The Little End of the Horn
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 14, 2017
“A young man (or woman) starting out in life, anxious to succeed, must not say to himself, “I would like to succeed, but I do not believe I am really fitted for the part I have assumed. My profession or my vocation is so crowded, there are so many who cannot get a decent living in this field, so many people out of employment, that I believe I have made a mistake; but I will work away the best I can. Perhaps I will come out somewhere.” The young man (or woman) who talks so, thinks so, does so, will come out somewhere. It will be at the “little end of the horn,” out of pocket, out at the elbow, and out of a job.”
The above passage is from the Orison Swett Marden book, The Miracle of Right Thought, published in 1910. Fast forward to 2017. I remember in recent years interviewing applicants looking to begin a career in real estate as a licensed sales agent; hundreds of them. Most were very nice people who one could take an immediate liking to. Where they people who already had the aptitude of becoming a successful real estate agent? Possibly but probably not. I heard so many of them say they wanted to be a real estate agent because:
They liked people
- They like selling
- They like real estate; more specifically they liked looking at beautiful homes
- They were always interested in real estate
- They liked helping people
Of these and many more responses, the last was probably the best but still did not suggest to me that they would become a successful real estate sales agent.
Who came to apply with me? People from all walks of life with varying levels of education, such as:
- High School Graduates
- Some College educations
- Some with College Degrees
- Some from Community Colleges
- Some with Community College Degrees
- Police Officers
- Former military members, one was even a retired General of the Army who failed miserably in real estate
- Bar tenders
- Single Women
- Married Women
- Single Men
- Married Men
- Applicants with no children
- Applicants with children
In other words, just about every type of person interviewed with me and wanted to become a real estate agent. How can you tell who would make the best of the best in the real estate sales field? What in each of these applicants triggered a belief that they among all the others would do well in the sales profession?
Of all the individuals listed, two stuck out with me – teachers and nurses. Why? For two reasons. First they have dealt with people but more importantly they have already demonstrated an ability of paying attention to details where a mistake could actually cost someone their life. You can’t get more attentive than that! Why did the General fail so miserably? Most of his military career he had people around him who did all the necessary “grunt work.” He did not have this posse around him in real estate and he simply did not want to do or see the need to do all the “grunt work” necessary to be successful in real estate – sales did not just happen – you had to work to make them happen and he did not want to do the work necessary.
If you were to look specifically at real estate sales, The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) estimates that there are about 2 million active real estate licensees in the United States. According to the 2012 Economic Census there are 86,004 real estate brokerage firms operating in the United States. The “brokerage firms” number can be misleading because a license real estate broker could be just one individual (often referred to as a Mom & Pop brokerage) as compared to an office of licensed real estate agents working under one licensed broker.
I know you cannot divide 2,000,000 active real estate agents by our 50 states but let’s do it just for the purpose of this Nugget. That would mean there are 40,000 licensed agents in each of the 50 states. Referring to what Marden wrote when he said “My profession or my vocation is so crowded, there are so many who cannot get a decent living in this field, so many people out of employment, that I believe I have made a mistake”, he was right IF the applicant did ONLY what everyone else was doing.
If you have not heard of the 80/20 Rule, it is simple. In the case of real estate agents, 20% of the agents are doing 80% of the sales. That means of the 40,000 agents in your state (not an accurate number), 32,000 of them fall in to the category of not being able to make a decent living. 20%, or 8,000 do make a decent living. The 80/20 Rule also would suggest that even within the 20% or 8,000 agents, the 80/20 Rule still applies meaning of the 8,000 agents, 20% or 1600 are making a really good living; and then, of the 1,600, 320 are making a FANTASTIC LIVING. So what are the odds that you, when considering there are 40,000 other agents in your state, that YOU will become one of the 320 who are doing FANTASTICALLY WELL at making a decent living? I would not want to bet on your chances.
But..review the list of people applying for a real estate sales position above. My guess is that NONE of them ever took a course on ATTITUDE. Few would have been trained on GOAL SETTING and in fact they would consider the word GOAL being classified as a “four letter word” since so many people shy away from it. Most if any have never heard or been trained in establishing a LIFE MISSION STATEMENT. If the studies you read are correct, less than 5% read more than one book A YEAR and it is doubtful if they intended to read any more than that.
Given that bleak outlook, I believe there is one characteristic that would suggest that an applicant might be one of the future 320 “fantastic successes” and that could be determined by asking them just two questions. First, what was the last non-fiction book they VOLUNTARILY read and what did they learn from it? Secondly, how many non-fiction books did they VOLUNTARILY read since they turned 18 years of age? I only selected 18 because that would be the average age of your typical high school graduate. I indicated non-fiction because these are the types of books you learn something from. Even those people who had already established a career or profession, rarely voluntarily read any books that would further those careers or professions. Their answer to both of these questions would indicate if they were learning based individuals or not.
If you were hiring someone for a position, no matter what position that may be, why would you ever intentionally hire anyone who is NOT a learning based individual. Learning based means, at least to me, someone who desires to continue their learning beyond what they would normally been required to learn For example. Most real estate agents take the courses required to become a licensed real estate agent then continue their education ONLY by taking the minimum required classes each year. How many create a Self-Education Plan that includes courses or books on developing their Attitude, Sales Techniques, Relationships, Goal Setting, and identifying their Life’s Mission Statement/Goal? I can guarantee you that those who do, will be in the 320 who create a fantastic life because of their real estate career.
What is a Life’s Mission Statement? What will your life look like when it is finished? What are you doing every day that when done would lead you to achieve what you want to achieve in your life? Are you doing those things that matter? Using myself as an example; my Life’s Mission Statement has always been, “To help people to do what they do to do it better!” Writing this Nugget could have that affect therefore, yes, I am doing something that will eventually lead to achieving my Life’s Mission Statement. How do you want your life to have mattered?
Wallace D. Wattles wrote in the early 1900s several books one of which is The Science of Success, The Secret to Getting What You Want. It is a trilogy of three of his best writings. The Science of Getting Rich. The Science of Being Well. The Science of Being Great. Of these three, The Science of Being Well may be the most important because if you do not maintain your health, nothing else of importance really matters. Wattles uses the phrase, “thinking in a certain way” throughout all of his writings. By that he means you CAN achieve whatever you desire PROVIDED you THINK IN A CERTAIN WAY. It is doubtful that the “certain way” will mysteriously just come to you – you have to learn it. You learn it by reading and taking courses.
Here is YOUR key to success. Do not read just anything or take just any course just so you can say you read books or your take courses. Read those books and take those courses that will help make you a better person and those that advance your ability to perform in the careers or professions YOU have decided to pursue.
Personally I can think of no better place to start than to read the books of Orison Swett Marden and Wallace D. Wattles. Surprisingly they both wrote their books in the early 1900s and when you read them you will see as I saw that a lot of books written much, much later by some of the more prominent names you may be aware of contain the same or similar information of these two geniuses (my determination). Just think about what Wallace wrote about. If you truly want something, how are you going to get if you don’t “think in a certain way?”
Let’s look at real estate. If you want to become a successful real estate agent, you MUST think AND act like a successful real estate agent. If you want to eventually become financially independent, you MUST think AND act like a financially independent person would think and act. Success and financial independence didn’t “just happen” for these folks, it was created by “thinking in a certain way” and that way was through self-education. While a college degree is important and worthy of having, what you learn through self-education AFTER your formal education is what will make you great at what you do and keep you from wallowing in the “little end of the horn” of plenty.