Made with love...

I started thinking about how I ended up as a real estate broker when asked to speak to a group of up-and-coming real estate agents recently. I am typically so focused on moving forward; I don't often think about the past. I didn't even know what a real estate broker was when I considered what I wanted to do professionally. So I wrote the story of my unlikely journey to the present, and here it is. 

I sat in a private patient consulting room in the surgery department of the hospital. My sister-in-law and her cousin (who is like her sister) were in the room with me. The door was open, and I watched surgical staff walk back and forth going about their workdays. Then, I saw the surgeon stop briefly in front of the room, and he looked right at me. We made eye contact, and I could see the dread in his eyes. My heart sank because I knew what he was dreading. He was about to do what I would imagine is the worst part of his job. He was about to come into my room and tell me my 29-year-old wife, Stephanie, had ovarian cancer. 

In that single moment, on September 22, 2014, the trajectory of my life changed. It is still hard to believe how impactful this one moment in my life has been. It was then I learned my wife was at the beginning of a long and ugly war against an incurable disease. The surgery resulted in many complications, leading to more surgeries, procedures, and hospital stays than I can count. Unfortunately, it also removed our ability to have children naturally, abruptly ending a journey we were starting together. 

Earlier in 2014, Stephanie started her career as a real estate agent. A good one too. She had a zeal and passion for her real estate career, and people felt it. In just a short time, it was not only clear she was in the right career, but she was a rising star in the industry. Her enthusiasm was infectious, and I started to understand more about how real estate works. I was terrified when she quit her job with a salary and benefits to begin a role that was 100% commission-based. Cancer slowed her career down for a few months, but it didn't take her long to get back in the groove of growing her real estate business. 

I was fortunate to work with great people and dear friends when Stephanie was diagnosed. She went through a particularly grueling chemotherapy regimen, which led to many hospital stays, infusions, transfusions, procedures, and surgeries. I tried to refocus on my career as a recruiter when Stephanie's treatment ended, but my priorities changed when cancer entered our lives. I could never really get my heart back into my work. Before September 22, I was career-focused and looking to start a family, and after, I am nursing my wife back to life and worrying about losing her. I was shaken by it all.

Stephanie's cancer diagnosis provided me with perspective. I had a greater appreciation of the value of time with her. Despite working for months on creating a new headhunting venture with a colleague, I started to question the direction I was taking. I envisioned how I would feel at 50 years old, looking back on my decision to start a business that would consume much of my time and energy for the 5-10 years after Stephanie's diagnosis. I felt I would have regrets. However, if I had the opportunity to do something with Stephanie, I don't believe I would regret it. So in late 2015, I decided to forego the new venture and joined Stephanie in real estate. 

If you had asked Stephanie and me if we could work together before her diagnosis, we would tell you "hell no" when we stopped laughing. But, working with her through her battle with cancer taught us that we make a well-balanced team. So, when we started, we gave ourselves an ultimatum that now serves as our charter. We decided we would work together in real estate only if we have fun doing it, are excellent, grow wealth for our family, and share it with people in whom we believe and care. 

The journey began on January 1, 2016. Starting from scratch, I became a student of the industry and Stephanie:

  1. I needed to know the why's and how's of how a real estate transaction worked.
  2. I needed to understand what made agents successful. How do they get clients? How do they make money, organize their time, and manage their business?
  3. I needed to learn all the various business models that existed in the real estate world.

I met with peers from other brokerages, shared drinks with millionaire real estate agents, and read books about the most successful real estate models that existed. All the while, Stephanie and I were finding our groove. 

We nurtured our practice and watched it grow exponentially. We built processes, operated on principles, and worked relentlessly to improve every step. For years we built, designed, and rebuilt our operations. It was our nature to share and work to help our peer agents. When we find something that works, we want to share it with people we like and support. We mentored agents, taught classes, and shared tactics as much as we could. 

After some time working within our 500 agent brokerage, we realized we wouldn't be successful in changing the strategic direction of a brokerage that has existed for more than a century. Instead, we started to envision a business promoting our ideas, practices, and philosophies. We had something to share with agents of real value. So, we created a brokerage and now share our knowledge, successes, and investment with people we care about and support. We are still designing, building, and then rebuilding our processes and services, but our focus is to share and to enable. 

In short, my journey to where I am now is one of love and the importance of time with those I love. My professional journey, although unexpected, is the right one. 

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