What’s up everyone and welcome to another episode of Become a Local Leader. In today’s episode, we have the pleasure of sitting down with Kris Lindahl, CEO of Kris Lindahl Real Estate.
Meet Kris Lindahl – Our featured Local Leader
Kris led one of the nation’s top real estate teams for several years before founding Kris Lindahl Real Estate in 2018. His company is one of America’s most innovative and successful independent real estate brokerages. Long known as a powerhouse real estate agent, he’s now nationally recognized as an agent of change. Kris is a popular speaker on leadership, entrepreneurship, business, culture, and philanthropy.
Among those who know him best, he’s mostly known for his passion for helping others. He is a performer. In fact, whatever Kris has done, he’s risen to the top and fast. Kris has been nominated as Innovator of the Year three times. Kris is a reformer and is incapable of embracing the status quo.
In real estate, he has flipped a dozen ineffective traditions on their head with Amazon-like marketing technologies and techniques to a staid profession, reforming the industry, all in favor of the consumer. Kris is also an educator, giver, and game-changer, typical of his go big or go home approach!
After a successful pumpkin giveaway event in 2015, Kris set a Guinness world record for the longest consecutive line of pumpkins. Nearly 9000 pumpkins! And Kris has a goal to do even more in the future. All while boosting awareness and raising thousands of dollars for charity. Kris wakes up every morning with a mission to bring positive change to every person and organization he touches. If there’s a better way to do something, he’ll find it. Kris knows that if he can contribute and help others, he’ll do it. If there’s something new to learn, he’ll learn it. And if there’s an opportunity to improve himself for the world, he will definitely take it.
Where are you from originally? Where do you live now?
I grew up in Minnesota, a city by the name of Fridley, which is just north of Minneapolis. After high school, I went to College in Mankato. Mankato is about an hour and a half south of the Twin Cities where I got an education degree. Following that, I got into real estate. I started in May 2009 as an individual agent. And then January 15, I started the Kris Lindahl Team. In May of 2018, I started the Kris Lindahl Real Estate Brokerage, which is licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin.
You had a degree in education and then you’re in real estate. What happened between those two?
After I finished college, I went and work for a company, Kinetico Water Systems. They had one of the most elite products in the water software world. I had a fantastic time there and learned a lot about customer service. I learned a lot about offering a premium product and experience. After a while, I decided that I was going to venture into real estate.
I got my real estate license. I didn’t know what I was doing other than I was super competitive and I was committed to winning. A lot of people said May 2009 is not a great time to get your license. I think it was the best time ever. I mean, it really was!
What was most rewarding for me was that I always had that educator background at heart where I wanted to give back and help people, and what better time to get into the industry in 2009 with so many banks mediated, short sales, foreclosures, a true opportunity to help.
Do you live in work in the same community?
Yes. Not far, actually. Our first office and where I first got started is in a county by the name of Noca County, which happens to be where the city of Fridley is.
It’s been fun to have so much support from people that I grew up with, that I knew. As we’ve made that transition and the journey that we’ve been on, now we’re throughout the state of Minnesota and in the western half of Wisconsin. So yeah, it started small. We’ve had really healthy growth. We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of really smart people around us that have helped us get to where we are.
What do you love specifically about working in Minnesota and Wisconsin?
You hear it all the time but I mean it is the people truly. We’re so fortunate to have so many people in our communities that support what we do every single day. I know in the world today, especially 2020, with all the challenging things that have happened. It’s been a real eye-opening year for a lot of people to be in a position where we have support from our local communities. I’m so grateful for that. We stay really focused and every day, we express our gratitude for having that type of support because we know that we’re in a very unique position. And that’s why we stay super grounded and super committed to giving back to the communities that support us. It’s an honor to be in this area and have the opportunity to serve so many incredible people.
Can you give us a little bit more detail of specifically what you’re doing to get involved in the community?
Let me emphasize this. It’s not what I’m doing anymore. When I say our community, it’s not only the agents in our company. It’s not only the employees in our company, but it’s also their families and their friends. It’s also the cities, the counties, the suburbs, the states. There are so many people that, quite frankly, we’ve never even had an opportunity or got the opportunity to thank that have played a critical part in that role. But one specific example that is true to our heart is our number one core value was to be generous. And over time, that’s evolved into the Be Generous Project. We are so committed to helping families, to helping the community.
There are so many different examples of how we do that and how we do that on a daily basis. The three principles that we follow are to give back our time, treasures, and talents. Just last week we helped teachers. We knew that they were going to be in a challenging environment this year with everything happening with the pandemic. And so, Kris Lindahl Real Estate offered to start clearing the list of supplies that they had on Amazon. We really started clearing the things that they needed and took care of those things for them.
But what I loved most about the entire thing is that we have surrounded our company with other companies, other individuals, other supporters that also believe in that Be Generous Mission. So, we had other people that follow us that started actually contributing to other teachers that were posting on social media. So, it started taking a life of its own. I mean, we’re a small company. We can only help so many. But there are also people that we’re connected to that can only help so many. And once you start to get the momentum going with generosity, you can truly help a lot of people. So, it’s been really fun to watch.
For anybody who’s watching who wants to get involved anyway, can you tell them where to find you?
BeGenerousProject.org. We have a store on there where you can purchase merchandise. Typically, a lot of us are wearing Be Generous shirts and different things like that. There is also a place to donate and give back. If you’re in a position right now, where you’ve been more fortunate and have the resources, we would welcome the opportunity to receive anything that you’re willing to give.
Can you share about just how COVID has affected your business and what that looked like for you?
For us, we were always a very digital technology first company so we’ve experienced some massive growth. And so, for us, challenging times. What happens and what you find is when things get difficult, you’ll find that people will go to the name and the brand that they know. Because we’re so well known here, when things sort of took a detour or went a different direction, consumers were looking for more credible companies that could offer more technology, could offer more resources to keep people healthy and safe. We are fortunate to say that, we are a company that people can look to and trust.
The last part that I would share is that because we run our brokerage in a sort of team environment that’s got this systematic approach, where everything happens consistently over and over again, for us, it was not difficult to pivot and provide additional solutions and follow the health and safety guidelines to make sure that people stayed safe and make sure people felt comfortable conducting real estate.
It was far easier for us than it has been on a lot of brokerages in our area. I think it’s because of the way that we built our company. Our foundation is completely different than a real estate brokerage that’s been around for 20-30-40-0 years, where they’re accustomed to a completely different process, a completely different structure, and really a completely different era.
The thing that I see so often in most industries in a time of change, or a shift in environment, is a lot of people are talking but very few people are taking action. I see this over and over again. I saw a lot of conversations around things are going to look different, there’s going to be innovation, there’s going to be different types of companies that are going to do better than others. But I didn’t see a lot of action. I see things on YouTube, on Facebook, Instagram, and all these conversations around, you know, the world’s changing, there’s all this innovation, certain industries are due for disruption. But what I see is a lot of chatter and not a lot of action.
And so, I would just challenge everyone that gets the opportunity to listen to this. If you do see change, and if you do think things are changing, start to take an action yourself. You might never be 100% accurate in where you think it’s going but I can assure you that you won’t have any sort of innovation in your company if you just keep talking and taking no action.
Can give us an idea of your total volume right now?
Total volume this year, we still have obviously this year but I think we’ll land in the five to six hundred million range this year.
What about total sides?
Our average sales price is $300,000. So, when you look at 2000 plus transactions at $300,000 that puts you over that $600,000,000 mark.
How do you build relationships right now?
A lot of it is done on video. And being that we were a video-first company, it wasn’t very difficult for us to continue to do what we always do, which is be on video. For example, right before we had this conversation, I sent a video to someone that’s super important to us in our company, thanking this person for their contributions, friendship, everything else. And so, we’re always looking at different ways on how to communicate and how to connect with one another.
From a consumer standpoint, from a company standpoint, we’ve used a lot of Zoom for more conversations, more screen share type things. We’ve also used BombBomb often. My good friend on it, one of the co-founders, Darin, has been just an incredible mentor to me and a dear friend. And so, we love using their technology. We love supporting them. And with that, that’s more of that one to one video type video email connections.
We also would use more of a FaceTime strategy for anyone that was either not in the state or were not comfortable physically going into a home. We offer virtual showings, where we would FaceTime and connect them and do a walkthrough of the home. So, we’ve used a lot of different technology but at the end of the day, most of it revolves around video.
How many relationships would you say you build per week or per month, as a company?
Thousands. It’s mostly because of video. It’s hard to quantify that question. There’s also the social media side of it as well, where if you look at my social media handles, I mean, my personal ones, we have thousands and thousands of people that engage with us on a regular basis. And then the company ones that have tens of thousands of followers as well. So, we’re constantly giving value. We’re constantly engaging through DMs, through comments, through other engagement. I think that that is also building relationships as well. And so, that’s why I answered it thousands because our social media has so much traction now. We have such a huge following. I always have people that are engaging on us. And then, you add in a lot of the other marketing that we do. We make a huge impact in our area.
In terms of your new business, how many clients come from advertising, relationships and referrals?
In any organization, the majority of the business is always going to be relationships. It’s going to be past clients, your sphere of influence, referrals, referral partners, other industries that support our business. That’s always going to be the largest piece. From there, it really starts to break down and it gets to be really complex for a company of our size that does as much marketing as we do. I mean, you have more of the traditional mediums like billboards, radio, TV, then you have social media, and you can break that down by Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tik Tok, and Pinterest. You can get it to be really granular.
Then you have more of the direct mail type pieces from the newspapers and postcards. For us, our number one approach and initiative from day one was to have an omnipresent marketing campaign, where people can hear us everywhere. And that’s what we’ve achieved. There’s just so many different things that it’s hard to give one example at this point because most see and hear us absolutely everywhere, which is a huge benefit to our clients to have that additional branding and exposure.
Where do you get more clients from, new business or repeat business?
Both because a lot of our new business comes from repeat business. A lot of our repeat business refers us new business. So, it’s a combination of both. And it’s also because we have put so many systems and so many processes in place to create a world-class experience for consumers that they recognize it’s different and they want more people that they’re connected to just experience what we’ve dialed in. That’s why a little bit of both.
Would you say there’s anything you’ve tried that hasn’t worked for you?
Yeah, all the time! We had an internal communication system that we were working on for one particular advertising medium, and it didn’t work. We had that conversation, just about three hours ago in our leadership meeting, about how we’re going to pivot and how we’re going to make sure that we do that right next week.
So, that’s how fast things change in our company. We don’t get everything right but we’re constantly moving and we’re constantly innovating. We’re taking all the feedback that we get. If we do make a mistake, we make it right. We’re just super focused on really keeping that innovation first because I know that the consumer deserves better, they deserve more. And so, we’re never going to lose focus of that.
Along the way we’re going to make a lot of mistakes but those are growing opportunities and how we can make things better.
For any newer realtors that are watching this, what would be your advice?
If we’re having a conversation with a brand-new agent, I would say just go. You just have to move. Show up at the office every day. If you’re in an area where you can’t be in person, show up online, if you’re more in a virtual world. Whatever it is, wake up early, show up, commit every day.
A lot of people are having conversations about things that are going to change and that are going to look different but they’re not taking any action. When you’re taking action, you are going to make some mistakes, and you’re going to have some failures along the way. But you’re going to look back and those are going to be the biggest growth moments of your life. I would say every time that you experience a failure, you just got to keep moving forward.
How do you determine what you’ll spent on marketing?
For where we’re at today, we have spent millions and millions of dollars building our brand. And so, adding another advertising channel to our company, we get almost an immediate reaction and return on our investment because of the equity that we have in our brand.
If you’re a brand-new agent, you might decide to go out and test something. You might have a negative ROI for 18 months. People need to start hearing from you, see you. They might not know the name of your brokerage. These are all things that take time where people get to just hear you and see you. It takes quite a bit of time for us.
Now, because everyone knows who we are adding additional advertising initiatives to our company, we get a more immediate response because of it. And so, there are just different parts. When I was early on, as an individual agent, I remember every month going, “Gosh, I hope that we can start generating some business from this.” The reality is most people quit too soon. They’re not willing to take the risk of 18 months of a negative ROI to have that breakthrough down the road.
And the second part of that is it’s not only taking the risk but it’s also having the vision to see if it’s working if it’s not working. Here’s the feedback that we’re getting. Here’s what we’re hearing. And being able to adapt to the information that you have is a critical part of that as well.
Are there any things you’re seeing other brokers doing right now that you would like to try out?
When you’re first starting out, there are a lot of people out there that you can learn a lot from in the industry. For us, that now that we’re in a more enterprise-level business with hyper-growth, we have a different set of challenges. So what I would share is that most of the things that we’re looking at and most of the things that we’re experiencing, we’re looking elsewhere. We’re looking outside of the industry.
I’ve always found to be true is there’s offensive players and there’s defensive players. For us, if we’re looking at other real estate brokers, we’re playing defense. And so, we’re focused on playing offence where we’re trying to learn from these other companies that are really forward moving on the innovation side of things. I feel like that’s how we’re going to grow. It’s going to be interesting. It’s not going to be easy. We have challenges every single day. We learn way more outside of the industry than we do in the industry.
Can you share what specific industries you look at?
Automotive is a prime example. I mean, look at the way that Tesla operates. All of those different companies, look at the innovation they bring. You can look at Amazon, and see how they have incorporated reviews into products and now frequently asked questions on product pages, the way that they deliver things, the trackability of packages.
Look at Delta Airlines who’s in-app experience has increased the efficiency of tracking bags. You check a bag in and it tells you when it was scanned in. They knew that one of the biggest pain points was losing bags. They solved that problem and now they tell you when the planes boarding, and then they took it a step further about six months ago. And now they tell you when your zone is boarding right on the app. And so, you look at efficiencies that these companies are creating through technology. There’s a lot of learning opportunities for those of us that that are in service-related businesses.
Where are you seeing your company going moving forward?
We’re really focused on micro-commitments. I think the challenges that I had early on in my career is that creating these massive goals every year, I don’t like creating new year’s resolutions, they’re so lofty that it’s hard to carry through with that every single day. When you have little commitments that you commit to every single day, the grander goals or the macro goals will work themselves out.
I know that here are the things that I have to do today to make a difference. Every single day, I have to do these things. And then we look at our company and they’re like, “Okay, let’s write down a few micro-commitments. Here are the actions that we have to take.” I think just simplifying that and making it more obtainable makes it so much easier to reach goals. Whereas I think too often you have this one-year goal, three-year goal, five-year goal, or 10-year goal. It’s so challenging to reach those unless you have a daily plan to achieve the micro-commitments of those goals.
How would you determine what your micro-goals should be on a daily basis?
I think it starts off by looking in the mirror and really having a conversation with yourself and saying, “What do I want? What do I want this to look like? Who are the people that I want around me? Why am I doing this? Am I creating a legacy? What is it that I am actually trying to do?”
The thing that makes us all beautiful human beings is that we’re all unique. And so, my answer in front of the mirror is going to be completely different than yours or anyone else that’s listening. That’s what makes it special. We all get to live our own life. We all have different things that are important to us.
For some people, they just want to win at all costs. They’re like, “I just want to win. I’d look at the scoreboard all day long.” And for others, they just want to make an impact on people. And there are some that are driven by money, where others aren’t. And that’s what makes us all different.
But I can tell you that the thing that I learned early on is most who are motivated by money ended up in a very empty place at some point. Because once they obtain money, they realize that it doesn’t look the way that they thought it did once they got there. So, I would just caution anyone that thinks they have the sales goals to hit a certain amount of commission dollars. What I always found backward about real estate companies is most of the big national brands give awards based on income level. Most of the awards that go out are based on those levels. There’s so much more to life than income level. I think that’s something where we all have room to really grow and figure out how do we truly make an impact in this world at the highest level.
That goes back to the Be Generous Project and giving back our time, treasures, and talents, where it becomes more than just treasures because giving back money is really easy to do. I’m not simply giving back millions of dollars or thousands of dollars. I’m just saying, writing a check for a cause is a lot easier to do than volunteering your time. Then adding a complexity that now donates your time plus share everything you’ve learned. That is way more challenging than just writing a cheque to support a company or to support a nonprofit.
One of the things that I absolutely live for is challenging myself. I like to do this every day. I look back to the early days of my career, I was super competitive. Today, I figured out how to channel that competitiveness within. It’s made a huge difference for me because now I’m not worried about anything externally. I’m worried about, “Did I make an impact today? Did I give back my time, treasures, and talents?” And every single day, I’m striving to give everything I’ve got back to everyone that I’m around. I can truly say that everywhere that I go, I positively impact everyone and everything that I come in contact with. And so, when you live that way and you choose to only see the positive side of things, that’s where you have ultimate success.
It’s why a lot of people have different routines in the morning, whether it’s getting up at five in the morning, doing positive affirmations, meditation, just to get your mind right. Once you start surrounding yourself with people that believe in the same things and the generosity and giving back, then you start doing those things. You start showing up places that you weren’t expected to go to, and you start sharing things that people didn’t expect you to say, that’s when your life starts changing. Those are just choices. Those are choices that we all have on what we want that to look like.
It starts by looking in the mirror and saying, “I am super comfortable with who I am.” Or, “I want to jump out of my skin. I’m so uncomfortable with who I am.” The beauty is the person looking back at the mirror is the only one that can change it.
I have my ups and downs days. I’m not here saying that I’ve got it all figured out. We all have our challenges along this journey that we call life. I think once you put in perspective like, “Hey, I have the opportunity to live this life that I’m going to live it the right way.”
What would you say your superpower is? What do people rave about you?
There are different ones. There’s personal and there’s professional. The reason why I say there’s personal and professional is that I’m obviously the same person on both sides of that but people have a different perspective if they’ve met me versus if they haven’t met me.
Someone from the outside that knows me as a public figure, as an influencer, as a speaker, author, broker, Team Leader, things like that, that maybe hasn’t come in contact with me, they’re going to go think more innovation and disruption. Those are the things that they are going to think about because we know who they are. We’re watching what they’re doing. They’re clearly doing something different. But they actually don’t know who I am personally.
And then there’s the personal side of things where every single person is going to tell you how positive I am and how generous I am. I want give back to everyone. You see this because when you build a brand, there’s a perception of who you are or what you are even though people haven’t met you.
What’s interesting is you have the two worlds meet, you have the people that have this perception of who you are and what it looks like, and then you have the people that actually know you. When they meet it is super interesting because people that have this perception are asking questions to the person that knows you. They’re like, “Hey, who is Kris? What’s he about? How is he?” The expectation from the people that have that perception is that there’s something negative going on, always. We always think someone was like, “Oh, were they’re doing this? Is he a nice guy? Is he not?” There’s always this expectation that if you put yourself out there, there’s something more to it.
But then every single time, they’re really surprised to hear the responses that people that have known me and that I’ve grown up with. The one thing that I can say is held true from the very beginning is I am the exact same person as I grew up as I am today. And so, I think that that is something that I hold super true to my heart that I have never lost focus of who I am or where I came from.
I see too often that when people experience success, they change. They change into someone different and think that they’re more entitled to certain things. They think that they have more power because of their success. That’s something that I will never do. I will stay super focused on being the person that I’ve always been because success doesn’t change who I am.
If I look in the mirror and I’m not comfortable with who I am, I’m the one that has to deal with that. I know at the end of the day and at the beginning of the day, when I leave my house, I can look in the mirror and I know 100% that I am still the same person I’m committed to making a difference in people’s lives.
To answer the other side of your question, which is the lens that I see it from. From a professional standpoint, I feel like we’re just getting started. I feel like we’re just at the very beginning of something really big. That’s how I see from the professional side. For the personal side, if I’m evaluating myself, I see someone that is so committed to helping the people around me. I will do whatever it takes to help others no matter what it is. I will always give back and will always make a difference and impact to everyone that’s close to me.
Would you say that passion and commitment to giving back and helping others are what grounds you or is there something else?
Generosity 100% grounds me. Just watching what I get the opportunity to do and watching what people in our company and their families and friends and the communities that support us, just watching what happens is such a special place to be. I’m just fortunate to be a small contributor to this really large thing. I don’t take that lightly. I absolutely love being a part of it.
What’s really rewarding is people that are a part of our community, when I say community that could be supporters, that could be inside real estate, but watching the transformation of people personally and professionally is such a fun thing to watch. Having a community of people that believe in the same things, and having a community of generosity and support, it’s fun to be around. I’m just a small part of it but I love every single minute of it.
Are there any things that you find you are struggling with or you have any roadblocks or obstacles that you’re currently facing?
I’m trying to figure out how to get an additional 24 hours in a day. I think that’s everyone’s challenge. We never feel like there’s enough time. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t say that time is a challenge. I really closely monitor my time commitments and how to manage that. That’s always a big challenge. And so, I think we’ve got better with that. We’ve grown. I have a lot more support around me and I’m fortunate to have such incredible leaders close by my side that can help free up some of my time.
I don’t see roadblocks. Truly. I never have and never will. I see everything as an opportunity. Even if I was running straight into a brick wall, I would learn from it. I would see the positive in that. It’s like “What did I learn from running into this brick wall? How can I go around it next time? How can I go above it? Or how can I move it?” We have setbacks all day, every day. Those are just learning opportunities. Once you shift your mindset, it makes things a lot more enjoyable when you know that no matter what happens, you’ll get through it.
Would you say there are specific things people can do to help develop their mindset so that they’re able to see things in a similar way?
Number one, be a student first. I mean, success leaves a lot of clues. There are probably a lot of people around you that have already experienced a lot of the things that you either may be in or you’re going to face in the near future. There’s also an opportunity to ask them questions. Take them out for coffee, lunch, virtual meetings even. There’s a ton of free content on YouTube and social media and podcasts. There is just so much learning available but it starts with taking action.
I’ve heard this often. I’ve seen a lot of people that want success in their life but they’re not willing to make the sacrifices. They’re not willing to take the action that’s required to be successful. So, if you take action along with being a student first, you can solve anything that you want in the world. And for me, everywhere I go, I’m just trying to learn. You always know that the people that are experiencing the most success, personally and professionally, are the ones that are always asking questions. They are always trying to learn. But those people you can always tell are in control. So, be a student first and ask questions. Everywhere you go, just try to pick up a couple of nuggets of information that will help you grow and will change your life.
Would you say that people who are students first and are out there to take action is what you look for in people that join your team?
Yeah. Having a focus on Be Generous is obviously priority number one. But being students first is critical. If you’re not willing to learn and you’re not willing to expand your brain, it’s going to be challenging in our environment, just because we’re on a hyper-growth trajectory that won’t stop anytime soon. And so, you really have to be willing to learn and expand your brain because there are complex things that we have to solve here. And then, taking action is the next part of that.
I’ve met so many people that are fantastic learners and student-first types but they never actually take any action. They just keep learning and gathering, becoming more educated, but they don’t do anything with any of that education. That doesn’t work either. You’ve got to make sure that if you’re going to be a student first, you actually have to take action with the information that you gather.
For buying leads, do you use Zillow, Realtor.com, or Homes.com?
Yes. We use Zillow. It’s a business choice. We have some partnerships with Zillow that makes sense for our company. That’s where we’ve been focused.
Are you still doing any open houses or just virtual open houses right now?
We’re doing a little bit of both. It’s up to the client. We’re here to service our clients. If they prefer to have a physical open house, then we have safety protocols in place that we follow to make sure that everyone stays safe and healthy.
In terms of following up with your database, do you pop-by?
We don’t pop-by. We do everything digitally.
For realtors out there who want to become the local leader, market expert, or the go-to realtor in the community, what would you tell them?
Times are changing. Times are changing in a really big way. They’ve already changed a lot. Most people just don’t know that the change is already here. And so, having a very team-based solution is going to be the only option to provide the experience that the consumer is going to desire.
I would say that it’s going to get really expensive. It’s going to get really expensive from a technology and marketing standpoint. To be able to compete with the larger teams and national companies, you’re going to have to have a significant budget, but also, you’re going to have to have a dialed-in streamline process to provide clients world-class service.
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