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August 25, 2019
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Gary Keller is an American entrepreneur and best-selling author. He is the founder of Keller Williams, which is the largest real estate company in the world by agent count, closed sales volume, and units sold. [1] Keller founded Keller Williams on training and education and later brought his teachings to print. His books include The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, The Real Estate Investor, and The ONE Thing. He is the current CEO and Chairman of the Board at Keller Williams[1] and is considered one of the most influential people in real estate.[2]Keller was born on July 21, 1957 in Pasadena, Texas. Both his mother and father were school teachers, until his father was promoted to be a high school administrator. The family moved to North Shore, outside of Houston.[3] Being born into a family of educators would later pave the way for Keller's educational approach to business and success.[4] Keller's parents had a large impact in shaping who he later became, and he credits specific events with his father as "significant, I-can't-thank-you-enough, changed-my-life moments."[3]

Keller originally had no intention of attending college. The summer following his high school graduation he began to pursue a music career. Mid-summer, he came to his parents and informed them that he wanted to go to college as his music career was not working out.[5] His parents informed him that they had already applied to Baylor University in Waco, Texas where he was accepted. After visiting the university, Keller decided to attend, following in the footsteps of his sister and father who has previously attended the university.[4]

While at Baylor, Keller spent time shadowing professionals in the fields of law, accounting, banking, and real estate.[4] It was at that time that he became interested in real estate and began to pursue a real estate and insurance degree program that had just started at the university.[4] His senior year he was interviewed by various real estate companies who came to Baylor looking for graduates.[4] Following graduation in 1979, Keller moved to Austin where he began his career in real estate.[6]When Keller landed in Austin in 1979, he worked for a company who would later become a competitor. He found immediate success in Austin, selling five houses his first month. Keller made it his goal to become VP, and when that goal was realized 4 1/2 years later, he decided he could no longer work there.[7] Keller's educational and entrepreneurial spirits fused and he knew he could create a real estate model that put the agents first and fostered a positive, win-win community.[7] In 1983 he partnered with Joe Williams to found two companies – Keller Williams Realtors, which Keller ran, and Keller Williams Commercial, which Williams ran.[8] The commercial company never took off, but Keller's residential side did. In 1987, inside the residential company, Keller created a division that would later become Keller Williams Realty International, known to the world as KWRI.

The company grew to be the largest real estate agency in the Austin area within two years. After expansion and franchising, it became the largest real estate franchise by agent count in North America and the only privately held global residential real estate brokerage. In 2014, Keller Williams Realty reached a milestone of over 100,000 agents worldwide,[9] surpassing 180,000 agents by 2018,[10] with franchises in the United States, Canada, Southern Africa, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Dubai.[11][12]

Keller still serves as the company's chairman of the board.[13] In 2017, he began to transition Keller Williams into more of a technology company,[14] launching technology initiatives that included KW Labs, KW Keller Cloud, and "Kelle," an artificial intelligence app used as a virtual assistant and an agent-to-agent referral tools platform called "Referrals."[14] Keller replaced John Davis as CEO of the company in 2019.[15]Keller began writing during his early years at Keller Williams Realty. He established KellerINK for the publishing of instructional and inspirational business books with a specialty in real estate. His first book, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, was co-authored with Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan and released in 2004.[16] The book made the best-seller list on BusinessWeek.[17] He co-authored a second book, The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, in 2005 along with Papasan and Jenks.[18] This book became a New York Times best-seller.[19]

In 2013, Keller and co-author Papasan published their first non-real estate book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.[13] The book reached #1 on the Wall Street Journal business bestseller list. It was also a bestseller on The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.[20][21] Hudson Booksellers named The ONE Thing one of the five best business interest books of 2013.[22] The authors have been featured in publications including Forbes and Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership Review.[20] In all, Keller has published four best-selling books on real estate and has sold more than a million copies worldwide.[20]

In addition to writing and real estate, Keller has been involved in other ventures including that of an investor. He has invested in companies such as the Austin-based Music & Entertainment Television.[23] Keller is also a public speaker[24] and was a panelist for the nonprofit Relationship & Information Series for Entrepreneurs in 2013 along with former Texas Longhorns quarterback Vince Young.[25]

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