What makes someone leave the corporate world to jump head-first into the exciting, but unpredictable, world of real estate? 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 than put money in someone else’s pocket. Read on to find out how Rob Wheeler left his life in corporate accounting to build wealth in more ways than just making a profit. He shares his story of breaking free and becoming more than just one-of-a-million.

left corporate job to be a real estate agent

I graduated from Drake University in 1986 with degrees in accounting and information systems and embarked on a career in accounting. I chose accounting because I always had an affinity for numbers and I enjoy working with them. I started in public accounting at KPMG and then worked at three other companies honing my skills with numbers and with people. 

Every time I had been at a company long enough, I found myself at odds with the political powers within the organization. By the last time, I didn’t really want to do it all over again. My brother Roger had been doing real estate for 10 years and I decided that was the direction I wanted to try next. 

The Tough Adjustment to a New Life

I started in real estate in late 2007. I left a very well-paying job to enter a real estate market that was about to crash. So the transition was difficult from a financial perspective. 

I was faced with a decision as to whether I should do something on the side- especially during the slow winters. I determined that every hour I spent not doing real estate work and building my business was an hour that would haunt me down the road. So I chose not to do anything but real estate during that time. 

Corporate Skills Become Real Estate Strengths

I think both the numbers skills and the people skills have served me well in my 12 years as a REALTOR®.

left corporate job to be a real estate agent

In the accounting world, I had to be a thinker, hard worker and bridge builder with others in the organization. In the real estate world, I enjoy being a thinker, hard worker and a bridge builder with both my clients and the agents I work with around the metro- whatever brand they choose to wear. 

In the corporate world, the tension between making a profit and actually serving a customer was significant. In the real estate world, I can totally focus on serving my clients, knowing, in the end, it is my business that grows as I do it well- and someone above me isn’t getting wealthy off of my sweat.

Success Becomes About More Than Just Profit

My earning potential may well have been greater in the corporate world- had I been willing to continue to work 50-60 hours a week so someone else could get wealthy. For me, my career in real estate is not about earning potential. 

I have had some really great years and some years that weren’t great by real estate standards. But I love what I’m doing. Every client is a little different so I don’t get bored. And my daughter shares my office, which is the icing on the cake. There is no way I could have poured into her like I’m doing now from a corporate chair. It is priceless.

Work-Life Balance Becomes Real

I have a great deal more control over my calendar. I can say ‘No’ or I can block off time for myself or my family. I found that to be very difficult in the corporate world where they want to suck everything they can out of you.

For the last two years, I have taken a leadership role in a ministry in Ghana, Africa. I have worked much less than the 50-60-hour work week and made a really good living. And I have been free to do what I need to for both my own family and my new African family. That, for me, is work-life balance today.

left corporate job to be a real estate agent

Others Who Are Stuck in the Rat Race?

My corporate experience was invaluable to my real estate career. You can’t learn in a book- or 100 books- what I learned in 20 years in the corporate world. 

For most people, if they are unhappy in their corporate lives, they may just as well be unhappy as self-employed individuals. Happiness isn’t predicated upon circumstances being “just so.”

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.