VENTEUR chatted with Jonathan Lahey, best-selling author, experienced speaker, certified success coach, and founder of The Fine Living Group at eXp, about his entrepreneurial journey. Lahey earned his B.A. in Information Systems and Management from the University of Maryland, Baltimore but was inspired by the American dream of homeownership and joined the real estate industry. Since choosing to focus on real estate, Lahey has consistently finished in the top 1% of the nation as a realtor, selling over 200 homes annually. 

In 2010, he launched The Lahey Group, breaking $1 million in gross commission income (GCI) in just five years, and he’s been growing his team and expanding into different markets. Finishing 2021, the group tripled that record, reaching over $3 million in GCI. The Lahey Group has also finished as the #1 Maryland team for RE/MAX and top 100 worldwide for RE/MAX and qualified for Pinnacle Club RE/MAX award level.

Founder of The Fine Living Group at eXp Jonathan Lahey / Photo courtesy of Jonathan Lahey

The Journey

The entrepreneurial journey is one of self-discovery. What have you learned about yourself while building your business?

One of the most important lessons I've learned is that it's not about money. It comes down to what you're passionate about, which directly influences people's lives. 

My legacy is in the stories I get to be a part of, not the money I make. What matters most to me are the lives of the agents I've influenced and the families I've assisted. 

That’s my footprint in the sand.

The entrepreneurial journey is often lonely. Have you experienced loneliness as an entrepreneur?

Yes, the more successful you are, the lonelier it gets. 

There are fewer people with whom you can connect and relate to what you're going through as a growing entrepreneur. 

I’ve learned to become more intentional in surrounding myself with like-minded individuals. For example, I joined Tony Robin’s Platinum Partnership network to associate with other entrepreneurs who are on similar paths. 

A quote from author Jack Canfield goes, “You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.” 

It all comes down to who you surround yourself with.

The Psychological Warfare 

Entrepreneurs generally sleep less, work more, and let their health slip. This combination, combined with loneliness, often results in insecurity, self-esteem issues, and low self-worth. Have you experienced any of these issues as an entrepreneur? 

Yes, when I first started building my business, I didn't care what I ate and didn't pay much attention to my health. I also slept very little. 

As a result, I received a diagnosis of prediabetes and shingles in my early 30s, which is crazy to have at that age. 

I got sick, had low energy levels, and was overweight. 

I started to clean up my act after my daughter was born. Before having my daughter, I thought I didn't have the time to prioritize my health, but I decided to do so after having her. 

I began to pay more attention to the company I kept and the lifestyles they promoted. I was able to alter my standard of living for myself by surrounding myself with healthier, happier people. 

I had that support to take charge of my health, be more vibrant, and ultimately beat diabetes. 

Newer entrepreneurs often equate their success with the success and value of their business. If their business fails, they are a failure. If their business succeeds, they are a success. Have you experienced this warped perception of reality?

A lot of us entrepreneurs constantly compare ourselves to our competitors. Watching your competition grow their business faster and better than you can be exhausting. It causes so much stress to try and keep up, and you’re never going to win that fight because you’re constantly comparing. 

I’ve shifted my attention to finding reasons to celebrate every day and every moment. Whether things are going well or poorly, you must consistently train your nervous system to look for the silver lining. 

At the Fine Living Group, we pride ourselves on being a company that celebrates the win–that’s who we are as a company. 

Within our practice, we are always looking for things and reasons to celebrate. Putting this value first will make you more successful in the long run. 

I believe our capacity to emphasize the good and our resiliency draw clients to us.

What are your biggest fears as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage those fears? 

I'm fearless. 

I wouldn't be an entrepreneur if I feared. 

Only a select few people are willing to accept these incredible risks. 

That, in my opinion, is what distinguishes entrepreneurs.

The Mistakes

What are three mistakes you made early on as an entrepreneur, what did you learn from them, and how can others avoid these mistakes? 

1. Trying To Do Everything on My Own

Find a mentor who’s already done what you’re setting out to accomplish to accelerate your growth as an entrepreneur. They’ve already gone through the process and can give you the strategy you’re missing. 

2. Staying in My Comfort Zone

Being comfortable in the uncomfortable is essential to master your entrepreneurial journey. 

Join a peer group and meet new people. It’s okay to be the newest or youngest person in the circle. Take every opportunity you can to learn from a higher level of friends and become bigger and better. 

3. Prioritizing and Taking Care of Myself

It comes with the territory for entrepreneurs to take care of others, whether they be clients, business partners, staff, etc. As a result, we receive the least amount of attention. But when you're unwell, you can't look after those people. So you’ve got to take yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally.

What are three things you see that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs you encounter, and how can other entrepreneurs be aware of these things from the beginning?

1. Not Having a Clear Definition of Success Is a Significant Concern

In my real estate sales business, most people view success as selling more homes, earning a specific amount of money, etc. Finding out what success means to you in your heart is crucial, though. 

What remains when the money is gone? 

We certainly aim to sell a particular number of properties each year, but we are more concerned with how many 5-star reviews, repeat clients, and referrals we receive. 

How do you know we made the sale successfully; well, those three things will happen if you did it correctly.

2. Many Entrepreneurs Make the Mistake of Not Having a Clear Understanding of What They Want

Some people don’t know where they’re going, and they’re just going. 

But if you don't have a clear goal, how will you know when you will succeed? 

You need to know what you’re striving for, how you want to feel when your goals are realized, and how you will know when you have arrived. 

It’s easy to stop short of your goal when the target is not clear.

3. Don’t Make the Mistake of Not Having a Clear Message the mistake of not having a clear message

After identifying your target clientele, you need to determine the unique value proposition you have to draw them in. 

Many business owners lack this key and wonder why they are not connecting with their target audience.

The Successes

What are three seemingly insurmountable obstacles you’ve faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?

1. I Didn’t Know How To Make Payroll

I had to overcome that psychological fear and scarcity mindset so it wouldn’t overcome me. 

A quote by Albert Einstein goes, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” 

I had to take this to heart, step outside my predicament, reach a more resourceful state, find solutions, and end my suffering. 

2. I Was Asked To Leave the Company

We were the most extensive team within the company and were forced to move on quickly. 

As with every obstacle, we had the option of approaching it from the perspective that the world is against us or that a new door is about to open. 

I was under a lot of pressure because I had eight agents under me, which meant I had eight families to look after. However, we decided to make the most of the situation and used it as a chance to move toward the goal of a more prominent firm. 

Life was not happening to us, it was happening for us, and we wouldn’t be the successful company today without this experience.

3. Five Employees Left on the Same Day About Four or Five Years Ago

These were top-producing real estate agents. It was a difficult day at the time because I began to doubt whether or not I wanted to rebuild. 

I gained a deeper understanding of who we were as a team and business due to that experience. Out of that experience, I learned more about who we were as a team and company, and our core values were birthed. I was able to get clear on who our target audience was and the types of people I wanted to recruit for the team. 

Before, it was unclear, and anybody could join. 

However, when I looked around the room at the agents who had decided to continue with me, I realized that we shared several commonalities and collective core values, which have carried us to where we are today.

What are three ways you have managed to boost your productivity without causing burnout? 

1. Focus on the Activities That You’re Passionate About and Have the Highest Earning Potential

Another author Jack Canfield quote, “If it ain't fun, don't do it.” 

People are burned out because they are not having fun. 

Focus on the highest income activity that brings you joy, and your business will go much smoother. 

2. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Find people with the same values as you and enjoy doing the things you don’t enjoy.

3. Create Systems

When delegating, you want to ensure that your staff is doing what they’re supposed to do. Many entrepreneurs delegate and forget to check in, which does the business no good.

The Advice

How can newer entrepreneurs develop a healthy work-life balance even when it seems like an impossible task?

The most important thing is to want it. 

There’s no perfect science behind finding balance. You can research all the information you want. They will not do it if you don’t value the life part. 

Nobody can convince you otherwise unless you find your specific reason. I know of someone who couldn’t stop smoking until his daughter came to him crying one day, saying she didn’t want him to die. 

He stopped smoking the next day. 

What three key pieces of advice would have made your entrepreneurial journey more manageable, and why? 

  1. Find a mentor or coach that can guide you on your entrepreneurial journey.
  2. Be careful who you hang around with and their belief systems. My motto is, “when you start hanging around people who believe everything is possible, miracles happen.”
  3. If you want to run a successful business, solve problems. Provide solutions to people’s biggest fears and problems. But above all, do what you’re passionate about.
Entrepreneurs turn to VENTEUR for the insights necessary to succeed in business. Our mission to empower entrepreneurs has never been more important than it is now. Financial contributions are critical for VENTEUR to continue providing in-depth resources and original journalism for the entrepreneurial community. Please consider making a contribution to VENTEUR today.