Thursday, January 20, 2011

What I Learned about My Real Estate Business from Running a Marathon

On Oct 31, 2010 a very large item was crossed off my "bucket list". I ran in the 35th Marine Corp Marathon, 2500 years after the legendary runner Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens. The experience taught me a lot of things, but most important it reinforced habits and characteristics in my business.


Marathon-Last year I would have said there weren't any sports more solitary and simple than running. I started training in June by myself. About a month in, I realized that I was lost. I wasn't sure how much to train, when to train, where to train, or what to train. It wasn't until I spoke to one of my wife's friends who has run several marathons (we will call her Coach) that I could wrap my mind around the task at hand.

Problem: I was never sure how long or often to run.

Solution: Coach gave me a weekly schedule of runs.

Problem: I could never carry enough water in a bottle for my long runs,

Solution: She told me to wear a Camelback water backpack.

Problem: I got tired on long runs.

Solution: Take Powerade Gel packets every 6 miles.

Problem: My feet would chafe against my socks.

Solution: Glide.

When it came time for the marathon, I went looking for more advice online. I was bombarded with advice (sometimes conflicting) about supplements, equipment, length of training name it. I got worried so I called Coach. Every question I posed, she repeated one question.

Me: Should I use an electrolyte patch?

Coach, "Did you use one in training?". No.

Me: Should I take Gel packets every 3 miles?

Coach: "Did you do that in training?" No.

I quickly began to realize that 4 months of training was to get your body ready for what to expect on race day. Therefore give your body exactly what it expects on race day. The advice was invaluable.

Real Estate -Real estate can be a very solitary profession. No one will go on the appointments for you. You also have so many options on how to run your business that it can be extremely complicated. The best advice is to get advice. Not just any advice. Find a trusted partner, who knows your business personality and is willing to listen. The right coach/mentor/manager can help your career.

Divide and conquer:

Marathon-No question about it running for 4 plus hours is hard work (mental and physical). An hour into the marathon I crossed the 6 mile mark, I was hurting, there was still 20 miles and 3 plus hours to go. At that moment, a runner behind me yelled, "Great! We only have 10 2mile runs left!". I instantly understood what he meant. This big task can be broken up into smaller more manageable parts. At the 13 mile marker, we were half way home. At mile 17, single digit miles left (9). During training, my wife and I did a 5 mile run along the Chesapeake Bay. It was an effortless scenic run. So at mile 21, I thought back to that run. "5 great miles". This enormous challenge (26.2 miles/4+ hours) became a handful of doable tasks.

Real estate-You too can break down a real estate career into daily activities. How do you sell 20 homes in one year in real estate? Its simple...Daily tasks. Make 3 phone calls, write 3 personal notes, mail one marketing piece to a client, and meet with one client for lunch. The daily tasks will accumulate into weekly appointments. Those weekly appointments will turn into monthly closings. We tend to complicate the business at hand. Keep it simple, but keep it consistent and success will follow.


Marathon-Last year, if you told me to go run until I couldn't run anymore I would probably run for 30 minutes then quit. Without a bigger picture, it is hard to get mind and body in sync. 10 months ago I gave myself a goal. On Oct 31, 2010 I will run (not walk) 26.2 miles. I had a singular focus: finish the Marine Corp Marathon. Running 25 miles wasn't going to do it, nor would running 26.2 miles on November 1. One day, one distance. Throughout my training I was able to modify the time I thought I would finish the marathon. Initial I hoped to finish in 4 hours, a month later it was 4hours 30 minutes. The week before the marathon, I felt I could run it in 4:20. Then after I stubbed my toes and strained my calf, 4:50 was my new time. When the alarm clock rang at 5:30 am on Oct 31, I knew exactly what I had to do. At the beginning of the race when runners ran by me, I knew I had to set my own pace and not try to chase them. At mile 20, when it seemed like everyone around me began to walk, I knew I was not going to walk, no matter what. My goals became personal laws that I had to abide by and live within.

Real estate-Goals work hand in hand with your daily tasks. One is pointless without the other. Create goals and stick to them. We tend to give up on our goals too soon because they do not come to fruition immediately. Agents tell me they want to work with more listings next year, or more buyers, or relocation clients. You need to be prepared that your consistent efforts may not produce results for up to 18 mos.


Marathon-I hurt my left calf the week leading up to the marathon. I was worried, anxious and somewhat depressed. 4 months of training, entry fees, time away from my family, weekends sacrificed...Was I NOT going to run? My wife answered the questioned succinctly, "You are going to run and finish this marathon." She had to say it a couple times during the week, but those simple words became my mantra. As soon as the race started, my calf began to hurt. I looked up and there was a US Marine running with a shirt that said "Pain is weakness leaving the body". I envisioned that the pain of my calf was actually making me stronger. It sounds crazy, but I got my mind to convince my body that the pain was actually making me run stronger.

Real estate-Bad things happen and they happed when we least expect it. Sometimes it seems like they happen at the worst time or they pile on. Many bad things are unavoidable. What is avoidable is focusing on those "injuries". Surround yourself with positive people, read a good book like Raving Fans or Energy Bus, find inspiration from others...

Days off:

Marathon-One of the most critical parts of training is NOT training. Your body needs time to recover. Muscles need to recoup as well as your mind. Training everyday without breaks can make you HATE running.

Real Estate -I hear fellow Realtors brag that they haven't had a vacation in 5 years. A rested body, mind and soul is a productive one. The opposite is true as well. An overworked, tired, and depressed Realtor is not one I would want to work with.


Marathon- I carried little inspirations from my children and wife with me. Before I left the hotel room the morning of the race, my 4 yr old son rolled over and kissed my arm. He said that it was a "running kiss". When I was hurt, I would think about those "running kisses". When I was tired I would think about my 2yr old riding in the jog stroller for some of my training runs. When I was uncertain about finishing, I would think about my 6yr old daughter wanting to run a marathon with me someday. The best part of the Marine Corp Marathon is the finish. There were thousands of screaming spectators, US Marines lining the road, and of course my family.

Real Estate-My business has been built almost exclusively on referral. When you do good work and earn the respect of your clients, they will want their loved ones, co-workers and friends to work with you. You need fans in your business too.

Life is all about perspective. It is not until we push the limits of what is possible that we uncover strengths and skills we never knew existed. Don't let arbitrary barriers stand in the way of your ambition, dreams and goals.