He was a grown man on the brink of tears. A broker. Relating a story to a fellow speaker after a conference session a few weeks ago. 

I happened into the conversation by virtue of proximity. I became engaged by solidarity.   

The broker, a smart and eloquent man, was relating an event unfolding in his business, a family enterprise now on shaky ground.

It was 133 days into the unsuccessful representation of a listing when he was called by the seller to intervene. This seller, on the brink of foreclosure, could faintly hear the flushing gurgle of his family’s hopes heading down the drain. 

The broker spoke with the listing agent to assess the marketing campaign and pricing.

At that show and tell moment, the broker came face to face with all the words he has read in the past, the speeches he has heard, the cautions and advice he had been given but chose to ignore.

"Only two photos," I heard him say.

"After 133 days, all my agent did was take two photos of the home. Put it on the MLS. That’s it. This is a home worth millions that is about to go into foreclosure." he  said. "And it’s all my fault."

Pain has a profile. It pushed hard against this man’s brow. He looked at both of us, his eyes continuing the conversation his voice couldn’t. A lesser man might have looked down. Or said nothing. He continued.

"I could be sued," he said.
"I should be sued," he echoed.
"If I were the seller, I would sue me. We have done less than nothing to help him."

No longer was I a passerby.

"Nothing yet." Was his reply to my question: "So what have you done about that agent?"

I peeked over at my colleague. Waited a few cautionary seconds before speaking. Hoping he, being far wiser than I, would intercept the moment and say something sage.


"What you should have done is handed that agent back their license," I said. "Right then. On the spot. Send a message to every other sub-par agent in the company looking to do as little as possible and make the most. Then I would have called every broker in the city and made sure this individual never works in this profession again. I would fire my GM, take over the reigns and send a message out to every agent that at this moment, everything in the company changes."

The broker looked me square in the face. "I never should have hired him to begin with," he said.
"Forget that," I said. "What’s done is done. Fire his ass and anyone else who has an issue with it. And either close the doors to your brokerage or use this as an opportunity to rebuild."

I expected him to tell me where to shove it. I would have deserved it. Or give me fifteen reasons why such drastic moves were impossible.

Neither occurred. The next day I saw him in the hall. As he put it, he was "erupting with new ideas."

Way to go.