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 Abbey Robertson left her career in marketing and events behind to take a chance on the unpredictable world of real estate. She shares her story of building a business and living with intention.

left marketing career for real estate

I used to work in marketing. I did events with sports, beverage and automotive companies like Nike, Olympic Torch Relay, BMW and Red Bull. I lived in Portland for Nike; in Los Angeles for an event company; in Boise for Red Bull; in Denver for fun; and in Boulder an events company. I followed jobs that intrigued me. I worked with very diverse people, including international teams, so learning to meet people where they were at to get the best possible results with the event or program I was working. 

In events and marketing, you have a lot of balls in the air that you are juggling and that is the same for real estate. It’s an orchestrated process with lots of nuances and it’s different every time- that’s what I love about it. I learn every day in real estate.

I also like to educate and teach. I had about 20 people I managed in one of my marketing positions and I enjoyed the training aspect. Now I train first-time homebuyers on how to move smoothly through the process and take away the guesswork so they feel empowered to make decisions that will benefit them and that they can feel good about. 

Taking a Leap of Faith 

Marketing went from being something I loved to just a job. I was bored then 2008 happened and by 2010 I was laid off like a lot of other people. It was the best thing that ever happened to me! I knew I wanted to be in business for myself but it was definitely a scary choice as I had the opportunity to take a job at a start-up. I thought about going back to what I knew: events and marketing. My dad had always said I should be in sales but that always offended me! But I realized that I was not a salesperson just pushing my clients to buy a house, I was their trusted advisor and partner in the process. The only thing I’m selling is that they can trust me to have their best interests in mind.

Ultimately, I went with the faith-based option and didn’t make the fear-based decision to stick with a steady paycheck. It’s been hard work but when I love a job, I’m never afraid to put in the work because there’s always reward on the other side. 

Making It Work and Building a Business

I was driven to succeed and didn’t give myself an “out.” It was hard work and 2011 was a tough time to go into real estate. I didn’t have a group of people that I knew in Des Moines as I had not lived here long. So I joined things I was passionate about: volunteering with other women, fundraising for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society through marathon running, and joining faith and church groups. I met my real estate mentor at a random Bible study that we were put in together at a very large church. I think it was fate! She’s been an amazing resource as she is an amazing REALTOR®. 

Real estate is a roller coaster ride. It’s a seasonal industry that changes year to year and this year we’ve dealt with a pandemic and a lot of multiple offer situations. I’ve been through different cycles of the market so I just keep evolving and learning as I go. I think that balancing life and work is the toughest challenge. I want to be everything to my family and I want to be everything to my clients. I’m still trying to figure out a work-life balance!

The Ultimate Reward

I came back to Iowa because family has always been so important to me. My parents and siblings are the best I could ever imagine. The craziest ride I’ve been on thus far is adopting my girls through Jonathan’s House in the Central African Republic three years ago. What a blessing and a journey. I give back on every one of my transactions to their [former] orphanage. There isn’t anything quite as rewarding as buying a cow for a group of people who will appreciate it beyond words with the money I’ve earned from helping clients achieve their real estate dreams. It’s paying it forward. 

left marketing career for real estate
Me and my girls, Grace and Abigaelle.

Advice for Anyone Considering the Leap of Faith

I feel like I’ve had two lives. The one I have now and the one from before when I ran in the Olympic Torch Relay in Salt Lake City, skydived in two states, paraglided in Idaho, dirt biked in the Sawtooths, off-roaded in Argentina, snowboarded in Canada, drove through coffee plantations in Costa Rica, went snowmobiling in Alaska and backpacked for nine weeks through Europe by myself in my 20s. The bottom line is face your fears, take the opportunity and live life to the fullest. 

Buy the house, sell the house, grow the family, take the new job, live with intention. Surround yourself with people who inspire you. I always tell my girls, “Be careful who you hang out with and what you put in, because that is what you become.” 

If your desire is to be a REALTOR®, make the change. It’s not easy; it’s hard work and it takes years to build a business. The dynamics are always changing. But if that intrigues you and if it is what you want, make the change. 


Ready to break free of the mundane and build your life the way you want it to be? Find out more about what it means to join the relentless team at C21®. Check out our website to learn how to build a successful real estate business.