After picking up a second-hand book in a used bookstore, my next guest learned she had to find the life that she wanted. She adopted new habits, she focused her mind, harnessed her new discovered power, and tapped into a vital ability, reinvention.
Welcome to the Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host Hussein Al-Baiaty, and I’m joined today by author Sandra Forrester, who is here to talk about her new book called, Change Your life: The Power of a Focused Mind, let’s flip through it.
Hello everyone and welcome back to the show. I’m here with my friend, Sandra Forrester, who just launched an incredible book, Change Your Life: The Power of a Focused Mind. Thank you Sandra for coming on the show today, I really appreciate you.
Sandra Forrester: Welcome, you’re very, very welcome.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, I’m really excited to get into this because there was a lot of insightful stuff throughout your book. However, before we get into the book, I want to get to know the remarkable woman behind it, of course, and that starts with you maybe going back in time a little bit and telling us a little bit about your personal background, perhaps what your story was growing up, and maybe a person or a place or a thing that inspired you in the path that you’re on today. Let’s start with that.
Sandra Forrester: Okay, well I have grown up in Auckland. I’m what we call here in New Zealand a born and bred Aucklander, which is quite rare. That’s like being a born and bred New Yorker, I guess. I just grew up in a normal family and everything’s been pretty normal about my life. I haven’t really had anything significant happen to me. I got married when I was in my late 20s, I’ve got three beautiful children.
And it was really a passion of real estate and entering into real estate. And once all my kids went to school, and starting down this career path way that sent me on this journey that I had been on over the last 10 years really, of being pretty average performer in real estate to then being absolutely terrible for an entire year where I sold nothing, and then having to completely reinvent and reset my life.
During that journey, there were certainly some people who really inspired me but what you will hear today is that I found a book that I read in my darkest, darkest times, and that book completely changed my life and that inspired me to write this book that I’ve written.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Well, I’m really interested to know what that book was and why it had an impact on you, especially in those dark times because I know for me, I read a specific book as well during some of my darkest times but I’m eager to know what your book was.
Sandra Forrester: Okay, well, do you mind if I just tell you a little bit of a story about how I came across this book?
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Absolutely.
Sandra Forrester: Okay, so I started in real estate in about 2002, I think, once all my kids, as I said, had gone to school. And real estate was really the perfect career for me because it fit in around school and commitments and gave me some okay income to help supplement our lifestyle, pay the mortgage, maybe go on a holiday somewhere. Then in late 2007, everything changed.
The GFC hit and the market changed substantially and during the entire year of 2008, I sold absolutely zero property, not one sale. And in New Zealand, New Zealand has full commission-based selling. So when I say I had sold nothing, I had also earned nothing. So I went from bringing in about $60,000 a year to bringing in zero. So I went from being what we would call probably an average performer in the company to being one of the worst performers.
In fact, I was so bad, I was listed at the back of the ranking report in what we call the alphabeticals, which is all the people who have earned nothing and then they ranked alphabetically by surname. I’m telling you, it was embarrassing and very humbling. To make matters worse, not only did I sell nothing, I got hoodwinked by a fraudster buyer who would sign up expensive properties to impress his girlfriend with absolutely no ability or intention to go ahead with the purchase.
So it was not like I wasn’t trying. I was working every day and I was pitching for listings and I was showing buyer’s properties but absolutely nothing stuck, every deal fell apart. So by the end of 2008, I’ve lost all my confidence in real estate and I was in deep end of professional and personal crisis and then one day, my boss, Ian, called me into his office and I thought, “Oh my God, here we go, I’m going to get fired.” And he asked me, “Sandra, what is going on?” And I was like, “Ian, I just don’t know what’s happening.
“I’m trying so hard and nothing is working and you know what? I am desperate.” And he told me that he could see how hard I was working and to keep trying, that if I hadn’t sold anything by the end of March, that we were going to have to have a conversation about my future. So that was December 2008, so I didn’t have much time and because we had no money, there was no holiday booked for us.
But luckily, one of my oldest friends invited us to the beach house in Whangamatā, which is on the Coromandel Peninsula. One day, I was wondering around the Whangamatā village feeling sorry for myself, and I went into a junk shop and I started looking around. It was this typical junk shop brand with second-hand furniture and stacks and stacks of books and network of graphs everywhere. And right on top of one of the stacks of books was a book that I had heard of but I had never read.
It was 50 cents, which is about all I could afford at the time. So I thought, “You know what? What the heck.” I bought it and the book was called, Mind Power by John Kehoe. That afternoon, I took the book down to the beach and started reading it and it went into subjects that I’d never really heard of, like the power of affirmations, visualizations, setting goals, and how to completely reset your life and you know what? If anyone needed a reset, it was me.
So I read that book in one day — and don’t be impressed because it’s a really short book — and right at the end of the book, it said, “Now, read the book again.” So I did, and the next day I read it again, and so by day three, I decided, “What the heck? I’ve got nothing to lose. I am going to apply the principles of this book to my real estate career for three months and see what happens. And if it doesn’t work, I’m going to have to leave this industry that I love and go and find a real job.” But little did I know what was about to hit at the time.
Implementing Affirmations and Vision to Your Life
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, that is very powerful. I love that you shared that story. That’s a very powerful book. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of it. I don’t think I’ve read it but I want to know a little bit about these tactics or affirmations or things that you started to apply. Having read the book once, twice, three times, what started to stick?
How did you start channeling the energy in moving forward? What was the first thing that you really started to implement, to move yourself in a positive direction?
Sandra Forrester: Yeah, it’s a really good question. The very first thing that I learned that I must have a vision of the life that I want and the person I want to be, and then I must set goals. Because, here’s what I have learned that until this time, I had never set a goal in my life. I’ve heard about other people setting goals and I’ve read about in my own business, “Oh you know, set goals and look at them every day.”
But I had never done anything like that and having a vision and setting goals was the very first thing that I knew, and the book told me that I had to apply to myself and to my business. Here’s the thing that I have learned, that what I’m talking to you about today, I never learned at school. I never learned at university and I never really learned this while I was working on the job.
And it wasn’t until I was nearly 50 years old and about to fail at everything, I started to learn about things like setting goals, creating a vision for your life, affirmations, and visualization, and I had never done or heard about any of this stuff. I really had become — it is something that I realize now that we should be teaching this stuff at school or university. It’s massively important for people to understand the power of the mind.
So, having a vision and creating a purpose is the very first thing you must do, and then set goals. As an example, the vision I created for myself was there was a couple of people who were really, really good in the industry who I wanted to emulate, because you see other people performing to high levels and you just want to be like them, right? But what you have to do is you got to figure out, “What is it that they are doing?”
Specifically, how are they running their business, what are they saying, how are they dressing? What are all the components that have come together to create this person who you see over there with this immensely successful career? And one of the second things I learned was, find somebody who is already doing it extremely well and copy them.
So that vision thing that I talked about of having somebody who I wanted to be in the future, I found people in the industry who I wanted to be like and started to look at what they were doing in their business and literally, copy them. Those were two really, really important parts of this skill and technique that I started to apply to my business.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, that’s really powerful. And the idea that success leaves clues and the clues are all around us, and especially around the people that we look up to, and by asking ourselves, “Okay, well, how are they doing X, Y or Z, why are they doing XYZ? How can I apply it to my vision, my wants, my needs, my desires?” That’s really powerful.
You also talk about another powerful aspect in the book and that’s the power of affirmations. Can you share with us an example, an affirmation that you developed that has helped you personally, go after and achieve those goals?
Sandra Forrester: Affirmations are and have been the biggest change, reset, opportunity technique that I have used in this journey. I say affirmations every day when I’m out walking and the most important one that I said at the beginning of this journey was, “I am.” The two most important words in the world, “I am a strong confident woman.” Because at the time, I was not strong or confident.
So “I am a strong confident woman, all good things come to me,” because at the time, nothing good was happening, right? So I had to change the whole language. “I am a strong confident woman, all good things come to me, and I have success.” Now, you got to remember, I had zero success. So I was taking all these things that weren’t currently and transforming them into an affirmation of what I saw myself as being, and put that affirmation was the very first one that I said every single morning.
“I am a strong confident woman, all good things come to me, and I have success” set the framework for being and feeling like I was somebody that I knew I was going to be able to become.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah and it’s just reframing the negative thoughts, right? Rechanneling the energy that I feel like, for a long time, I did similar things where I would just pour energy into the negative thoughts and spiral downwards. But then obviously, for me my book was, The Power of Intention and it’s by Wayne Dyer, and he talks very much about a lot of similar things. He was huge in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Sandra Forrester: I love Wayne Dyer.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah.
Sandra Forrester: I was so sad when he died.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Oh, I was heartbroken. What an incredible human being that left such a huge impact on, obviously, people across the planet. But he talks about these beautiful concepts of feeling and thinking from a positive place, and you already have success, you are successful, and then moving from that direction. It’s such a powerful energy to be working from that as opposed to a negative environment or a negative mindset. Your book emphasizes the importance of defining the life we want.
Sandra Forrester: Oh, one hundred percent. It really does. And I just want to say, because what you just said is so true because I really believe that the information we consume these days, especially now with social media, sets the internal context of our subconscious, which then sets the external context for how we think and behave. And it’s like, you know what? Garbage in, garbage out.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, I can’t agree with you more on that. Your book also includes a lot of practical advice for achieving success in the real estate industry. Of course, it’s the industry that you started growing in. So tell me a little bit about, as you started to reframe, restructure, what did the next tier look like and perhaps, the year or two after that look like for you as you start to slowly apply these things to your day-to-day life?
Sandra Forrester: Okay, so things happen when I started doing this work, it was basically the first of January 2009 and I went from having no income, and I’m just going to read you something straight out of the book because I sometimes forget how quickly things changed. I went from having no income and selling nothing to selling my first house in 12 months within 30 days of starting to use these techniques.
I then went on to bringing in $100,000 in gross commission in three months from January to March 2009. I then went on to bringing in $300,000 in gross commission the following year. I don’t earn all that by the way. The company takes half of that and then you pay tax and that’s not mine. I’ve got the gross commission is what we always work on.
So bringing in $300,000 in gross commission the following year to bringing in $500,000 in gross commission the year after that and being one of the top performers, not only in the branch that I was working in, which was the number one branch in the whole company by the way. So being the number one in my branch, one of the top performers in the whole company I was then asked to go and start developing and building a branch on the north shore of Auckland and Milford.
I turned that branch around from number 27 to number 12 within two years and then they asked me to go do one of the biggest branches in the whole company, and I turned that around from number 33 to number one in just four years, which was – four years sounds like a lot but trust me, there is a huge amount of work that was done in a very short period of time to be the number one branch in the biggest real estate company in Auckland, which is the biggest city in New Zealand.
So the momentum and the huge change and shift in what I was doing and how this work was impacting my life and the life of others too, because I was bringing all the people along for the journey and it was unbelievable what happened.
Re-Set Self Beliefs
Hussein Al-Baiaty: What a transformation, that is so powerful. And by just practicing the day-to-day affirmations, really writing down your goals, setting a foundation for yourself that you can really work from and getting focused, getting clear. Can you tell us a little bit about that clarity? I know for me cutting the distractions in the last, I feel like the last four years, what I’ve done personally to regain that, that strength and focus, is definitely get rid of all the social media off my phone.
Put my phone away at a specific time, because I know my big thing was I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t do drugs. I just grew up Muslim so that stuff was just off the table to begin with, but my big distraction and of course, addiction, is my phone, like many others. So what I did, I stayed on all those things, Facebook, whatever, but I completely removed them from my phone.
So this habitual aspect to constantly, frequently check something for whatever it was, validation, whatever. Honestly, what I did is I’ve been through a lot of traumatizing things growing up. I was in a refugee camp so I knew I needed to clear those things up in my mind, organize them in a way but I couldn’t do that with these distractions, this constant dinging and pinging of all the things around us.
Like you said earlier, garbage in, garbage out, and I’m an artist, I’m a creative, I’ve owned a business and I knew that the times that I really flourished is when I was utterly focused. I don’t mean that like focus just like business. No, I mean really focused on myself. I’m reading, I’m exercising, I’m applying the things that I am learning. I’m having a good time, right?
But I am avoiding the distractions that take away that momentum, and I find myself back in that of course, like 2017, ’18 and I revisited that mindset of the Wayne Dyer stuff, where I was like, “Okay, let’s clear the deck, let’s start over and let’s get focused.” And I got to tell you, I mean, that reenergized me, that reignited me.
What are some practical things that you give advice on especially to real estate professionals on how to really strengthen that focus, to hone in and get clear? Because I think that’s a huge aspect of not just goal setting but clarity. I think goal setting can come from the immense amount of clarity that we want for our life. What are some tools and maybe actionable steps that you would give to real estate agents out there in the world that can really help them perform?
Sandra Forrester: Yeah. So before I answer that, I just want to say one thing and here it is, motivation is bullshit. If you’re waiting to be motivated, you will wait forever. If you’re waiting to feel like it, you’ll be waiting forever. Consistency and discipline of the daily work is the only thing that works, full stop. And I got to say it again because this is what I learned that I was all over the place, right?
As a real estate agent, totally reacting to everything that was going on around, if someone’s – and this is typical in real estate, right? You are distracted by stuff and noise all day and so the key thing that I learned in this journey was, I had to get very clear with the times of the day that I had to do things and I was the first one in the office every day. I had three kids going to three different schools.
I had to drop them or get them to the bus or manage them between quarter to eight and 8:30, and then I would get to work because one of the kids was very close to work. At 8:30, I was the first one there, not a soul that’s in the office but me and the frontline reception person. So I was compartmentalizing parts of my day into the activities of the discipline of the daily work that I needed to do for the business, to show up and not be distracted by all the noise of real estate.
Because here’s one of the most important things that I’ve learned, that you are responsible for your own life and if you are sitting around waiting for someone to save you, fix you, or help you, you are wasting your time because only you have the power to move your life forward. And the sooner you get that, the sooner you can get your life into gear. And it sounds hard and it sounds tough but that is the reality of almost every single real estate agent whose come to me and says, “Sandra, can you help me? I want to be as successful as you are.”
What they’re not prepared to do is they’re not prepared to not behaving like the victim that many people feel like that they are in real estate, because they’re, “Oh, the markets terrible. Oh, interest rates have gone up. Oh, I can’t get a listing. Oh, real estate, terrible industry. The income is up and down and up and down. Oh, real estate is really hard.”
All those things, all those self-beliefs about a certain thing, you have to completely reset your mind and focus on the daily discipline of the work that you have to do in order for it to show up. The other thing I just want to mention, because this is something that I did not realize until about two years ago, I’ll be doing this work for a long time. So I believe that when you talk about the mind, you’re also talking about the universe.
Here’s one of the things that I’ve learned, your mind is just like Google. And you know how you’re going to be having a conversation with someone about something and then all of a sudden, their topic within a short period of time starts showing up in Google ads on your phone or on your iPad? I’ve had that happen to me and I was thinking about buying an e-bike, right? I was talking to someone in a café about buying an e-bike.
I had not Googled “buy an e-bike” I swear, and within four to six hours, ads started popping up on my iPhone for e-bikes. So I know that Google is listening and feeding to me what I am talking about. Well, you know what? The same is true for your mind because what you are speaking about and acting on, your mind is listening in and it is giving you, exactly the same as what the Google ads are doing.
It is feeding back to you what you say, “Oh, real estate is really hard. Oh, I’m never able going to be as successful as you.” Oh, you know, all these things, so the mind is going, “Oh okay, is that what you want? Oh okay, yeah, real estate is hard. Make sure that happens.” “Oh you know, I’m never going to be as successful.” “Oh, you don’t want to be successful? No problem, we can make that happen.”
This popped into my mind about two years ago and I thought about it a lot. If a coroner is doing an autopsy on a person who has died, they’ll find and identify the brain and they’ll find and identify the heart and all your organs, but they will never find the mind because the mind is not in physical form. It’s the energy in every cell of your body that is listening in, just like Google, and delivering your life one thought at a time.
That is one of the most important messages that I want to try and get out to people about this book and what this book delivers, is that your mind is everything. And now my mission is to share my knowledge and my experience that what you think, what you say, and what you do is everything in your life because, like Google, it’s listening.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Wow, very powerful. And emphasize the amount of curiosity that people go on and excuses that we make, right? The world, it’s like whatever is happening to us, we feel or at least this is how I used to feel and a lot of people feel, the market is this, you know what we were saying earlier, but taking responsibility, owning the situation, right?
Owning where you are, owning your story and saying, “You know what? It’s up to me.” No one is going to reach down from the heavens and save or rescue me. However, I can reach up to the heavens in a way, through my actions, and that’s where the connection can happen, that’s where I can commune with my mind is by feeding it positivity and then acting and curating my actions forward.
I think that’s so powerful, I love that. What was your favorite part of pulling this book together? What did you learn from the book writing journey?
Sandra Forrester: Well, I’m not going to lie, writing a book is not easy. It isn’t. I’m not going to lie, I am a busy person. I am, you ask anyone who knows me, I’m working full-on in the business that I have in real estate and I’ve got a lot of family. Effort, the time and effort that I put into family and friends. So writing a book I had to get up early in the morning to write. I used to write at night and it was a real journey.
But the thing that I got the most out of writing the book was going back and trying to determine what were the key fundamental points, techniques, skills, and lessons that I learned that I wanted to put into this book that could maybe help somebody else. Because, you know what? If I come into real estate and read this book, straight away, I would have known exactly what to do in order to start ramping up a career in real estate. But there is nothing like this.
I mean, I live in New Zealand, so a much smaller country than the United States. I wanted to create a book and I hope that I have that will help people go, “You know what?” And it’s not really just for real estate because it applies to absolutely any business that you are in. Find somebody who is already doing it really successfully, figure out what it is that they’re doing, make sure that you put the discipline of the daily work into your structured day.
Do affirmations, visualization, take action every day toward what it is that you are trying to create, your vision. One of the most important things as well is that I believe that repetition is the foundation block of learning and that daily repetition builds muscle memory. Just like when you go into the gym, after three or four months you start to see the effects in your body of going to the gym and doing weight work.
And you know what? Social media companies, they know this, and that’s why they are encouraging you to constantly be repeating the same activity when you’re checking your phones all the time. What you were talking about before, exactly right. Repetition is the foundation block of learning. So the repetition of behavior is hugely effective in creating new life-long habits, whether that is good or bad, because it can be both.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: I can’t agree with you more. I love this and I love your book so much. I feel like I’m super energized and motivated and I’m sure that’s how many people feel when speaking with you because you have that spirit. Your mind is definitely speaking through you in a lot of ways and that energy is transferred to me all the way from New Zealand, I promise you that. Sandra, thank you so much for sharing your stories and your experiences with me, and the audience of course.
Your book is called, Change Your Life: The Power of a Focused Mind. Besides checking out the book on Amazon, where can people find you and connect with you and perhaps, get the snippets on a daily or a weekly basis to get that inspiration that you exude? I love that so much.
Sandra Forrester: I am trying to build my social media profile and I am doing it slowly but surely, Once again, I’m a very busy person. I’m not making excuses, I’m getting much better at it, but anyone can email me or find me on the Barfoot & Thompson website. So it’s super simple, it’s just barfoot.co.nz/sforrester or you can just Google Sandra Forrester, real estate, New Zealand, you will find me.
You can buy the book on Amazon, it’s on both paperback and Kindle and I have an Instagram account called @sandra.forrester.real.estate and there’s quite a bit of content on there. It’s pretty localized too in the New Zealand market but I’m putting more about me and the book, it’s coming soon because this was launch week. So yeah, you can just Google me and you’ll find me super fast as long as you put Sandra Forrester Real Estate and maybe NZ and you’ll find me.
Hussein Al-Baiaty: Well Sandra, today has been a pleasure. I loved all the gems that you’ve laid down today, I really appreciate your time and energy today. Your wisdom is greatly appreciated, thank you, Sandra.
Sandra Forrester: Thank you.