Jeff Lichtenstein (He/Him) is the President and Founder of ECHO Fine Properties in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Because of his work ethic, Jeff earned the nickname “The Machine.” He’s sold more than 1,100 homes since becoming a realtor in 2001. Jeff was named Best Realtor of the Year in 2021 by The Palm Beach Post. Jeff manages a 70-person team at ECHO Fine Properties. He works closely with his agents as a very hands-on broker and trainer. He’s involved in all aspects of his business—marketing, advertising, creative content, social media, SEO, and more. Before launching his own brokerage, Jeff worked as an agent at Illustrated Properties Real Estate and Waterfront Properties. Prior to real estate, Jeff worked for his father’s company, Western Textile Fashion Drapery Products, as the Vice President of Marketing and Sales. There, he worked with buyers and designers to sell home furnishing fabrics to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, traveling 35 weeks per year. Jeff earned his bachelor’s degree in business management with a major in marketing from Syracuse University. Jeff was raised in Chicago. He and his wife Veronica now reside in Palm Beach Gardens with their two children, Sam and Jade. He enjoys snorkeling, eating out, family vacations, and nature in his spare time. Jeff has been interviewed by WPTV, WPEC, WPBF, WFLX, The Palm Beach Post, The Sun Sentinel, The Spruce, Realtor.com, Inman, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Authority Magazine, CNN, and more. All of his media hits can be found here.
Can you share a little about your background and experience in hiring and building successful teams?
I started my career in textile sales and at some point handled the sales hires once I became sales manager for Western Textile. My first interview was with a newbie and a veteran. The newbie was more genuine in his shortcomings. The veteran was less open to trying new things. We ended up hiring the newbie and it ended up being a great hire.
During my high school years, I discovered I had a learning disability. The school psychiatrist helped me by looking at the big picture and seeing things in an outline format. I think this helped me in interviewing people and in training them. Being able to understand different learning styles and gaps in how they think has made me better at interviewing and in communication for ongoing training.
I played a lot of sports growing up with friends I’ve known since grammar school. I noticed that longevity and positive collaboration helped us read each other better on the ball field. Having good synergy between teammates carries over from playing games to work.
You are the conductor and figuring out how well they will play with others is crucial.
What are the top 3 qualities you look for when hiring anyone.
“You can’t do a good deal with a bad guy”? This came from a quote from my Grandfather. He looked for positive energy people only. Once that is established, your business thrives from everyone rowing in the same direction. Drive. Some have it. Some don’t. Nothing gets implemented without drive.
Skill Set. Some things you can’t teach. If skills of the task at hand are not there, then forget about it. You wouldn't want me teaching you geometry for example!
Self Awareness. People need to be self aware of their faults and self aware of their surroundings. They learn better. Adaptability. I added this one during the pandemic. Business is changing quickly these days and people who can move with the times will do better. Rapid change is expected now.
What are some examples of questions you might ask during an interview to determine whether a candidate possesses these key qualities?
What did you want to do when you were in grade school (sometimes you learn what they love and what their passion really is).
If you could wave a magic wand, what skill would you want to improve upon most? Or sometimes I ask which class was hardest for them in school. I ask them to find if they are genuine, self aware, and honest. It's also telling if they are positive energy.
Tell me about a time you had a conflict with someone and how you went about resolving it. This deals with teamwork.
I give them a recommendation of something I’ve read. I’m always interested to see if they follow up and alert me they did so.
I’m looking for direct outreach sales people so I search for examples of any job they have had in which they did so. If they don’t have that skill set, then it's a pass.
If you had to assign weightings to the above qualities, which would get the highest weighting, and why?
Positive Energy questions first and foremost.
How do you assess people for qualities like adaptability, resilience, and a growth mindset during the hiring process?
I listen and watch non verbally for how well they roll with different and difficult questions. It's also important to keep in mind what you are interviewing for. An accountant who has great people selling skills is not necessarily the best candidate. Selling skills sometimes win jobs because someone can turn it on with charm and charm isn’t necessarily important outside of sales.
How do you balance evaluating a someone's technical skills with their soft skills and overall fit for your team and company culture?
I bring in a few others on our team to interview. Listening to others gives a separate outlook.
Is there one particular source you tend to find the best candidates?
Google and direct recommendations. What you find when googling someone is eye rolling at times.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to build a hiring process?
Write 20-100 questions out. Send a questionnaire out in the beginning before the interview. It's interesting to see who will fill it out and if they follow directions. I used to ask them to answer in a different color. Half of the time the color was still black and there were misspellings or it would take a long time to get back the answers. I’ve done it long enough that I can do it by feel, but that took a long time to get there.