I’m working as hard and smart as I can to make Relevate the best place in the world for highly productive agents to be, into a nationwide firm that revolutionizes the brokerage industry in a very positive way for agents, for support team members, and of course for buyers and sellers.
However, many people have speculated that, in fact, I have some secret hidden motivation behind why I want to accomplish that goal. Allegedly, according to the rumors that are now getting back to me, this is a motivation I’ve kept hidden not only from the public, but also from everyone here at Relevate.
Okay, it’s true, and I think it would be best if I just came clean at this point. It all started with a decision to go to a place the United States government warned me not to go, and led to a dangerous night I definitely did not expect. A night that will live with me until the end of my days here in this world, and probably beyond…
My Original Motivations
It was never about money, thank goodness. Being a top producing agent for over ten years had been very good for me and my family. We did the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover program, which I highly recommend to all real estate agents, and we paid off our homes and our cars, and got rid of all our debt.
At this point the only thing I really want to spend money on is family vacations with our adult children, Jackson and Julia, until they’re too tied down to do it anymore. Then it would be great to travel more with Stacey, my wife, but honestly I remember a sermon I once heard about why having a bucket list in this life shouldn’t be a big thing for Christians, because in heaven we’ll have eternity to see the redeemed version of all the places we want to go, and it’ll be better than anything we can see in this life anyway. That makes sense to me.
(Julia, Stacey, and Jackson on a vacation bike ride)
Until that fateful night in a dangerous place, I had two main motivations for working to make Relevate a great company.
A Responsibility to Do the Best With The Gift God Gave Me
First, we have invented a revolutionary way to do real estate that’s much better for productive agents and our support team members and also for buyers and sellers. And yes, although much of this Business System we’ve developed came out of my brain, I’ve always known it was actually a gift from God because “All good things come from the Lord”.
As a result I feel like I have a big responsibility to make the most of what God gave us here, and I feel that what he gave us is destined to change the entire residential real estate world nationwide.
Love for the People of Relevate
My second original motivation is that I love the people here at Relevate. I’m extremely loyal to them, especially those who strongly believe, as I do, in how special what we have here is, and who want to see our dream happen. I’m a team guy. I don’t like doing things by myself. I want to do them with other great people, and I’m completely surrounded by just amazingly special people here. I want to achieve our goals together with them. And I want us all to celebrate together when we get there.
So, those are pretty motivating motivations, and I didn’t need more reasons to work as hard and as smartly as I can.
But then, in the middle of, by far, the most dangerous situation I’ve ever been in in my life, someone told me something that just floored me, and took my motivation to a new level.
Four years ago Stacey and I were on a cruise and we met Mic and Marcia. They are Christians (the fun kind), and we are too. We really clicked with them and we’re still friends even though they live in Pennsylvania. Between all the fun we had together, they told us about mission trips their family had done to Haiti to volunteer at an orphanage there.
(Our friends Mic and Marcia)
A Terrible Situation
I remembered that, and when I got home I read some books about Haiti and learned that it’s been an unstable nation for a long time. As a result, Haiti’s per capita income is one-sixth that of its neighbor, the Dominican Republic.
(Haiti, Photo taken from New York Times)
The most disturbing fact was the fact that there are also over one million orphans in a country of only six million people.
This is a terrible situation. This nation is just a couple of hours south of Florida. I thought, “My gosh, this is horrible. The people in Haiti, and especially the kids, can’t do anything to help themselves. The Bible says we are supposed to help orphans and widows so we need to help them somehow.”
I talked to the organization Mic and Marcia worked with when they went to Haiti, and we started donating to them. And that was good. It made me feel like we were doing SOMETHING at least, but I wanted to go see the situation for myself. Both because I know I’m very sheltered here in the US and I thought I should see it in person, but also to make sure our donation was being used effectively, because we’ve seen our time and money wasted during previous mission trips to other countries.
A Visit Delayed
So, I asked my son Jackson if he wanted to take a quick trip to Haiti with me, and he said “Sure dad, sounds fun”. So I started emailing the young woman on the ground named Amber Hassan who was with the kids at the orphanage. She told us they had a place for us to stay, and we booked plane tickets. Shortly after that, before we were supposed to leave, we got a really bad surprise when we found out Stacey had stage III colon cancer. So obviously I had to cancel the trip. For now. Mic and Marcia actually came down from Pennsylvania to see us and to hug Stacey and pray for Stacey in person. Over the next year Stacey had two surgeries and went through chemotherapy, and now, THANK GOD she is doing really well. Thank you Lord for taking care of her. So, a year after we had originally planned to go, Jackson and I booked our flights again and landed in Haiti in May 2022.
Assassinations, Gangs, Chaos
It was so much worse than I had ever imagined. Complete chaos. It turned out that shortly before we arrived, the president had been assassinated by a drug cartel and the vice president had taken over, but he didn’t have much support among the people.
(Investigation on Asassination of Haiti’s President, Photo taken from ABC News Prime)
Meanwhile, two huge rival gangs had taken over the two sides of the country and were moving in on both sides of Port-Au-Prince, the capital of Haiti where 90% of the people live. These gangs make some of their money by kidnapping, and I didn’t know this but just before we arrived, 22 missionaries had been kidnapped west of the city. Great.
(Gang Groups in Haiti)
I would later see the US State Department advisory about traveling to Haiti. Here is what it said:
U.S. citizens in Haiti should depart Haiti immediately. Kidnapping is widespread, and victims regularly include U.S. citizens. Kidnappers may use sophisticated planning or take advantage of unplanned opportunities, and even convoys have been attacked. Victims’ families have paid thousands of dollars to rescue their family members. Other types of violent crime, often involving the use of firearms, such as armed robberies and carjackings against U.S. citizens are common. Travelers are sometimes followed and violently attacked and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince international airport. The U.S. government is extremely limited in its ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Haiti – assistance on site is available only from local authorities (Haitian National Police and ambulance services).
Prior to our visit, I had no idea things had gotten so bad since Mic and Marcia last were there with their young children. But, I have to say, I’m glad I didn’t know, because I probably wouldn’t have gone, and I wouldn’t have experienced what happened next. And I wouldn’t trade our experience there for anything.
Targets for Kidnapping?
The orphanage is in the middle of all this, in an area that is still under the “control” of the official government. But there is no control. On the way from the airport to the orphanage, there was a Checkpoint where the “police” were stopping cars. Amber informed us that half of the police are okay but the other half are basically gang members. I started thinking, I can’t believe we are here, and my son is right behind me in the back seat and we stand out SO much. We look completely different from everyone else there. Why WOULDN’T the police and the gang think WE were perfect targets to be kidnapped?
(Amber and the Kids)
I asked Amber if we were safe. And she said, “Well there are no guarantees. Things have gotten a lot worse lately, but I’m out on the road several times a week, at least when we can get gas, and I know people who tell me where to go and not go, and so far so good. Do you want me to bring you back to the airport? I can, but everyone has REALLY been looking forward to your visit.” So I thought, here is this young woman risking her life every day to help these orphans, the least we can do is visit with them. Thinking about Jackson though, I did also look at my phone for flights out that day, but there weren’t any. So the decision was made, we were staying overnight.
Our Work DOES Mean Something to Heroes and Children
Amber. She had been on a mission trip to Haiti 15 years earlier and encountered a group of 16 orphaned and malnourished children barely surviving in the mountains, aged 4 to 10. So… she decided she was going to stay in Haiti and be their mother. Can you even imagine that? Only Jesus living in her heart could have caused her to make that decision.
So the organization that had sponsored her “visit” to Haiti found the money to rent a home in Port-Au-Prince and she moved herself and all the kids into that home, and she started taking care of them herself.
(Amber’s front yard)
The house is surrounded by a wall that they recently made three feet taller, plus barbed wire and a metal gate they’d only open for as long as it took a vehicle to get in or out. The house also has a reinforced room to hide in if the worst happens and the gangs show up to do what they do.
I was just in awe of Amber. I honestly didn’t even know what to say. I told her I couldn’t believe how brave she is and I can’t imagine doing what she’s doing. And what she said next is my biggest motivation for working as hard and as smart as I can to be successful with Relevate here in the US. She said:
You have no idea how much your donations have meant to us. It literally changed our lives. We were barely getting by, and then because of what the Lord led you to do, we were able to hire a guard to keep us safe, buy computers so the kids could go to school, and most importantly pay for my applications to adopt the kids so I can hopefully bring them back to the US with me. Without your gifts, we would have been in a much more dangerous and difficult situation.
That didn’t convince me at all that what I contributed compared in any remote way in the world to what she was doing, but it did tell me that doing my best to run a business in the smartest way possible actually IS important, because otherwise we would not have been able to help her and the kids, and that the smarter and better we run the business here, the more we can help more kids who don’t have a chance without it.
And thinking of what Amber is dealing with 24/7 in Haiti, and me living in extraordinary comfort in America, the least I can do is get up every morning and bust my tail to do my part.
Nonetheless, I still couldn’t wait to get me and Jackson out of there, and now even more so because if we got kidnapped we wouldn’t be able to run our business at all, and wouldn’t be able to help anyone. Jackson kept telling me not to worry, but my logic was that we were super obvious targets and that lots of people would be eager to tell the gangs about us and get paid for the tip.
(The hostel where we stayed)
But we did have to stay overnight, and Amber took us to a hostel where groups of missionaries used to stay before it got so dangerous in Haiti. It was a nice place, like a little hotel, but it was empty now except for another young girl from Illinois named Haley. Haley came to Haiti several years ago just like Amber did, and during her visit she was told that some parents in Haiti who had developmentally disabled children, or any young children or babies they didn’t want, would just put them out on the street and leave them there.
So, of course, this little girl Haley decided to stay in Haiti also. Her sponsors raised money to lease a building and Haley went out on the streets and picked up those children and she and several people who worked with her took care of those kids.
Haley weighs about 90 pounds. Not only is she risking her life every day, but like Amber, she has no normal life, no shopping trips or Starbucks with girlfriends, no dates. She’s just devoted to those kids. Her and Amber act like it’s no big deal. It’s just what they do.
We had a simple dinner and played with the kids for a couple hours. They loved the attention, just like any kids anywhere.
A Long Night
That night I didn’t sleep. I knew it was possible someone would see us and tell a gang where we were staying, and they’d pay off the guard downstairs to let them in and take the Americans who probably had people back home who would pay a big ransom. We heard gunfire several times.
Since there are no police on the streets and none will come if you call, each neighborhood has residents who take turns patrolling at night with their own guns. Haley told me she had a gun just in case, and they keep two big mostly wild dogs downstairs at night. Haitians don’t keep dogs as pets and are mostly afraid of them. I got a big knife out of the kitchen and went up to our rooms and waited till morning. I kept that knife with me in the truck for the trip back to the airport in case anything happened, although the morning streets were not as crazy.
My Big Secret Motivation
Amber and Haley are my heroes. They have to be the two bravest people on earth. They are looking out for helpless children in an extremely dangerous environment, and yet they both have to constantly ask people in America for money, just so they can scrape by.
That is, by far, my biggest motivation to make Relevate a great company that provides great value to great real estate agents. Amber and Haley are doing their part in Haiti 24/7. We’ve got it extremely easy here. The least I can do is work as hard and smart as I can, so I’ll be able to do my part for them, while they’re giving their lives to do what the Lord has called them to do.
Please consider supporting Amber and Haley’s work. Your money will be better used by them than in any other way possible.
CLICK HERE to donate to Amber’s work.
CLICK HERE to donate to Haley’s work.
I promise these will be the best investments you ever make, and when you get to heaven, they will be remembered.
GROW YOUR REAL ESTATE BUSINESS THE SMART WAY
So there you go, my deep dark secret.
There are hundreds of millions of people in this world who barely have a chance. The Lord is counting on us to look out for them, and I can’t imagine anything more motivating or rewarding in the short term, or in the eternal term.
If you are a real estate agent and you want to maximize your income to be able to help others, I promise you that if the Relevate Business System is a fit for how you want to do real estate, you will earn more take-home income working with us than at any other brokerage, AND you’ll have a balanced life.
CLICK HERE to set up a confiential call or meeting with me.
OR…You can learn more about our innovative approaches by reading the contents of my two new books (due for release January 15, 2024 but available in advance on this website), The Smarter TOP PRODUCING Real Estate Agent and The Smarter STARTUP Real Estate Agent.