The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get
This is one of the truest statements I have ever heard. I’m a prime example. I have very few talents with the exception of being a pretty fair promoter. I’ve made more mistakes than any man should be allowed to make and still make a living. I always tell my friends and family, I’m just always lucky. They in turn tell me that, because of how hard I work, I put myself in front of luck.
If you will bear with me, I will cover some high points of my career and how I got luck from my efforts. If this serves to inspire just one person, then I have done some good in the world today, and paid it forward.
My career started forty years ago in the little resort town of Boyne City, Michigan. In my very first month in the business, I became the top Realtor® in the town and never looked back. This is what happened.
There was an A & W Restaurant in town overlooking the lake. It was one of those old fashioned ones where they put the trays on your car window. The owner decided to sell the business and the property. He wanted $375,000 and he listed it at a 10% commission. Every Realtor® in town, and in the next towns over, wanted this listing - including my Dad, who had become a Realtor® a couple of years earlier.
I was a long-haired, pimply-faced kid with no experience. I had just got my license two weeks prior. I had worked as the owner’s manager in high school, so that was how he even looked at me. However, I knew what time he arrived in the morning (6:00 am), and what time he locked the door at night (11:00 pm).
So I was always in the parking lot when he arrived in the morning, and I would ask for the listing. I was always in the parking lot when he locked up at night. After two weeks of this, the owner said to me. I will give you a one-month listing, if you promise never to bother me again. I promised him I wouldn’t bother him for 30 days.
This is where the hard work turned to luck.
Once the listing was signed, I immediately drove to the restaurant where my future ex-wife was working, to tell her the great news. I hadn’t even ordered a coke yet when her boss sits down next to me and I tell him I just listed the A & W. He then says his cousin is arriving in the morning from Detroit to buy the A & W. Less than 24 hours after I listed the A & W, I double-ended it and closed it three weeks later! It gets even better. I had just listed a custom home, and the buyer needed a home, so I also double-ended the home.
I did $400,000 in my first month as a Realtor®, forty years ago, because I outworked everyone else, and as a result, I stepped in the path of luck.
Two years later, my Dad died of a massive heart attack, so I loaded up my future ex- wife and my new baby boy and moved to Durango, Colorado. I’ve always been a big time skier.
When I got to Durango, I immediately got my Real Estate license. At that time, the only trainer out there who I knew of was Tommy Hopkins. If you remember, he taught you to get out there and knock on doors. So I set a goal to knock on every door in Durango. Every day I would go out and knock 50 doors. My fellow office workers teased me, but I became the top listing Realtor® in the state. I had 3 sales in my first 30 days, because I stepped in the way of luck.
Here’s another one of those luck stories from then.
One day as I was knocking my doors, a young couple came to the door and said they were approved for a Farmer’s Home Administration loan. By chance that was my area of expertise at the time. They told me that they couldn’t find an approved lot. I told them they were in luck. Not only did I have an approved lot list, I also had in my car the approved blueprints for the program, and also had an approved builder I worked with.
Less than an hour after I went out knocking doors, I came back to the office with a double-ended sale and a commission on new construction. My office mates said to me, “I thought you went out knocking doors”. I answered, “I stepped in front of luck!”
Durango was very good to me, and I went on to manage the Real Estate division for the ski area. One day they said they were closing the Real Estate Division, so I loaded up my new wife and my kids and moved to San Diego.
I arrived in San Diego without a job, but I heard that a small independent with three offices was about to open what, at the time, was considered a large office that would handle 65 Realtors®. I also heard that the owner was not a very nice person, and that there was no way he would hire a young guy new in town who had very little management experience.
So I did a rather brazen thing. I walked into his office, got past the front desk to his secretary, and told her that the owner’s new manager was there to see him. She called him and told him his new manager was out front. Obviously he knew nothing about me, so his secretary looked up at me and said, “What’s your name?” I said, “It doesn’t matter, he needs to get his behind out here now.” What I didn’t know was he was right around the corner and could hear me. I heard what sounded like a chair flying across a room, things hitting walls and then a man came around the corner with literally smoke coming out his ears. He said to me, “Who the heck (he didn’t use “heck” ) are you, you little piece of ______?” I said, “I’m your new manager and the best one you’ll ever have.” Then he said “You have ____ the size of Texas, but come into my office.” Fifteen minutes later, I was the new manager.
So having never recruited in my life, I started cold calling. I had 29 Realtors® before we even opened the doors, and had the place filled to over capacity in 90 days. All from cold calling,
So a few years later, my wife and I climbed on our sailboat to move to Punta Gorda, Florida.
Upon arriving, I decided I was just going to sell Real Estate rather than manage. So I looked for the weakest manager I could find so they would leave me alone. I did a good job at finding him.
It was a brand new multi-purpose building of 6,000 square feet (which I now own ). It should have had 60+ Realtors® but it only had 12 Realtors® and virtually no sales on the board. So I asked for a desk, so that I could come in everyday and get all my materials ready to go once I got my license, which was about two months away. I wanted to hit the road running the very second I had my license.
After two days, I went to the manager and said, “I think I made a mistake, you are going to close down. You have no sales and no Realtors®.” He proceeded to tell me that the building and company was owned by a wealthy man who built it and bought the franchise for his son, and that it didn’t work out, but he had money, so it wouldn’t close.
I said, “In that case, if you pay me 5% of the gross GCI on every Realtor® I recruit, I will help build the office while I’m studying to take my test.” He agreed. Then, a couple of weeks later, after I had hired ½ dozen Realtors®, I went to him and said, “The Realtors® need some training and continuing education.” He said they didn’t have any, so I said, “I’ll provide it for an additional 5% of the GCI for a year.” He took me up on it.
By this time, the absentee owner had take notice of me. In two months I had hired 18 Realtors®. To this day I think the absentee owner created a contest I won my first month to see if I was who he thought I was, an extremely hard worker.
Three months later, I owned the building - with no money down, the company- with no money down, and the absentee owner wrote me a check for $22,000 to cover the first month’s operating budget. I proceeded to build it into a six-office Prudential franchise with 200 Realtors® doing $300 million a year in business.
Because of early hard work, I stepped in the path of luck.
So with this lengthy diatribe about me, what I hope you get out of it is - THE HARDER YOU WORK, THE LUCKIER YOU GET.
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