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Falling off the wagon – scraped knees and ice cream

Red Wagon

WHAM!

There was a rock sticking out of the ground on the hill you were speeding down. You tried to jump the wagon on a homemade ramp at your neighbors. Your big sister whipped you around a corner at high speed knowing full well that the wagon would tip over, spilling it’s contents – namely, you. I’m sure we all have stories of falling off the wagon. It hurts. Of course there’s the figurative “falling off the wagon.” That one involves a pretty large mess and although I’ve seen it happen to friends one too many times, I’m not qualified to talk about that one. I’ll leave that to the professionals.

This is a different kind of falling off the wagon – again figurative in nature, but this is a real estate site, so you can guess where I’m going with this. If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you’ll know I had a rough few months. I came off a high last year where I was cruising through contracts. Clients were clamoring for my time and I was having a ball. I was busy in that “I’m running like crazy, but this is what I was born to do” kind of way. I wanted more. I wanted to keep making everyday that exciting and profitable.

Then, the personal things cropped up, I’ve discussed that before and don’t want to rehash it, but it slapped me upside the head and left me in a bit of a rough patch. I handled it well I think, I’m sure it could have been much worse, but hey, I’m human and yes it did affect me.

As the Winter started to fade, I grew excited as our weather turned warmed (Spring in Texas starts a lot earlier than the calendar says it does). Problem was, it was quiet. The quiet, the lack of emails and phone calls, made me worry a bit, but I knew it would get better. It had to, right? Even though the Spring probably wouldn’t be like the “good ‘ol days” of real estate, I predicted good things in my market and I wasn’t alone.

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So where was everyone? Why wasn’t I out there selling houses? Was there a reason I didn’t have a bunch of new listings? Must be the market. Must be the advertising. Must be anything but me.

Rewind to better times.

You’ve read about all of my self-exploration and critical thinking over what I can improve and what I am learning about motivation, but there’s a bit more to it all than that.

“The wagon.” For me, the wagon represented the fundamental basics of real estate business. The contracts and concepts – I’ve got that (I still have tons to learn, but that’s an ongoing thing for all of us – even the most experienced). No, this wagon was the other part of real estate, the one we all struggle with from time to time. Prospecting and keeping the pipeline full. I got so high on the business of working with clients, that I forgot I needed more of them to continue the wild ride. I let my calls and notes slip. I stopped looking for opportunity. I fell off the wagon and got my knees scraped pretty bad. I hadn’t just bruised my tailbone, I had bruised my ego.

As I sat there looking at my bloodied knees, I spent my time dwelling on the fact that the wagon wasn’t moving along at breakneck speed anymore. I wondered how I would get it rolling again. Instead of jumping in and continuing the exhilarating ride, I spent more time thinking about the crash.

Scraped knees and ice cream.

A scraped knee stings quite a bit, but usually, it’s just a superficial cut. Nothing an ice cream cone wouldn’t fix. I found myself reaching out to my broker and some of the agents I admire in the business. I found out that they had stumbled too, experienced problems like mine and deal with them in different ways. The difference between me (at the time) and them was simple, they hopped back in the wagon and had the wind in their hair again.

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I turned my wagon over – back onto its wheels. I had sat there too long wondering what to do and not reacting. Talking to other agents, I got advice and some inspiration. So, I picked up the phone, I got back to writing notes, and I even starting keeping better notes and a calendar. I started talking real estate, thinking real estate, telling others about real estate. Guess what happened?

I took a new listing this week, I have another that we’ve been talking about, and a third prospective client has potential, we’re just working on setting up an appointment. I have more business. Things are happening around me. It’s not Spring. It’s not the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit. It’s not chance or luck. It’s me. Screaming at the top of my lungs as I fly down the hill, thinking of getting some ice cream when I reach the bottom – if only to recharge so I can get back to the top of the hill and go for another ride.

photo courtesy of Ronald Dean Photography

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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."

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    April 23, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Rock on!

  2. Lani Rosales

    April 23, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Matt, I’m glad you’re back up. I think this is a great inspiration for those who have just recently fallen off the wagon!

    • Matt Stigliano

      April 24, 2010 at 11:25 am

      Benn and Lani,

      I wanted to (hopefully) provide a bit of a boost to anyone that had those moments. I also wanted it to be a clear reminder that when business is good, you have to work twice as hard. When business is bad, it’s easy to focus on things that will generate income in the future. When business is good, you’re too swamped to think about that stuff!

      One of the greatest benefits I’ve received from AgentGenius, as a writer and commenter, is that once I got to know a few people around here, I got to hear their stories. When I heard them, I found them repeating many of the things I was going through. When you first start out, there’s a definite lack of confidence and since agents usually keep the “bad” stuff to themselves, you think everyone is successful, happy, and that it’s all a piece of cake. When long time agents start telling you “oh, I did that once…ugh.,” you begin to realize that you’re not alone. I think it might be one of the most important things I learned here.

      For agents reading this: Next time someone tells a story of how they screwed something up or they’re struggling – take a minute and tell them your story of how that happened to you. It’s amazing what it does for them. Especially when they’re really new and want to honestly learn and excel and real estate.

  3. Todd Waller

    April 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Matt,

    If there is one thing I’ve picked up/learned along this journey called life, it’s that nearly all my issues (or perceived issues) all stem from getting the stuff between my ears straightened out!

    What I THINK is a marketing issue, what I THINK is a market issue, what I BELIEVE is a client issue, always points back to how I’m responding to the issue. Once I get it through the thick, nearly impenetrable hunk of rock I call my head, that the issue is MY perception, things just turn around.

    The sun shines a little brighter and birds chirp a little louder…

    Keep it up Matt! And thank you for being so willing to share just what’s happening.

    • Matt Stigliano

      April 24, 2010 at 11:30 am

      Todd – Couldn’t agree more. The stuff between you ears is both your best asset and your worst nightmare. It can make you do incredibly stupid things and it can make you seem like a genius.

      There is a downside to realizing that your brain is the culprit though and I try to stay aware of it creeping in too. Positivity is great, but if you’re fooling yourself, it can be destructive. You really need to watch for signs that you’re slipping too deep into the positive side. I’ve seen some agents who act as if everything’s grand, but you know they’re really struggling. At some point you have to admit the reality to yourself (and it helps to admit it to others I find), then start thinking positively about ways to change it.

  4. BawldGuy

    April 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Make that a waffle cone, double scoop.

    • Matt Stigliano

      April 24, 2010 at 11:30 am

      BawldGuy – If you ask me, waffle cone is the only way to go.

  5. Fred Romano

    April 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    You are a damn good story teller! Vanilla with strawberry topping please 🙂

    • Matt Stigliano

      April 24, 2010 at 11:32 am

      Fred – Thanks. I’ve been trying to tie in some of my personal thoughts with these posts here. As I said above, I realized how important it was for someone to tell me “been there, done that” and now I feel I can talk from that perspective to others – maybe I can hit a nerve in some of them and make their career better as I work to do it for myself.

  6. Ken Brand

    April 24, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Honestly, it’s OK to cry sometimes. Get it out, you know. Then, like you say, rise up! This is the difference between pretenders, contenders and crafty veterans.

    Cheers.

    • Matt Stigliano

      April 24, 2010 at 11:35 am

      Ken – What are saying? That I’m a crybaby? Haha. Real estate can really destroy your confidence and go-get-’em attitude if you let it. It can do it very quickly as well. We all know how it feels when a transaction falls apart – within minutes you could be sitting there thinking “why me?” or you could be thinking “how can I solve this?”

      There are always at least two choices to how you react to any given problem. Let it beat the snot out of you or punch it square in the nose and move on to the next fight.

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