Rory Golod, President of Tri-State Compass, might have been a rockstar. That’s the dream for any Long Island kid, like Golod, who grew up playing guitar, saxophone, clarinet, while listening to Billy Joel’s Cold Spring Harbor, the record named after Golod’s hometown. Golod’s passion for the music business followed him to college in Virginia, where eager to jump start his own foray into the industry, Golod partnered with his roommate to start a music company of their own. At just nineteen, filled with the entrepreneurial spirit, the two college freshmen subleased a studio in midtown Manhattan, booked recording acts, and even signed their own music producers. They thought they were on their way.
It was the sobering reality of graduating college in 2008, just months before the market imploded, that set Golod on another course. While the dream of his own music production company fell to the wayside, the experience made Golod aware that he was, “enamoured with startups.” He spent the early years of career working at startups and learning all he could about that culture. After a stint at a real corporate-y job, Golod was convinced that he didn’t want to work at a massive organization; he wanted to build something with the potential to grow.
“And then, I met Robert Reffkin,” Golod says—like it’s the part of the movie where the protagonist realizes the hero’s journey ahead. “And I knew he was going to change the world.”
At this point, in 2014, Reffkin had just founded Compass—still called Urban Compass back then. Though the team was small—a mere 40 employees and 50 agents—Golod was impressed with the way Reffkin recruited industry giants like Gordon Golub and Leonard Steinberg to join the company’s growing ranks. “I knew that residential real estate was so massive that if they were just modestly successful, this company has a chance of doing something special,” Golod says of his early impressions. In those days, “modest success” still looked like making an impact on New York City’s rental market. Little did they know, they were en route to changing the face of the entire industry, an IPO, and earning their unicorn’s horn in the process.
Inspired by Reffkin’s already accomplished career, as well as his ambition and vision, Golod joined Compass. In the early days of his Compass tenure, Golod was responsible for building an agent support team. “So we started recruiting agents, and agents showed up expecting a brokerage, but we didn’t have a brokerage; we just had a collection of really smart, hard working people.” With his work cut out for him, Golod collaborated closely with Golub, Steinberg, and the other industry veterans to really understand agent needs: listing data, marketing, IT support.
Both Golod and the company understood the most important key to their growth and success was knowing their customer: “Everything else that we did would connect back to that,” Golod explains. “Rather than us make things up—guess and fail—we had the luxury of asking agents in the company ‘what is it that you need? What is it that you want? What is it that you’ve seen others do well, that we can do and build?’ And so we just focused on that.” The work he put into listening and responding to agent needs would come to be what is now known as the Agent Experience Team.
As the company grew, so too did Golod’s responsibilities. He started working with Reffkin on agent recruitment, and then, like the music producer he once was, Golod took the show on the road: from city-to-city, from the Hamptons, to Washington, D.C., Dallas, and LA, one-by-one, Golod launched Compass in new markets around the country. His success out on the road earned him jobs as Reffkin’s chief-of-staff, and then eventually as the President of Compass Tri-State, which includes New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
These days, Golod let’s his agents be the rockstars—he oversees nearly 4,000 of them. True to his production roots, everyday Golod obsesses about giving his agents the best possible experience; he still spends a lot of time trying to understand what matters to agents. As a musician, Golod has a natural ear for listening, but he also spends a lot of time practicing it, personally calling “dozens and dozens” of agents every week. “I always say [it’s much harder to] stay up all night with a whiteboard trying to sketch up the future, than just intently listening to your customer, and letting them guide you on what actually matters.”
If you ask Golod what matters to him, you can still see the remnants of the dorm room entrepreneur with big hopes and ambitions for the future. “One of the things I often spend my time thinking about is, how do we make a big company feel small?” Golod believes that even though Compass is no longer the same scrappy startup he joined in 2014 it has maintained the essence of the culture he loves. “I think our entrepreneurship principles define [our culture] better than anything,” he says. “We’re a company that dreams big, moves quickly, and always thinks about opportunity…[and we] never lost sight of the fact that personal relationships and interpersonal communication is essentially the cement that built this company. I think no matter how big you are, you can still remain very close to your customer and that’s something Robert does incredibly well.”
Like Compass, Golod has also managed to grow while keeping his same hopeful essence and passions intact. He’s still playing guitar—in fact, he built a music room in his Lower East Side apartment right before COVID hit, which was a lifesaver during the months at home. And he’s still listening to Billy Joel—among many other things, his taste ranges from Sade to Drake, house to rock. These days his playlists might even include renditions of “Baby Shark,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle,” after Golod and his wife became first time parents in the summer of 2020.
Golod has always had natural talent for hearing when the tone shifts and chords scale. As an early Compass leader, Golod used his musicians’ ear to build a brokerage dedicated to listening to its agents—really hearing what mattered most to them. His ability to listen and respond is key to the Compass culture, the one Golod loves so much. And though listening and responding to agent needs might seem revolutionary to the industry, to Golod, it still, and has always been, rock ‘n roll.
By working with Chirag Shah you can expect effective, results-driven coaching, or as one of his clients said, “you can learn more from three months with Chirag than you can in three years on your own.” Whether it’s creating systems, structures, and processes that help you grow your business; building out your team, or learning to enforce healthy work/life boundaries, Chirag wants to help you bring your vision for your future to life. As a life-long learner, people-person, and curious problem-solver, Chirag has been a student of real estate coaching since he got his realtor’s license in 2007.