What does a real estate agent have in common with a cantor? A lot more than you think, according to Ethan Leifer, of Compass NYC. In 2011, Ethan took a leap of faith when he left his full-time job as a professional cantor in pursuit of a career in real estate. “I felt there was a lot of crossover,” he said, “[there are] similar trends and skill transferability between being a cantor and realtor. It’s a lot of relationships.”
And relationship building—between his clients, team members, and brokerage—is central to Ethan’s work as a realtor and team leader. After a few years of successfully working in the Long Island market, Ethan, a New York City native, felt drawn to Manhattan. He remembered thinking, “well, if I can build a business [on Long Island], I could do it in Manhattan. So I dropped everything…and [started] a brand new business in the city, from scratch.” He paused for a moment, considering just exactly how he built a new business from scratch (for the second time in five years) and then added: “cold calling.” For Ethan, each call, conversation, and new relationship represents a piece of the business he has built.
After a brief stint at another brokerage, Ethan was looking for change, again. He wanted a brokerage that prioritized agents, and invested in the business and brand of each team. “I was blown away by Compass,” Ethan said, remembering his first meeting with them three-and-a-half years ago. In addition to the tools and the technology, which allow for so much more creative marketing and brand-building, Ethan recognized that Compass put their agents first. This was the support and relationship with his brokerage Ethan had been hoping to find.
Ethan has had tremendous success at Compass; each year his business and GCI has grown exponentially, and last year his team was named a Real Trends Top 100. It was also at Compass, when Ethan began working with Chirag Shah Coaching, that he began tackling his greatest challenge, and learned a critical lesson about real estate, relationships, and team building. “The biggest challenge for me was figuring out how to combine the skills needed to run a business and the skills needed to be a real estate agent,” Ethan said. “They don’t always mix together; they’re not generally the same person in any business.”
After working with his CSC coach, and attending the CSC Leadership Mastery series, Ethan’s approach to leadership and team relationships drastically changed. So what’s different? Previously, Ethan focused on hiring team members based on their talent—houses sold and transactions made. But now? “Culture is my top priority,” Ethan said. “Everything else I believe I can train and teach, like role playing.” He’d rather hire someone “that is going to collaborate without ego, as we like to say at Compass, instead of someone who may already have all the skills in place.” So if you want to build a big team, and have some longevity and loyalty, culture has to be top priority.”
With the help of CSC, Ethan rehauled his team earlier this year, and he couldn’t be happier. Each morning he starts his day by meeting with his team: they role play common scenarios, problem-solve, and “we even do a team book club, where we read a business-related book, and meet once a week to discuss, and learn from it,” Ethan said. After their 2021 business planning retreat The Ethan Leifer team is focused on growing in different New York and New Jersey markets, being named a Real Trends Top 100 Team again, and continuing moving up the ladder to become the top team in New York City. “I’m a very competitive person,” Ethan said.
And what does Ethan insist his team does NOT focus on? “ I tell everybody on my team: do not focus on the money. Just focus on the work. And if you focus on the work, and do the things you’re supposed to do, everything else will take care of itself.” Ethan also advises his team members “not to get too excited with the ups, and don’t get too down with the downs. Just stay even keeled,” he said—a lesson he wished he learned when he was starting out as a realtor. “You acknowledge [your victories], celebrate it, and move on to the next one—the same thing for deals that fell apart. Okay, it fell apart, let’s move onto the next one.” Ethan says not lingering on the ups and downs will help you stay focused on the work, “and if you want to accomplish your goals, focus on the work. That’s it.”
Unlike many agents, you won’t find Ethan at an open house on a Saturday morning. Instead, he’ll be at Temple Beth El of Cedarhurst, where he still holds a part-time cantor position, which he loves for the community and relationships it brings into his life. As a cantor and Compass team leader, Ethan has learned how much he enjoys mentoring and teaching, which is why in 2021 he has joined the CSC coaching staff. In addition to working with one-on-one coaching clients, Ethan will be leading the CSC Role Playing Accountability Program, where he hopes to foster a community with his fellow Compass agents—a place to collaborate without ego, build skill sets, and, as always, great relationships.
Want to learn more about The Ethan Leifer Team? Follow them on Instagram, and join Ethan on Tuesday mornings to practice role playing and level-up your skills.