Business Q & A

A conversation with … Jordan Freed

When Jordan Freed entered the University of Kansas at 18, he set out to be a business major.

But three years into pursuing his bachelor’s degree, the 31-year-old Clearwater native saw how much debt he was accumulating from student loans.

He decided he didn’t like that.

“So when I was 23, I joined Keller Williams in Overland Park,” said Freed, who with his wife, Rochelle, has a 1-year-old daughter. “I always wanted to work for myself … and I never was one that liked sitting in an office all day, and I am still that way.”

Today, Keller is a leader and coach to a group of 122 agents at Keller Williams Signature Partners, based at the Waterfront in northeast Wichita.

“I just love coaching and helping people,” said Freed, team leader, CEO and an owner in the agency. “And I have a heart for Realtors. I like the fact they give up the security of a paycheck and bet on themselves. I just see myself as someone who can help them get to success faster.”

You got into the business in 2006. That was probably a pretty good time to get into real estate, right?

Well, it wasn’t in Overland Park. I thought I was the grim reaper of markets because everywhere I put my license, the market shut down. So 2006 was kind of when things went south. That was really the beginning of the downturn in the market. So I have never been in what you could really call a great real estate market. It’s always been down. I don’t know any different.

And yet you persevere. Why?

I’m an avid reader. I read usually a book a week. When I first started in real estate, I read a book called “Think and Grow Rich,” kind of a classic. They talked about how failure was a conscious choice, that you couldn’t fail unless you absolutely decided to quit. So when I was in Kansas City, I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t have any money … and so I went door to door, and I knocked on 3,000 homes my first year. I found my first three sales that way. I really just discovered … that everyone else was so worried about the economy and everything going on that they quit working. And I was just dumb enough to not understand it. The door knocking was tough. The alternative was to be a lifelong server, and I didn’t want to do that.

Why the move from Overland Park to Wichita?

Well, my wife and I are both from here … and Penny (Johnson, Keller Williams Signature Partners’ operating principal) was getting ready to step into a big leadership role in this office. We were looking to come back and Penny called me, and basically said she was looking for someone to come in and lead her team. So the timing … was just right.

What did you learn about yourself and the industry going through the financial crisis in 2008?

The thing that I learned the most was that the seeds of failure in business are sown during good times, and Warren Buffett said that. And so what happened is we call it the shift – that’s when the financial crisis and everything happened –and what happened was everyone was blaming that event as the cause for so many failures, when in fact what happened is the decisions for failure were made way before then.

When the market is good in real estate you have something called shadow performance – it’s actually shadowing things that you are doing wrong. And when the market turns, or shifts … the things you’re doing wrong rise to the surface. So you’ll hear people talk about the shift (that) knocked them out of the business, but it really wasn’t. It was all the decisions they made before that. … If you do the right things, it doesn’t matter the market, you’ll succeed.

And I admire the agents that stuck through that. I think the number was over 33 percent that got out. And the agents that stuck through it and are still here are really starting to reap that harvest. When you have more transactions, you have more agents. So what happens is when the market bottoms out, so does the agent count. There’s this gap of time when the market is coming up, but you’ve got the fewest amount of agents who stuck through it getting the most amount of business. So I think the top agents who stuck through it picked up a lot of market share.

What is the best thing you like about your job?

The best thing is the relationships with people, the relationships with my agents, watching them grow.

What is the least favorite thing you have to do in your job?

Probably my least favorite thing to do, I don’t like going to networking events. I’m a country kid. I didn’t live on pavement till I was 18. We grew up on 40 acres. People ask me all the time to attend things and it’s just not my cup of tea. There are some things, if I’m really interested, I will force myself to go. But I’m kind of introverted.

Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty person and why?

I get asked that question a lot, and my response is I don’t care how full the glass is, I want to be the one pouring the water. I stole that from Mark Cuban. As long as I’m in control of me moving forward, freedom is what I really value.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.