This week’s conversation is with Aaron Kirman, a prominent figure in the luxury real estate market for the past 20 years.

Aaron is the President of the International Estates Division at Compass and founder, CEO and techpreneur of the eponymously named Aaron Kirman Group, which includes a team of nearly 100. 

With over $7 billion in luxury home sales, Aaron represents the finest estates across the globe and is sought after by the most discerning clients, including titans of industry, celebrities, royal families, major lending institutions and foreign investors.

Aaron was ranked among the top five luxury real estate agents in the U.S. by the Wall Street Journal and is the star of TV’s newest hit real estate show, Listing Impossible on CNBC.

What makes this conversation so compelling isn’t necessarily Aaron’s status today, but the challenges he faced from day one – this conversation is about what it feels like to not fit in.

Aaron discusses everything from overcoming dyslexia to hiding he was gay – and – the changes he needed to make to start living more authentically.

“I’ve learned greed is the worst thing in human nature because with greed you will lose. I’ve seen multiple millionaires lose everything because they wanted to maximize profit instead of just get a profit.”

In This Episode:

On his childhood struggles

I was very lonely. Not because of my family. By the way, my family was amazing and kind and supportive and did everything they could. I was lonely because I didn’t know where I belonged. I couldn’t talk well, I couldn’t read, I couldn’t write. I didn’t have friends. I didn’t know where I fit in. There were amazingly happy moments as well. I remember riding my bike and loving riding bikes. I remember certain elements of my childhood. Traveling with my family, they had a camper and we would go on road trips. I loved that. I mean those were always happy moments. But it was things my parents couldn’t provide for me that were my problem. It was my internal issues, my internal insecurities. My internal insecurity about, at the time, being gay. About not knowing how to relate to people, not knowing how to relate to kids my age. And I felt very much of an outsider growing up.

How that struggle made him who he is

The funny part is, looking back, I don’t know if I would be where I am today if I didn’t have that struggle back then because I always tell people, I’m not the smartest guy. I’m not the most analytical. I’m not going to be the best looking but what really helped me get to where I am today is because I had that loneliness, and that fear, and that anxiety, and that lack of authenticity. What really became a skillset of mine is mastering the human connection. And without that mastery that I did have today, I wouldn’t be where I am but had I had mastered it as a child, the study of the human being and the good, and the bad, and the ugly, and the wonderful may not have been there.

What Aaron thinks about FOPO

As you get older and more successful, you don’t [care what other people think]. Today, if you like me, don’t like me, I don’t care. I’m going to be me, and me is me, right? And I appreciate that. When you are young, and when you are growing up, we’re a herd of people. We’re human beings, we’re feelings, we’re emotions… And so I think that caring about what other people think about you is just a very natural human instinct. And if you’re not confident, strong enough to be able to build yourself or have your family build you in the right ways, or if there’s disabilities or issues getting in the way, you’re getting to be even more careful to worry about what other people think about you.

Why authenticity is so important

One of the missions that I teach and I hope that if I leave everyone with one piece of information as a leader, I say authenticity is the most important part of a human being and be who you are, whoever you are whether it’s good or bad. I mean honestly… obviously we want everyone to be good and do all the right things. But what people think of themselves as bad, could be their best quality of themselves and so I think that we need to be less judgemental of ourselves and more… I always say, observe. Be a non-biased observer of your own life because what you might think of as bad, may be your future.

His take on spirituality and religion

So I grew up Jewish and I am Jewish and I’m proud of that background. But for me, my religion is doing the right thing. I am a really big fan of doing the right thing and that’s a really weird thing to say because in life, there’s never always the right thing. There’s never always the right thing. Everybody has a view, everybody has a view in line with their own personal infrastructure. But for me what makes me feel good, is knowing I did good. Knowing that I did the right thing, knowing that I was honest, knowing that I made a move that helped somebody’s life. Not that I’m all about giving because I’m in business and I’m an entrepreneur and I obviously make money in doing so but that’s what makes me feel good.

Self-care is not selfish

I just know how I work and so I always tell people, treat yourself really good. Treat yourself great. Whatever you need to be good, be good because that’s going to make you be good for your clients, for your business, for your wife, for your husband, for your kids, mom and dad… sometimes it sounds kind of selfish but I think everyone should treat themselves really good first because when you treat yourself great, you can treat everybody else around you amazing. But if you’re not happy yourself, or you’re in a dark spot, it’s not going to go well. It’s not going to go well for you, it’s not going to go well for your family, it’s not going to go very well for your business.

What does success feel like to him?

I’ve never really worked for money. That hasn’t been my driving source. What has been my driving source are other things, like the feeling I get when I’m good. The feeling I get when I close a deal. The feeling I get when I close a deal – I was honest, sincere, and transparent and I did all the right things. To a certain extent, I hate to say it, but even the notoriety that you get from all of those things and then to be able to be a leader. All of these things lead to success and for me, ultimately, I think success to a certain degree is also freedom, because you have the freedom of choice, you have the freedom to direct your ship where you want to go and how you want to grow.

How greed and money can be traps

I’ve learned greed is the worst thing in human nature because with greed you will lose. I’ve seen multiple millionaires lose everything because they wanted to maximize profit instead of just get a profit. There are wins, and always try to focus on a win, but never to focus on the mega win. The mega win’s luck, and that happens 1% of the time. Let’s not go for the luck, let’s go for the win that we can do and we can accomplish our goals without risking too much. I’ve learned money is very complicated for human energy and I’ve seen really tight families break apart over money and it kills me every time. It just makes me so sad.

Shift the focus away from money

I always say to people, money, as good as it is, is an energy. It’s an energy. Money comes, and money goes but let’s focus on who we are as people and let’s focus on our families. Let’s focus on our friends and if you do that, the money will come to you.

Shifting from individual to team goals

I started out as a solo guy selling houses and I thought that that was just the path and I realized that one of my life missions is teamwork. And so building a company and building a team and building a leadership and building agents and always partnering with somebody is something that’s been an amazing trajectory for me because I can’t do it alone. And the more I have and the better people I have around, the better we all do, that was a huge lesson. Even on a personal note, finding love and building a life and a relationship is something that’s newer to me that I’m learning to work through because I’ve just always spent so much time on my career and so diversifying my passions is something that’s a new lesson. But it’s funny, I feel like I’m just learning all these things at the age of 43 that are so fun to learn and try to get down and then this has led to this whole brain of mine on other things that I want to do, grow, and be and now it’s like I feel like I’ve gotten unleashed through these minor lessons.

Gratitude is key

I want to be grateful for what I have and where I am. And for me, of all of the meditations, the one thing that I always say is the most important is gratitude. Because if I’m living in gratitude for whatever it is I have at that moment or don’t have at the moment or just being grateful, it’s like abundance comes in. And so I just always have to remember, whether I had a good day or a bad day, I am one of the luckiest people ever and that gratefulness leads to happiness.

Taking baby steps to move forward

There’s so many things out of our control and if I feel like I’m out of control then the anxiety just builds up and if I am anxious, I’m not my best, I’m not the best performer, I’m not my best self, I’m not the best leader. So as long as I’m taking the steps to be able to move forward it’s enough relief for me to know that I’m doing everything I can and I’ve learned that sometimes the best way to accomplish a goal is to release it to the universe. So take all the steps, do all the things we can do, make all hopefully the right moves or some wrong moves if that’s our learning path and then release.

Know your people

Know your people, your people are your people. They’re your friends, they’re your family, they’re people you’ll make money with. And everybody’s person is different, right? Some people it’s going to be a church group, a temple groups, some people it’s going to be golf, some people it could be the darker side of life and I don’t even actually judge… if that’s your people and you could make it work in a healthy way, so be it.

Aaron on mastery

Ultimately, mastery is a confidence that we give amongst ourselves and that confidence can come from so many different ways. It could come from passion, it could come from experience, it could come from foresight. Mastery can come from so many different places but once you have it, you have it, and when somebody else has it, you’re like, wow, I want to learn from that person, that person is infectious. And that’s true mastery. And it’s not what somebody has in the bank or what somebody drives or their house, it’s their skillset. And there’s been so many people that I’ve listened to, I’m like, you are where you are because, my God, you have your stuff down, and nothing is more impressive than somebody that has their stuff down.


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Aaron Kirman is the President of the International Estates Division at Compass and founder, CEO and techpreneur of the eponymously named Aaron Kirman Group, which includes a team of nearly 100.