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About the Author

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 importantly, he 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 thought 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.

When the 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.

Any other 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.

Recover from 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.

Are there 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 for me.

We presented 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.

Other lessons?


  • 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 contacts.
  • 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 with prospects.
  • 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 on stage.
  • 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 to speak. Or if you are a solo agent, you can review our products.

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276 N. El Camino Real, #184
Oceanside CA 92058



(760) 298-8146
(760) 216-1353
(909) 498-7007

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