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Jason Sokody, fifth from left, poses with his rock star team from HUNT Real Estate ERA. The Sokody sales team cultivates a diverse and unique team approach that gets real results. Last year, the team was ranked No. 1 in units and was among the Top 20 for volume nationally by ERA.

Like many who work in the business, Jason Sokody’s first career wasn’t in real estate. He was a teacher for 16 years, developing programs for at-risk youth who struggled to thrive in a traditional classroom setting. A bodybuilder covered in tattoos, Sokody doesn’t look like the typical teacher—and, indeed, he wasn’t.

In 2007, Sokody obtained his real estate license while working as a site director at a local Boys and Girls Club. Almost three years ago, he started at HUNT Real Estate ERA, where he is now a full-time associate broker.

“I had been at a very standard, traditional setting before coming to HUNT Real Estate ERA,” says Sokody. “I had to wear long sleeves all the time because of my tattoos, and people dictated what I could and could not put on social media. It was very constraining.”

At HUNT (and ERA), on the other hand, he is encouraged to be himself. And last year, Sokody’s sales team was ranked No. 1 in units and was among the Top 20 for volume nationally by ERA.

Along with their incredible success, his Grand Island, N.Y., team is known for building people’s careers from the ground up. “My favorite thing is working with people who are starting from scratch,” says Sokody, who is developing an agent training platform he hopes to launch next year.

Despite being the head of a 26-person team, he doesn’t let anybody call him “boss.” He calls his teammates his partners and emphasizes the importance of recognizing that everyone’s a leader on the team. “Whether you’re a veteran or brand new, you get treated the same.”

Sokody applies the same philosophy to his interaction with customers. “I’ve sold a house for $5,500 in a fairly impoverished section of Buffalo, and I’ve also sold houses for as much as $2.5 million,” says Sokody. “No matter the price, everybody receives the same level of service and care.”

If you ask him, Sokody will tell you that he doesn’t have a leadership style. That may be true, but it’s safe to say that he’s people-centric above all else. Sokody has a master’s degree in organizational leadership, which he decided to pursue instead of an MBA.

Sokody believes that people drive business. “That’s why I went with organizational leadership—because the program focused on the psychology and behaviors of people. How do you drive and motivate? What I’ve learned is to recognize that we’re all different—that we’re all special—and to make sure you take those moments and those features of each person and help drive them exponentially. I don’t want to change anybody; I just want to improve what they’re best at,” says Sokody.

His team is comprised of part-timers, full-timers and everyone in between. Sokody sees his team’s diversity as a strength. According to him, it doesn’t matter if your team is made up of two people or 50 people, as long as you have the proper culture. “If you have a culture of peace, love and kindness, then everything will work out great.”

A huge fan of ERA’s FUEL conference, Sokody draws inspiration from attending each year and soaking up the brand culture on a national level.

The culture at his office is one that embraces family as a way to keep centered. “We not only support each other like a family; we recognize that everyone comes to work so they can take care of their loved ones,” explains Sokody. “Once you recognize that simple fact, everything else falls into place.”

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Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at