Jennifer Johnsen Cameron, Vice President of Brand Development with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR) sat down with broker Phil Greely recently to discuss his approach to dressing for success to win business and the philanthropic cause closest to his heart.
Jennifer: Phil, the first time we met was at an “Unlocking Luxury Event” hosted at Maison DeLille. I had no idea who you were, but had to say hello because you clearly stood out as the best dressed man in the room. What role has fashion played in your life?
Phil: It’s funny you mention my wardrobe, as I feel like I’m behind other men at RSIR in that department, especially Randall O’Dowd, who I share an office with. I’m now in my ninth year in real estate, but sometime in my fourth or fifth year I felt I had some sticking power in the business and was looking to refine my craft. I identified a few other business professionals that worked for themselves in other industries and asked them for best practices. One of those conversations was with my financial advisor, and he left me with one of the best tips I’ve ever received. He said he always wears a suit and tie, except on “casual” Fridays, when he wears a suit with no tie. He went on to say that if he ever has an impromptu meeting or runs into a client, he’s ready and presents himself as an advisor that can handle a multi-million dollar account. If he doesn’t have meetings, suiting up puts him in a mindset to accomplish whatever task arises.
I rarely wear a tie, but slacks, a dress shirt and sport coat are my version of suiting up. Seattle is a casual town, so I could get away with a lot less, but dressing the part of an advisor who can handle the big listing or command a conversation puts me in a productive mindset. If I’m going on an important listing appointment, the sellers may not know what I’ll be wearing but they’re certainly not visualizing shorts and flip flops. In Seattle, we have a low bar to stand out and a good fitting jacket with a pocket square and nice shoes and a belt go a long way. We are in the business of first impressions and our outfits say so much about who we are when we walk into a room, so I just try to make sure the first things people think about me are positive. Last year I competed for an $800,000 listing in Magnolia and the sellers told me the other agent showed up looking like he’d just mowed the lawn and I showed up in a suit looking ready to go and work for them. So it definitely works.
Jennifer: I know you as someone who believes deeply in giving back to the community. Why are you so passionate about philanthropy?
Phil: I feel extremely blessed and fortunate in my life and career to the point that I feel compelled to give. I can think of many people who helped me along the way and I want to be that for others too. The main organization my wife and I give to is Real Escape from the Sex Trade or REST. Seattle has a long history of individuals trafficking women for the purposes of exploiting them sexually and although no one talks about it, the problem is vast. In short, REST works to reach out to women in the sex trade and offer them a way out. They have a small emergency shelter for short term care and a safe house to provide long term housing, counseling and training for a transition back to a more normal life.
I also strive to be generous with my time. So if a newer agent or young professional wants to ask me questions or seek advice, I’ll always give them time. A simple conversation with my financial advisor about his wardrobe made a huge impact on me and I’m hopeful my simple conversations will do the same for someone else.