By Susan Doran

Several years back, Ryan Hodge found himself in a dead zone.

“I had experienced a really successful year but didn’t feel it. So I knew something had to change,” he says.

Hodge, once a top agent with Re/Max, chose to leave that behind in 2013 to start up an independent brokerage with his business partner Shawn Westerik, servicing London, Ont. and surrounding areas. It was nerve wracking to leave one of the largest real estate organizations in the world but the pair’s fledgling company, the Realty Firm, has become everything they’d hoped. Having started from scratch – with a big, empty office that they could have fired a missile through without hitting anyone – they have since recruited over 100 sales reps and opened another office, making the Realty Firm one of the fastest-growing and most productive brokerages in the area.

“We are blessed at our brokerage,” Hodge says.

And yet as this process unfolded, Hodge was feeling unfulfilled and lost.

“I was at a real place of reflection,” he says. “I went down my own spiritual path. I started working with various mentors to discover more about myself, reading about and studying human behaviour.”

His work and past personal journey were catalysts, he says.

“Real estate is a breeding ground for addictions,” he says. “It’s a profession based on validation – which should lie within you, not come from others.”

He has noticed that an inordinate number of real estate professionals have had affairs, or focus on work at the expense of family life, or have substance abuse issues.

“Everyone has some form of addiction. I was a buffet of addictions.”

He says, “Addictions are but symptoms. Symptoms of broken souls.”

Ryan Hodge (Photo: Rachael Little)
Ryan Hodge (Photo: Rachael Little)

In 2015, with a soul that was fortunately being put back to rights, he took a leap and started Ryan Hodge Coaching and Consulting, a personal development company for agents and brokers seeking growth in a variety of professional and personal areas.

Tailored one-on-one to the individual, both business and life coaching are on offer, at a cost of between $4,000 and $6,000 for a 12-week program. Hodge explains that before this venture, for years he’d been giving “under-the-radar informal coaching” to business associates who hoped to pick his brain and gain insights into his success with lead generation.

Now that he has expanded into professional individual coaching, Hodge has had 30 speaking engagements across North America in the past year-and-a-half, and is also at the helm of a couple of Facebook platforms.

With the coaching endeavour gaining traction, he says that while he has helped some clients “double, triple and quadruple their business,” his goal is for them to learn much more than how to increase productivity.

“A lot of people I counsel are experiencing a lack of personal fulfilment. You can’t serve anyone at the highest level until you learn to serve yourself at the highest level first,” he says.     “Many people have patterns that aren’t serving them and I share my story from a place of transparency, vulnerability and integrity. The client identifies the areas they want to commit to and I help them self-discover.”

Hodge is unique in that he focuses on personal development first, he says.  He admits that it’s not unusual for clients to resist life coaching and stick strictly to business.

“It’s not an easy sell,” he says. “Very few people want to take a good look at themselves. They just want to learn how to make more money.”

Hodge prefers to coach people who “desire true spiritual growth, not just a boost in the business world,” and says that he has turned clients away who aren’t there for the “right” reasons.

That said, there are plenty of right reasons. He has even helped clients with fitness, health, nutrition and body transformation.

“I am not a fitness trainer but I lost 40 pounds over six months in 2015 and have maintained it,” he says. “So if a client wants guidance, I can suggest strategies.”

Not surprisingly, Hodge – a man who once noted that he will probably always be a little lost but is okay with that – is a consistent strong nurturer of his own personal and professional growth.

“I personally work with a business coach and three high-level spiritual guides myself at all times,” he says. He is especially pleased to have recently been accepted into New York Times’ best-selling author and spiritual teacher Gary Zukav’s Authentic Power Immersion program.

While having branched out into coaching, Hodge continues to co-own and run the Realty Firm with Westerik. Both still actively sell as well.

Asked how he manages to coach while remaining full time in real estate, Hodge says that for starters, Westerik is now the Realty Firm’s sole broker of record.

“We made the decision that he would be more suitable,” Hodge says.

As well, Hodge says he is “very selective” with his coaching clients, taking on a maximum of 20 at any given time and dedicating only about 10 hours weekly to one-on-one coaching sessions via phone or video call (with some additional ongoing “open dialogue” through social media, text or email).

“I am a 4 am wake-up person,” he says. “I tend to get a lot done before 7 am. And I can run a sales business from anywhere in the world.”

Clients looking to boost their earnings may find some of Hodge’s advice paradoxical, particularly when he counsels them not to get so wrapped up in real estate.

“I used to be that way too, but that’s a mask indicating you’re not experiencing life to the fullest,” he says. “I help clients understand that real estate is not their life purpose. It is a vehicle to let us do the things we want to do.”