20 Under 40: Michael Wong
Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty
Education: Texas Tech University
Life came into focus for Michael Wong after closing his first real estate deal. “I now had a purpose and decided to learn everything I possibly could and fully immerse myself in the world of residential real estate. It’s what God put me on this Earth to do.” His passion for real estate can also be seen on his Instagram feed (@michaelwongdallas). In fact, he’d be the first to tell you that social media has revolutionized his career in the industry. “You have to make it as little about you and bring something to the table that appeals to everyone; and who doesn’t like looking at a pretty house.” The Turtle Creek resident began his feed in 2012 by taking photos of homes he liked. That quickly grew to him turning down every street to photograph as many homes possible – looking up the stats; the year built, the owner, and architecture on each home. Today, that page boasts 19,000 followers. Michael’s love for homes also spills over into his philanthropic work, serving as a member of Preservation Dallas and Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society.
Q: What do you love about the Park Cities?
A: I love the old homes and architecture. I can’t imagine growing up without mature trees and being surrounded by houses that differ from each other so much. I don’t do cookie-cutter. I believe that every home should be different and reflect each owner’s personality.
Q: Where is the best place for a power lunch, and what do you order?
A: Bistro 31 in Highland Park Village. My team gets a lot of business done there, and it’s always great running into clients or people you know. I usually get the Nicoise Salad – seared Ahi tuna – what could be better?
Did You Know?
My first job was painting address numbers on curbs throughout the Park Cities area? I loved it because I was my own boss.
Q: What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
A: My first job was painting address numbers on curbs throughout the Park Cities area. I loved it because I was my own boss, made up my own hours, and was only accountable to myself. I walked the streets, knocking on doors asking if owners wanted their numbers painted on their curb. I did this for about two summers, and it was very profitable.
Q: Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?
A: I see myself having my own real estate group and dominating the Dallas market place. I hope to sell at least five times the amount and be at the top in my field.
Q: What was your “lightbulb moment” that lead you to your career?
A: When I closed my first deal, my whole life clicked. I knew this is what I was meant to do. Skills I never knew I had started appearing, and I felt like a completely different person. I now had a purpose and decided to learn everything I possibly could and fully immerse myself in the world of residential real estate – It’s what God put me on this earth to do.
Q: Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?
A: Time-blocking and finding a balance between my personal and professional life. When I first got in the business, I didn’t ever want to stop. I was afraid to go out of town because I would miss something. I got close to being burned out. I finally realized that taking time for myself to re-energize is extremely important.
Q: What is your favorite local store?
A: Nicholson Hardie in Lovers Lane. They’ve been in business since 1899. I love plants, gardening, and everything that goes along with it. I could spend hours upon hours in this store.
Q: If there was ONE thing that you could change or improve in the community, what would it be?
A: I would love to add a more structured conservation district to the Park Cities neighborhood. This would be to protect certain homes from being torn down. I hate how every other older home is automatically torn down, and a McMansion is put up in its place. This is our architecture, our culture, and our history. It’s what we have to drive by and look at every day. It defines us as a city and a community.
Q: If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?
A: “The Blind Side” with Sandra Bullock. The film makes me want to be a better person & truly inspires me.
Q: If someone made a movie of your life, what would the title be and who would play you?
A: “The Challenge” starring Jake Gyllenhaal
Q: If we looked at your social media accounts, what would we learn about you?
A: How passionate I really am about real estate. It’s what I do seven days a week, 365 days a year. I initially started my Instagram account in 2012 by taking photos of homes I liked throughout Dallas. It then turned into driving every street in Dallas and photographing as many homes as possible – this forced me to look up stats on each house, the year built, the owner and architect. The photography part followed later, and I became obsessed with capturing the perfect shot showing each house in it’s the best light. This, in turn, has allowed me to gain connections with all the big players in the industry – architects, builders, realtors, interior designers, and my sphere of influence. I would say that social media has revolutionized my career, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. My dad always told me you have to be different and better than the rest in this competitive world. There are so many realtors in Dallas and what is going to set me apart… well I believe Instagram has. You have to make it as little about you and bring something to the table that appeals to everyone; and who doesn’t like looking at pretty houses?
Q: If you could, what advice would you have for your teenage self and why?
A: As a teenager, I spent a lot of time trying to fit in and be the person I thought I was supposed to be. I felt lost and didn’t really know who I was. If I could go back to my teens, I would tell myself that it’s all going to be OK, to have confidence and learn to love yourself.
Q: What, to date, has been your most impressive or rewarding accomplishment in both your professional and personal life?
A: My most impressive accomplishment in my professional and personal life go hand in hand. I feel so fortunate to have found a career that happens to be my true passion in life. My personal interests overlap in my profession. To me, it’s not work; it’s just what I get up and do every day. At the end of the day, if my client is happy, I am happy – and that’s the most rewarding feeling of all.