You’ll hear a new voice in REALTOR® Magazine’s Drive With NAR podcast. Marki Lemons Ryhal, a national real estate speaker, trainer and author, is now the host of Drive, bringing you important business conversations with everyday real estate pros that will help you steer your way forward in any market. A managing broker at Exit Strategy Realty in Chicago, Lemons Ryhal, who is an NAR member, is in the field experiencing what you do every day. Along with her guests, she will help you make sense of your role as a community leader. Find out why you should tune in to Drive every month to hear what she’s talking about.
Q: What drives your business right now, and where do you think real estate professionals should focus their efforts in 2023?
A: In 2023, my business will be driven by getting back to the basics and incorporating innovation through new tools and strategies. We are now in the world of artificial intelligence. As real estate professionals, we should leverage AI in our business to create a free or low-cost assistant to take on repetitive tasks that aren’t consumer-facing and don’t directly generate business.
You’re an avid podcaster with your own show, Social Selling Made Simple, and now you’re the new host of Drive. So, what have you learned about connecting with your audience on a personal level? And do you think podcasting is for everyone?
As a veteran podcaster, each episode is a one-on-one consultation with leading experts across the country. I think of it as professional development where I will learn what I need to implement in my business and stay abreast of current trends and approaches. I take what I learn from podcasting and apply it to my business plan. Putting what you learn from a podcast into action is crucial because it allows you to stand out as a thought leader—and people like to do business with thought leaders. I repeat what I’ve learned to facilitate meaningful dialogue online. A podcast is a tool for those committed to being consistent lifelong learners, and they’re easy to take with you no matter where you go, whether in your car, on a treadmill, sitting at an open house or you can have it play in the background as you conduct your day-to-day tasks.
In your debut episode of Drive, available now, you and your guests talk candidly about the business you risk losing when you don’t serve diverse clients. There’s an interesting quote from the show: “There’s a difference between equity and equality.” How do you interpret that?
Equity refers to fairness and justice in distributing resources—land and homes, for example—and opportunities. It considers the barriers and challenges different groups may face and aims to create a level playing field. Equality, on the other hand, refers to treating everyone the same, regardless of their circumstances. In real estate, equity would involve addressing and overcoming systemic barriers that may prevent specific individuals or groups from accessing or benefiting from property ownership, such as discrimination or lack of access to credit. Equality would simply be treating all potential buyers and sellers the same without considering any unique barriers or challenges they may face.
As you know, Drive is meant to facilitate conversations between REALTORS® that fuel business success. You’ll be talking about all kinds of topics, from appraisal issues to the stigma around VA loans. Is there a conversation in real estate you think needs to be had that isn’t currently?
Because I am 52 years old, I believe it is time to start discussing practitioner ownership and creating passive income streams for those who desire to retire. I once had a student who died a REALTOR® Emeritus at 93 and was still practicing real estate daily. Yes, most real estate pros love their business; however, I also understand that many have not successfully planned for retirement. Since REALTORS® are self-employed, we often reduce our taxable income to offset our tax liabilities. We have reduced the amount of Social Security benefits we will receive, and usually, we have not saved enough to be able to retire. I think it is time that we start thinking with the end goal in mind and have a financial program set up that will enable us to be financially eligible to retire.
How did you get to where you are today? Tell us a little about your background, why real estate is your chosen field—and, of course, your most embarrassing moment!
I’m a proud fifth-generation Chicago entrepreneur. My family owns Chicago’s second-oldest Black-owned restaurant, Lem’s BBQ. We have been in business since 1954. My grandfather was inducted into the BBQ Hall of Fame, and if you’ve ever eaten at a Famous Dave’s, there is a picture of Lem’s BBQ on the wall. I earned a bachelor’s in hospitality management and a master’s in business administration from Saint Xavier University. I never imagined doing anything other than being in the family business. However, I was sued by my family due to my ownership of our trademark rights. As a single parent, I needed to devise a way to provide financially for my son. I came into real estate because I wanted to feel like a stay-at-home mom and earn an above-average income. In 2019, when my son graduated from Howard University with a degree in finance—and I had no student loan debt due to his attending college—real estate fulfilled my dreams.
My most embarrassing moment was when I called to schedule my first listing appointment. I was asked for my MLS ID number, and I had no idea what that was. So, my response was: “What is an MLS ID number, and where do I get one?” I quickly realized that I didn’t know anything about real estate because the pre-license course teaches you about consumer protection and not how to sell homes. Because I never wanted to feel that way again, I dedicated myself to being an active lifelong learner.