Interview With Top US Real Estate Realtor – Karen Briscoe


Karen is an entrepreneur, a speaker, author and associate broker in Virginia. She is the genius behind the 5-minute success concept. She is a very well known real estate agent.

She hosts 5-minute success podcasts weekly and has completed the John team certification program for training, speaking and coaching.

She is also a contributing author to real estate media outlets, Real Trends and INMAN. Karen, in addition to owning the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group (HBC).

“The Wall Street Journal” recognized the HBC group among the top 250 realtor teams in the United States, and it is considered a multi-million-dollar real estate business.

At the start of her career, she used to develop residential lots with the Trammell Crow Company in Texas and Dallas.

She has authored “Real Estate Success in 5 minutes a day” and “Secrets of Top Selling Agents: The Keys To Real Estate Success Revealed.”

Let’s glean her two cents on achieving productivity, without any further delay:

Question No 1: What’s the ideology behind the “5 minutes success”? Who else shares the limelight with you? Would you like to mention their names and contributions?

Karen: The ideology behind 5 Minutes Success is information and inspiration that transforms businesses and lives. So many books they are full of a lot of great information in what I call in a linear fashion. Chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3.

Many people find that they do not have time to invest in their personal business development by reading books even though that has been proven to be one of the keys to success, achieving at high levels in business and life.

And so, I was like “Well, do have 5 minutes a day?” and everybody pretty much said that they did have 5 minutes a day.

So I was like if it was set up so that you would read one story a day one entry a day, in a daily reader fashion and then have a take away to put it into action because that is the key aspect.

Learning and reading is only valuable if it is actually put into place because actually reading or seminar training or learning that is not put in the place is, in a fact, education without implementation is entertainment.

So, the concept is like what I call peanut butter and chocolate goes together to make a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, it’s even better. And Hal Elrod, Miracle Morning, has endorsed the book “Real Estate Success in Five minutes a day” as part of the Miracle Morning program which is if you start your day right then the rest of the day tends to follow suit.

So the idea is to invest in yourself, in your own personal and business development and then the everything else will be better in your life.

So Hal one of the contributors in the sense that he was the inspiration for me to create the time, to carve out the time to invest in myself and my dreams by using a morning routine and a morning routine for a Miracle Morning consist of what is known as SAVERS.

So the acronym SAVERS helps people who follow the morning routine to remember. So, S stands for Silence/meditation, A: Affirmations, V: Visualization, E: Exercise, R: Reading and that’s where the “Real Estate Success in 5 Minutes a Day” comes into place and S for subscribing or journaling.

Question No 2: You believe that most people in the world like us were the ones who brought upon change. What are the key skills which lead to such impactful change?

Karen: Habits!. Habits are sustainable, wwillpower actually has been, studies have shown, is a finite commodity.

And people do not decide their futures they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures. F.M. Alexander said that.

So my own self as an example for many years I had claimed I did not have enough time to write a book even though many people had encouraged me to write a book said that I had the voice that people would want to hear and I used the lament that I didn’t have enough time and that was when I had a couple of AHAs and a couple of epiphanies.

Related: 10 Principles of Change Management By Project Managers

One was that the only person stopping me from writing my book was me, in the sense that I have control over my own time.

And so by saying I didn’t have enough time I was in fact stopping myself from achieving my dreams.

So then I set about figuring out how to create or carve out the time to fulfill my dreams and that is where the Miracle Morning came into place.

Setting up the morning ritual and I’m already hearing people saying, I am not a morning person and I am not a morning person either.

It is not a matter of being a morning person it’s a matter of investing in yourself first and putting your own personal development prior to starting the day.

So that day could be whenever your day starts, but the idea is to invest in yourself.

And so the other inspiration that came to me was by Gretchen Rubin and she wrote The Happiness Project, where she interviewed people and did a lot of research on what would people say would make them happy and many times people claimed that if something happens, this happen, if I wrote a book then I’d be happy and she’s like, “Well, why don’t you write a book or why don’t you do the things that you say and many people were found that they didn’t have the systems in placed or the habits in placed in order to be able to do what they say they want to do. So, she then wrote a book called “Better than Before”. The idea is you want to be better than you were before.

So this book really is a habits book and what are the habits was: If you want to get up earlier and you want that habit in your life then when daylight savings the time rolls around in the fall and only works in the fall, then you effectively your body clock is on that hour earlier so there’s no adjustment to sleep cycle to use that hour and that’s what I did.

This was in 2015 October and I used that hour and I made it first, I made it a priority to invest in myself by the morning routine and writing my book.

Question No 3: You have done tremendous work in real estate business. How do you organize business and monitor projects and team performance seamlessly?

Karen: Systems are a lot like habits with people involved in them. So connected habits, if you will. So systems and the processes I find work really well is using checklists.

And I call it checklist empowerment in my book. There is another book that I recommend written by Dr Atul Gawande called “The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right”.

So checklists in systems, technology is like compound interest. It’s a way of leveraging your time and people that you work with or they may not necessarily be employees.

When I was writing my book, I had a publisher and we had an editor and we had design person. There were a lot people a lot of moving parts, if you will.

So coordinating those people, I find that checklist and then checking in on the checklist because the empowerment is to make the checklist the accountability component and then to hold those tasks accountable and that in effect holds the people accountable.
In real estate transactions, we, on our team, sell about 100 homes a year, which is approximately two a week and in the dollar volume it’s about $70 to $80 million a year.

So high-dollar transactions that are people’s lives and they’re probably in many cases their largest financial commitment.

And so it is our obligation, fiduciary responsibility to be on top of all of the details associated with it and there are a lot of people involved.

Even a single sole practitioner still has other people involved. There’re inspectors, and lenders and title and settlement companies. So, everybody has multiple responsibilities.

My daughter is in technology and she also works on projects with several different people on the team and they have to coordinate their activities. So, this is just one example of how to do that.

Question No 4: In terms of being the author of “Real Estate Success in 5 Minutes a day” share the gaps and the chasms prevalent across the real estate business niche.

Karen: I really don’t think this is unique to the real estate business, I think it’s common among sales and entrepreneurs and business owners.

And that is two things. One: people’s intent. Does it necessarily match performance in the sense that they say they intend to do things and then the actions are not in keeping with what their intent was in their promise to their selves, their team members, their clients, their family.

And so people say how do you bridge the gap, how do you mind the gap? As they say in England that the gap between the train and the platform.

How do you mind the gap? And again I believe that habits are key, I think that what happens is people again have good intentions but they rely on their own willpower to meet those intentions.

And habits instead build on themselves like that compound interest that I shared.

Question No 5: How does your team organize and juggle between myriad tasks and projects simultaneously? Which tools do you use to facilitate multitasking? What do you think are the key components of best tools being used in this domain?

Karen: Well, first of all I am going to share my thoughts on multitasking and there has been a lot of research done that it is not actually multitasking, it’s task switching and it comes from the first computers that wanted to be efficient and effective in the way that they processed because computer time was so valuable and so expensive that they had developed the systems so they had this queue, if you will.

So the next one in line and then it would switch off. And that’s what happens when we multitask, coz we’re not actually multitasking.

It really is impossible to do two things effectively at the same time. So it’s better to focus on one and then focus on the next one.

And there’s been a lot of research as well about deep work and creating blocks of time or space in order to be able to do a deep dive.

Now at the same time, it’s like a mother who has more than one child. All the balls are important, all the clients are important.

I have multiple clients, in many cases, it’s upwards of 20 to 30 at any point in time. All in different stages and processes of putting their home on the market or buying the home and having the home going through the process of contract and settlement.

There has to some system for tracking and I am a firm believer that the checklist and the tracking and holding the checklist accountable is key because what can happen without those systems in place is what I call fire and emergencies.

Our niece is an emergency room surgeon and she sees many people come in that are not true emergencies and they should be setting up an appointment to go see a general practitioner or internist and not coming to the emergency room.

And the same with fire drills, they are valuable in the sense that if there is truly a fire. You want all hands on deck and you want everybody focusing and paying attention to put out the fire.

But if it is not truly a fire then all that energy is being expended that could be invested in otherwise in a more effective and efficient manner. So the checklist these systems will put into place to minimize fire drills and emergencies.

Question No 6: Your Write up, “The Keys to Real Estate Success Revealed”, has been a thriving success. Please tell us what you think is the fundamental key to achieving success in business.

Karen: Yes, I thank everybody who has been a part of The Real Estate success in 5 minutes a day’s success and also Commit to Get Leads: 66 Day Challenge as well.

Serial entrepreneurs I feel like or what I’ve discovered are like the song Frank Sinatra – New York New York.

If I can make it there I can make it anywhere. The key fundamentals to success really resonate and are true in many business endeavors.

And the first key is everybody lead generates, it is called commit to get leads for a reason because everybody needs either clients or customers or for example, dentists they need patients or attorneys need clients.

Everybody needs somebody to work with, in order to have something to do, in order to be able to do their profession.

So “Commit to Get leads” is a commitment because many times what happens is people they get busy actually doing their function, what they are being paid to do and then they get distracted with that and it actually is great they should be working in their business or working in their profession but then they lose momentum because then they wake up the next day, week month or year and then they go where is the next business coming in and where is the pipeline because they stop investing and committing to getting leads.

There are systems and processes into place in order to create a steady flow of leads as possible.

Then the next component is what is called consult to sell and that is the actual process.

So the actual process of taking a client/customer, in my case buyer or seller through the actual systems and profession of the transaction of what it is that a professional does.

And the consult-to-sell is very important because without doing that there is no end result of payment and actual doing of the work, if you will. So it is very important.

What often happens, I’ll share the diagram, it is like I said people get stuck in this loop where they get a lead, in this Venn diagram, and then they get it to settlement and then they wake up and they go “Oh, I‘ve nothing to do.

I better go get another lead.” And then they go out and they do business development or prospecting, whatever you want to call it, and then they get back to settlement and then they wake up, have nothing to do.

So then they get started on this hamster wheel or this feedback wheel. There are systems and strategies for creating leverage on a macro and micro level and that is called connect to build and grow and those are what is going to create a sustainable ongoing enterprise and checklists and operations such as TaskQue are great for that because they create systems leverage, technology leverage.

Then there is success thinking activities and vision that is motivation and mindset to sustain success on an ongoing level and that leads to that sweet spot of success which is the combination of all of them that culminates by putting them all into place as you are a professional.

The serial entrepreneurs discover that what, for example, I was successful and I’m still successful in real estate profession.

Now I do have the books, I have the podcasts, training, coaching, speaking and online courses are coming out and so those systems strategies that I learned in order to lead generates and to build a business are actually transferable and that’s why, like Frank Sinatra said, “If I can make it in New York, I can make it anywhere”.

If I can make it in one field I can make it in another and you’ll see that evidence in many serial entrepreneurs.

Question No 6: Being a host of the amazing podcast channel, “5-minute success”, please share one of your best episode experiences to date.

Karen: Several things. One, the book had its first birthday, last August 2017 and wanted a podcast for its birthday.

The idea did though come from the book because the format of those components, I just shared, makes her fantastic podcast.

First of all five-minutes success story of the guest, which everybody loves to hear success stories and journeys.

Five minutes on Commit to get Leads on how this high-achieving professional gets business, prospects and lead generates and then five minutes on consult-to-sell how do you take the person? How do you convert? How do you take the person in the process, the client, the customer?

And then 5 minutes on connect to build and grow. How do you take that out of being just the technician to an ongoing sustainable enterprise? There is a very well-known book by Michael Gerber called “E-Myth Mastery” and the myth is that entrepreneurs go into business for their selves because they are really good at what they do.

The challenge is that they are also the business owners at the same time as they are entrepreneurs.

Actually working on the business as much as they work in the business is how people go on to achieve a great level of success and then the 5 minutes of success thinking activities and vision which leads to the sweet spot of success.

So the podcast, it was most recommended business podcast on Overcast. It achieved a high-level success because I believe that that resonates with the audience.

We call them the successpreneurs. Successprenuers, for one thing, they only have limited amount of time and so knowing that you are going to get in 5 minutes segments in these little components you are going to get a success story, commit to get leads, consul to sell, connect to build and grow, success thinking activities and vision, sweet spot of success in 25 to 30 minutes that is a great run or most people’s commute.

Question one of the best episodes today?

He asked me one of the best episodes today and I would say “Hal Elrod”.

Because he has been so influential and instrumental in my success and in setting me up with this great morning ritual has led to even more success than I ever imagined, so it was the real honor and privilege to have Hal with Miracle Morning on the 5 minutes Success podcast.

Question No 7: You have been a speaker as well on many occasions. Please elucidate on any memorable speaking experience in any event.

Karen: The opportunity was in Pennsylvania. It was actually about a 300-person Mastermind with Keller Williams and the opportunity to present the 5 Minutes Success. It was the aha that I experienced along with the audience and that was when I was sharing about working in the business and working on the business and many people have heard that before that it is not like a new concept but I used an illustration that is the optical illusion that many people know, the young and the old woman.

This optical illusion has many applications. And when I shared it with the audience, I first always ask who sees young woman and people start talking to amongst other and then who sees the old lady.

And the fascinating thing was the conversation amongst the people in the audience they were helping each other see it and that was so powerful and I shared that message and takeaway with the audience and I share it with audiences now.

It was so overwhelming the fact that may be if one person could not see it other people could help you see it.

And I share that with ongoing coaching clients and people that I speak to that is if you do not see something in your business or your life, this is the great opportunity to ask people for their input.

So you can ask your family, you can ask your coworkers, you can ask your friends, you can ask your colleagues.

This is where coaching is very valuable, coaches help people see things they cannot see.

The fascinating thing about this experience and this optical illusion is that it’s there the whole time and that’s is what I share with them it is there the whole time.

What changes is the person’s focus. And what you focus on is what expands. It is like the law of attraction and so when these attendees went through that and experienced it right there in front of me that was the most powerful speaking experience I have had to date.

Question No 8: Keeping your company organized and productive is a tough nut to crack. How are KPIs maintained inside your organization?  How do you gauge the performance of employees?

Karen: Back to the checklist so the beauty of the checklist is that they are so many benefits to a checklist or using a management system either contact relations management system or a system such as TaskQue. These come out of the Checklist Manifesto with Dr. Atul Gawande which I shared already.
One is repeatable processes. The routine ensures clients that they will receive professional and consistent standards in service. This is really important again for creating accountability loops, many times what happens is that the employee’s met with on a quarterly basis or semiannual basis or annual basis and it is challenging at best to actually identify what is working, what isn’t working in such a long time frame.

The checklist will identify pretty quickly if something is being done or it is not being done. It is designed the way I use it, it is not as a stick to inflict on the employee or the staff member even this could be vendors or colleagues.

It is not always staff, it creates a time-oriented specified activity or action that’s going to occur and that everybody is working towards. So that is one of the benefits of the checklist another one is to create efficiency and effectiveness as it increases communication amongst team members.

Everybody is up to speed if they are all working from the same task, program or checklist, if you will.

The one thing that I have heard or I hear many but one complain if you will I hear clients and customers is when a professional has multiple clients, I always say it is like more than one child and you love them all the same yet they all want some different kinds of attention and they want different kinds of responses and many people like had different communication styles and so the more the team members, and again all the other people that come into play, are on the same page and know what is going on then it is less likely that the client or customer is going to say things like, “Well, I told Karen that when I saw her” or “I already sent an email to this person about this.

Why do not you people talk to each other?”, that’s what I hear, “Why don’t you talk to each other? I have already done that or I have already shared that.” So that’s the other beauty of a task system, program, technology whatever means that you chose.

I find that it empowers people, so if we are talking about employees. It empowers them because when the routine aspects are taken care of without having to use extra energy or time then there is more space for actually doing more interesting work and there is less of what I call micromanagement because again the management by objectives is the checklist or the systems.

And this creates the whole idea of checking something off is actually very empowering, people feel they have accomplished something when they know that they have met a one of the objectives in the checklist in a system.

It also frees up to focus on higher level thinking and activities. Again, if you think of many businesses, myself included, the processes are similar, the clients are different, houses are different, situations are different and yet at the same time there is so much of it that is routine.

If those can be managed well then people have more time and energy to deep dive to get into deeper more meaningful work and that is a benefit as well of using these systems.

Question No 9: In a podcast interview session, you mentioned that your father inspired you to become an entrepreneur. What were the key takeaways you picked up from him as an entrepreneur?

Karen: Yes really, he was the serial entrepreneur, predominantly in the restaurant business but he did get into other endeavors.

What are some key components I took away from him?

One of the components of “Real Estate Success in 5 Minutes a Day” is the success thinking activities and vision and it encompasses everything that we do.

Many times people pick one or parts but the power is in using them all. I think about vision as like Wayne Gretzky, the famous hockey player, says that he goes to where the puck is going.

So the entrepreneur is very visionary going out there to where the puck is going, before anybody has gone to the puck yet.

They are out there thinking about new ideas and it often comes with a thought, an innovation, a new inspiration is often like a light bulb going off.

So this thought happens and this vision is created. What has to come in between are the activities because many people think great ideas and many people have amazing visions but the actual putting the two together and making it happen and putting it into play that is truly the mark of the exceptional business person/entrepreneur.

The activities in “Real Estate Success in 5 minutes a day” are the takeaways. It is key to actually get into action and put it into effect. I’ll give you another illustration, there is a book called “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. She also wrote “Eat, Pray and love”, many people remember that because it was a movie.

In the book Big Magic ,she talks about that there are ideas in the universe and those ideas will come to people and if that person does not take advantage of that idea and it’s time has come the market, its place in history, it’s time has come then someone is going to come up with that idea and innovate it, actually put it into action.

I mean there’s lots of stories even like flight, you know there are many people working on flight at the same time all the world over. Right Brothers were and they were the only ones that were trying to figure out how to soar, you know how to take a person to air.

They were the only ones, they are the ones that are known because they actually put it into effect and the world knew about it. So, think about an entrepreneur it’s all the components success thinking, activities and vision.
Question No 10: Being a successful businesswoman yourself, what would you like to recommend to women entrepreneurs?

Karen: Well I have a poster back here and I think you can see it and it of Rosie the Riveter. And it came out in World War II when many women were brought into workforce because of the war effort because many of the men were overseas.

And it says if I can do it, you can too. So that is my inspiration/message that I want to share with women. I was in commercial real estate prior to marrying and have my two children.

My husband’s career made it such that it made the more sense for me to be the person at home. And so I dedicated about 15 years to the raising of our two children and put my career on hold.

I did some you know some part-time work that time but really major until I– my son actually was a senior in high school, getting ready to leave for college and that was I got into full-time real estate, I had been doing it in part-time.

So, I tell people you can start at any time. I think there is a little bit of a, sadly, belief that if you take time off your career or if you change careers or you if start a new endeavor then you miss the boat.

I’m even hearing that right now about people that are doing podcasting and writing books. They’re like, “Oh, there are too many books.” They used to say that actually about the patent office.

In the early 1900s they said all the inventions are never going to be invented, well that is just a limiting belief because like I said if I can do it you can too.

I have found that the second-half of my life is so amazing I even shared on Facebook with a young woman who is just turning 50, I said, “You are about to start the best part.”

So, think empowering beliefs, think what you can do today will improve all your tomorrows. It starts today, do it today and then you can improve your tomorrows.

Question No 11: Real estate business is getting more cut-throat by the day. What nuggets of wisdom can you impart to other real estate agents?

Karen: Yes, it is an industry that is experiencing a lot of interruption and there are a lot of industries experiencing disruption, just think about taxi drivers how they feel about right now Uber and Airbnb and that type of thing.

Well, I actually impart this wisdom really with anybody. To commit to get leads, commit to business development. Those habits people who are rainmakers or lead generators, who generate business and ideas they are always going to be business because the one that can do that there is always going to be demand for and I want to share just a bit about the Commit to get Leads because it is a 66 days challenge.

There are many researches about habit formation, but 66 days really resonates with me because from a book called “The Habit Loop” and the studies that were done.

And that is the first 22 days many times people are evangelists about their new habits. They are inspired to take action think of people who get Peloton bicycles, I mean they are all just on fire and those who want to try new food plan like whole 30 or whatever they are on fire, they are inspired and telling everybody, they are evangelists about it.

Then the next 22 days is often the time of evaluation. People are trying to decide: Do I really want to get up an hour earlier every day? Is this really making an impact? Is doing lead generation everyday really going to help my business.

The last 22 days when you become empowered because you are starting to benefit from the new habits and it also creates a virtual cycle. So, I would say that no matter what business you are in, because I think they are all very competitive. Is podcasting, being an author, I would say they are all very competitive. There’s also a lot of opportunities.

And to commit to it and to put it into practice, in a habit formation so then it is sustainable to achieve that success. And that it is sequential, not simultaneous. So, it is not going to happen all at once but by doing everyday these activities you will achieve a higher level of success.

Question No 12: You have decades of experience under your belt working with a wide array of personalities. Who has been your inspiration so far?

Karen: I find a variety of personalities to very inspiring because one of the reasons why I’m attracted to real estate is that every day is different.

I mean there are some similarities, there’s certain things I do every day. I do business development, lead generation every day and I talk to customers and clients every day. I follow up on emails every day and I meet with my team every day.

But there is so much variety in terms of my clientele and then the people who come to actually to write offers or to be a buyer for the properties I am listing.

Vice versa, with the other side of the transaction there is colleagues that are from all the different– I mean the Washington, DC Metro, North of Virginia and we have people from all over the world and I find it fascinating.

Who has been my inspiration?

I would say my business partner, Sue Huckaby, who I became partners with when I was new in business and then when she passed away in 2008.

I would say it was her inspiration because she is the one that had this amazing openness of possibility of what we can learn from every single person we meet.

We can learn, grow or get better in some way. And so when you look at these chance encounters I have many clients people that I have met through the years that I find to be fascinating because there are many that live a similar lifestyle as I do and have similar backgrounds and there’re very varied, so this has been definitely an inspiration.

Question No 13: Apart from your professional life, what are your hobbies and interests? How much do you believe in perfecting the work-life balance and making the best of your personal space?

Karen: I am an avid bicycle rider not like a racer, but I did take the challenge. My 59th birthday is coming up and I decided to bike one day at my birthday and so I do enjoy biking.

My husband calls it air in my helmet because I do find that when we are working with clients, customers and colleagues in the real estate transactions many people are under a lot of stress.

They are going through a situation that often times in addition to the move, which can also be stressful itself.

In fact, there’s has been countless studies on transitions that can be stressful and most of them are also a combination of buying and selling a house.

For example, a divorce is the major reasons that people sell, death of a family member is another one.

Also positive ones, like diapers, having children, nesting behavior is very strong that also is stressful alright I mean having children and even diamonds getting engaged. We use a lot of Ds.

Not so positive one is debt, when people get in too much debt we saw that into the market shift of 2008, 2009 and 2010, after the run up.

So anyhow, the idea that having things that reenergize myself and I encourage you to do as well. I find that the morning routine starts the day effectively.

But you talked about work-life balance and I feel like work-life balance is one of those things like multitasking, I think it is a little bit of a myth.

I think that for me the objective is not to obtain a balance because to me it is all life. I am like I said it’s task switching and multitasking.

So it’s in a way looking at– there are several ways to look at it, but it’s not like a teeter-totter where you know work is here and so that means family/personal life is here and like that.

It is not like that. It’s more of looking at all of the components of one’s life and seeing where the focus or the energy or attention is going into certain areas because if everything has meaning for myself, my career, profession.

Working to improve and impact people’s lives, that’s the mission of our real estate team that transfers as well into the podcast and the book I am still working to improve and impact people’s lives.

And in my own personal live I have the mission to improve and impact people’s lives everything becomes life and it is not work or life, it’s life.

And then also I encourage people to think of things as seasons. Maybe it is not now, may be there is a season to focus on certain things and then having the opportunity to focus on something else at another time in my life or in your life.

Question No 14: Technological advancements are reshaping the arena of project management. Businesses are implementing various tools for boosting efficiency these days. TaskQue is one such emerging task management software across the market. What are your thoughts on TaskQue?

Karen: I think it is the ultimate Checklist Manifesto. It is empowering to use technology for leverage. It really will free then yourself, your staff, your team members, your colleagues, the other people you are in business with. To enable everybody to achieve their personal success at a higher level because then TaskQue is managing those details, so that then you can put your focus on the other things for success. It is truly the future, I find that the more we embrace the future then the more we can create success in not just my life but your life and others.

And here is to your success in business and life Karen Briscoe, author “Real Estate Success In 5 Minutes a Day” “Commit to Get Leads 66 Day Challenge” and Podcast host, “5 Minute Success”.