Getting To Know Robert McLeod.
Buying a home is no easy task. Being a tenant can be equally challenging, and that’s especially true in today’s market. And those are just a few reasons why we’re excited to talk to Robert McLeod, one of Edmonton’s most successful realtors and property managers who spends his time immersed in the commercial and residential real estate world, with his wife Rhonda and dog-child, Sheffy.
Tell us who Robert McLeod is?
I’m a lot of things, partly interesting and sometimes chaotic. I was born and raised in St. Albert and in looking back at my upbringing, the older I get and the more realize how lucky I am to have had what I now call the perfect childhood. I have two wonderful parents I could never replace. I started in my family’s business at 18 before going out on my own to explore the real estate business. With no security, I worked like a dog to ensure I built myself something stable, exciting and rewarding. Someone said to me once early on, “It’s the easiest business in the world once you realize it’s almost impossible.” I remember fondly the million and one things I did to build my name, my brand and meet as many clients as possible. The business has rewarded me, but has also taken from me. Many years were spent with little regard for myself, just the work. I’ve learned so much about life, what I want and who I want to be. I think more now about what I say, the impact my words and actions have, and the effect my business can have on
a city I’m passionate about. I love to spend my weekends at my cottage, a place close to the city, which allows me to collect my thoughts on the week, get fresh air and spend time with my wife and our very close friends who live next door. It’s probably the highlight of the week for Sheffy, our only dog-child.
How do you start your day?
My day always starts with my dog, who my wife takes on a walk early, coming into the bedroom and taking a running start clearing 10’ and landing on my head (he never misses). It’s his way of telling me it’s time to get up. Mornings for us like everyone else is a ritual, but for me it starts with a cup of coffee, a quick skim of overnight emails to make sure I’m not facing any landmines during the day, then a quick conversation where my wife and I build each other up to ensure we can take on anything. Following a friend’s advice, I look in the mirror and I say three positive things about myself. I work very late and am rarely in bed before 2 AM. While there are mentors I follow who insist on 5-6AM starts, that’s never been me. Six hours of sleep is my nightly routine, my feet normally hit the floor at 8, and I don’t feel guilty. Mornings have to be positive as that mood carries for hours. It’s critical your team sees you as the best you can be, positive and engaged the moment you walk in the door. Attitudes are contagious and you need to be very, very careful about the impact good and bad attitudes have.
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How is the pandemic impacting your day-to-day work?
Surprisingly less than I originally anticipated. One of our buildings was vandalized with “rent strike” the very same day I came out of quarantine after my return from a trip in March 2020. That day I was conflicted as there were many messages about a tenant revolt against landlords springing up in the media. I got home after inspecting the damage, and after meeting the residents, I turned on my camera. I shot an unscripted message where I asked the government to leave us alone. Our tenants are our customers, and our own relationships to manage. As the video had a shocking reach and response, I felt supported. As the weeks passed, we actually saw rent collection improve. Almost all our clients paid their rent, many paying early. The significance of having a roof over one’s head never became more important and appreciated. We did have many opportunities to create solutions to those who really were in need and I made sure to let any tenant who had legitimate fears know that we had their back and would stand by them. This year created the closest bond I have ever had to our clients finally feeling that the work we do as landlords is not some ‘us against them’ battle as some may seem. I am proud to say I’m a Landlord, I’m a Property Manager, and I’m a Realtor.
What are some of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs are facing?
Distraction. Every day we’re all faced with images, stories and products all telling of an easier way. I see many realtors & entrepreneurs that fall into this trap, the adage of “if he’s doing it, then it’s working…” nonsense. Stop being followers. It’s an easy trap to fall into, copying others. While I agree there are things you should copy, in most cases when all you see is the surface, you’re best then to do the opposite as you’re not getting the full picture. Being an entrepreneur means you do two things: solve someone else’s problem and don’t count the money… ever – if you do, you’ve lost.
Favorite lunch spot in the city?
I don’t have time (or really enjoy) the lost time of a lunch, but if I don’t eat I won’t get through the day, so I LOVE going to Careit Urban Deli in Crestwood. While I’m as much off Keto as on it (Keto Cheeto I like to say), I love their turkey burger patties and lunch options. Super healthy, local and the taste of fresh you can’t fake. I’m a big fan!
How has the real estate industry changed and where do you see it going in the future (impact of Covid, technology, virtual showings, etc.)?
Open houses began dying out years ago and time is precious, so we were already adapting. However, this year was something new. Staff I thought couldn’t use a phone were now doing Facetime showings, WhatsApp showings and more. We found creative ways to bring the showing to the buyer or the tenant and it’s worked wonderfully. The person-to-person relationship has not changed as people still want to build a relationship with a person. What our teamhas learned is how to spend more time finding ways of working with people to get them the information they need to help make decisions virtually. It’s not been easy but we have developed processes now to allow a completely remote transaction, even with tenants renting properties without ever being in the complex, and in some cases, the city!
What emerging trends do you see in the future of business?
Not as much as some may think. I believe this year has taught us many things about working remotely and being virtual. But I very much believe what it’s taught us is that maybe we want more of what we’ve lost. Without asking, during Covid in three instances, I shook a person’s hand. Each time it was mutual and by habit. And in each case, each person said, “That’s nice, I miss that.” Human connection is essential. If there is an emerging trend, it’s that people want to connect on deeper levels.
What is your afternoon pick-me-up treat?
I don’t like to eat during the day, but I do keep a jar of organic natural peanut butter in the fridge at work. A run to City Market can top off an office food emergency in minutes. The best is to get a cup of coffee, then take the hot spoon to scoop the peanut butter. It seems to always taste better and leaves an easier to clean spoon behind. From there it’s back to my desk! We go through a lot of it!
Schecher used her background in behavioural psychology to develop a 7-step process that includes daily homework, meditation and journaling.
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How do you transition from work to personal life, as real estate and property management are demanding jobs without 9-5 hours?
While I once thought there could be no busier job than that as a realtor, I was quickly shown that as a property manager, the day has no end. In fact, things only tend to get exciting after 2AM on Saturdays. Transitioning has taken me years, made possible by my team. I love what I do and I have surrounded myself with a family that allows me to be who I am and doesn’t dictate to me work and non-work time. I come from a family business that dates back to the early 40s. Work was always brought home and life was more interesting with it all jumbled into one. When it’s too much, I escape but my phone is on me; it’s more about a change of scenery than anything. I’ll work at the lake or after a quick flight, I’m on my boat. I love to boat. I started sailing years ago and once I realized it took too long to get anywhere on the Coast, I bought something a little more comfortable. Now only 90 minutes by plane, I’m on my boat anywhere I want to be in Vancouver and then out on the water (my second home without the tax). Eventually it’s where I plan to be full time. When I really want to escape, I head north to Princess Louisa Inlet. I’m not going to spoil the story, just google it. Do yourself a favor, find any way possible in your life to go, and just go.
What are the top three skills realtors will need to be successful in this field in the future?
The business has never changed, the attitudes have. Adopt an old school attitude which is: the business is a serious profession, so act like it. The regulations are growing so take the time to ensure you have the support of a knowledgeable broker who will always have time for you. Finally, the business is only about one thing: relationships. Your word is your bond, your reputation is all you have and relationships will open the doors. Take it from me, it’s a great career, people always need a great realtor, and investors and tenants always deserve a responsible property manager.
What are your hobbies and how do you fit them into your day?
Hobbies are passing fads. What I fit into my day is a demanding career with the pleasure of being able to include my wife, family, Sheffy and loyal team, building a proud Edmonton based business that has no starting or end time.
How do you end your day?
In the calmest mood possible. I wind down around 11 after an hour or so of emails. I have my shows that Rhonda lets me enjoy without hogging the TV. I’ll try to get my weekly dose of Below Deck (the boating connection is too much to resist), followed by anything on Discovery channel involving a tow truck, boat, or crab fishing. I do a once-over review of every security camera we have at every building to ensure I have done my job to make sure the safety of all our residents is checked, knowing most are now asleep. I take a moment to look out my living room window over downtown, a city I love, followed by crawling into a bed where my dog has pre-heated my side. Every day ends with me saying, “That was a good day.”
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