Interview of Top Producer: Ben Caballero
Inman News, March 19, 2015
Interview of Ben Caballero of HomesUSA.com originally posted on Inman News as part of Inman’s series of interviews of top producers in real estate.
Describe your job — where are you located, what types of properties do you work with, what types of clients do you work with?
I’m in Dallas but work with volume homebuilders in Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.
Where did you start?
In Dallas, and I’ve lived in Dallas my entire business career.
Did you imagine when you were younger that you’d be a top producer?
I’ve always had a drive to succeed but not to the level I’ve achieved. With about a million good hard-working agents in the United States, I never dreamed I would be ranked at the top.
What sets you apart?
Perseverance and tenacity combined with a passion to create. I’m compelled to finish what I start, if at all possible. Once I start something, I have great difficulty stopping. Even if it is a bad movie, I tend to watch it until the end. Some of my projects are long-term, so perseverance and tenacity have come in handy.
How did you get there?
In my first business class, my professor advised, “Do not change careers, because when you do, you start at the bottom.” I always kept that in mind when other markets and other industries were booming. I chose to stay with real estate in Dallas, Texas. When I moved to Dallas, I did not have a college degree and knew no one. I had a new wife, $500, a borrowed car, and a very strong passion to succeed.
Are you part of a team, or are you doing it solo?
HomesUSA.com is a small brokerage firm. I am the only one who lists new homes.
What does your administrative support team look like — or do you have one?
I have two real estate assistants who update current listings and process new listing requests. I also have a small team of IT developers and programmers who work on the technical systems that are a critical part of my operation.
Who are your heroes?
I am inspired by many throughout history, but in the modern business context, I take inspiration from Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jony Ive, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos. All of these individuals have a rare kind of vision and ability to redefine or create new markets.
What’s the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning? What’s the last thing you do before you leave?
During my drive to work, the radio is off, and I think about the projects and issues I’m working on and make mental notes about what needs to be done. When I arrive at the office, everyone knows to give me a few minutes while I take care of what may be on my mind. Then, I check my calendar, respond to emails, return phone calls and start my day.
Before I leave, to the degree that it’s possible, I make sure I’ve done what I’ve committed to do. If I’ve promised to return a call or an email, or address an issue, I’ll do it or mark my calendar to do it the next day.
What’s the first thing you do when you’re off work for the day?
Three days per week, I make time to work out with a personal trainer for an hour — lifting weights and doing some cardio. It helps to keep me feeling mentally sharp, flexible and energized. In addition, I prioritize my friends, family and other personal relationships.
What’s your favorite place to unwind?
My favorite place to unwind is my home. To me, no other place comes close.
What areas of your business do you pay personal attention to? What have you outsourced?
I personally oversee all real estate-related matters. We have multiple automated reports and a Web-based executive dashboard that enable me to know nearly everything that is happening in terms of our real estate operations. IT is the only area that I’ve outsourced, and I’ve personally overseen the IT team for years, since the HomesUSA platform and its design are critical to our operations.
What do you think is the biggest barrier to success in today’s real estate industry? How have you overcome it?
Success is defined by the individual. The only barriers to success are the ones we choose to accept. Some believe the economy, their parents, their ethnicity, their lack of opportunity or their boss are barriers. But the reality is that success is the result of our personal decisions. In America, assuming reasonably good health, the degree of our success or failure is a function of our willingness to do what it takes to achieve the success we seek.
How do you deal with stress?
I’ve always been able to pace myself so that I am able to maintain my energy level. So when I need to work harder or later than usual, I can, but I always make time to relax, center myself and recharge.
If you could change anything about your career path, would you? Why or why not?
Nothing has come easy, but I wouldn’t change much. To change my career path would be to change me and my circumstances, neither of which would be possible. I’ve made mistakes, but I learned from them.