Robert Refkin (CEO, Compass) 9 Tests I Find Useful
Straight from the CEO of Compass (Residential Real Estate Company) Robert Refkin - great example of why this company is dominating in real estate throughout the top 20 markets in the country)
I never did very well on tests in school. But there are a number of tests I’ve found extremely helpful at work that I want to share with you. These tests are valuable because the more we think about something, the more our minds try to play tricks on us. We second guess, we let doubt and fear creep in, we hesitate, we overthink. The purpose of these tests is to get past all that and get back to the truth that you’ve known all along, deep down.
- The Shower Test. “You should love your job so much that you think about it in the shower. If you don’t, you’re likely in the wrong job.”
I first heard this from an entrepreneur while I was at Goldman Sachs, which is kind of funny since that job actually failed the shower test for me. It was a job that was part of someone else’s dream, not my dream. Within 6 months of learning about this test, I’d left Goldman to co-found “Urban Compass” with Ori.
- The “Single Point of Failure” Test. “If any individual on your team went on vacation for a month, would the team be able to deliver results anyway?”
If not, it’s an indicator to share both responsibilities and knowledge more broadly amongst team members.
- The “Good Person” Test. “If you have to pause when you ask yourself, ‘Is this a good person?’, they shouldn’t be on your team.”
Lots of people think goodness doesn’t matter at work — and some people even think it’s a liability in business. Not me. If everyone we work with is a good person, we’ll all be better off. Do they live by the Golden Rule? Is their heart in the right place? Are they kind? Do they genuinely care about others? Do they want to give back?
- The "Spending My Own Money” Test. “If this were my own money, would I make the decision to spend it on this expense / software / event / hire?”
We’ve saved millions and millions of dollars over the years throughout the company thanks to this simple question.
- The Energy Test. “Does this person give me energy or take it away?”
Entrepreneurship is all about energy. You’ll dream bigger and move faster if the people you’re collaborating with give you energy rather than drain the energy out of you. When you’re figuring out who to collaborate with most closely, find people who make you more excited to come into work each morning. They’ll help you bring out your best self — and odds are, you’ll do the same for them, too.
- The Rationalization Test. “If your key argument for someone or something is not related to results, you’re probably trying to rationalize something you shouldn’t be.”
Like when people say, “This person has been around for a long time and is really good for culture.” Now, I believe culture is incredibly important. But if the person was actually great, you’d just say, “This person is great and is having all this great impact.”
- The CEPs Test. “How well does a potential hire embody each Compass Entrepreneurship Principle?”
The idea of “culture fit” can be a code word for a lot of discrimination. If you ask people to prioritize “culture” without defining your culture, there’s risk that they just gravitate towards people like them. It’s another trick our minds play on us. Whenever hiring or doing reviews, I evaluate people on the CEPs: Dream Big, Move Fast, Learn from Reality, Be Solution-Driven, Obsess about Opportunity, Collaborate without Ego, Maximize Your Strengths, and Bounce Back with Passion.
- The “Another Offer” Test. “Ask yourself, ‘If this person came to you tomorrow and told you they had a great offer from another company, would you fight to keep them?'
This one originated at Netflix, where they believe that excellent people are much, much better than pretty-good people. The test helps you admit to yourself when you know someone isn’t excellent. As the speaker Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” If you want to be better — like I know all of us do — one of the best ways is to make sure you’re surrounding yourself with exceptional people.
- The “Possible/Impossible” Tests. There are three things I say to people when they tell me that something’s impossible.
The first is: “Unless you can prove that it’s impossible, it’s possible. And it’s very hard to prove that something’s impossible.”
The second is: “For 10 minutes, let’s just pretend you had to do it. After 10 minutes, you can say, ‘It’s impossible and I can’t!’ but for these 10 minutes, just tell me how you’d make it happen if you absolutely had to.”
The third: "If this one problem or task were your entire job, how would you approach it?"
Forcing your brain to believe something is possible often enables you to think of the path to making it possible. I personally believe that anything is possible — and that “no” is the killer of dreams — and I’ve seen these questions open the eyes of countless other people to ways to do things that they initially thought were just not doable. Breakthrough ideas appear seemingly out of nowhere the second you stop blocking them with negativity, doubt, and day-to-day concerns like time, resources, and other responsibilities. Once you can see how it’s possible in a perfect world, you can figure out how to make it happen in the real world.
None of these tests actually say for sure that someone is great or that you’re doing the right thing or that you’re on the right path. But they can help you get closer to those answers. They can help get around some of the ways that your mind might be hiding the truth from you. Used together, they can help you make good decisions and build a great team.
I hope some of these are as helpful. If you have any tests you want to share with me, I’d love to hear them!!