Go after your dreams despite uncertainty – A true story of mine

As the reporter left, I sat there with my head in my hands wishing I hadn’t opened my big mouth. Here I was, just 26 years old, telling an old home town reporter that I was going to build the most successful real estate company in the state in just 5 years, from scratch.

It really hadn’t occurred to me that the most respected and successful company in Indiana had been around for over 100 years. I had just moved to Indianapolis for the opportunity to build my own company and I didn’t know a soul. I was young, cocky and ready to claim my stake even though I didn’t know the difference between a profit and loss statement vs. an accounts receivable statement.

I had never balanced a checkbook let alone build and run my own company.

In any case, it was November 1986 and that’s what came out in the paper the next week because of the lack of control between my head and my mouth.

In the past when I got a bit ahead of myself, I just put my head down and starting selling. Selling was easy for me, building and running a company was a whole different animal.

At the time, our RE/MAX Of Indiana headquarters consisted of one executive office in a shared office suite setup, with a shared secretary that answered the phone for 15 or so different businesses.

Up until that time, I was a pretty successful real estate agent in Toronto Canada. I had moved to Indiana to try my hand at building something for myself, something that if I did it right, would provide me with a bright future and hopefully a chance to become the millionaire I so desperately wanted to become and wrote about in my goals 5 years earlier. Although I only went to grade 11, the wonderful mentors I had told me that I had within me more than school could ever do for me. For whatever reason, I decided to believe them, more than the insecure feelings I felt about myself.

So, with my insecure head up high and the RE/MAX concept as my ally, I started to set up appointments with managers and owners of every real estate company in the state. I started with the big boys first, the guys who were already #1 and #2 in the state and who were already doing billions in sales and had over 1,000 sales people.

The first meetings were disastrous, they politely laughed and escorted me out of their offices. Their attitude was, we already have what you are trying to build from scratch so why do we need you?

They couldn’t see past their own success to the future and hence were closed minded from the get go.

It wasn’t more than 4 months of daily prospecting and sharing my vision and story that I got a call from one of the top managers in the state. After our first meeting I knew I was onto possibly the first and biggest deal of my very young career. After several months of discussions we snagged one of the biggest fish in the pond and were on our way. Within 30 more days another unhappy manager called from the #2 company and he expressed interest as well. It wasn’t before long that he and another group purchased the franchisee rights to several more areas. This allowed us to gain credibility and traction.

At the end of the first, year we had 97 sales people at our awards banquet and we were off to the races.

No matter where I turned, everyone thought that we were going to go bankrupt within short order. That made sense since I later found out that two other people prior to me had owned the RE/MAX region of Indiana and both failed!

Regardless, in this case my ignorance proved a strength as I didn’t really care what had happened in the past. I was prepared to surge forward and build my company.

For me it was simply a matter of sharing with enough people the vision of a better future for themselves and then exceeding their expectations month in and month out.

The next challenge for me was to learn how to run a business and to understand all the moving parts. At first it was overwhelming, especially since I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

For a while it seemed as if I bought myself a job that was strangling me. Not only did I have to sell, I had to deliver all the promises I made, take care of legal, and make sure finances were in order. That was just the beginning. What it takes to build and run a 100 person operation is vastly different than a 1,000 person operation.

To help me deal with the growth and education I needed, I formed a mastermind group made up of some very successful regional owners in the RE/MAX organization. These individuals helped me shave years off my learning curve and saved me hundreds of thousands of dollars in mistakes. It also helped me build an organization that does 6 billion a year in real estate sales today.

I learned a very valuable lesson, specialized knowledge is worth its weight in gold.

From those early days of not knowing what to do, to today where I feel comfortable on stage teaching business owners how to build their companies while living an extraordinary life, it all boils down to finding what you love to do, becoming excellent at it and as you do, telling the whole world about it.

What’s the point of the story?

Go after your dreams with passion and purpose even if you don’t know how you’ll achieve them. The answers will show up along the way.

Wishing you the very best,

John