Hey goal achievers! Kristin here and, recently, I conducted my first international interview for Elite Achievement.
Shayla Ackerman is a fierce businesswoman taking the Canadian real estate market by storm. Shayla is a recipient of many 30 under 30 national awards for real estate. She placed within the top 3% of her company for sales commissions earned. And last year, she reached the top 2%, out of about 18,000 agents, with her brokerage Royal Lepage.
Shayla leads a team of three other real estate agents and collaborates with two assistants. In addition to being a real estate agent, she is a landlord and flips properties. She is obsessed with caffeine, loves fashion, is a mama to three kiddos and a loving wife. I personally admire her hustle, drive to achieve, positive outlook and transparency on her Instagram page. To say I was excited to conduct her interview is an understatement.
I started by welcoming Shayla, who was humble and gracious. For my first question, I wanted to have Shayla take us back to the start of her real estate journey, now eight years ago.
“I guess if I’m completely honest, my now husband and I had a very exciting but unexpected life change,” Shayla starts. “We found out early into our relationship that we were expecting a child and we were over the moon. But it definitely forced me to take a look at where I was in my life and what I was going to do moving forward. I was in university, almost through my degree. But by the time that we were set to have our newest addition, I didn’t have the opportunity to finish. And so, I sat down and took a look at my future. My husband was a real estate agent and I decided to give it my own attempt.”
I smile and mention that “giving it an attempt” is an understatement when surveying all that Shayla has accomplished in her career. And I’m curious to hear her explain her journey and rise to the successful top 2%.
“It’s actually really hard to hear,” says Shayla on speaking about her success. “I’m not someone who listens to that lightly. It’s been a journey and not always an easy one. Some parts were a huge, huge struggle and caused a lot of stress in my life to get where I am. But then there are other sides of the industry that I feel came very easily. The journey to get where I am has been year by year, figuring out what I’m focusing on. And then collectively, I’ve ended up at this eight-year incredible career that I’ve created. But it’s been little by little, taking it year by year step by step to come where I am.”
I ask Shayla to go deeper because she mentions struggles, which we all have to overcome on our goal achievement journeys. And I want to know how she has personally overcome hers.
Shayla goes straight to mindset. And shares how her mind was holding her back and almost tricking her into doubting herself. “When I first got in, I was considered quite young, one of the youngest in the city. I also was female. Now, I don’t know if that was something within my mind that I was up against. Or if that actually was a real thing. As time went on, I realized I needed to make sure that it wasn’t myself holding me back. I wanted to make sure that I overcame those insecurities that I had. I wanted to make sure that I could create my own future without those beliefs limiting me. And figuring out how to do it wasn’t easy. I still don’t think I figured it out as much as I would like to.” Shayla lists a few questions she’s found helpful to ask herself along the way, including:
Where are these thoughts coming from?
Are they things that are being said to me?
Are they things that I’m seeing online?
Are they things that I’m creating in my mind?
As a coach that works with a lot of women, I see this a lot. Often, we have these limiting beliefs that come from comparison. We’re comparing our journeys to other people’s journeys, especially if we’re active online. I also think we can have these limiting beliefs wrapped up around perfectionism and having to do it all and show up and be perfect.
Before launching my coaching practice, I worked in a male-dominated industry. And I felt a lot of the same challenges – I felt behind as a woman. I felt like I didn’t have the same kind of competitive edge. And I admire how Shayla learned to explore those beliefs and ask questions to figure out where they’re coming from – and if there’s any truth in those beliefs. I ask her to share any practices or routines that help her keep her mindset super strong.
Shayla shares that for her, the problem with real estate is that there’s no road, which means everybody has their own journey and does it differently. “Essentially, you get your license, and then you’re thrown out there to figure it out.” She explains how you then look to another real estate agent or brokerage only to realize that everybody can be different. There is a flexibility she explains that allows you to advertise, create and mold a career however you see fit.
“When I first got in, I think my mind was limiting me. I was worried that being young was my disadvantage. So, I would go out and I would make sure that I dressed older, or I made sure that I always looked professional. When I first got into the industry, you wouldn’t catch me dead walking outside the house unless I was in a suit – to me, that showed professionalism and experience. It was sort of a false image I felt I was creating. But it also brought me confidence,” Shayla explains.
Shayla explains that she was worried about being a female in the industry and having limited knowledge about construction and houses. She found herself turning to any resource or education she could find, including YouTube, Google, podcasts and more. It wasn’t that saying, “I don’t know, let me find out,” was a problem. But growing her knowledge was (and continues to be) a priority and is one way that helped her feel more comfortable. “The more I learned, the more I could answer those questions without getting nervous.”
Shayla also shares how the industry today has many new young females entering the space, which she is encouraged to see. It’s obvious that she believes in education, growth and development, and supporting the other women in her industry. This is especially important to me as I see how many of the women I know and work with crave support, especially in competitive environments. I ask her to share what support she had as she was rising up in her real estate career and how that support either helped, or if there was a lack of support, hindered success.
“So, you’ll laugh at this,” Shayla begins. “My husband is a real estate agent. And yet, when I got into the industry, he basically said sink or swim; he was not going to help me. And now, looking back at the time, I think I was probably very hurt by that. I thought this person that I had so many amazing connections with should be there to advance and help me build because it was also going to benefit him. But he didn’t. And I now look back and understand that decision. That decision was because we were new in our relationship. We were now, all of a sudden, raising three children. We were renovating our house that we live in. There were all of these sorts of things that were going on. And in his mind, he felt that intermingling literally every section of our life probably wouldn’t be good. Further to that, he had been in the industry for a long time. He had created bad habits. He had also created good ones, but he had bad ones and he didn’t want to pass on to me. So, where a lot of people would think I had that immediate support and a world of education right within my own home, I didn’t.”
“The best part was that I made friends very quickly,” says Shayla. “And I never shied away from asking questions. I had a handful of men that I connected well with that worked within my brokerage where I started. And I would just call them and say, Hey, I’m struggling with this. Do you mind if I pick your brain? And you would not believe how many people were there to say absolutely. I picked a select few that I knew would help me and I found support within my friend group. I have a solid group of girlfriends that have been in my life. My sister didn’t have a choice! They might not have known initially exactly what I was dealing with, but they were there to offer support, in general. And that’s incredibly important.”
I recognize that Shayla has just shared so many critical components that are significant on our goal achievement journey. One is that different people in our lives can provide different levels of support. I’m learning how to play golf, and my husband has worked in the golf industry for years. So, I’m looking at him every time we’re playing – like what did I do wrong – and it’s so frustrating because he’s not giving me answers! But I have to remember, he’s trying to play his own game. And he told me, just like Shayla’s husband, that he also has bad habits he doesn’t want to pass on to me. So, it’s really important to figure out who in your life can provide the right levels of support, and it might not be the initial people that you expect.
Asking for support is powerful. There are far too many of us who don’t raise our hand – we’re afraid of looking ridiculous – or not knowing the answer. So, we don’t ask, and that gets in our way and holds us back.
I want to shift gears and ask Shayla about the social media following she’s built, and I ask her to share more on how she created her fantastic Instagram page.
She shares that it was actually her outlet from real estate. There was a point when she was starting to feel overwhelmed because everything was real estate focused. She felt like she was losing a little bit of herself, including the fun she normally found in the industry. “I decided to create this Instagram page to share other passions that I have,” Shayla explains. “I really enjoy clothing, fashion, getting dressed in the morning. To me, shopping is also a stress reliever. So, when I’m stressed with real estate, I pop into a local clothing store. I started this page to give myself a distraction, and over time, it has become an incredibly supportive community, which is really, really cool. They’re not all local. Actually, only 20% of my following is local; the other 80% is wherever they might be. But it’s given me that opportunity to connect with others in my province and country, and then all over the world. So that’s what I’ve built this Instagram account to be. A bit of my life, motivation, clothing – a bit of all over the map.”
Motivation is a topic I want to dig deeper with Shayla on. And I ask her to share what motivates her today, and if it’s different than the motivation of a growing family she started with.
“My motivation today still comes from the motivation that started this journey, which was I don’t have a choice. I have a family. I have a home that I have to pay for. I have a life that I have to support. I needed to get in there and give it my all and make sure that I was doing everything to the best of my ability – that still continues to today.”
“But,” Shayla continues, “It’s a little bit different of a process day to day. I love helping people and that’s a huge part of real estate. My favorite day is possession day. It is the most exciting day in a lot of people’s lives, past things like marriages and births. So, the motivation comes from seeing people happy, making people happy, being able to get out there and interact with people. Very rarely do I have to sit down and give myself a pep talk – I have found a career that genuinely makes me happy.”
I have to smile – and definitely understand why Shayla and I were instant friends when we met so many years ago. We both share that passion for making an impact. And we share that desire to show up and help other people.
I ask Shayla once more about her social media page because I am challenged with being so vulnerable and transparent online. It is very new to me because I launched my Instagram page for business this year, and I’m curious how she has grown the courage to show up and be online every day.
“You know, originally when I started it, I was consumed with the thought that everything had to be perfect. Everything had to be planned. I wouldn’t jump on there if I didn’t have my makeup or my hair done. It was an unrealistic expectation that actually wore on me as a person,” says Shayla. “I was worried about capturing that perfect moment, and I wasn’t truthfully enjoying it. So, as that account has expanded, I’ve tried to expand my comfort level of what I’ll share. And I find that it’s really, really important to share real life. Because if I’m always on there sharing this curated feed, and these moments where you never see me without my eyeliner – that’s not real life. And that, unfortunately, I find can set an unrealistic expectation for my followers. I have gotten caught up in that whole Instagram game where I am comparing myself to others, looking at their beautiful homes and their pretty cars and wonderful wardrobe. And that is absolutely not what I think social platforms like Instagram are for. So, I have started jumping on whether I have had a long day and my hair is in a top knot falling out, or we’re doing boring day to day things. I mean, even last night, I jumped on to admit to all of my followers that I had a tremendous amount of anxiety about being on your podcast today, even though we’re friends! And even though I am incredibly confident in what I do day to day, this was outside of the box for me and I shared that with them. I woke up this morning to over 150 messages of women in my court cheering me on. It was a little pep talk that I didn’t even know I needed.”
According to Shayla, “Being real with people, and being vulnerable, is part of why people will connect with you. Creating these, almost like fake lives is quite detrimental to people in not only how they connect with you, and that’s not my main focus, but how you view your life should be. I’ve done (quite regularly) clean sweeps of my Instagram account. I go through and I say, is this person adding value to my life? Is this person real with me as a follower? And if they’re not, I’m not afraid to unfollow. I believe people I follow are there to inspire me, drive me to be better, and show me that life isn’t always easy. Don’t get me wrong. I am not going to share the dirt – things that we go through as a family. And there’s one part of my life I don’t share on Instagram, because that is a private part of our life. It is a part that doesn’t need to be out there for everybody to know the details. So, I think finding the fine line of being vulnerable, asking what you can share, what is okay for your family to have out there – those are important questions.”
I find Shayla’s input incredibly helpful because I spent a lot of my early career working in a very professional setting. It was business attire, where you did your hair and makeup every day. A certain image was expected, and I associated that image with success in my mind. But as I record the podcast with Shayla, I’m sitting in the closet, wearing a V neck t-shirt, and my hair is in a top knot because I’m golfing later. I had to work hard this year to shed that perception that I have to look a certain way to be a great coach or to be a professional or to be smart. The way that I look right now is not impacting what’s in my mind. So, I think it’s a healthy perspective for those of us on social media, showing both sides and not putting out those fake images, because it creates unrealistic expectations.
I ask Shayla how she thinks she’s been able to go from being a young woman in a male-dominated industry to being the confident, fierce leader that she is today. And she talks about the importance of adapting and understanding that something that works for you originally might not work a year later or two years later. She believes that as we grow, we become more confident.
As she talks, I realize this conversation connects back to mindset and how it really is a journey. It’s not like one day we wake up, and we’re all of the sudden, perfectly confident, or perfectly on pace, or perfectly where we want to be. But as long as we are making steps in the direction of the vision that we have for ourselves in our lives, we can adapt, change, ebb and flow along the way.
Shayla agrees and shares more. “I think another thing, too, is making sure that you’re aware of how you’re feeling.” She also shares how writing things down has helped her move forward and learn to track her goals in a new way. She explains that having a big goal and tracking it has now expanded into analyzing how to get to the goal. A year-end goal might take into account her busiest months in real estate – and those months would have a higher goal than slow months. That allows her to look at a spreadsheet during the year and see if she’s on track, rather than looking at the very end of the year. For her, creating more obtainable and trackable goals has been key.
She is 1,000% on topic for my goal achievement audience, who knows that I believe in setting goals and tracking them. If we don’t track our goals, we’re likely not going to achieve our goals. But the key is constantly reflecting and planning. So, if you’re off pace in one of your critical months, you do the work to reconfigure what it is that you need to do to bring your goal to reality. And that is such an important piece of this discussion.
Shayla continues, “I think the biggest thing is making sure that your goal is reachable. I like to stretch myself. But there was one year where I was feeling it. I got to the end of the year and I was like – I crushed that goal. This is awesome. I’m so excited for the next year. And my next year’s goal was to double what I had just done. That wasn’t realistic – there was no part of me that physically could have completed that goal. So, I spent that entire year, every time I checked that spreadsheet, feeling like I wasn’t meeting what I had set forward. And so, I think it’s also making sure that what you’re doing is pushing you to your limits, but it’s something that you think you can do.”
I agree. And it sounds like Shayla had to build up a team, a team of other agents and assistants to achieve those bigger and better goals. “I did,” Shayla confirms. “I got to a point where I told myself when I got in; I was going to run myself ragged for five years. I was going to do everything I could to build my business. And then, five years in, I wanted my business to work for me. Well, five years came and went, and I continued to run myself ragged. It got to a point where I had to sit down and say, I can’t do this all on my own. And I’m not providing the service that I’ve always been so proud to do because I’m struggling to keep up with the amount of business that I’m building. That was February of 2019, I started this team, and I was able to delegate roles and make sure that our clients were being serviced to the best of my ability. And that was really hard. I don’t like giving up control. I’m a control freak but being able to expand and then also trust the team that I’ve built, has allowed me to step away a little bit more. I spent three weeks in Europe last year. And all I really had to do was check the phone and connect with my team. I didn’t even turn off my phone on my wedding day! So, it shows how giving up a part of that control actually has changed my life and is taking it in a very exciting direction.”
I wrap up with Shayla so grateful for the gold she has shared by exploring her career journey, motivations and drive to succeed and ask her where we can continue to follow along. She shares her Instagram address, www.instagram.com/shaylaackerman, and I encourage you to seek her out.
Until next time goal achievers, keep celebrating your weekly wins, learning from your lessons and identifying your priorities so you can consistently pursue progress in the direction of your goals.