Weekly Thought Starter #12: The Common Denominator of Success

Weekly Thought Starter #12: The Common Denominator of Success

Real Estate Action Group

March 26th, 2018 – No. 12

“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” — Doug Firebaugh


  1. Landrush
  2. The common denominator of success


A lot of Reaggies enjoyed the packed Land Rush conference on April 7. Even though it was sunny, the full complement of attendees stayed till the end. Real Estate remains topic number 1 in Vancouver! (CDs of the conference are also available at a special REAG price of only $48.88)


Some years ago, when I was a young General Manager of A.E. Lepage in Vancouver I ran across Albert E. Gray’s story and his common denominator. I remember at the time thinking: Could it be that simple, that easy, and that obvious.

Today, I can say without a shadow of a doubt: IT IS!

So, what is the motivator, what drives us, what is the difference between a winner and a non-performer?

I have addressed hundreds of audiences and managed literally thousands of salespeople and managers. The question of what separates winners from losers, what is the common factor of successful people … how to hire them, keep them … understand them – has hounded me all my life. “

There are of course dozens of successful “how to” books available. From the simple, yet powerful Think and Grow Rich to the modern high-tech CD-ROM versions of Anthony Robbins, from the Power of Positive Thinking to I Can … there are inspiring and uplifting books to help each of us find our potential.

But how to find it in others? I there a common denominator of success? And if so, what is it?

Over time, in order to find the answer to that question, I has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (or my companies have) on focus groups, management seminars, psychological evaluations of “personality traits”, the “E-personality”, questionnaires and the like. Literally days spent behind one-way mirrors assessing individual answers of hundreds of competing salespeople and managers. Today, after some 40 years in management type positions, having hired hundreds of mid to senior managers, I have experience, some wisdom – a veritable mountain of knowledge and a river of good workable blueprints and yet…

When all is said and done…it was best said by someone else 76 years ago…

That someone was the indomitable Albert E.N. Gray, who addressed a 1940 Insurance broker annual convention in Philadelphia and created a timeless piece of wisdom.

Because this is an internal document to the Real Estate Action Group Members and not meant for distribution, I am taking the liberty to adopt Mr. Gray’s fine thoughts to the Real Estate Investment Profession (Gray used life insurance examples), add his own interpretations as well as substituting some phrases and terminology and update the concepts.


As a minor or senior manager of our own company sooner or later we all would love to have the answer to the burning question: How can I identify successful people? What sets them apart? What motivates them? How do I know to hire the right ones and more importantly keep them? What motivates me? My spouse?

We all keep lists and try to guess how people will perform and we are often surprised at how some will outperform beyond our wildest expectations and others with seemingly higher qualifications will die on the vine. No matter how many people I managed, no matter what new system I would try and no matter how motivated I was trying to supervise and lead the efforts of a large number of salespeople, who were trying to achieve success, without knowing myself what the secret of success really was. And that naturally brought me face to face with the further realization that regardless of what other knowledge I might have brought to my job, I was definitely lacking in the most important knowledge of all.

Mr. Gray writes that: “…of course, like most of us, I had been brought up on the popular belief that the secret of success is hard work, but I had seen so many men work hard without succeeding and so many men succeed without working hard that I had become convinced that hard work was not the real secret even though in most cases it might be one of the requirements.

“And so I set out on a voyage of discovery which carries me through biographies and autobiographies and all sorts of dissertations on success and the lives of successful men until I finally reached the point at which I realized that the secret I was trying to discover lay not only in what men did, but also in what made them so it.

“I realized further that the secret for which I was searching must not only apply to every definition of success, but since it must apply to everyone who had been successful.

In short, I was looking for the common denominator of success.

“It is also exactly what I found.

“But this common denominator of success is so big, so powerful, and so vitally important to your future and mine that I’m not going to make a speech about it. I’m just going to ‘lay it on the line’ in words of on syllable, so simple that everyone can understand them.

The common denominator of success – the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful – lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

When I read Mr. Gray’s words first I was somewhat disappointed … I mean could it be that simple? Was that the real secret?

Well, it’s just as true as it sounds and it’s just as simple as it seems. You can hold it up to the light, you can put it to the acid test and you can kick it around until it’s worn out, but when you are all through with it will still be the common dominator of success, whether you like it or not.

The secret still explain why people men have come into the real estate business with every apparent qualification for success and given up our most disappointing failures, while others have come in and achieved outstanding success in spite of many obvious and discouraging handicaps.

Gray: “…since I will explain your future, it would seem to be a mighty good idea for you to use it in determining just what sort of a future you are going to have. In other words let’s take this big all-embracing secret and boil it down to fit the individual you. The things that failures don’t like to do are the very things that you and I and other human beings, including successful men, naturally don’t like to do.”

Again, it sounds simple, but I found that when I looked over all the successful people in my office and looked and remembered how they started … none of them actually liked the sales process initially … It clearly was true … we must realize that success is something, which is achieved by the minority of men, and is therefore unnatural and not to be achieved by following our natural likes and dislikes nor by being guided by our natural preferences and prejudices.

Isn’t that true for each of us as well? Don’t we all know what to do? The calling for personal professional pillars, the calling for By Owners, the recruiting, retention process? The goal setting, the planning? We all know what to do … but we often simply don’t do it. We don’t like to do it … but neither do all the other Investors either!

No one likes to do it, but those that do – the minority – achieve great success!

Gray: “The things we don’t like to do are too many to permit of specific discussions, but I think they can all be disposed of by saying that they all emanate from one basic dislike peculiar to our type of selling. We don’t like to call on people who don’t want to see us and talk to them about something they don’t want to talk about. Any reluctance to follow a definite program, to use prepared sales talks, to organize time and to organize effort are all caused by this one basic

But if they don’t like to do these things then why do they do them? Because by doing these things they don’t like to do they can accomplish the things they want to accomplish.

Gray: “Successful men are influenced by the desire for pleasing resultsFailures are influenced by the desire for pleasing methods and are inclined to be satisfied with such results as can be obtained by doing things they like to do.”

Many say: “But I have a family to support and I have to have a living for my family and myself. Isn’t that enough of a purpose?”

Gray: “No, it isn’t. It isn’t a sufficiently strong purpose to make you form the habit of doing things you don’t like to do for the very simple reason that it is easier to adjust to the hardships of a poor living than it is to adjust ourselves to the hardships of making a better one. If you doubt me, just think of all the things you are willing to go without in order to avoid doing things you don’t like to do. All of which seems to prove that the strength, which holds you to your purpose, is not your own strength but the strength of the purpose itself.”

That is the conclusive secret of Mr. Gray’s theory. It is the absolute truth. Look in home office, or your work office, all the things you and your people do every day to avoid doing the things we all know we OUGHT TO DO.

Look in the mirror …

In our REAG Action Book, we talk about …

Every single qualification for success is acquired through habit.

Men form habits and habits form futures.

If you do not deliberately form good habits, then unconsciously you will form bad ones.

You are the kind of person you are because you have formed the habit of being that kind of person and the only way you can change is through habit.

The success habits in real estate investing are divided into four main groups:

  1. Prospecting habits (for FSBOs, for Pillars, for deals)
    2. Calling habits
    3. Selling habits
    4. Working habits

Gray: Identify your purpose and surrender to it. If it’s a big purpose, you will be big in its accomplishment. If it’s an unselfish purpose, you will be unselfish in accomplishing it. And if it’s an honest purpose, you will be honest and honorable in the accomplishment of it.

But as long as you live, don’t ever forget that while you may succeed beyond your fondest hopes and your greatest expectations, you will never succeed beyond the purpose to which you are willing to surrender. Furthermore, your surrender will not be complete until you have formed the habit of doing the things that failures don’t like to do.

Forming the habits that failures don’t like to do …

No top real estate investor has bigger feet, wings, flies through the air or has some magic secret that lifts him or her out of the crowd … He or she is like you and me … But the top achievers in the year 2003 are those people that have formed the habits of doing the things they don’t like to do to achieves the things they want out of life … no amount of mergers, changing companies, new logos and signs and yes, even technology will make any difference in our life UNLESS we establish a powerful purpose that drives us, link our desires to that purpose and then make it a habit to do the things we don’t like to do.

We know all the success secrets. Your Real Estate Action Group teaches the real estate business success better than any other … but to do, what we must do … we need to do for ourselves. Let’s start today!

Mr. Gray was an official of the Prudential Insurance Company of America and had 30 years of continuous experience both as an agent in the field and as a promoter and instructor in sales development. He was known throughout the country as a writer and speaker on life insurance subjects.


Ozzie and Ralph

When you’re going through hell, keep going!”   — Winston Churchill

Announcements/ Housekeeping

1) PLEASE NOTE: Your next exciting meeting will be the Monday, April 9th at 6:30 PM (sharp!).The meeting will be at: The Vancouver Alpen Club, 4875 Victoria Drive, Vancouver.  If you are bringing a guest, please e-mail max@reag.ca.


Next Action Plan Meeting is April 9, 2015 at 5:30 (Alpen House before the monthly meeting).

Action plan meetings are the foundation of your REAG membership. At these informal meetings there are no wrong answers. Groups of approximately 10 members share their goals and develop specific 3- day “action plans” to bring them to reality. Earl Nightingale said, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile goal”. At the action plan meetings, we celebrate small successes and acknowledge everyone’s progress. The idea is to keep focused on a monthly basis and get into action. It’s all part of the process of “growing into your future best”. Sign up today!

For Action Plan meetings registration go to: https://www.reag.ca/events/categories/action-plan-meeting/

Action Plan meeting participants are seeing great success!  Try attending the next one!

3) Make sure to explore all the new and exciting features at www.reag.ca.

Take a look at your own private member section. Create your own team, post your deals with photos, respond to other deals directly with the posting member. Use it! We developed it with YOU in mind. Feedback is welcome.

4) Don’t forget the “NEW Deal section” on our website for your deals. If you haven’t used it, TRY IT! It is so simple to submit. Include photos now. You get exposure to thousands of investors! Remember to re-submit after 14 days if necessary.

5) Facebook. If you are on Facebook. Twitter and LinkedIn, check out our REAG page and “like it” for updates on members, activities, and Real Estate updates.

Go to: www.facebook.com/RealEstateActionGroup

Ozzie and Ralph are also on Facebook Twitter and Linkedin and you are welcome to “friend” us!

6) GET YOUR REAG MEMBERSHIP FREE! Remember that you get 2 free months for every friend you introduce who signs up for REAG! So if you introduce 6 friends…your year is free!! Your guest can attend a monthly meeting preview ONCE ONLY and you must register their name with Max (max@reag.ca) before the meeting.

7) Elevator speeches: if you are using a PowerPoint presentation, you must send it to us at least 24 hours before the monthly meetings! Try cutting down to 3 slides!

8) Also don’t forget to bring your offers to the monthly meetings to be entered into our Wine Bottle draw! They must be real offers, not chicken scratches on a piece of paper. But they do not have to be accepted, the idea is to MAKE OFFERS!

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