Steve Stewart has spoken live to three-quarters
of a million industry professionals and sold his authored books
and recordings totaling nearly 3 million copies - most of them
immediately after people heard him speak.
With 13 published
titles (books and audio recordings) to his credit, Steve has
made 3,000+ paid professional speeches to industry professionals
in 47 states of the US, the District of Columbia, every Canadian
province, plus speeches in Mexico and the Caribbean. His recordings
have sold nearly 3 million copies since 1986.
Steve sold real
estate in Southern California after teaching Speech Communication
at San Diego State University for seven years. He holds two bachelor
degrees (Speech Communication and Political Science) and a masters
degree in Speech and Social Psychology, also from SDSU.
I loved teaching
at the university, but I actually preferred teaching in the community
colleges simply because the students were older there and more
committed to their education and careers. Forty year olds don't
ask "what will I be when I grow up?" because they already
ARE grown up.
Still, the university
was a place for big IDEAS - but not so much for ACTION. So Steve
switched gears and sold real estate for seven more years.
To be candid,
my first year in sales was a complete failure. Shame on me. And
shame on my manager who allowed me to keep a desk while I demonstrated
what continued failure looked like for a whole year! I thought
he was being kind to me. So did he. But there is nothing kind
about permitting continued, unnecessary failure. In fact, by
allowing me to stay without producing, he and I set a terrible
example to the rest of the office, proving that failure was acceptable!
The good news
was that my understanding wife became not-so-understanding and
gave me a deadline. She insisted, "Bring money home by the end of
January, or PROMISE ME you will go get a real job." You have to know her
to understand that her demand was not optional, and her deadline
was a genuine line in the sand. I would either have to bring
money home by January 31st, or my life including a career choice
was over. Understanding that, I promised.
How this worked
out is a great story in itself, but on the final day before their
agreed-upon deadline, Steve brought home a check for $1,200 -
virtually out of thin air. Not huge (standard for a sales agent's
buying side commission at the time), but it was real money. More
brought home the lesson that success had always been within
reach - he just had not completely committed to it before.
With that lesson
learned, his 2nd year was ... adequate. 3rd year, a success.
4th and 5th years, record makers. 6th and 7th years, record BREAKERS.
That 7th year
was off the charts. No one in my board area had ever closed 126
transactions in one year before. The agent who came in second
place was really very, very good. I would have confidently listed
with him myself. But he closed (only) 40 transactions that same
year - more than either of us had ever done before that time.
On top of that, all 126 of my closings were for listings SOLD.
I kept no buyers at all. That year, I gave all my buyers to two
women in my office who loved buyers and disliked working on listings.
Fine with me - I'll take 'em! So we traded all their sellers
and all my buyers. No referral fees; just "here, take 'em."
And this was easily explained to the buyers and sellers we worked
with since each of them would be getting bettere service..
So why did
Steve quit selling real estate?
It was a very
strange deal. 126 wasn't my goal at all that year. I really dreamed
of 50 closings - no one had ever done that in my board before
that year. 50 closings would have made me king of the hill. Then
a goals speaker I saw encouraged us to add 10% to whatever we
was possible. That would mean 50 + 5 more, but "55"
was an odd number, while 60 was easier to divide over 12 months.
So my goal for the year became for 60 closings.
Then all the
tumblers - lucky breaks and coincidences - kept falling into
place. By late spring, I had already hit the 60 closings. I could
either take the rest of the year off, or keep going to see what
we could REALLY accomplish.
confetti settled at the end of the year, I looked success in
the eye ... and I blinked. This had been SUCH an exception to
the rule, what were the chances I could pull that big of a rabbit
out of the hat again the 8th year? Or bigger? I thought my chances
of repeating the success were almost zero. I felt spent. It was
foolish, but I wanted to go out on top of my game. So I retired.
Very, very dumb.
This is what short-sightedness
looks like. I thought it was how it looks when a gambler wins
and walks away from the table with all his chips. I failed to
see those winnings as my investment in the next round. Unless
you're going to retire, ... and I was too young to retire.
mistakes with all that success?
Oh yeah! Boatloads.
Some of them were brutal learning experiences. The best checklists are
the ones with blood and scar tissue all over them.
But the most
important mistake was one I could not recover from. I worked
so hard and put in so many hours that I was seldom home and obviously
not paying enough attention to my family. That mistake cost me
my marriage. That's a mistake of a lifetime. I thought
I had to do all the work myself. It never occurred to me that
I could hire help and delegate more. That could have saved my
marriage and also helped me produce even more than I did.
the mistake? Not
that one. But you can learn from mistakes. Later, in the late
1990's, Steve took more and more time off from his seminar business,
allowing him to help look after his mother (breast cancer) in
her final time. Then again, to be his father's care giver (Alzheimer's,
leukemia). Today Steve lives near the beach in Southern California
and does more writing than speaking.
Dad was a
character. He said he wanted to die in his own home - except
for the part about dying. We talked about it in better days.
He was clear about what he wanted, and I promised that when the
time came, I would do whatever it took to keep him in his own
home to the end, and he would not be alone. And that's what we
did. Dad was a good man.
other mistakes and lessons you'd care to discuss?
Well, I won't
tell you everything. But ... I'll share this one. My parents
were spankers and as a boy I easily got my share - and I earned
all of them. Dad added to the drama by having us pick a belt
from his closet for him to use. I hated that part as much as
the spanking itself. Once when I was about 10 and crying and
stinging right after "the correction" I blurted out,
"It was a mistake. Didn't you ever make a mistake?"
Dad walked over
the the closet door and opened it. He pointed to a particularly
ugly necktie. It was hideous, really, and thankfully he never
wore it. That tie would qualify as the ugliest tie in ANY man's
closet. Dad said, "You see this tie? It wasn't a gift. I
paid good money for that." I started laughing. He laughed.
With both of us laughing, he hugged me and we moved on. You can
pick your own lesson from that.
We were thinking
more in terms of mistakes and lessons in sales.
Oh, sure. I can
only tell you this one because the statute of limitations has
expired. I strongly prefer working with sellers. But when I still
worked with buyers, I was conducting an open house when a prospective
couple walked in as first-time buyers. I liked first-timers because
they have to take your word for everything.
The short story
is that they wanted and were able to buy - but not the house
we were standing in. So I took them to another home on the market
that met their requirements. How did they plan to pay for
the purchase? Cash, from an inheritance. Hey, cash works
their offer with their deposit check, the seller accepted it,
and we opened the escrow. Not bad for a Sunday's work. But when
we got to the closing 30 days later, the buyers could not carry
through. Why not? Their parents weren't dead yet. DOH! They
weren't even sick. Frankly, they weren't even that old, but they
had a will and had put the kids in it. My first-time buyers had
no experience and no idea how things worked. They didn't volunteer
the simple fact they had no money beyond their deposit, and
I failed to ask the obvious question: "Are they dead yet?"
For six months,
I could not go into my office during regular working hours because
everyone would laugh at me. So I did my paperwork at night and
made my calls from home. The sellers were mad at me - for good
reason. The buyers were mad at me for getting their hopes up.
The listing agent and broker were mad at me; that was fair. The
whole listing company seemed mad at me; that was just piling
on after the play ended. My broker was mad at me for being so
dumb - at best, it was borderline incompetence. But I immediately
became a little better at qualifying - and more committed to
asking every relevant question. That's
called scar tissue on your checklist.
- I learned the
hard way why people almost never buy at an Open House
and why we should conduct them anyway. But not just anywhere.
- I learned and
re-learned the deep importance of seriously qualifying someone
before you let them get into your car, show them property or
make your listing presentation to sellers.
- I learned the
higher value of referrals and repeat business over a cold
- I learned which
methods of prospecting work the very best, and which are
a complete waste of time.
- I learned what
I could do any day or every day to keep my pipeline filled
- From failures,
I learned the hard way about presentations that WORK whether
you are explaining things to a seller, or showing property, or
presenting an offer. Presentations are show time and you've
got to be a master presenter without ever looking like you are
- I learned how
people value your honesty and candor, and how to prove
to them that you know what you are talking about.
How do we
get your solutions to those problems?
You know, I AM
a public speaker. If you are a company, you can hire me
Or if you are a solo agent, you can review our products.