How to Become a Mega Producing Real Estate Entrepreneur ft. Scott Duffy

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The Scott Duffy Interview

Does the idea of buying the rainforest sound impossible? What if I told you that five minutes in a room with the right people could shift your mindset—and make the idea as simple as eating a bowl of soup? What if you could apply the same 3 principles of realizing a big vision to your real estate career and become a megaproducer?

Today, Oliver is joined by Scott Duffy, the founder of Scott Duffy Media Holdings. Scott is driven by the idea of helping people live their dreams through entrepreneurship. He has been named a Top 10 Keynote Speaker by Entrepreneur Magazine and appeared on CNBC, FOX News and CBS Radio, among many other media outlets. 

On this episode of Founders Club, Scott shares his incredible experience selling a company to Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. He offers advice for new agents and insight around how his mom became a megaproducer, selling $1B in residential real estate in LA. Scott discusses the role of mindset in making it through tough times and the value for entrepreneurs in focusing on mastering one skill at a time. Listen in for Scott’s view on surrounding yourself with likeminded people and learn how to ‘buy the rainforest,’ become a megaproducer, and execute on your big dreams!

Here is how the interview breaks down:

[0:42] Scott’s experience selling a company to Richard Branson

  • Created Expedia for private jets
  • Call from Virgin Group (met by chance)
  • Chase opportunity down when get break

[4:42] What top performers have in common

  • Consistent passion for learning
  • ‘Awesome at one thing’ not enough 

[7:35] Scott’s advice for real estate agents

  • Don’t work more/harder at what no longer works
  • Put self around right mentors
  • Progress takes place in plateaus

[11:14] The secret to Scott’s 90-day launch plan

  • Mistake to focus on too many things at once
  • ‘One hammer and one nail’

[12:42] How Scott’s mom became a megaproducer

  • Build trust with high-end clientele, detail-oriented
  • Phenomenal negotiator not afraid to walk away
  • Great at MINDSET

[16:38] How Scott learned to ‘buy the rainforest’

  • Start with WHY (rooted in purpose)
  • Decide how to do it
  • Secure financing

[20:12] How to shortcut success and reach big goals

  • Surround self with people who execute on big vision

Listen Here:

Key Takeaway:

Does the idea of buying the rainforest sound impossible? What if I told you that five minutes in a room with the right people could shift your mindset? Scott Duffy joins Oliver to explain how surrounding yourself high-performing mentors can shortcut your success and help you become a real estate megaproducer!

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Full Transcript Below:

Oliver Graf: Welcome to another episode. I am here at Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach and I’m really excited to be interviewing Scott Duffy. He has been featured on Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, and has a current partnership with Microsoft. We’re going to be talking about the top three things that you can do to develop your skills and become a mega producer and how he sold his last company to Richard Branson and the Virgin Group. You don’t want to miss this.

I’m sitting here with Scott? Yep.

Scott Duffy: Okay.

Oliver Graf: I’m drinking a Peroni and a nice fine Italian lager and Scott’s got his-

Scott Duffy: What’s up with this?

Oliver Graf: Triple macaccino latte.

Scott Duffy: You get the beer, I get the coffee. Okay. All right. No, we’re cool. We’re cool though, yeah.

Oliver Graf: So, you’re always working on a lot of really cool projects, which I think is awesome. I think it’s inspiring for the people that are watching you on your journey. You started a company and sold it to Virgin and Richard Branson.

Scott Duffy: Yeah.

Oliver Graf: So, tell me about that. Because that as an entrepreneur is like one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard.

Scott Duffy: I created a, I started a business that was like Expedia, but for private jets. And so, people could go online and if they flew private jets, instead of having to call a broker or look in the, you know, the, they call the air charter guide, what you could do is you could go online to our site, you could do a search, find the inventory and book it from there. That was the idea. You never know where opportunity is going to come from, right? And the call I got was from a guy, so my, when I met my wife, she lived in New York, I was in LA, I would travel back to see her. And one time I traveled back, went out with a bunch of people, we went to this club afterwards, we went and had something to eat. And the guy next to me was on Richard Branson’s reality TV show and he didn’t win, but they really loved him.

So, they ended up, just amazing guy, they ended up hiring him and his job was to like look for businesses to invest in or things to start, and so I get a call. It’s on a Saturday night. “Hey Scott, I’m in a party right now and I’m talking to somebody about private jets.” “We want to get into private aviation.” And the person says, “Hey, do you know a guy named Scott Duffy in LA?” “He’s working on this thing and you should talk to him before you do anything.” So he says, “If you’re the same Scott Duffy working on this project, would you give me a call on Monday?”

Oliver Graf: Wow.

Scott Duffy: So I did, right? I pick up the phone, I call him. I said, “What’s up?” He said, “Here’s what we want to do, would you let our BD our business development group pitch you next time you’re in town in New York?”

And I said, “No problem.” He said, “When are you in New York?” I said, “Dude, it just so happens I’m there tomorrow.” And he’s like, “Really? That’s great.” “Let me set something up.” So obviously, I’m not supposed to be there tomorrow. I get on the red eye, I go to New York and I meet with the guys. Right?

Oliver Graf: So, you had no plans to go there?

Scott Duffy: No, of course I didn’t. I meet with the guys and we did our thing. And anyway, so that meeting and follow up, so what happened over the next few months is what led to the deal with Virgin. And you know, I think that in life, you know, like my friend Gary Goldstein says, he’s like, you know, if you have a dream or you have an opportunity, you have to chase that thing down when you get a break, like, you know, like it’s the last bus of the night.

I think of it in the context of flow. And the way I think about flow is if you’re, let’s say you’re water skiing and if you water ski, what happens is there’s a wake that develops behind the boat. And basically what that is, is you’re riding in rough water, but the boat creates this really smooth stream and that’s where you ski. And that’s when you’re in flow. That’s when the guy calls and says, would you come and meet with us? But here’s the thing, what happens when we’re, whatever, skiing is, we take ourselves outside the wake, right? And we go and we skate, we go, we’d ski in the rough water. Okay? So it’s a little bumpy. It’s a little choppy.

But here’s the thing, now you want to get back in flow, you want to get back in the wake and you have to go over some really rough water to do it. So it always happens, that’s where most people fall, right? So I think that when we’re in flow and we have the opportunity, we have to hit that thing so hard, stay in flow, make shit happen. You know what’s really cool about being in the real estate business is that if you just show up, you’re 90% ahead of everybody else out there. That’s the person in this business that absolutely crushes it.

Oliver Graf: Yeah. They’re winning every day because they show up and they do the work. And to your point, real estate has kind of a chronic reputation of showing up late, not returning phone calls. And it’s just like, those are the fundamentals. And if you just show up every day and you can at least do the fundamentals, you can at least get yourself 90% there.

Scott Duffy: Yeah.

Oliver Graf: Right?

Scott Duffy: Yeah. And by the way, you’re lapping everybody that’s just hanging out on the couch.

Oliver Graf: Oh yeah. For sure. They’re sitting at home watching the Today Show and you’re already in there making phone calls like, you’re going to win. Like right now, what are you, what are you most excited about? Like what’s the, what’s the exciting project that’s kind of like, driving you?

Scott Duffy: I think the most exciting thing is our show, Business and Burgers, because it’s also so much fun. You know, it’s, Business and Burgers is a search for the best burger in America and we say a side of tasty business advice. And basically, what we do is we go to one new city every month and we hit the best restaurants and brew houses and pubs. And while we’re there, we just, we interview the top, you know, the top local peeps about the lessons that they’ve learned in business.

What’s really awesome about the show is you start to notice patterns when you interview top performers. I think that the number one pattern, the number one thing that I’ve seen that’s been consistent across like, all these amazing people that we’ve talked to is, this incredible passion for learning, right? That’s what it is. Like the single most thing that connects everybody is this passion for learning.

Today, you know, change is exponential and you know, things move so quick. Here’s an interesting fact, a hundred years ago, so in 1917, the average male in the U.S. lived to be 49 years old. That’s it.

Oliver Graf: That’s it.

Scott Duffy: 49. I’m 40, what am I, I’m 47, I mean that’s pretty scary.

Oliver Graf: You’re creeping up on death’s door then.

Scott Duffy: Well, no, no. So here’s the thing, a hundred years ago being awesome at one thing, that may have been enough. That thing that you went to five years ago, like the thing that you are best at your silver bullet, like the thing that always worked, your superhero power, that thing five years ago, that is your baggage today. And so this idea, this passion for learning and staying on top of things to keep a step ahead, I think that’s what’s really important and it’s the number one pattern that I think I found in our guests.

Oliver Graf: So it’s just the pursuit of always getting better, always improving-

Scott Duffy: Yeah.

Oliver Graf: … always thinking, growing, challenging yourself, putting yourself in uncomfortable new situations.

Scott Duffy: Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, so I have a book called Launch and it’s all about launching new businesses and products and services. And the most common question that people ask me that have read the book is, what do I do next? You know, what happens now? I put all of my energy into getting my new business right, or my new whatever and it is off the ground, now what? I think about how do we create breakthroughs? You know, to me, innovation is a hardware, breakthrough is something that’s kind of magical. And so, how do we continue to create breakthroughs that keep us ahead of the competition, both personally and in our business? And what’s really cool is that when we can teach the people that we work with or that work for us how to create their own breakthroughs, like that’s when the real magic happens.

Oliver Graf: In regards to innovation and the pursuit of improving, what would you say to someone that was like brand new in the real estate business and kind of, just looking for a path on which way to go? Because, you know the industry changes a lot. Real estate’s changing a lot. There’s the new stuff with Zillow that’s happening. Amazon is about to roll out a new real estate service. So things are kind of, always changing and moving and to your point on innovation, what would you say to that agent that’s kind of like newer in the business that’s looking to kind of figure it out?

Scott Duffy: Can I talk to the agent that’s older in the business first?

Oliver Graf: Yeah, absolutely.

Scott Duffy: And then, we’ll talk to the new one? So my mom, my whole family’s in the real estate business. I’ve been in the real estate business, and by the way, the real estate business is like the ultimate business for entrepreneurs, right?

Oliver Graf: Yeah, without a doubt.

Scott Duffy: You’ve got your own business and my mom has sold about a billion dollars in residential real estate in Los Angeles.

Oliver Graf: Which is crazy. You were saying she’s one of the top producers.

Scott Duffy: Ever. Yeah. I mean she’s, she’s amazing. You know, we talked about that thing you were great at five years ago being your baggage today. I think that what happens is, people who are good at something like real estate, they tend to want to rely on what worked for them in the past versus learning that new skill.

Oliver Graf: They get complacent.

Scott Duffy: They get complacent, or maybe what happens is they don’t get complacent. What they do is they work more and they work harder at the same thing that no longer works. So they’ll tell you, they’ll look at you and they’ll say, what are you talking about? I work my tail off. You know, I’m the first person here. I’m the last person to leave. But it just isn’t working. Right? So it’s not just, you know, it’s not just about, the younger person, but the older person.

If you’re a younger person in real estate, I think it’s all about putting yourself around the right mentors. Sometimes, being an entrepreneur can be a really lonely job.

Oliver Graf: Yeah.

Scott Duffy: You have highs and lows, you have ups and downs. In real estate, I’ve seen, I’ve been in real estate, you may have periods where you’re not making a sale. You may have periods where it feels like you’ve reached a plateau and you can’t get off of it, right? And so, what I always think to myself is how do you put yourself around a group of like minded people and ideally leaders that will help you to keep your mindset where it needs to be when things are tough? Like, say you wanted to learn how to play tennis, what would you do? You’d probably hire a coach, right? And the coach would teach you how to hold the racket and they would stand on the same side of the net as you and they would like, lob balls to your forehand. And your job is simple. All you have to do is like swing and knock the ball over the net. That sounds really easy, right?

Oliver Graf: Learn the motion.

Scott Duffy: Learn the motion. But here’s the thing, you totally suck. And the reason that you suck and you can’t get it right, is you have to think about it. And thinking gets in the way of real graceful movement. So you miss, and you miss, and you miss until one day, boom. You hit it perfectly like you always knew how to do it before. Here’s the problem. The problem is when that moment happens, what most people think is, they’re ready to compete. But, keep mine up until this point, your coach is on the same side of the net and they’re lobbing balls to your forehead.

Oliver Graf: You just got in the game.

Scott Duffy

Scott Duffy: You just got in the game. Now you have to learn how to move side to side. So what happens is, you’ve had this slight increase in performance and now within your skill, there’s a little bit of a decrease, but you plateau. And so there’s a plateau that’s a little bit higher than the one before it. So what I always say is you have to understand when you’re on that plateau, and it’s okay, because that’s when all the growth and all the progress is taking place. You know? So think this way. Think we’re going to plateau and go. We’re going to plateau and go and stay in that mindset.

Oliver Graf: That’s good advice.

Scott Duffy: So, it’s the coffee.

Oliver Graf: Yeah, it must be. You put together a 90 day launch plan?

Scott Duffy: Yeah.

Oliver Graf: Tell me about what that would look like for someone in real estate. Like, how could they do a 90 day launch plan starting today?

Scott Duffy: Starting today. Well, I think that the biggest mistake that entrepreneurs and real estate agents make, and it’s really one in the same because, like I said, entrepreneurs, real estate, the same person, right, is they focus on too many things at once. And, I call this hammers and nails syndrome. And here’s what I mean. Let’s say give you one hammer and one nail and your job is simple. All you have to do is hold that nail, bring that hammer back and drive that nail into a piece of wood. Like, really nail that one business. Now, the odds are you may miss the first time, you may miss the second time, but eventually I’ll bet that you’re going to nail it. So, let’s say give you two hammers and two nails, you got a problem. Who’s going to hold the nails? Now so, you find somebody crazy enough to do it.

You have to hold a hammer in each hand, bring them both back at the same time and strike. And, the odds are you’re going to miss the first time, the second, the third time. You may never get it right. Let’s say give 10 hammers and 10 nails, you get the point. Don’t focus on everything, focus on one thing, really nail that one thing and then, move on to the next. And, if what you need to help with understanding is, what is that next thing? Like, that’s where big block comes in. You know, look to your coaches and look to your mentors and they’ll help guide you along the way.

Oliver Graf: Right. As a third party observer, what would you say really catapulted your mom into the stratospheric level of top producer, mega producer? How did that happen for her?

Scott Duffy: Well, I think it’s a few things. I think one is, my mom developed a very high end clientele and she was incredibly discreet and that was number one. In a city and an industry where everyone talks, she never did. Right? That’s number one. And so, she built trust. That’s number one. Number two is, my mom really paid attention to the details. My mom is a phenomenal negotiator and she’s not afraid to walk away. And I think that, I think that that’s probably one of the greatest things I ever saw with my mom, is my mom would walk away from stuff and I’d be like, what are you doing? You’re crazy. And she’d laugh and she’d be like, they’re going to come back. You know? And if they don’t come back, you know, it wasn’t meant, so my mom is, my mom was very good at that.

This is probably first on the list is, my mom is great at mindset and I think that in the real estate industry, like we were talking about earlier, we have highs and lows. We have ups and downs. I can remember from my own personal experience, you have a property that goes into escrow and those next 30, 60, 90 however many days that pit in my stomach about, or I’m not even sure what that feeling is right and there’s a Yiddish word [foreign language 00:00:14:19] and it means there’s nervous knots in your stomach about is this going to close or is it not going to close?

Oliver Graf: The anxiety, the stress, yeah.

Scott Duffy: The anxiety, the stress freaking sucks, right? But my mom was very good at channeling her mindset and then when things didn’t work, she was very good at getting things back.

Oliver Graf: So, that’s really cool that you had that kind of sideline perspective on kind of, watching her career. And I just want to take what I think I heard you saying and summize it in the devil’s in the details, right? She always looked out for her clients and always made sure, I mean there’s nothing better that you can do for your clients then literally, put yourself in their shoes and act like you are the one buying or selling the home and that’s when you’re really going to catch those little things. You’re going to notice the little details, the things that maybe don’t look right.

And then number two was, the negotiating skills, right? One of the best things you can always do is not be attached to the outcome and not be afraid to walk away, right? If you’re not, if you’re not attached to the outcome, if you’re not in there like begging for the deal, people can sense that and if you’re not attached and you’re not worried about walking away, then that just gives you an upper hand at the negotiating table.

The last thing I heard, which I really like and I think is critically important and I think a lot of people underestimate, is just the mindset of what it takes in real estate and managing those ups and downs. And, is there a process that you go through when you’re feeling down or you’ve had a bad day or deals are not going your way that you kind of implement to get yourself back on the right track?

Scott Duffy: Yeah, yeah. So what I do is, I actually have a list of questions, and I keep a list of two or three questions and I’m almost 50 years old and I still keep questions on my mirror, you know, in my bathroom. And what they are is, they’re questions like they’re just a reminder. And so what happens is, the more you say those questions, the more you practice those questions, it becomes your automatic response. Just start asking them. It’s like building a muscle, you know? And once you build that muscle and it’s strong and say, and by the way, if you go sideways and you get lazy or something happens and you go into that negative question mode, once you start again, muscles have memory and you can bounce right back.

Oliver Graf: Mm-hmm (affirmative) I love the idea of the repetition just to kind of ingrain it in your head. Obviously affirmations, things like that to just kind of visualize, you know, the situation changing or whatever so you can kind of get yourself into the state that you need to be in to to close deals, to make things happen. Because if you’re, if you’re not 100% in it or you’re only doing it because, you know, you’re desperate for a check, like that’s going to show through and it’s going to hurt you a lot more than it helps you.

One story, and I think this was from Necker Island that you told us a while ago, me and Sam, that I thought was awesome and just shows the power of mindset was the I’m going to buy the rainforest story.

Scott Duffy: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Oliver Graf: So can you, can you tell us that one one more time? Because that’s a, that’s a great story.

Scott Duffy: Yeah, sure. So I was invited to a Virgin CEO conference on Necker Island, which is Richard’s home. And I was totally pumped to be there. And I remember the first night when it was time for dinner, I remember got my food and I was looking for a place to sit, saw Richard sitting down and went and sat next to him on the beach and he was on the phone and he was negotiating something. He was totally passionate and it seemed like everybody else that was just sitting there with us knew what it was he was trying to buy. So when he got off the phone, I asked him, I said, “What is it that you want to buy?” And he said this, “The rainforest.” And I’m like, “The rainforest, which one?” And he said, “The Amazon.” And then I remember just like saying what I get, I don’t know, it just came out, I looked at him and I go, “That’s impossible.”

By the way, you know, when dealing with people, you know, with these mindsets like a Richard Branson or Tony Robbins or the guys that we just listened to, Sarah and Jesse, you never say anything, everything, anything is impossible. So I remember him saying, he said, “You want to learn how to buy a rainforest, I’ll teach you how to do it.” “And the first thing you have to start with, whenever you have a big goal is this, you know, what is your why?” “Why are you doing this?” “Because here’s the thing, being in business is tough.” “Being in any kind of business can be tough.” “And if you don’t know why it is you’re doing this, if you’re not truly rooted in purpose, then when things get tough, it’s too easy to quit.” So, Richard’s why was he wanted to stop deforestation and protect indigenous animals in the Amazon. Pretty cool.

Oliver Graf: Very noble cause.

Scott Duffy: very noble cause. Now that we know why, the next question is how are you going to do it? And so Richard said to me, he said, “If that’s our why, do we really have to own the rainforest or could we lease it?” Now for me, that was like a huge shift in thinking.

Oliver Graf: Yeah.

Scott Duffy: Right? And the he said, “If we could lease it and you got me in the room with a willing seller or leasor, do you think I can negotiate a good deal?” And I said, “Of course, man. Richard, I’d bet on you.” And so he said, “So, okay, here’s the third thing, and this is where most people get stuck. How are we going to finance it?” And I remember that the people that were all, you know, we’re sitting around starting to throw out names of people that were in Richard’s circle or that had, you know, really huge wealth, saying, you know what if this guy or that guy or this girl or that girl? And Richard putting up his hand and saying, “Look, you know, what if it didn’t matter if you gave a dollar or a dime, effectively crowdsourcing buying the rain forest.”

And here’s the point, in less than like five minutes, buying the rain forest seemed easier than eating a bowl of soup. If you have the right mindset, you have the right people, you put the right resources around you, you can achieve virtually anything that you dream. But then the question is this, how do you start? And it’s with one hammer and one nail.

Oliver Graf: Yep.

Scott Duffy: When you’re in real estate, it’s picking that one thing, getting good at that one thing and then moving onto the next.

Oliver Graf: To have that sort of vision and to be thinking that big must’ve been like an incredible experience to see for you live, firsthand like that.

Scott Duffy: It’s really important for all of us, if we have big goals, just surround ourselves not only with people that have big vision, but people that are able to execute a big vision.

Oliver Graf: Mindset wise, work ethic wise, skill level wise is all going to be just a whole nother level and to get yourself to that level, you’re going to shortcut your way to success by hanging out with those people that are already there and already doing it and just mimicking and following what they’re doing and that’ll shortcut your success as opposed to sitting around and kind of trying to formulate with all the people that have never done it before, how to get yourself to that next level.

Scott Duffy: That’s right, and you don’t have to be a $10 million producer. The thing is, your big vision doesn’t have to be somebody else’s big vision.

Oliver Graf: Right.

Scott Duffy: Your big vision may be, I want to be a $50,000 producer. I want to be $100,000 producer, because for me and for my life and what I can get from being that, that is what I want. And, that’s awesome. Live in that. Live in that space, right? Communicate, you know, to you and to Sam, this is what I want, you know, and then I know you can help them to build a roadmap.

Oliver Graf: Absolutely. And then just show up, follow the roadmap, network up, work on your skills, try to, you know, immerse yourself in the details and really go above and beyond for your clients and really focus on developing that mindset to where you really believe that you can go out there and buy the rainforest. And I promise you you’ll be unstoppable. Thanks a lot, Scott. Really appreciate you coming out today. Cheers. Enjoy that coffee. And now, you’re in the know.

Scott Duffy

Pullout Quotes:

“If you have a dream or you have an opportunity, you have to chase that thing down when you get a break like it’s the last bus of the night.”

“What’s really cool about being in the real estate business is that if you just show up, you’re 90% ahead of everybody else out there. That’s the person in this business who absolutely crushes it.”

“You start to notice patterns when you interview top performers. I think that the number one pattern, the number one thing I’ve seen that’s been consistent across all these amazing people that we’ve talked to is this incredible passion for learning.”

“How do we continue to create breakthroughs that keep us ahead of the competition, both personally and in our business?”

“How do you put yourself around a group of likeminded people … that will help you keep your mindset where it needs to be when things are tough?”

“Don’t focus on everything. Focus on the one thing. Really nail that one thing and then move on to the next.”

“Being in business is tough … and if you’re not truly rooted in purpose, then when things get tough, it’s too easy to quit.”

“In less than five minutes, buying the rainforest seemed easier than eating a bowl of soup. If you have the right mindset, you have the right people, you put the right resources around you, you can achieve virtually anything that you dream.”


Connect with Scott

Connect with Oliver

Other episodes of founders club you might like:

Perry Belcher – Story Selling The Secret Behind $400,000,000 In Sales

Cory Boatright – How to Make Big Profits Wholesaling Real Estate

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