I show up to work terrified, everyday.

Real Estate Agent

I started my first real mini-business in 1994 when I was still in high school. It was called Paradigm Interactive Media (pimedia.com) and we were a web site development company. Since I didn't know anything about developing websites, my job was to go out and sell the websites to local business; jewelery shops, hair salons, restaurants, etc. 

Every time I entered one of those businesses looking for a sale, I was terrified.

Right after high school, my family went through some financial setbacks and I wanted to do what I could to help, so I got my real estate license and started to sell houses. 

Every listing appointment and each time I met with a buyer, I was terrified.

After some time I got less terrified being a real estate agent and actually got kind of good at it, so I decided it was time to push myself one-step further and I recruited a group of my peers and created a real estate brokerage. 

I bootstrapped the brokerage and grew it while being incredibly underfunded. Because I didn't has sufficient credit, capital, or experience to license a franchise, I created the company as an independent; without any sort of support infrastructure I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Every day going into the office I was terrified, but I went in anyways.

One thing led to another and now I find myself running a business that is blazing a trail of innovation and yet at the same time foraging for survival. Everyday I am charged to do at least one thing that is well beyond my knowledge level, skill level, talent level, or experience level; often times it is beyond my level on all four fronts. But I do that thing anyways. I put myself into the position that I have no choice but show up and do my best. Calling in sick is not an option.

I show up to work and don't know what the day will bring. I try things where the outcome is unknown. I am terrified everyday, but I would have it no other way.

Comments (44)

Brande Bradford
Keller Williams - McDonough, GA

Jon, your a success because you challenge yourself.  To become comfortable and not keep striving for better is for most people that start of failure.  Your a prime example of what a lot of us hope to become one day.

Jan 25, 2009 02:27 PM
Jeremy Blanton
Myrtle Beach Homes Blog - Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach REALTORĀ®- myrtlebeachhomesblog.com

John, I know just how you feel.  I get the same way everytime I meet a client.  But like you said, if I don't meet them, I don't eat.  So running away is NOT an option.

Jan 25, 2009 02:43 PM
Fred Carver Real Estate Consulant
Retired BC Realtor - Victoria, BC
Accredited Real Estate Consultant

Hey Great Story Jonathan...Nothing wrong with being scared, I might think some was wrong if you were not,or me many times. We all get sacred at times, it's healthy, and shows you care and you're human.

Cheers, thanks for sharing!

Jan 25, 2009 02:52 PM
Sheldon Neal
Bergen County, NJ - RE/MAX Real Estate Limited - Maywood, NJ
That British Agent Bergen County NJ

Profoundly inspiring J-Wash !

Not that you need it, but you are part of the reason that over 130,000 members here have a little smile every time they sign onto this website.

... thems some pretty big numbers partner !!!!

Fabulous job you have done, and great story.

Cheers mate !


Jan 25, 2009 03:23 PM
JB Brookman
JB Brookman Photography - Franklin, TN
High School Senior Portrait Photographer

Jonathan-  This is incredible... blasting through the fear everyday.  I love it!

Jan 25, 2009 08:30 PM
Carol Spengel
Prudential Rubloff - Wheaton, IL
Wheaton IL

I may be going against the grain here, but being terrified every day doesn't sound very healthy.  Should we all be worried about your blood pressure?

Jan 26, 2009 12:34 AM
Claire C.
ActiveRain Corporation - Seattle, WA

That terror is one of the most healthy feelings you can have as a leader, Jon.  Not only does it drive you to overcome it, it drives you to get to that point where you're no longer afraid.  I think all of us are, at times, afraid to come into work everyday for fear of what news may come or what might explode, but still...we come to work.  I think you've hired a staff that feels that pull, that lullaby of fear that pushes us all to get the job done.  Without that fear, your cockiness would run away with you and you would be so lost in the future in your head that you would forget the present.  As my grandmother used to say, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch, Red."

Jan 26, 2009 05:12 AM
Renae Bolton
Marketing 4 Realtors - Garfield Heights, OH
I'm your Professional Real Estate Marketing VA!

It isn't always about your comfort level, is it?  It is more about stepping outside your boundaries and trying something new and different.  Congratulations to you for persevering through not knowing what's coming!  You've done some incredible things as a result.


Jan 26, 2009 05:59 AM
Katerina Gasset
The Gasset Group & Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Provo, UT
Amplify Your Real Estate & Life Dreams!

Jonathan- Fear is the misuse of the imagination. Or at least that is what I tell myself over and over again when I take risks. You have to take risks in order to be successful, it is working through that fear that we grow into better leaders. Congrats on moving forward! Katerina

Jan 26, 2009 06:23 AM
Kathy Toth
Ann Arbor Market Center Keller Williams - Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Real Estate Experts - Kathy Toth Team

This is very motivating (which was probably the point, huh?).  You need to push yourself because you just don't know what's right around the bend!


Jan 26, 2009 07:21 AM
Ken Montville
RE/MAX United Real Estate - College Park, MD
The MD Suburbs of DC

I guess this falls under "the greater the risk, the greater the reward" category.You may be terrified but there must be some inner drive that keeps you going.  There are lots of people who would rather just go in 9 to 5 and pick up a check wvery two weeks.

Maybe, at some point, you could share the "why" of what you do.  What is it that drives you to "...do at least one thing that is well beyond my knowledge level, skill level, talent level, or experience level; often times it is beyond my level on all four fronts."

Just curious.

Jan 26, 2009 01:07 PM
Fran Gatti
RE/MAX Integrity - Medford, OR
Managing Principal Broker - RE/MAX Integrity


And how cool is that? It makes life intersting.  I felt that way when I was raising kids and I feel that way now. Something new crops up everyday.  I may not know the answer, but I'm really good at finding someone who does. Ain't life grand!

Jan 26, 2009 04:46 PM
Rebecca Levinson, Real Estate Marketing and Online Advertising Consultant
Real Skillz-Clear Marketing for Your Real Estate Vision - Lake Geneva, WI

I have only two words.  Loved that.

Jan 27, 2009 04:47 AM
James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORSĀ®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move

Yes but those with energy, passion and vision - always succeed  AND have fun along the way !

Jan 30, 2009 04:35 AM
Robert May
Robert W May - Lethbridge Real Estate - Lethbridge, AB
Real estate consulting

That is a great blog post and it is so typical of what so many of us go through but will never admit to.  Love your posts and read them all.

Jan 30, 2009 06:21 PM
Brett Tousley
Keller Williams Realty - Richland, WA
Tri Cities Real Estate | (509) 420-0013

Every reward worth having in life involves some element of risk.  Successful entrepreneurs weigh the risk vs reward and act accordingly.

I'd say your risk has paid off quite well so far wouldn't you?

Feb 19, 2009 03:30 PM
League City, TX - Worrell Team, REALTORS, GRI, CNE
RE/MAX 1st Class - League City, TX

Jonathan - love your persistence despite the fears!  Very good writing style, too!  I loved your post.  Have you thought about getting a job at ActiveRain?  ;-)

Mar 11, 2009 03:36 PM
Kate Seif-Earlston
Realty World Booth and Deutsch - Danville, PA

Great post, very inspirational. As a newer agent, I know the terrified feeling a little too well- looking forward to gaining more confidence in the future.  Thanks for sharing!

Jun 17, 2009 02:24 PM
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Thanks for putting yourself out there and admitting that you're terrified every day but at the same time, looking forward to the challenge and would have it no other way. I worked for someone else for most of my 25 year career and was in a way forced to do something else. For the last three years that I've been in real estate, I would say that I wake up scared almost every morning. But like you said, you can't call in sick and have to get up and face every day and take what comes your way. After 38 months in the business, i would not say I'm a roaring success, but I am more successful than I was my first two years and all my transactions to date in 2010 are referrals. And this is in a very unconventional market so I am starting to see how this business can build on itself if you hang in there, do a good job for people and don't give up. In fact, a lot of my friends still working at the large corporation that eliminated my position are starting to see me as a credible, experienced Realtor who is in it for the long haul and complimenting me for my persistence and tenacity. As I said, I am by no means a roaring success yet and still wake up scared every day, but it is getting better and I am starting to believe "you reap what you sow."






Jun 13, 2010 12:32 PM
Effie Aultman
Coastal Realty Group - Cape San Blas, FL

Fear is one heck of a motivator for me:)  I star in the RealEstateEffie reality show every day, before I meet new customers for a showing I get that little tickle of fear in my stomake every time. 

Nov 15, 2011 10:02 AM