Opening up the buyers agency industry: Ben Handler on making an impact with property investment

When Handler started his career in development, he had no idea where it would lead him. However, after a fateful meeting with his current business partner – Simon Collins – Handler was able to start one of Australia’s most ground-breaking buyers agency, Cohen Handler.

Now with a $14 million property portfolio and a successful training business, Handler is constantly sharing his knowledge with other investors. Listen to this episode to as Handler shares his day-to-day tasks, the highs and lows of his property journey thus far and reveals details to his property investment strategy.

I bounced off a lot of different coaches to really inspire and help me grow at an individual level. -Ben Handler

Handler is currently working at two key roles in major property investment businesses.

I’m currently the chief executive officer of a company called Cohen Handler which is a property buyers agency and I’m also currently serving as chief executive officer of the buyer’s agent Institute which is an online e-learning platform which shows everyday people how to turn buying property into a career.

You’ve built up a substantial buyers agency with a Henline and Corrent online at handler. Curious how how long did that take you to get to where it was or where it is now.

It’s been quite a journey it’s been around eight and a half years so we started early 2010. So it’s been a really challenging yet very highly rewarding journey.

Handler likes to start every day early with a healthy work out routine before heading into his business work.

My day usually starts at about 4:20 AM where I practice yoga at six mornings a week and after that I meditate, then after that I do some mental preparation to get ready for the day and then my day typically consists of very high level strategy across Cohan handler. I’m also slightly now working on a new business called the buyer’s agent Institute.

So right now I’m really much looking at formulating very high level strategies for execution across both companies.

He met his current business partner in Los Angeles, California almost a decade ago, when they were both seeking property related business opportunities. Now, they run their buyers agency together.

It’s actually quite a cool story. We both had left our respective careers nine years ago and we basically crossed paths in California in Los Angeles. So we both, Simon and myself Simon Cohen my business partner. We actually didn’t know each other so we both Sydney boys were in L.A, looking for opportunity and I ran into him at a Halloween party. Out of all places and we were both looking to hustle and do something new with business and we both got talking and we both like property and Simon came from real estate and I also came from a property background and we were fascinated with the buyer’s agent model in the US. Over 86 percent of people in the United States use a buyer’s agent and it didn’t seem to stack up in Australia with the representation that buyers were receiving. So you know we put our heads together we decided to call it Cohen Handler. We moved back to Sydney and we started in my bedroom and off we went.

Handler grew up in Sydney, completing his tertiary degree in the city before moving elsewhere for more business opportunities.

I grew up in Sydney. I attended a few different schools I was a bit of a troublemaker growing up, quite rebellious. So yeah, attended a few schools and then after school I went and I stayed at University of New South Wales. I did a Bachelor of Building Construction and Property and I didn’t want to get into construction after that. So I move straight in to property funds management and development and worked for a company, a public company called Charter Hall and it was really the first day at a company I realised I didn’t want to be working for someone else ever again and furthermore you know I wanted to be doing you know more fulfilling work where I could see the journey end to end when I was to engage with the client because when I was working in development, I was working on a very long scope of project and you know dealing with the same style of consultants each day so it was really at Charter Hall where I decided that hey I want to be my own boss and I want to do something big. That was at 23.

It was at Charter Hall that Handler realised he didn’t want to be working under another person and sought to create his own business.

I was the youngest person that Charter Hall had ever employed and I was doing my thesis at university and they invited me to do an internship and you know it was really quickly, I just I worked out at that age that I saw the politics within company. I saw the limitations with people in terms of how they could accelerate and grow their career not just professionally but personally so I saw that quite limiting at an early age and that’s what really, that was my key learning from working at a company at that age was I wanted to get out there and create impacts for myself.

Amazing. So after staying outside or actually how long did you stay with that company doing an internship?

I was there, I did an internship for 10 months and then they offered me a full time role which I was there for around three years.

Thus Handler created his own buyers agency even when Australia’s involvement with buyers agents were scarce.

I guess was embarking on my new chapter within my life where I was looking to create something and that’s when I met Simon in California and I wanted to do something purposeful, very meaningful I want to shake something up and you know the buyer’s agent sector within Australia was very raw. There was a few players I mean the service was there but there was a few players doing it but we really wanted to get in there and shake it up and that’s what we’ve done. Like we went in there. We got in the trenches and I believe you know Cohan Handler is the company responsible across the country for really creating awareness for buyers agents.

Handler’s business models have always been inspired by those from the U.S, even hoping to work there in the near future.

I’ve always been inspired with the USA in particular with business, the way they carry out business you know the innovative ideas and the entrepreneurs that come out of the states is has always fascinated me so I was really just going there for the creative and business energy that exists there and you know that’s that’s where I formulated the idea for Cohan Handler. And ironically last year in September when I was in San Francisco looking at some tech startups and doing some you know I guess business research that’s where I actually came up with my latest business the Buyers Agent Institute. It’s all really formed in the USA which is quite interesting, the ideas.

Yeah I definitely see myself working over there. Obviously I’m now moving more into the e-learning style of business model within real estate so that’s going to allow me to really work anywhere in the world so yeah I definitely see myself over there in the short term.

He credits his brother as the core influence behind his interest in property.

It was more my older brother. He studied that course and he found it very interesting and so I dived into that course. I mean on reflection, that course wasn’t very well suited to me. And so you know I’m fortunate enough that I went on that path because it’s led to where I am now. However I don’t think that was the right course for me.

Yes so my family’s used to be involved in the meat business and my father is also involved in real estate.

Yeah just more you know acquisition of assets and you know across commercial, retail, residential. So yes I would say just multi use development. Yeah.

Handler started his buyers agency with the goal to change the way Australians bought property.

So Cohan Handler really started off with Simon and myself where we were initially validating the service model which was the buyer’s agent service. Whilst there are a few people doing it we still weren’t confident at the very early stages that we could charge for this service and scale and roll it out. So initially we just started working you know servicing people looking to buy their family home so we didn’t start off an investment. It was really people looking to buy their principal place of residence so we I guess kicked off that really well and quite quickly year one we had a very successful year we leveraged off our networks and our contacts and we validated the model very quickly. We then moved after about eight months into the investment space. We validated that and I guess we wanted to create something large, something big we wanted to really create impact. We didn’t want to be that just one or two man band out there just feeding ourselves. We really wanted to get out there and be the company that was going to really shake up and change the way people bought property.

Handler was able to expand his company soon after starting it, with offices even in Singapore and Los Angeles now.

We wanted to change the way that property was being bought within Australia because we genuinely felt that buyers were misrepresented, we genuinely felt that buyers had no choice but to speak to a real estate agent and now looking to buy property and guys a lot of the time I didn’t actually realise that real estate agents are legally obligated to work for their vendor. So in essence effectively they’re working against every buyer because they’re working for their vendors. I think a lot of buyers weren’t educated around that. Whilst it seems quite simple to understand a lot of them don’t know. So we really wanted to expand the company so as a result after year one. You know we started hiring people we started to scale, you know we started to really build up some key buyers agents within Sydney. We then moved into Melbourne. We then also moved into Brisbane and I guess stepping back into Sydney you know we rolled out offices across the western suburbs of Sydney in the northern beaches, the inner West. We obviously service the east. We do a bit down south so we cover a lot of Sydney and then obviously Melbourne. Then we moved south east Queensland which was you know that’s been a very very promising market for us. We’ve really accelerated fast in the south east Queensland market you know really focusing in Brisbane and the Gold Coast and then we actually moved in to California and we also had an office in Singapore where in Singapore was really focusing on expats moving back into Australia and California we were actually servicing local buyers in the market there.

He believes that his success has largely come from the coaching community around him, as well as his phenomenal team of employees.

I’m always receiving you know knowledge and expertise from coaches. I still have 5 coaches now so myself I always have a strong inner circle around me. I mean you know you look at any good athlete or you know I guess anyone who’s top of their game, they’ve got a coach and so I bounced a lot of different coaches to really inspire and help me grow at an individual level and then in terms of you know why the business grew so much we just cared. I think we had a very strong vision and we were very committed to creating difference. And when you care enough you get in there and execute, you get in the trenches and you get it done and you really blow up the business in a very positive way and you know, you expand that style of energy around and you bring in a lot of good people and so we are lucky enough that at Cohan Handler to be surrounded by a phenomenal team and the team is why we grew. I mean, they say the company you build is the team you build and all that had to do with our team and that’s why we grew so fast 80 plus people you know we grew in to bigger business. We were the first buyers agency in Australia to blow up like we did and so you know I’m very privileged and grateful to have such a great team around me.

While many struggle to run a business with a partnership, Handler has found that he and his business partner complement each other’s skill sets extremely well.

We’re very different with our personalities. We’re very different with our skill sets and that’s what complemented and enabled us to grow. So Simon is a phenomenal phenomenal buyer’s agent. He was very much working in you know in the high end of real estate, buying for clients typically between 3 and 50 million. That’s what he was buying. Residential properties with in terms of budgets and you know my skill set was very much strategy, growth, business operations. I was very much in the back end of the company you know making sure the engine was well oiled and so that combined really fueled a very successful partnership.

While running your buyers agency, do you have time to work on your own property portfolio?

Yeah. Of course I mean you know being a buyer’s agent or running a buyer’s agency is one of the most fantastic aspects of it, in my opinion is being able to jump on opportunities that may not suit clients that you can then capitalize and buy for yourself. So as a result you have built up a very significant portfolio across New South Wales and Queensland.

Handler bought his first property at 23 years old, making some small improvements to the property before accumulating equity and building on his portfolio.

I got started at a young age or well maybe it’s not young but at around that 23 years old age that’s when I jumped on my first property and that obviously you know that just stemmed from an interest in I guess accumulating wealth through buying assets. I really believed in the whole bricks and mortar approach and I guess you know back then I was a bit of a novice and I was just carrying out my research and you know I made my first property purchase in the West and you know it was obviously just more affordable than the east and so I jumped in there and I guess you know I did a very small cosmetic renovation. Just a bit of paint and I redid the floors very low cost. You know, got a tenant in and then you know that started to appreciate it and from there I started just obviously accumulated equity within that property and then from there the portfolios really exploded.

Handler believes that his property investment strategy is simple in the way that he focuses solely on capital growth, rather than yield.

So my strategy is really simple. I like to buy properties typically under 800000 dollars. I typically like to buy two bedroom apartments. I like to buy, I like to choose a suburb and I always ask myself this question would I choose a suburb. If the market was to turn upside down or there was a serious problem, how would it affect this suburb. Like what would be the risk so I’d like to understand my risk strategy when I get into a particular suburb and I assess that in regards to you know what’s the building like. What’s the demographic around me. What’s the amenities like. What’s the infrastructure planning moving forward, is there any planning moving forward that I can look in to to understand you know is it going to be revitalized. And so I very much just look at the fundamentals and you know obviously taking into account you know the levies of a building. I take into account just all the very basic fundamentals. So if things were to turn upside down, it’s still constitute you know a good place to be. Furthermore I also like to, I like to add value. I like to accumulate equity within my properties. I’m not a person that focuses too much on yield whilst yield’s important and you know depending on your strategy, my strategy has been capital growth over yield.

So looking at growth as opposed to yield has been my core strategy and it’s worked very well because I learned very quickly that a lot of people were very yield focused very much focused on yields and yields aren’t strong in this country I believe like you know you may be up to buy property with a dual income or you may get lucky getting a high yielding property but I don’t think yield is what it’s about. And I think people who get bogged down in yield can then potentially lose out on the capital growth. So I’ve been strictly focused on growth while receiving a relatively good yield and that’s allowed me to accumulate a lot of equity. I’ve also looks for properties where I can add value. Typically cosmetic, sometimes structural and in conjunction with that I’ve been able to accumulate serious equity within my properties.

It’s over, it’s sitting over 10 properties and I think asset value would be over 14 million.

While many investors adopt the buy-and-hold strategy, Handler is not afraid to sell his properties as long as he makes a profitable return on the investment.

I’ve got a property now for example that I’m putting on the market in Summer Hill in the Inner West and I had to do in around six hundred twenty dollars a month of my own cash to sustain that mortgage.

But I’ve done very well what I see when I sell out now, obviously hasn’t sold that conservatively on the numbers that I’m working on. You know I’m going to make good money on that. So to answer the question yes I’ve always typically been able to service my properties through my cash injections for the ones that you know aren’t very good yielding properties so I’ve been able to see the serviceability. I’ve always worked the numbers where it would make financial sense for me to do that and I’ve also sold down some properties in the past so then you know reduce my LVR. And you know I do sell properties. You know at times and as I mentioned I’m selling a property now in Summer Hill in the inner west and that was a suburb that I’d picked for example because I just, I went into that suburb I walked around I looked at it, I did some data research I had it and I thought and I said this takes a lot of boxes for me as a hotspot to be within the inner west and it was right and so I make it very simple. It’s not complex it was a building of 12 very low strata. It was 122 square meter two bedroom apartment which was large. It had the ability for a complete reno and you know near a very good school, two and a half minute walk to the train station that stacked up for me. And so the reason I’m selling out of that though is I want to put that money into a new venture. And so I also do sell down properties because to me it’s all about return on investment.

My strategy just even outside of property. It’s about ROI. So I’m thinking if I can take the money out of that property and I can throw it into a new venture where I can generate a higher ROI, that makes sense to me and that’s what I do.

He believes that investors need to constantly reassess their personal goals and financial positions in order to make informed, riskless investments.

I think it’s phenomenal that people are so intrigued and fascinated and really want to dive into property. However, you know you’re spot on there when you’re growing your portfolio. It’s very important to keep, reassessing not just reassessing the portfolio but reassessing your financial position reassessing where you want to take your life in terms of you know your goals financially and so you know if you feel like you could potentially sell often as an asset and you could inject that money into it whatever it is shares. whether it’s a start up it’s a business venture with a friend who knows what it is but if you’re committed and you feel like you can generate a better return there you’ve got to weigh it up.

When it comes to his worst investing moment, Handler recalls a property he had bought site unseen.

I bought a property in Brisbane and it was a two bed one bath one park in New Farm. New Farm, I would say is, we like to call it the Potts Point of Brisbane and that was a property that I actually bought sight unseen and it wasn’t, I haven’t regretted really a purchase because it’s financially impacted me but I think this is a story that I would like to share because I didn’t do enough due diligence at the time in terms of, I thought New Farm was a good area but I didn’t check the property physically myself. And for me I always want to get out there and physically see the property. Outside of photos, outside of crunching numbers on a spreadsheet because it stacks up. You know I think it’s important just to walk in the street see what’s around you. I think it’s important to get a feel so that was probably a purchase where I said I’d never buy a property again site unseen.

Handler remembers the investment as his worst one yet simply because he knows he did not do the due diligence required before purchasing it.

I’ve seen every property that I’ve purchased and so I think there was, I felt like it was a lack of diligence around care.

I just thought you know it’s a significant investment I mean I pay 380000. It was an off market property, the vendor, she couldn’t afford marketing I knew the real estate agent very well and you know when we buy property as buyers agents we get a lot of inside knowledge you know there’s a lot of stuff that sells off market. A lot of the properties I buy aren’t on market you know. I like to deal off the platforms off real estate and domain, that’s how I really like to buy and get into the market so I got an agent that called me and said this vendor can’’t even put the property on real estate dot com, doesn’t even have the you know the advertising budget to do that. And so I felt like there was a bit of pressure there for me then to act really really quickly despite you know there could be some some negatives so I did do a strata report. However I think impulsively I just jumped on it. So in hindsight I would have liked to have just killed it back a bit and said You know I think it’s important I come check it out, visit the street, see the building maybe talk some people within the building knock on some doors, ask some questions. So I just think I rushed into it too quick.

Fortunately, the property has done well in the Queensland market.

I mean that property I bought for 380, I bought it two and a half years ago the owner paid 380. I think it was about 15 months before I bought it. She paid 380 I bought it 380 off market from a very good agent at Ray White in New Farm and that property today is probably worth 440 450.

So far on his property journey, Handler believes that the founding of his business, the Buyers Agent Institute, has been his most groundbreaking moment.

When I was in the States last year in September, one of the critical areas of Cohan Handler where I felt like I hadn’t achieved but there was you know we had 80 people at Cohan Handler, we had a lot of buyers agents and you know we were quite limited with just you know being able to keep employing people as buyers agents so you know in order to grow you’ve got to make sure you can maintain the growth and so we couldn’t keep hiring people so I was trying to wrap my brain around it like how to share this career with everyone. Like people in Australia are so ignorant they don’t really understand how to turn bind properly to a career. Right. Like people don’t realize like you know they’ve got so much passion for property, they look at real estate dotcom all day they search properties they build their own portfolios like how do you convert that energy into a career.

And so you know a bit of an aha moment for me was I was on the phone to a business coaches you know who’s name is Simon Reynolds he’s a marketing genius. He lives in California now. You know he got John Simons Aussie Home Loans off the ground when he first started. So Simon’s been around and that’s where the buyer’s agent Institute idea was formulated in San Francisco on the phone to him in a hotel room I was like How do I scale and really show everyday Australian people I had a term buying property into a career. So I think that was that was a massive aha moment for me because I hadn’t really worked out how to really activate that and really share the knowledge and success and the leverage and everything that I’d learned over nine years. That was a phenomenal groundbreaking moment for me.

With this new business, Handler is hoping to show more people how to turn their interest in property into a rewarding career.

I am just so unconditionally committed to showing people who are potentially unfulfilled in work or you know not working on purpose or you know sick of that nine to five grind you know having to just wake up and do the same monotonous thing every single day for work that they’re not connected with. I’m really committed to showing people how they can actually turn buying property into a very fun, flexible and highly lucrative career quite quickly. And so for people who are passionate about property they like people you know they want to build portfolios not just I guess for themselves but other people, I’m just there to show them how to do it. You know I’ve done it I’ve executed on it. And so you know for less than five thousand dollars I’m showing people how to start a buyers agency business which I think is pretty phenomenal. And you don’t need to have sales experience fancy university or college degrees you know, have certain badges on your belt for what you’ve done. It’s irrelevant. It’s completely irrelevant so you know being able to show people that there is a way in allowing people to escape work that they’re not connected with is something that really drives me everyday with this new business.

But during the day I like to see my day as a walking meditation. I try to see my day where I don’t need to leave the city or go into a quiet room for 20 minutes to breathe in order to escape the busyness.

“Everyday is a walking meditation”: How Ben Handler keeps himself de-stressed and focused in the busy world of property investment

The very first step to starting your own buyers agency as Handler puts it, is getting the relevant qualification.

In order to run your own business as you know as a buyer’s agent you need a real estate license. You can get the buyer’s agents license but that’s actually getting abolished and that’s getting integrated into the real estate license so to run your own business you get a real estate license definitely in New South Wales and then if you want to work for a company as a buyer’s agent you can get away with a what’s called a Certificate of Registration. Each state has different obviously compliance and regulation but it’s very easy to get. I mean that style of licensing and certifications is really simple and straightforward.

And in regards to starting your own business, from your own personal experiences, was there anything that held you back?

It’s a good question because that’s all kind of stemmed me to move on this trajectory of building a buyers agency business was it’s very isolating right. Like you know you’re sitting there trying to crunch numbers or you’re doing some research or you’re meeting real estate agents they don’t get back to you real estate agents that are lying to you. You know it’s quite a daunting experience so I think the first property purchase shook me up quite a bit. There was a lot of nerves. You know I had buyer’s remorse you know was definitely somewhat doubting potentially my decision that I’d made. So you know I found that first experience to be honest with you quite confronting. And that’s why when I went to the states and researched the buyer’s agent model I was just like wow like you know giving buyers representation like fair representation I thought was just something that you know I would have needed back then and I would have paid for back then and a lot of the purchases that I’ve made I talked to you just those two recent purchases in Summer Hill and New Farm, I used buyers in my company like I used by agent for my purchases. I know they’re on the ground, they know the real estate agents. They know how to hustle. You know that one that I bought a new farm, the buyer’s agent, Jordan, that I used, I mean without his relationship I wouldn’t have come across that property right.

And so you know I think that it’s very important just to arm yourself with the right I guess team or knowledge or inner circle I guess.

Handler believes in spite of common interpretations, that emotions often hold investors back or cause them to make bad decisions.

The emotion is what can cause all the issues in a deal and we see it with our clients every day even in clients buying for investment purposes where you know you think the emotion is out but there is actually still a lot of emotion in investment purchasing which I think is misunderstood. The emotion with investment purchasing is you know people are trying to accumulate wealth.

They want financial freedom and there’s a lot of ego and there’s a lot of pressure and there’s a lot of emotion in that because they’re attached to getting those outcomes and so I feel like there’s still emotion in investment purchasing despite people saying that it’s a non emotional decision. So from my perspective buying owner occupier or investment there’s a lot of emotion and that emotion can cause a lot of bad decision making. You know in my opinion you know going back to your question around buying in you know I guess building a portfolio and I think it’s all about buying well. When I was saying talking about communicating, sorry, accumulating you know equity in properties. That is about buying well. And in order to buy well you need to capitalize on opportunities and you need to know what those opportunities are and you need to know when to pull out of those opportunities when emotions kicking in. And I think that I’m being very clear on hey, I’m going to tap out at this crisis no matter what even if it’s an extra 5 10 or whatever they’re going to come back to me at the real estate agent I’m tapping out at this price being able to be disciplined and diligent around when you’re going to pull out etc of the deal I think is critical.

To help with his own decision making, Handler has had a variety of mentor and coaches who have given him great advice.

I’ve always had a very diverse range of coaches so I like to have coaches in different areas of my life.

So for example I mentioned Simon Renalds, Simon is very much a coach I’ve had over five years. He’s an entrepreneurial business style of coach that I’ve discussed ideas with and he coaches me on my business but he’s very much there for me just to talk high level with. He’s obviously an entrepreneur himself. He hustles in business all the time himself. And so he’s a coach that helps me welcome my businesses but also helps me create, like that buyers agency Institute idea. I remember I was in a hotel room in San Francisco on the bed and that idea came because he asked me some questions and bang that’s what happened so he’s that style of coach. I’ve also got a sales coach. I’m very active in sales. I am very fascinated by sales and communications. I’ve got a strict coach and have had a coach for seven years in sales and I’ve obviously trained a large sales team at Cohan Handler and people so I’ve got to up skill myself there. I’ve also had an executive coach because I’m obviously a director of companies so I had a coach to help me with director duties and understand you know how to make sure you’re going about running a business the right way.

I’ve also got a coach, I’ve got very much a lifestyle and spiritual you know coach as well we’re just teaching me about life you know life itself, just the beauty in life and I guess the get the privilege and the honor of being granted this human life I’ve got someone who really helps me navigate through I guess self-awareness and you know just being able to be in touch with outside of the busyness that we have with all our you know business obligations, I like to be able to connect in a spiritual way so that coach also guides me there.

In terms of his own lifestyle, Handler believes that his almost-daily yoga practices has helped him deal with extraordinary levels of productivity.

It’s you know mentioned at the beginning like my day my days or 20 I get up every morning six mornings a week and I practice yoga. I’m a qualified yoga teacher I don’t teach I did the training to educate me on the you know on the anatomy and just the body and self and so to answer the question I mean yoga every morning that grounds me I’m doing a lot of breathing in the morning. There’s a whole misconception around yoga that I find from my perspective and people really misunderstand it. They think it’s something for hippies or some wacky thing or I mean yoga has been around for a very very very long time right and it’s got a lot of healing benefits that enables you to get through your day better.

You know it relaxes your nervous system it creates a lot of circulation within the body you know stretching out the muscles and so yoga definitely is a key thing which helps me get through my day and escape the busyness and obviously meditation and meditation for me is not just about sitting down in a silent room and closing my eyes and being still for 20 minutes. You know I’ve done 10 day silent retreats which are called Vipassana where you really disconnect and you can’t talk you can’t look at people I mean you are meditating for 11 hours a day. I’ll sometimes go out and do some you know sort of retreats like that to really disconnect from the busyness for a period of time. But during the day I like to see my day as a walking meditation. I try to see my day where I don’t need to leave the city or go into a quiet room for 20 minutes to breathe in order to escape the busyness. So for me it’s about how do you integrate the entire day as a walking meditation. So I guess that’s the journey that I’m on.

Wow. Absolutely. Yeah just stunned because this is amazing to speak to somebody who actually practice every day and how long does yoga take you on a daily basis?

Yes my practice that I do it’s called Ashtanga so there’s a, it’s very disciplined yoga you’re supposed to do at six mornings a week and there’s no instructor in the room that’s talking in guiding you. There is an instructor in the room that helps assist people but it’s a self taught practice and you keep progressing and progressing as you move on and the instructor will then give you a new pose when you do progress and they feel like you’re ready for the next pose.

So basically you know I do that you know each morning and that practice typically takes me around you know usually – my practice was 90 minutes but now it’s around 70 minutes. I’ve shortened it.

Handler believes that yoga helps him get out of his comfort zone and be at peace with himself.

Mental illness you know across the States and Australia it’s the highest it’s ever been it’s growing at an astronomical rate and you know to digress a bit, the reason I think is people, they can’t be with themselves. So you know they actually can’t sit by themselves with themselves. They need to distract themselves, they need to go to their cell phone.

They need to talk to people, they need to go to dinner they need to go to drinks, they need to meet people, they need to be busy. So there’s is this whole like you know there’s this whole notion of you know you need to be busy you need to be busy and that’s an illusion to me you know you don’t need to be busy. You need to be able to sit with yourself with your thoughts and once you can actually sit with yourself and your thoughts and start to master yourself and understand yourself that’s when you start to be more at peace. So these style of retreats teach you that you are there with yourself to face yourself. And so things that you may want to resist in your life or things that may be uncomfortable. It’s time to kind of interact with them and it can be very difficult and very challenging for people you know there’s a persona retreat that it runs globally. I went to the one in Blackheath. No people leave and that’s fine. I mean I respect that people leave, people leave because it’s too challenging too challenging to be with yourself. And so I think you know that’s something that I’m definitely you know very focused and committed on is being able to be at peace with being with myself.

In addition to yoga, Handler also has a few book recommendations for any aspiring entrepreneurs.

One of the – you know Mark Cuban phenomenal entrepreneur that I love you know one of his books which is a short read. It’s so authentic it’s really, it’s called How to Win at the Sport of Business. That book is a compilation of his blog posts so the book is so authentic he just compiled blog posts that he had written and put it into a book. So everyone had been asking to write a book for so long and he said hey I want to keep it authentic and so he collated those posts. I love that book. It’s so easy to read. It’s really inspiring and then also the Purple Cow by Seth Godin. The Purple Cow by Seth Goden is one of the best marketing geniuses in the world. The title is simple and it tells you and it speaks to you. Stick out, be the Purple Cow. Whatever your doing business whatever. Stick out. And so that’s a very easy read again. You know another book that Steve Jobs gave out at his funeral. The Autobiography of a yogi. That’s quite a deep book. That’s a really powerful book as well which I think you know it’s by a yogi called from a hunter Yogananda. And it’s a phenomenal book. I mean Jobs gave it out at his funeral.

From his various coaches, Handler also has a big piece of advice he’d like to share.

One of the best advice I’ve ever received was around listen more than you talk. Listen more than you talk. So typically people like to talk about themselves when you’re going to a meeting people like to dominate a room. People really like to talk. So the best advice I received around nine years ago was listen, you have two ears for a reason and that’s been the best advice I’ve ever received.

Going back to yoga, Handler believes that the practice has helped him improve his decision making and overall productivity.

So I created a spreadsheet and just reviewed some data over a period of time when I stopped yoga and I noticed a massive difference. You know my sleeping wasn’t as good, my eating habits changed, discipline and diligence in areas of my life just around you know just I eat well but you know I don’t drink either but I had a few glasses of wine during that time so I really feel like yoga, it’s about inner peace and so I feel like when I stopped it things just moved a bit out of control for me in terms of my life and I didn’t feel as good as well. Like I really did not feel as clear in my decision making wasn’t as strong either.

Yoga felt great for Handler since his first ever session.

I think I did my first practice I remember really well and I just I walked out of it thinking oh my God, like it was it was a I just can’t wait to go back tomorrow. I feel so good knowing when you’re breathing when you are deep breathing in the morning for so long you just you know you feel alive. And so I really missed that.

So if you met yourself 10 years ago what would you say to him. Scale fast and the obstacle is the way?

“The obstacle is the way”, there’s a an author called Ryan Halliday and his book is called “The obstacle is the way”. He’s also got a book called “The ego is the enemy” and Ryan was is a phenomenal entrepreneur.

He’s good friends with Tim Ferris and that book just you know it just makes you look at obstacles completely in a new light. You know when you are faced with a challenge you look at it thinking hey this isn’t a challenge this is an opportunity for me to learn and grow. And so being able to have that perspective around a challenge or an obstacle. I mean I wish I knew that a long time ago.

With his new business, the Buyers Agent Institute, Handler hopes to show everyone how it is possible to become a buyers agent regardless of one’s experiences and qualifications.

Effectively anyone who is looking to turn buying property into a career irrespective of your background whether you’ve been successful or not, whether you have sales experience, all these qualifications. It does not matter.

So it’s really if you want to live a flexible lifestyle you know designing a calendar how you want it and you know obviously servicing clients to buy property then you know this could be something that may be of interest to you. In terms of understanding more, you can visit the buyersagentinstitute.com. So it’s just www,buyersagentinstitute.com or .au and you can you know learn about what we’re doing there. And yeah it’s just a really exciting platform that really educates and shows people how to really take charge of your life and start a business potentially or go work for another buyers agency with really key frameworks and principles that I’ve developed over nine years running the largest buyers agency in Australia. I show people with all the pain that I went through for nine years, I show people a much easier way to go about it.

Handler hopes his program will help both buyers agents and real estate agents who are currently working with people start their own business someday.

You don’t have to spend more time you know, working for a company before you can be on commission only if you want to work for a company as a buyer’s agent or a real estate agent.

But if you want to start your own business you can just go about the normal way and get a real estate license and I’m trying to show people how to start a buyers agency business so I don’t think it’s going to affect potentially buyers agent for those who want to start their own business. But for real estate agents and buyers agents who want to go work for a company you know definitely could have impact. Absolutely.

However, Handler discourages people who are taking the course to leave their current roles completely, instead hoping they will use his program as a learning tool on the side for their future.

I’ve got a lot of past students in the Institute who have finished recently who haven’t quit their jobs and they’re still working and they’ve got flexibility with their current jobs and they’re doing this part time. So I’ve got a lot of people who have you know signed up clients starting to work with clients simultaneously while they’re carrying out their other roles. So you’re able to simultaneously do both and I advise that before anyone kind of you know jumps out of the gate straight away and tried to just start their own buyers agency business. It’s all about mitigating risk and so you can start to get a taste and a feel for it while you’re working in my opinion.

Great and maybe just one last question is what do you think people. What do you think maybe two or three things people will definitely learn out of this buyer’s agency Institute course if they decide to take it with you?

One is that you can earn six and seven figures in this career despite any limitations you may think, I show very clear diligent ways for people to be able to do that.

I know it’s not about financial it’s not about the financials or the time but that’s one area that I’m very confident I show people how to do it. Number two I really show people that you can start your own business despite all the negativity or the limitations that exist out there. I show people how to start their own business in a very lean risk free manner. I show people how to be your own boss. And a lot of people do find that limiting originally but when they come in the course and they do it they find that it’s not so difficult after all. Number three I show people that you know you can work smarter not harder in this career as a by his age I really show people how to you know generate a higher ROI by putting in less time you can create flexibility so you can build your family, your friends and you can enjoy life. So I show people how to get that really wholeistic work life balance.

And finally, for those interested in contacting Handler, he encourages you to call and speak with him on his mobile.

Best is on my mobile I love talking to people and connecting with people so my numbers 0405633910. I love talking to people so please feel free to reach out to me.

This episode was produced by Alex Cooper with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.

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