Anthony Lolli is a character. Fast-talking with rapid-fire wit, he is unapologetically honest and full of interesting anecdotes. It is these qualities, and his relentless drive for more, bigger, and better, that have turned him into the New York metropolitan area’s own real-estate rock star. As the founder, owner, and CEO of Rapid Realty Franchise, LLC, a wildly successful New York-based realty firm, Lolli embodies the American dream. He grew up in a one-bedroom shack in Brooklyn with his school-teacher father and beautician mother. Now, he is the owner of a 55-location real-estate franchise that is steadily outgrowing its New York City roots. Coupling street smarts with business savvy, Lolli has been able to surpass any notions of wealth and success that he dreamt of as a child, while still carrying with him the important lessons he learned when he was starting from scratch.
1. Never Underestimate the Power of Goal Setting
At the age of six, Lolli promised his mother that he’d buy her a mansion. When he was in his teens working odd jobs to make ends meet, a friend’s father got his real-estate license and began making money almost immediately. It seemed promising, so at age 19 Lolli enrolled in real-estate classes, and, along with his mother’s white mansion, he added a few other items to his internal to-do list: open a real-estate company, start a construction company, and open up a real-estate school. After receiving his real-estate license, Lolli spent time at both the biggest real-estate firm in Brooklyn and at the smallest and most troubled, just to gain the experience he needed to forge his own path.
Despite some initial setbacks, Lolli was able to make good on all of his goals. Rapid Realty opened its doors 14 years ago, and, since then, Lolli has built his own construction team and opened the Rapid Realty Real Estate School, which he dedicated to his father’s memory. And you better believe that Lolli’s mother got her white mansion.
“Setting goals is a way of having a purpose for your success,” Lolli says. “Initially, my purpose was providing a better life for my parents. When you set goals, it’s good to dream big, but each of your goals should be an answer to the question, What is necessary for my happiness? For me, life isn’t about working hard and being able to retire on a beach somewhere. It’s about setting goals, so that, every day, I have something to wake up for. It’s about having purpose, helping others, and never being satisfied with being satisfied.”
2. Hustle, All Day, Every Day
Hustling now has a negative connotation, often associated with less-than-lawful behavior, but essentially it means busy movement. Couple that definition with the Urban Dictionary’s—“If you’re making money, you’re hustling”—and you essentially have the first few years of Lolli’s career.
When first starting out, Lolli handled real estate during the day and contracting work at night, harnessing a work ethic he learned from his hardworking parents. After retiring from teaching, Lolli’s father became a bit of a local celebrity, known as “The Bird Man.” In the streets of Manhattan, he would set up shop with a camera and a trained parrot, and charmed passerby would pay to have their picture taken with the bird.
“After working on the street, the three of us would go to dinner and talk about our day, so not only did we make money, but we were maximizing our gain by spending time together,” Lolli says. “It taught me an important lesson: if you push yourself, if you hustle and work hard and go the extra mile—if you have tenacity, there are rewards to be reaped. Most people take weekends off or don’t do anything work-related after 5 p.m., but they still go on expensive vacations or go into debt going on shopping sprees. If you’re rewarding yourself without doing any of the hard work, without putting in the extra effort, what’s the take away?”
3. Make the Most of Your Natural Abilities
As mentioned previously, the man who unknowingly inspired Lolli to enter the real-estate industry was his father’s friend, who obtained his real-estate license and shortly after began snapping up local homes and renting them out. “I remember seeing him waiting for the bus, and then all of a sudden he was driving a BMW,” Lolli says. “The thing that was amazing to me was that before, he was just a stay-at-home dad with very few marketable skills, but he was making thousands of dollars because he had a really great personality. He knew how to talk to people, he knew how to tell stories, and I thought, ‘Why can’t I do that? I’m charming. I’ve got personality. Why can’t I use my personality as a marketable trait?’”
4. Addition by Subtraction: Buy Your Freedom
This was a difficult lesson Lolli had to learn well after he’d established himself and
tasted success. Learning how to delegate wasn’t easy for a man who was used to
micromanaging every aspect of his budding empire, but it became necessary when he was “spinning too many plates” and on the cusp of having it all come crashing down.
“When you attain a certain level of success, you have to prepare yourself for some disappointment,” Lolli says. “There are only so many hours in the day, and you’ve got to learn to delegate, but you can’t expect people to train for one week and learn what it took you 10 years to perfect. You have to do something I call addition by subtraction, which basically means you’re buying your own freedom.”
According to Lolli, when an entrepreneur starts their business, it’s as if their business is a lion cub: it’s easy to feed and it doesn’t cost much. When it begins to grow, however, you may not want to feed the lion by yourself anymore, so you pay someone else to do it. You can invest in them, train them, but there’s no guarantee that they won’t get eaten by the lion or just leave the job behind entirely.
“That’s what I mean when I say you have to be prepared for disappointment,” Lolli says. “You always want to see a return on your investment, but sometimes it doesn’t work that way. You just have to understand that when you bring in new people to help, it’s going to cost you, but it’s going to give you more freedom and more time to devote to other tasks. That’s the real takeaway.”