Making A Smarter Agent Episode 2 – Paul Zweben


Welcome to Making a Smarter Agent My guest today Paul Zweben Welcome!

Paul Zweben: Hi Edmund Thank you for having me!

Thank you for coming on board this is great to have you here today.

You are chef, you are an agent, you are super-agent, you are consistently, you’re team is consistently in the among the top performing agents and top producers we gonna get to all of that but first why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about yourself you know how you came to be in this crazy business.

Paul Zweben:  Sure, so a lot people know this when I was younger in 7th and 8th grade I took Home Economics in school and I absolutely love cooking and decided that I wanna be a chef and I remembered telling my 4 foot ten grandma that I wanna be a chef and she screamed at me she said you should be a doctor or lawyer and in that point for a quite a long time I’m really put my nose to the ground and learned how to be a great chef and you know and opened about 8 restaurants. Fast Forward, to the tipping point of when I was 42 years old and I had opened a restaurant in Washington DC I was working there 6 days a week and flying back on Sundays to see my wife for couple hours and then passing out and then flying to back the following day and when I walk to it back into the same motel that I checked out the day before on a specific occasion the person that checked me in was the same person that checked me out the day before she goes “didn’t you just check out yesterday”. In that point I realized I can’t do this anymore and so I came home and looked at my wife and I said you know in 20 years I’m gonna be in 60s and still in the food service  business. One night while were we up in our house in the country and I’m sleeping please go to Walmart get a nice big bat come home and take care of me.


This is amazing!

Paul Zweben: I’m sorry..

This is marriage works.

Paul Zweben:  Yes! Yes! So basically you know what she been a broker for about 4 or 5 years she said you’ve been buying and selling real estate since in your 20s you listened every one of my deal on my phone when you’re home one is my business partner and that was it and I said WOW sounds good. And literally the next day I walked in to my restaurant partners told them I was leaving and it would be a year’s worth of gradual you know exiting they laughed at me and they said Oh your restaurant is your life you are not going anywhere and I said No I am leaving and that was that and what’s bring me here so full of 13 years later.

Amazing! And no regrets? That’s the question.

Paul Zweben: I am sorry

No regrets? You were…

Paul Zweben:  No! There are no regrets it is gotten really really hard New York City tour to run a profitable restaurant especially with these crazy you know leases that the commercial owners are charging these restaurants where literally you sign a lease and you’re already behind the eight ball. So no there are no regrets. I work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life in the real estate industry.

Yeah I would say if we could just digress for one second you went from the stressful world of restaurants to the relaxing world of selling real estate. I’m saying that right. I catch them in a smart.

Paul Zweben: I know.

Paul Zweben:  Well and you’re right. Because when I when my wife said to me Do you want to join me. I was like wow this is going to be like a cushy deal you know. Little did I know that you know with three different downturns under my belt it can get pretty stressful.

Sure sure. So. So you went into that I mean but you still have your hands in the restaurant it seems a little bit. I mean you identify as a chef.

Paul Zweben: Yes!

When you said that more than once. That still seems to be a passion of yours.

Paul Zweben: Yes. No I I absolutely love cooking. I love it.

Have you brought anything from your past into the business today that’s allowed you to be so successful? And we’re gonna get to what you’re doing to make the phone ring but in a minute. But have you ever. Was there anything about being in the restaurant business contacts the the proximity that that has helped you sell real estate.

Paul Zweben:  I have definitely done business with people that I’ve met in the restaurant business. Both chefs and customers and past employees. And then you know I think that it’s interesting if you think about it if you if you’re a restaurant and you’re about to do 500 brunches on a Sunday and three of your cooks don’t show up. You can’t go to your five hundred customers and say sorry. Three of my cooks didn’t show up so service is going to be a little slower. They don’t care. And it’s similar in the real estate business.

Our customers don’t care if we are taking your seven year old to a birthday party. They don’t care if they’re in Asia and you’re in the U.S. and they want to talk to you at two o’clock in the afternoon and it’s you know 2:00 o’clock in the morning your time. So it really comes down to whatever it takes and that’s whatever it takes mentality.

You’re making a smarter agent would like to thank its two sponsors.

The first is organized New York Palm Beach which you could see on Instagram at the handle organized Palm Beach. Let’s face it. Organization stinks. It’s tough organized New York Palm Beach Premier organizing company that operates between New York. And Palm Beach County Florida. Go check them out on Instagram and organize Palm Beach also REIGNation. That’s the real estate information group network. Think of it as group therapy for realtors and you know what we need it. It’s part think tank it’s part coaching. It’s all opportunity. Nation that’s REIGNation you can find it on Facebook.

Sure. Fast forwarding now 13 years you’re in the business you know.

Let’s talk a little bit about you know without getting into your too too far into your personal business here by percentage. What does your team make up as far as success in DOUG SOLOMON In other words where do you rank.

Paul Zweben:  I think in 2000 team we were number 21 in the whole firm. And I’m not sure what 2019 is gonna be.You know I’m sure you know this but we have been experiencing a a bumpy market. It is an absolute buyer’s market with a ton of opportunities but you have sellers that are holding on to that old price. So every deal is a pressure cooker. Potentially we get them done. So I don’t know what we’re going to come into this year or 2019.

OK. So but without glossing over that there’s well over 7000 agents within the Solomon so for your group to be number 21 pretty good.

Paul Zweben:  Thank you.

Yeah. No no I didn’t. No sense beating yourself up. Why do you think people like to do business with you.

Paul Zweben:  I think with both my wife and myself and everyone else on our team is what you see is what you get. There’s no there’s no make believe about it. You know when we sell a property in our heads it’s we own the properties so our emotions get a little bit more involved than they should get in a deal. And it’s the same thing when we represent buyers it’s really you know the customer is always coming first. It doesn’t matter what our needs are. And you know just being authentic and that’s really what comes through in our business I mean it’s like really knowing the market and being honest with ourselves and our buyers.That’s why they work with us.

Fantastic. I mean because this podcast is geared towards the working real estate agent. I want to get a little bit into your marketing into a little bit how you’re getting the phone to ring some of the rituals. I know you’re kind of a ritualistic guy as I am. You wake up at a certain time you do a certain set of things. Talk to me first about the volume of activity. How do you actually get people to call you. How do you get people to notice it.In a world where there’s so many different agents

Paul Zweben:  so it’s interesting I was I was interviewing a new agent yesterday who does a lot of business up in Harlem and I told her in the last 13 years that probably made about four. And I said that the number four call call in 13 years. And she was like well how do you how do you get this. And I looked at her and I said there’s a kind of different ways that you know that we generate business from me and my wife being active in both of our children’s schools from being active in different charities from staying in touch with our past clients and agents that we do business with all over the country from our social media and from staying in front of people’s faces.

OK. And can you break it down a little bit you know as far as one time we had a conversation about how successful your spin class has been for you. We’ll get to that in a minute but let’s talk about the kids. I’ve got kids and a lot of people listen to this. We have kids.

How much do you have to point them out in order to get business.

Paul Zweben:  That’s a good question.And it’s pretty funny. I think I pimp out my daughter a little bit more than my son at this point but she’s 7. And if I tell her Let’s do a video she’s going to give me the subject line and I got this. But it’s I think it’s just about you know being part of the community and you know I’m not one of those guys that walks up to you know a set of parents or you know one or two and say hey you know I saw real estate it’s more like you know what’s your kid’s name or are they having fun. Are they in Olivia’s class. And then we sort of end up in the real estate conversation because it really comes down to three things in New York it’s babies real estate and food. So you know I hit pretty much all three of those.

Isn’t that babies real estate and food that’s going to be the primary. If I had to add a fourth I’d probably say travel but then my time to travel and then politics but I try not to talk about those. It’s important that how we need to do a podcast on that.

Tell me about like when you’re actually engaging with parents and do you use a CRM is there any technology or any technique that you say wait a minute I haven’t spoken to Mary Jones in a long time I better give her a call. I mean how do you keep track of all the people to be. So you have to have something right.

Paul Zweben:   Right. Yeah I do these CRM we also you know there are things that we do that are like soft touches. We have a newsletter which is about food and real estate that goes out twelve times a year to about it’s about now about 7000 past clients current clients and agents all over the country. And you know we just touch them and it’s it’s interesting like when we get newsletters from other brokers and there’s like three hundred and fifty five tips for November I’d like to read. And with ours it’s just like a message for me and Carol and a future listing recipe and a glass of wine or a bottle of beer.And it’s very very simple and clean and we get about a 37 percent open rate which is great. Most newsletters get about a 16 or 17 percent open rates were about double if not more like a slow down.

I don’t want to pass that thirty seven percent open rate. How many people are being emailed. This is e-mail of course.

Paul Zweben:  Yeah between six and seven thousand people.

So thirty seven percent you’ve got over two thousand opens. Paul Zweben: 

Correct. Twenty five. That’s. That’s incredible.

Paul Zweben:  Right.

Paul Zweben:  Right. So but. But to answer also I mean I use a CRM I am reminded every day and I go into the CRM to just see because you just never know. You forget things. The other thing is I use Outlook. It’s like there is a woman that e-mailed me last night from Olivia’s preschool who I mean we probably even spoke to her in four years. She said there’s a listening that she’s interested in. There is a contract out on it. And what I did was I just said I’ll speak to you next week early and let you know what the update is and I just basically dragged that email into Outlook for Monday the 11th as a reminder to myself to reach out to her and give her an update. And you know and tried to turn her into an actual customer in some ways.

And she’s been getting these drips do you call them drip email.Yes. Yeah. OK. So you should be that connection to your ongoing marketing effort. No.

Paul Zweben:  Yes yes.

Good good good good. Talk to me a little bit about social media. One of the things that that you have and I’ll give you my outsider’s view is if you allow people journals within and they see nice guy Family Guy something’s very trustworthy about your face. OK. Very trustworthy you look like a trusting guy. Is that deliberate. Is that something that you’re you know sort of post is that’s something you’re trying to strive for I mean it’s true but it’s not deliberate.

Paul Zweben:  I mean it it’s it’s exactly who I am. I mean you know I remember when my wife figured out that if my nostrils flare I’m lying.

So I play this well.

Paul Zweben:  Well I shouldn’t play poker with anybody but it’s you know it’s really it’s just being authentic. And you know yes I’m a family man.I think both of us know that it’s not easy being a parent especially you know with with both girls and boys I have a little bit more difficulty with my son because he’s just a mad man who’s only three. But no it’s just being authentic. I’m not. I’m not pushing that across.

It’s just coming out naturally and talk to me about the channel of the you’re actually firing on. I know that we’ve got Facebook but we’ve got multiple accounts now.

Paul Zweben:  Yes. And so I would say I mean I would say my most successful. Channels are using Facebook and Instagram.One of the fun stories on Facebook. Well it’s a great story but about a year and a half ago I got a private message from a contractor in New York City who’s a friend of mine on Facebook and said Paul I have this 10 million dollar buyer. Are you interested in working with him and of course the answer was Absolutely. And fast forward a year and a half later we closed on a three bedroom at 15 Central Park West for nine point thirty five million dollars which I would say that’s a that’s a success. Social media conversion and then we call back we’ve been money.

Paul Zweben:  Yes. I’ll take it. I’ll take it.

Paul Zweben:  And then the other one that was really fun this year. So every single morning my SO THE NIGHT BEFORE WE when I go to sleep my daughter who’s seven she helps me pick out my suits my ties and my pocket squares. And it’s a really cool thing and hopefully someday when she’s a parent she’ll remember those things as being a little girl with her daddy. But in the morning I took a photo not of my face but just have the suit pocket square in the tie and I guess about five or six or seven months ago I get a call from a guy in California he said you don’t know and you don’t know me. I’m not happy with my current agent. I love your suits on Instagram and I want you to sell my apartment when I want 175 street. And he hired me sight unseen. You know obviously we had a conversation on the phone but he hired me sight unseen to so you know they’re pure terror because in my suitcase and you know many of my suits every day.

I honestly that’s that’s that’s the most remarkable thing I’ve ever heard.

Paul Zweben:  You know it’s it’s awesome. That’s really possible.

That’s really remarkable. So you know you get your suits every day and your daughter picks them out which is great because I honestly think you also have in the summertime I think an annual tradition where you go to a venue named Paul and daughter right.

Paul Zweben:  Yes. Paul’s daughter.

Yes. Paul’s daughter. Okay sorry. Paul’s daughter. Your son along as well.

And that’s not getting out of that but right. It’s kind of funny because now you’ve done this three years now or two.

Paul Zweben:   No I think we’re at like five years now

and I swear to you I’d say to myself I think it’s about time that Paul right that restaurant you would think because they could do a comparison about how much this again all this is great it makes you feel and I love that.Right. How many legal media channels I think you’ve got tell everybody again. We want people. I want you to get some followers here. What are your your channels.What are the names.

Paul Zweben:   OK so. Well so the Instagram channel I have two of them one is the we’ve been team all one word those we’ve been team and then it’s OK. And then that sort. That’s our business one and then a personal one which is about shooting real estate is called Hungry domain deal Am I an E. I don’t think I have any more availabilities for friends on Facebook which I think is ridiculous but I think the carpet out at 5000.Do you know I’m still active on Twitter but I don’t think that. Well I know I haven’t generated any business on it in a long time but I have done deals in the past on Twitter where Twitter was more like the form of social media. But I still think it’s a good vehicle to use and also to learn from and you know like what’s going on in the mornings.But basically you know Instagram Instagram TV and Facebook

Instagram TV talking sites about Instagram TV using you know I mean I do. But it’s really just an extension of my story in a sense it’s right. Right.

So tell us about so you’re using it so

Paul Zweben:  Instagram TV obviously you can do videos that are longer than a minute. And I still try to keep the videos only I like up to two minutes because honestly people don’t have the focus that they can watch it for that long.

But what it does is it basically you post on Instagram TV and then the first minute it goes on to your Instagram.

You can also link it to your Facebook. And then once it’s done with the first minute there’s a little button that you click on and you can continue it on Instagram TV. What it does is it helps the algorithms on Instagram to really help you increase your followers. And they’re like real followers. So I’ve been using that. I don’t use it every single day I probably use it once a week and I try to get my point across.

You know what. What’s the content. Well you’re doing that.

Paul Zweben:   I mean just like what you’re doing right now.Like where to help agents you know just because I sell real estate doesn’t mean you know I’m an entrepreneur. You’re an entrepreneur. I’ve been an entrepreneur since 1993. There are things that can really mess you up that’s an entrepreneur. And there’s every once in a while I’ll talk about you know why you should save money or why you should go to the gym every day or why you should be grateful every day or why you should meditate every day. But other pieces of content are about. Sometimes I’ll talk about a recipe and I’ll be like you want to know why I’m talking about a recipe and why it correlates with a deal.

It’s like if you miss one ingredient in a deal that dish or slash deal will most most likely be bad. And so if you think about when you’re baking you know a pound cake which is a pound of sugar a pound of flour a pound of eggs and a pound of butter. If you miss one of those ingredients you’re pounds you’re going to be yucky things.

So really the ingredients in a pancake. Yeah everything’s a pound.

Paul Zweben:  Yeah.

This thing I’m learning so much from you already. Amazing man. This is amazing. Thank you.

So you’re getting our advice and certainly the advice business is great if people like it. I’m trying to post that. As as well which just shift gears a bit because again time’s flying by here. I want to know about the rituals. You’re an early riser and all this. Yes that’s with the people who wake up the earliest tend to earn more what you do. Yes. Talk to me about your daily daily routine.

Paul Zweben:  OK. So I wake up at 430 every morning my alarm is set for 445. I don’t think I ever use the alarm but every once in a while it’s there. So we keep it for 30 in the morning. I get out of bed downstairs we have a duplex on the Upper West Side. I go through some e-mails. And then at 5:00 a.m. I am on a five minute call with about fourteen hundred entrepreneurs where all of us are muted except for one person and they talk about whatever they want.Sometimes it’s about going through. Sometimes it’s about what are you planning on doing for the holidays. Meaning how are you going to touch your customers. It really depends. But that’s sort of the Jumpstart then and I’m already in my gym clothes. I then get up. Typically I go outside of my building and do one Instagram post on both my personal and business page like an Instagram story and it really just depends on what’s going through my brain. Then I walk to the gym stand at the gym from 520 to 530 talked to some people just seeing how they’re doing.

At five thirty I go into the gym at 6:00 I’m done with my workout. Meditate for about five minutes then we’ll go to Dunkin Donuts I get two cups of coffee that ice cream no sugar walk the same path back to my building say hello to a bunch of doormen and whoever else is in the neighborhood then excuse me. Then I take a quick shower. I’m sorry. Wake up my daughter. Take a quick shower put on a suit the suit that she picked out the night before and then it’s 7 22.

We are in a car going across town to her school. Her and I spend about 15 minutes in one of the little libraries in the school. We talk a little because I think that’s important. And then she goes upstairs and then a week for a car to pick me up to go to the office some typically in the office depending upon the time of the year between you know in the summer I’m here much earlier. I’m usually here at 7 and when it’s school time and usually hear about eight or five or seven and then you know I check our bank account to check our credit card spendings a see if there’s any emergencies from the day before.And then I start you know pushing through the day.

I mean you’re you’re more disciplined than rain man.

722 with no predictability I guess.

Paul Zweben:   Yeah yeah. And I will tell you this. And I know for a fact because you know it’s not that I’ve studied it I’ve just been through it. If I stopped going into the gym and I stopped the routine my business slows down and you know it’s like you take. I forget how many days to create a habit I say it also is very you know I’m sorry.

They say 21 days to create habit right.

Paul Zweben:  And it’s also you know it’s so it’s very easy to like go to the gym go to the gym go to the gym and it’s also very easy to go downstairs and lie down on the couch and sleep for an extra hour and you know for me like if I start sleeping too much my brain starts spending too much and it’s just not good. So I got to go to the gym now.

Fair enough I like that you know I want to also not miss the point you and I participate in weekly think tank and one of the things that’s mentioned in the past is that the gym has been a source of business particularly in class. Correct.

Paul Zweben:  Yes 100 percent.

Can you elaborate on that.How many deals have you gotten from that activity and what was the dollar amount of those transactions.

Paul Zweben:  Sure. So I’ve been going to the same gym for a long time. Equinox on Broadway between November first and second street and I started spinning. I don’t know I guess about 10 or 11 years ago and there were these women all in their early 50s late 40s early 50s clearly a type personalities and they call themselves the spin sisters and one day one of them her name was is Marla. She came up to me and she said Do you want to be a spinster. And I’m like Of course I want to be a spinster.

And you know it really became this sort of family and you know time after time one of them would end up moving out of the city or moving to another area of New York. And I helped them so I would say with the spin sisters just the women that I spun with probably about 50 million themselves just let let’s not gloss over that 50 million in sales at a time over like a five year period six year period but then. But but I will tell you this then another one of the current spin sisters introduced me to a family.

And basically by the end of this year we will have sold them nine million dollars in property and have done three rental deals for them that are probably I don’t know 20 grand a month rental you know cumulative in rent so that was also a phenomenal connection. And these folks I mean we’re going to one of their kids baby naming. I mean we’re part of the family but this was a connection made by one of the spin sisters.

So I’m grateful for all of the spin sisters

Listen up agents get your butts into the gym there is health and money to be made and suggesting that that you adopted this lifestyle. One of the things that I’ve seen about agents and you could tell me your thoughts on this that people treat sales as if they are almost a master servant relationship. And I think that people like you that I see or who are really successful become heroes. It’s not to be a cop out to do less customer service. I know you work so hard to serve.But I mean the Dean do you see it that way. You just said you become part of the family. Is that something that you see with most of your clients.

Paul Zweben:  I think so. I mean you know I mean there are certain people that you just connect with and you know there are there are people that we are at you know so many of their events. Of course you’re not going to connect with every single customer. But we really you know when we become their family and they become our family. There’s no question.

Amazing. Amazing. That’s great. That’s great stuff. What advice would you give. An agent. You know that’s that’s just starting out. I’m not going to say that they’re desperate for money but they look at somebody like you and they say I want to be like Paul when I grow up. What advice would you tell them that they’re trying to grow out their business.

Paul Zweben:  That’s an excellent question. So the first thing is when I talk to new agents I ask them how much cash they have in the bank because I think it’s really important. I mean they may not do a deal for six months or a year.So you know if you’re sleeping on your mother’s couch and you start to do a couple deals I would I would say is instead of getting that first apartment renting or buying I would sleep on their couch for another six months and build a little cash reserve because I really think that that’s important. Once you build the cash reserve and start doing deals I would try to get a line of credit from a bank where you have something to fall back on and then really really just learn your craft. It’s not you know I remember many times there would be guys that would you know put on a chef’s uniform for Halloween and it would look like a chef and I would walk up to them and be like you know it takes you know a minute to look like a chef. But it takes 20 years to be a chef. And you know just because you’re putting on a suit or a beautiful dress and you know beautiful shoes it doesn’t make you an agent. So it’s really learn your craft. I mean in New York I think that you should work for either as an assistant or work on a team to be part of you know listening to the negotiations and feeling the the leaders and the other teammates energies in and feeling the hunger and really learning.So it’s a it’s like learn your craft learn your craft before you you know do anything else learn your craft.

I love those words. That’s the name of the game Paul. I’m grateful that you took your time today. I know you’re a busy guy so to actually get you to sit down for 30 minutes this is a challenge. I feel like a real winner because I figured that one out.

Paul Zweben:  You are a winner

and I want to just tell everyone that we are going to be back next week. My future guests and again not necessarily in this order. We have Enzo more B2 from Douglas Allman long islands at the Hamptons.

We’ve got Jennifer Leahy who’s going to be on this. Ivan Estrada is going to be later this month. We’ve got people outside of elements and recognize landlords and others. I am all ears. This is a new podcast. I very much want to get your feedback. To find out how we’re doing the questions that should be asked and who we should be interviewing. And Paul you’re a good friend. Thank you so much. I look forward to seeing you on my next trip to New York.

Paul Zweben:  Sounds perfect. Thank you so much for having me.

Thank you.

You’re making a smarter agent would like to thank its two sponsors.The first is organized New York Palm Beach which you could see on Instagram at the handle organized Palm Beach. Let’s face it. Organization stinks. It’s tough organized New York Palm Beach Premier organizing company that operates between New York.And Palm Beach County Florida. Go check them out on Instagram and organize Palm Beach.Also REIGNation. That’s the real estate information group network. Think of it as group therapy for realtors and you know what we need it. It’s part think tank it’s part coaching. Or opportunity.Nation. That’s REIGNation n you can find it on Facebook.