Michael Coscetta knows how to think big. Really big. It’s a quality perfectly suited for his position as the Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer at Compass, which he joined back in October 2018, after serving as the Vice President of Global Sales at Square—you know, the small white credit card reader that makes paying for your morning coffee a breeze (among other things). During his tenure at Square, Coscetta turned a domestic SMB sales organization into a global five country sales team. This is why it’s no surprise that within Compass, Coscetta’s name is synonymous with growth and scale, which he’s quick to point out are two different things.
“Building 50 rooms on your home is growing your house,” Coscetta explains. “Scaling your house is taking the same foundation and building it straight up. It takes six to nine months to build the foundation, but they could throw a home on top of that in a matter of 30 days. The foundation is the hard part, but the foundation gives you scale. That makes the rest of your building very efficient and very easy.” It’s an analogy apt to his current audience: real estate agents.
Coscetta’s ambition to scale is innate, part of his own foundational story of growing up on Long Island and dreaming of being the United States President (or at least a lawyer). Coscetta attended Harvard, where he majored in economics and loaded up on classes in biology and chemistry just for the fun of it—a true show of character. Coscetta has a natural ability to see complex concepts and challenges and turn them into small actionable steps for which to forge ahead. He doesn’t see the vastness of the mountain in front of him, instead he sees the network of trails that will take him to the summit. Step-by-step: that’s how he laid his own foundation for success, even selling Cutco knives in peoples’ homes during summer vacations.
Coscetta’s first piece of advice to all small business owners, especially realtors, is to plan for growth, not just day-to-day business operations. “I think most agents get caught up in the today and tomorrow…and the problem is if you didn’t look out six months ahead, then by the time you get there your business is still going to look exactly like it did today.” In order to properly plan and scale, Coscetta says you need to identify how growth will look, where things will break, where things need to change, and how to respond to market conditions and seasonality. He advises building playbooks around these scenarios so when they arise your response is instinct; he also warns veteran agents, who already operate on instinct, that instinct is not teachable. Instead, veterans should “take what you do and map it out into documents and programs, and then hand it to the next person on your team. You’re now replicating yourself. And that replication is what will give you some version of scale over time.”
The key to scaling any business, according to Coscetta, is hiring the right people. He acknowledges that this may be a real hurdle to many agents who find it difficult to relinquish any control of their business. “Every small business owner is a CEO, the CFO, the COO, the CMO, the head recruiter, the head janitor, the head…everything. Eventually all of those things aren’t able to be done efficiently or effectively by the same person, so you’ve got to start to find people to do those things better than you. Not as good as you, but better.”
When it’s difficult for realtors to ceed control, for fear something in the business may break, Coscetta is quick to remind them of the truth: “the reality is, it’s going to break, so you might as well teach someone how to handle things that will eventually break so that you no longer have to handle those problems.”
According to Coscetta, the critical part of letting go is trust and hiring the right people. In order to feel confident that you’re bringing in the right people Coscetta suggests first looking less at skill-based abilities and instead asking yourself: Do I want to work with this person every day? Do I want to spend time teaching this person the ropes of my business? Second, Coscetta says, make sure you bring in people who have the same medium to long term goals as you do. The last critical component to hiring is once you’ve found people with aligned goals, “treat all employees like owners, like partners, where they feel vested in the business.”
There’s a fitting saying Coscetta uses a lot: never pay for the same real estate twice. What he means is: “If you’ve done a task and you’re going to do it again…well, that’s a sign where you should be looking to automate [or] delegate.” This way business leaders can continue to focus on their own professional growth. “Accept that things will not be perfect, Coscetta says, “but over time they may actually end up being better, so it’s letting go of that fear and just accepting that things go wrong every day.” For Coscetta, that’s a normal part of business.
An avid reader—his favorite book is Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment—Coscetta learned some of his most valuable business lessons in books like John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” When scaling their businesses, he recommends all agents become familiar with Maxwell’s “Law of the Lid”, which says that the leader is the lid to any business’s growth potential—so where the leader caps out, so too does the business. “The leader’s job is to continue to challenge him or herself to constant and never‑ending growth, and then share that improvement. I think if a leader is working on him or herself all the time, the team will constantly get better, and the level of the organization will continue to increase.”
As he heads into the future, Coscetta is challenging himself to think bigger than ever—and taking 19,000+ Compass agents* along with him. One thing is certain, with Coscetta as a leader, there’s no lid in sight.