Special Feature

Fatherhood makes Kelvin Chen an empathetic and successful leader

By Kelvin Chen,
ERA Realty Network
/ EdgeProp Singapore |
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Kelvin Chen found himself fascinated with finance at a young age. “I studied business management in university, majoring in accounting and finance,” he says. “After I graduated, it was a natural progression for me to work in the banking industry; I spent eight years of my career in consumer and corporate banking.”
While handling investment portfolios and loans in consumer banking, Chen witnessed first-hand how his clients used property to achieve capital gains. He realised property was a major tool for wealth creation.

Diving into the unknown

It was during this time that Chen first thought of working full-time in the real estate industry. As a banker with a comfortable salary, the notion of being self-employed evoked both excitement and doubt in him.
“It was scary to think about going from making a six-figure salary a year to suddenly being totally self-employed with zero base pay,” he says, especially as he had a young family with a newborn — plus a new private home and mortgage to maintain.

Empowered by love and family

Paradoxically, his baby girl’s birth propelled him to finally make his move. Describing himself a conservative person when it comes to taking risk, Chen says: “I decided to just do it. I had dreams, and I wanted to give my family a better life.” He reckons that as a self-employed person, “the sky is the limit. It’s not like working for an organisation, where you have a cap on your salary”.
In some ways, it was a terrifying decision, but he knew it was the right one. “I thought for a long time before I went into real estate,” he says.
In the end, the many positives of forging a career in property made his final decision clear. He joined ERA Realty Network.
It was soon obvious that he had made the right decision. “I was blessed; I closed several deals quickly, and was one of ERA’s Top Achievers in my first month,” he says.

ERA’s Top Senior Division Director in 2021

A decade on, Chen has found his career fulfilling. He was recognised as ERA’s Top Senior Division Director in 2021 for the entire year, and achieving the accolade has only motivated him and his team of 35.
“One of my associates who joined the industry in early 2020 won the ERA Top New Achiever Award in 2021,” Chen says. “In fact, my whole team performed well; half of them achieved ERA’s prestigious Diamonds Award.” To qualify for this award, an agent must clock six figures in one month.
His unique experiences have been instrumental in guiding his team of associates. “Going through this experience of moving from security to self-employment allows me to understand the mindset of my new recruits, especially those going from part-time to full-time,” Chen says.
This has made him a more empathetic leader for many of his associates. “The anxiety of being in the unknown is something very close to my heart,” he says.

We speak to Chen about his leadership philosophy, how he has kept his team of associates motivated and successful despite the pandemic, and how fatherhood and a childhood passion for swimming have shaped his outlook on leadership — with positive results.

What is your leadership philosophy?
My goal as a leader is to help my team break through where they think they cannot.
I see myself as a property wealth adviser who can provide my clients with a holistic approach. I don’t just broker a property’s sale or purchase. I assist with bank loans, assess properties from an investment point of view, discuss and review entry and exit strategies, and more.
This is what I coach my associates to do — to go beyond the basic buy-sell relationship. Yet, I understand that not all team members are the same. Some are faster and others slower; some have stronger networks and others don’t.
I don’t apply a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter approach to guiding or training agents, but assess individuals to provide direction that fits their stage of growth.
The common factor is that I believe in pushing them to test their limits and excel. In our career, it is always important to aim for a breakthrough.
Finally, I believe — and impart to my team — that success begets success. A small success can help you to catapult onto a bigger one, that allows you to keep on overcoming larger and larger challenges.
How did you motivate your team during the pandemic?
I kept my team positive and motivated through staying connected. We had two or three Zoom meetings a week. We did training sessions and shared our past and current potential pitfalls, challenges faced, and success stories.
I took the opportunity to help each team member with areas they were weak in, such as financial calculations, financial restructuring and investment analysis. This was to prepare them with knowledge and confidence as they waited to get back into the full swing of things. Our weekly meetings also covered pandemic viewing basics, including doing effective virtual viewings, videography, spotting undervalued properties, and more.
All this served to help our agents — especially the newer ones — stay motivated and positive. We also saw positive growth in individual sales performance during this time.
What three core attributes do agents need to succeed?
Firstly, positivity is very important. In our line of work, we will face numerous rejections and setbacks. Rejection is not a failure, but understanding the reason for rejection allows one to find the next step towards acceptance. I strongly believe that the ability to find positivity in every circumstance is essential to being successful.
Secondly, a just-do-it mindset is very important. I believe we will never be 100% ready in everything we are going to do, so it is only normal to feel fearful when faced with a challenge. But fear kills more dreams than failure ever will. Therefore, it is important to face the fear and find a way through it by our action.
Thirdly, staying focused and committed to our work is a must. Just as trees don’t grow overnight, it is important to trust the process. The work we do today, or the challenges we faced, will be accumulated and lead us to the road of success. It is also important to stay committed in improving oneself so that we could continuously stay ahead of the curve and provide better advice and service for our clients.
Which personal experiences have shaped you into a better leader?
One of the biggest reasons for me being a better leader is my daughter. My daughter was diagnosed with quadriplegia cerebral palsy — the most severe form of CP. She is non-verbal and dependent on us, and having her in my life has allowed me to understand and acknowledge that everyone moves at their own pace in life.
I used to have the mindset, “If I can do it, so can you.” But now, I see that everybody has their own rhythm. I have learned to slow down, especially as I help my daughter to achieve her mini-goals according to the best of her personal abilities.
Reframing my mindset has been instrumental in helping me to walk in my daughter’s shoes — and those of others around me too. I understand that everyone has different expectations and personal milestones and abilities.
Also, I was invited to coach the swim team of my alma mater — Temasek Polytechnic — after completing national service in 2004. As a former national athlete, former school swim team captain, and certified coach, I felt I could use my knowledge and experience to guide the team and bring them to greater heights in the inter-poly and inter-varsity competition. My performance and achievement with the school was noticed, and earned me the Singapore Sports Council’s Coach Recognition Award in 2006. This coaching and leadership role taught me how to work with others, manage expectations and pass my skills on.
As a leader, I understand and respect that each person has their own way of achieving success. My role is to uncover and magnify their individual strengths to help them break their self-imposed limits … and achieve success.
For more information, please call:
Kelvin Chen
Agency Name: ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd
CEA Number: R041299Z
Mobile Number: 84282282

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