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.”

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  • Carolyne in Canada

    Readers of this REM article might find Joeann’s link useful:

    http://www.joeann.com/newsletter.shtml

    “Scroll down” for this week’s tips. You can sign up for Joeann’s weekly info if you like. She’s just full of great ideas.

    Joeann and I have been business friends between here and AZ for probably twenty years. Many of you know her from public speaking events, conventions and such. If you don’t know her, she is one of the most genuine people in the world, not just the real estate world.

    I just thought as her weekly newsletter arrived today, that the topic(s) fit in with the current REM lead article here. And someone might benefit from her always “up” attitude by reading her materials. (And she has a cute mouse, too.)

    Carolyne L 🍁

  • Carolyne in Canada

    Perhaps a useful undertaking for CREA, as the nation’s industry overseer… to put to use some portion of fees collected in the overall.

    It has come to my attention that the worlds of doctors and lawyers have some sort of such helpful apparatus in place through either the Law Society and Medical Associations to whom operational related dues and fees are paid, to assist their own in the world of various addiction situations.

    No less should be expected in our industry.

    Rather than individual agents having to pay related costs to outsiders or needing to join private groups for help in regard to addictive situations, perhaps part of real estate related fees paid could be allocated to various counselling: marriage counselling, drug or alcohol addiction, especially if real estate job related. Is it not part of public consumer protection safety at stake?

    Maybe there is no help for “workaholics,” as likely that root cause is related to others so noted.

    Carolyne L 🍁

  • Brian Martindale

    Another bag-on article courtesy of REM. Ryan hits the proverbial nail right on the sweet spot. Unfortunately, the real estate commission-only sales culture attracts mostly other-than self-monitoring personality types who don’t read REM. It is good, however, to see more commenters lately, especially those individuals for whom using their own names means something to them.
    On another topic: I just read the sponsored “Appraisal Myths..” etc. piece. There is one glaring myth contained within the narrative that is actually true, at least found to be so by me as the result of my six years of experience working as an appraiser in Peterborough, Ontario, from about 2000 until 2006. I worked for the head appraiser/owner of the appraisal business, and he had to sign off on all of my finished reports/opinions of value before they were allowed to be forwarded to our clients (mostly lending institutions). Virtually every appraisal request was handed to me by the boss on a slip of paper with the target amount penned in by the boss. In other words, most lenders wanted their target amount to be the bottom line of the appraisal “opinion” of value, and my boss accommodated them. Wonder why there are real estate bubbles anyone? Does this happen within other appraisal offices? I would not be surprised if it does. It’s called collusion, and the head appraiser is the one to be held accountable (I was working as a Candidate) IF anyone finds out about such fraudulent activity by the powers-that-be (AIC types).
    On at least two other occasions I was asked to provide opinions of value on behalf of wives for the purposes of marriage splits regarding disposition of the matrimonial homes. Other appraisers (from different offices) provided opinions of value for the husbands. My boss actually found out who the other appraisers were, called them, asked and received from them information regarding what the other appraisals had come in at. When my opinions of value were higher than the other sides’ opinions, I was told to adjust my opinions downward to closely, but not exactly, match the other “opinions”. When I resisted the orders, I was told by my boss that he would not sign off on the appraisals until I made the downward adjustments…and that I would not get paid for them either if I did not follow his orders. “We are not interested in going to court to defend our appraisals; we are here to make money!” he would say. He would repeat the “We are here to make money!” theme quite regularly, often demanding that I complete up to six appraisals per day (properties inspected, reports completed and delivered to the lenders by each day’s end). It was a kind of churn-’em-out puppy mill, much like OREA’s soon-to-be-former real estate university. We finally had a falling out, and I moved on, out of the appraisal business and back into the real estate sales business, finishing out my work career December 2011. Seven years later (January 1, 2018) I will be getting back into the fray as The Real Estate Advocate. Fun times ahead.

  • Kathleen Black

    Excellent article Ryan. It always starts inside first, and I too have witnessed the disproportionate share of addictions in our Industry, some in certain cultures more than others, and certainly made a massive transformation in myself, my career, and my future when I too, sought meaning within real estate with personal development and leadership. Thank you for sharing this important insight.