There’s always something to howl about

Talking Dog Syndrome

Robert Worthington’s car story reminds me of this.

In 2003, I had an epic run.  A 6 figure 60 day period.

I was happy as hell.  In 2004, I became…

Arrogant.  Thought this was my new life.  Thought I was now a 7 figure agent. Made a 60 thousand month an 80 thousand month (and forgot the famine that sandwiched the months).

We’ve talked about this before.

Anyway, enter a man, Harry.  Harry was a mid 40’s (I was late 20’s) agent.  Looked like Peter Falk with a crew cut.  Harry was a nice guy, a little slow, and kind of a bumpkin.  Harry’s mom used to be in Real Estate as an old time agent.  Harry’s mom could now move to Florida.

People thought Harry was a moron.

People derided Harry for having his momma’s business.

Harry drove a 1993 Geo Prizm everywhere.  He got to the office around 7am and left around 10am.  He got back to the office around 7pm and stayed for a half hour or so.  We didn’t see much of him.  I was in the office to sober up for an hour after being a little too boozy.  We passed as he was coming back.

I can’t resist the urge to brag, and this time was no different.

“4 closings this week.”  I said, counting my $129,000 4% double ender as 2 closings.

“Great.” he said, “You only get about 2 great runs a year, so work hard.”

Whatever, bumpkin.

Slow talking Harry was always enthusiastic, didn’t miss a meeting, and kept to himself.

Later, he referred a client he didn’t have time for to me.  I didn’t close him.  The client was a jerk.  (Note: I probably could have closed him had I not wanted to be right, but that’s a lesson for another time).   Another client, and nothing.  Harry asked to see me, I was too busy, but would welcome his referrals.

I got one more, another closable person that my arrogance kept away (after all, I was driving an Acura RL, what the hell could Harry know.  He drove a Hundai to get here. I never met with Harry  and didn’t hear much from him.

But after our brokerage closed, he was curt with me at a boozy Realtor meeting where we were all informed who our new masters were.  He came into a different brokerage and I learned a few things.

  • Harry made over 650,000 per year.
  • Harry had a vending machine business that brought in another $120k (heh heh tax free heh heh).  He schlepped the quarters, candy bars and laundry soap himself.
  • Harry had something like 9 duplexes, all in an up and coming neighborhood.
  • Harry had ear marked me to be part of his business after I was agent of the month 3 months in a row.

Harry wasn’t a fast talker.  He was, however focused.  He didn’t take bathroom breaks during the day.  He cared about his clients.   I whiffed at what was sure to be a bonafide amazing opportunity.

I learned this second hand, from another old timer.  I had no idea about any of those facts.  When I pondered this, slow talking, Prism driving Harry, it was as if my dog had a secret life teaching Russian to diplomats.  I never saw how this mouth breather was better than me.

But he is, still churning out volume without complaint, drama, rancor facebook twitter or a blog.


9 Comments so far

  1. Joe June 30th, 2011 3:07 pm

    Great story Chris.

    I had a similar story. I was a Painting and General Building Contractor is Southern California, and my main supplier of paint material was the Frazee paint store in Vista CA. There was a $10.00/hr clerk that worked the counter that fit Harry’s description exactly. He kept asking me to do some painting for him and I finally resigned myself to do some work for him only after judging him as inferior to me. As it turned out, he owned 30 (that I am aware of, probably more) multi-family apartment buildings in Orange County, CA. I was humbled to say the least.

    He died of cancer in his late 40s about 15-20 years ago leaving behind lots and lots of family. And to top things off, he was one of the most loving and generous persons I have ever met. It would not surprise me if he gave half his income away to folks that were less fortunate.

  2. Robert Worthington June 30th, 2011 7:47 pm

    Great story Chris and Joe. Wow. Humbling lessons.

  3. Jim Klein July 1st, 2011 8:02 am

    Classic post, Chris, with innumerable lessons. “Don’t just a book by its cover,” being just one.

    Economically, this country was chock full of Harrys, especially since WWII. Their demise, with a replacement rate approaching zero, is why production is in the tank. Nobody ever noticed them, so they figured they didn’t matter.

  4. Jeff Brown July 1st, 2011 10:12 am

    Keep your nose clean. Work hard. Don’t look for kudos. Your banker and your wife are the only ones who need to know.

  5. Tom Bryant July 1st, 2011 5:34 pm

    Your best post (in my opinion). And bless you for your honesty and candor.

    I was in Westerville this past week, which if memory serves me, is where you were located when you started posting here.

  6. Ben Fisher July 2nd, 2011 9:55 am

    Great story I really enjoyed it. Something to be said about simplicity…

  7. Chris Johnson July 2nd, 2011 10:22 am

    Tom – yup, I was in Westerville. I’m in Gresham, OR now.

  8. Wayne July 4th, 2011 6:00 am

    Thanks for being so candid. I have fallen in the arrogance trap myself…. it is easy to do. Just about the time I think I am smart…. I outsmart myself!! 🙂

  9. […] told you about Harry, right?  He’s carrying 14 houses, and had 53 listings sold and another 25 buyer sides last year. […]