A Hard Lesson In Humility

Real Estate Agent with Prudential Caruthurs


Internet marketing, once you get good at it and gain a little recognition, is a heady, seductive high.  This is what I did for a living before I ventured into real estate.

In the eleven years or so that I've been on the internet, I can proudly say that I have been the Empress of Email, and I have also seen exile.  With the first few deals I put together online, I was on my way to internet fame.  I became good at wheeling and dealing, I was persuasive.  I was courted by network marketing companies, sales team leaders and affiliate managers alike to train their sales people, sell their goods, or write a testimonial.

From 1999 through 2005, I either assisted, partnered with, or created myself:

A 1500 person sales team in one affiliate marketing company

Launched one lead generation and management company from $0 to over $2 million in revenue in less than a year.

Partnered with another to launch another lead generation company.

Was a leading revenue producing advertiser for five different companies.

Launched my own lead generation affiliate program

Published two newsletters and an e-course on internet marketing

Owned my own advertising company and developed international and fortune 500 customers.

Was invited to speak or train at conferences, launches and seminars



Yes it did.  It all came to a stop.  It was painful and it was costly.

The reason my services took off in the beginning of my "Hooked-on-Marketing" chapter of my life in the first place, was because I went out of my way to help people.  I enjoyed the interaction, the camaraderie, the successes I felt that I helped others in creating.  People whose faces I never saw became like family.  I was making money hand-over-fist and I felt good about myself and what I did.  I felt useful!  So what happened?  Why did it all come to a stop?

Money.  The number one reason anybody does anything stupid. 

I did two things wrong.

1. I began making decisions based solely on money. 

2. I did not prepare for growth.

I couldn't delegate tasks.  I wanted to handle it all.  I wanted responsibility for it all.  I wanted to be the boss.  I wanted to be in total control.  (looks really stupid when it's written down, doesn't it?)

One by one, things started falling apart.  The same thing can happen in real estate.

New people getting in (hello!  wave, wave!) wanting no part in sharing a deal because of money, pride . . .whatever else you want to throw in there.  More experienced real estate agents that get so busy that details of deals fall through the cracks or their customers feel as if they are waiting on hold with Comcast and there seems to be no personal interest from the person that's getting 3% of their proceeds from the sale.

If service is going to suffer because you become successful, consider hiring an assistant or better yet, teaming up with another agent.  It doesn't have to be permenant.  You can even do this on a couple of deals just to get through a busy period.  Regardless of how busy you become, you make sure your customers get the best possible service, or they will go elsewhere.

This is a tough market.  There are hungry agents out there that are more than willing to help you or better yet, take over for a customer that cancels a contract because they are not happy.

Leave your ego at the poker table.  Don't sacrifice smaller, yet more loyal customers to go after the business of one big sale that may not even sign with you.  Your reputation is everything.  There is no deal out there big enough to replace your reputation.

The morale of this story, which is most probably not only mine, is this.

Remember the purpose in which you set out to do something in the first place, and remember it as offers are flying at you.  You do what is right, what is ethical and what is in the BEST interest of your customers, and the money will come.


Comments (8)

Lizette Fitzpatrick
Lizette Realty - Richmond KY - Lexington, KY
Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes

I think I'll get back to looking for an assistant again after reading this! LOL

May 19, 2009 04:17 PM
Don Sabinske
Don Sabinske, Sabinske & Associates Inc. - Zimmerman, MN
Sabinske & Associates Inc.

The only thing I have learned in this business is that when you keep the customer/client number one, you will likely profit. (Unless you are working with a bank!)  But, when you make yourself number one, you will always lose.  I see it in the bankruptcy section of the newspaper every week.  Big people becoming little people.  Stay the course.  Keep your sights set on integrity and making the client at least content if not happy and you will succeed! 

May 19, 2009 04:17 PM
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker-Owner,CRS,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co

Hi Bonnie,

First, if you were doing online marketing in 1999 you were way ahead of most. Also I truly appreciate your honesty...being willing to expose your mistakes, we all have so much to learn from each other, thank you.

As for "BEST interest of your customers, and the money will come"...that's so very true. We have one fundamental way in our office to help and resolve issues, our basic question is "What's in the best long-term interest of our consumer? That's it.  Pretty basic, more importantly it's worked for 30+ years through the ups and downs of the market.

BTW, I flagged this for a feature, definitely worthwhile reading for all!


May 19, 2009 05:18 PM
Elizabeth Benefield
Montana Country Real Estate - Libby, MT

I would love to have the ability that you do to market . It is always to good to not loose site of doing the good and right things in life. Don't be driven by money. Just need enough to pay the bills.

May 19, 2009 05:39 PM
Judy Jennings
Top Agent Plus - Middleboro, MA
Tap into Judy's real estate expertise & resources.

Bonnie - As long as you learn from your mistakes, you will grow. This is something we all should keep in mind in business and in life. 

May 19, 2009 11:37 PM
Irene Tron
Valparaiso, IN

Good for you for learning from your mistakes.  Thanks for the great advice.

May 20, 2009 02:17 AM
Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ

Your post not only reminds us to learn from mistakes - ours AND others. You also reinforce that none of us need to be ashamed of it. Think I'll make up a saying. Do you think "To err is human; to forgive, divine" might catch on? ;-)

BTW - I like your stuff and am about to hit the subscribe button!

May 20, 2009 09:34 AM
Bonnie Cox
Prudential Caruthurs - Bel Air, MD

Hello everyone,

Linda, thank you for a very supportive comment.  Yes, I was still learning the ropes in 1999 on internet marketing.  14 hours a day teaching myself everything I've forgotten over the last few years, LOL!  Thank you. I thought flagging was a bad thing!

Irene, yes, to err is human.  And to forgive is divine!   Where in New Jersey are you located?  I have a friend that lives in Pine Hills.


Lizette. Don, Elizabeth, Judy and Irene Tron,  (Wow, you guys are really spread out across the country!)  Thanks again for the support.   Making mistakes is going to happen,  How we handle them makes all the difference and that's what I felt compelled to post.

May 20, 2009 05:13 PM