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I am fascinated by why some agents do well, most do poorly and why only a few reach extraordinary heights of success.

In my studies I came across Francis Galvin, a cousin to Charles Darwin and someone who was without a doubt a true genius and scientific pioneer.

Galvin did a study of 200 of the most eminent people in history (up to late 1880s anyway) and found that most shared four common traits.

1. Power of Organization. The first trait is exactly what sets out the superstar agents from the herd. I have never met a top producer who was not organized and who did not keep exacting notes and diaries (or at least have assistants who will).

People will pay top dollar to have someone help them with music or sports lessons, but only top producers systematically go over and over sales techniques to perfect their closings. They are organized in the sense that not only are they on top of things, they are organized as they rehearse and roll play to get to and stay at the top.

2. They are persistent. The old saying of "you stop selling when either you or your client is dead" holds true. They believe in what they are doing and they do not accept rejection as defeat.

3. They have good health. Boy, this hits home for me. My father is 87. He is frail of body, and only gets out a few days a week because but his legs don’t carry him as well as they should.

My father was a superstar salesman all his life. How many people do you know who made $3.5 million in commission on one deal? My dad did and at 87 his mental health is the same as when he was at his peak. He called me the other day to ask if I had clients for a particular deal he was working on. How many 87 year old hustlers have you met lately?

Mental health is a key to success in sales. Being of good body is important. Great salespeople and leaders of industry must be able to go the distance and today that includes good mental health as well as physical. You don’t exercise? Then start, now, today. Exercise can clear the head, release powerful endorphins and regenerate you.

A few years ago I could barely walk due to a severe fall through an apartment building roof, today I suffer a lot of pain but damn it, I still can walk miles and love to dance. Hire a personal trainer if you can afford one and if not, walk around the block every day.

4. A Modicum of Ability. I had a little trouble with this concept of his until I figured it out as the genius within us. Something in you makes you unique, something gives you that drive, that one concept that can take you to new levels, like when David and Gail Liniger created RE/MAX despite the critics and the words, "it can’t be done, you can’t single handed change real estate." Yep, it can be done and watch out for more changes in the future. We are evolving.

I just finished reading about Robert Allen. He wrote a major book on buying real estate with nothing down. I am not a great advocate of his work, but one thing about his program truly intrigued me. He was challenged by a reporter who thought that he was a sham artist. Allen challenged the reporter that he could go any city, go to the unemployment line and pick a couple and they could not only buy with nothing down, they would make a lot of money.

Skipping most of the details, here is what intrigued me the most about the story. Working with the mayor of a city, they invited the unemployed to a lecture that could turn their lives around and make them money. A lot of people showed up but by the coffee break most had left - they learned that it actually took some work. Of those who remained he chose one couple, they went out and used his techniques and made $100,000 in one month. I am not concerned about the nothing down aspect or the profit, what intrigues me is the parallel I see with society and our real estate industry.

All of the tools for success are there, making a $100,000 and more is not that difficult for a working agent but when it comes to working at it, most leave by the coffee break. I study market reports and what do I see? The top producers concentrating their grip on the industry across North America. In Toronto today probably 5% of the Realtors control 95% of the action! I would bet that this trend, with some variation exists in most cities.

Are they smarter? Not really, but they are more focused - and here is another thing - they embrace education. They do not go to mandatory education just for the credits they are there to seek a spark of an idea. They will travel to get the right education and they will hire a coach.

Funny thing, Galton set out his study in the 1880s of 200 successful people and nothing has changed since then. A new year, in 2009 you can go for coffee or stay to learn. Doing nothing usually ends up being the most expensive thing one can do.

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Comment by Robert F. Segovia on December 16, 2008 at 8:38pm
Hello Carlos,

Just wanted to thank you for posting on this site. I like your posts as much as I like The Wall Street Journal as they are informative, concise with global implications! I will definitely be a reader of your blog. Wishing you Christmas Blessings!

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