Agents: Forget the TO-DO-LIST, do this instead…

Agents: Forget the TO-DO-LIST, do this instead…

Time is the ultimate equalizer. We all have the same amount of physical time each day. Doesn’t matter who you are, we are all bound by the 24-hour clock.

Managing my daily productivity level is one of my greatest struggles as a business owner, but it is also one of my biggest strengths. I’m not naturally an organized person. My mind tends to want to jump around from one task to another and my day is full of interruptions, which doesn’t help.

I’ve been able overcome a lot of these challenges by making a consistent effort to work on improving my productivity.  I often re-read books on the subject every year and listen to podcasts and audio books in my car around this topic because I can instantly see my daily productivity go up when I take time to learn or remind myself about strategies to get the most out of my day.

If you have seen any kind of training regarding being more productive, I’m confident the advice you received included something about using To-Do-Lists.

If you are not currently making lists of what you want to accomplish during the day, week, month, or year, then I agree with this advice. You need to have some sort of plan.

One lesson I’ve learned is that To-Do-Lists are really depressing…

There is so much going on in business and life that I almost never complete the to-do list for the day or week, which kind of sucks. It often makes me feel like I can’t enjoy personal time with my family and guilty about taking time to exercise because I have important stuff on my list that isn’t finished yet.

This of course, leads to unhealthy habits of not spending enough quality time with loved ones and ultimately poor health.

The Solution:

To-Do lists by themselves are just not the answer. The missing ingredient is pairing your list with your schedule. If it’s scheduled, it has a way better chance of getting done. It also helps you see when your To-Do-lists are too big, which in turn will help you set more realistic expectations for your day and plan better for the week and month.

Designing a schedule that you can stick to is a topic for another day, but I would highly recommend you begin assigning specific times on your calendar for everything on your to-do list. By doing so I’m confident you’ll see an instant uptick in what you can accomplish with your limited time.

Cheers!

Mike Turner

Mike Turner is the founder and CEO of Front Street Brokers Real Estate, host of a weekly radio show and a podcast, author of Value Driven Approach To Sell Real Estate and Agent Entrepreneurs. When not traveling on overseas adventures with his family, Mike lives with his wife and two daughters in Boise, Idaho.

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Finding Success in Uncomfortable Places

Finding Success in Uncomfortable Places

Get comfortable getting uncomfortable

 

One of my first jobs as a kid (like many) was mowing lawns. My Dad was a teacher at the local college and had extra time in the summers. One summer he took over a friend’s landscaping business.  

This was more than just a side job; he had a bunch of equipment and a sizeable list of customers to serve. Naturally, he looked to me to help him out and he paid me well for my help.

It wasn’t long before I found myself mowing the lawns all by myself. I don’t know if that was my dad’s plan all along, but if it was, it was a pretty good plan.  

I lived in a small town and my truck was highly recognizable all summer long as I had two mowers and plenty of grass clippings packed into the back.  

My friends would often stop when they saw me out working to heckle me. Not the mean kind of heckling, more of the typical banter between friends. I knew even then they were just bored or had nothing better to do.

At times I did envy their freedom. Especially on the beautiful days when they were going out on their boats (many teenagers in Sitka, Alaska save up to buy a boat instead of a car), headed out fishing or camping.

If there was a girl that I liked, she and her friends would always seem to pull up when I was green with clippings, covered from head to toe in grass.  

I didn’t love that job. In fact, there were many days when I hated it. However it did pay well, and it taught me skills far beyond how to make your front lawn look amazing.  

That job taught me how to keep a schedule, to track my work, to be accountable to others, that if you’re going to get paid for a job you do it to the best of your abilities every time without exception, how to manage bank accounts, receivables, invoicing, preventative maintenance on equipment, and how to lift a professional mower into the back of my pickup all by myself (that is an art).  

At the time I didn’t think about the fact that I was running my own business. It just kind of fell in my lap and I kept it going the best I could. It’s clear now how great it was learning those business skills at a young age.

One of the biggest lessons or keys to success I have learned throughout the many businesses I have been a part of is the necessity to get uncomfortable. In fact the more uncomfortable I get pushing my business, the more I find it leads me to more success.  

As a parent, I hope to help my daughters have the opportunity to learn the skills of business. I was having trouble articulating this lesson on being uncomfortable, but yesterday we had a breakthrough.

My wife is homeschooling our daughters this semester. We are testing it out to see how it goes.  So far it’s going well. I have started taking my daughters to work with me on Fridays. They still have lessons they have to work on while at my office, but I am trying to include them in different aspects of my business, as well as help them develop their own ideas about business and entrepreneurship.  

Their latest idea for making money is to sell hot chocolate and coffee outside the front door of my office in downtown Boise. We’ve been talking about the costs, the equipment, and steps we need to take before we can start, because of course they want to start immediately.

I explained to them that one of the steps we needed to take was to go over to City Hall and speak with the City Clerk’s office to see if we need to get and pay for a permit to sell coffee and hot chocolate outside my office.  

Emilia and Ivy in front of City Hall after the meeting with the Boise City Clerk

At first they thought this task sounded exciting, so we bundled up in our winter jackets and walked over to City Hall. When we walked in I could see that we needed to take a number and wait our turn. Once I showed them that we were two numbers away from being called on, they got nervous.  

Suddenly they were back peddling on their idea. I don’t think they fully understood the situation or what would happen next, so they became uncomfortable. The easy thing for them to do would have been to change their minds about their business idea, to walk out of the room so they didn’t have to speak to some grown up about their business plan.

I would have let them leave, too. This was their idea; I didn’t want to force them into seeing it through. I did gently remind them about the business lesson of being uncomfortable. I told them that the fact that they were nervous or unsure about the meeting might just mean they were on the right track for great success.  

I could see the lightbulb going on in their minds. They got the lesson, and they rocked their meeting with the City Clerk employee who, by the way, was super supportive and great with the girls.  

Comfort is stagnation.
Growth requires pushing into a state of discomfort.  

This important business lesson I’ve learned may be why I’m am always looking for ways to push and elevate my business. It is a habit now. But this year I’m really doubling down and making myself extremely uncomfortable.  

One of the biggest drivers of this is my new goal of writing and teaching CE courses for Real Estate Agents. I’ve been drawn to this goal for quite some time now. I first got the itch for it by coaching and mentoring agents in my Brokerage, which helped me realize that I have a true passion for building businesses, and not just mine, but for anyone who has got the drive, determination, and guts to pursue theirs.  

Then I pushed myself and accomplished a lifelong goal of writing a book, called Agent Entrepreneurs – Every Agents Guide To What They Don’t Teach You In Real Estate School.  

Writing that book was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But it has given me the confidence to move forward with creating courses that don’t really exist in our profession (and if they do, they are expensive or hard to come by).  

I’ve never been a great public speaker. When I was in grade school I took speech therapy lessons because no one could understand what I was saying. However, in business and in life I’ve understood the necessity to put myself in uncomfortable situations to move forward. Which was why, when I was offered a radio show 7 years ago, I didn’t hesitate. I said “yes, please.” Of course, after I said ‘yes’ I felt my stomach twist into knots, as I was worried that I would sound awful, make embarrassing grammar mistakes, or my mind would go totally blank on live radio.  

That first radio show, I was a mess. Sitting outside the station in my car I recorded a couple of minutes of speaking and played it back. I hated the way I sounded and I was sure others would, too. But I got through that day, and 7 years later I am still doing radio and podcasts. Once I got comfortable being uncomfortable, I gained a sense of fearlessness in business.  

I learned that I can do just about anything I choose to put my mind to. I realize I won’t be the best at my pursuits, and I don’t need to be. I just need to show up and keep moving forward.

At least these days, getting uncomfortable in business doesn’t mean smelling of moss and being covered in grass clippings.  

Here’s to finding success in uncomfortable places,  
Cheers!

Mike Turner

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Sharpening My Axe

Sharpening My Axe

Last week was the first class I’ve officially taught to real estate agents for CE credits and it was first time teaching the Real Estate Firefighting course.

The class was packed with a mix of veteran agents to the newly licensed. I personally thought the class went great, but of course I couldn’t help to be nervous about how the students valued the course.

I wanted everyone to get as much value as I could squeeze into the 2 hours, and I knew that is a tricky thing to do because everyone is in different stages of their career, and has different experiences and lessons they have learned in their career.

My goal was that everyone, even the veteran agents, would walk out of there with a sharper axe.

As the class wrapped up I asked the agents in attendance to please give their honest feedback of the course and my presentation so that we could we could learn where we need to make adjustments to improve the course and make it more valuable to agents.

Well… there was one overriding recommendation in the responses we got back and it wasn’t anything I was anticipating… They wanted the course to be longer.

Here is a sample of the feedback we got:

  • Great course with local scenarios. Wish was it was an hour longer.
  • Awesome! So original and fresh, with a lot of experience to back it up.  I really wish this had been a 3-hour course. Would definitely take another class from him.
  • Excellent, recommend pushing it to 3 hours.
  • Great Information. This type of class is what we need more of.
  • Good class, but needs to be a little longer.
  • Awesome class!
  • Enjoyed all the examples shared of real life situations.
  • Wish we could have had more time.

I have to tell you this feedback of wanting the class to be longer really made me feel good, because it confirmed that we are on the right track. To create real estate CE courses with information that often not taught, that is extremely valuable for real estate agents.

For everyone who attended last week’s class, I want to say “thank you.” Thank you for being willing and active participants, you made the class fun and we all got to walk out of there with a sharper axe.

The Wolves of Real Estate

The Wolves of Real Estate

Hustle vs Hustler:

Ask someone the first thing that comes to their mind when you say those two words. They’re so similar but elicit a sharply different reaction in our culture.

Hustle is a highly valued trait. I respect hustle. When I see someone really giving it their all—whether it’s at work, at the gym, or anywhere in between—it inspires me.

Hustle, defined in the dictionary, is: to proceed or work rapidly or energetically

I do believe some people are born with an innate drive to hustle in many aspects of their lives. Obviously, having the drive to really hustle comes easily when we’re passionate or desperate to achieve something.

Hustle is a tricky thing to teach—at least, I find that to be true with my kids. I respect those who hustle, so naturally I wish to see my kids hustle. But I also want them to recognize that quality is just as important. Putting more energy into what you do is great, but not when it means you do a half-ass job.

Hustle, when matched with an appreciation for quality, produces optimal results.

In my real estate business, I see agents every day make the mistake of listing their homes too fast, putting up lackluster photos, and skipping or writing minimal remarks about the home. Their apparent goal is to get the home up on the MLS as soon as possible. Is this because they’re hustling but cutting corners on quality? Or is it that they don’t care or don’t realize there’s a better way? As an outsider looking in, both seem lazy to me. Lazy has got to be the opposite of hustle, right?

Therefore you must be careful to not over-hustle at the expense of quality. It will come across to others as you being lazy.

I’m confident you have a friend or someone close to you who is overly focused on quality—so much so that it may take them longer to complete a task because of their obsession to make things perfect. Let’s face it, it’s difficult to achieve or even define perfection. However, we as a society respect quality.

I know when I see something of high quality; I immediately wonder how long it took to create that.

I often get asked by my clients and other agents in my community how I do all the things that I do, from writing books and creating weekly newsletters to hosting radio shows, running a brokerage, and producing high-level marketing for my listings. One answer to that question is: I’ve trained myself to do the work without fear or reservation.

So long as your intentions are good and focused on helping others before you help yourself, then you don’t need to have everything perfect, you just need to be genuine with your convictions.  

Sometimes our minds can slow us down with doubt or the desire to over-think things in an effort to try to produce the best quality product. Of course, I still feel fear and reservations about what I’m doing. What helps me is I purposely listen to and read about other entrepreneurs, which always helps to inspire me to push forward.

These other entrepreneurs whom I follow feel like friends. I learn about how they go about their days, their challenges and what they did to overcome them. The more I learn about these successful people, the more they seem human and just like me. Many of them found their stride sooner than I did, which frustrates and fuels me. Of course, some of them—when they examine my life—may get inspired in their own way, as success is defined in a million ways.

I’m writing this article at 4:30am on my couch. My family will be up in a few hours. I used to wake up at the same time as them, but at some point I was inspired by others doing amazing things. Most of them were hustling early each morning so they could accomplish more or so they could have more of a life during the day. I get up early in part so I can be more present with my kids when they’re around.

We all have different motivations that increase our hustle. If you’re struggling to find your motivation, I encourage you to seek out and learn more about other people who inspire you. You’ll find that the more you learn about them, the more you’ll understand that they’re not superhuman but driven by something. Learning about others can help you tap into your own drive and uncover the internal fuel you need to put more hustle in your pursuits.

I hate it when there is someone working harder than me at the gym. Every time I see it, I feel a jolt of energy inside of me. I may or may not be able to match their hustle that day, but it definitely helps me pick up my pace. The same thing happens to me in business. If I see others who appear to be out-working me, that internal voice inside me says, “Oh no you don’t!” and lights a fire in me.

When does hustle push over to hustler?

There’s a well-known entrepreneur, author, and media personality named Gary Vaynerchuk. He wrote the best-selling book Crush It and many others. He also hosts a weekly podcast/video-cast called the “Ask Gary Vee Show” where he answers questions from other aspiring entrepreneurs and some famous ones. Gary is constantly talking about hustle. He is the definition of hustle. This guy really pushes the level of hustle much higher than most people can fathom. Therefore, his nickname has become “The Hustler.”

Gary Vaynerchuk is not who I think of when I hear the word hustler. Gary is a household name among entrepreneurs because he gives back more than he takes—meaning he works tirelessly at trying to help other entrepreneurs. For no cost, no fee, no upsell. He just gives back a lot. It is much appreciated and respected. I have learned a lot from him over the years and still listen to his weekly podcast.

So what is a hustler?

The dictionary defines a hustler as: a person who employs fraudulent or unscrupulous methods to obtain money; a swindler.

By that definition, I would say every industry has hustlers. There may only be a small number of them, but the amount of destruction they leave in their wake can be massive.

Recently my wife and I watched the movie The Wolf of Wall Street. It depicts how someone with great hustle can become a hustler in the negative sense. What makes the true-life story so astonishing is that this man started with the right intentions. He just wanted to provide for his family and was struggling to do so. Then he fell upon a way he could easily provide for his family through selling penny stocks. He had no idea if the investments he sold were a good or bad investment, and he didn’t care. He made good money selling them. So good that he brought in his friends and they were intoxicated by the flow of money.

Soon one hustler became a giant company full of hustlers.

It was all about closing, convincing others to spend their money, so they could take a cut of it. Seeing these people transform into hustlers helped me understand how many good people can be swept up into bad behaviors and greed based on a company’s culture and what they’re being taught they need to do to provide for their families.

The curse of the salesman

It’s unfortunate but I see “hustlers” in my real estate industry every day. The saddest part is that most of them don’t even realize they’ve become hustlers. They’re just following the practices that were taught to them by their broker, mentor, or coach.

Realtors are often taught “Behind Every No is a Yes” and while this advice may work and earn them more income, they soon become a “Wolf of Real Estate” without even realizing it.

Wolves of real estate

When you take a sales job, you’re taught by the leadership what you need to do to be successful at your job. Therefore, the type of salesperson you become is often directly influenced by who teaches you.

The curse of the salesman is that many of the most successful salespeople in any industry have gotten there by being hustlers. They care little or not at all about the customer, just about how much money they can make from them. They practice and master how to close people.

I see real estate agents acting like hustlers because they’re doing what they were taught to do. They often don’t realize what they’ve become until after they damage many relationships by pushing loved ones and friends too hard for their business or referrals.

The Slippery Slope

I hear radio commercials every day about guaranteed sales programs to get your home sold, which are nothing more than bait and switch gimmicks to get in your living room so a salesman can deliver his practiced script that will most certainly close you even without his precious guarantee.

In my first year of real estate, I hired a real estate coach. He was one of the top-producing agents in North America. When he offered to coach me for a fee, I said yes. How could I pass up such an opportunity, right?

What I learned over that year was all about bait and switch tactics. I was encouraged to pound the phones and implement my own guaranteed sale program. Even though I couldn’t back up that guarantee, I was taught what to say and how to disqualify sellers so that I would never have to worry about honoring that guarantee. I was taught many other tactics like this to get more real estate sales.

I ended up firing my coach halfway through the program. Once I started listening to that inner voice in my head and surrounding myself with the right kind of role models, I saw the light.

These coaches put spin on their tactics, so that when you use them they seem to be benefiting the client. “It’s for their own good.” The coaches would say you are still the best agent to help them sell their house, no matter what strategy you have to use to get in their living room. “By closing them, you’re just helping them make a decision they already want to make.” Meanwhile they show you how well it works for providing for your family, which is the most important thing in world to you.  It’s not just a slippery slope to become a wolf, it’s a steep hill of solid ice and you’re getting pushed.

It’s not just a slippery slope to become a wolf, it’s a steep hill of solid ice and you’re getting pushed. 

This is why I understand that my real estate industry is full of hustlers and wolves. I was almost one of them. Part of my mission for the rest of my career is to try to reverse and minimize the damage that hustlers cause to our industry and to the people they impact.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately on a project that will hopefully help agents “see the light,” —to help them recognize what they’ve been swept into based on the bad leadership and advice they’ve been given for years. It’s about a better way to conduct their business that is way more enriching and fulfilling—how making this change will not only leave a legacy behind they can be proud of but will also pay them dividends well beyond their retirement. You can make a lot of money being a Wolf of Real Estate, but at what cost?  You could ultimately lose everything.

The line between hustle and hustler can become gray or invisible when you are just trying to do your best and following advice from those whom you respect.

It is healthy to question those we get advice from. To listen to our conscience and not be peer-pressured into something that just doesn’t feel right. There is always another path you can take that is equally as effective and doesn’t challenge your morals.

Luckily for humanity’s sake, the vast majority of real estate agents want to do the right thing. They would not want to be viewed as “a hustler or a wolf.” So if someone you know and care about is doing something that you feel is questionable or a bit on the shady side, you’re probably doing them a huge favor if you speak to them about it. It just might help them “see the light.”

***

#GaryVee,  #WolfofWallStreet,  #WolvesofRealEstate, #Hustle, #CurseoftheSalesman

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Don’t Miss A Thing

The Best Education Hack I Ever Learned

I recently told the story of How I Lost an Election, which had the side effect of me enrolling in night classes at my local community college while I was still in high school. It was during that year of taking both college and high school courses that I learned a valuable lesson about succeeding in education—and in business.

 

To be clear, these weren’t some upper-level high school classes that I took at the high school. I actually went to the college and attended classes with a bunch of older students. (I highly recommend this for any high-school-aged kids, by the way.) At the time, I had the idea that maybe I would become a doctor, so I signed up for classes that I thought would be helpful in that pursuit. The first class I took was Anatomy and Physiology.
As I sat in class the first day, I heard other students say they’d heard how hard this class was and they were concerned about passing it. This, of course, made me nervous about what I was getting myself into. The textbook was at least three inches thick. As I scanned through pages, I could feel a sense of doubt taking hold in my mind.
Up to that point, I hadn’t been a stellar student anyway. I’ve written about How I Sucked at School, so I didn’t have much, if any, confidence. At the time I was barely passing my high school chemistry and algebra, and only then with private tutoring from my teachers before school.
I enrolled in college as a high school kid out of the desire to escape. 
I didn’t want to be stuck in my town forever. I wanted out. It’s not that I hated it there. At 17 years old, I really wanted to re-create myself someplace where nobody knew me. But my grades were mediocre, and I totally choked every time I took college placement exams. I was delighted to learn there were no restrictions keeping me from taking college level classes in my hometown. I figured if I failed, that would be a sign that I shouldn’t go to college anyway.
The professor’s first lesson on anatomy and physiology was about muscles. I realized I actually knew some of the answers to questions she was asking the class. For the past two years, I had spent a few nights each week working the front desk at the only gym in our town—I passed the boring hours reading back issues of Muscle magazine. Apparently, I absorbed something more useful than how to get six-pack abs in six weeks. Also, the class seemed impressed when they learned I was a high school student.
By the end of the first day, I was still feeling overwhelmed. But I hoped that if I studied hard enough, I could somehow pass the class.
The class lasted the full semester, and it was indeed challenging. I showed up for every class and took as many notes as possible. The textbook chapters seemed like they were written in a foreign language.
In the end, I finished the class with a B or B-. I can’t quite remember. But it was something the teacher announced to the whole class on the final day that I will never forget.

She said “Thank you.  I was the only student who came to every class, and turned in every assignment.” 

At first I didn’t think that was such a big deal. I couldn’t imagine missing a single class—I would fall so far behind, I wouldn’t be able to catch up. Plus the class was expensive. I didn’t want to ever have to go through it again.
But with deeper reflection, I was reminded that college is voluntary. Attending class is a choice. It’s not like high school where you’re forced to go. In college, if you’re tired or have a fun opportunity with friends, you might skip a class or two. But the more I went to college classes, the more I realized that it was rare for a student to attend every class and to be actively engaged, as opposed to sitting in the back barely paying attention. School was just too hard for me to afford such luxuries.
I quickly learned with college classes that I was practically guaranteed a B or a C if I just showed up to every class. I sat near the front and occasionally asked questions. Teachers appreciated the fact that I was present and paid attention.
Once I passed the most difficult classes on campus—by basically showing up and paying attention—I gained confidence with education and with learning in general.
In life and in business, I’ve succeeded where others have failed because I simply showed up more than they did. If I had a problem with my website, I studied how to fix it myself or learned an inexpensive way to hire someone. When a client asked me to help with something I wasn’t familiar with, I stayed up half the night learning everything I could about it so I could be a useful resource the next day. I’ve learned that showing up is the key ingredient to success.
I was at a dinner party recently, and I got to talking with my friends’ teenage daughter about college. I told her the story about my first year away from home at the university. Almost half of my friends flunked out their first year—not because college was tougher than high school, but because they regularly blew off going to class, figuring they would just cram before the test and look over other people’s notes. I shared with her my little secret of “just showing up.” I hope she takes my advice. I know what her parents are paying for her to attend college—but more importantly, I know what it does for your confidence to overcome great challenges by simply committing to show up and face them.  

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How One Book Changed My Life

How One Book Changed My Life

I remember wandering the aisles of a Barnes & Noble in San Diego. My wife and I were in town so she could attend a writers’ conference. Amanda, my wife, was anxious because she had written her first book and would be pitching it to prospective agents and trying to make some connections at the conference.

I was killing time and not really looking for a particular book. My mind was busy wondering what the next chapter in our lives would look like. Amanda clearly had a vision for herself—whether she would be a starving writer or a successful writer, she knew deep in her soul that she wanted to write. I, on the other hand, felt lost. I didn’t have a clear idea what I wanted to do. I was only twenty-five years old and had already been a commercial fisherman in Alaska (where I grew up), owned and operated a landscaping business, achieved a business degree, obtained a captain’s license to drive ships, served active duty and reserves as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, and was hired as a marine logistics operator and location scout on movies and TV shows around the world. Working in TV and movies was great but grueling work and was a temporary gig—my last job had ended, and I felt lost and concerned about what my next step would be. I needed to do something that would make money because our savings would soon run out.

That’s when I saw a book called Retire Young, Retire Rich by Robert T. Kiyosaki. I was instantly intrigued by the title.

Back when I was a teenager and running my first business (mowing lawns), I told my parents I would retire early. They laughed as they shared this information with their friends at dinner parties. Not that they didn’t believe me, they just thought it was funny to hear those words coming from a sixteen-year-old. I, of course, never knew how I would retire early, but I knew how it felt to own a business and I just believed that I would, indeed, retire young.

So I took Retire Rich, Retire Young back to our hotel room. I devoured the book—it lit my soul on fire and ignited my brain with ideas about what to do with the next chapter of my life. If you are unfamiliar with Robert Kiyosaki, he is the author of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books (I’ve read most everything his has written, I recommend them). Much of what he illustrates in his books is how to rewire your brain to think like an entrepreneur instead of an employee, and to acquire the mindset to be a successful business owner.

I remember thinking: I wish I had read this book in high school, or at least in college. Not that I had made bad choices up to that point, but it would have helped me be more strategic with my decision making. The book reignited my passion for owning and operating my own business. I decided right then I would never work for anybody else again, unless I wanted to learn a specific skill from them.

I knew from both running a business and being an employee that owning a business is way harder than working for someone else. An employee may have a difficult job, but eventually they clock out, go home, and don’t have to deal with work until the next morning. As a business owner, you never clock out. You are always on call. You never finish your work, because there is always more to do. The upside of being a business owner is that, if you can find a way to work smarter, outperform others, outwork others, and beat the competition with your superior service or product, you can earn unlimited income, as opposed to an employee’s set wage.

Even though the core advantage of owning a business is unlimited income potential, that has never been the part that got me excited. Sure, I like to make money. But I love to compete. I love to experiment. I love to create or produce something that helps others. I love to solve problems.

I was motivated to retire early so that I would eventually be free to choose how, when, and on what I worked. It was never about not working.

So after reading Retire Rich, Retire Young, I focused on what I wanted to do next. Later that year I found myself in real estate school, and I had already flipped one house.

I never had any intention of becoming a real estate agent. When I enrolled to get my license, I was focused on being a real estate investor. I signed up for real estate school just to gain access to the MLS, so I could work my own deals. I thought maybe I’d learn something valuable in the process. But the more the instructor talked about a career in real estate, the more excited I got about becoming an agent who helps others succeed in real estate. At the time, the real estate market was booming. I had previously worked with real estate agents, and the experience made me think: If they can do it, then I know I can.


“Years before, when I attended college, I lived in a small town in California called Benicia. This town had a cute and walkable downtown lined with a variety of shops and restaurants, and I remember wondering why there were so many real estate offices. It felt like half the town must be licensed agents. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around why so many people would choose to work in real estate. There was so much competition. There were hundreds of agents that I, as a consumer, could choose to work with in that small town. It seemed absurd. I remember thinking that being a Realtor listed in one of those shop windows was the last thing I ever wanted to be.”

It’s funny how life changes in unexpected ways.

Sitting in a classroom full of prospective agents, I couldn’t help but notice how different we all were. We all had different backgrounds and different motives for being in that class. I wondered who would be successful and who would not. The instructor told us on the final day that statistically in a room of twenty-five new agents, only four or five would remain in business after two years. This naturally caused everyone to look around and wonder who would make it. I didn’t understand yet why so few of us would make it. The job just didn’t seem that tough. I knew there was a lot of competition out there from other agents, but there was a lot of opportunity as well.

I got my license and became one of four thousand agents working in my community of four hundred thousand people (Boise, Idaho). I knew only three local people at the time, and one of them was a real estate agent. I had just moved up from California, because real estate was more affordable in Idaho. I joined a national franchise brokerage, forwent all other job opportunities, and focused on my real estate career full time. I was full of optimism and hope. I figured that with my strong work ethic I could work really hard and create a great career and business as an agent.

That was over ten years ago. I could fill a book with the war stories and craziness that transpired in those ten years. Some day I will.

On paper, I am in no way the most successful agent in my community. Nor am I the most well known. I am certainly not the most profitable. However, I do believe I am building the strongest real estate business in my community. If you know me, you know that I am not just a real estate agent. I own my real estate office, Front Street Brokers, out of which about twenty agents operate. I’ve hosted a radio show about real estate and the local economy for the past five years. I’m in the process of finishing my second book on real estate. I have two podcasts in production right now, while also producing three magazine publications. My office is creating our own 501(c)(3) charitable organization. I have a lot going on.

We all define success differently. Some agents or clients might look at all the things I do and wonder how I can be an effective real estate agent. My response is that I wouldn’t be effective if I wasn’t surrounded by the right people. With the right support, I can focus on out-marketing the competition with my real estate listings. I can afford to experiment with new ideas and bolder marketing plans, while my competitors focus on what they’ve always done.

I do make mistakes—lots of them. For example, a couple of years ago I created my own real estate newspaper and mailed it to more than ten thousand people every month. This took a huge amount of time, and about $7,000 a month to print and mail. I gambled that it would help me sell my listings and get new listings in the process. I tried this experiment for close to a year, and it failed miserably. I got one listing from those efforts and lost more than $50,000.   (You can see some of my past publications by clicking here or the images below)

 

But I don’t regret it. I learned a lot from failed idea. It wasn’t a horrible idea—it just wasn’t executed correctly.

These mistakes often lead to amazing successes. For instance, following the failure of the newspaper, I created a publication for real estate agents. Now I can showcase my listings to the four thousand real estate agents in my community. I have a tool to sell my listings that no other agent in the valley has. I’ve tweaked it and changed it over the years to make it more effective, and now it’s one of my best tools for selling my listings.

As a real estate agent, my goal is not to be the top-producing agent in my community. However, I do desire to be the most effective one. I desire to find new ways to help people in my community. I desire to pass on what I’ve learned to as many agents as possible so they can do the same. It feels amazing to help others succeed, whether they’re my clients or fellow agents. Helping others is what fuels me. I don’t believe that will ever go away.

The Turner's in Brazil January 2016

This is me and my family during our trip to Brazil

I often wonder how different my life would be if I hadn’t picked up that book. It changed the course of my life. Without it, would I likely have continued to find interesting jobs? Yes, I think so, but I wonder if I would be in the position to help others that I’m in now.

I sometimes feel like the luckiest man on the planet. I have an amazing wife and two daughters whom I cherish. I get to help people every day. I get to implement my new ideas and learn something new every day. I reinvest most of what I make back into my business, so we live fairly modestly. But I feel wealthy. Even though I work twelve hours a day, I feel like I retired early.

This past summer, I passed on the “Retire Early, Retire Rich” book to a family friend who just graduated high school. I told him that he didn’t need to read it now, but if he ever felt like he was at a crossroads where he couldn’t decide what to do next, it might be time to read it.
Maybe it will change his life too.

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