By Brian Martindale

You have just received your real estate license, and you are ready to join the real estate sales business…or are you ready? Really ready?

You have been advised by well-meaning real estate school instructors, brokers, sales managers and other industry leaders that you should be prepared for (and be financially able to withstand) experiencing six to nine months (maybe more?) with no income, all the while spending your likely scarce resources advertising on a weekly basis. You start off with gusto; you will not be one of those slow starters that you have heard so much about.

You will cultivate this positively reinforced thought pattern, but only if you are initially supremely confident within yourself. You may or not be an extrovert. You may or may not have the gift of the gab (no Irish blood like me?). You may believe that you know more about real estate than the average bear out there due to your real estate school test results, and besides, that is what your new sales manager has told you to believe. If not, “Fake it ‘til you make it”, you will be told.

“Turn me loose!” you cheer to yourself.

Fast forward six months.

You have worked diligently on your plan of attack. You have spent thousands of dollars on advertising your brokerage’s name (your name is somewhere near the bottom of all the ads in much smaller font). You have secured two listings and they both are still on the market. You are running out of money, but the bills are not running away.

This is not what you had envisioned and your nerves are starting to act up. You no longer sleep well. You are beginning to question your decision to get into what now looks like a rat race and not a gold rush. Maybe you should read some articles in REM that are designed to help folks like you who are having a tough time of it. But no, you don’t have time for that kind of stuff; you must run even faster now and for more hours per day…now seven days a week. You think of that old Beatles song, Eight Days A Week. You are becoming a slave to your dream job chasing after that elusive much-needed commission. You are serving your apprenticeship, which is not an apprenticeship, because apprentices actually get paid on a weekly basis. Who has time to sit down for a half hour every day and waste valuable time (time is money!) reading stuff? Maybe you will have time to read REM later when you are making it and you can afford to slack off a bit.

Fast forward another 18 months.

You have finally closed a couple of deals (maybe a couple more). You are worn out (possibly burned out) physically and mentally. You have much less money in the bank than you had two years ago. You have been working for less money per hour than you have worked for previously for any other job you have ever had when you factor in the last two years’ worth of expenses and time invested in the yoke. The glamour factor has evaporated. Your lease payment on your fancy car is becoming onerous. It is not a joy to drive any more. “Damn it, why didn’t I keep my old, paid-for car?” you lament.

You don’t know if you will ever be able to change your now self-realized naïve attitude toward the business to do what is necessary to compete on an even footing with those toughened pros who always seem to know what to say to prospects, when to say it, what not to say and when not to say it. You realize that many pros are often automatons with their words of advice for their prospects. You realize that you are honest, but that your naivety will not allow you to make it in this cut-throat business…unless… you change your game. But now it is too late to read self-help articles in REM, let alone throw in the odd comment or two here and there, because you do not feel that you are part of the culture; you do not feel competent enough to comment because you do not feel that you are a legitimate member of the culture. You are on your way out; you intuitively know it, even if you do not externally acknowledge it.

This is the unfortunate newbie scenario that plays out all too often within the real estate sales game. And we wonder why (at least I wonder why) few Realtors of the 100,000 plus dispersed across Canada read REM, and why even fewer (a paltry dozen or so) even bother to sporadically comment here. Budding failure amongst the newbie population combined with a no-time-to-read-anything attitude rampant amongst struggling survivors (most Realtors on any given day) combined with a somewhat arrogant attitude amongst some high flyers might be the compiled reasons why apathy reigns supreme regarding why pro-active reading and learning is regarded as a time waster by too many Realtors. This is a pernicious reality. It is an insidious reality and it continues unabated.

Newbie alert! Take the time (just a half-hour per day, same time, every day, without fail) to pull up REMonline, starting right now. You will find that after three weeks it will become a looked-forward-to habit. Habituation is the key. You can’t help but help yourself by pro-actively educating yourself daily. You will begin to feel that you are part of the equation. Professionalism and financial success do not magically appear with the ownership of a sales license. They must be cultivated and nurtured; professionalism first, financial success thereafter. Don’t waste a free-for-the-reading vehicle (REM). Intelligent people read all the time. Become an intelligent Realtor. Prospects will recognize you for your newly acquired and ongoing intelligence. Avoid the trap of Realtor apathy. Read REM diligently. Contribute to the commentary, pro or con. It will get you into the swing of things. You will feel like you belong.

Note: This is not a paid advertisement for REM. I wrote and submitted this piece because I simply cannot believe the depth of Realtor apathy that exists within the real estate sales culture.

I expect this article to die a quick death on the vine without much commentary, pro or con.

Realtors: Prove me wrong.

Brian Martindale is a retired real estate salesperson. He also spent time as a real estate appraiser, a conciliator with the Ontario New Home Warranty Program and working in the insurance and financial planning industries. He may be the most frequent contributor to the comments section on


    • Thanks David. You are one of the very few who believes that reading is a good thing, and not a time waster. I really believe that people who can’t control/discipline themselves long enough to read something educational over a few minutes every day are almost always out of control with almost every part of their lives.

  1. Brian Martindale, I am not anti reader. In fact I think my reading time will surpass most realtors. You are missing the point that my comment is more about Real estate business in general [ current model of Brokerage], not reading REM.

    • Sardool:
      I agree for the most part with your broken system position; I have been banging on that drum for years on this site. Readers are likely sick of hearing my rants (at least some of the less than two percent who read REM). However, broken system or not, educating one’s self via regularly reading material designed to help one’s pursuit of professionalism, including REM articles, can only further one’s career. A well-read Realtor operating within a broken system ought to do better than a not-so-well-read Realtor, all things considered. My talking point was aimed at the individual Realtor. Individuals make up the industry. Only about two-thousand individuals on average (out of the over one-hundred-thousand-plus Realtors Canada-wide) read REM on a daily basis. Thus, my point: why is this industry so apathetic?
      Answer: Realtors condition themselves to think that running around like chickens with their heads cut off is the best way to make the most of their time. They think that sitting on their asses reading for a half-hour per day is a waste of time. Smart Realtors know that that kind of mindset breeds stupidity. That kind of mindset is based upon short-term emotionalism, not upon clear, circumspect-based thinking that values foresight over hindsight (or no sight).
      Count yourself as residing within the very small number of Realtors who read REM daily. Thanks for your participation.

  2. You forget that a lot are retired ( or still working) Gov. workers with high paying wages pensions. That decided to become Realtors. They do not have to sell anything.

    • Terry: Is your point then that retirees with good pensions can afford to walk away from double-enders and their lucrative commissions? Makes sense to me. I have long advocated that this industry would be best served by providing the public with Realtors who are ‘not’ commission hungry on a daily transaction basis. What say you?

  3. agreed…the newbies these days want to be spoon fed ‘leads’ ‘leads’ ‘leads’ but do not want to take the time out to actually learn how to feed themselves the leads, which of course involves learning and reading all kinds of material from a variety of sources. Those with the most knowledge have the advantage…everytime

  4. Current model of Brokerage is a broken system. Newbies are set up for failure by the system that is now. What business hires an employee and tell them to buy their own equipment, find their own customer. make a sale and pay us commission? On the contrary, business provides the product or service, set up shop [ real or virtual] , does its marketing, handles all admin work and pays its employee by wage or commission. As for reading REM, do you seriously think the agent you describe in your article has any time left for reading?

    • Sardool:
      How can one ‘not’ block out a few minutes per day to read industry relevant material that might help with one’s business? Every agent/registrant can read REM every day if he/she really wants to. The use of time must be controlled by the Realtor, not the other way around. A Realtor rationally ‘chooses’ to read REM, or (irrationally) not.
      Time is a valuable commodity If a Realtor lets time control him/her, then that Realtor is literally out of control and is a slave to time. An out-of-control Realtor is a time-chaser, and thus, becomes a money-chaser (read, commission slave). Money-chasers become unbalanced personalities (read, aggressive). Unbalanced personalities either fail at the trough or are brought to heel by the regulators. That is a steep price to pay for thinking that one does not have the time to read educational material on a timely basis.
      If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right. Doing it right means harboring the right attitude, and the right attitude leads to reading…as a regular habit…because…learning through reading leads to a more controlled life with a better income stream. Whilst reading the mind automatically relaxes and calms itself. Think of time spent reading as a financial investment. It will pay off.

      • To your comments, Brian, (your last couple of sentences above in particular: definitely an investment), and those words of others who participate at REM, either in posting comments or as article contributors regarding either reading capacity in general being that of restaurant menus and not much higher, or lack of reading altogether, I can’t help but ask: Are children today taught to read newspapers’ current events or watch newscasts on television, or even on the Net? Or perhaps watch a related documentary and as a family discuss the findings of the day? at school or at home? (A possible senior kindergarten project, cut and paste headlines only? From a real paper newspaper, before they cease to exist? For a years later trip down memory lane, maybe?)

        I can’t help addressing the reading and listening issue and the current events topic: having been born a war-baby, my first hearings were “radio” related. Often local newscasts here in Canada included hearing the droning voice of BBC London and Winston Churchill reviewing then current war issues. Did I have any interest? Of course not. I was only three or four years old. If you are exposed to things often enough, they become part of your psyche. It’s true. Subliminal indoctrination.

        It’s not rocket science in today’s news to see what has indoctrinated recent decades of such that is broadcast daily, in all topics.

        I was just a small child. But everywhere I was, the radio message was always a different compilation of the same information at large or a review of it. Over and over again. I’m sure there’s plenty of REM readers who can relate. It’s just not talked about here: the daily news outside of real estate findings. But nonetheless there have been multiple comments about lack of general reading situations. You address a worthy topic.

        In American schools a heavy concentration is and always has been placed on teaching/learning civics in classrooms. Not so much in our school systems.

        I didn’t know it then, and only came to really appreciate a Grade 8 experience, later in life, forgive the split infinitive… I confess, I am a news junkie. It was reinforced my whole subsequent life, what I had learned one day, in Grade 8.

        I could not have missed seeing newspapers in my house, growing up. Or missed the bright yellow National Geo covers. But my favourite childhood later newspaper reading became “The Star Weekly,” initially. It came weekly with the weekend paper. I read it from front to back, top to bottom, I think as soon as I learned to read; I wasn’t interested in the primers. Nothing moved fast enough for me. But every morning from Grade One on, while getting ready for school, one couldn’t possibly not hear the radio newscasts. (You had to have a licence that stuck a reference number on the back, to have a radio.) The radio was always on. There was no TV yet. But I didn’t really know the cause and effect definition impact, or how listening to the news would affect my adult life.

        As a young child, I had no understanding of the breadth of consumption.

        Our Grade 8 teacher was a very tall straight as a stick man who wore dark suits, spoke in short sentences that mostly said yes, no, or maybe. He carried a long wooden map pointer stick, and sometimes cracked it against his desk to emphasize the import of what was on his mind at any point in time, and of course used it on the huge pull-down map that covered the whole blackboard wall.

        He taught (mandatory) history classes. We had no course options yet at that age. I can still see that year’s large history textbook we each had. We had to buy our own. And we carried sometimes twenty pounds of books back and forth each day. And we didn’t have lockers. We carried a big “book bag” everywhere we went.

        In many respects continuing education was expected of boys, not so much for girls who back then largely were expected to get married, have babies and stay at home to care for them. And ideally they should marry a doctor or a lawyer. Such was just another sign of the times.

        That teacher mostly directed his educating to the boys in his classes. Very rarely having any one on one, back and forth, with the girl students. It was frowned upon for girls to engage in class in any meaningful way. There was a lot of “be seen, but not heard” going on.

        First day of class he said his teaching style would be that of a professor. Mostly conversation only. He plopped the heavy history textbook on his desk with a big ker-thump, and said: “This textbook is the information on which you will be required to write your exams. However, I will not be teaching directly from it, page by page. Govern yourselves accordingly.

        “This is likely a first such teaching experience for you. You will be assigned reading portions that you may or may not be questioned on. I suggest to read it cover to cover and study it so you will be able to pass your exams. Memorize important names, places, and dates. Our classes will generally be of a conversational nature.”

        Our classes were easily 70:30 boys to girls. And most of his efforts were directed at the boys, largely ignoring the girls completely.

        He started each 40-minute class with a ten minute “current-events” discussion: what was currently “in the news.” It was 1955. Weeks turned into months and the War had ended 10 years prior, but the textbooks hadn’t caught up to current war news; the history in the making was still much too new. Many students pretty much slept through the class until they would hear that wooden map pointer being whacked on a desk, as a “are you listening?” reminder.

        One day, in his usual form he directed a question to the class during the ten minute current events time, clearly expecting one of the boys to know the answer. Especially the smartest boy in class who would later become graduating day valedictorian. He was an avid reader and his student opinion was often sought in other classes, too. Nice quiet boy from a local well-known business family.

        Teacher’s question of the day: Does anyone know: “Who is the …. Chancellor of (West) Germany? Does anyone know?” Panning the room when no one answered, students looking at one another, with puzzled expressions almost saying: who cares, and why on earth would you expect us to know “that?”

        Seeing the questioning faces looking up at him, the teacher was not pleased. Girls in the class very rarely put up their hand to answer any question. It simply wasn’t expected of them. It was almost an unspoken rule of sorts.

        Shyly I gently raised my hand once I realized no one, no boy, was going to answer. In sotto voce, almost intimidated, I said: That would be “Konrad Adenauer.” As I almost had not said it, I immediately felt like crawling under the desk. I can still see him. He was moving towards the blackboard behind his desk, with pointer in hand. He stopped stalk still with a perplexed look on his stern countenance, and acknowledged my answer, saying: “Yes, that is correct.” His facial expression changed almost indicating shock. I can still see him all these years later. Clearly in my mind.

        How did I know that answer? Certainly not because I was smart. And I was only thirteen years old. What did I know about such things? We all were in Grade 8. Credit it to subliminal indoctrination. Radio-style.

        Something happened that day. I was never a confident child. And there were no expectations of me. But for some odd reason, between changing classes (no talking allowed in the halls), there was some murmuring, I later learned included, “who does she think she is, answering such a question, brown-nosing the teacher?”

        But that teacher treated me noticeably differently for the rest of the year, seemed he had a newly acquired respect for a young girl student. Nothing was ever said, but I felt it. It obviously meant something that I had answered, and correctly. How could the mere answering of a current events question bring about such a change? But clearly he saw my answering as a boy put-down.

        And it seemed to say: “Are you going to let a girl make you look foolish?” The valedictorian boy later became a history university professor. And I became a textbook copy editor. And later in the mid 1970’s, a gourmet cooking writer and teacher, long before it was fashionable, reflecting my home economics (called domestic science) training.

        Call it what you will, but that ordinary question-answer experience set a tone for my life that is a story in itself. And contributed to my eventually breaking the glass ceiling. I attribute much of my success to reading.

        The point being, if you don’t already, perhaps it could be useful to teach your children to relate to current events in the news: even if just the headlines, perhaps there is no time like the present to start; sadly much of the daily news includes local subdivision news engulfed in shootings and stabbings and tires flying off highway trucks. Try to engage young people at a very early age in an interest in the “national” or “international” news, even if in a most general sense. Children, unknowingly absorb what they hear in their home.

        I mostly start and end the day reviewing news headlines, and mostly don’t read the details; there’s just so many hours in a day; but having an overview helps to engage in step with clients. Likewise I catch a couple of partial TV newscasts, while multi-tasking in the kitchen. CNN is a preferred news channel, although all the political hype gets tiresome, being apolitical. And of course our own CBC. And watch The Agenda with Steve Paikin and such programs. And reviewing national newspaper headlines. I am one who still treasures hands-on real paper. Their news websites are nasty things, often difficult to find specific stories. No time for outrageous search processes.

        The childhood radio newscast indoctrination never went away. And oddly enough helped me enormously in all three of my overlapping lifetime careers.

        Many of us took such experiences for granted. As I often reference, like the Charles Dickens’ title: “A Tale of Two Cities” opening lines as offered in google copy – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we … ”

        (But all through life, we all didn’t know what we didn’t know, of course, until we found out we didn’t know “it” and then what?)

        Carolyne L 🍁

        • Great comment that illuminates from whence wisdom is born Carolyne, but, here’s the overriding problem: few will read your comment right to the end, and thus, will not get much out of the few lines that they did read before fatiguing from “It’s just too hard’ism” laziness syndrome.
          Few of us are studious. Many of us are attention-deficit deficiency experts. We have devolved into headline hunters. The good stuff is always below the headlines. It takes discipline to stay with something right to the end. Laziness and discipline are mutually exclusive concepts. The former trumps the latter too much these days it seems.
          Discipline has left the room. Those who posses it end up controlling the room…but it takes time…and ongoing discipline. Practicing discipline begets naturally occurring discipline. Possessing natural discipline begets the personality of a winner. A winner rarely loses.

  5. Brian, I agree with your point in this article, reading and time spent on that is what keeps us sharp and current. If we are not knowledgeable professionals, what are we?

    • Jonathan: The answer to your question is…ignorant amateurs. You might be too nice a guy to say it herein, but I am not :-)

  6. I for one do read R.E.M. and enjoy all the articles. Knowledge is definitely a benefit and should be valued by all in our industry.

    • Joe: “Knowledge is definitely a benefit and should be valued by all in our industry.” Truer words have never been spoken, but, how does one drive those words home to the surface feeders?
      Still waters run deep, they say. All of the junk floats on the surface, I say. The vast majority of Realtors are noisily thrashing about on the surface so much of the time (making themselves look busy) that they miss the stuff that exists below the surface…where the higher quality of the water quietly resides. The surface cruisers can’t see below the surface because they focus on only the surface. Surface thrashers see only what is directly in front of them, and they don’t look any deeper. Smart Realtors proactively look beneath the surface (by reading REM…daily) and thus over time build up a vast repertoire of knowledge that automatically comes to mind when called for…sitting face-to-face with prospects and clients. It’s a no-brainer, but no-brainers don’t see it that way…because…they are conditioned surface feeders. They need to rethink their strategies and recondition themselves…if they truly value professionalism over commission-grabbing amateurism.

      • Brian, as an individual, all we can do is share what we learn with our colleagues and let them know where the info came from and the importance for us all to continue to learn on a daily basis. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

        • Good points Joe. Regarding your concluding statement, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”: I guess there aren’t many horses out there who think that they are thirsty enough to drink from the fountain of knowledge yet, even though it is staring them right in the face. Once they start to wobble all over the place from a lack of sustenance, it’s too late. The keeling over part is then just a matter of time. From ready-to-win sprinters, fast out of the gate, they devolve into bringing-up-the-rear heading-for-the-exits pasture grazers. They become horses asses, because that is all that we see of them as they disappear into race-track oblivion.
          If only they could read the writing on the wall before the wall collapses right on top of them. But you are right Joe; why should I, or you, or anyone else care? Most horses, after all, aren’t the brightest, most forward-looking beasts on the farm. Methinks that the pedigree needs to be improved drastically, with heavy emphasis on what is between the ears vs how much stamina is on tap. Mindlessly running ’til you drop is not a good recipe for success.
          If readers can’t follow the above noted simple metaphorical symbolism, then they should not be allowed to gain a real estate salesperson license. The powers-that-be should not keep on re stocking the paddocks with horses that are too dumb to drink when they are thirsty.

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