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Will the real Matt Stigliano please stand up?

So I’ve been banging my head against a wall (ala Quiet Riot) for some time now, trying to figure out exactly what it is that I want to kick off this series with.  I obviously want to start with some huge explosive firework-laden display of all I have to offer.  I’ve written a few things, deleted a few things, and saved a few things for later.  I’ve been back and forth with Brad Nix lately via email and we got into a conversation that really sealed the deal for me.

First things first, there’s something you should know about me.

For the past fourteen years of my life, I was a b-list rockstar.  I never was terribly comfortable with the word rockstar, ’cause it always made me feel like my ego wouldn’t fit through a set of French doors, but the facts are the facts.  I’ve rocked crowds from 10 to 100,000 in 40 countries on 5 continents and 49 states.  I’ve been to Russia more times than a Cold War spy, come down with food poisoning in the rain forests of Brazil, and dined on illegal shellfish in a ocean side restaurant in Croatia.  I’ve seen and done things most people would kill me for a chance to do.  Fast forward to today and I am here.  A real estate agent ready to take on the world…or at least San Antonio, TX.

I decided to begin my career in real estate as the music business was faltering and the world of real estate was just beginning to show signs of a slow down.  I decided if anytime was “the right time,” it was now.  I had grown tired of the mental, emotional, and physical strain of being a guitar player on tour.  There comes a time when you need to unpack that bag of toiletries that you keep at the ready, “just in case,” when eating out of paper bags on moving buses just doesn’t cut it, and when being on an airplane just doesn’t excite your sense of adventure anymore.  So here I am.

So now what do I do?

In speaking with various AG writers and friends I began to think of the concept of identity (you might call it “branding”) and just who I was trying to portray myself as.  Not that I wanted to make up any sort of fictitious character that I would perform real estate activities under (like I did with music), just trying to find who I am and how to present that to a world who has no clue I exist.  At first, I went with boring ol’ Matt Stigliano.  Of course, I’m not really boring, but think about it.  How many agents named “Matt” are there?  Forget “Stigliano,” ’cause no one can ever spell that right anyway.  Even after I spell it out using the NATO alphabet for them.

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I had decided to go with the “rockstar” image as part of my identity and began to think about how I could do it.  As Brad and I were emailing back and forth, I realized that I had been missing the point.  I was using the word “rockstar,” but still was acting as “Matt Stigliano.”  Why couldn’t I be the rockstar turned agent?  Why couldn’t I use my former self to build my new self?  I had been afraid that my past life might make some people think I was not capable, credible, or sane.  I thought little old ladies might be turned away at the thought of some crazy crack-head rockstar biting the heads off bats.  I thought those that dug deep enough into my band might find us offensive, childish, or just too off the wall and that would become my identity.  The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that people with those attitudes about what I did for a living probably aren’t the people I want to work with.  They’re not part of who I am trying to market myself and my work to.  They’re not who I would want to affiliate myself with.  My band was popular among people who remember the first Rentals record, people who know that Rick Rubin produced some of the best metal records and some of the best rap records, and people who remember Metallica before James got sober and Lars got angry.  These people are now in their mid-20s to their late 30s (some are even creeping into the 40s).  These are the people I identify with.  These are the people I want to be an agent for.

“That’s great for you, but what about me?”

So, you’re a new agent and you’re thinking this is all well and good and great for my ego, but how does it help you?  I’m hear to tell you that we all have something to us that makes us who we are.  What’s that, you’re a stay at home mom?  Its all about your love, care, and attention to your children.  Apply those same ideas to real estate.  You’re a computer nerd?  We all love technology in this Web 2.0 world.  Show that off.  You’re a Texas Longhorns fan?  If you live in Texas, you know that when college football starts more people wander about wearing the pumpkin-stylized orange gear than you can count on both hands.  Find those fans and make them your fans!

Finding your identity is one of the first steps and probably one of the harder ones.  Most people don’t like to think about themselves that in depth.  With a bit of thought though, you can stand out in the crowd and be someone your buyers and sellers can relate to on a deeper level than just “I think my agent will work hard for me.”  Its all about connecting with your audience and by allowing them to relate to you, you’ve taken the first step.  Make them “know” you and they’ll “like” you and eventually “trust” you as one of their closest advisors.

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Written By

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."



  1. Drew Fristoe

    September 22, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Awesome post Matt! I am glad you brought up this topic. It is something that I am still struggling with, even after being in the business for 7 months now. I know that I am a pretty good guy and I know how I want to brand myself. I am just afraid I am going to scare people away (I am a little much, even more myself sometimes!). I guess I just have to get over it!

    Again, Great Post! I cant wait to read more!

  2. Nicole Boynton

    September 22, 2008 at 8:51 am

    You have a great story and it makes sense to use it to brand yourself. I can’t wait to see how you entertwine your music past with your real estate future. You must have a million stories! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Jack Leblond

    September 22, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Nerd? I resemble that remark. Welcome, and good luck. I forget who said it, but the quote seems to fit: “those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter.”


  4. Susie Blackmon

    September 22, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Terrific post and well worth the read. I’m addicted to blogging and writing, and have discovered I love photography, blogging and writing more than RE!!! But I do try to be myself on my blogging website built by the great Real Estate Tomato guys – – but am forced to leave out that I love sex and/with Cowboys.

    I look forward to following you, especially if you are a Cowboy!

  5. Matt Wilkins

    September 22, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Great example for all of us on the huge thought that has to go into branding. I got into the business when there was a stream of activity so unforutnately I was not able to take the time to intially brand myself. Luckily, it evolved through word of mouth and what friends/family/sphere of influence members said when recommending me. My brand has become a combination of my age (one of only a few RE professionals in the area under 30), extensive market knowledge, slightly laid back attitude, and use of technology to make hte process more efficient and interactive for the customer

  6. Pilchard

    September 22, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Hooray for Boobies

    (Yes that is on topic)

  7. Lisa Sanderson

    September 22, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Great choice for your first post, Matt! I can’t wait to follow your journey in to real estate rockstardom. You are right about the importance of finding your identity. If you try to be all things to all people, you will kill yourself trying to keep it all going, go broke trying to target *everyone*, and just plain ol’ get burnt out. Focus on your niche and you can’t lose.

  8. Dan Brough

    September 22, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Good advice. We all need to be who we are. If you try to be someone you are not people will eventually see through your disguise. Keep on rocking and selling.

  9. Bob

    September 22, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I have yet to see someone limit themselves to a demographic based on age other than seniors and have a recession proof business model. I am very curious to see how this works out for you.

  10. Matt Wilkins

    September 22, 2008 at 9:59 am


    If you are referring to my comment, I do not specifically limit mysef to a specific age demographic. I just have found that my recent and current client demographic has been either in my age bracket (under 40), tech-saavy (and want to work with an agent who is), sphere of influence (social circles, volunteer work, etc.), or referrals/repeats. Like the other Matt said, consumers like to have some common bond with their Real Estate Professional.

  11. Benn Rosales

    September 22, 2008 at 10:05 am

    One celeb comes to mind- Gene Simmons. Before my time, he was a legendary rockstar, and lived a wild wild life, today, he is a shrewd business man. There are so many levels in which to hang your hat when you look at the Simmons Empire and how he made his transition- point is, people just like the guy.

    He didn’t run away from his past, rather he used it to his advantage. I’d work with everyone, always being the charming professional, and who cares if you were a celeb once, your clients certainly won’t mind.

  12. Matt Stigliano

    September 22, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Bob – I was just heading out and had plans to make comments later, but saw yours and just wanted to follow up on it. I did not mean to suggest some sort of age defined branding, my point was that the people that are in those age groups helped me to make my decision on whether or not the “rockstar” side of me could be a viable part of my “agent” side. The fact they are the people who would most “get it” was the point. My point was that I had feared my former career as part of my real estate career as it might turn someone off who didn’t care for what I did as a musician (age isn’t the only reason someone might not like us) or had certain notions of what a “rockstar” is (hence the line “crazy crack-head rockstar biting the heads off bats”).

    Basically, if an 28 year old and an 88 year old came along to buy real estate and called me, they’d both get the same guy. The only difference is while driving in the car to look at houses, the 28 year old and I might wind up talking about me teaching Tom Araya how to play blackjack in Vegas one night, whereas the 88 year old and I probably wouldn’t.

  13. Ben Goheen

    September 22, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Good post Matt. However, don’t forget the best album Rick Rubin ever produced – the Chili Pepper’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik. If I had to be stranded with only 1 CD this would be it.

  14. Dan Green

    September 22, 2008 at 10:35 am

    You have to be from Philly to get, and I mean truly get, putting “Wawa” in a song title. Good stuff.

  15. Matt Stigliano

    September 22, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Drew – I knew I wasn’t the only one. I’m glad to hear that its something you struggle with, as you can see, its something I’ve wrestled with and will probably continue to do so. I’m sure there will be moments when I think “uh oh, what have I done,” but in my opinion that’s the nature of the game. You can always second guess and play “what if” games with your ideas and ways of doing things, but in order to be confident, comfortable, and (I think) successful, you’ve got to be you. I had an agent once who was so phony it wasn’t funny and she drove me nuts and we wound up at each other’s throats towards the end of my home sale. As a consumer, I’ve learned that if I don’t like the agent on a personal level (they don’t have to be my best friend, but I need to be able to relate to them on some level), its going to be one hell of a long ugly ride.

    Susie – I’m about as far from a Cowboy as you can get. Unless you count Pantera as country music.

    Lisa – “…try to be all things to all people, you will kill yourself…” – well said. I have no interest in trying to remember who I need to be when I look at the Caller ID.

    Matt Wilkins – I know you (in the Web-sense) and based on what I’ve seen/read of you, I know that if I was looking to buy a house in your neck of the woods, I’d give you a call. That call would all be based on what I know from your blog and Twitter…so its evident that a bit of showing people “you” can go along way to me. That’s exactly what I hope to accomplish.

    Benn – Gene Simmons is a great example of how to take an identity to the next level. I was never much of a Kiss fan (I liked them, just wasn’t crazy for them), but I do respect Gene’s genius.

    Ben – Good call. I wasn’t a huge RHCP fan, but that album changed my opinions completely.

    Dan – I would give my right arm for a Wawa Hoagie right now. And yes everyone, its called a hoagie – not a sub, not a hero, not a sandwich. Got it?

  16. Dale Chumbley

    September 22, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Matt, let the Thunder roll! Great post and you are spot on. Know who you are and who you want to work with. Life is too short to try and mold yourself into someone you are not. Will everyone love you? No. Will everyone love me? No. That is okay, there are plenty of real estate professionals out there to satisfy everyone.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our sharing of your “old times” and look forward to sharing of this new journey of yours too! Welcome to AG!

  17. Bob

    September 22, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Matt, thanks for clarifying. I have coached agents for some time and have had new agents give me business plans 100% tailored to a demographic they identify with and not understand a year later why they cant survive on that.

  18. Bill Lublin

    September 22, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for reminding everyone that Hoagies are Hoagies and not any other (no doubt delightful) working class sandwich – and you can’t get them anywhere but Philly – just like a Philly Cheesesteak is automatically suspect – if you have to say “Philly” Cheesesteak it isn’t – here its just a cheesesteak (and anywhere else its just not a cheesesteak) )

    All of which goes to the point of your well written and insightful post- Branding is a word that is over-used and often used improperly. Frequently I see it used to describe the process of creating an artificial persona representing to the world what you want them to percieve you as rather then what you are.
    Your decision, to embrace those things that make you unique, is far more significant then branding – and far more honest (which mean to me that it has more substance). You didn’t choose to represent yourself to the world as something, you chose to represent yourself to the world as yourself, and to remind the world why the things that make you different are the reasons they should run, not walk. to do business with you.

    And BTW I agree with you Gene Simmons, not my favorite musician, but as a marketing person, he ROCKS (who else tells Kodak & the Donald that Trump is wrong – on the Donald’s own show?)

  19. Matt Stigliano

    September 22, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    D.J. Dale – Keep the hits coming on Twitter…and the royalty checks. I have no desire to be loved by everyone. I wouldn’t mind being loved by a whole ton of people though. There are plenty of agents to satisfy everyone and the one thing that really impacted me when I first started was hearing someone say don’t be afraid to not work with someone. It made a lot of sense to me. If you know going into a client/agent relationship that its going to be a mess, you should probably rethink it before you start. Not to say you should back away from a challenge, but if you know you’ll have ulcers before the end of the day, it might be best to let it go.

    Bob – I’m glad you said it. That’s the kind of comments I want to see as The Stigliano Chronicles continue. I’m bound to make some mistakes or miss something that someone with experience might catch. The idea of this (for me at least) is two-fold. One to see the ideas and experiences of different agents (both new and experienced) and use that as a sort of “how to” guide for new agents. Not that I’m writing some manual, but think of this as a place for newer agents to be able to see all the (sometimes) differing opinions and ideas. The second idea is to gain my own experience from the various people here. I have an opportunity to grow right here in front of everyone’s eyes and talk honestly about the good, the bad, and the ugly – all the while having a conversation back and forth about how to make it better. Its win-win if you ask me.

    Bill – You’re from Philly so everything you say is law (now that I’ve offended everyone not from Philly…just kidding – to them, not you Bill). I actually found an okay cheesesteak here in San Antonio (its just okay though)…at least they didn’t try to fill it with peppers, onions, and mushrooms like so many places do (that stuff can be added, but doesn’t come on a cheesesteak unless you order it that way). The post comments are great too. I’m happy to hear that I’m not the only one that sometimes feels that someone’s branding is just a marketing gimmick that was created in order to be different or stand out. Maybe some people will feel mine is a gimmick. Its more than possible, but my goal is to give people (in Brad Nix’s words) an “all access pass” to the world of San Antonio real estate. I want my clients to feel like VIP rockstars. I want them to have fun while buying and selling and know that I will do everything I can to take care of them during and after the transaction. Real estate is very serious business, but as I’ve learned in my own life, you can still have fun doing very serious things.

  20. Bob

    September 22, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    No worries Matt. Throwing things out for public debate is a great way to test things. Sometimes you find that what didnt work was a matter of execution. Others times a simple twist, or even turning the concept upside down, takes a discarded idea (“It didn’t work”) and turns it into marketing genius.

    I’m betting on your experiences and perspectives on things shaped by those experiences help push the envelop quite a bit.

  21. Kim Wood

    September 22, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Welcome again, Matt!

    haHUM Wawa Hoagies are a staple in my weekly routine 🙂

    Rockstar turned Real Estate agent………. way to rock the house !!! (I crack myself up)

  22. Brad Nix

    September 22, 2008 at 9:32 pm


    I love how you opened with a Storytellers set to bring us in to the decisions a rookie agent faces. The best part is showing us all who you really are and that you’re not going to try to be anything else to your clients. I am glad that I got to be a part of your decision-making process and only wish the opportunity was available for me 11 years ago when I first started in the business, but I wish I was a rockstar even more!

    You’re going to great just by being yourself.

    p.s. I’m Friends with P.

  23. stephanie stigliano

    September 23, 2008 at 11:54 am

    U did what u told me U wanted to. i am happy for u. love you

  24. Thomas Johnson

    September 23, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Matt: I am a real estate dinosaur. That will give you an idea of my age. When I hear the term rock star, it goes beyond generational constraints. Branding yourself a rock star Realtor delivering rock star service the possibilities are endless. How thickly you lay on the schmaltz is up to you, but I would take every advantage or your experience. In your rock star life, you KNOW what rock star service is so you can deliver it. And that my friend, is a pitch you can give to an 80 year old, or, a 60 year old CEO looking for an Alamo Heights estate.

  25. Matt Stigliano

    September 25, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Brad – I know you’re down with P. That much is obvious. I do owe you some thanks for the push and inspiration. Benn and Lani helped get me on that path and you helped seal it. Its funny, cause I felt great after you and I spoke about it, then mulled it over and wrote the post. Then I got it up here and I could see just how important this decision was as the comments started rolling in. Its really been quite interesting to me.

    Thomas – I welcome comments from the dinosaurs! And what you say is exactly what I’m after. Rockstar treatment to my clients. An “all access pass to San Antonio real estate” (yes, its coming together) if you will. It just makes sense. I’ve done some searches for various google-combos of rockstar and real estate/realty and found several interesting sites with people who are using the idea, but (in my opinion) lacking the vision of just how far this identity (in my case based on reality) can go. In the most recent heyday of real estate (before I even had a license) I had some great ideas on an awesome global network of real estate professionals that delivered “rockstar service” to high end clients and had spoken with some people I knew about the idea. For now, I’ll keep that waiting in the wings, ’cause I want to get this going first, but I think it would be this taken to a whole new level.

  26. Bob

    September 25, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Matt, a few years back a guy I know in Vegas went into real estate after having been a concierge in one of the higher end resorts. He milked the heck out of that concept until the market tanked.

    Then there is the agent here who has been in the high end biz for 30 years after having worked for Saks 5th Ave in the same high end market. What she learned at Saks about catering to the needs (but mostly whims) of the rich white female was the foundation of how she works her real estate business.

    Even though I am licensed, if I were buying or selling a high end property in La Jolla, she is the one I call.

    I think the all access pass/rockstar service is a marrioage of the two I mentioned. Do it right and you are golden.

  27. Kim

    December 15, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Branding? Hmm. Sorry I think I may have branded you. I found you to be such a highly intelligent, gentle, compassionate person, I branded you that way. You just didn’t seem to fit in “my perceptions” of the generic “rock star” persona.I’m glad I met you, sans the alter ego.
    Good luck Matt – you rock!

    So, is Texas Holdem any different in Texas?

  28. Lisa

    December 15, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    HI Matt,

    Wow that was really good, ever think of writing a book, you have a way with words and could write a great book – the real story of the bloodhound gang? – hope you and Vicki are well, we miss you guys, guess you wont be home for the holidays, boo, well Merry Christmas and happy new year

    Lisa (Kowalski – just in case you didn’t know)

  29. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 16, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Good post, even a year later. Congrats on your anniversary!

    Rob M

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