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An Amazing Formula to Accurately Predict Your Income

Money Pool

Many years ago I was in a sales training class room and learned a simple and remarkable formula that I have never forgotten.  I want to pass it along here. 

Step 1.  The instructor told us to write down on a piece of paper the amount of income we absolutely had to have for the year.  He was very specific on the issue of this wasn’t what we “wanted” or “desired” but how much did we have to have – no matter what.  The irreducible minimum.  Step one was for us to figure out what really was our personal bottom line.  He said we have to know this number before we can proceed to step two.  He gave us about fifteen minutes to figure it out and waited until each of us let him know we had the amount and had it written down on the paper.

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Step 2.  Look at that number.

That was it.  He announced that we each were going to make that amount of money.  Most of us groaned and protested.  He said that unless we changed our ideas of how much we really had to have the number on the paper was going to be our income for the year.  As you might imagine, it turned out he was right. 

What allows income to change is the DEMAND FOR INCOME.  Not “want”.  Demand.  The same is true for savings or net worth.  There is an amount of money that is “right” for you to have.  Get much below that number and something must be done about.  Now.  If the amount on hand rises much above that set point you will see the person obsessively get rid of the “excess” money on hand.  The amount that is just right – the correct amount – varies from individual to individual greatly.  It has precisely nothing to do with intelligence or I.Q.  It has everything to do with the considerations of the person. 


The most interesting things I have ever learned on this subject were ideas I learned from L. Ron Hubbard.  Change a person’s acceptance level and you have just changed the thing that actually matters.  People are not impressed (for long anyway) with what they have.  If they already have it (and can keep it) they aren’t looking up at it – they are looking down or across.  This issue, acceptance level, is the monitoring factor in one’s income, wealth, really their environment in general.  Want to know the person’s Havingness Level?  Just look.  What do they have?  You’ve been to someone’s home at some time, wondering how could anyone live like that, in that condition of squalor.  That level of squalor is what they can accept.  Same thing in the relationship department.  We’ve all seen the man or woman who leaves a nice and decent person so they could run off with a tramp.  They could not “have” a nice and decent person.  What they could have was a tramp.

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What is fascinating (at least to me) is the realization that the person usually does not wait until he physically receives the thing he can’t easily accept to then waste it (customers, money, relationships).  The most common point of waste is prior to receiving it.  What I am about to write in this paragraph is so obvious once you see it that it will seem like you’ve always known it.  Lets take money as an example.  Most of us are currently wasting HUGE amounts of money.  That is correct, you are actively wasting a huge amount of money.  For example, how much could you make if you really applied yourself?  Really.  With what you know and what you have at your disposal right now (nothing new to learn, nothing major to buy or acquire to make the change possible) how much could you make right now if you did the things you know you “ought to be doing”?  Nothing here I’m telling you to do.  You already know this and no part of it is new data or a new insight.  So subtract the amount of annual income you currently make (last 12 months) from what you know you could make if you did the things you know you could and should do; isn’t that quite a bit of money?  That is the amount you are currently wasting.


There are actions you take which are your Dollar Productive Activities.  When you are doing those actions you are making money, lots of it.  For a Realtor a primary method of wasting income (never receive it) is to spend time (fill the day) working on things that – even when done correctly – do not lead to getting more listings or getting a buyer into escrow.  Most agents spend the bulk of their time working on things that don’t even have the charm of deliberate nonsense.  Deliberate Nonsense can be a lot of fun.  And it has its own very desirable product.  I believe that if you are not going to work on something that matters (leads directly to getting and keeping customers) in your business you are better off to goof off.  Literally.  Know that you are not working and that you are not pretending to yourself to be working.

This isn’t “work hard, play hard” – whatever the hell that means.  It is DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING WHILE YOU ARE DOING IT.  That is also from Hubbard and that is a recipe for success.  Do what you are doing while you are doing it and know that you are doing that thing.  If you’re not working, don’t work.  If you are working, work.  None of this is to imply that work – even hard work – can’t be a lot of fun. 

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You can factually change your income by changing your viewpoint of “how much you really have to have”.  I understand that seems simple.  It is.  Actually, it is really the only way one ever does change their income.  They change their mind about what is “necessary”.  Then there is the other part: DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING WHILE YOU ARE DOING IT.

The future is yours.

Written By

Russell has been an Associate Broker with John Hall & Associates since 1978 and ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the U.S. Most recently The Wall Street Journal recognized the Top 200 Agents in America, awarding Russell # 25 for number of units sold. Russell has been featured in many books such as, "The Billion Dollar Agent" by Steve Kantor and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller and has often been a featured speaker for national conventions and routinely speaks at various state and local association conventions. Visit him also at and



  1. Benjamin Bach

    May 27, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Change your thinking, change your life.

  2. Cheryl Johnson

    May 27, 2008 at 7:54 am

    But, Russell, you didn’t say HOW a person changes changes their thinking? Sticky notes on the bathroom mirror? Affirmations? Meditation? Listening to CDs?

    OK. I agree, “change your thinking, change your life”. So someone please tell us step-by-step ~how~ to change our thinking. 🙂

  3. Barry Cunningham

    May 27, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Lost me on “L. Ron Hubbard”

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    May 27, 2008 at 8:55 am

    My neighbor has started selling Matco Tools for a living. I’m going to be lending him my copy of one of Tom Hopkins’ sales books, not so much for the content within but for the basic concept that selling isn’t nearly as difficult as we often make it seem.

    I’ve listened to Russell’s podcasts. I can’t say that I’ve adopted specifics – I don’t even recall all that many specifics. But I absorbed the overall message quite easily … my success depends on me, not on the market, not on my clients or the lenders or the title companies.

    I succeed or fail in this business (and elsewhere) based on what I do, not what’s done to me.

    That realization alone was worth the listen.

  5. Erion Shehaj

    May 27, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I know many Realtors whose blogging constitutes “Deliberate Nonsense” while others’ is definitely a “Dollar Producing Activity”.

  6. Vicki Moore

    May 27, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Cheryl – It’s a minute by minute – thought by thought – practice. It’s to become aware of what you’re thinking about, determining if that thought is productive and positive, then if it’s not, change it. Practice. Practice. Practice.

    Sticky notes on the bathroom mirror? Affirmations? Meditation? Listening to CDs? Yes! All of it. Friends, family, movies, tv, music – that too. Surround yourself with positive, light-filled thoughts and people, be conscious of what you’re thinking and doing.

    On my way home from work in the evening, I list all of the people and things I’m grateful for. You could have a “grateful” journal. Look for ways that work for you.

  7. BawldGuy Talking

    May 27, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Russell — As you and I have shared with each other before, a universal law is a universal law regardless of whose mouth it comes out of.

    You quote Hubbard, I quote Solomon. It all says the same thing: As a man thinks, so he is.

    Forget the author, but Grandma used to tell us whether you think you can or think you can’t — you’re right. 🙂

    You’ve knocked another one outa da park, Russell.

  8. Barry Cunningham

    May 27, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I’m all for the power of positive in that regard I concur. But like you said Jeff…your Grandmother said it and King Solomon way before her. othing earth shattering in this revelation except for the fact that it needed to be said. That’s the real problem I see in the industry today.

    Everyone needs some form of motivation…I guess.

  9. Sabrina

    May 27, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Tell this to the people who went through the Great Depression. They HAD to have jobs. Yet they were unemployed. The same goes for anyone who has been through a drought or famine. They HAD to have water and food, yet it wasn’t available — and many such folks died. I think it’s good to be positive, but you can write down what you have to have all day long and not get it at the end of the year. We have gotten so wealthy that these positive thinking perspectives seem reasonable, but they do not seem reasonable to people who have been through really hard times and been unable to do anything about it. I think things are more complicated than the premises of positive thinking, although I think there is value to it.

  10. Greg Broadbent

    May 27, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Good point Sabrina, but I still think the logic holds up. I think in that extreme situation some where along the line they just missed one of the things they HAD to do. Other people survived, I think they had to do whatever they did.

  11. BawldGuy Talking

    May 27, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    I truly don’t mean to be harsh here, as there is some real suffering out there amongst the RE community. Still, there are two classes of agents.

    Those who DO, and those who Try.

    Do you ‘try’ to prospect daily, or do you ‘prospect daily?’

    Labeling this line of thinking as ‘positive thinking’ replaces doing with trying.

    Those for whom results are the only measuring stick, don’t ‘try’ to do anything — they’re too busy getting things actually done.

    As a young agent I was constantly told, “Don’t make excuses Brown, make good.”

    I wasn’t allowed to try.

  12. ines

    May 27, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    2006 was our toughest year – my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He looked at me before his first surgery and said, I’m beating this. That’s all it took. Positive outlook in life counts for so much more than we give credit to. I like the Power of Intention -we all have our methods. Thanks Russell.

  13. Late Night Austin Real Estate

    May 28, 2008 at 2:21 am

    I dont know. I think there is a place for positive thinking. And I think people dont work very hard at times because they have low expectations of themselves. But positive thinking can be dangerous. I had a friend who started a business that was taking on loans. I asked what would happen if the business failed. He said he wasnt going to even consider the possibility “that was negative thinking”. The business didnt succeed. As you can guess the story didnt end well.

    Personally I have started ventures with several contingency plans if they failed. My business did ok even though I practiced “negative thinking”. So while I think there is certainly a lot of power in positive thinking I think at times it depends on the situation.

  14. Karen Rice

    May 28, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Well, there are going to be extremes and exceptions to any rule. I’m sure however that the scrappiest survivors of The Great Depression may not have survived if they had a “try” mentality as opposed to a “do” mentality. Not belittling victims – and nobody can really do much to help drought or famine. But again, that was an extreme situation and certainly not applicable to the real estate market today.

  15. Jay Thompson

    May 28, 2008 at 10:38 am

    “Do or do not… there is no try.”

    — Yoda

  16. Karen Rice

    May 28, 2008 at 10:48 am

    LOL small world…I just quoted that Yoda tidbit somewhere else, I forget where…

  17. Real Estate Blog Girl

    May 28, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Well said, Russell. You make your own destiny. That is an interesting question to ask anyone- most of us underestimate our value – once you realize you deserve more you can earn more.

  18. Sue

    May 29, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    I truly believe that its all a matter of how you think, process information and that you do make your own destiny. You can choose to be happy or not. I just purchased the DVD “The Secret” based on the recommendation of several realtors. They felt it really helped them. Has anyone heard of it or seen it?

  19. Benjamin Bach

    May 29, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Hey Sue!
    Yes, I’ve seen it; we screened it at least 5 times in the last year at my Keller Williams office.
    It doesn’t talk enough about the need to take inspired action, but it is a great introduction to some fundamental truths.

  20. Susan

    May 29, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks for the input Ben. One of the realtors was a KW agent. She felt it helped her tremendously.

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