Vail native Broby Leeds transforming from ski ninja to real estate ninja
August 6, 2018
ASPEN — The middle of a halfpipe run at X Games may seem like an unlikely place to decide it's time to find a new career. But as music mogul Steve Rifkind once said, "You reach your dream, and you gotta start dreaming about something else."
Such is the case of Vail native Broby Leeds, who, after achieving his lifelong goal of making it to the X Games, decided he would rather pursue a different path.
That was January 2017. Now, halfway through 2018, Leeds is a broker associate with Slifer Smith & Frampton, a career that — while less death defying — might be even more intense.
Leeds said he's trying to bring a more humane touch to business, studying the ways of Larry Kendall, author of "Ninja Selling."
Kendall looks to ancient Japan for inspiration, examining the difference between ninjas — gardeners trained in the martial arts who accomplished their missions in secret — and samurais, who protected the emperor in public and enjoyed the best clothes, food and accommodations.
Using less ego and more customer focus, Kendall writes that ninja sellers — "quiet, unassuming, talented people" — achieve better results and become more likeable people in the process.
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"Unfortunately, many top salespeople take on the characteristics of samurai — lots of flash," Kendall writes. "Most customers are turned off by this typical image of a salesperson."
"It's easy for one to become complacent with the monetary value involved in a transaction and forget the real reason the buyer is making the decision," Leeds said. "I believe a Realtor's No. 1 goal should be to identify these characteristics."
While the glamour and glitz of events such as the X Games seem like an unlikely starting point to transition into a sales system that focuses on a humble approach, look a little closer at the athletes themselves and you might see a type of training that's well-suited for "ninja selling."
Leeds has spent his career up to this point walking the line between competing against other athletes while, at the same time, wishing for them to perform well.
"In halfpipe skiing, you can't ever wish for another athlete to fail," Leeds said. "These guys are human beings — wishing for them to not land a run could mean wishing for them to experience injury or worse, as the high risk of halfpipe skiing can come with the high penalty of death for imperfectly executed maneuvers."
In real estate, Leeds has already experienced situations where he has recognized he is not the right person to meet the goals of a potential client.
"You have to send those people in the direction where their needs will be best attended to," he said.
Those situations remind Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira of the type of competitor Leeds was — always supportive of those around him.
"I remember multiple times where Broby had just missed out, and no matter what, he would come over to everybody and say congratulations and continue on his own path," Ferreira said.
In skiing, by wishing another athlete well, you're often seeing yourself knocked lower in the ranks, which can result in a lower paycheck at the end of the competition. Experiencing those situations, Ferreira said, will allow Leeds to be less focused on the paycheck in the world of real estate success and more focused on the success that comes with meeting the client's needs.
"He needs to go deep into their lives and see exactly what they need," Ferreira said. "And that sounds like Broby, bringing a new aspect to an old approach."
With Kendall's book as his Bible, Leeds is now applying the same discipline that made him a successful skier to his new career as a broker associate.
You can find him working out of The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa office in Avon, or attending one of that office's many open houses held around Eagle County. Like a ninja, he's been working nights, weekends and off hours, trying to fill the gaps that exist in the always changing world of Vail Valley real estate.
Westin branch broker Lissa Tyler said she's excited to have Leeds on board.
"Broby brings a strong work ethic and commitment to nationally recognized real estate sales system of 'ninja selling'," she said. "His understanding of these methods will assure his clients of a proven process, whether seller or buyer."