Real Estate and The Karate Kid: "Get Him A Body Bag!"

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Karate KickI currently have one DVD at my house, The Karate Kid. I think the other 100 DVD's I own were left behind at my brother's house when I moved to Michigan. One trip back to WA I grabbed my 10 or 12 favorites to bring back with me, but they ended up at my in-laws lake house.

No matter what I do, it seems that I always end up with only that one movie here. I've forgotten to take a few RedBox videos back, for which I've been charged $500 (or something ridiculously more than their replacement cost) and yet none of those seem to be around the house anywhere.

Don't feel bad for me, my wife and I usually fall asleep to something from Netflix, which we watch through the X-Box. However, on occassion, for a variety of reasons, we will end up going to bed without the X-Box in the bedroom and it's always The Karate Kid that I throw on...........because, well, it's the only movie here, remember?

(I know, it's probably not the best idea tha I have to have something on TV to fall asleep......just too much activity in my brain, it has be quieted at some point)

Last night, when Christa had drifted off to sleep, I decided I have watched The Karate Kid at least 100 times and that I was going to figure out what lessons a real estate agent could learn from this movie. So here goes..........(hopefully this will come out on the keyboard as cool as it was in my head last night)

Find a Mentor

I think there are a ton of things that the real estate industry could do to have a better image. We routinely rank near the bottom whenever some firm decides to poll random folks about their perception of professionalism. If you are a brand new agent, what are your options for learning the business? You have the same options that Daniel had trying to learn karate. You could read it in a book, you could take lessons at the local Y, you could seek out a school or class.......or you could find a mentor.

The opportunities to mentor under someone that knows the business are certainly out there. I doubt it's going to be your maintenance man at your apartment complex, like it was for Daniel, but someone in your market has so much business they can't keep up with it all, I promise you. Some companies offer a team structure where you have the support not only of your broker, but also of your team leader. Daniel was getting his butt kicked all over San Fernando Valley until he found his mentor.

Most people will jump into real estate on their own versus joining a team or working under a mentor because they don't want to give up any commission. In the long run, having a mentor is going to result in a lot more commission because you'll learn to do the right things early on instead of having to learn them on the fly (while potentially missing out on additional commissions that wouldn't be available without your mentor). Success breeds success. In some industries you have to apprentice before they will let you anywhere near the clients on your own. We should be doing the same thing in this industry.

"No Such Thing as Bad Student, Only Bad Teacher"

Mr. Miyagi says this after Daniel tells him that the teacher at the Cobra Kai Dojo is teaching his students to use karate for more than just self defense (I've literally seen this movie a 100 times and the teachers name is slipping my they say it in the first movie, or not until the second? or maybe not ever?). In this industry there are no shortage of ways to get more business. Around every corner and behind many web links are the answers to your prayers, how to earn more business. If I have one piece of advice for anyone considering paying to learn something in this industry, it would be: consider the success of the source.

Can someone really teach you to how to convert web leads into real estate transactions if they've never done it themselves? Can they show you how to be a great agent if they've never been one? Maybe the answer is yes. In fact, I'm sure the answer is yes. There are people that can teach you how to do it without never having done it themselves. But if they've done it themselves using what they are teaching you, you know it works. If they've never done might want to check with their past clients. Those people are going to give you the straight answer on whether or not it was worth what they paid. I'll bet you someone has even written a blog post on ActiveRain about the class, product, company that you are thinking about working with. Do your due diligence. You can waste a lot of money in this business in the name of 'getting more business'.

(I should add, the saying above is not actually completely true. There are bad students. If someone takes the time to teach you something and you choose to do nothing with it, that would make you a bad student. Save yourself the time and money if you never intend to use what you learn.....)

Perfect the Basics

I promise you, Daniel was in no way interested in waxing Mr. Miyagi's cars, painting his fence and sanding his floors. Those scenes, in a movie today, would have people calling in CPS and the labor police (is there such a thing? I think there is). "Paint the fence", "wax on, wax off", "sand the floor". Of course, Daniel didn't know it at the time, but Mr. Miyagi was really teaching him the fundamentals of karate. He couldn't be expected to learn how to punch of kick until he knew the basics.

(by the way, if there are any karate experts out there, I have no idea if those scenes are accurate in terms of teaching you the basics of karate, but let's just pretend they are. I took two karate classes when I was about 8 and threw in the towel after my teacher made me do knuckle push ups. Yep, just like the the Cobra Kai had to do when they got out of line).

In real estate, there are some basics. Some things you are going to need to understand in order to be successful. Lead generation, time management, understanding contracts and addendums and a bunch of other things are fundamental to being successful in real estate. Some of these things you never stop perfecting. I'll bet Daniel Larusa (if he were real) would still be incorporating those basic techniques in his training every day. Even if you understand that generating leads is paramount for your business, you can still continue to perfect how you do it.

Develop a 'Go-to' Move

In tournament karate it would be called a finishing move. In real estate we'd call it a niche.

Ahhh, the crane kick. Emulated by kids the world over, at least if you grew up when I did. If you are between 30-40 and a male and you claim to have never tried to do the crane kick at least once, then we have absolutely nothing in common, not one single thing. This is the all time greatest finishing move. Sure, WWF wrestllng (now called WWE, but I'm sticking with what it was called when I watched as a.......oh, who cares when I stopped watching?) has a few signature moves, the Hulk Hogan leg drop, Macho Man Randy Savage off the top rope with an elbow, but none as emulated as the crane kick.

In real estate, this would be developing a niche. Daniel didn't need to learn every karate move in the book. Just like you don't need to sell houses to every single person capable of buying in your market. Daniel (through his mentor, Mr. Miyagi) knew that if he could perfect one finishing move, it would be unstoppable. If you were the only person in your market to sell homes to single moms, you could be unstoppable. If you were the only person in your market to sell homes on the golf course, you could become unstoppable. Find a niche. Just do it. What do you like about the business? Who have you dealt with in the past that made you walk away thinking 'wow, I would love to work with people just like that every time'?

My wife has found a nice little niche with selling homes to residents moving in to start their residency at the University of Michigan hospital and Mott's Children's Hospital here in Ann Arbor. It's not the only thing she does, but it's a niche that has served her very well in the last few years. She can count on that niche to get her business. A few other folks around here work in this same niche, but we're going to crane kick them to the sidelines in no time (if anyone reading this sells homes to residents in Ann Arbor, it stinks to be you.......find another niche).

I'm certain I had some more analogies last night........maybe I'll watch it again tonight and remember............

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Bob Stewart
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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Wallace S. Gibson, CPM 12/05/2011 07:51 PM
  2. Jimmy Phan 01/13/2012 10:53 PM
karate kid

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William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

Bob, this was an excellent lesson you've taught from an equally excellent movie, imho. Talk about having deep thoughts....

December 05, 2011 10:31 PM #17
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Bob - You might have me beat on the number of times I've seen the Karate Kid.  I'm sure there's a lot of lessons to be learned from that movie. 

On another note, after a nine year mortgage career, I'm in the process of transitioning into real estate sales and will be making the change in the next 30-60 days.  The first thing I did was get a mentor (yes, I will be providing a fair split of my commission) because let's be honest, there's a lot of things a newbie needs to know that can't be taught in a classroom and a good mentor will be more than worth it.

December 05, 2011 10:33 PM #18
Gail Robinson
William Raveis Real Estate - Southport, CT
CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT

Bob - I've never seen the movie, I just know that its star could not dance well on "Dancing with the Stars."  LOL  (Don't hate me!)  However, I do agree with you that it's worth it to pay a mentor.  I did that for my first three transactions and I continued to call my mentor for years for advice, but not now as he's left the field and become a very successful public figure.  I also agree with your niche advice.  I only market one square mile of land and I can walk to all my listings.  You can't drive or walk around the neighborhood without seeing my mugshot on 8 or 10 signs.

December 05, 2011 10:55 PM #19
Larry Story
Total Care Realty - Greensboro, NC
Total Care Realty, LLC, Greensboro, NC Real Estate

Missed ya big guy!  Anyway yes I remember the movies.  I will tell you a movie that was always for us underdogs and at the time the music was a great motivator.  It was one of the Rocky movies (forget which one) but the theme music was Eye of The Tiger.  

Anyway back to your blog.  I have never been a fan of these "Coaches", "Motivators" and the like.  I mean if you are not motivated then maybe you are just not hungry enough.  As I commented before in a blog I look my coach in the eye every morning when I look in the mirror.  I don't need someone else telling me what I can and can't do.  A mentor on the other hand is simply there to help guide you.  I always see myself as mentor with newbies but I simply give them the tools and some guidance to succeed then I get out of their way.  It is up to them I cannot make them do it.  

December 05, 2011 11:12 PM #20
Nina Rogoff
RE/MAX Executive Realty - - Sharon, MA
Your Hometown Realtor in Sharon MA

I knew there was a reason why this is a classic! I am impressed that late at night you could not only stay awake for your 101st viewing, but that you could pick out these great analogies!

December 06, 2011 12:41 AM #21
Amy Hahn
Pine Knoll Shores Realty - Morehead City, NC
Realtor - Crystal Coast, NC

I too have seen Karate Kid around 100 times, and will never see it in the same light again.  Let's not forget that Dressing for success can be important too!  Every kid I knew had a Daniel Head band (if that's what you call it), and when Mr. Miyagi gave him the karategi with the patch..... Awe!

I was very fortunate to find a mentor (a great REALTOR®) before getting my license a few years ago.  I followed her around like a puppy to listing appointments, showings, etc...  and it made all the difference in the world!

December 06, 2011 06:10 AM #22
Loreena Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co. - Frisco, TX
Realtor® | Frisco TX Community Ambassador

You were about to put me to sleep with the first few paragraphs when I couldn't figure out where you were going with it. But once I got passed that (woke up), I got to the best parts. LOL.

Don't hit me.

December 06, 2011 06:19 AM #23
Dave Keys
MOVE UP in Google Search Learn How Here - Brea, CA
Chief Search Strategist Real Estate SEO Expert

Hey Bob, niching is almost always a more effective business process both for speed and profit.

December 06, 2011 11:19 AM #24
Jason Sardi
Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina - Charlotte, NC
Your Agent for Life

Bob - Nice to see you back as well:)  Hope you guys are hanging in there.

Love that movie and some nice analogies to the Real Estate Gig here.

On another note, I now work Redbox.  You are on my list ;)

December 06, 2011 02:56 PM #25
Bob Stewart
ActiveRain - Seattle, WA
Community Evangelist

Greg, Sweep the leg indeed!

Richard, It's an honor to have your comment on my blog. Love the thought you put into your comments. You can't have that finishing move until you perfect the basics.

Jill, Whenever someone invents a brain recorder, I swear, no matter the cost, I will be waiting in line to buy one :-)

Georgina, Don't feel bad for her, she falls asleep easily. She's usually out in about 5 minutes. Feel bad for me, I'm the one that ends up watching the whole movie.....then restarting it before I fall asleep.

Gary, I would think reading this once would be enough but thank you for your kind words. If you do find yourself reading this 100 times it means I have failed to write anything else worth reading and that would be a shame.

William, I get my car waxed at the car wash......I'm lazy. There is no way I would have won the Valley Karate Championship :-)

Susan, Thank you. We appreciate all the thoughts and prayers. Each one means a great deal to our family.

December 06, 2011 03:33 PM #26
Bob Stewart
ActiveRain - Seattle, WA
Community Evangelist

Wallace, No more effective way to learn something in depth than by the hand of a mentor. Good for you!

Debbie, Thank you! Glad to know that reBlog option served it's purpose in helping you find my post :-)

Dick, There is something in the human spirit that identifies with the underdog. When they get it right, Hollywood does a great job of capturing that and allowing us to find inspiration in it.

Christine, There are some great people around the country who are willing to share how to build a team. Let me know if I can help you get in touch with someone. I can't wait to be a Karate Dad, or a Soccer Dad or whatever the heck my son (and hopefully, God willing, my children with Christa) decides to do.

Yvonne, There is certainly great reward in sharing what you know, I agree.

Greg, That doesn't surprise me. :-)

Debe, There is the promise of gold around every corner. It's up to the person about to part with their silver to figure out if it's too good to be true.

Denise, I'm sure your boys were out doing crane kicks in the backyard like me and my brothers :-)

December 06, 2011 03:41 PM #27
Bob Stewart
ActiveRain - Seattle, WA
Community Evangelist

William, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I promise if I had a brain recorder it would have turned out much better :-)

Donne, Awesome! Good luck! You have a great community hear that will be supporting you and rooting for your success! Looking forward to seeing you excel in real estate sales!

Gail, Oh the humanity!! haha. For my generation it was, and still is, a classic. I'll bet that mentoring was some of the best money you ever spent.

Larry, John G. Avildsen directed the first Rocky movie and also did Karate Kid. It would make sense that you thought of Rocky. Glad to be back!

Nina, It's not that impressive.........I have one of those brains that won't turn off. Actually, it's kind of a pain sometimes. Usually right around bed time :-)


December 06, 2011 03:46 PM #28
Bob Stewart
ActiveRain - Seattle, WA
Community Evangelist

Amy, I feel like when I was watching it that night I had something in mind about dressing the just never came to me when I wrote this. I'll make sure to work that in the next time I write a post like this. It will probably be in another year or so when I find myself watching that movie (AGAIN) one night and my brain won't shut down.

Loreena, I'll make sure my next post has a bunch of really great stuff in the start :-)

Dave, I'm amazed at how many people never develop one.

Jason, I'm disappointed. I actually worked in the Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage reference with you in mind. When I wrote them I am dead serious, I was thinking about you........and you only threaten to track me down to get your movies back!! Darn you Jason Sardi, darn you!

December 06, 2011 03:49 PM #29
Charlie Ragonesi - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

So you need to see the remake with Jaden smith . It is a very crdible production and in may ways in my opinion equal too or even a bit better than the one with Mtr Miagi. And i did love the first one

December 06, 2011 04:48 PM #30
Tammie White
Benchmark Realty, LLC (615) 495-0752 or - Franklin, TN
TW Realty Group, Franklin TN, South of Nashville

Bob, where were you four years ago when I came into the business?

Unfortunately, more experienced agents here aren't really willing to mentor new agents. If they hire on new agents to their team, the experienced agent isn't giving away any of his/her secrets. They expect the new agents to bring in their own business and when they don't, they kick 'em to the curb.

So joining a team or seeking a mentor was never an option for me. My AR family has become my mentor. Where else can I find experienced agents who are at the top of their game willing to help others? It may not be the best way to learn but it certainly beats the alternative.

December 06, 2011 05:05 PM #31
Elizabeth Arduain
The Diamond Group @ Keller Williams - Lubbock, TX
Lubbock Texas Real Estate

fun analogy.  Ok now you have milked this movie for everything it's worth, walk away from this movie!  lol

December 06, 2011 07:35 PM #32
Jason Sardi
Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina - Charlotte, NC
Your Agent for Life

Oh I saw the Savage/Hogan references but the latter has to go down as one of the worst finishers of all-time.  The former though is a classic.  I figured threatening you with the legdrop would do no favors in getting those movies back;)

December 08, 2011 01:51 PM #33
Jennifer Robinson
Starkey Mortgage - Where PEOPLE come first! - Montgomery, AL
NMLSR# 190994/AL#50092, Conventional, FHA, VA, Step Up and USDA

Aweome connection to real estate, Bob!  Kind of makes me want to go watch Karate Kid and see what other "life lessions" I can learn and tie into this awesome industry!  Thanks for pointing out the "basics" and making it amusing in the process!

December 10, 2011 08:36 AM #34
Cheryl Dickson
RETIRED - Realtor, GRI / Home Inspector - Grand Junction, CO
Grand Junction

Geez Bob! That's some deep and very insightful thinking for the middle of the night! I would say you expressed it very well with the keyboard. Thank You for putting it so simply. I feel it is all very useful and beneficial.

December 11, 2011 12:03 AM #35
Jimmy Phan
Phan real estate group in hickory


absolutely bookmark x 100x100xwhatever time to read it and reread it

i love the analogy you many lessons more can we get out of this movie?

thanks Bob

great man you are

January 13, 2012 10:53 PM #36
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