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ADVECS Real Estate Corporation

The Realtor. Goals we set. A Key to Success

02.01.2007

The Realtor. Goals we set. A Key to Success

The Chief, 2007 - 1-2(№57)

The Chief, 2007 - 1-2(№57)Success is accomplishment of an activity and achievement of a goal.

Success is the joy of completion.

Business, like sport, is a highly competitive environment; it chucks out the weak, allowing only the bravest and the strongest to the top. But what happens when one reaches success in one’s professional area? Life of a successful businessman can be quite stressful: first of all, as a public figure, he often finds himself in the center of public attention. A leader also takes responsibility for those who are working with and for him; not all of us are ready to carry such a heavy burden.

Alexander Romanenko, President of the Russian Guild of Realtors, the founder and President of a national corporation “Advecs Real Estate”, comes from the rare breed of born leaders. Today he is a guest of “The Chief” magazine.


Biographical note

Romanenko, Alexander Yurievich

  • Born on August 26, 1956 in Leningrad;

  • Graduated from the Lesgaft Institute of Physical Culture. Graduated from UCR School of Management at the University of California;

  • President of “Advecs Real Estate” corporation;

  • Vice-president of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI);

  • Official representative of FIABCI at U.N.O. in Geneva;

  • President of the Russian Guild of Realtors;

  • “Man of the Year 2005” in Russian real estate business (RAMBLER’s version);

  • Has been included in 100 best top managers of St. Petersburg and 1000 best top managers of the Russian Federation (Versions of “Delovoy Peterburg” and “Commersant” business magazines);

  • 1993-2003: worked as a real estate broker in California, Certified Property Manager (CPM, Institute of R. E. Management);

  • Doubly awarded with St. Petersburg city’s social “Kaissa” prize in the nomination: “For outstanding personal contribution in the development of the real estate market”;

  • Awarded with a medal by the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) “for outstanding contribution in the sphere of real estate” (2005);

  • Hobby: triathlon;

  • Children: four - three sons and a daughter.


Interview

- In the Russian language the words “success” and “progress” come from the same root. Who, in your opinion, can be considered a successful man? What are your criteria of success?

- The Russian language often gives answers to philosophical questions like this one. Of course it’s impossible to give a universal definition of what success is: every man or woman defines it differently. Besides, the criteria of success modify as man goes on with his life, gets older, more sophisticated. This is perfectly normal. As a Russian saying states: “If only the young men had the wisdom, if only the old men had the strength”…

When we are young our primary goal is to achieve the most primitive “materialistic” success. This is understandable – not many people can contemplate noble matters while lacking essential material welfare.

If we take Maslow’s classical “motivation pyramid” showing the hierarchy of needs, we’ll see that its base is composed of breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, i.e. the essential human needs that ultimately require money to provide for them. The next level of the “motivation pyramid’ includes security: security of employment, resources, health, property, etc., in other words, “higher” matters, while the issues of morality form the very peak of the pyramid. This is so very true! Young people, especially men, use all their energy to become successful in their carrier as it gives them immediate retribution in the form of a higher salary or a better position. There is nothing bad or abnormal in trying to achieve materialistic success. Only… How often do we forget that success in business does not guarantee happiness in life!

- But how can one become successful in business in the first place?

- If “success” and “progress” are synonyms, it obviously means that one must concentrate on making a steady progress in his field of business, perfecting professional skills, and try to achieve the set goals. It is also very important to select one’s goals correctly. A clear “development plan” can bring you halfway to success. The goal should by all means be realizable, though it should certainly require some effort, as this gives one a healthy motive for self development. But most importantly one should want to reach the goal in order to be properly motivated. Once these criteria have been met, one should not stop until the goal is reached. Then we are off to the next goal. Our whole life is a chain of goals which we reach one by one.

- Well, when you explain it, it seems so easy…

- Oh no, not at all. Let me give you an example from my own life. After school I entered a technical college (not because I loved sciences but on recommendation of my parents. My father is a physicist, my mother – an engineer). During my freshman year I was bored to death by all those technical disciplines and realized they would never make me happy. I am proud to confess that I displayed enough common sense and will of character to admit it. Believe me, it was not easy. My parents were disappointed, my future uncertain. I dropped out of college, entered the Leningrad Institute of Physical Culture. This defined my development for many years ahead. I had been engaged in athletics since childhood but at the same time I tried to objectively estimate my physical abilities and knew that I would never win the Olympics. And I am an ambitious man, only high goals inspire me. I have always strived to become the best in any field I chose.

As I liked to work with people, I decided to become a coach and selected the Pedagogical faculty at the Institute of Physical Culture. Of course, I wanted to become the best coach! Now I understand how correctly I had set my goal then. It was the beginning of a very productive, interesting and happy period of my life. I selected several talented young men and started training them. Out of the four trainees I had three managed to surpass qualifying standards of “Master of Sports”; two were selected for the National athletic team of the USSR. You know, when young athletes you train start winning prizes you celebrate a double victory – not only the victory of your trainees but also your own, as their coach. I worked as a coach for almost ten years and I enjoyed every single day of it, it was so wonderful. My first pupils later became my most loyal friends. All of them are now successful businessmen.

The beginning of 1990-s was marked by a complete devastation of Russia’s economy, and sport achievements was the last thing on the State bureaucracy’s mind. There were no clear perspectives in this area. This period became another turning point in my life. I wanted to apply my knowledge, my energy in some new field. The concept of “business” was very new to Russia, so it became my primary focus. My friends and I founded a “cooperative enterprise”. Starting our own venture was such fun! What a fantastic team we formed…

First we sold computers, then, due to recommendations of the great Russian motor-racer Gennady Moisseyev, switched to KTM motorcycles. We also had a fashion department headed by Tatiana Parfenova… We were young, ambitious, talented, fearless and totally inexperienced. But we were also lucky! We dived into work head first, devoted all our time to it. And we achieved success though it was then that I realized for the first time that business is like a lifetime long marathon run. I also realized that I lacked both the experience and the knowledge required to sustain it, and, ultimately, to win.

Therefore I decided to invest in myself, i.e. invest in my own education. So my life took another hundred and eighty degrees turn. My cousin was invited to teach at the University of California so I decided to go with him. Here I entered the School of Management. To make money I delivered pizzas, washed dishes at a restaurant. At the same time I studied to become a realtor. After graduating from the University I spent two years in America working as a real estate agent. This work provided me with an invaluable experience and defined my life for the coming years.

The knowledge I got in the USA made it possible for me in 1993 to found one of the first Russian real estate agencies, called “Advecs”. Now “Advecs Real Estate” has become a corporation on a national level.

- Well, we have returned to what makes a venture successful. “Advecs” is successful. Why?

- All right, let me repeat – to achieve success one should always keep moving forward, develop professional skills, and acquire new ones. It is crucial to remember that once you stop you will inevitably fall back. You can’t stop: to keep moving is a must. It’s like a marathon.

Take any company – its success is made up of personal achievements of its employees. So the company’s professional team is a crucial key to success. Employees should be kept happy and motivated, should never be allowed to “burn out”. Since in my heart I am first and foremost a coach, I invest in various training and educational programs and courses for our real estate agents and managers. You know, in spite of a catastrophic lack of time, I still teach a master-class “How to charge your career” aimed at helping our realtors to structure their personal goals and get motivated. It is also important to teach our agents how to deal with people, as incompetence and lack of professionalism in our area may lead to catastrophic consequences.

One should not forget that an apartment or a country house is often the biggest asset many of our countrymen have; whether it’s inherited or bought as a result of a lifetime saving, it’s still the only capital they will ever possess. So when striking a deal a realtor should always remember that he is responsible for the future happiness of an individual or even a household.

- Wow! Doesn’t it sound a little too pompous?

- Not at all! And I am not exaggerating either. Remember when homeless people first started to appear in Russia? Correct, in 1990-s; there had been no homeless people in the USSR. And where did they all come from, tell me? Because during that absolutely lawless period the Russian real estate market swarmed with “black brokers”; these swindlers conned or forced naïve people to sell their apartments literally for nothing. I am convinced that working in the real estate area has loaded me with the double responsibility - this is why I occupy myself with social work, aimed at raising the general situation on the Russian real estate market to a more “civilized” level.

I’ve started with setting up the St. Petersburg Realtors Association. It took a lot of time and efforts but I am convinced that we have managed to make the local market much more civilized. Last year I was elected President of the Russian Guild of Realtors.

- And what are your main duties as President of the Russian Guild of Realtors?

- Well, my chief goal is to strengthen the Realtor’s professional reputation. At the present time this in many ways unique occupation has been unfairly underestimated in Russia. Stop to think for a moment – real estate is undoubtedly one of the most profitable professions, also very important socially. But in Russia one does not even need a license to become a realtor. Isn’t it the biggest absurdity one can think of?

Licensing was abolished five years ago and these five years have clearly shown us how harmful such ill-conceived measures have been to the market. At the moment almost anyone can become a realtor, hence a horde of scoundrels and amateurs who are flooding the market, especially in the country’s interior regions. And for an ordinary citizen it’s very difficult to tell pros from cons. Therefore at the moment we are struggling to “purify the title”, so to say: only members of the Russian Guild of Realtors should be allowed to bear the title “Realtor”. Others should be content calling themselves “brokers”, “agents”, “intermediaries”, whatever.

- Could you please explain to me, an ordinary citizen, how I will benefit from the certification of the real estate business?

- Oh, first of all you will get a guarantee of quality treatment and safety of dealings with your property. A certificate is a binding obligation for a company to work under strict rules set for all companies in a certain area of business operations. Most leading real estate agencies fully appreciate the necessity of such a step. However, we will be able to radically alter the situation only when our customers realize the danger coming from uncertified brokers and stop turning to them. At the moment in St. Petersburg 60% of all real estate deals are done by certified realtors.

- Well, does this mean that a certified agent is ideal?

- Of course not. To be perfectly honest, I should admit that professional skills of our agents are much lower than those of the American realtors. But we are working in this direction. At the Guild we have worked out some uniform education programs for realtors. We are also working out “uniform standards” for mortgage brokers. We are composing the first in Russia “Realtor’s handbook”. These are basic things, of course, but I am sure they will bear fruit. Our realtors’ professional skills are steadily growing, though the mean level is not high enough yet. Companies should pay more attention to raising professional qualifications of their employees.

Ask any American if he wants to sell his house by himself, and he will laugh in your face. “This is not my business,” he will tell you and turn to professional realtors for assistance. This is what Russian people should say in a similar situation. But unfortunately many of them still think that to sell or buy property is a “piece of cake”.

- Well, you have set colossal goals – do you think you will manage to achieve them?

- According to the rules President of the Guild cannot be reelected. It means that I should do as much a possible within my two years of presidency. Of course it’s hard, given this short period of time. Sometimes I ask myself: “What do I need all this for?” But if it’s not me, who will deal with it then? The easiest thing is to step aside and grumble: “Oh, how bad this is, how uncivilized!” It’s harder to actually do something. But if you’ve done something useful not only for yourself but for other people as well, it gives you a very nice feeling of self accomplishment.

Every summer, during the season of White Nights, from June 16 to 20, to be exact, we hold an International Congress of Realtors in St. Petersburg. This summer will be no exception. Over a thousand delegates will come, not only from Russia, but also from Western Europe, Asia, and North America. Realtors will share their experience and talk of their achievements, and we will certainly discuss our problems. We have invited legislative and executive authorities to the Congress - they will give it an additional weight. It is a challenge to organize an event of such scale but I am sure we will manage.

- You seem to spend so much time and effort doing social work, who deals with your business?

- My team of professionals is really invaluable. We have worked together for over ten years; these are the people I can entrust with my life. But let me point out again - life should not be limited to work only, there are so many other aspects to it: family, physical health, spiritual development... Only a harmonious combination of these factors can bring joy, even moments of happiness! We all are far from being perfect, but life has taught me to find joy in what surrounds me while dreaming of more…

For example, I don’t have the time for regular sports – jogging is not really a sport, is it? Nevertheless, once a year I give my body a good shake when I take part in the international triathlon competitions, held in Los Angeles. We have to swim 1,5 km, then cover 40 km by bicycle, then run for 10 km. So far I have managed to come to the “Finish” line in one part. Recently I have also climbed a five-thousand-meters mountain top…

- And why do you do it?

- The “why” question is so rational sometimes it should be avoided. Ask yourself “Why?” and you get paralyzed as more often than not you don’t have a coherent answer to that. Why do you look at stars?

- All right, I’ll rephrase it. Do you have any particular reasons for doing what you are doing?

- As I said I love setting goals and reaching them. It doesn’t matter whether we talk about sport, self-education or business.

- Thank you very much for your time.

- You are welcome! In my turn let me wish all possible success to “The Chief” magazine and its readers.  

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