Business is all about building relationships, and in this interview real estate agent Levy Tewel chats to me about how he motivates his staff to succeed and who he has leaned on for advice and wisdom throughout his long and successful career. 

You’ve had an interesting path into real estate, starting off with cold-calling before establishing your own real estate agency in upper Manhattan and now New Jersey. Who or what has shaped who you are? 

My dad is also a salesman, and has always boosted my confidence and given me a can-do attitude. My older brother has also been a tremendous influence, always encouraging me to take things to the next level. I also used to listen to Brian Tracy and other motivational speakers on my way to the gym after work – I am always looking for new ways to develop my skills.  

You are originally from NYC. How has the city inspired you to be the business person you are today? 

Since I was a child, whenever I passed through Manhattan, I was always intrigued by the energy and hustle. When I first got my real estate license and started working in a firm in midtown East, on the 25th floor with beautiful views, I knew that I wanted to be spending my career in the city that never sleeps. I lived in Miami for a short period, which gave me a new appreciation for the unique energy only found in Manhattan. 

Can you tell us your favourite motivational speakers and writers?

I like the story of Fredrik Eklund, who moved from Sweden to New York with no experience in real estate and is now a successful real estate agent and author. After reading his book, I gifted each agent on my team a copy of his brilliant book, The Sell. 

Ryan Serhant is also inspiring – I love his out-of-the-box thinking. I’m in the middle of reading his new book, Big Money Energy, and I can totally relate.

At Compass, CEO and founder Robert Reffkin is a visionary. I admire how he is disrupting the industry and shaping the future of real estate brokerage. Leonard Steinberg is another incredible individual. He sends daily emails to every Compass agent nationwide with invaluable content about his thought processes, ideas and insights. 

What did you have to give up to get to where you are today? 

I gave up my last year or two of Yeshiva. While my friends were at a study program in Sydney, Australia, travelling and having a great time, I was out in my parents’ garage, in the freezing cold, making cold calls and selling cell phones and headsets. I wanted to get a head start on making money.

What are some statements or stereotypes about real estate agents that you think are false?

That agents will be phased out with technology. Technology will only eliminate the cheap and not-so-great ones. The good ones will survive. The human touch will always be a part of the biggest financial decision many people make. There are too many moving parts to every real estate transaction for agents to be phased out. 

A common real estate stereotype is that agents are dishonest. I cannot answer for everyone, but I treat every client as I would like to be treated. My goal is to give them an experience that will have them come back and send referrals. 

Have you had any setbacks in life, and how have you overcome them?

I’ve had several setbacks, but looking back I can always see how I Iearned from them. One example was the 2019 rent reform laws which severely impacted my business, followed shortly after by the pandemic. I learned the importance of scaling, to not get too comfortable with where you are and what you have. This encouraged my expansion to New Jersey.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I never like talking about my accomplishments, although in order to scale in business, it is important to show them. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to train, mentor and guide aspiring new agents how to be successful. One example is a past client that was working paycheck to paycheck, I convinced her to get her license and work with me part time. After less than a year she made more than her salary, she quit her job and joined my company full time.

Another example is yet another client of mine who I convinced to get his license, he joined my company and later, at one of our happy hours, met his wife, my assistant’s friend that we helped get a job working for one of our landlords nearby. I look back and feel extremely humbled and blessed to have had such opportunities, and to have worked with such incredible people. 

What are your hopes for the future, and is there anyone you’d aspire to emulate?

I hope to be able to invest more time in philanthropy, and give back more to the community. I don’t aspire to be like anyone but myself. I love to learn from everyone I meet or hear about, whether they have traits I would like to incorporate or ones I would prefer to avoid!