A Discussion With Callaghan O’Connor On the Importance of Cultivating a Positive Work Culture

Callaghan O’Connor is a real estate entrepreneur born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. Originally expecting a future in sports management, he played hockey and rugby on the national level while attending university. After graduation, he first worked in Vancouver with the Canucks. When the opportunity to move into real estate presented itself, he pivoted to this field. As the draw of Victoria became international, Callaghan returned to his hometown to help it grow into one of the highest-ranked great places to live.

Can you share with us the back story about what brought you to your specific career path?

I grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. In high school, I got into sports, and I eventually went on to play for our national rugby team while in university. Real estate design and landscaping had always been another interest of mine, so when I had the opportunity to work with commercial real estate in Vancouver, I took advantage of it. After five years there, I moved back to Victoria and focused more on residential real estate. At the time, Victoria was starting to be recognized as a great place to live, not just by people in Canada, but people from all over the world. We live in one of the most beautiful positions on the globe. As far as overall communities are ranked for living, Victoria is on the top of the list. It has always been an amazing place to raise kids, be active, retire and now with the new landscape with remote working, Victoria locals and young professionals can build great businesses and contribute to other global companies.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“All the benefits in life come from compound interest – relationships, money, habits.” Building strong habits helps you become more present, happy, and peaceful. In my experience, those habits should include punctuality, dependability, and the ability to view things from alternative angles. It’s important to build your brand as one that will bring success to those you work with. Clients need to know when they are working with you, you have their best interest in mind.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on your leadership style? Can you share a story or an example of that?

Twitter has actually become my favorite place of learning. There are many exceptional, well-researched leaders that use the platform to share ideas, broadcast their beliefs, and engage with audiences. It offers a great opportunity to interact with so many people, on a global level. It has become a large source of learning and inspiration for me.

What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Show up every day, take accountability, step out of your comfort zone, and set goals. ” Comfort is a silent killer for ambition.” I also believe it is very important to build a schedule and routine that sets you up for success. Become a master at prioritizing. There is so much distraction and noise in our world today, it is critical to be able to assess what is most needed now vs. what can wait for later?

In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

The first thing that comes to mind is gaining loyal customers. Many assume that customers will come quickly and naturally. Developing a loyal customer base takes initiative, creativity, confidence, and time. This includes cold calling,  door knocking, cold emailing/messaging, lots of networking, and finally creating an exceptional experience for each person you interact with. Secondly, hiring and retaining a great team is critical. Your people are the most important part of your business and it takes time and effort to ensure you find the right people and keep them engaged and performing at their job. This includes creating job descriptions, posting them, interviewing, setting new people up with systems, training, ongoing support and feedback, recognition and rewards, etc.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would start a movement that supports a shift in the curriculum in our education system. Critical aspects are missing from our children’s education experience that would positively impact their quality of life. I would include informative content around mental health and wellness, resilience, social media awareness, and usage recommendations. I would also focus on mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and foundational life skills such as financial planning and project management.  Setting up our next generations to be happy and healthy and arming them with critical life skills and tools is paramount.

In your opinion, what are a few ways that executives can help to create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?

Establishing a productive work culture is all about fostering positive connections and making your employees feel valued. Take the time to understand what motivates them and acknowledge their efforts.  You want to build trust with them through honesty, integrity, and transparency. Reward great performances with verbal and written recognition. Provide training and development opportunities to motivate and engage the team and ensure they feel set up for success and that they are growing. Create open lines of communication and avenues for people to provide feedback and recommendations. Coach people in pursuit of elevating them professionally and personally. Generate an environment of fun and excitement. Create opportunities for people to have a work/life balance.

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