Real Wealth Network
BEFORE ELITE FORUM
ANNUAL REVENUES: $1,323,000
AFTER ELITE FORUM
ANNUAL REVENUES: $3,280,000
Company: Real Wealth Network
Industry: Real Estate
Elite Programs: Forum, Momentum, Mastermind
“More than anything, what we have learned from the Elite Forum has transformed our culture. We now have a strong, happy team that feels like a healthy family. Everyone is excited about our purpose and our mission, and they own their jobs. It feels like everyone is an owner at Real Wealth Network now, where in the past, we had some employees (no longer with us) that were only in it for their commission checks.” – Rich Fettke
“It seemed like the more our company grew, the more overwhelmed and frustrated we felt. As co-founders, Kathy and I were rapidly heading towards burnout.”
Why did you decide to attend the Elite Forum? What challenges did you want to overcome?
We had been in business for ten years when we signed up for the Elite Forum. We had grown over the years from a very small company and had just broken the million-dollar mark in sales. But we were feeling overwhelmed and things were starting to fall apart with some of our employees. Some of our employees were fighting with each other over commissions and sales and no one had clear ownership of their own goals and objectives. That meant that some vital changes we needed to make in our business were not happening because everyone was reacting to do the urgent things rather than focusing on the actions that were needed to grow and improve how we do business. We just seemed to be getting busier and busier, but our revenues and enjoyment were slowing down.
What was your biggest challenge as the leader of the company?
Communication and being proactive! We did not have clear roles and responsibilities so we kept “dropping the ball” and letting each other down…as well as our customers. It seemed like the more our company grew, the more overwhelmed and frustrated we felt. As co-founders, Kathy and I were rapidly heading towards burnout.
Did you have a vision for your company? What was it?
Our vision was pretty lame back then. We wanted to be a million-dollar company and then we achieved that vision. But it was bittersweet because when we reached that goal, it seemed like growth made everything more difficult. Of course, we also wanted to help our members build and secure their wealth. But we felt like the more members we helped, the more overwhelmed we became. The future was looking more overwhelming than exciting.
Prior to Elite Forum, what percentage of your time was spent working ON (not IN) the business?
Back then we were working 95% of the time IN the business and only about 5% of the time ON the business. We thought we just did not have any extra time to work on the business because we were so busy trying keep up with an overwhelming amount of daily to-dos.
Since attending Elite Forum, what percentage of your time is spent working ON (not IN) the business.
I now spend at least 50% of my time working ON the business. It’s my main role at Real Wealth Network. I plan and lead our weekly meetings and our quarterly and annual retreats. We have a clear org chart—we did not even have one before Elite Forum!—and each employee now has a clear job title, ownership and top 1-3 goals each quarter. I’m constantly learning how to be a better leader and how to grow a company with a strong, happy, effective culture.
What is your company’s Purpose?
We help people create real wealth. (We define real wealth as having the money and the freedom to live life on your own terms.)
What’s your company’s Mission?
Our mission for now until 2017 is to be the #1 passive real estate investing group in California with over 11,000 active members.
“Rather than just reacting to things, we now have a clear vision for where we want to be and how we want to get there.”
What are the top 1-3 things that you’ve implemented from the Elite Forum that have had the biggest impact on your success?
1. Annual and quarterly off-site retreats where our team has envisioned our future, set top priorities for the year, set quarterly goals and created clear, focused, proactive action plans for improving the business and better serving our customers.
2. Creating a clear org chart with specific roles and responsibilities, and then hiring the right people for those positions. Having leaders in the right positions has transformed our business and our culture.
3. Having a clear purpose, mission, vision, annual goals and quarterly goals. We used to feel overwhelmed with all we had to do. Now we have clarity on what matters most now and who is doing what. This has transformed our culture. Our team loves each other, and we don’t feel overwhelmed, which used to crush our spirits.
How has the Elite Forum impacted your business?
More than anything, what we have learned from the Elite Forum has transformed our culture. We now have a strong, happy team that feels like a healthy family. Everyone is excited about our purpose and our mission, and they own their jobs. It feels like everyone is an owner at RWN now, where in the past, we had some employees (no longer with us) that were only in it for their commission checks.
The second biggest thing we’ve gotten from the Elite Forum is a clear map for where we are going, and we are aligned and excited about it. Rather than just reacting to things, we now have a clear vision for where we want to be and how we want to get there. We track our metrics and results every month, and everyone on our team knows what part they play on this journey. This has increased our sales and profits more than double since Kathy and I attended Elite Forum in June of 2013. We had no idea we would have such a boost in growth like that — especially because we had been in business for ten years before we did the Elite Forum!
How did the Elite Forum impact you personally?
Both Kathy (my wife and our CEO) and I (our COO) now feel like true leaders. We used to spend most of our time working IN the business. Today, we focus on empowering our team to be the best versions of themselves so that our company can become the best version of itself. Knowing this, we were able to take our two young daughters to Europe for a month while our team ran the business—and everything went perfectly! That’s just one example of the freedom we now have in our lives: freedom of time, but even more importantly, peace of mind.
What innovative ways do you hire, train and fire to the vision?
We created a very clear, detailed “strategic vision” of where RWN will be in 2017. We have potential hires read that vision and then we simply ask, “How do you feel about all that?” Their answers always tell us a lot about who they are and if they seem like a good fit for our team. We also pass this four-page Strategic Vision around at our quarterly retreats where each team member reads one paragraph out loud to the group. It goes around the room so each person ends up reading twice. By the end, everyone has shared part of the vision while we all take it in, and get aligned and excited! At our quarterly retreats, we go over our nine company values and discuss HOW we are living the values (asking for specific examples). We do a closed-eye visualization with our whole team every quarter, imagining Real Wealth Network three, five and sometimes ten years into the future, and then we debrief the visualization together to find out what each employee saw in his or her imagination. We write all of the answers on a big white board and later add everything to Basecamp where we keep all our dreams, goals and projects.
When an employee has not seemed like a good fit, we have sat down with the employee and gone over our company values to review where the lack of congruency is. We even had one employee say, “I don’t really get this values stuff. I just want to make my commissions and be left alone.” That made it very easy for us to know she was on the wrong bus!
What innovative things do you do to strengthen your company’s culture?
Our quarterly retreats have become the most culture-strengthening thing we do. We rented a big house on the beach in Malibu where we had our vision, mission, purpose and values as big posters on the walls. Then, after visioning, planning and creating, we all went surfing, standup paddleboarding and kayaking. That was an incredible retreat for really bonding our team and strengthening our culture. We also took our whole team to Park City, Utah where we rented a big cabin, did the same envisioning but also had everyone share his or her personal dreams. This was amazing too. Then we treated the whole staff to skiing at Deer Valley and the Canyons. Again, it was very bonding and culture-strengthening. Finally, we completely restructured our compensation plan. Rather than having our team be on individual commissions, we changed it so everyone is on a salary plus they each get a percentage of total profits. So now the better the company does overall, the more money everyone makes. This has had a huge positive impact on our culture. Everyone is focused on doing his or her part to help improve the company, better serve our members and customers, move toward our mission and increase revenues.
What was the most challenging thing to implement? How did you overcome that challenge?
The most challenging thing to implement was getting our team to understand the importance of meeting rhythms, as well as quarterly and annual retreats. Because we had not done this in the past—and everyone was “so busy”—I had to keep saying, “Trust me, this will actually help us to feel less overwhelmed.” I was diligent about the importance of our weekly team meetings, quarterly retreats and annual retreats. Once our team started seeing the positive results of the meetings, they now look forward to them and even share ideas on how our meetings can be even better.
What would your business look like today if you hadn’t attended the Elite Forum?
We might not be in business! Back in 2013, Kathy and our employees were really feeling burned out. I had the feeling we could turn things around, but I didn’t know how. The Elite Forum gave me the answers! Had we not done the Elite Forum—and if we were still in business today—I’d probably have less hair, more wrinkles and a troubled marriage (since my wife is our CEO).
What’s your #1 tip for other Elite Forum graduates?
You will walk away from the Elite Forum with lots of ideas and strategies to implement. Just remember, you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Well, eventually you can do everything, but don’t think you have to do it all right away. Start by getting clarity on where your biggest challenges and opportunities are. Look at the SWOT analysis you do in the Elite Forum and use that as a “what’s next” guide. We saw that our biggest missing piece was a clear org chart for who does what. We were all working on the same parts of the business, so it was overwhelming. When we created an org chart, each person on our team stepped up and took his or her area up several levels. Then, I’d suggest that you really focus on getting very clear on your company’s vision, mission, purpose and values. Ask your team for input. Get them involved. Ask them what they see for the future of your company and your customers and let them take ownership. When everyone is clear about the why, then the how is revealed with greater ease and speed.