Holly Priestner Podcast Transcript

Headshot of Head of People Holly Priestner

Holly Priestner Podcast Transcript

Holly Priestner joins host Brian Thomas on The Digital Executive Podcast.

Welcome to Coruzant Technologies, home of the Digital Executive podcast.

Brian Thomas: Welcome to the Digital Executive. Today’s guest is Holly Priestner. For more than a decade, Holly has been building teams and developing talent in leading corporations, associations, and nonprofits. She believes that organizations are powered by empowered leaders and is passionate about providing people with the tools to unlock the potential and motivation of their employees.

Her expertise includes talent acquisition, goal setting and accountability, organizational development, talent assessments and growth plans, onboarding, and employer branding. Holly advises and coaches several of real estate’s most successful teams, coaching and advising them on how to build legacy businesses that will continue to grow.

She currently is the head of People for Place, a real estate and technology and business services platform that powers the top 20 percent of agents and teams by helping expand their profitability, value proposition to the consumer, and grow their unique local brand. Holly is charged with building human resources, employee engagement, talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion, and corporate responsibility.

She also serves as a business and organization consultant for Powered by Place real estate teams. In addition to her formal role with Place, Holly leads a Place luxury real estate team that produces more than 100 million in annual residential real estate volume.

Brian Thomas: Well, good afternoon, Holly, welcome to the show.

Holly Priestner: Thanks for having me, Brian.

Brian Thomas: You’re very, very welcome. I appreciate you jumping on a podcast with me. You know, it’s funny. We had a chance meeting on an airplane, and this just works out. That’s how podcasts sometimes work, but I’d so appreciate you making the time. And Holly, we’re going to jump directly into the questions here and talk about your career a little bit in communications, public relations, real estate. Now you’re the Head of People at PLACE. Could you share with our audience the secret to your career growth and what inspires you?

Holly Priestner: You know, it’s funny to hear you map out all of those fields. When I think through the secret, I would say being adaptable, being flexible and being open, open minded. You never know what is going to happen or what opportunities are going to come up.

And. Being open to what is in front of you and to different conversations for me early on, when I was in the legal industry and building a career and marketing communications and PR, I was really fortunate to work in an organization that empowered me young in my career to do really fun, cool things.

They valued creativity. They valued commitment to a mission and understanding an organization, which led me to take, you know, hard work preparation and trust and implement new ideas that drove results and that empowerment gave me confidence to try new things, but also to understand that pivots are necessary to remain relevant.

I never would have left the legal industry without the right who. I think that’s a common theme when we think about any career or any success. When I say the right who, that might mean the people ahead of you, the leaders or the mentors who have invested in you. Or people that you’ve met along the way.

A lot of my who’s were people that were in the community and people in the Austin community or what led me to the real estate industry and my career that is now focused on talent, and it was meeting the right people who opened my eyes to a different world, a world where I was merging my passion for creativity.

And communications and helping others and parlaying that to helping others and their careers and growing their careers. And so being open minded and seeing that, hey, there’s not just 1 avenue for your career, but be open to conversations that are going to. Unlock something in yourself that you didn’t know before the 1 other thing about, you know, my career or how it’s unfolded is that who also parlays with who you select to be around you in your career.

And when I look at every stage of leadership, every stage of growth, that really wasn’t about me. That was about leadership trusting me, but then that was looking around and knowing my own gaps. Maybe gaps in knowledge or gaps in skills or gaps in experience and seeking out the who around me or the people to hire those key hires or key advisors in the startup space that helped me with my blind spots or continue to help me with my blind spots so that I have a comprehensive team around me that can best serve an organization, a mission, and the people that are on that journey.

Brian Thomas: Thank you. I appreciate you unpacking your story, your diverse skill set the different industries and roles that you worked in, but just being able to pivot on a dime, know when there’s an opportunity and seizing the moment to do that. I appreciate your unique story. And that’s just awesome.

So Holly, let’s jump to the next question here. You certainly have a lot on your plate after the growth merger at place. Could you walk us briefly through a day in the life of a Head of Talent?

Holly Priestner: Brian, you talk to a lot of entrepreneurs. And so, I’m sure the phrase every day is different is probably a bit trite at this point.

And I think what’s been cool about that as well, every day is different. There’s been a way to put some, to put systems and to put structure around so that every day is different. Chris Suarez, who’s the co-founder of place is one of the first true entrepreneurs that I spent. A lot of meaningful time with when I was still in, you know, the normal, I would think normal corporate America scene.

And I remember Chris saying, I’ve never had a boss. My calendar is my boss. And I really took that to heart because that made me open my eyes to think, how can I be in a world where my calendar is my boss? And what do I mean by that? I do an exercise called the perfect week where I map out. Hey, if this was my perfect week where I was staying in my energy zone, where I was spending time with the people that I need to be spending time with and making a meaningful impact.

And still allow me a time, the time to be an individual contributor. What does that look like? And I think that piece about being an individual contributor is really important because when you’re in entrepreneurship, when you’re in the startup world and whenever you have your hands and a lot of different entities, it’s important to note that you’re never just leading.

You also are contributing just like every member of the team. And so, when I look at my perfect week right now, it is Mondays is my day for standing meetings. So, 1-on-1 with the direct reports or the people that I’m responsible for getting to the next level of their career or their business. Mondays are also the day that I have space for leadership huddles or executive team meetings.

And then when I look at Tuesday through Friday, it depends on the week of the month that it is, but that’s where I’m slotted to do that individual contributor work, travel, like the week that I met you, I was meeting with some place entities in a different state or the collaboration time with the cross functional teams that I work really closely with, or the collaboration time with different work groups.

Within my own team, and then, of course, that time to be an individual contributor. So, while every week might look a little bit different, the time structure that empowers me or allows me to accomplish what I need to accomplish for myself, for my team, and for the missions of the organizations I’m involved in is really important.

What I like about this is when I look up and I feel out of balance or disorganized, I realize that it’s time to restructure that perfect week, either there’s something that’s in there that is no longer relevant, or there’s something missing in that perfect week. That’s not getting taken care of and the time that it should.

The other thing that I think is really important is knowing what to say no to again, you probably talk to a lot of entrepreneurs and that might sound a little bit right or a phrase that’s overused. But someone who’s really helped me with this has been Kenny, the other co-founder of place. He challenges me each and every week.

We look at priorities and we make sure that we’re focused on the right things because we’re in an industry where it literally changes weekly, how we need to pivot to drive impact. And he will challenge me. How many things can you take off of your calendar tomorrow? How can you take, you know, maybe it’s eight or nine meetings and take that down to four.

Where do you really need to be spending that time? Or what are you saying? Yes, to number 1, because maybe you’re nice or attached to something that you should no longer be attached to, or what truly doesn’t matter. And I think having that challenge and now I challenge myself on that, having that challenge to make sure that I’m in the space or the place where I’m driving.

The most impact is really, really important.

Brian Thomas: That’s awesome. Thank you for again, sharing a day in the life of head of talent there at place. We really appreciate that. Holly switching gears. If you could talk to us just a bit about real put where you’re connecting real people with real estate career opportunities by leveraging the power of AI to match these folks with these opportunities.

Holly Priestner: I love this question, because I think the important piece of this is when you find out what your energy zone is and usually where your energy zone is, is where your superpower is. And if I was to say, my biggest superpower is. Meeting people, understanding or helping them explore what they really love to do and helping them chart that path to their preferred future.

Real put is taking that passion for connecting people to opportunities so that they can stay in their strengths down real put is a talent marketplace for the real estate industry and why that is so important. If you look across many industries, so many have gone deeper. There’s so much that we can do with job sites.

I can Indeed, or LinkedIn, but whenever we look at, hey, how can I leverage my time in a search for an opportunity, but also as a business owner, how can I leverage my time to be connecting to the right people that have the skill set and the passion for the industry that I’m in. There has to be a better way to leverage that time and also make sure that we’re getting a better fit.

And so real put does that. Why did we create real put 2 different things that were a play? Chris was the co-founder of place is also the co-founder of real put with me. And 1 night we were on the phone. And we’re both happily married, and so neither 1 of us, and we were happily married before dating apps were a thing and he was telling me about 1 of his.

Close friends showing him Bumble. And at the same time, we were discussing a challenge that we continue to see in the real estate industry. And that is business owners spending way too much time going through job applications or resumes for people that aren’t the right fit. They don’t have the right skill set.

They don’t know enough about the industry, or if they’re just entering the industry, they’re making the wrong assumptions for the roles that they are applying to. The other challenge that we continue to see is many business owners in the real estate space don’t have the time, the tools, or the bandwidth.

To truly build a talent bench the way that leaders and more corporate or larger organizations do. And Chris said, why don’t we just kind of create the bumble for real estate? I’m like, ah, this is a great idea. And he said, you know, this space, you’ve talked to more candidates in this space, and you’ve consulted with more business owners in this space than anyone else.

So basically, how do we take your brain and turn that into technology? What he didn’t realize when we had this conversation is that not only am I passionate about helping the business owner, I brought up an organization that is actually how Chris and I met, which was KW Young Professionals. KW Young Professionals, it stands for Keller Williams Young Professionals.

And it was actually a business entity that I had the opportunity to start when I was the vice president of Keller Williams, which is the world’s largest real estate franchise and brokerage. And What I found in that journey was that there were thousands and thousands of rising stars in the real estate industry that were looking for their next opportunity.

And actually, Chris was an example of that. He was a young professional who happened to be killing it. He owned multiple brokerages. He started a brokerage in Costa Rica. He was expanding his traditional real estate broker company. And team across different states. We call that mega agent expansion at that time.

And he was playing in the tech and the coaching space. And so there were so many people that wanted to do what Chris was doing or wanted to parlay their knowledge and their tracker record of success in real estate to a different opportunity, but they didn’t know how to find it. And through KW Young Professionals, we were seeing, we created a database.

And when I say database, Brian, I don’t mean sexy technology. I mean, these young professionals were filling out basically a Google form and saying, I’m interested in other opportunities. This is what I’m interested in. There was some basic bio info about what they have done well in real estate and then locations that they were interested in living at.

At the same time, I had leaders of brokerages, leaders of technology companies, and leaders of real estate teams coming to me and saying, hey, who do you know in KW young professionals that’s looking to be, you know, an expansion partner or a coach or work with the technology company or lead a brokerage.

And so when Chris and I were talking about this concept of real, I said, I care about solving this for the real estate business owner. But to me, and where my passion lies is really creating and matching or an opportunity. Technology for all of those people out there that are looking for their next opportunity in real estate, but they’re not sure where to look.

And so, we started building real put. I think what’s fun about this, Brian, is it goes back to that piece of always being willing to pivot or always being open minded while I had recruited or had led talent acquisition and people operations for Keller Williams, which has a big technology space in it. I didn’t know the 1st thing about building technology or building product, and that’s where it goes back to having the right who around you.

My founding advisor, Jamie Hoffman has actually built this product in the hospitality industry. He was game changing for this. He connected me to the right person for the design for the right team to do development. I also would say we fell along the way people that are listening to your podcast are probably light years ahead of where I was, but Chris and I were so focused on the perfect product experience that we didn’t take it to market quick enough.

Right? We have this great product that works and is pretty, but that’s not sexy. If people aren’t using it. And so, we felt for it a lot along the way. What I would say what’s really exciting about RealPut right now is we’ve actually just transferred or have new buyers for RealPut who are going all in and growing it and doing that go to market strategy.

I’m still on the board. I’m an active investor. I meet with them regularly. I’m helping with that go to market strategy, and I’m excited to see that come to life. When I think about where we spend our time and what we’ve learned, I mean, there’s been a lot of failures along the way with RealPut, but knowing that whenever you’re involved in multiple organizations, and 1 of them starts to outgrow the other knowing to let go of your baby and put it the hands of other people, meaning real put being my baby, but letting someone else take that on because I wasn’t the right mom for that baby, but still getting to be involved and bring that to life is really exciting.

And I’m proud of the new owners. I’m excited about where we are on that journey. And I’m excited about the lessons that I learned along the way that make me a better leader and a better member of the founding team for place. That is truly a rocket ship with hyper growth and I’m getting to play in both of those roles as a true honor.

And they parlay, you know, they’re intersected. They’re solving some of the same problems. And so, getting to be a true expert and both of those spaces are getting to grow to be a true expert as a lot of fun and a great journey.

Brian Thomas: That’s great. Appreciate the journey that you had getting to, you know, develop, build this app out.

There’s obviously a need out there, but I appreciate the story on that. And Holly, last question of the day, if you could just briefly touch on any, if you’re leveraging any new or emerging technologies in your business, and if not, maybe you found a cool tool or app you might share with us.

Holly Priestner: I am proud of the technology that I leverage daily from a business perspective, Brivity, B-R-I-V-I-T-Y, which is actually a technology product, a SaaS product owned by place, and why brevity is so important to me and my day-to-Day job functions is first and foremost, it’s everything that a real estate business needs to run their business.

Lead generation and goal setting, goal tracking, conversion for a real estate agent, how that part lays into a real estate team’s goal, the transaction management of that, the client communication, the marketing aspect of a real estate business. And then now more importantly, as we continue to evolve Rividi, how we run the backend functions of the business.

So, the people side. The financial side, everything about Brivity is how we are running the real estate teams that are part of PLACE. Why is this important to me? And why do I use it on a daily basis? Number 1, an opportunity that came out of place is actually lead a large luxury real estate team in Austin, Texas.

So, I am in there every single day, looking at the financial and business help of that team, Booker, copper and Collins, and that helps me make good decisions about where we need to hire. Where we need to spend our marketing dollars, where we need to cut back on expenses, where we need to be coaching our agents so that they’re truly turning into business owners, not just real estate agents.

The second piece that’s important from a place leader perspective is that I’m consulting. I’m the talent organization consultant for the 300 or so powered by place teams. By using Brivity, I can get in and diagnose where their organization development opportunities are so that when we jump on a consulting session, I’ve done the pre work to see where those pain points are and where their opportunities are.

Business data trumps drama. When we start going into talent conversations that might be emotional because at the end of the day, talent organization conversations are driven by people and when I can go in with data to guide those conversations, it takes the emotion out and we can look at the organization and the people in that organization and drive true change.

Sometimes that change is just around helping business owners have the tough conversations to coach their people up and out. Sometimes those conversations are truly budget driven, and other times those conversations are, hey, your business is rocking and rolling and you’re moving to the next step.

What is the next key hire that we need to make? But the data that Brivity provides me allows me to be a true consultant that goes in. With that data driven approach so that we can take the emotion out of conversations that could be highly emotional, right?

Brian Thomas: Thank you again. I appreciate you leveraging talent to help manage some of the day to day and be more efficient, especially in your role as head of people and Holly, I just want to let you know, it was really a pleasure having you on today and I look forward to speaking with you real soon,

Holly Priestner: right And I look forward to staying in touch. It’s an honor to be included.

Brian Thomas: Bye for now.

Holly Priestner Podcast Transcript. Listen to the audio on the guest’s podcast page.


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