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Fear And Uncertainty In The Face Of Change

Fear and Uncertainty - The Stigliano Chronicles

Ever been frozen by fear?

This past week, I made a change. I moved brokers for the first time in my career and to be honest about the situation, I was scared to death as I considered the possibility. Change brings with it a lot of fear and uncertainty and probably ten times as much when you’re a new agent. Some of the more experienced agents have probably moved multiple times and are experts at it now, but when you’ve only know life under one broker, the prospect of the move can literally bring things to a crashing halt.

I spent some time thinking about my broker, my career, and my direction over the past few weeks (@LaniAR can attest to that) and it was rough on me. Hints of self-doubt and questioning “am I doing the right thing” were common place, but I knew something was missing from my current position. I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t feel right. I was uneasy and therefore not as productive as I could be. I like my broker and learned a ton from him. I liked my fellow agents. I liked the office staff. I was getting good support, but I was lacking the key ingredient that I felt was necessary.

Self-motivation. I was motivated to succeed and to give the best to my clients, don’t get me wrong, I just seemed to lack the magic something that pushes a person to exceed. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was what was missing. I knew I had to do some thinking on the subject, but when I bumped into soon-to-be new broker at a meeting, I immediately knew I had to get serious about the thought. Having spent my entire career under one broker, the thought sent chills down my spine. What would I do? Could I do it? Should I do it? How is it done?

Shaking like a leaf.

A few days after we met, my soon-to-be new broker scheduled an appointment with me to sit down and chat. I was nervous, my mouth was dry, and my hands were sweating. I worried that I wouldn’t be good enough for them or they wouldn’t be good enough for me. I worried if the shirt I was wearing had any wrinkles in it. I was sure I was going to spill coffee all over myself and have to excuse myself from the meeting. Doubt. Fear. Uncertainty. Ridiculous thoughts. They were all a part of the day.

The meeting was great and I did relax eventually. What amazed me was that Sheila Moran (my now-new broker) had a certain spark to her. We discussed fear and the prospect of change. She spoke from her own experience. She understood my need to be pushed in just the right way in order to make me more successful. And she was willing to take on that challenge. I didn’t sign up right there and then, as I wanted to discuss it with my wife, but I called the next morning and said “I’m in.”

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Getting settled.

I’m still settling into my new office and getting used to all the little difference between it and my last one. I’m still nervous at times, but that has been overrun for the most part by an extreme determination to far surpass my goals and the knowledge that I have the tools and support system to do it. I am getting comfortable again and am already seeing the results of change on my mindset. Although I feared it, I knew in the back of my mind that it was the only way.

Stop and think.

Real estate agents always talk about “getting out of your comfort zone” by doing activities that force you into a slightly uncomfortable position, but will pay off in the end and boost your confidence in those activities. When you’re a new agent, there’s plenty to be uncomfortable with – everything that surrounds you is new and different. Out of that discomfort, you are forced to find your way and as you do, you find that it really wasn’t anything to be afraid of in the first place.

Switching brokers is no different. It’s a hard step to take, but sometimes you need to make the switch in order to seek out what you value as an agent. I value knowledgeable agents/broker, a love of technology, an encouraging atmosphere, and a broker who’s not afraid to crack the whip when it needs cracked. I don’t need to be patted on the back every five seconds, but I do need someone to recognize the value of what I do right and is willing to correct what needs improvement.

As agents, we are all taught how we are “independent contractors,” but in many ways, we need to be able to rely on the people around us. Yes, I’m independent, but I am part of a bigger whole as well. And if that “whole” is not providing me what I need, I must question it and change or face certain failure. I didn’t come here to fail. When was the last time you looked around yourself and thought you couldn’t bear one more minute of your situation, but when the fear and uncertainty crept up on you, you settled for what you had instead of reaching for what you want. I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to be afraid in order to succeed.

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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. tomferry

    July 1, 2009 at 12:13 pm


    Wow, well done on a lot of levels. Congrats for facing the fear, taking the leap and making the change! What you wrote was inspiring this morning … and if you don’t mind, I think I am going to pass this story along to some people who need to hear it!

    Great line … “I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to be afraid in order to succeed”

    I say bring it on!

  2. Matt Stigliano

    July 1, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Tom – First off, thanks for sending the post out on Twitter, I appreciate that. Fear is a big challenge, but it can also be a great motivator. I hate being afraid of things (and no matter how hard I try, I’m still afraid of spiders), but some days you just need to say “who cares” and deal with your own insecurities. I’m looking forward to what the change will bring and I already feel as if it’s brought a few good things.

    Fear can be crippling, but as I learned from being on stage, sometimes it can provide the biggest adrenaline rush as well. I’ll never forget shaking and trying to warm up as I faced 100,000 people in Bonn, Germany. Single biggest crowd I’ve ever seen. Yet, within moments of the first note, the fear was gone and replaced with exhilaration. If you can move beyond fear and uncertainty, there is often a better day ahead.

  3. Steve Beam

    July 1, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I had a totally different experience when I moved. It was just the end of the rope and it had to be done. I was getting my bank account cleaned by my previous broker. I was excited and glad to go.

    I have explored new options in the past 18 months and I admit that I have had exactly the same feeling about making a move at this stage in the game. Just over 10 years in the business and the vast majority of that with my current broker. Moving isn’t just a bunch of new business cards and a new office location.

  4. Joe Loomer

    July 1, 2009 at 2:07 pm


    I moved brokers two years ago on the heels of the sale of our franchise to a traditional local brokerage. For 18 months leading up to this sale my wife and I had been heavily recruited by another local company – albeit a national brand (KW).

    It was the same fear, the same sweaty palms, concern over my appearance, everything. We interviewed with the traditional brokerage’s owner and his son – two well established, locally reknown gentlemen. It was clear they expected an employee-employer relationship and concessions were non-existant.

    The broker with the KW firm we ended up with did EXACTLY what you noted. Addressed our fears, our loyalty issues, our change issues. She went miles above and beyond accomodating our particular situation.

    The culture here at my new firm fits me like a glove. It is what I have been searching for since leaving the warm blanket of camraderie I enjoyed among my fellow Chiefs in my Navy days. I did not think I would ever find the kind of company to mirror that “in-the-trenches-together” mentality, but I have.

    Change is confronting us every day – most of it we have limited or zero control over. It’s the moves we make – educated risks if you will – that enable us to succeed or fail. If fear had governed our decision, I firmly believe I would be mired in depressing sales meeting and demands for performance during a stagnant market trend.

    I’m thriving. Life is Good. Change is GOOD! Great, awesome, magnificent post – you Rock in many more ways than on stage!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  5. Matt Stigliano

    July 1, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Joe – I think this paragraph says the most:

    The culture here at my new firm fits me like a glove. It is what I have been searching for since leaving the warm blanket of camraderie I enjoyed among my fellow Chiefs in my Navy days. I did not think I would ever find the kind of company to mirror that “in-the-trenches-together” mentality, but I have.

    To me, it doesn’t matter what company, broker, agents, etc. you affiliate yourself with – until you have that feeling of “fits like a glove” you’ll never reach your full potential. You need comfort in order to perform best. You need support, excitement, and the knowledge outside of your own when you need it. Without that, you can always be a good agent, but I’m not so sure you can reach “great” without it.

    We all resist change at times, but in the end, every change is moving us towards a new goal.

  6. Paula Henry

    July 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Matt – Congrats! I changed brokers in January – going from a big brokerage to an independent. It was as scary as you experienced, but now, I am much stronger and feel like I made an excellent choice.

    Good Luck!

  7. Matt Stigliano

    July 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Paula – Interestingly enough, I wonder how your MIBOR case would have gone with the other brokerage. Obviously, there are more “safety precautions” with a big brokerage as they are (in many cases) huge multinational corporations and with big business comes big risk management. I’d be curious to go back in time and see how they handled it all if you were still there. I remember hearing when you changed brokers. I’m glad your choice was the right one for you.

  8. Paula Henry

    July 1, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Matt – I can tell you with certainty, my old broker – although a big broker – would have had no idea what MIBOR was talking about. She would have told me to take down my site.

    I honestly believe a huge reason my site was reported is because of the broker I am now with. We both have sites by the same web design company and we both understand technology. The “good ole boys” didn’t like the fact we had three sites in the top ten for the search “Indianapolis Real Estate”.

    That’s not the case right now, as I am struggling for some reason with those keywords, but am gaining with other keywords and search phrases.

  9. Matt Stigliano

    July 1, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Paula – One of the reasons I moved was to be with people who understand the issues like this – and even if they don’t, they’ll get into it and learn. A group that asks questions of each other – what’s working for you, what do you do differently?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it would have been “let’s not rock the boat, take the site down” had your situation been different. Knowing your broker will go to bat for you is huge.

    I think that many of the complaints made by agents against agents probably fall into the “it’s not fair, they’re doing better than I am” category.

    No matter what, you know there’s plenty of us out there that support you, including your broker.

  10. Jason Sandquist

    July 2, 2009 at 12:19 am

    ahh you’ll do fine. I bounced back and forth between brokers over the last few months. Left big broker to go to other big broker only to be lured back to work with a team on a deal I couldn’t turn down.

    would rather just do my own thing, but cash-money is a little tight at the moment but doesn’t stop my scheming.


  11. Matt Stigliano

    July 2, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Jason – Thanks. I know I’ll do better than fine here, but making the step was the hard part. Sounds like you’ve had a busy year in terms of moving. Guess you keep your desk clean and ready to move. Haha.

  12. Alice

    July 2, 2009 at 8:21 am

    This is a tough one for me. I’m just 15 months into this career after 20 years in another sales business. I went with my broker because of his great marketing campaign. But business overall is tough and yesterday he informed us all that we would be moving into an office 1/4 the size of our current one and that only full time agents would get referrals (I’m full time), and the commission structure would be changed. I can’t figure out if I’ll make less or more. I said something like “wow” and he said if you don’t like it you can leave. Am I being too sensitive to think that maybe a new place would be best for me? I’m going to do a couple million this year in a market where the average home is $100,000. Not bad, when you consider that 80% of the agents in the area do less than 1 million, and the fact that I am new. I have been recruited by a couple of other brokers, but I have to admit right now I’m wondering if this is the business for me. To change brokers with that mindset might be wrong, I’m thinking. Any advice?

  13. FAQ Twitts

    July 5, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Fear And Uncertainty In The Face Of Change

  14. Matt Stigliano

    July 5, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Alice – Sounds like you have a lot of thinking to do. Much like my feelings on how a consumer should choose an agent, I think agents need to consider one basic item before choosing a broker – comfort. Not the kind of comfort that leads you to complacency, but the kind of comfort that breeds the free flow of ideas, the encouragement by others, and (most importantly) the kind of comfort that allows you to raise your hand and ask your broker what might seem like a stupid question to many, but your broker knows is important to you.

    Personally, I wouldn’t perform well under the “if you don’t like it you can leave” structure. Sure, I’m free to go whenever I want, but I don’t need to be told that because I said “wow.” It sounds like you’ve built a strong business for yourself, so you need to go where someone will challenge you, support you, and most of all – allow you to flourish.

    I would sit down with some of those brokers. I’d talk to them. I’d cut through the crap of recruiting and get to the heart of the issues – what will they do for you, how will they support you, and I love the question “why me?” I think asking that can often reveal a lot about a broker’s position. In your case, it sounds like your production is strong enough to warrant recruiting, but look beyond the money and find out why a broker wants you. To me, that will spell it all out for you.

  15. Doug Francis

    July 7, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Matt, good decision.

    When I moved brokers to my RE/MAX office almost 15 years ago, I was nervous too. But within a few weeks the positive reception that my clients gave seemed like a pat on the back. Consumer perception of RE/MAX is positive and you will immediately benefit from RE/MAX’s 35 years of pro-agent business philosophy.

    By the way, try your best to meet Dave Liniger… he’s is a great guy!

  16. Doug Francis

    July 7, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Matt, good decision.

    When I moved brokers to my RE/MAX office almost 15 years ago, I was nervous too. But within a few weeks the positive reception that my clients gave seemed like a pat on the back. Consumer perception of RE/MAX is positive and you will immediately benefit from RE/MAX’s 35 years of pro-agent business philosophy.

    By the way, try your best to meet Dave Liniger… he’s a great guy!

  17. Matt Stigliano

    July 7, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Doug – So far it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made (except to marry my wife). The clients like it and are supportive, the office is supportive, the phone is ringing and I have two new clients in one week. Not bad I’d say for a first week. So far RE/MAX Access and Sheila and Kristin Moran have allowed me to hit the ground running and it’s been great.

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