Lessons I Learned From My Real Estate Professor

November 22, 2012


Athena: The companion of heroes (source)

Beginning: Chasing Money Thru Real Estate

In 2005, I decided the way to make massive amounts of money was to become a licensed Realtor.

I had no idea at that time that I was entering the market exactly at the peak of the bubble. I didn’t realize that at that time, every 1 out of 3 people were either a realtor or knew of a realtor in their close social circle. Everyone was jumping on board & that should have been a warning sign to stay away.

I also had zero interest in houses or real estate, I just thought it was a great way to make money.

Long story short, I was only a Realtor for about a year or so. During which, I had one sale (helped my best friend buy his first house) + one listing (helped friend of my brother list her condo, she ended up rescinding later because her father got mad). That was the extend of my real estate “career.”

I was grossly unqualified, green & really had no passion or work ethic for that industry.

I actually despised the job. Real estate is not meant for me. It’s meant for bright cheery folk who can please smart & dumb clients equally. You have to be a well-dressed, cheerful, sociable type who can sell the shit out of any house on the market.

I hated open houses where I would sit in an empty house all day, waiting for potential homebuyers to come thru. I secretly hoped no one would come so that I can just sit there and pass the time. Strangers scared me.

Any time someone did come, I would almost have a heart attack, because I really knew nothing about houses other than the fact that I had lived in one for most of my life.

I have too much of an ego to be subservient to clients.

I also don’t really like working very hard! I don’t like driving people around, showing them house after house, hoping they’d make their irrational minds up to just buy a damn house so that I could finally make my first dollar.

But like everything in my life so far, the things I learned through that time period would change the course of my success career in unexpected ways….

Profound Lessons Learned From My Professor:

I did learn something valuable during that time period that I still remember every now and then. I want to share three quotes with you that my real estate teacher told me.

I took the required real estate class at a community college, taught by Mr. Carl DeMoon.

In the brief three months that I was in his class, this humorous wise yoda-like teacher helped me out tons.

He was so funny, relaxed, down to earth & humble.

First, instead of teaching us random real estate theories, the whole class was focused on passing the tough real estate exam. Every class, we would go thru old practice exams, answer each question in class and he would teach us the theory behind it.

This was profound. I had never met a teacher before who was so focused on results. There was no bs here. He knew the main hurdle was to just pass the exam.

Second, he told stories of inspiration.

About how one of his students failed the licensing exam something like 7 times in a row (maybe it was more). Then finally she passed the exam, went on to become a highly successful & wealthy realtor. The moral of this story being that you may not pass the first time, or even the 5th time. But if you keep it up, you will pass and you can become more successful than the person who passed the exam on his first try.

I think most people failed on their first try. I definitely failed, by one point. We had to get 80% to pass. I got 79%. Or maybe it was 70% to pass and I got 69%. I just know I missed it by one percentage point.

Then the next try, I passed.

Mr. DeMoon also had an open door policy. He was willing to meet with any student, past or present, and share all his wisdom, on one condition: buy him lunch. This was hilarious and ended up being true.

I’m sure he would have been happy to share even without lunch but I took him up on that offer, twice.

I was a shy nervous wreck at that time with no social skills or hopes of a bright future. I did have a burning desire for change.

I was just pissed at being such an amateur and really wanted to show the world that I was meant for greatness. I never even dreamed of achieving that goal but I had this anger within that fueled me.

These are the three things he told me during our meetings:

1. Smiles go everywhere

I always had a sour look on my face (probably still do) and he told me that rule #1 was to smile at everyone. That puts people at ease and more open to conversation/sales.

Smile at everyone, like you mean it.

We know this to be true in the movie world – Julia Roberts, one of the most successful & highest paid actresses is known for her “million dollar smile.”

Successful politicians like Obama or Clinton or Reagan can smile at you and make you feel like you’re at the center of the world.

People who can smile easily & look like they mean it are super valuable. You can’t just fake smile with your mouth. You have to smile so that your eyes sparkle. There is a difference. And it can be learned.

I’m not there yet but it’s something I haven’t forgotten and try to practice whenever I’m looking at the bathroom mirror.

2. I can’t read people’s minds

I kept telling him that I knew what other people were thinking, usually negative things about me. He told me to give my realtor business cards to everyone I met and I contested that they would hate me bothering them. They would think how silly it was of me to annoy them.

He told me that one of the rules I need to understand is that I can’t read people’s minds.

Then while our waiter came over to fill our water (we were at an indian buffet), he took one of my business cards, smiled at the waiter and told him that I was a new realtor he has to know about and gave him my card.

I was shocked at the ease with which Mr. DeMoon was able to do that. At that time, I couldn’t even fathom me doing something like that. It was like a cool magic trick.

I assumed the waiter would frown and refuse to take my card. Maybe even kick us out of the restaurant (far fetched but negative thoughts like this used to be filled in my mind).

The waiter smiled, looked at me, then looked at the card, thanked us & put the card in his pocket and left.

Mr DeMoon then said that the waiter was impressed and even took the time to look at the card, that it was a good sign.

This same lesson, I had to learn the hard way during my pua dating bootcamp. You may remember that my teacher, Johnny Wolf, had to practically yell at me on day one to get out of my head. That I don’t know what the girls are thinking.

“Stop thinking, get out of your head!” was probably yelled at me (in a nice way) dozens of times during that bootcamp.

3. In the land of the blind, one eyed man is king

Mr. DeMoon said that to succeed in real estate, I have to be the one eyed man in a land full of blind people.

Meaning, I have to be willing and able to do things most others wouldn’t.

This meant going around the neighborhood, knocking on each door and introducing myself to everyone.

This meant going up to strangers and starting a conversation, then give them my card in case they knew of someone who could use the help of a realtor.

This meant making cold calls. This meant going to businesses to put my business cards. Etc.

Do things that most people are scared to do.

At that time, even thinking of doing any of the above made me poop my pants. Knocking on strangers’ doors or cold calls were the last thing I ever wanted to do. It’s up there with public speaking and falling from an airplane without a parachute.

But the essence of the lesson, I have not forgotten. It is one of my reasons a slow turtle (me) can beat a faster hare.

Final Thoughts:

I never did become a successful realtor.

I just could care less about houses and my personality is not cut out to face that much rejection. I’m more of a behind the scenes online marketer type rather than a front line upbeat charming salesperson.

But these things Mr. DeMoon told me back then have been permanently engrained in my mind.

It’s unbelievable that he took the time to help me out this profoundly, all for the small cost of an indian buffet. Amazing!

Anyways, I just want to pass these lessons onto you and thank Mr. Carl DeMoon for taking the time to mentor a newbie nervous wreck like me.

Maybe he saw something in me that even I couldn’t see? Or he enjoyed helping anyone who was willing to ask him? The short time he spent w/ me has had a really life changing effect on me and I’m really thankful.

Today is the American tradition of Thanksgiving, a day to show appreciation and gratitude.

And in my 20 years of living here, this is the first time I really understand the meaning of gratitude & want to give thanks to someone older & wiser who believed in me, even if I didn’t believe in myself!

Thanks, Mr. DeMoon. I really appreciate it.