Peak Realty Chicago President Shane Rachman is dedicated to supporting every aspect of the team and helping owners create plans for their real estate assets. He loves real estate due to its tangible nature and the impact it has on people’s everyday lives.
Shane earned an engineering degree from the University of Iowa, which gave him a background in problem solving and thinking logically and operationally. These skill sets allow for an effective understanding of complicated ideas and concepts that have many moving parts to be broken down into simple, repeatable steps and formulas that work almost like a playbook, for example, investing in a real estate deal.
Early in his career, Shane discovered his entrepreneurial spirit and love for inspiring others to do the same. Shane puts his family first and real estate provides the perfect balance of hard work and time to be with those who matter most to him. In his free time, you can find Shane walking his dog around the many beautiful tree-lined blocks of Logan Square, and spending time with his wife Erica and two daughters, Sloane and Rafael.
Illinois Real Estate Journal: As the president of Peak Realty, you’ve nearly doubled the staff in just one year. How do you maintain a strong company culture amidst such rapid growth, and what steps do you take to ensure new hires align with the values of the organization?
Shane Rachman: This is both the exciting and challenging piece of rapid growth. We have adopted a people-first mindset. To us, this means when we put our people first, believe in them and empower them to make decisions, good things will happen. Aligning our leadership team has been the key to success and is the foundation that will allow any further scale. We meet regularly to sync up on company-wide concepts and work hard to build a culture that thrives on respect, patience and specific feedback that truly starts with us.
Illinois Real Estate Journal: Peak Realty has gained a reputation for being a sought-after workplace in the industry. Could you share some of the key best practices you employ to foster a positive and productive work environment?
Rachman: This question ties into the previous one but our philosophy in the workplace stems from our core business of being sales people. We treat this as more of a lifestyle than a job. Now I know that is easy to say but we practice it every day. It goes back to trusting our people to do what they need to do to get things done and innovate in their own direction. Taking time to find the right people up front plays huge into this style. I would choose the right culture fit with less specific skills than the opposite 10 out of 10 times.
Illinois Real Estate Journal: Building a successful team requires hiring exceptional candidates. What specific qualities and attributes do you look for when selecting new team members, and how do you assess whether they will fit into the company’s culture?
Rachman: This is a business where you get in what you put out. Those candidates who aren’t scared of a startup mentality and who are excited to have autonomy and control over their own schedule are immediate fits.
Illinois Real Estate Journal: With the recent expansion in Denver, how do you ensure that the company culture is effectively transmitted and maintained across different locations? How do you encourage collaboration and communication among team members in different offices?
Rachman: Our team and systems are strong and able to tolerate the growth. We were lucky to have a couple of people in our office with direct connections to real estate professionals in Denver. In our business, built upon strong connectors, a strong referral is second to none. We have spent time and money bringing the Denver group into the Chicago HQ and sending our team out to the mountains as well. We work every day to build a better bridge between the two groups and it seems to be strengthening as we grow. This makes us really excited about what this means for our future.
Illinois Real Estate Journal: What role does ongoing training and professional development play in building a strong company culture, and do you support your team’s growth and advancement in their careers?
Rachman: This is the key to our next evolution of growth. Jodi Dougherty joined our team eight months ago as the Director of Broker Development. Her full-time focus is getting this right, to build brighter futures for each one of our brokers. It is a choose-your-own-adventure business, which is what makes it so fun, yet everyone needs guidance along the way. There are such brilliant minds in our office who can cover any facet of real estate, so Jodi is focused not only on building career plans for newer brokers but also organizing specific times for our team members to absorb knowledge from those who have had strong success in their specific directions. Our more senior members thrive when they are asked to speak or provide some guidance and key knowledge. We truly have a team feel pervading our group.
Illinois Real Estate Journal: How do you encourage innovation and creativity within your team while maintaining a focus on achieving business goals?
Rachman: We believe everything is possible. This is proven to our team every day by Ari Weil, Director of Technology. A long time ago we chose to custom-build a technology solution instead of using Sales Force. Although it was a more expensive and more daunting direction at the time, we reap the benefits of this investment in original technology today. Building custom business intelligence pieces (think AI for data analytics and reporting), developing thoughtful workflow and robust data that supports our approach to sales, leasing and more. The innovation is driven by our business needs as we are real-time in the field every day collecting feedback and trying to make our people’s lives easier.
Illinois Real Estate Journal: Every leader has a unique leadership style. Can you describe your leadership philosophy and how it influences the culture and atmosphere within Peak Realty?
Rachman: For better or for worse, I am incapable of micro-managing, but I believe in strong people who strive to solve problems. I have found problems in our business over time, tried to organize them and then have found people who are better than me to innovate on top of those directions. I think that’s really the key. Being a leader who can identify people who love solving problems, and doing so in a simple way where humans are still at the wheel when automation and technology are intensely leveraged to assist.
Illinois Real Estate Journal: Maintaining a positive and motivated team is essential for growth. How do you handle challenges and setbacks?
Rachman: Be as direct as possible and put the cards on the table. I bought several leaders a book called Difficult Conversations that my dad once bought for me, and that is the key. It is important to remember that there are two sides to every story. If you are honest and raise topics not in an accusatory way but truly in a discovery-based approach, it is amazing what you can find out. When your team is receptive to that and takes these discussions as motivation to problem solve and get better, we all win.
Setbacks are part of the game. Each time something doesn’t go our way, we learn from it and get better. It is part of that competitive spirit I think most of us have.
Illinois Real Estate Journal: How did you get started on this career path? Who or what inspired you to be the leader you are today?
Rachman: I have been lucky to have many great influences in my life and at the risk of sounding like someone winning an academy award I will keep it as brief and concise as possible:
My parents have taught me how to communicate and listen so well over time. On top of that, hard lessons along the way about not quitting have paid off in the long run. Lastly, my dad has the best moral compass of anyone I know and that is something I try to emulate every day.
Uncle Michael convinced me to come into real estate. He definitely cultivated an entrepreneurial part of my soul I never knew I had. I owe so much of my real estate acumen to him but almost more importantly he taught me to push past the first answer and that if an answer doesn’t feel right in your bones, it is ok to challenge it. That has probably changed me more than anything.
My wife taught me how to be more direct and decisive. Being a leader requires intense decision making and you need to keep moving. Her direct nature has inspired me to be more direct in my own approach to things. Tact is always important, but you can’t miss the mark on a message just because you are nervous to put it out there.
Greg Moyer has been a great business mentor and motivator. Also, in my earlier days he helped me shape my thoughts around company structure and simply aligning a team to get things done.
There are so many more people, but these are the ones who come to mind and have been there since the early days. I genuinely learn from every person I meet along the way; some just answer my phone calls more often.