Self Taught MBA: Learning to Walk Again: Life Lessons From a Professional Negotiatorcomments (0) December 7th, 2012 in Blogs
I heard Mike Walker deliver a riveting real-estate seminar in Denver. It was an accredited negotiation course through the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, a nationally accredited training and coaching company serving real-estate professionals nationwide. During the two-day seminar, it was clear to me that Mike not only had a solid grip the science of negotiation, but also communicated the subtle art with an intensity and nuance that only comes from personal experience. Being a young man, perhaps in his early 30s, I wondered how Mike acquired his impressive war chest of illustrative anecdotes, not only to make his point, but also often in response to barbed questions from his students.
A Colorado native, Mike became an entrepreneur early in life, setting up a neighborhood waste-management service while still in middle school. Before curbside recycling became common, Mike charged a small fee to collect recyclable trash, sorted paper from glass and plastic, and then took the material to a recycling facility where he exchanged it for money. He told he always loved working, not because of the effort, but the fun of learning skills, socializing, and "trying on different hats." Mike's urge to try his hand at everything became the impetus that lead him to have "more jobs than anyone I know." From selling shoes to property management, Mike's early career was illuminated by success upon success-until the lights went out.
By 2006, in his mid 20s, Mike had become a real-estate broker and developer, having fixed and flipped more than 70 properties, from large homes to condominiums. He says he managed to take home more than a million dollars one year. He had the house and a beautiful wife to prove it. But you know what follows: 2007. The house and everything else (except his wife) became a lesson in the transience of fast fortune and the overwhelming power of a real-estate recession. The details are painful. The usual litany of fear-driven mistakes and uncontrollable circumstances dragged Mike through a string of defeats entailing perilous negotiations with creditors and a period of excruciating self-doubt.
By 2008, Mike and his wife had gone full circle, now back living with parents, and not just starting over, but faced with an overwhelming tax debt. Perhaps this was the motivation Mike needed, as it gave rise to a new career and renewed faith in life and its abundance of opportunity.
Looking back a few years, Mike recalls his first job in real estate. He was smart and a quick study. He earned his real-estate license in one week, and then immediately went to work for friend whose company had firmly established itself in the business by running a highly organized, data-driven operation with clearly articulated policies and procedures. Mike said he thought the business was stodgy and boring. "That was then. I've learned a lot since then," he clarified. Eventually, he switched jobs and becoming an independent Realtor with a firm much more to his disposition.
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