#76 Respect the grind podcast with MARK SALERNO

Mark Salerno, Broker of Record, Euromart Realty Ltd. Brokerage.

Growing up in and around the real estate business, becoming a Real Estate Broker was always a dream of Mark Salerno’s. In 1980, Mark’s father, Mario Salerno opened Euromart Realty, a small, independent brokerage. Mark always knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and initially thought he might work along side him. His dad however had other ideas –  he wanted Mark to learn the workings of the real estate business from a larger real estate firm first before coming to work with him.

But after three years as a sales representative at Royal LePage, Salerno was thrust into preserving his father’s legacy much sooner than expected. Mario was battling illness and since Mark did not want to see the business go down with its founder, Salerno took the broker’s exam, and started the journey to bring Euromart Realty to where it is today, one of the top independent brokerages in the GTA.

“Everybody needs a job and everybody has to make a certain amount of money to live, but you have to work at a job that you’re passionate about. And the fact that I haven’t changed over the years means I’ve hit that sweet spot. I don’t feel like I’m working. Not many people find out what their calling in life is and I really feel that’s what has happened to me.

Year after year Mark continues to be a Top Producer being a “Go To” Broker for all of his clients.

  

Stefan: Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the show, Respect the Grind, with Stefan Aaarnio. This is the show where we interview people who’ve achieved mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors. Anyone who’s achieved mastery and examine what it took to get there. Today on the show we have a friend of mine, Mark Salerno. He is a Canadian real estate mogul. I’m from Canada too. I love bringing Canadians on the show.

Mark: It’s fantastic.

Stefan: Family business. Been in the business for 40 plus years. He, himself has been in the bus for 13 years. He has one of the strongest real estate Instagram accounts in Canada. We were talking about Instagram, and followers, and social media, a little bit before the show. Thank you so much for being on the show, Mark. Respect the Grind. Welcome.

Mark: It is my pleasure to be on the show. Like I was telling you, I’ve been asked to be on podcasts before, and you’re the first person that I’ve actually done this with. Again, thank you very much for having me here. I really appreciate it.

Stefan: Look, I know it’s your first time. I’ll be gentle. We’ll have good eye contact. Tell you I love you. I want to buy you dinner first, okay?

Mark: Appreciate it.

Stefan: Yeah man. We’ll go slow. It’s great having you Mark. Canadian to Canadian, where you hailing out of?

Mark: I’m out of Vaughn, Ontario. Just literally 20 minutes north of Toronto. We’re known as the City above Toronto.

Stefan: Oh yeah, so do you guys call yourself GTA?

Mark: Yeah. We’re part of the GTA for sure.

Stefan: I’ve got student’s in the GTA. A lot of guys … I teach house flipping, and a lot of guys don’t flip in the course. Just too much money. For beginners, it’s too intimidating, but a lot of guys do GTA. GTA’s sprawling. It’s huge.

Mark: A million different places … You got Durham region. You got people-

Stefan: Ajax …

Mark: It’s all a big thing, and even for us, most real estate brokers or agents, they specialize in one area and they farm it. Because of our social media platform, it’s really taken us across the board, and literally across the GTA. For a small company it’s been pretty cool to see that.

Stefan: Yeah. I love that man. I’m from Winnipeg, the murder capital of Canada, where we murder for capital. That’s what it is over here. I’ve been to South Side Chicago. You know on TV they talk about Chicago being so scary. I’m telling you, Winnipeg’s way scarier than Chicago.

Mark: Really? I’ve never been out west actually.

Stefan: You got to come.

Mark: I would love to.

Stefan: Come to Winnipeg, Mark.

Mark: If I come out there, I’m definitely going to come visit.

Stefan: You might fall in love with a Polish girl and move in. That’s what happens, people in Winnipeg. These beautiful Polish girls, they move in.

So Mark, you’re a real estate broker, you’re broker of record, you mentioned that to me before you started the show. You’re a hustler dude. You’re pure grind.

Mark: I am.

Stefan: I see on the screen, I just know you’re a hustler. I can tell.

Mark: Thank you.

Stefan: It’s great. Tell me, how did you get into real estate. How did this happen. You’re obviously successful guy. You got multiple people working for you. Tell me the story.

Mark: So, real estate has always been a family business. My dad was in the business from the early 60s. He’s like one of the original OGs. God rest his soul. He passed away in 2011. When I got my license, it was 2006. I always wanted to get into real estate. I’ll tell you, I had landscaping companies. I had all these different jobs prior to getting my real estate license. But when I was 18 I said, “Okay, that’s it. I’m going for it.” By the time I was 20, I got licensed, and honestly I haven’t looked back.

The toughest part about the business was the beginning, because it wasn’t something where I was at Euromart Reality, and was coming into your father’s business, and business was handed to me. My father actually said, “Mark, you’re going to go out and go to work with another company,” because my father only sold land. There wasn’t really much for me to do on that standpoint. So he said, “Go work here. This manager’s a good guy. I know him.”

So, I went there and I grinded it out, man. I started out in a shared office with somebody, it was probably the size of this desk. It took me six months to do my first deal, believe it our not.

Stefan: Wow. As an agent.

Mark: As an agent. No. I’m talking as an agent. Honestly, I could have quit quite a few times.

Stefan: Six months a long time. Tell me, what was the hold up? What kept you from popping that cherry, and just getting in there?

Mark: You know what? Again, I don’t want to use the age, because I was 20 years old when I got in the business, but the toughest part for me at the beginning of it was trying to settle in. I was working some of my side jobs that I was doing before that, so I wasn’t 100% in the game, if you want to call it that. You have to make that jump. Finally, at that point, I had some things. I’ve always been in sales. I was selling cloths. I was doing whatever I could to make a buck, to be honest. At one point I said, “That’s it. I’m going full throttle. I’m going into this.” I made my first deal. My first deal was a lease for $650.00. After that, I popped a sale. It was a small condo. $143,000.00 after that. I started saying, “Wow, this is fantastic. This is easy.”

One of the things that actually got me going, it was funny because I was going through my Facebook page, the other day. Back in 2008 I started putting albums up. At the time, back in the day it was Facebook. Everybody, what did you do this weekend, Facebook. Album. Went to the club. Album. That was the whole thing. Vacations. Album. I started posting real estate albums. I saw Facebook as this platform to kind of showcase my work, and I started putting myself out on Facebook … Putting up albums. People are like, “What’s this guy doing? Like he’s posting houses albums?” I started picking up business from there. That’s what started the steamroll effect, and from then on, honestly I didn’t look back. It’s been something I’m so blessed with, and I think it’s because I really found what my life calling for work is. I don’t feel like I work. Straight up.

Stefan: I love that. I did a similar thing. I got into real estate 2009. I’m a pure investor. I bought the broker thing. I bought the agent thing three times. Manitoba securities is a little bit different than OSC, Ontario Securities. You have to be full time in Manitoba. 2,400 agents in Winnipeg. And they say you gotta be full time, no side hustles. Most those agents are barely eating cat food to live because most of them are just … I’ll say this, 95% of agents are stupid. They are just low IQ, stupid people. 5% is making money, 4% is like a hundred grand, 1% is like 350, then everyone else is poverty line and they can’t even fill out the paper work. Well, they can fill out the paper work, but nothing else.

So, I bought the course three times. Did my first deal in 2009, and I in 2011, 2012 started blogging on my Facebook. I was writing blogs and started blogging. It’s crazy. The blogs, I did 120 blogs in 120 days. Turned into a book. People are asking for speaking. I started speaking. I started winning national awards, featured in magazines. Then I won Rich Dad International Hall of Fame in 2015-

Mark: I saw that.

Stefan: Now suddenly, here I am with a platform. It’s crazy how one thing leads to another. We were talking about your Instagram account. Mark, you know everybody at home, there’s people at home listening to this, they’re into real estate. They’re into [inaudible 00:06:51] pressure. They’re into social media. Everybody wants to be a speaker, coach, author. Social media. That’s like the dream. That’s the new rock star.

Mark: Everybody wants to been seen, and they want to be heard.

Stefan: I say this. People are obsessed with status, and avoiding pain. Those are the two things … We wake up and we avoid pain, and get status all day long. Social media’s the ultimate game. We just want to be the best lobster in the tank.

You’re a good lobster. You’re a good Canadian real estate lobster in the tank. Let me ask you this. We were talking about your followers. How many followers do you have on Instagram right now?

Mark: I technically have just under 75.

Stefan: Okay. 75,000 are all … that’s a great number. Give yourself a pat on the back. That’s great.

Mark: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Stefan: For a Canadian real estate dude, that’s amazing.

Now I think I’m, today I’m at just under 60. We grind it out. Make sure we have real followers. We don’t go for that fake stuff. Tell me about the Instagram game, and the fakers, and how you run that. How do you get to 78,000 followers as a real estate person?

Mark: Okay, and you know what, this is something that a lot of my friends, especially over the recent lets call it … I don’t know, want to say six to maybe eight months, it’s been a straight steamroll effect. Last year at this time, because I remember I did a give away, and it was probably the end of November. I did a 15K give away. I was at 15,000 about a year ago. At the beginning, and when you start getting close to 10K, you’re like wow, things are starting to pick up. Then you hit 15K. Then you hit 20K. My friends would say, “Mark, why do people care about a real estate agent from Bonn?” Honestly, it’s actually a legitimate argument. Why do people care? You look at these more name brokers and these TV brokers from New York and from LA and stuff like that, and say well they’re on TV, it’s expected that they get to that point.

The one thing that I think with my Instagram, and why I’ve had it built, is I put out solid content. This is the other thing too. If you look at my page, a lot of my content is my properties. I’m not trying to … I look at what works. It really hit me, it was May of 2017 I had put up a post. This post, at the time I had 3500 followers, for example. I ended up getting 4000 likes on this one picture. I was like … I was mind-boggled. It was a certain way that I posted this photo, and the house went off. I started thinking, I got to start trying to emulate what I did with that one picture, and see if it works going forward, with my other houses, I’m going to shoot them the same way.

Some of my photos, again nicer content is going to get more impressions, get more likes, get more people drawn to it, more people are going to tag you to it. I just basically try and stick with what works. What works is people like my properties. If you look at my account, there’s not pictures of me. It’s not Mark, Mark, Mark, Mark, Mark. I look at my pictures. When I put up a picture of myself, maybe it goes for a thousand likes. I put up a good photo of a house … I think my most liked photo is 13,000. I had impressions on that. I had about 280,000. I like to look at my stats, because I like to do what works. That’s the key.

But now I think it’s at a point, and you probably realize it too, when you get to a certain number of followers, people we’re drawn to big accounts, and we’re drawn to people who have followers.

Stefan: We want the big lobster. Give me the big lobster.

Mark: It’s society. But the thing that we were talking about before coming on the show, and you were asking me about followers on Instagram, and just in social media in general, there’s a lot of fake shit. Like straight up. I’d say 90% of the stuff that you see is fake.

Another thing, for example, that I like to think that separates us, is my content, or any of the content you see on my team pages, any of my sales reps pages, is 99% our content. We’re not taking houses from other realtors, and posting them on our accounts. The stuff is ours, so it’s original content. I think that works a lot, because most of these big accounts that you see out there, I’m talking like the big accounts, they’re just posting stuff from other people.

Stefan: Right. I’m going to say it, Mark. Instagram is a den of whores. It’s a den of whores and people are just whoring themselves out for the least amount of money.

My team … I was out at a cafe’ in my neighborhood in Winnipeg in summer. I was with my ex-co founder, the lady I started my coaching company with, and we’re out for dinner and I was lamenting, just lamenting and complaining. I couldn’t find a social media person. I can’t find … I’ve been doing my own posts, like you. Post this, post that. Whatever’s in my life. But I’m busy. I got 13 employees here. So, I’m out at this restaurant called, Stella’s, it’s all patio, I’m complaining. Me and her are the only one’s on the patio.

Then I’m about to leave and this voice behind me says, “Excuse me sir, are you looking for a social media manager?” I turn around and there’s this 60 year old grandma there. I’m like, “Yes, Grandma, I do want a social media manager.” She’s like, “Here’s my three sons.” And, these three young, strapping young lads are sitting with her. So, it’s mom and her three sons. I looked at one of them, I’m like, “How old are you bro?” He’s like, “I’m 18.” I’m like, “Perfect. Come on in for an interview.”  You got to get 15 year old. They know about social media.

So okay Bro, you’re 18. I was like at 5000 followers, and I get these guys on my team, and they’re like, “Okay.” I’m like, “How much you guys want.” They make me a proposal. They come in very professional, these 18 year old kids. “Okay, it’s this much money for the test, and this much for ads and influencers.” I’m like, Okay.” So we run it. In three months, I go from 5,000 followers, I’m at almost 60,000, after three months. Its real followers. I mean we’re not doing some bullshit followers.

So these kids are writing my stuff on fire. It’s not cheap. It costs money.

Mark: For sure. Like anything, yeah.

Stefan: It costs real money. Now the funny thing about it is young kids, these little kids, we’re doing influencer content, I’m doing some re-shares … we’re doing original content now because we’re getting in the business. We’re doing posts every day, so two posts a day. But it’s crazy because all of a sudden I’m buying influencers. So like someone like yourself, I’m like, “Hey man, can I post on your page? I’ll give you some money.” As soon as I do that the den of whores that Instagram is, I got a million whores in my account being like, “Do you want placement? Do you want placement?” I’m like, “Bro, if you walk in here with like $5,000.00, you can own the place, because they’re all whoring themselves out.

What do you think about that with Instagram? Is it a den of whores?

Mark: Yes, and no. I’ll tell you, I’ve done some stuff before … For example, right now, I don’t know if you’ve seen the account, Houses. I’m one of their partners. I’m the only Canadian partner right now. They are building a solid network of individuals either, their going to be builders, they’re going to be realtors, they’re going to be designers. They have people set up across the states, in the big major cities, and they also have … We’re starting to actually root out into Dubai and countries like that. So we get some great, let’s just say attraction to our product, and attraction to my page from there, because we are featured on there.

At the beginning I used to reach out to the big pages, and sometimes, for example, if we had a good photo of a property … I’ll give you and example, Inspire Me Home Décor. They got over five million followers. So they featured our homes on their, I’d say probably in the last three years, anywhere from five to ten times, and those ones I didn’t pay for. Those were legit. They saw our pictures, she’s actually friends with our photographer, love the photo, post it. You get put on a page like that, before you know it, one of those posts pics you up 1000 to 1500 followers, again, if you have good content. When they come to your page, they like what they see, they’re going to follow you.

We have some athletes that follow us. I got a beautiful property right now, actually down the street from me, it’s a five and a half million dollar house with a basketball court in the basement. I had an NBA player reach out to be the other day about that.

So social media has opened up so many different avenues, I guess if you want to call it, but working with influencers is something that I think works. Again, if you can get your stuff put on big pages it draws attention to you.

I’m not a big fan of, like you said, as soon as you go on one of those pages … You know how many messages I get in my inbox? Where people say, “Hey, you want me to help grow your account?”

Stefan: Oh my goodness.

Mark: It’s almost overwhelming the amount of messages, like the garbage messages that you get.

Stefan: Right. Like some dude in India who’s trying to follow and follow with bots. Bro what are you talking about?

Mark: Honestly, I get so upset. This morning I woke up … Actually it happened last night. It was 1000 followers I got put on my account. What’s going on here? It’s happened to me in the past. Actually, if you go on my stories, I put a PR highlight when it happened to me back at 40K. I used to do give aways. I thought it was cool.

Stefan: What would you give away?

Mark: I’ve given away in the past soccer tickets, hockey tickets. We’ve given away water filtration systems for houses. So I partner up with people. Coffee machine. Whatever. Just give stuff away to people. Free stuff. People love it, right?

Stefan: Right. People love stuff.

Mark: The problem is, when that happened to me, they did it to me from the mid 40K to 50K. 50K for me was a big deal, and I wanted it to be a big deal. I haven’t done any give aways recently because it’s been three times where I’ve been hit with anywhere from three to five thousand followers … I would open up my phone and I were to show you my block list, I have over 10,000 people on that list. One day, when it happened to me the first time, I spent six hours just going through the last followers that came in, I put my account on private, the last 5000 that were there, block, block, block … and it takes time.

Stefan: Why are you blocking the 6000 followers?

Mark: Because they were thrown on my account.

Stefan: So they’re fake.

Mark: They’re fake.

Stefan: So who’s throwing fake followers on your account?

Mark: This is what I’m trying to figure out. We all know it doesn’t cost a lot of money. People can go on and the worst part, and I wish Instagram could fix this … I think if they’re going to allow stuff like that to happen, you should be required to enter the password of the user. You could go on line, legit, type in any person’s name you want, and just throw followers on it.

I don’t know if it’s the competition. I would like to think it probably is something like that, where they’re maybe trying to make your account look fake. You get what I’m trying to say? I spend a lot of time on my social media. It’s a huge part of my business. I’m probably one of the most transparent realtors around … when I say the area, you can tell … This is the first thing I tell people and how you can spot fake accounts right off the hop is, go look at how many followers they have, and then go look at the video views. If someone’s got 30,000 followers, and they get 66 views on a video-

Stefan: Oh man, that’s so fake.

Mark: Red flag.

Stefan: It’s like fake lips on a girl. It’s just not as good. There’s real lips. You kiss them it tastes like plastic.

Mark: Everyone come to that part. Don’t let it bother you if it happens. It is what it is. Honestly, it does bug me. At a certain point you just gotta say, “Fuck it,” and just move on. You know what I mean? It is what it is at that point. I can’t sit here and control … Like today, we were trying to find programs to be able to wipe them off. Like I say, I have people who work on the back end for me to try and eliminate some of these, but it’s not something you can invest too much time into, at this point here, I guess it’s going to happen.

Stefan: Dude, that’s some major, weird defense. I honestly don’t know. I know because we do influencer ads, I know roughly how many. It costs about $.50 to $1.00 a follower to acquire.

Mark: Yeah, real.

Stefan: I don’t really give a shit about followers. I care about cost per lead. Cost per lead is what I’m going at. And cost per acquisition.

Mark: Well the thing is too, I always look at my insights. The insights is where you can really see what’s going on. When I sit down at people’s tables, and I’m talking to them, they ask me about social media. How’s your social media? I legit open my phone up, take the insights, my page alone averages anywhere from a million to a million five impressions a week. So, they’re big numbers. That’s the thing. That’s why I’m not afraid to open up and show anybody a screen shot that I posted on my account, maybe some people don’t like that. You know what I’m trying to say. Then they want to try and bring you down, but listen Bro, there’s always going to be haters out there. I’d say 99% of the people are solid people who honestly send me a lot of positive messages.

For people who are reaching out to say, “Hey Mark, I stumbled across your page. I started looking at your content, and it’s motivating.” An entrepreneur like myself, I get to see the passion that he has for the business. I love it. When I get those messages, honest to God man, those are better than commission checks. I swear to God. I’m trying to build something long-term here. This is not a fly-by-night. I’m 33 years old. I’m going to work in this business until I’m dead. That’s just what it comes down to. I just want to do good business for people.

Stefan: I’m the same. When I get legit entrepreneurs … I got guys all over the world. Germany, India, Sweden, Africa. When I get a legit guy messaging me, I’ll either answer his question, talk to him, or I say, “Hey dude, get my book. It’s $1.99. Go get it.” How’d you get started? Check out my book, it’s the story. I’ll even read you the damn book. I got an audio book, so I’ll read you the book. I will read you the book for $1.99. We sell it for $25.00 in our store, but you can have. There’s kids. I’m 14. I’m 13. I’m 17, I want to get in. I’m like, Bro, I used to be you. Here have it.

Question for you. I got a call from a guy the other day. He was like I can get you to two million followers in like three months or something. I was like, that’s like saying I’ll get you two million dollars in three months. That’s like some bullshit, right? So I said to him, “Tell me how.” He’s like, “Yo man, we got these guys in India who are like farming accounts.” So they create these fact pages or whatever. Then they get to a hundred thousand followers pretty easy, because they know how to do it. Then they’ll be like okay, we’re going to melt down 20 of these accounts, and they do Instagram meltdowns, where they merge accounts. Apparently Gary B was doing some of this, and some of these guys to get big numbers. He was trying to sell it to me. It’s $30,000.00 and we’ll get you to here, and this is $60,000.00. I’m like, “Bro, I don’t think that’s for real. I don’t think that’s going to help me. It’s vanity.”

Let’s talk about vanity versus sanity. Why do you have to be legit online. You could just be a den of wires. Why do we have to be legit?

Mark: Why? Because it’s the most important thing! I tell people, this is the best part about it. When I get to meet somebody for the first time at their house, they already know me. It’s to the point where I sit at somebody’s table and they’re like, Mark, I know exactly what you are because what I see in front of me is what I see on line. That’s why it’s so important for me to put out real shit, and not fake stuff.

So, when I’m doing videos … I’m very big on doing that stuff. The quality of the content is huge. Look, I use these examples, because it’s very big. Some of my biggest videos that I’ve done in the past, I’d say on average, the random video that I’ll do is probably 5K, if it’s just like a normal video that’s nothing crazy. Some of my other videos have gone for over 60,000 view on Instagram.

My YouTube page sucks. I have a hundred, I don’t know a hundred, a hundred and fifty people on YouTube. I’m trying to build other avenues, because honestly I’m at the point where I have this great Instagram following, and my team has a great following, I have one of my sales reps, Michael Mora, because I started a team earlier this year. Michael came over in February. Michael started with a fresh account, because when he came over, I said, “Mike, can’t use your personal account. You got to start your business account. Let’s do it that way.” Mike has over 11,000 followers since February.

Stefan: Wow. Just from listing pictures. Just product.

Mark: Just basically posting our products. Our team page is like 16,000 … Sorry, the company page is 16, 17K. Our team page is over eleven. So, we’re building. I know what we’re doing is working, because it’s not just my account. It’s my team account. It’s Michael’s account. The other team member’s accounts are going a little bit slower than his, but everything, if feels like it goes on a wave. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, my game’s not to have a million followers. If it turns out at the end of it, I have a million, great. But it’s the interactions that you’re looking for because that’s the game.

Stefan: Engagement.

Mark: It’s engagement. Stefan you know, like I said, you can go online, type and spend a couple hundred bucks, and have a million followers. What does it do for you? We’re not engaging, it’s worthless.

Stefan: Yeah, it doesn’t matter. We’re doing a video a day. I got a six year content bank of courses, seminars … I’m a trainer so I have hundreds and hundreds, and hundreds of hours. I’ve published five books. So my content, I’m content rich. I just give my bank, we have a multi-terabyte hard drive that I just passed over to my team. Here, just cut clips from this, don’t even talk to me. I gave them all my books. Here’s all my books. Here’s my audio books. Here’s everything. You deal with it.

I was going to go to the jungle and spend 40 days in the jungle, and content’s going out every day because I got it on autopilot. It’s content. But with that, we get some videos. We kind of growth hack it. So we get one video, we put up. It was, should you rent or should you own. It was like a 60 second clip from a whiteboard video I did. I think I had 40,000 followers at the time. I got a hundred thousand views. I think five or six hundred comments.

It was a piece of content where I was saying, “Hey, this is my message.”  Mark, we could have a nice debate about this. I said, “Hey, it’s 2018. Market’s high. I don’t know if it’s a great time to buy, or if it’s a great time to rent.” I said, “Hey man, renting is not bad these days. If you’re renting, you can move. If you don’t like it, you can move. Fixed cost. You know what you’re paying. Typically, it’s fixed. The roof isn’t going go on you. The furnace isn’t … ” I got lots of properties. I got roofs and furnaces to pay for. I hate it.

Mark: You don’t have to worry about, like you said, if you don’t like it in six months or a year, you got to put it back on the market and go pay commission on selling the property.

Stefan: I said, “Renting, it’s not a dirt word. Today you could take that extra money on your down payment, a hundred grand, two hundred grand, go invest, buy yourself an apartment building. You could buy yourself multi-units. You could buy a storage facility. You can go and invest in stocks. Whatever you want, and just pay $1,300.00 a month or $1,500.00, whatever the number is and just forget about it.

People when fucking bananas. They’re like, oh my God. The middle class mentality came out. People were just like, “You have to own.” And, “You’re broke.” And all this bullshit. I’m like, “Bro, I own lots of buildings.” I have some space I rent. I have some space I own. I do both. I don’t really care. It was crazy because that belief system of renting versus owning, it got a debate. 500 comments, or whatever it was.

Mark: And it got people talking. Eyes on the prize, right?

Stefan: Dude it went into the discover part … People went bananas.

Mark: It’s amazing.

Stefan: Have you ever had any pieces just go bananas like that?

Mark: I’m going to say, there’s a photo that I wish there was a way to track it to see how many times it got posted. Going back to the Inspire Me Home Décor account, we had a house that we shot in Willowdale West, which is in Toronto. It’s a very beautiful area. When we were at the house, my client has this incredible ’96 Porsche. So I said, we’re going to put it in the driveway for the [bylight 00:26:25] pic that we take. You’ve probably seen it on my account. You may have seen this picture on line, because Inspire Me Home Décor posted it. From that time, I think it was three or four days, it was featured on accounts that had over 13 million followers. I’m still, today I got tagged in that photo three times, that it got reposted. I honestly think it’s probably one of the most viewed or posted houses in the world in 2018 on Instagram. This picture went viral.

Stefan: What is about … How do you do that? How do you make viral content? Everyone’s at home going, man how do I make viral content. Mark, how do I do-

Mark: It got featured on a big page. Big page saw the photo. They loved it, and they posted it. It started with a five million follower account. It’s the biggest interior design account online. They posted it. The magazine posted it, and it just started triggering, triggering. Like I said, that was shot the first or second week of September. I’m still getting that picture posted today and I’m getting tagged in it.

Stefan: That’s incredible.

Mark: It’s unreal.

Stefan: Mark, let me ask you this. I’m not sitting in front of my Instagram. People listening to this in their cars driving to work, or whatever, aren’t looking at your Instagram. They can’t see it. Do you have a special photo recipe where you make your photos special? Is it special photography? Special lens? Special editing?

Mark: All of my pictures that go on line are all professional photos.

Stefan: I’m giving you a gong for that. Bam!.

Mark: It’s the key. You have to have … You’re not going to see me put up a picture, and I see this all the time.

Stefan: You mean I can’t do and iPhone picture. A photographer can’t do it?

Mark: I’m not saying no iPhone pics, because I’ve had some iPhone pics. The cameras on the iPhones right now are amazing. They are incredible. But, when I say that, and I see it all the time, for example, my photographer is one of the best around. He takes pictures for a lot of realtors in the area. I’ll see when they post it on their page, rather than taking the raw file that they get from the photographer, because it’s the quality picture they get, what they’ll do is they’ll screen shot it, because you can tell. By the time it goes from him, to their computer, to the screen shot, to the gram, it’s blurry. You see what I’m trying to say? The start of this photo was great, but by the time they put it on line, they put up ten photos in their carousel that were all blurry. They weren’t the crisp images.

Even with my team sometimes, if they haven’t pulled it off drop box and those screen shots … Say, “Guys, pull it off. Repost it properly.” It’s that small care, if you want to call it, that you put into the post and the time that goes into that, that sets it off and makes a difference.

Stefan: Right. I built my brand flipping houses. Buy, fix, sell. Buy, fix, sell. Raise money, buy, fix, sell. I started with $1,200.00 in cash. Going to sell for maybe about another 28 and a half. I had raised money from rich people, buy shitty houses. Flip them, sell them. I had a formula. Every time I had a staging company, it was the same furniture. Every time it was professional photos. It was $300.00 for photos. Walk-through video before. Walk-through video after. I did that plus daily blogging. I just blew up from that. Now I suddenly have this international trading company because of those photos. It started with amazing photos-

Mark: Because you did quality stuff.

Stefan: Oh Bro, I’m giving you the gong. Boom, two gong show now.

Mark: I’m going to give you another example, okay? You know how it works with leasing. It’s one month rent. That’s our commission on a deal for a lease. I’m going to give you a very good example. We started this year doing things a little bit differently on the leasing side. It was a property we got up north. Somebody called and said, “Hey Mark, you know what? Would you do this?” I’ll be honest. 45 minutes away for a lease. By the end of it, you’re making $900.00 less your expenses, so you know gas, time. I would never say, “No, we’re not going to do your business.” It starts from here, and all of a sudden I want to show them how good we are. Let’s start with this. This one lease that we did, turned into five deals, long story short with that. Going back to the quality content part of it, I hired my photographer. Sent my photographer out there. Spent $290.00.

I spent 30% of what I was going to make on this deal, because I wanted to make sure that the property had good pictures. What did those good pictures allow me to do? Post them online.

Stefan: Builds your brand, Bro. Builds your brand.

Mark: I am not someone to skip. You will look at all my stuff. I don’t care whether it’s a lease, or a five and a half million dollar house that we have. We treat everything the same. I want to have quality content across the board.

Stefan: Three gong show, Mark. Three gongs.

Mark: Nothing will ever change it.

Stefan: Bro, you know what I love about you?

Mark: Tell me.

Stefan: There’s true value and marketing wise. I’m writing a marketing book right now. It’s true value versus marketing wise. So many times in my life I’ve fucked up the marketing. I’ve screwed up the sale. I’ve screwed up the techniques, messed up the negotiation, but I had true value, and I still won. The value was good. The product was good. The pictures were good. It was a good thing.

I think it’s a message for the kids at home, who are trying to pump up their Instagram and stuff, is if you actually have good stuff, no matter how you market it, it’s good soup. You have good soup, people come to the restaurant. You have bad soup, no amount of marketing is going to save you.

Mark: Everybody needs to realize that. People are going to do things, and they’re going to follow you, or they’re going to like you for you. This goes back to, remember we were discussing at the beginning of this, my company’s not a big company. We’re an independent brokerage. Here’s the example I’m going to use. Re/Max is the biggest real estate company in the world. I think as of six months ago they had 125,000 agents worldwide. Re/Max’s main page, and this was at the time, I don’t know where there at right now, had 55,000 followers. So they had double the amount of agents than they did presence online. What are they not doing to build their brand on line right now? They’re allowing little guys like me, and little companies like myself to take a nice piece of market share.

For what we are … I’ll give you and example. In Ontario, we haven’t closed the year out yet. Our November and December numbers haven’t been posted. We’re currently sitting at 67th in Ontario, out of 50,000 realtors. Again, we’re very small, but we’re very big. We’re a boutique company. We have a great online presence. I can put my online presence up against any company across Canada. When we were talking about video views and stuff like that, I sit with people, I say, “Look, you know this guy here from,” I’m not going to say where, but “from the states, and they’re very big. Obviously they’re on TV and stuff like that. Let’s pull up one of their properties.” I go through, click on the property. “32,000 views. This is someone who is on TV. Who’s being seen daily.”

And I say, “The value of what we’re offering online, for everybody,” and I tell them, “I don’t care whether we’re selling your lease property, or it’s a five and a half million dollar house. We are going to put out all the content, the exact same way, with quality, and we want to make sure that’s what we’re doing.” I do put little bits and pieces of myself in it, because people need to know who I am. I focus on my product. I know that people follow me for my product. They’re not following for-

Stefan: Get another gong.  You get another gong, Bro! Say it again, you focus on the product.

Mark: The product. You got to focus on the product. I’m not focusing on myself. So whatever it is that you’re selling, we’ll put it out there. If you’re selling yourself, and I like to think that I am selling myself, and I tell people, I have a small brokerage. I don’t walk into things saying, oh I have the biggest company in the world. Someone is going to want to work with me because they’re going to want to work with Mark Salerno. It’s not because they want to work with my company. If they have a problem, their not going to be able to call the head office and say, “Hey, what’s going on with my realtor.” No, they got to talk directly to the person.

Be you. I know people say it all the time. But just be yourself and people are going to like you, great. If they’re not going to like you, fuck ’em. It is what it is, at the end of the day. You can’t have everybody love you.

Stefan: Yeah man. A third love you, a third hate you, a third don’t care. I gotta send that message you just said to my sales guys nextdoor. I gotta say, “Bros it is, there’s an intangible value when you’re making a sale of they get you. They don’t get some other jackass, they got you, and you’re white gloving that sale.”

When I’m doing a deal with somebody, I’m always like, let me give you my personal line. Text me, call me any time. I always do that because I legitimately want them, if they have a problem, call me and let me know.

Mark: Of course, because you care about your name. Your name’s behind it, right?

Stefan: Yeah. Exactly, man. I’m selling my training. It’s got me on it. I’m raising capital. It’s got my name on it. Or I’m flipping a building. Whatever it is. I go, “Bro, you call me direct. Don’t deal with customer service. Don’t deal with the sales reps. Come right to me, if there’s ever a problem. You got me. You’re not going to work with me, but you got me if you need me.” It’s that little extra piece of care, that brings the trust. I think trust is the new money. Especially online with brands. Especially you’re doing high-ticket. You’re real estate. So what are your transactions? 300, 500, a million dollars. Those are high-trust transactions. They gotta trust you, man.

Mark: Let me ask you a question. This is in regard to sales. How many times have you walked into wherever you’ve gone where you’re buying something, and you may not have intended to buy something, but the person that you were dealing with was so fucking amazing, that you were like, “I got to give him a sale, just because I like him.”

Stefan: Bro, I always do that. I’m the worst buyer, seller guy. If a guy’s got a good pitch, I’m like, “Bro, I don’t need this, but I’m buying it because that was a great pitch.”

Mark: This is the thing. This is an example. Two weeks ago I had a buyer come through a house. We hit it off. Straight up. We hit it off, and we were talking. He goes, “You know Mark, I was just going to buy this house down the street. But now that I came here and met you, and the person who actually told me to come to the house, they said, ‘Hey, call Mark. I know the guy. He’s a solid guy.’ I came here now, look we’re having this great conversation.” He ended up buying the house directly through me that day. He literally had a check in his pocket to buy the house down the street.

Again, I tell people, these are the things that my dad taught me. Be truthful with people, no matter what because honestly Stefan, I do not care how big a commission check could be. My reputation is more important than any of that. Because you know what I can do? I can walk with my head high around knowing that I do good business. This is the type of business it’s very easy for people to turn and say that guy’s a piece of shit. That screwed me. This girl did this. This girl did that. But no one can say that, because when you do good business with people, it goes a long way. It could build up business for 15 years of doing good work. You do one bad thing, guess what. It’s all gone. It’s all gone. That’s just in business in general. Do good business with people, be truthful with people.

I literally treat every single one of my client’s properties like it’s my own money. I think that’s why people say, “Mark, I can really understand and see how much you care about what you’re doing.” It’s not a number game. If it was a number game, it would be a lot easier. But when you’re trying to do quality service, again you might lose a couple deals because you’re focusing a little bit more, you don’t want to take on a little bit more than you can handle, but again people are only going to say good things about you, and you’ll be around for a long time.

Stefan: Mark, that’s how I know you’re a rock star. I know that you’re a rock star because you’re saying … I’m not just saying your saying this, I’m feeling it. I’m feeling what you’re saying. What I’m feeling is the base … I hate to talk about ethics, but when people have ethics, it’s usually because they have bad ethics. Like, oh I’m so ethical. I have so many agents screwing their clients. While they’re screwing them, I’m so ethical. So when anyone talks about ethics, morals, or they say, oh I’m so religious. I’m always like, Bro, red flag.

What I love about what you’re talking about is you got good product, and you do what’s right for the customer. If you got good product, you do what’s right with the customer, you don’t even have to be a genus at anything. In fact, you could be bad at most things and still win. You know what I’m saying?

Mark: Still win. Yeah for sure.

Stefan: So Mark, we got to wrap up the show pretty soon. Dude I could talk to you like for two hours.

Mark: I appreciate that. Same here, Bro. Like I said, first time talking, and it’s been a very good conversation.

Stefan: We should do some insta-collabs.

Mark: Let’s do it.

Stefan: That would be a fun. We’ll send some traffic back and forth.

I got some questions I ask everybody because it’s a show, so we got to have format.

Mark: Let’s do it.

Stefan: If you go back in time Mark, you say you’re 33. If you go back to 18, or 16, or 15 year old Mark, what would you say?

Mark: What would I say to that guy?

Stefan: Yeah, like he’s coming in and you are the ghost of Christmas future coming to talk to this kid. What are you going to say?

Mark: Honestly, I don’t know if I would change anything. I’m going to be completely honest. The only thing that I actually would change is something that is out of my control. I wish I would have had the opportunity to get to actually work with my dad. That’s literally the only thing I would change and would be a little bit different. But outside of that, I can’t change it because I’m so blessed in life that I have right now. For me to say that I would change anything or tell that kid to do anything differently, I don’t think I could. I really sit here and say, I know I’ve given it 120%. There’s never been a point where I’ve sat back and said you know, fuck that, or screw this. No, man.

I was on my honeymoon, in 2013. It’s going to be six years in 2019. It was four in the morning. I was in the Maldives in a hut. I was face-timing my sales rep over a home inspection. On my honeymoon, in the middle of the ocean.

I can never sit back and say I didn’t do or go that extra mile for anybody that has given me the privilege to put my sign on their lot, or had the opportunity to work for them. That’s just the honest truth.

Stefan: I love it, man. What you said there is, “I wouldn’t change anything.” It’s funny, I had my book coach … I have a book coach. I’ve written five books now. My book coach said, “Stefan, I want you to write a letter to yourself, back in time to yourself.” I wrote this letter. I called it “Break the World,” this is the title of the letter to myself. Young, and go out there and break the world. Break everything, and learn to fix it. I said I only have two regrets in life. One is the things I didn’t do, and the things I didn’t do sooner. It was the things I didn’t do that I regretted, but everything else, I said, break the world. You do every single thing. You smash every single thing. You fuck it up and they’ll bury you fucked up and messed up, because you broke it.

But I don’t care about breaking things and messing up. It’s the things that I’ve never got to … Like you said, “I never got to work with my dad.” That might have been a great experience, or it could have been like Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader with lightsabers. You never know. But I love what you said there.

Another question we ask everybody, Mark, talk three books that changed your life.

Mark: A few of the real estate books actually I’ve read. One of the books I really like was the book from Frederick. It was a book that he did, his memoir book or whatever it was. Gary Vee, Crushing It. I’m sure a lot of people have read that book. It was a really good one. Let me see. I’ve got them all here. My favorite ones. You know what’s a really good one? Getting to Yes. That one I read a while back. This was a long time ago. That was probably one of the better books that I’ve read. I have probably like 30, 35 books behind me. Each one of these are all amazing. My thing is I listen to Grant Cardone. Now I’m more on the audio side of things. I’m not into the reading side. I like the audio because it’s a lot more accessible. You can read while you’re on the road. You can listen while you’re just walking around, stuff like that. The gym.

I tell my sales reps the same thing. “Guys, listen or read people who are successful.” You could always learn something. I don’t care what point you’re at in your life. There’s always someone who knows something that you don’t know, or can teach you something. Always keep yourself open to learning. That’s really what it comes down to at the end of it.

One thing I actually wanted to tell you, a little bit about myself. People might be interested in this. You see me. I’m sitting in my office right now. This time last year I just had got this office. I had a work from home office. Out of the ten years now that I’ve had Euromart, I had a work from home office for about eight and a half of those years. A lot of this time, I didn’t have a team. I just started a team this year. It was myself. There’s points where I was handling all the calls, booking the appointments, doin all the backend also.

Now it’s obviously changed. I have an assistant. I have people who do that stuff. I don’t want to say I didn’t need to start a team, I didn’t need to start a team. I was working from home, then and I had my best year, last year. Obviously now this year’s been my best from that point, but we were doing very well. I sat there with my wife and I said, “I want to start a team.” She goes, “Mark, Why do you got to do it. Everything’s great. You’re working from home. Business, you got best year of your life.”

I said to myself, “Why do I want to start a team?” I wanted to start a team because I told my guys this. I told them this when I hired them. Nothings better … Obviously being able to succeed is great, but being able to succeed with others is the best thing that you can do. To celebrate accomplishments with other people is so rewarding. My goal, and why I started this team, and we can have 50 people on this team. I tell you stuff, and I get messages, two to three a week that say, “Mark can I join your company? Can I join your team?” I’ve kept my team very limited. I have three teams members right now, and for me to be able to share my success and maybe make these people get to the point where I’m at right now, it’s something that’s very important for me. That’s my next goal, if you want to call it.

Stefan: Almost like legacy. You’re passing it on.

Mark: I want people to be a part of it with me. It’s great to do things by yourself, but I was always into sports and stuff like that. I was always a team guy. I just love doing well with other people. I’m hoping, and I’m seeing it already, the results from it, but I want this to be 20 years down the road from now, where these same people that are with me, are still with me. That’s very important to me. I want to build something great.

Stefan: Right. Bro, I love it, man. I’m really glad that we met today.

Mark: For sure. Me also.

Stefan: We need to do collabs, man. Me and you.

Mark: Let’s do it.

Stefan: Mark, I got one more thing that I love to ask everybody. This is an question.

Mark: Go for it.

Stefan: The young people. The 18 year olds out there. The young kids listening to this. What’s the one thing they need to succeed these days?

Mark: The one thing that people need to succeed in today’s day and age, is working hard. I know it’s probably the simplest thing that you can say, but with what we have in front of us, this is the little guys. This is the people who are coming right now, just coming out of high school. What they need to do, because they’ve only grown up with … Let’s just use the last ten years, with Facebook and Instagram, and all this stuff. They’re always used to seeing all these great things in front of people. We never had this stuff before, where you’re literally seeing the world at your fingertips. So everyone thinks it’s … You know, I just want to make money, but I don’t want to do anything for it. I want to do the least amount of work, to make the most amount of money. It doesn’t work that way. I’ve sacrificed and I’m sure that you have also, a lot of shit in your time to get to where you’ve got to. I still today do stuff that I did 15 years ago. I still … I work more hours today than I did in the past.

Stefan: Me too, Bro.

Mark: Things are great. I could sit back and take time off, and listen, let things happen, and be content. But I’m never going to be completely content. I’m going to work as hard as I can. It’s just in my DNA. So for the younger people listening to this, you have to work hard and show people the intensity, and the commitment, and the work ethic that you’re ready to put in. The more you put in, the more you’re going to get out, and that’s what it is at the end of the day. There’s only a few people that get lucky. You have a couple viral videos, all of a sudden you’re an overnight celebrity, but that doesn’t happen for most people. Hard work. Always try … don’t set small goals. Set the biggest fucking goals you can set, and just go for them.

Stefan: Sounds like you just gotta respect the grind, my friend.

Mark: That’s it. It’s all about the grind. It’s all about the grind.

Stefan: Yeah. You gotta respect it. 10 years, 10,000 hours. What makes you think can cut the line? Get in line. Respect the grind. I love it, Mark. Absolute pleasure. Thank you.

Mark: Thank you for having me today.

Stefan: Thank you my friend. How can people get in touch with Mark if they want to more, they want to connect.

Mark: Yeah, guys, phone me on Instagram @salernorealestate. Just type in Mark Salerno. I should come up at the top of that list. It’s probably the best spot. All my contact info is on there. You can send me a DM, email, my office number is on there. Feel free to reach out to me at any point. I was always tell that. I do a lot of live videos and I always tell them, “Hey, you know how to find me.” I’m there for you guys.

Stefan: I really love it, Mark. Thanks so much. Respect the grind.

Mark: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me today.