Advice From a 2018 30 Under 30 Honoree

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Santino Filipelli

By Santino Filipelli

I was recently named a 2018 30 Under 30. Is it crazy that I didn’t know what 30 Under 30 was until early September 2017? No? How about after being in the industry for seven years, owning two brokerages, and managing about 20 agents? The fact is, I only became aware of REALTOR® Magazine’s program just months before the application deadline was due.

At that point in my career, I was sitting back after several years of working in real estate and wondered if this was it. I was wondering if this all real estate had to offer. After digging a little deeper, I realized there was a whole other world that I never knew about or tapped into.

It was in early September that I reached out to my local board asking if there was any way I could get involved. Turns out there was a ton of opportunity and places to serve. Watching the way real estate industry has been trending, I felt as though I could be of some value (being a millennial and all). So, I joined our local YPN.

Our YPN president, Lindsey Culver, explained to me all the different organizations that she is involved in. She explained that there are local, state, and even national opportunities to serve and get involved. It was at this moment I was introduced to the idea of applying for 30 Under 30. She explained that if I was chosen, it could open a lot of doors and help get my name out there. With a genuine desire to get involved in the REALTOR® community, I agreed to give it a shot.

Thus, began the journey. Disclaimer: I will warn you, I’m highly competitive and a slight perfectionist. So, as I explain my journey of applying for 30U30 it may be on the bit extreme side of things. Some, if not a majority of what I did may not at all be necessary to make it into the 30.

Step 1: Learn Everything

The first thing I did was conduct an EXTENSIVE amount of research. I wanted to know EVERYTHING about the process, such as who had been named a 30U30 in the past, why they received the honor, what the criteria is, how many people apply, and what can I could do to set myself apart. My research process consisted of a lot of reading online, watching videos of past honorees, and conducting interviews. One which included a past 30U30 honoree from my area, Alex Phan, who was generous enough to sit down with me and explain what the process is like.

Step 2: Devise a Plan

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I never was much of a wisher. After my research phase I put together a solid plan that consisted a the following categories:

  • Designations
  • Video
  • Essay Questions
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Production
  • Giving Back
  • Web Presence
  • Research & Development
  • Direct Mail (never utilized this)

I put this into a web diagram with my overall message at the center. This next part is probably the best advice I can give someone who is applying for anything. After the judges read your application, resume, or watch your video, what is the primary message or thought you want them to leave with? The same could be said about your prospects when they read or watch something about you online. If your message isn’t clear, you will be forgotten.

This is what mine read: MENTOR | INNOVATOR | OVERCOMER “people over profit”

Step 3: Leverage People

Build a team. It was 10 p.m. when I had my team of six meet via Skype for the first time to discuss the strategy for trying to win and who was going to do what. Leverage out as much as you can. If you hang around me long enough you will hear me talk about leverage more than anything else. We are all busy professionals.

Although 30U30 was important, so was providing for my family. With that being said, I built a team specifically designated to help me win. I hired a professional videographer to help me produce the video portion of my application. After writing my essay questions, I hired five different professional editors to see which one would edit my work the best (this turned out to be one of the best decisions I made). I had team members assigned to each category in my web diagram.

There is no way I could have done this without the help of my team.

Step 4: Be Real

I’m a pretty private person. I don’t care much for attention, or people feeling bad for me. At the same time, I was willing to be vulnerable if it meant getting my message across. More importantly, I knew I wasn’t alone in the fact that life can deal you a bad hand sometimes. If my story could help inspire just ONE person to keep pushing on who may be going through a rough patch, then it was worth it. What is your story? Why you? Why are you even applying? Be relatable, honest, and authentic.

Step 5: Leave Nothing on the Table

I would argue that regret is one of the worst feelings anyone can experience. I had one shot at winning. This was the last year I could apply (as my 30th birthday falls before the cutoff for next year) and that meant that I was going to give it everything I had. I purchased targeted Facebook and Instagram ads surrounding the two NAR headquarters for my business and used casual pictures of my day-to-day life. I created a landing page with information specifically about me and my accomplishments, I strived for nothing less than everything. I knew at the end of the day I wanted to be able to say I did everything I could possibly do, and didn’t leave anything on the table. At that point, it is what it is.

Right now, it’s all still pretty fresh—the 30U30 profiles were published in the latest issue of REALTOR® Magazine, and I don’t think I have had a chance to see the full effects of what receiving the honor has done. I’m honestly just so grateful to have been considered, and so thankful to those around me. Apart from national recognition and the platform to make a difference, it’s pretty cool knowing that my name will be on that list for years to come.

If you ever want to hear more or have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out. Keep crushing it.

Santino Filipelli is the CEO and broker-owner of Modern Realty, a fast-paced, millennial-driven real estate brokerage in both Oregon and Washington. He is also the owner of several investment properties, a construction company, and a land development company. Connect with Santino at or on Instagram: @modernrealtynw.

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