With the wide range of career paths available to real estate professionals, each agent has a different story to tell. In this series, we bring you the stories of successful individuals who’ve taken their real estate careers in various directions. We sat down with each of them to talk about how they got started in the industry and the twists and turns they’ve taken along the way. Keep reading to learn about Blair Myers and his individual path to success. Plus, find out what insights and advice he has to offer new agents.
Blair Myers, of Exit Success Realty (Macon, Georgia), is not just a broker: he’s a breaker—of rules. Myers glories in his larger-than-life, unconventional personality; he uses his style as a marketing tool. You can’t help noticing him, and that’s just the way he likes it. Central Georgia is his real estate market, and he got to his position as that market’s perennial number-one performer by his own route—which often goes far off the beaten path.
Blair Myers is full of advice for the real estate agent who’s just starting out, and much of that advice contradicts what you’d hear from other successful brokers. Clearly, his methods work for him. In The Wall Street Journal and REAL Trends’ 10th annual “The Thousand” list of top real estate agents and teams, Myers was ranked No. 6 for units sold, among more than 1.1 million licensed real estate agents in the United States. Plus, Myers’s name and persona are inescapable in the greater Macon area. His signs are everywhere. You’ll drive past at least one car with his logo on it more days than not. And Blair Myers dolls, cosmetics, and other merchandise keep him constantly in the public view.
In most ways, Myers’s methods are in keeping with standard best practices—but his style and execution are all his own, and might work for other agents in other markets. Above all, Myers stresses teamwork—but in an independent setting. The Blair Myers Team is synergistic, but always self-reliant.
Q: I understand that when you were a kid, you used to go to open houses and “show” them, to whomever happened to drop in. How did you develop such enthusiasm, so early?
A: I loved Legos, and I built Lego neighborhoods in the dirt under the deck of my childhood home. I would pull the Home Hunter magazine out of the Sunday paper, and I’d watch a local brokerage’s Sunday real estate home tours on TV, and see agents doing open houses in the neighborhood. I was entranced with the idea of combining houses with a people-focused sales business.
Q: What were some courses you took in college to prepare you for your career—or did you study other subjects, and treat real estate as a separate matter?
A: I didn’t study real estate, marketing, or business, at all. I had a strong interest in social welfare, and studied sociology and anthropology. My end goal was to become a social worker. I did an internship in that field, but I left the work depressed every day, so I decided to refocus.
My father told me, on the lawn of the University right after my graduation ceremony, that I needed to look into real estate sales. The idea of no benefits and no salary frightened me, but Dad said I could move home till I got up and going in the business. I always thought I would move to a larger city, but I’ve been licensed 12 years here and have been the number one agent in the market for half those years, so I’ve made the Macon area my home.
Most people in the real estate sales industry don’t have real estate-related degrees. The majority find themselves in this field as a second career.
Q: How did you develop your marketing approach? Did you have a mentor or did you think it up yourself?
A: I never had a mentor. Now I run a separate coaching business where I mentor other agents. The site is LikeABlair.com. I want to be the light at the end of your tunnel, the person who believes in you, since I didn’t have that.
My marketing approach developed out of a reflection that I’m a unique person, especially in Middle Georgia. What I was told, early on in the business, mirrored what I had been told when I was in school: assimilate, be like everyone else so you don’t stick out so much. I decided to do the exact opposite in my business model and branding. I reviewed everything that made me unique and created a brand based on those things.
I joke that people have talked about me since I popped out of the womb with a bag of Skittles tasting the rainbow—so why not take everything that people naturally talk about, in reference to me, and capitalize on it? If I’m already relevant to people in some ways, I may as well take advantage of that and build a brand around it—because they’re doing half the work for me by just talking!
Before I came on the scene, there were no real estate agents out here who were young, blond, six feet tall, gay, and built like a female runway fashion model. Imagine that! Since those things made me stand out I decided to take advantage. Now I train agents on how to brand themselves in their own unique ways.
Q: Much of your self-promotion comes from merchandise that plays on your personal style, correct?
A: Most of the “swag” that I offer—the Blair-related merchandise—developed as an offshoot of something about me. I have dry lips year-round and I found this balm I loved. So I contacted the manufacturer and asked them if they could re-package. They did, and thus Blair Balm was born. The Blair dolls developed from people saying I looked like a model—a doll—and some people wanting a physical manifestation of that. The CareBlairBear was something I thought of as sort of an ambassador for the philanthropic work my team is involved in. When others were interested in aspects of me personally—like my fashion, fitness, clothes, and diet—I saw the potential benefit of what became AllBlair.com, which focuses on those aspects of me and my life. Others wanted me to coach them, so LikeABlair.com was born as a blog focused on business and mentorship.
Q: Is this use of merchandise, and heavy name display, an approach that can work for anyone, or do you have to have the right personality to pull it off?
A: Branding is key to success in today’s market, and an independent business model is vital for long-term success in real estate sales. There are loads of agents in any market, and how do most buyers choose their agent? Because they like them. They’re drawn to them, for any number of reasons. Sellers are more likely to choose someone with a successful track record of sales, but they still want to like you. I put money into branding to drive customers to me organically, rather than putting money into branding Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com. When you brand yourself, you create inherent value that cannot be taken from you because it is you.
Q: So do you not think highly of syndication and lead generation sites?
A: When you pay into those sites, you create value for them, and develop a dependent business model. I don’t expect to capture every potential buyer or seller because I’m number one in the area, or because I have Blair dolls, or because I’m a fashionable style curator. But I want every opportunity to be relevant to every prospective buyer or seller, so I want to appeal to them on as many levels as possible, and I have fun while I’m at it.
Some people choose me because I’m number one, and some people tell me it was because I’m gorgeous. Not that you should choose your real estate agent based on their looks, but if that’s what you’re basing your decision on, I want to be the one you choose! Brand yourself like any successful company does. Think of an iconic brand like Nike.
Q: Do you have certain specialties or niches, or are you known as a generalist?
A: When I first got in the business I was told to find my niche. Worst advice ever! Do not find your niche unless you want to become extinct when the business goes into a down cycle—and it will. Remember the great recession? My niche then was listing new construction builders—and they were going belly-up faster than I could put a “price reduced” rider on the signs. Do everything! Learn it all! My business model covers every aspect of residential and land/commercial real estate. There’s never a bad month, because if one part of the business is not doing so well, another part is. People always need to buy and sell real estate. The key is to position yourself as the source to help them, regardless of what market conditions are.
Q: What qualities do you look for in a team member? What would you ask me, if I told you I wanted to be an agent and work for your team?
A: It takes initiative, not entitlement. You have to be willing to start at the bottom and work up. Show gratitude and be willing to say “thank you.” Be willing to not only receive from me and the team, but also give back—because this group, like any other, is interdependent.
Q: Is this a profession where you can start small, part-time, and work your way into making a career of it, or do you have to make an all-out commitment from the start?
A: Part-timers are one of the biggest problems in our industry. It’s up to us to police our industry, and that means brokers must set the standard for whom they will take on as an agent. Most companies will take any agent who has any potential to sell real estate. Many agents are part-time even if they don’t work another job. They don’t focus fully, completely on their work by educating themselves daily, holding themselves accountable regularly, making sure they’re up to speed on all current issues, training within the industry through continuing education classes, working at least eight hours a day. I’ve never seen a part-time agent provide the service their clients deserve. That’s dangerous for our industry. Brokers should allow only full-time, fully committed agents to be a part of this business.
Q: How do you see the brokerage business evolving?
A: We’ll see a growth of the personal branding of agents, which is key to creating long-term organic lead generation and value associated with you and your brand. Branding creates a business based on you, with an inherent value that no one can take from you except for you. If you depend on corporate referrals (for which you pay high fees), or syndication sites, you have a dependent business model that has no value beyond exactly those things. If those things go away, so do you. All of my retail business comes from the power of my brand. I list and sell more than anyone else in the region, and people say “I see your signs everywhere. I can’t get away from your name—driving by me on the side of cars, in the newspaper, on TV.”
Every house I list is a lead I get off incoming business, without me having to go out and get it. Some of the sellers I list, I never meet in person. They email or call in, and they’ll say they heard of me, saw something about me somewhere, etc. and they say I’m the best in the business so whom else would they reach out to? That’s what I want: an independent, self-generating business model that creates all the business I can handle. That’s what all agents should work towards.
One great advantage of a real estate career is that it gives you the freedom to choose your own path and take your career in the direction that’s right for you—at your own pace and on your own terms. Stay tuned for more blog posts featuring successful real estate professionals, including info on how they got started, where they are now, and where they’re headed.
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About the author
Joseph Dobrian has been writing about commercial and residential real estate, and real estate-related finance, for more than 30 years. His by-line has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Real Estate Forum, Journal of Property Management, and many other publications. He is also a noted novelist, essayist, and translator. His website is www.josephdobrian.com, and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.