How does someone decide to leave their comfort zone and jump into a new career- for the fourth time? According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 82 percent of agents got into real estate as a second career. Not all of us are made to stick to a 9-5 way of thinking- some of us are determined to do more so we can put more into our families and the world around us. Read on to find out Bob Lyman’s journey from teacher to salesman to corporate manager to real estate agent. He shares his story of defying the odds to take a chance on a new career in real estate.

teacher to real estate agent

I actually had three careers before my current career in real estate. I graduated from Drake University with a degree in K-12 physical education. I taught elementary and secondary school physical education and coached football, wrestling, track and softball. After seven years, I wanted to find a career that would allow me to spend more time with my family in the evenings and on the weekends. I was always involved in sports, but it was time to move my focus to my family. 

I joined Plumb Supply, a plumbing and heating wholesale company, and was trained as a sales associate. It was supposed to be a two-year training program but I was moved ahead of schedule and was selling after just three months of training. I stayed there for six years. 

I became the Branch Manager of the Cedar Rapids branch of Plumb Supply. I managed the branch for five years but was frustrated with the corporate world of business. I started exploring avenues that would give me more control of my time and get my family back to Pella.

The First Three Careers Laid the Foundation for the Real Estate Journey

Some friends told me to look into real estate because they thought I would be good at it. I started interviewing with some brokers and finally decided to get my license. I started my real estate career in 1988 and have been on this journey ever since. 

I believe I developed skills in every business I was in that served me well in real estate. In teaching and coaching, I interacted with many different people and personalities. In sales, I had to listen and make sure I communicated well. In management, I had to be the calming force in dealing with employees’ interactions with each other and deal with customers. All of these carry over to real estate. 

My transition into real estate was fast. I got my license in July and was working in Cedar Rapids. By the following January 1, I owned a real estate office in Pella. It was quick and a little stressful.

That’s been the biggest challenge about real estate- trying to keep up with how fast the business is transitioning. Things are changing so quickly and I learn more each and every day. My new favorite saying is: I don’t know what I don’t know. 

Striving for More- And Achieving It

Real estate gives me the opportunity to control my own time. I was once told that you must run your business, don’t let it run you. That’s true, but it’s a challenge. This business fulfills me because it makes me happy! 

I’ve always been fortunate to be surrounded by enthusiastic people but my present brokerage is special, not only the people, but especially our philosophy and our core values. We are in the business of helping people accomplish one of the biggest dreams of their lives and our relationships with them is of utmost importance to us. 

We strive to create an experience that exceeds our customers’ and clients’ expectations. I’ve been in the workforce for years and I’ve never seen, until now, a company that is so focused on these goals. I personally associate it with a very large close family. 

teacher to real estate agent

Advice for Others Afraid to Leave Their Comfort Zones

We have choices in life. Every day we are going to make many decisions. Some will be right and some will probably be wrong. The point is that you need to decide and move on. If it’s right, you move on. If it’s wrong, you learn from it and move on. 

Keep moving forward. A wrong decision is just a mistake, not the end of the world. Keep moving on. I never wanted to look back on my life and say I wonder what would have happened if I had chosen to do something else. 

The Past Creates Future Success

Remember: “Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.” I believe everything you’ve done in the past prepares you for the future in some way. To succeed you need to be able to listen with empathy, communicate with knowledge, act with confidence, be trustworthy and show that you create value. In real estate, if you can’t create value why would people need you?

My earning potential has evolved because I’ve never stopped learning. I have to say however, I’ve never been driven or motivated by money. I’m more interested in the process. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important to be compensated for your value. But if you create value, everything should follow in place. 

teacher to real estate agent

When Work is More Fun Than Retirement

Real estate must have created a good balance in my life because I’ve never been happier going to work! A lot of people my age are either retired or getting ready to retire. I was on that path but changed my mind a year ago when I learned how the real estate business has transitioned into what it is today. We real estate professionals have been blessed with the opportunity to be special.

Ready to break free of the mundane and the everyday and build your life the way you want it to be? Find out if real estate is the right choice for you and take our simple personality test to see if you have what it takes to take your life beyond just the ordinary.