Taco Tuesday is an unofficial weekly celebration of alliteration and food across the country. However, this week at Mainstreet, Taco Tuesday came with a proverbial bonus. Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® Young Professionals Network (YPN) invited and hosted current Illinois REALTORS® Treasurer Nominee Tommy Choi. If you did not sign up for this event you missed an opportunity to hear someone who built his name from the ground up tell the story behind his now nationwide brand.
Tommy’s primary source of strength and inspiration? A local dry-cleaning business and its owner.
He was the keynote speaker for the YPN event dubbed “Wanna Taco Bout’ It?” and shared his childhood roots, career journey and most importantly three keys to success.
For the first key to success, he explained to the attendees who and what you surround yourself with are paramount for continued success. Tommy cited an example he learned from the dry cleaners he frequented down the street from his apartment as a young real estate professional. He carefully laid out the model for success he witnessed. “First, she found a mentor to teach her the machinery and logistics. Then when she was ready, she found a second mentor to teach her customer service. Finally, she found a third mentor to teach her the books, how to track her profit and losses.” Her new business owner toolkit now included tools, timing, communication, finance. As far as a foundation goes, that catalog of knowledge is a strong basis for any industry.
The second key to success is opening doors for others. The metaphor is also a suggestion for everyday life, to open doors for people who may have their hands full. It costs nothing to be kind to each other. Tommy was also employing the metaphor that because the dry-cleaning business continued to adapt and change, the person managing the storefront did the same. When discounted dry cleaners popped up as competition or big technology wanted to buy out the smaller shops in his neighborhood, the dry cleaner Tommy went to stayed open. The owner of the dry cleaners could have adopted the complaint route, reflexively refusing to be flexible. Instead, she learned how to use debit cards instead of checks and used customer-facing hospitality instead of cheaper services. The metaphor “open doors for people” is a call to action for anyone in the business of helping others. Making client transactions easier while maintaining a high level of customer service is why this dry-cleaning service stayed in business. Conversely, it explains why others around her closed their doors.
The last key to success Tommy shared is getting punched in the face (not literally). Tommy was explaining to the attendees that watching the dry-cleaning business he frequented adapt and change was a testament to the owner’s grit. People in every industry including real estate, encounter feeling fear. Rising interest rates, lack of inventory and the threat of a recession are all challenges a REALTOR® may face. The difference between triumph and defeat is the choice to rise to the challenge rather than bow to it. Tommy used examples like the late Mr. Nelson Mandela or Chicago Bulls basketball legend Mr. Michael “Air” Jordan to emphasize his points. Both great men faced repeated adversity and continually chose bravery over surrendering. Tommy finished his third step for success with the following quote: “Convenience is built through inconvenience.”
In case it was unclear the owner of the dry cleaners in Tommy’s presentation is his own mother. He watched her build a business from scratch and encounter problem after problem in the process. Her response to these trials is the essence of all three steps to success. With each new problem Mrs. Choi willed a new solution. She chose to find ways to push forward rather than succumb to the obstacles in front of her. The same fortitude was passed on to Tommy as seen in his enormous professional and personal successes as a REALTOR®, homeowner, Illinois REALTORS® Treasurer nominee, husband and of course proud father.
In case you missed this YPN event, fear not because another YPN event later this year will be coming to a Mainstreet location near you. Want to know more? Click here to view our course and event calendar and stay up to date on all Mainstreet classes and events.