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I Just Need 10% More Clients - James' Story



Like many seasoned real estate agents, James knew life would never go back to being the same.

In his early-40’s he had much success selling high-end homes in LA’s Westside neighborhoods. His success led him to buy his first home in Manhattan Beach and even flip a few properties over the years.

However, life wasn’t always this good.

In the early days, he was living off credit cards, using social media to promote his listings, and working with lead-gen services like Zillow and Trulia to hustle up new clients.

It was hard living commission check to commission check, knowing that most of his commissions would go to pay down his credit cards.

So when COVID-19 crippled the entire world, his fears of returning to the days of running out of money and barely getting by came back to his memory.

He remembered how those first few years were grueling and tough between open houses, a terrible commission split with his broker, chasing leads, and maxing out his credit cards.

While he had enough savings to survive a few months he was stressed, anxious, and fearful about everything.

How will he continue to show homes of his current listings when owners don’t want strangers in the house?

Will buyers be able to qualify for loans with all this economic uncertainty?

How long will the kid’s schooling be virtual?

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To top it off, his wife had been furloughed from her job with no clear indicators if she’d ever return to work. While her unemployment check helped, he knew eventually it would run out.

Feeling overwhelmed with the weight of his family’s future occupying his mind, he called his friend Alex to vent.

Alex, like James, was also a successful Realtor.

They met at the NAR Conference & Expo a few years back and became fast friends.

Alex lived in the lush Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. He preferred the fresh mountain air and gold-medal fly fishing rivers overcrowded cities.

Living in a smaller community, his life was not completely disrupted by COVID-19. Even though business slowed down dramatically he had, as if by fate, made some smart financial changes months prior.



So when James called, Alex heard the exhaustion and fear in his friend’s voice. He knew his friend was emotionally holding on by a thread.

This wasn’t the time for ‘get-tough’ cliches. James needed hope, direction, and a new perspective on his financial future.

“I don’t know what else to do Alex. Every day I wake up with anxiety in my gut that today’s going to be the day we lose it all.

I’ve worked so hard, for so long, and this pandemic has made me realize it can all be wiped out in a few months. I kinda feel like a failure right now.”

Alex knew the feeling of paralysis James was going through all too well.

Years back when his wife was fighting breast cancer, there were many days he felt useless.

He couldn’t heal her. He couldn’t take away the side effects of chemo.

He just had to hope, pray, and support her the best he could, while selling homes in a competitive market.

“I hear you James. You’re worried about losing everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. You sound like you’re tired and feeling like you’re running out of options.”

“Yeah. Yeah buddy I’m tired,” James heavily exhaled. “I only keep the upbeat attitude for the kids and Julia because I don’t want them anymore stressed than they already are.”

“I hear you, James. I’m glad you’re not keeping your fears bottled up. That's burn-out just waiting to happen.

You have to come out to Colorado this summer, the fresh air, and some camping will do you good,” Alex said with a slight smile in his voice.

“Yeah, I want to! But I just don’t know how it’s going to work financially. I need new listings. I need to sell more homes. I need more clients.

Even if it’s just 10%. Something is better than the nothing I have going for me now.”

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Alex paused for a moment, as he wanted to share with his friend a shift he made with his finances a few months before the pandemic hit, but hesitated as he knew James was a chronic skeptic.

While James was a good Realtor, Alex personally knew of several home-run investment opportunities James admittedly missed out on because he got stuck in analysis paralysis.

Alex on the other hand was more nimble at analyzing good deals and jumping in with both feet.

It’s one of the reasons why he was in the top one percent of realtors in Colorado. He made good decisions, fast.

“So tell me about your pipeline right now. What are you doing to generate new business?” Alex asked.

“Well I’m mostly doing what I’ve always done, but just more virtually.

I’ve sent personal check-in emails to all my past and current clients. A few of them I also sent e-gift cards to.

I just launched an Instagram campaign reminding everyone of the low-interest rates on loans right now and fixer-upper tips.

I’m thinking of starting a podcast or maybe a YouTube channel as well.

I still mail out monthly updates on the housing market.

I’m doing everything I know to do. It’s just not moving fast enough like it used to.”

James’ mind started swirling again as he thought that despite everything he was doing, while good, it just wasn’t generating income fast enough.

He was used to having at least five homes in his pipeline, all at different stages, during any quarter of the year.

Now he’s hustling more than ever to just sell two homes, with no new listing in the pipeline.

Alex let a moment of silence settle into the conversation, as he could hear the gears of James’ mind in overdrive.

“OK and what else are you doing to generate additional income?” Alex inquired.

“What else?! Alex I’m doing everything I can!

I feel like I’m trying to boil the ocean with a cigarette lighter!

I’m too deep into real estate. I can’t go out and get a job.

You know the business. It’s way too difficult to do prospecting, show homes, get all the paperwork done, and work a part-time job.

No. No. I have to stay in my lane.

I have to make this work.

I thought about flipping homes again, but it’s just too risky right now.

I just don’t know what else to do Alex,” James heavily sighed.



One thing Alex admired about James was his tenacity to not give up, at least not easily. Back in 2008 when many quit real estate to find a job, James hustled to stay in the game.

While everyone else saw a down market, James saw opportunities to grow.

James thrived phenomenally during the Great Recession so Alex knew James had the internal fortitude to make it through this current crisis.

“Well, let me share with you something I stumbled upon a few months back that’s helped me to feel more secure about my financial future and you can let me know what you think,” Alex said casually knowing James’ analytical mind would perk up.

James was all ears as he walked to the kitchen to pour a glass of blood orange San Pelligrino. He found his way to the deck overlooking the calm blue Pacific Ocean.

It was a warm day with a soft breeze that made him forget for a few moments that the world was upside down.

Living on the coast was his daily reminder that he had the capacity to succeed and hearing some ideas from Alex was a nice break from the squirreliness going on in his brain.

“So as you know James I’m always looking for ways to grow my income.

Now while I love the game generating new deals and making passive income, I really do it for Amy.

She’s been in remission for years, but always in the back of my mind is what if she gets sick again?

What if I’m not around to support her, will she be taken care of?

So I know how worried you feel and I’ve felt the same way.

Worried to death and feeling hopeless about everything.

But I’ve discovered through research some of the greatest opportunities for growth and reinventing yourself is when a crisis hits.

The United States has survived over 47 financial crises dating back to 1785, and after each one new companies, technologies and innovations emerge that take the wealth of our nation to a whole new level.

It was from that lens that I challenged myself to look for opportunities, whether through real estate or other income avenues, to ensure Amy never has to worry about money if something should happen to me.

I randomly stumbled across a book by this guy who built and sold three pharmaceutical companies for over $600 million, and each one was created in the middle of a financial crisis.

Anyways as I was reading it dawned on me, my low-level anxiety wasn’t about the money. It was really about me feeling a sense of control and security.

So instead of focusing on more home sales, I decided to focus on a bigger picture, which is to have financial independence at a level I've never known.

By having this bigger intentional picture in mind helped me to be more open-minded to income opportunities outside of real estate.

I know this sounds a bit quirky but it made a huge difference for me in just a few weeks.

I felt like my mind started seeing possibilities and opportunities outside of my comfort zone.



So long story short, I came across an ebook about three main ways people generate profits from Bitcoin.

I was dismissive at first as I’ve heard too many horror stories about people losing their coins and getting hacked and how complicated it is.

But, it dawned on me I’ve never really looked into why so many people are enthusiastic about cryptocurrency despite all the horror stories.

So my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to learn more.

Next thing I know I met a guy who's been investing in these Bitcoin for over eight years.

Well, we jumped on a call and within an hour I felt like the universe had sent an unexpected opportunity my way.

So I placed my fearful hesitations on the backburner and learned everything I could about cryptocurrency.

Plus this guy gave me some great resources to help in my research.

After a few weeks, I jumped in and bought my first Bitcoin and sold it for a nice profit.

Then I did it again.

Then I found myself researching other coins and learning about cryptocurrency and how this technology called blockchain is fueling the next wave of the internet and creating a wealth shift unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Alex found his excitement rising through his voice as he shared his experience.

“The point is James, you have options. What I realized is that it’s no longer safe to just have a job and a 401k and think you’re good.

This new economy is about having multiple avenues of income supporting you and your family.

I realized all this work I was doing was not about selling homes.

My real desire was financial independence that would keep my family provided for long after I’m gone.

I’m not getting any younger and a nine percent annual return from my mutual fund investments was no longer good enough for my bigger picture.

The guy I mentioned is earning over twenty percent a month in cryptocurrency and the dude has been doing it for over eight years. His stories about the early days of crypto are truly stranger than fiction.

But what surprised me was how generous he was in sharing with me his strategies on how to keep profits big and losses small, with no strings attached.

He was an open book of experience and I was willing to learn.

I wish I would have discovered this earlier, but as the saying goes: when the student is ready the teacher will appear.”

“So are you day trading now? Are you leaving real estate?” James asked as his curiosity was sparked, but he was trying to wrap his mind around what Alex had gotten himself into.

“No, that's the best part! I don’t care about day trading crypto as I have a business to run.

Instead, I want the capital I have saved to work just as hard as I do when selling homes.

The strategies I’ve learned have helped me to identify various ways to be an active participant in this tech and wealth shift.

I wanted to understand what’s going on, which coins and projects are worth a closer look, and why in the middle of a pandemic are things like cryptocurrency and blockchain even more relevant now than ever before.

I will tell you this, the few coins I’m trading have reset my expectations for how long it should take to see double-digit returns!” Alex started laughing because he now had new problems.

His expectations for growing his capital went from being content with earning eight percent a year to now demanding his investments earn over ten percent or more per month.

“Wow Alex, I’m intrigued, but not surprised. You’ve always had a sixth sense for getting in on early on trends, like that mixed-using housing deal you got in on in Boulder.

Man! I’m still kicking myself for missing the boat on that one,” James said with a boyish smile.



James was beginning to feel better. He felt grateful that he had a friend to push his comfort zone, encourage, and keep him in the loop on new opportunities.

James only had two close friends. Alex and his college buddy Mike who worked at a hedge fund in New York. Of everyone in his life, he knew that if anyone had his best interests at heart, it was Alex and Mike without question.

Taking a moment to think about what to say next, James could hear the echo of Alex’s excitement in his mind and his intuition was telling him Alex was onto something big.

“OK so what do I need to do to learn more about cryptocurrency Alex. What should I be researching?” James felt a surge of nervous excitement rising within.

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Sure this wouldn’t fix his home sales right now, but he could see himself starting small to test out the waters first and see if he could succeed to the same degree as Alex.

More importantly, James felt his journey into this new technology was something that could position him for even greater success if he just knew the strategies to keep losses small, protect his capital, and ride the upside.

“I’ll email you a quick ebook about the three main ways to profit from Bitcoin. It’ll give you a high-level overview of how everyday people like you and me make money from this stuff.

In the email, I’ll also send you some links to an academy that does a good job of explaining the basics.

Now don’t get overwhelmed with all the jargon and techie stuff. Just start with the basics.

Trust me James, the blockchain technology that powers Bitcoin is here to stay so take your time to learn.

Consider this all just research to understand the market, it’s risks, the technology, and how it’s creating new avenues of wealth.

Plus doesn’t your buddy Mike work at a hedge fund?”

“Yeah, he does. It’s only been around for a few years, but they’re doing well since we last spoke,” James confirmed.

“Well give Mike a call and ask him about cryptocurrency. He works in finance and can probably fill you in on how some the whales, I mean financial institutions, are responding to crypto. I’ll be curious to know what he says.”

Alex already knew what Mike would say, but he also knew that James needed multiple levels of confirmation before proceeding into any venture.

“You know what we haven’t spoken in a few weeks, so yeah I’ll give him a call to catch up and see how he’s doing.

Thanks, Alex. I appreciate you buddy. Here I called to vent about the business and here you are getting me excited about cryptocurrency.

I can always rely on you to encourage me in a good direction. You’re a good friend,” James said in an appreciative tone.

As they said their goodbye and hung up James stared out at the ocean just as the tide was coming in. Powerful waves crashed on the beach as pelicans glided along the shoreline.

The stress of feeling like he was out of options had dissipated.

Instead, he had a renewed sense of possibility.

He made a mental note to check his email for the Bitcoin guide and links Alex was going to send him.

As he let the rhythmic chorus of the ocean relax his mind, he too realized he was being driven by the metrics of making the sale, when what he truly wanted was a secure financial future for his family.

As he sipped the final drops of San Pellegrino he knew he had finally come to the place where he was the ready student and maybe, just maybe, his good friend Alex was the teacher.