The One Thing

Gary Keller the co-founder and now chairman of Keller Williams built an international business from a single office in Austin, Texas. The company is now the largest real estate firm in the United States.

He wrote The One Thing (with Jay Papasan) to demonstrate his philosophy behind his success for the benefit of others who want to achieve high goals but are really not sure how to do it. His theory is that anyone can replicate the model.

The book became a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller and is now available in the UK.

It was not all plain sailing and in the Nineties Gary’s business was in trouble. Gary sought a coach to see if he could offer a path through the choppy waters. Here is a short extract from The One Thing:

“…It wasn’t until I hit a wall that I began to connect my results with my approach. In less than a decade we’d built a successful company with national and international ambitions, but all of a sudden things weren’t working out. For all the dedication and hard work, my life was in turmoil and it felt as if everything was crumbling around me.

I was failing."

Something had to give

At the end of a short rope that looked eerily like a noose, I sought help and found it in the form of a coach. I walked him through my situation and talked through the challenges I faced, both personal and professional. We revisited my goals and the trajectory I wanted for my life, and with a full grasp of the issues, he set out in search of answers. His research was thorough. When we got back together, he had my organizational chart- essentially a bird’s-eye view of the entire company- up on the wall.

Our discussion started with a simple question: “Do you know what you need to do to turn things around?” I hadn’t a clue.

He said there was only one thing I needed to do. He had identified 14 positions that needed new faces, and he believed that with the right individuals in those key spots, the company, my job, and my life would see a radical change for the better. I was shocked and let him know I thought it would take a lot more than that.

It was a transformational moment. I had never considered how so few could change so much. What became obvious is that, as focused as I thought I was, I wasn’t focused enough. Finding 14 people was clearly the most important thing I could do. So, based on this meeting, I made a huge decision. I fired myself.

I stepped down as CEO and made finding those 14 people my singular focus.

Within three years, we began a period of sustained growth that averaged 40 percent year-over-year for almost a decade. We grew from regional player to an international contender. Extraordinary success showed up, and we never looked back.

As things begat success, something else happened along the way. The language of ONE Thing emerged.

Having found the 14, I began working with our top people individually to build their careers and businesses. Out of habit, I would end our coaching calls with a recap of the handful of things they were agreeing to accomplish before our next session. Unfortunately, many would get most of them done, but not necessarily what mattered most. Results suffered. Frustration followed. So, in an effort to help them succeed, I started shortening my list: If you can do just two things this week.

…Finally, out of desperation, I went as small as I could possibly go and asked: “What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” And the most awesome ting happened.

Results went through the roof.

After these experiences, I looked back at my successes and failures and discovered an interesting pattern. Where I’d had huge success, I had narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had too.”

The One Thing was first published in the US by Bard Press in 2013 and in the UK by John Murray.