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Rookie Real Estate // Ep. 2 – Know Your Why

When times get tough, there’s one thing that will keep you going, that’s knowing your why. People say if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life… That looks good on a poster right? Sometimes there is a fine line between success and failure… it just might be your “why” that tips the scale.  Your “why” just might give you the vision necessary to look at a situation in a different light and therefore be the answer to your problem. Know your why and kill it in real estate.

Hello my friends, Kenny Stephens here and welcome to Rookie Real Estate, where your road to success begins right here, and right now!

Whether you are looking to transition from your day-job to your dream-job or you are on the road to your first 50 transactions…..

Success is in the details my friends and we are going to unpack the fundamental principles required for you to thrive!  Are you ready? Let’s do this!

I LOVE IT!  So. you came back for round two, did ya? Clearly you are a glutton for punishment and can’t leave “well-enough”, alone.  Last week, I sat for 33 minutes and gave you tons of reasons NOT to get into real estate… but, you came back for more! You hit that alarm clock and climbed out of bed anyway! YES!!! Now, THAT’S what I’m talking about!

Have you ever wanted to grab somebody you dearly loved, by the shoulders and yelled WHY…. WHY did you do that?

Maybe there are times you’ve wanted to grab yourself by the shoulders, look into a mirror and yell WHY…. WHY did I do that.  Surely I’m not the only person out there that’s made a bad decision or two…

Do you have children?  Have you ever asked them why they did what they did?

(Now, of course leaving out the grabbing them by the shoulder part off) YOU KNOW your child and they do something that does not match the core of who they are…

Usually these circumstances are surrounded by actions that aren’t yours or theirs charter….. It’s funny, in those circumstances you ask WHY…..

My question to you today is, how come don’t we ask ourselves WHY first?  Why do we do what we do?

When asked the question WHY, your brain has to switch from the main area of functioning to an area it doesn’t usually operate in(now, I’m not brain doctor and I’m sure there is a technical term for this but work with me here) When people sit in my office, wanting to discuss a career in this profession, I ask people “why real estate”  it catches them off guard and all the preprepation they have done for the interview goes out the window…. I can see their eyes roll upward and they start digging deeper…… to develop their answer. I usually get the most honest and raw answer…. First. Sometimes the most personal…..

I had a client who we knew mutual people and he and his wife used me to sell the homes they had prior to marriage and to help them buy their first home together.  In this process, you get to know people and a couple months after we completed all those transactions, Jim called and asked if we could meet. At the time Jim was a Life Flight Nurse-Paramedic, saving lives everyday. It’s all he had wanted to do and spent YEARS and thousands of dollars in education to reach his goal.  The first thing he asked me when we met, was about a career in real estate. Naturally, I asked him, like I do everybody: “Why Real Estate” and sitting across from me his answer caught me off guard…. He said, “I’m tired of people dying on me all the time”. He wasn’t prepared for my question and I wasn’t expecting his answer.  It was real and it was raw. Now, Jim had many more layers to his “why” but that was the raw unfiltered truth… and it stuck in my memory. This guy won the rookie of the year award, his first year in real estate, which was no small task. You will get to meet Jim in later podcast.

The other night my wife and I had just finished up dinner, putting the kids to bed and getting ready for the next morning….. I had been preparing for this podcast for about two weeks.  The weight of this episode’s content was really weighing on me. I know that what we are talking about and that this rookie real estate podcast will cause many people to make life altering decisions.  Possibly to get into real estate, maybe to get out of or to maintain their license. It’s why I’m so blunt and rough around the edges. I’ve seen many agents do really well and I’ve seen others add to their life’s struggles…. Crashing and burning.  This is heavy stuff. It’s serious and not to be taken lightly. Not by you or me…..

Now, I want to be upfront with you here I’ve never been accused of being the smartest guy in the room.  I’ve always been a hard worker and can usually work the socks off anybody. I just consider myself a late bloomer, sometimes a little slow on the uptake but in the end, I’m unstoppable.  I’m not a college graduate. I didn’t carry a 4.0 in high school.

People build preconceived notions of who can be successful and who can’t, based on nothing of substance.  I recently heard that “success is knowing what your goals are and moving towards them everyday”.  If you can wrap your mind around that, it really takes the weight & pressure off of the end goal.  You don’t have to wake up one day a long time from now and realize you are successful…… It’s not a far unobtainable and elusive state of mind.  It can literally be who you are today! “Know where you are going and move towards that everyday”.

We will dig into this more in future episodes.

I am however a guy with deep passion for what I do. My heart is to “Protect & Serve”, just like when I was an officer….. Except now when people call me, they are happy when I show up.

I literally bounce out of bed every morning like a kid at Christmas!   I was that way as an officer, when I was a superintendent building houses and I’m that way as a REALTOR.  It’s who I am. Drives my wife nuts!

She, on the other hand, is highly successful in real estate, and was long before I ever ever knew her.  She doesn’t bounce out of bed like I do. She actually prefers 30 minutes to an hour, in a calm and quiet environment when she gets up…. and I’ve learned NOT to try and solve the world’s problems at 5am with my wife……   that’s just who SHE is….

Take my mentor as an example too, who if you remember is has sold a Billion Dollar of Real Estate….  Shockingly to me, he is an introvert and definitely not a morning person, either. He didn’t want his first appointment set before 10am.  But, once he got going, few could maintain his pace…. That’s for sure! One year he and his buyer’s agent sold well over 200 homes EACH with one assistant and to hear him share his story…. He barely graduated high school.

What I need you to hear is: drop your preconceived notions of what success looks like and especially with what kind of person it takes to be successful in real estate….. There are a lot of unassuming people in this profession.  You don’t have to be an extravert to be successful in real estate. You don’t have to of been the valedictorian of your graduating class, or the sharpest knife in the drawer. Now, if you were the valedictorian and you ARE the sharpest knife in the drawer, that’s just an added bonus.

Like I said in episode 1, I get asked all the time: “do you think I could be successful in real estate”?

I can’t always answer that question in a 5 minute conversation… hence, the need for this podcast.  But, I always WANT to say yes…. because I love my profession. I believe real estate agents are some of the most generous people I’ve ever met in any profession I’ve worked.  BUT, the answer isn’t alway simple, so, let’s dig in and see if YOU can answer it for YOURSELF.

Guys, Please SUBSCRIBE to this podcast and share it with anybody you know who is thinking about or currently in real estate.  Send it to your mortgage partners, your title company partners because THEY know people who need to hear what I’m sharing.  I believe you are a rookie through your first 50 transactions and there are a lot of agents who don’t make it that far. The learning curve is huge and this podcast will hopefully provide value to those wanting to win.

If you have any questions or feedback, we would love to answer them as apart of the show. Did you know that If you are using the Anchor App to listen, you can record your voice and ask your question straight in the app.  I can then work those questions into the show.

I promise, the question you have, is running through the minds of my other three listeners….. And since there are only four of you guys listening, we should be able to get ALL the questions answered pretty easy.

When my wife and I kick off a new boot camp, we always start with a specific question, because we want our agents to write it down their answer.  Honestly, it’s one that can’t really be answered by most in a classroom structure. But, we ask it anyway. There are some that launch into writing their answer fast because they have already figured it out.  There are others that are still mapping it out, and that’s ok. Speed of the answer isn’t necessary, for success, but having the answer IS absolutely necessary! Are you ready for the question?

What is your “why”?

Yes, there is a book called “Start with WHY” and I’m currently listening to it on audible at the advise of my wife.  However, we began asking this question long before we knew of this book. But, the concept is the same. It would be a great read if you don’t know where to start and this 30 minute podcast may not dive deep enough for you.

A lot of people are in professions for the wrong reason…. Sometimes they just need a J.O.B. and there is something to be said for a man or woman who will get up everyday and go to work, doing something they don’t necessarily enjoy but don’t currently have other options…. I commend their effort and results.  Others may be following in their families footsteps, maybe a family business. They grew up in it and just naturally transitioned. Each in its own right, might be perfectly fine…. If they are happy and it’s fulfilling who they are.

My whole family are Police Officers.  My Dad is a LT, my mom retired as a SGT, my twin brother is a Captian and my grandfather was a SGT with the hwy patrol.  All I ever wanted to be growing up was a police officer. I obtained that goal and served for 13 years. It was a hard getting through a 22 week academy, getting yelled at, smoked for every little thing you did wrong.  Being yelled at by drill instructors and told you weren’t going to make it….. I did it though and loved my time serving. My last few years I investigated sever child abuse cases. It was hard but fulfilling…. Fighting for kids who couldn’t fight for themselves.

Most professions carry with it an immense amount of learning required to become proficient and even more time to become an expert….. Real Estate is no exception.  It carries with it a HUGE learning curve. The two week degree necessary to get your license in most states, will not give you the tools to survive your first year… hence 9 out-of 10 crashing and burning in their first 12 months.   As the standards currently sit, You’ve got to get pretty far into this profession sometimes before you might realize it’s not the right career for you. THAT’s what we are trying to avoid here, with rookie real estate.

Knowing your WHY is what will get you through your first year and even your second year. Knowing your WHY may keep you from getting into real estate altogether……

There will be days when everything falls apart and closings where you’ve already counted on the commission coming in….. falls apart.  Therefore no pay-day. You are either in or considering getting into a profession that is 100% commission. We will break commissions down in another episode on what must be done to close enough transactions to fund your business & family budget.  But today, I’m telling you…. Knowing your “why” will get you through the difficult times ahead and there will be difficult times ahead.

In the past 8 years, I’ve been through the worst real estate market in decades and the best real estate market in decades.  Crazy huh. When I got started in the business, I was doing listing appointments where I was the bearer of bad news every day.  I had to show families that the largest investment they may ever have, has lost so much value, that if they want to sell, they would have to bring money to the table.  I was setting listing prices based on the market and then having to wait 90-120 days for those listings to sell. The inventory was saturated and therefore driving prices down.  In a lot of cases I would have to call my seller after 30-45 days and inform them that 20 more houses JUST LIKE theirs have hit the market and if we want to sell, we needed to realign our listing price with the market and the new inventory.  That’s called a price adjustment and price adjustments are never “adjusted” UP…. it’s always an adjustment down. It was painful and heartbreaking.

My wife and I had to become experts in Short-Sales to help families avoid being foreclosed on. You are taking a home that once under contract, should close in 30-45 days…… and adding 6 months to a year to that process…. Getting the bank to agree to accept less than what was owed on the home, in lieu of foreclosure.   Knowing my “why” helped me push past those difficult days. A large percentage of real estate agents were getting OUT of the business, while I was trying to break into it.

On the opposite side of that, I’ve been blessed to experience the best market in decades, maybe even in my lifetime.   Homes selling like gangbusters! No inventory, values screaming upward…. there are clearly pro’s and con’s to both markets but I sure do prefer the market where my clients win.  For my wife, the downturn in the market were her best years selling real estate. She was the Broker of our company, recruiting and training new agents AND selling 65 homes a year.  She is a beast! But, failure was not an option then and definitely isn’t now. Her WHY is strong, motivating and empowering! It was strong enough to provide the intestinal fortitude necessary to not only survive a down-market but to actually thrive.

So, here is how you develop your why.

  1. Get alone and I mean completely alone…..  No distractions, no phone, no computer, Facebook will survive without you for just a little while.
  2. DON’T BE HUMBLE HERE.  BE HONEST. Write this down!

a.) What are your core beliefs in life?

b.) Your deep down wants and desires?

c.) What drives you?

d.) What pushes you to be better?

e.) What feeds your soul?

This my friends, is your life’s “WHY”.  The items that get you up in the morning.  Things that mean more to you than any pain or trouble that may come your way.  The items that cause you to say…. Failure isn’t an option. It’s the core of who you are.

THAT’s my opinion of a “WHY” that will drive you.

Now, you feed off that “Why” to develop the “why” behind everything you do.  Why do you want to get into real estate? Write that down…. Formulate it into a sentence or a paragraph.  Post it everywhere. Memorize it. Be able to recall it at the drop of a hat.

People say if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life….. That looks good on a poster… right?

I say; If WHAT you are doing fuels who you already are in the core of WHO you are and you can express your “why” of doing something….. It won’t necessarily be easy but your odds of success have increased substantially.

Sometimes there is a fine line between success and failure…… it just might be your “why” that tips the scale.  Your “why” just might give you the vision necessary to look at a situation in a different light and therefore be the answer to your problem.  Your “why” IS VISION, it’s intestinal fortitude, it can even seem supernatural at times….. That’s a story for another day.

I guess you are going to want to know my “why”? What drives me, helps me to push through.

I am a man who fears the Lord, The Jehovah God.  I strive to reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously and always expecting and anticipating God’s reward.  I have an intrinsic passion to desperately love my wife and children and to create a safe environment where they can thrive.  Deep within my soul I have a need to protect and serve those in my path and to always do what’s right, no matter the cost.

Sometimes I have to look into the mirror, grab myself by the shoulders(metaphorically speaking of course) and remind myself of who I am and WHY I do what I do.

Let me wrap this up here:

In law enforcement, you are trained to “train”,  for every possible situation/sicinero. You will perform like you practiced.  To prepare your mind and body for the worst that could happen and what to do when it does happen.  You want every possible scenario to be muscle memory….. Requiring little to no conscious effort to recall.

Often in briefings before dangerous tactical missions, you literally walk through every possible scenario that could happen.  You know everybody’s role in the operation. If the officer in front of you goes down, you know what his/her job was and you then have to do your job and theirs, for the survival of the rest of the group and success of the mission.   During the briefing, you may be called upon to recall different member’s roles. It’s intense but mission critical.

You may be thinking…. Kenny, Real Estate isn’t Law Enforcement dude, let it go, this this isn’t life or death.  Maybe that’s true…. But if you don’t know what to do when the worst of situations present themselves and they will present themselves, how is it fair to yourself… your client… your spouse…. your children, to expect survival, much less success, to know what the next move is, to know what the other parties in the situation are supposed to do, to know how to recall your “why” so that you can muster the intestinal fortitude….. to push through, to overcome, to win!!!  You can’t wait till you are eyeball deep into real estate before you know what it will take to push through.

Know your “why”!  Plan for the best but prepare for the worst.  NEVER give up! Be a warrior! Failure is not an option!

There may be agents listening today who have realized that real estate isn’t for them but they don’t want to quit…. They don’t know what else to do.  If you truely do not feel this profession is meant for who you are…. Let’s don’t call it quitting or failure. Let’s call it a tactical retreat. Take your “why” and transition to a profession where you can thrive.

Would you mind sharing with me your why?  Maybe sharing a time when you pushed through your hardest day…. maybe something inside of you wouldn’t let you give up?  Your stories may be the inspiration necessary to help others. I want to celebrate your success and and help others learn from your mistakes.  Send your stories to

Rookie Real Estate is produced and edited by Scott Parker. All of the content is written by me, your host, Kenny Stephens.

Rookie Real Estate is powered by DeSelms Real Estate in Franklin, TN.  I say that with this in mind. The vision of DeSelms Real Estate is to be an empowering partner, bringing agents, clients and communities home, simply put… we bring you home.

This podcast is not designed to recruit agents, we have all the agents we want and need to reach our goals.  But this podcast does align with our vision. We want to be an empowering partner to bring agents home. My dream for the content is that it can be used by any brokerage, any agent and the vast communitie of those who have dreamed of a career in real estate.  I want to educate those on the road to their first 50 transactions and I want to help ensure those who transition from their day job to their dream job, succeed in that process…. If at all possible.

Until next week my friends, better your best….


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