The Best Advice I Ever Got: CREA Board of Directors Tell All

We hear a lot of advice in our lives: from our parents, teachers, friends, bosses and sometimes even from strangers on the street. Some of it more useful than others.

I was once told to always keep a quarter in my pocket, “in case you need to make a call.”

While that advice doesn’t apply to me now (thank you smartphone), another tidbit has had a more lasting effect: Be willing to try something at least once. This was my parents’ way of convincing me to participate in sports, but it remains a useful reminder in my career and life.

We asked our Board of Directors to share the best advice they’ve received during their real estate careers. Here’s what they had to say:

Costa Poulopoulos – Chair

I have two pieces of advice I live by:

  1. People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care; and
  2. The key to success is follow up—not show up. 

Jill Oudil – Vice-Chair


This is more so advise I would give.

Never lose sight of why we, as REALTORS®, got into this business: to help people make one of the most fundamental decisions of their life. When you care about people and put that first, all will be worth it and fall into place. 

Have a piece of advice for a fellow REALTOR®?We believe good advice should always be shared. Let us know the best career advice you’ve ever received, and we’ll aim to play it in an upcoming REAL TIME episode. Leave us a message at 1.888.768.6793.

Larry Cerqua (Ontario) – Regional Director

The best advice I received in my real estate career and I still believe it to be true is, to be honest with people and be fair. They are looking to me for my expertise and if I can’t answer their specific questions, I need to be transparent and let them know. But I will always do the best I can to find the answer if there is one. Never think about the commissions. Just do your job and if it all goes right, you will be paid.

Kimberly French (Atlantic) – Regional Director

Schedule time for yourself. Real estate is very hectic. While doing your weekly/monthly/yearly schedule make sure to leave time for yourself and stick to it as you would an appointment with a client. Schedule in your vacation, your days off, the start and end of your workday, etc.

Steven Bobiash (Saskatchewan) – Regional Director

Ethics and professionalism are priceless. Don’t cut corners.

If you are looking around to see who is responsible for your success in real estate, look in a mirror! It’s not your broker, your company brand, or your clients, it is on you.

Develop your value proposition and deliver on the commitments you make to your clients.

Don Kottick – Director-at-Large

When I worked at Royal LePage earlier in my career, I worked with the then amazing CEO, Simon Dean. Simon’s philosophy was, I am using my own words here, “Empower and soar, don’t worry about failing and extraordinary things follow.” 

One day, I approached Simon back in the early 90s and asked him if I could run with this thing called “the internet”—actually back then it was called the World Wide Web—with the goal of creating a national website for the company. Simon then called in the head of MIS (Management Information Systems, now known as IT) and asked if, “Don could run with the internet concept.” 

The head of MIS replied, “The internet, sure it’s a passing fad anyway.”   

Long story short, our team created the first national real estate brokerage website in Canada, and the head of MIS ended up leaving the company shortly thereafter. Simon understood the power of empowering your people, a great lesson for any leader.

Phil Moore – Director-at-Large

When I got into the business in 1989 after eight years of policing I was asked, with so many real estate agents what’s your USP—unique selling proposition? Well, I really didn’t have one, in fact as a police officer I had no sales experience at all. However, an experienced agent suggested my USP could be the ability to connect with people, not just communicate but connect at a much more personal level. I used all my police experience and life skills to connect with my clients at a much deeper and personal level. Don’t just communicate but connect. 

Ask Me Anything with CREA’s Board of Directors

You have questions, we have answers. Each month, our Board will answer the most pressing and popular questions impacting Canadian REALTORS®.

Learn more about the other members of CREA’s Board of Directors and how you can become a part of the future of real estate in Canada.

Sarah Doktor brings her experience as a small-town journalist and national online editor to the Canadian Real Estate Association as a Communications Advisor. Sarah helps facilitate conversations between CREA and our members, boards, associations and the public via our online communities. She also helps coordinate the content presented to you here on the CREA Café. In her spare time, Sarah can be found at the gym, running on a trail or watching Netflix with her cat, Libby.

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