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Why? Finding real estate career motivation in down times


Can you meet with me?

I had a meeting with my broker a few days ago. No, I didn’t get called into the principal’s office… I actually asked her to take some time to sit with me. I’ve had a lot going on in the last few months. One of the things I haven’t had enough of was business. I felt I had lost my way earlier in the year and lost my focus on my business plan a bit. I needed a) a bit of a butt-kicking and b) some inspiration. She promised me both.

We met up and sat for about two hours. We covered everything from basic ideas to deep rooted concerns. Lucky for me, my broker is a great woman and is more than willing to dive deep into something like this. Double lucky for me is that she’s not the only one that would do the same things for me. The conversation was real, honest, and at times, a bit raw. Open, honest conversations like this are not always fluffy and warm – sometimes you need to discuss the harsh realities too.

The question.

We came up with a list of things I needed to refocus my energy and thoughts on and those are going quite well. I’m definitely feeling a renewed spirit and it’s obvious I needed that conversation to spur me on. But there’s one question that came up during the conversation that I can’t shake. I didn’t have an answer at the time, and although I’ve been thinking about it a lot, I still don’t have one. Not having an answer is never easy. Seeking the true answer is my mission now.

The question came as one word and with no explanation when it was asked. “Why?” That’s all she said. She paused and my head began to wonder why she had forgotten the rest of the question. Maybe my muddled brain showed its hand and that’s why she continued or perhaps she had made it a one word question on purpose. No matter what the underlying reason, it was a strong question with a lot of weight behind it.

Why? Why what? Her elaboration helped me understand the question… “Why do you do this? (real estate)” Immediately, I thought of a hundred reasons: I enjoy real estate as a theory/concept, I like to make money, I need a job just like anyone else, I like the freedoms of being my own boss, the potential is there to earn more than the kinds of jobs I could qualify for outside of real estate, etc. Lots of answers to that question. Let’s move on to the next, shall we? But wait. The question had something deeper to it. I could tell by the way she was looking at me. She wanted me to think about the root reason for all of this. She wanted to find the secret motivator inside me that answered that question.

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She looked at me again after a bit of silence and said, “It’s not the money. I know that.” I thought about this for a moment, I mean, seriously, who doesn’t do this for money in some sense or form. Without money would you still be a real estate agent? Would you do this as a charity, pro-bono job for your entire life? Look, I loved rock and roll, but the facts are the facts, if it didn’t put food on my table eventually, I was going to have to get a real job. For me, it did pay off eventually and I lived quite well from it at times. Could I have done it for fourteen years without making a dime? Probably not. Was money my “why” for being in a band? No. If it had been, I may not have left when I did.

If real estate wasn’t about the money/job aspect for me, what was it about real estate that made me get out of bed everyday? What made me take calls at ridiculous hours and work weekends? What made it fine for some days to be twelve hour days? Why?

The answer isn’t always the obvious.

I could name all those reasons for wanting this to be my career, my passion, and my income. I could say that those are my motivating factors that drive me every day. I could easily claim that I have the answer. But I don’t and that’s what I’m searching for now. I don’t have to have that answer today to know that I’m enjoying real estate and to work hard it. I need the answer to move forward and grow my business bigger and better. I need to know just what it is that makes real estate something I truly care about.

Ever wondered what exactly it is that motivates you to do this? Ever thought beyond the surface answers and looked for something deeper? Ever needed something to light a fire inside of you every time you said “this is why I’m a real estate agent?” Have you found it? Do you live it everyday? This is what I’m on a personal quest to find. My own answer to “Why?

photo courtesy of quinn.anya

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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. Ken Brand

    March 31, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Nodding my head, reading, smiling, reading, nodding head, yeah. Chuckle.

    That water’s about 100 feet deep. But, however deep, that’s where we dive for our pearl.

    For me, it’s many of the exact same reasons you mention. At some early point, like a blink, one day, I believed. Going forward, this was the only thing I ever wanted to do or ever could do. At that time, I burned my boats and marched, smiling. For those twisted enough to follow this path, there really isn’t another profession like it.

    People, get in and people get out. There’s no dishonor or failure in leaving the business, it’s not for everyone. I hope in the blink of your eye, you understand why, and you stick like super-glue. The biz needs you and so do all those hundreds and hundreds of future clients.


  2. Matt Stigliano

    March 31, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Ken – One of the things I enjoy most about your posts and comments is that I see a bit of me in you. Usually that phrase works the other way around, but although I know your much wiser and knowledgeable, I think you and I have traveled similar paths at points. That combined with your sharp wit and occasional sharp tongue make me think of you as someone I can’t wait to meet someday. Your comments always make me want to do better and figure everything out.

    I have no desire to leave this industry. In even the worst times, I have found pure passion for it. I love it, but now it’s time to figure out why and use that seed to fuel my business. Something so basic and boiled down to its true essence that says to me, this is why you do this. Not the hundreds of larger, generalized reasons, but the core reason I stick by this day in and day out.

    Perhaps I’m on my own Siddartha like quest to figure out the true meaning of my life.

  3. Brandie Young

    April 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Cool post, Matt.

  4. Ken Montville

    April 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    “Why” is at the root of everything from, “Why be a Realtor?” to “Why do you want a 3 BR, 2 BA house?” to “Why are you married/life partnering with whoever it is?” to “Why do you really like Cap’n Crunch but eat Special K, instead?”

    I recently listened to an author on another marketing site (Marketing Over Coffee – – they do podcasts – going on about his book: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. It seems that it makes a lot of sense to start with why. Of course, the flip side is “why not?”.

    For me “why?” always leads to “what’s the alternative?” This “why” question tries to mine your soul for passion (the buzz word du jour). I, for one, would love to know what passion is all about. There comes a time when doing the “fun stuff” stops paying the bills (as you point out). Mick Jagger can rock and roll into his 60s. Why not you? What’s the diff?

    Get out of real estate because it’s really not as fun and lucrative as it’s made out to be? Sure. Who’s gonna pay the bills? Beside, as wise and wonderful as your Broker/mentor is, I’m guessing that when she is in recruiting mode the “why” question really doesn’t come up. At least not in this context.

    Matt, here’s a hard truth. This real estate market sucks. I’ve talked to veteran’s of 30+ years in this business and they all say it sucks (paraphrasing). Sure. Some people prosper. Some people get by. Some people go on to other things.

    I hear and feel your pain. Seriously. I’ve been doing this for a tad over ten years and I ask myself “why” every morning.

    Your last couple of sentences: “This is what I’m on a personal quest to find. My own answer to “Why?”” If you ever find out, you can toss real estate and go into the personal development field and make a bundle. Trust me on this one. I’ve spent thousands on the quest.

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