Tracy Hutton dives into consistency, teaming, and the grit it takes to be a leader
Tim Leman: Have you ever felt like you're on the edge of something great? You've put in the work, you've done the hard stuff most people aren't willing to do, and now you can just sense a magical run lies ahead. On this podcast, we talk about what separates those special teams, the kind, if we're lucky, we get to be a part of maybe three or four times in our life, from the more ordinary experiences. I'm your host, Tim Leman, and let's discuss leading on the edge. Welcome to The Edge Podcast. I'm your host, Tim Leman. On this episode, we have Tracy Hutton. Tracy is CEO of CENTURY 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis. I've had the opportunity to get to know Tracy through YPO, the past several years, and I'm excited to have her on as our guest, so welcome, Tracy.
Tracy Hutton: Thanks, Tim. Happy to be here.
Tim Leman: Yeah. Well, Tracy, tell us a little bit about your business. What does CENTURY 21 Scheetz do, what's your niche, what do you all specialize in?
Tracy Hutton: So I like to really refer to our company as a real estate service brokerage, so we're not only in the residential real estate broker space, but we have a commercial division, corporate relocation division, and we also have our own title insurance company and our own mortgage company. So all aimed to really improve and elevate the consumer experience and our agents' experience by being aligned with our brokerage.
Tim Leman: I think that's interesting, talking about the agent side of things too, because that's where all the value lies, is that... your connection directly with your customers, right?
Tracy Hutton: Absolutely. Our agents are... They're not employees, they're independent contractors, so we have almost 400 independent contractors that have chosen to align themselves with our brokerage and our brand. And we always say," We want our agents to align with us because we can make it easier for them to do business."
Tim Leman: Yeah, and I want to talk about that some more too, because I think that's got to be especially challenging, with culture and so on, when you have, essentially, free agents like that, that could go anywhere they want to go, how you do that, that way. So what's your role? Describe your role there.
Tracy Hutton: Well, I've really grown up in this industry, Tim, from the time I was... I think it was even before I turned 15 years old, started answering the phones for a real estate brokerage. And so, I saw the industry and the business from a young age, worked through high school, college, summer breaks. And I had the opportunity to join Mick Scheetz when I was 25 years old. I was in the title insurance industry at college, and he called me and said," Hey, I want you to start our corporate relocation division and do business- to- business sales," and partnered at the right times in our life. I was young and energetic and naive, which is a great place to be. And he was willing to let go of the rope on a lot of things, and believed in me at a time when, I would say, there was a lot of women realtors, but not a lot of women brokers or leaders. And I'm grateful every day that Mick saw something in me at a young age and said," Hey, take the reins and run with them," so it's been a great 25 years.
Tim Leman: That's awesome. That's a great story and a continuing partnership with both of you. We both use EOS and traction in our companies, so when you think about your role today, give me a traction label for the chair that you sit in. Not familiar with EOS? EOS stands for the Entrepreneurial Operating System. It is a set of concepts and tools that has helped thousands of leadership teams clarify, simplify, and achieve their vision. I'll share the link to the EOS Worldwide website in the show notes.
Tracy Hutton: I sit in two currently. I sit in the visionary seat and the integrator seat. I did take a stab, and I think this is what is true of a lot of leaders. As you start letting go of the rope and trying to fill the seats with the right people that can impact your organization in the right way, sometimes you don't get it right, and so I'm back in the visionary, integrator seat. I'm probably more of a natural visionary, but I'm also very connected to the people in our organization, the agents that affiliate with us, and also our employees.
Tim Leman: Yeah, I can relate to so much of what you just said. I remember, I think it was in Traction, in the book there, they talked about leadership teams, like 80% of leadership teams will change, 40% add people on, and 40% people leave. And it's not exactly scientific math there, the way that all comes together, but it's really true, and I've been surprised at how it's not always how you think the story will weave and what it will look like. And we took some time to find the right connection for me, on the visionary, integrator side of things too, and made some good stabs at it. And it wasn't even just so much that the person wasn't a talented person and all that, it's just, it's got to really fit the situation, the people, and everything, so yeah. But I think it is interesting that an organization like yours and ours are in the insurance agency business, so we have a lot of salespeople having somebody who has sold, and been out on the front lines, and so on, and how important that connectivity is with your agents, too. It probably does lend itself to a different kind of person sitting in those seats, so I think it's been helpful over the years to have been in sales, in terms of leading Gibson. But I also know the answer that my team would say. So you gave me your answer about your role. What would your team say is your role at CENTURY 21 Scheetz? They call me overhead now, but I don't know what-
Tracy Hutton: They may say that about me too. I feel like I am the visionary and I'm the energy behind the sales organization that we run.
Tim Leman: Yep, it's such a big part of that inspiring and motivating with the teams. You've been around sports a lot in your life. Tell me about, from a team standpoint, what's the greatest, best team you've ever been a part of? And maybe that's a work story, maybe it's a sports story. It could be any kind of thing, but what's the greatest team that you've been a part of?
Tracy Hutton: It's current, it's today. And I think that, as a leader, the best team is the one that challenges you as a leader, to even be better. It's almost like a healthy tension. When you don't have that healthy tension on your team, I feel like you're not pushing forward. And is that because of what we've been through the last 10 months with COVID and trying to transform how we do business? So I would say, right now, I have a very powerful team that pushes me.
Tim Leman: Yeah. If one of them were here right now, what's the thing that they maybe push you on the most, or it's, we have to tell Tracy to stop doing this, or start doing this? You got to kind of bring us inside one of your leadership team meetings, and what do you get pressed on?
Tracy Hutton: I mean, it's letting go of the rope that... Gino talks about it in the book. And I've been on the ground floor of this company, growing it, so there's a lot of things, just institutional knowledge, that you get from being in the seat so long. And also, growing up with the company, so I had to figure it out. And what was great about Mick, he'd be like," Hey, you've got to go figure that out," so it's almost data dumping that knowledge. And sometimes it's easier, you think, to do it yourself, and really, I have to continue to challenge myself to let go.
Tim Leman: Letting go of the vine, yeah.
Tracy Hutton: Yeah, and sometimes they're wanting, I think, pry it out of my hands, and I just need to be okay with that.
Tim Leman: Again, I can relate to so many things you're saying. Why do you think it's tough to let go of the vine for, say, people like you and me? Why is that difficult for us?
Tracy Hutton: I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to the people that work here, right, and the customers we serve. And the sense of responsibility that you're the only one who can do it is not healthy, right? I think, I can't remember, in YPO, we had a speaker come in around traction, and he had said something about why it's so hard to let go of the rope, is because, the company. I mean, you feel the pressure of if it succeeds or fails, often as the weight on your shoulder. And you want it to succeed, not just for yourself, but for everybody that aligns themselves with your company, so I think that's probably one of the biggest challenges.
Tim Leman: Yeah, so maybe that has something to do with, when the game is on the line, you want the basketball in your hands, you want to take that shot with all that pressure and responsibility, you think?
Tracy Hutton: Well, I am the worst one to be shooting it. I mean, let's be real, right?
Tim Leman: That's right, yeah. Well, okay, so talking about that a little bit, strengths and so on in your team, using EOS, have you guys done all the Kolbe assessments on your leadership team?
Tracy Hutton: Yep.
Tim Leman: Have you used that to help get people in the right seats, so to speak? Or is it-
Tracy Hutton: Yeah.
Tim Leman: ...just more about understanding everyone?
Tracy Hutton: Well, I think it's twofold, right? It's getting people in the right seats, but also, from a team health perspective, understanding how others work and how they show up as a part of the team.
Tim Leman: When you think about your Kolbe and so on, and I know people don't always have this off the top of their head, do you know what your four digits are?
Tracy Hutton: Yeah. Well, I know I'm a Quick Start, which I have to remember, that can be challenging, because I'm quick to solve, quick to resolve some things, right? So yeah, I think that is probably one of the traits that shows up quickly. And I think that can be an Achilles heel when you're delegating to people because some people just don't move as fast. I've gotten feedback from people on my team that," Tracy, you let go of things, but then, when it's not done at your pace, you pull it back."
Tim Leman: I can appreciate all that.
Tracy Hutton: But sometimes-
Tim Leman: What-
Tracy Hutton: ...they need that Quick Start, because otherwise, it can take forever to get things done because they want it done perfectly, right?
Tim Leman: Yeah. And our integrator for the last year or so here, we've talked about this a lot, and he said things like," All right, I'm appreciating some of these problem- solving things, that Quick Start has moved us and gotten some things fixed or done, that we needed to." But I also am listening carefully too, of, a lot of times, when his pace and way of doing it has worked out a lot better for everybody involved. A good friend of mine that, and I think it was at that YPO day when we had EOS, guy named Larry Linne, described... And we probably have similar Kolbes, but the scores, to quote him, is," This is a complete pain in the ass to manage," our scores, Tracy," unless there's a lot of self- awareness, unless there's intellectual capacity that comes with that, because it can just be a disaster for everyone around them." And he's like," Yeah, no, I'm talking to you, Tim." But I've appreciated that, and realized that now, and how some problems that we've solved together, where I have not jumped in right away and let it play out a little differently, and it's actually... Yeah, it's, oftentimes, just a much better solution, and-
Tracy Hutton: I mean, as a leader, you have to take some steps back and go," I moved way too fast on that, and it has caused... It's been a detriment to team health." And I've had to show that, you know what, I've failed in this situation as a leader, and I'm sorry.
Tim Leman: So Tracy, you guys have grown a lot, you've accomplished a lot, you've been there 25 years. How do you keep things fresh, keep yourself and your team motivated and inspired to keep climbing the next hill, the next mountain?
Tracy Hutton: Well, I have a internal drive that is always wanting to be highly competitive, and so that will to compete has never left. So you look around the country and you see people that are doing it better, and what's really been great, even about YPO, has been, you get to see how people are winning in different industries, and how you can just up your game based upon what you're learning, even from other industries, and really, to think bigger.
Tim Leman: I got it, yeah. Well said on that. Switching gears to your family, how do you stay close and engaged to them? I know, role like yours and so on, you could have endless supply of after- hours mixers, center of influence meetings, meeting with your agents, your teams. I mean, it could just be nonstop, so how do you keep your family prioritized?
Tracy Hutton: Well, you know what? I mean, I'm in a lie to say it hasn't been a challenge my whole life, right, how you show up in the lives of people that are important to you, your kids, your parents, your spouse, but also the people that you lead, so I won't pretend that I have it all figured out. And there were days that I was always at my kids' games, but I wasn't present at their games because I was in the stands, on the phone or texting. I've always tried to do the best I can, and sometimes I fell short. But I feel like I've set a good role model for my boys, in terms of being a confident, strong, willing to roll up my sleeves. And they've also seen the sacrifices I've made, the late hours that, even with a leadership role, doesn't mean that you get to have nine to two hours. They've seen me grind it out. And so, just because you continue to grow in your career, I mean, you make sacrifices every day.
Tim Leman: Yeah, I like that. One final question, then we'll move into rapid fire. So what would you say is your edge in life, business, et cetera? What's that thing that gives you that competitive edge?
Tracy Hutton: I think, my deep curiosity to figure things out. I've always had a curious mind, curious as to how things work, how people have accomplished things, understanding people's story. And I would say, I've always been blessed with a mindset of positivity, right, so I tend to see the glass half full. I mean, I can even remember, going into COVID, I kept trying to find the silver lining and the opportunity, versus the panic attacks.
Tim Leman: Yeah, it's such a big part of the resilience it takes to get through tough stuff like that, as if just believing that it's going to work out, it's going to be all right, something good is going to come out of it.
Tracy Hutton: I've used this recently. I've said," You know what? Running and growing a business is a lot like putting together a beautiful puzzle, right?" And often, I'm like," Oh, the pieces are just not fitting," and it's... so just trying to figure out how to put these pieces together. And as your company gets bigger, sometimes the pieces are harder to fit together. So I just think it's that trying to figure it out. It never stops.
Tim Leman: Now it's time for my favorite part of the podcast, rapid fire. Okay, got rapid fire here, so first thing that comes to mind. We'll not make these two brain- taxing at first, but it might get a little tougher.
Tracy Hutton: Go easy on me.
Tim Leman: I'll try. Favorite color, Tracy?
Tracy Hutton: Pink.
Tim Leman: Pink, all right. First car?
Tracy Hutton: You know what, I had a 98 Oldsmobile Regency. It was one of my dad's company cars. It was a huge boat. I mean, you could have packed 20 people in that car.
Tim Leman: Most memorable concert?
Tracy Hutton: Oh my gosh. It's probably my first concert ever.
Tim Leman: Which was?
Tracy Hutton: Oh my God, I'm going to age myself. This is so bad. It was The Cars, and it was at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. But afterwards, why it's so memorable, because it came out that the whole thing was recorded. It wasn't live. I mean, it was like-
Tim Leman: Really? They were lip- syncing before Milli Vanilli. Wow.
Tracy Hutton: Yeah, exactly, exactly. My kids are going to be like," Who are The Cars, Mom?"
Tim Leman: Well, I'll send them a CD. Something about you that very few people know?
Tracy Hutton: Okay, here's one.
Tim Leman: You're in a safe spot, Tracy. You can say it.
Tracy Hutton: I am. You know what, in 2001, one of my best friends needed a kidney transplant, and she's got my kidney.
Tim Leman: Really?
Tracy Hutton: Mm- hmm( affirmative).
Tim Leman: Yeah, I-
Tracy Hutton: So all of-
Tim Leman: ...never knew that.
Tracy Hutton: ...you, if you're not an organ donor, make sure you sign up to be an organ donor.
Tim Leman: And did you give her your best one, or just your one that wasn't -
Tracy Hutton: I tell her, I gave her my best one, yes.
Tim Leman: Tracy, that is awesome. Do you prefer to work from home or at the office?
Tracy Hutton: My husband wants to kill me when I work at home, so I prefer working at the office.
Tim Leman: What are you streaming right now? What are you watching? Any shows?
Tracy Hutton: Oh, I don't have time to watch shows right now. On off hours, we're watching hockey games because we can't go to any hockey games live, so that's typically what's on.
Tim Leman: Hockey is on. I don't think it's as popular as Bridgerton is, but hockey is-
Tracy Hutton: Okay, I did watch-
Tim Leman: ...an acceptable answer.
Tracy Hutton: ...Bridgerton. I did, thanks to my son's girlfriend. She's like," You've got to watch this," so I did watch Bridgerton.
Tim Leman: All right. This is a little tougher, but three living people that you'd like to have dinner with?
Tracy Hutton: Oh, Warren Buffett. I think Sara Blakely would be great.
Tim Leman: Have you got the third one? Yeah.
Tracy Hutton: I actually would love to sit down with Michelle Obama.
Tim Leman: Yeah, I think that'd be fun. She seems like she'd be a fun conversationalist too, beyond just what you learn. Okay, and last one, what's something big that you want to do before it's all over?
Tracy Hutton: So I continue to do a lot of soul searching, right? And we are like," Hey, what's our greater purpose here on this planet?" And so, I have always had a yearning or churning in my body about homelessness, so my word for this year's impact, and as I continue to look at housing opportunities through... We get to work with people that can afford to buy a home, right? But there's a huge segment of our population that, just the dream of home ownership is not in their reach. And I hear a lot of those stories, so my thing is, how do we help people with transitional housing? And it can come down just to having a safe place to lay their head at night, right? And so, there's a tremendous need for people that need to stand on their own two feet, and they need it. They need help, right? And they go to apply to rent their first apartment because they've been living in their car or been living in a shelter, but their credit is bad and they just need help. So I'm working on something right now, and I hope it comes to fruition, but I think it's something that I can duplicate over the next 10 years. I've built out a plan of how I can hopefully impact, even in a small way, helping people and working with organizations with transitional housing.
Tim Leman: Tracy, it was a pleasure having you on the show today. Your deep curiosity, positive attitude, and your drive to motivate and continue to learn, that's your edge, and it is very apparent in how you run your organization. I'm Tim Leman, and remember to own your edge. Subscribe to The Edge Podcast on Apple, Google, and Spotify.
Tracy Hutton is CEO at CENTURY 21 Scheetz and this episode's guest. She didn't get there by chance, but by sticking with a career choice at a young age and working her way to the top. A shared love of sports brings Tim and Tracy into a conversation about teamwork and how leadership isn't a one-person game. Also, Tracy gives insight into how having that edge and being successful has its fair share of sacrifices.