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Chicago Realtor® gives three tips for success

by Kim Shindle on

Chicago Realtor® Tommy Choi humorously highlighted “Lessons on Success I Learned from my Dry Cleaner,” during a motivational presentation to Pennsylvania Realtors® recently in Harrisburg.

In the top 1% of Realtors® in Chicago and the first Korean-American to serve as president of the Chicago Association of Realtors®, Choi talked about inspirational people in his life, including his immigrant grandfather and his father. The other person who’s inspired him in business is his dry cleaner, owned by a woman who immigrated from Korea and took evening classes to learn English while managing her business.

He outlined three important lessons for success he learned from observing her operate her business.

Lesson #1: Your surroundings matter.

“She aligned herself with business people who gave her ideas to be successful,” he said. “To be successful, you need to be intentional and purposeful on who you choose to surround yourself with.”

Choi drew the comparison to Realtor® associations, which provide members with a sense of community support.

Lesson #2: Open doors for people.

“My dry cleaner always opened the door for each customer at the end of their transaction,” he said. “One day, when I was in a hurry and there was a line at the register, I impatiently asked her why she does that. She replied, ‘That’s what I do.’ It was her way of showing her respect and gratitude for her customers.”

Choi said she continued to adapt to the changing times of business operations. “Despite the fact that there were different business models and disruptions, her business survived through difficult times.

“People often complain about how things were or how things should be, without taking action. Successful people adapt to the change. We face challenges as Realtors® and people push back against change. We often get in our own way from adapting to the changing industry,” he added. “Are you adapting to change and responding to what clients are looking for?”

Lesson #3: Get punched in the face.

Choi said he listened to his dry cleaner talking to a customer who needed a uniform cleaned. She recognized that there might be additional business to be gained and asked the customer for the name of their supervisor so she could contact them about providing dry cleaning services to others with the same uniform.

“When I asked her why she was doing that, she responded, ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen? They could say no,” he said. “The fear of the punch is worse than the actual punch. The idea of rejection is worse than the actual rejection and that paralyzes us from taking action.”


Skills Professional development Tommy Choi
Comments (3)
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Kimberley Porter

Very true! Enjoyed the article.

Gail Christman

Realtors many times get overwhelmed “putting out fires” on a daily basis. Sometimes you tend to forget simple things which certainly can make a difference when an effort is made to put them into practice

Sarah Boyer

It was wonderful getting to hear him in person!! PAR is always bringing amazing people in, to help educate us, and further our business. Everyone has the opportunity to hear the next great speaker, by simply coming to the PAR business meetings!! Thank you for sharing Tommy’s message with us all!!