Want Insights? The Network’s #1 Producer Has Plenty to Share

Ryan O'Neill

How exactly do you lead a team to become number one in the world’s number one real estate network?

Ryan O’Neill, with RE/MAX Advantage Plus in Minnesota, makes it sound so … easy.

Hard work? Of course.

Integrity? You bet.

Business and marketing savvy? They help.

But what about the cutthroat attitude? Long days and sleepless nights? Hitting it rich in a lucrative market?

Not at all.

For O’Neill — Team Leader of The Minnesota Real Estate Team in the Twin Cities — it’s more about providing value, having fun, taking care of yourself, and treating others with respect.

Of course, there’s a driven, determined side to O’Neill, too. The standout team leader worked hard for years to help his team reach No. 1, each year edging closer to his goal. In 2011 the team hit #3. In 2012 they rose to #2. Finally, in 2013, they reached the top. And that’s where The Minnesota Real Estate Team has been ever since.

Diligent work spanning a career of 15 years put this Team Leader in a prime position. His humility and down-to-earth attitude belie the tremendous success he’s created. His work ethic and dedication to the people he works with serve as the foundation for a thriving team.

O’Neill emphasizes a healthy work-life balance to stay fresh and energized. He makes time for friends and family, whether it’s relaxing with his wife or playing piano with his brother — something he did professionally before getting into real estate. And, above all else, O’Neill understands the importance of harvesting relationships and treating others well.

We visited him at home in Bloomington, Minnesota to glean some secrets to his success.

Ryan O’Neill offers advice on…

… Getting Started

   How did you get started in real estate and hone your abilities?

I was originally interested in purchasing investment property and representing myself as the agent when purchasing. But as I started working with clients I found that I really enjoyed working with other people, and enjoyed the process of helping people buy and sell real estate.

The real estate business is simply about people. It’s about building relationships, communicating effectively and doing our best to truly understand and empathize with others.

In college, I sold Cutco knives. And after college, my brother Tim and I toured the country playing our music. Both of these experiences developed my interpersonal skills and taught me how to build rapport.

    What was the most valuable lesson you learned early on?

My parents taught us to treat everyone with respect and kindness, to always give others the benefit of the doubt, and to truly believe in the better nature of humanity.

    The biggest mistake you made?

The biggest mistake I made the first five years was working too much.

I always encourage agents to strive and work toward their goals. However, it’s so important to take time off. It helps you recharge and to focus on the things I believe are most important in life: Family, friends and faith.

    How has your career evolved over 15 years?

I actively sold and worked with buyers and sellers for the first five years of my career. As I started to get busier with clients and also recruiting agents to our team I realized I couldn’t do both jobs well at the same time. So I decided to work with our team members as my clients.

Now my role is not only helping our agents with planning and growing their individual businesses, but also focusing on our various advertising and lead generation sources to help our agents continue to grow and help more buyers and sellers in our market.

    What motivated you to become a top producer? Why push so hard?

I am competitive and wanted to push myself, and our team, to be the best we can be.

Life is so short. I ask myself often:

What will be your legacy, Ryan?

How will others remember you?

What can I do today to improve the lives of others and those around me?

I am a firm believer that when you help others succeed, when you elevate the lives of those around you, that is true success.

… Building a Team

   When did you form your team? How did you know you were ready?

I started our team after one year in the business.

As I started to generate various types of business — investment property, buyers, sellers — all over the Twin Cities, I realized we needed to have top agents all across the metro area to help with these different type of clients.

I learned early on this business has very little to do with who I am. It’s all about providing a certain level of service and client experience to each of our buyers and sellers.

The biggest advantage of having a team is acquiring new business. It’s a snowball effect: An agent can plug into additional leads, which leads to closings, more past clients, more referrals, and ultimately to growing your personal sphere and overall business even faster.

   What does your team look like today?

Today, we are a team of about 125 agents all across the Twin Cities area. We are diverse in every sense: New agents, seasoned pros, all ages, ethnicities, agents who used to own their own brokerage, agents who are brokers, you name it.

   Why do agents join your team?

First, our lead flow. We generate 1,500 leads a month through all types of advertising. We run weekly radio shows, print advertising, seminars, Facebook ads, Google ads, referral relationships with other agents, and more. We drive a lot of leads through our broad advertising strategy.

Second, we provide a great learning environment with weekly, real-life training sessions.

Third, they know my focus is on each of them individually as agents. I care tremendously. It is never about just about selling more homes for me.

   Any advice for aspiring Team Leaders?

Focus on providing value to consumers in every way possible.

Buyers and sellers want to know how we are going to help them. In your marketing, in your advertising, with your agents, always focus on the consumer. Work with them at their pace and make the buying and selling process fun.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

There is way more to life than real estate. What will be your legacy? How will people remember that you treated them? This is the question I always come back to.

Focus on agent retention.

Agent retention must be such a high priority for the team leader. Ask yourself, why would an agent work and stay with you versus going with any other team? Take care of your agents. How can you bring them more value and elevate their business?

Focus on profitability.

Bigger is not always better. You have to know your numbers, the profitability of your business, and focus on the details. I like to use QuickBooks and keep it updated frequently. This helps you analyze if you are overspending, what is working or not working.

… Working Smarter

   What does the RE/MAX brand mean for you and your team?

Sellers want a proven brand. Being with RE/MAX gives us an opportunity for that business. It provides a level of trust in our agent, our team, and our overall marketing plan.

   What social media sites are you active on? How do you find the time?

I use Facebook and LinkedIn daily — taking time to focus on others is so very important. Remembering people’s birthdays, anniversaries, death of loved ones, pets, special events, you name it. It shows you care about someone more than just a real estate closing or your next sale.

   What's the one business tool you simply couldn't do without?

Email. It allows for efficiency in communication, especially for questions that can be answered quickly or easily. With each of us having limited time each day, efficiency is critical.

I am a big believer in the concept of “Inbox Zero,” and keeping my inbox cleared as much as possible.

   Any one simple strategy?

Same day response to emails, phone calls, and text messages. If someone calls, call them back the same day. Text message? Text them back the same day. It’s about courtesy and respect, and it shows you care.

... Business principles

Put people first.

Focus on building relationships with others. Provide an awesome service, build your reviews online, and over time those referrals will continue to grow and grow.

Make it fun.

When you make the buying and selling process fun and enjoyable for clients, when they realize you are not looking to make a quick sale and you are there to provide value and make the process fun and work at their pace, the referrals flow.

Be good.

My parents helped me realize early on that life is about more than playing music or selling houses. It is about how we treat everyone in our day-to-day lives and the legacy we want to leave.

Take it easy.

Focus on your daily routine. Work on one item at a time, slowly but surely getting those items done. This allows you to stay organized but allows you to get things done over time.

And it all boils down to this…

    Ryan, can you describe the key to your success in 20 words or less?

Provide real value to agents and consumers, focus on others, be kind, recognize successes, and work 110 percent each day.

 Ryan O’Neill says


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Desde Ecuador Guayaquil muchas felicidades soy bróker y mi oficina esta en su primer año de haberse fundado, con tu ejemplo podemos estar seguros de alcanzar el éxito en esta maravillosa profesión de las manos de la. Mejor marca a nivel mundial.


Verónica Jordan de Bruggemann

I love this!! I moved from Minnesota down to South Florida. I do miss Minnesota, the people the twin cities the lakes the woods and did I mention the people?(lol). I was raised the same way be kind, truthful, helpful and honest and am so glad to see that it has served you well. This really proves the point of “You never go wromg by doing right”

Thank you so much for your kind note, Ben. This is definitely a team effort all the way around. And continued success to you down south. Enjoy some of that Florida sun for us! ☀️

Thanks for sharing this great story on Ryan! Ryan is always quick to smile, give a hug or handshake and encourage in person or via social media. He is genuine, well liked and well respected. When I think of a leader in our industry and in our area…he often comes to mind. Ryan…you are appreciated!

I can say the exact same about you as well, Michelle! You are such a wonderful person and respected agent by all in our market. Continued success to you and your entire team. It is fantastic to see how well you all do year after year! Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Great article Ryan!! You’re an inspiration, and extremely well spoken. My favorite part is “inbox zero” I am totally on board with that, it gives me anxiety having emails in there! Haha.

Really enjoyed the article about you, Ryan! Long overdue and glad to see that you are getting the recognition for your success, that you so rightly deserve, on an international level. You are an inspiration to all of us, no matter what we may have already accomplished or where we are living and working.. Your work ethic and drive shows us what it takes to rise above the crowd and how working hard can truly pay off. RE/MAX has some great role models and you are definitely one of the best. Tear it up in 2018 and never look back, my friend!

Ryan, great article and a lot we can all learn from the sharing of your experiences. Your dedication to the core values is a true testament to your success. Congratulations and long may it continue.

No doubt about it, Ryan is a class act. I’m from Indianapolis, Indiana and didn’t know Ryan, but I reached out to him via email several years ago to get some specific advice I believe in a technology area he was using. He ended up sharing more than I had asked for. We met at the next R4 in Las Vegas and he has a knack for connection and is as genuine as you get. When you sell as much as he does, people love to learn from you and it takes your time. Keep it up Ryan. The guy at the top doesn’t mean everyone else is beneath you. Much appreciated and it is an inspiration of the term, “pay it forward”.

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