so sure how you ever get anywhere.

Dean Miller:                     If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is part of why I love spending time with Danny, because I really don’t have to say much. I just stoke the fire, and boom! It’s like an oil tanker blows up.


The Harder You Beat, The Simpler It Is

Danny Griffin:                  You’re sitting here talking to me after a full day of a conference. That’s why I said, talk to me at the end, when I’m on fire.

Dean Miller:                     You’re right. I don’t think it’s the coffee, I think it’s just natural for you.

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah. Well, it’s exciting to figure out things, to be able to share it on your podcast. To say, look, I think this is simple. The harder you work, the simpler it gets. I’m in pretty good company, when you think of Einstein saying, “Make it simple, but not too simple.”

Dean Miller:                     Right.

Danny Griffin:                  That’s what I’m discovering. Oh my gosh, the harder I beat on this thing, the simpler it is.When we talked about marketing today, I’m tuned into, market, where are they? Who are they? Message, what do you say to them? Buyer, seller, or agent, in our context. What medium is the best? Postcards, digital.

Dean Miller:                     At that moment, for that group, exactly.

Danny Griffin:                  Done. Most people never go to that.When people freak out about the word plan, there’s your marketing plan basis. How about conversion? Marketing and conversion are the two biggest things in most businesses, especially service. When they’re a lead, what are you doing to convert them to a prospect, where they’re interested in you and your offer? What are you doing from there to make the next offer, to turn them into a client? Three things.

You really have six foundational pieces in most businesses. The foundational pieces of marketing, the foundational pieces of conversion. Even in the restaurant.

Dean Miller:                     Right.

Danny Griffin:                  The menu is on the wall. How do I convert them to come in? They’re a lead outside on the street, they become a prospect when they start to talk to the Maitre’D. Now, they come in and sit down, they’re a client. If I give them that experience, the best thing that can happen to me is they end up a happy past client, who repeats and refers.

Dean Miller:                     That’s it.

Danny Griffin:                  Same business.

Dean Miller:                     Rinse and repeat, over and over again.

Danny Griffin:                  But, it’s the same business.

Dean Miller:                     That’s why I tell people, don’t poo-poo this because we talk real estate more often than not.

Danny Griffin:                  Right.


Growing In The Booze Business Like Gary Vaynerchuk

Dean Miller:                     Because we’re talking business, and I’ve learned more … I mean, you saw part of my journey, going into the restaurant world. I took my real estate and database, and service knowledge, and put it into the hospitality industry.

Danny Griffin:                  Right.

Dean Miller:                     That lit a fire under my ass, because now … When we were going through a re-branding of our real estate company, I actually toyed with the name hospitality to be involved in the name. It didn’t pan out the way that I wanted it to, but really that’s the drive. I think every business is like that. Any successful company may or may not acknowledge the word, but hospitality is what leads to the success or failure of almost any business, and any company out there.

Danny Griffin:                  Dean, Dean, I grew up in the booze business like Vaynerchuk.

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  Only I’m 10 years older than him, I didn’t even know what the Internet was –

Dean Miller:                     Yeah.

Danny Griffin:                  – when I was growing up in that business. When I left corporate, the first thing is I went back to that. Everything was the same. Who was my market that I liked better?

I had … My father was in, down in the Cape, that’s where he went to convalesce. I walk in, there’s 12 bottles of wine. Like Vaynerchuk, I get into wine, and by the end I’ve got all these varietals, and I’ve got a delivery business of wine within four or five years. The company’s gone from, I don’t know, $750 to $2.5 million worth. Gary probably alludes to this a lot with his wine experience, the rules are so archaic, especially in Massachusetts. You couldn’t ship, you couldn’t do this. It was a little bit early, I wasn’t learning enough. The laptop was sort of a thing.

Dean Miller:                     Right.

Danny Griffin:                  But it wasn’t really.

Dean Miller:                     Well, it weighed 150 pounds, too, at the time.

Danny Griffin:                  I wasn’t a coding geek, it meant nothing to me. My hustle was in hospitality on the floor. Then, to take it outside the brick walls. I mean, I learned these systems. You want to get a kick out of this? I would have people come in, that I would be selling their booze to and they’re saying, “Man, this is the only place that sent me a Christmas card, my liquor store.”

Because I got this, way back then. No matter what the business was, the principles of creating a happy client were the same. Then, letting that client know how much you appreciated them caused that repeat and referral.

Dean Miller:                     Right.

Danny Griffin:                  Here’s the booze business, here’s the restaurant business, here’s the real estate, principles are the same.

Dean Miller:                     Price tag’s bigger, the purchase frequency is a lot less often, but you’ve still got to do it the same way.

Danny Griffin:                  Yeah.


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