YPN Breakfast: February 2020 Top Producer Panel | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

On February 26, 2020, we hosted our monthly YPN breakfast where we devoured tons of advice from a panel of Chicago top producers. You can check out photos from the event on the YPN Facebook page!






A business coach has become the newest, greatest team member for each of our panelists. Will Goldberg’s team has an in-house coach who meets with each employee weekly. “It helps to have someone to talk to,” Will said. “Your problems become solvable when you talk to someone.”

Both Nancy Tassone and Gail Spreen acknowledged that while they’ve never used a formal business coach, they had coaches on-staff in their teams, had a managing broker in their office become a certified coach or connected with coach-like-figures in their networks.

“My company has an in-house coach now. Having that voice is important, especially in setting boundaries,” Gail said. “Learn how to say no!”


One attendee asked about what to do after she discovered a friend opted not to use her as their REALTOR® because she seemed “too busy.” Is there such thing as appearing too busy to your sphere of influence?

“It happens to all of us,” Gail said. “There’s an important distinction to make in how you advertise yourself. Such as, I’m never too busy to help you.” Will chimed in, admitting he’s seen it happen to him as well. However, the best anyone can do is not let it hit too personally.

“My advice on this would be to try and stay ahead of it,” Nancy said. “Stay in touch with people and keep up that personal connection.” So, don’t hold back on posting about your new listings, your open houses, your closings or your busy season. The art of balancing a “busy” image with approachability and accessibility isn’t easy, but it should be an intentional part of your messaging.

“There’s a statistic out there, that 16% of people are transacting this year,” DJ added. “Who do you know and how are you staying in touch with them?”


When it comes to getting face time with a neighborhood’s residents, sometimes you need to go back to basics like open houses. Nancy and Gail not only recommend open houses as crucial database builders from when they first started, but they both use them today.

“Open houses get you talking to people,” Nancy said. “Do as many as you can and build relationships with people. It has nothing to do with that exact property. Just get talking and make a connection.”

Gail agreed. Open houses are a great way to meet people in the building or on the block who are simply looking for a REALTOR®. “They might not be ready yet, but they will be!” she said. Signs also give you great exposure. Last year, DJ Paris interviewed a top producer who knocks on doors an hour before their open houses to make introductions and spread the word.

As Will said, real estate is a contact sport. Who are the people you want to work with? How are you going to get in contact with them? Don’t knock open houses off your list! Not only do they offer essential interaction with future clients, but they also have tons of room for innovation and personalization.


“One of the biggest challenges brokers face is staying positive,” Will said. “Don’t take things too personally, and look at things as opportunities.” He watches videos of his dog as a mood booster. DJ also vouched for how wonderful it is to bring his dog to his office when he’s looking for some happiness.

Surround yourself with positive people, treasure moments with friends and family members and lean on wellness-oriented resources.

Will also encourages knowing when to say no. “You need to be selfish when it comes to this. What do you need to stay healthy and happy?” When he works out in the morning, he listens to podcasts like DJ’s Keeping It Real podcast and others by Steve Weatherford and Ed Mylett. He and his wife also eat a consistent healthy breakfast to start the day off right.

Nancy, a mother of three kids, sets aside time after she drops them off at school; she has some coffee and sits by the fire for her “me time.” She also sets up appointments for therapeutic 20-minute massages.

“It’s hard,” Nancy admitted. “Especially in the beginning [of my career], I would take rejection so personally. Now, I tell myself I have two hours to be upset, and then I have to let it go. It can sound silly, but honestly, it helps.”


How do these top producers manage their time and productivity? Their resounding solution: never underestimate the power of lists.

In the morning, Will writes down one to three priorities for the day. These are the things he’ll focus on getting done, and even though there are good, productive days and there are bad days, these focused goals are his way of staying accountable.

“Understand who you are and what you want to do,” Nancy advised. “It’s harder to be motivated when you’re not busy.” She, too, uses lists to manage her responsibilities and priorities.

To-do lists “absolutely cover” Gail’s desk. She also recognizes that inboxes can be an unfortunate distraction, so to combat being constantly pulled away by incoming emails, time block when you’ll tackle your inbox.

Do you still feel too overwhelmed to keep yourself organized? “Lean on people to help you organize your life,” DJ said. Hire a personal assistant or connect with an online assistant. There’s a plethora of services and people looking to help administratively.


When it comes to finding strategic partners, you don’t need to go far.

Get involved in your community! From chambers of commerce to block clubs, these are great organizations to build trusted relationships with people— people who will go on to become your advocates, aka your strategic partners.

“I have strategic partners in every step of the process: my painters, my carpet cleaners, the property managers I work with and more,” Gail said. “They will refer people to you.”

Nancy reinforced the importance of choosing your strategic partners wisely because they represent you. Your clients need them as much as they need you, so build a partnership with contractors, appraisers and all the other specialists you involve in the listing or purchasing process.

Not to mention the Chicago Association of REALTORS® has over 80 events planned in 2020 alone. Attend our monthly Coffee With your GADs for legislative updates from your industry lobbyists. Meet new people at these YPN breakfasts and turn them into meaningful business partnerships. Or, volunteer for a committee – these are all great ways to build your network and your partnerships.