What does it take to get from who you are to who you want to become? Our guest, Cliff Freeman, runs the Cliff’s Notes Real Estate Podcast. Cliff has over 9,300 agents under him and his organization. If you are in the real estate space, you should definitely be tuning in to this episode.
7:15 – Momentum: A Strategic Guide to Success for Real Estate Agents and Brokers by Brent Gove
9:21 – What’s your definition of attitude and who was your first attitude coach? Paper business. Zig Ziegler fan. How to win friends and influence people. Toby Robbins taps. Jim Rome. Playing at a competitive level. Harness the power that lives between your ears and focusing your energy. Your attitude is how you manage how life comes at you. Changing your attitude can change your life.
13:11 – Tony Robbins, release the giant within. Mastering influence. Take care of the vessel. Finding your why. Urban Cowboy movie.
22:17 – Controlling your destiny.
29:48 – Neurolinguistic something or other. Getting the other person to understand.
32:18 – What are the most important strategies that you would employ if you’re starting a new business? A round to it. Find your niche. Start the business. Glenn Sanford. Mark Cuban. Find people who care about you and can help you make good decisions. ROI on your time.
38:56 – Knowledge through the decades. What is the attitude lesson at birth or new life? Sales. How to influence people.
40:52 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 10? Having wonderful teachers that told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. Consciously incompetent.
42:37 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 20? Rice University. Getting out on your own for the first time. Sheltered life. Challenge the status quo. Discovering limitations.
48:08 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 30? Unemployable. Unconditional love. Every man should have a daughter. It will change the way you look at life. A time of growth. Be the dad that you didn’t have. Help them learn how to make right decisions and give them good core values. Grooming children to take the business over. Understanding the magnitude of what we’re building. Divorce.
1:01:28 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 40? Getting closer to the end than the beginning. Value the time in every day.
1:04:16 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 50? Caregiver for ailing mom. Losing a second parent. Broken family. Being humbled. You can’t serve at a high level unless you are humble.
1:08:24 – What is the attitude lesson at the age of 60? Being resourceful. Realizing we don’t know it all. If you’re not open minded and receptive, opportunities will pass you by.
1:15:29 – Show close with message of hope. Zig and the redhead.
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S2 #35 | Cliff Freeman
I’m so excited to bring you an unbelievable entrepreneur, somebody that understands what it takes to get from who you are to who you want to become. We have a gentleman who runs the Cliff’s Notes Real Estate Podcast. All of you, real estate folks, definitely should be tuning in for this one. This gentleman has over 9,300 agents under him and his organization. He is out of Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. He’s a mentor to me. I’m happy to be in his organization. We are going to welcome him right now, Mr. Cliff Freeman. Cliff, welcome to the show.
Are you sure this is for me? That intro sounded like somebody I ought to know. Thank you, Glenn. That was very generous of you with your kind words. I’m super excited to be here. I know you think that I’m a mentor to you, but you’re a mentor to me as well. I love following you. You have helped stimulate some new brain cell growth in this 62-year-old head of mine.
Thanks so much, Cliff. We are here to help people get from where they are to where they want to go and from who they are to who they want to become. Sometimes, the best way to do that is through the stories of innovators and influencers, and I consider you to be one. Maybe if it’s okay, I’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you’ve come from. Maybe you can start with the day you went, “There’s got to be more to life than this.” Tell us a little bit about Cliff Freeman and your journey.
That’s a zero moment of truth, as they call it at Google, where you occasionally get those epiphanies in life. As glamorous as it might seem to some people now, my life was not always an easy road. I’m sure many other folks tuning into your show have seen the rock at the bottom. I had a pastor tell me one time, “You need to meet the rock at the bottom to understand who the rock at the bottom is.” I’ve had a number of opportunities throughout these 62 years to experience God’s healing hand and his work in my life.
He’s done some amazing things. I’ve always been told that if you don’t have the lows, you don’t appreciate the highs. It has been a wonderful journey. A lot of things left to do here. It’s great. To talk about real estate for a minute, I’ve been in the business for about 37 years, and I am a broker here. I have dabbled in and out of it. Initially, I did some commercials and bought a couple of buildings on my own behalf when I was younger. It wasn’t until I moved back to Dallas in 2000 that I got to decide to take a full dive back into the pool here so to speak.
I started out on the lending side and got busy with that, and then I was doing some real estate. We had that wonderful time in 2007, 2008, and 2009, where it seemed as though Chicken Little was right. Indeed the sky was falling. At that point, I realized I needed to get out of the lending business and focus on real estate full-time. It was very difficult to get loans done, and lending wasn’t as fun anymore at that point. It was quite a traffic jam trying to get loans through. Anyway, I went full speed back to real estate in a very difficult market. It’s funny. At that time, the Lord had other plans. I was dealing with ailing parents who were in their 80s and frail.
My father passed away in ‘05. I was my mom’s caregiver from about 2006 until she passed away in 2010. I was freshly divorced. There were times when finding a couple of nickels to rub together was a lucky thing. It was a lot of challenges back at that point in my life. The thing is it’s not about falling down. As I tell people myself, it’s about getting up. Zig used to say, “You’re either in a storm, you’re headed out of a storm, or you’re going right into a storm,” but there’s going to be rain in life. You just need to learn how to dance in the rain.
Eventually, I got back on my feet. I scratched and clawed my way back up again for probably the third, fourth, or fifth time. It’s wash, rinse, and repeat when you’re an entrepreneur, but it’s okay. As Mark Cuban said, “You only got to do it right once,” and failing is part of the process. I got an opportunity back in 2016. A dear friend of mine and my sponsor at eXp, Brent Gove, found me in Dallas and told me about a little company that I needed to look at.
That was the end of one chapter and the beginning of a chapter that I had never even dreamed was possible. I think you’re pretty familiar with how it has been for the last five years. Back to your original question, one of the biggest defining moments in my career happened late actually. It was about five years ago when Brent came and told me I needed to take a look at a little company called eXp, and I did.
That is so cool. I’m curious. Did you know Brent before he brought you on, or did he seek you out and cold call you?
No. Our relationship went back about five years earlier. We connected when I was with Mike Reese and Jay Kinder at Kinder Reese. They had a couple of coaches that coached their elite clients, and I was one of those. Brent was known for his open houses on Steroids. He developed this open house system, and he wrote a book called Momentum, which was a great book. I’ve got it on my shelf here. I love to pick it up and reread it over and over. He wrote it for real estate agents who want to build a team. Brent and I got to be connected in a very positive way back then. Brent had a great positive impact on my life and my family. He’s one of those people that God puts in your path to help you stay where you need to stay.
I had known Brent, but I had no idea because he was so Keller Williams’ RED. It was unbelievable. In fact, he owned part of a couple of market centers up in Northern California. When he told me he was leaving Dallas to catch a flight back to Sacramento, the first thing he was going to do was move his 23-agent team doing $145 million in sales over to this little company with about 2,000 agents, I honestly thought he’d been tipping the old sauce there or something, but he was serious and straight up. Thank goodness he had that gift of discernment to know a good opportunity when he saw it because it started the domino effect for a lot of folks that we’re connected with, including yourself.
Let’s talk a little bit about attitude. I’d love to know what’s your definition of attitude and who was your first attitude coach.
I’ve filled it since I was young. My dad was a top salesman in the paper business. That’s selling copiers and wholesale paper. He’s very competitive. He was a big Zig Ziglar fan. He gave me my first copy of How to Win Friends & Influence People. I listened to The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. He had the record and used to play it when I was young. I think that it impacted my subconscious more than my conscience. I’m glad that was stored back in my head at such a young age. As I got older, I fought through the puberty years and things like that. I had some people in the church that were great leaders and spoke into my life.
I got a hold of some Tony Robbins tapes back in the old days when he was quite young, Jim Rohn, and some of those folks. I started to listen. At that time, Tony wasn’t the popular rockstar that he is now. What he was talking about had such meaning to me. It allowed me, for the first time, to think outside of this little world that I lived in. The other one is Think and Grow Rich. Another great book that I’m sure many of us have read. It’s that ability to have the vision to be able to see it before you can attain it.
You don’t get that training in high school. You’re a coach. You coached high school football. You had an impeccable and unbelievable record and the longest run in Indiana football history.
You know what attitude it takes to play at a competitive level like that. It’s being able to harness and discipline the power that lives between your ears to be able to channel and focus that energy. That’s something that we all have to go find. Self-development is there, but it’s not something in this society that you pick up in grades 1 through 12 unless you’re very fortunate to have a coach or a teacher who impacts your life at a young age with that kind of heart.
Most people don’t get that. A lot of people come from families that are broken where they don’t have that level of support and stuff. Attitude, to me, is how you look at the glass. Is it half empty or half full? Whatever event happens to you, it’s your reaction to that event that determines the outcome, just to borrow something from Jack Canfield. I’ve always loved that. Your attitude is how you manage how life comes at you, and that determines the outcome. A lot of people don’t think they can change their life, but changing your attitude can change your life. It can change the outcome, and the things that you think are problems that are opportunities for you.Your attitude is how you manage how life comes at you, and that determines the outcome. Click To Tweet
Let’s play a quick game because you rattled off some of the greats. What I’d love to do with you is I’m going to say the mentor, the speaker, or the coach, and then tell me in 1 or 2 sentences what spoke to you. You mentioned Tony Robbins. What did Tony teach you? What was the guiding principle that he brought home for you?
There was get the edge, release the giant within, and mastering influence. There were so many different things that Tony spoke about. I think that the message was, and it’s true with a lot of these self-development folks, we have to take it upon ourselves. It is our responsibility, just like everything about us. The Bible says you’ve got to take care of the vessel. If you are not exercising, not watching your diet, not taking care of your physical self, and not taking care of your mental self, then you’re not living to the fullest extent. A lot of that had to do with the fact that I was a wild and crazy kid back in my late teens to early twenties.
I ran bars and did some things that every red-blooded American boy would like to do but probably shouldn’t. My life was not always on a straight and narrow path. Part of it was that I didn’t have the discipline, and I didn’t make the right choices. I didn’t realize how important the things I was doing at that time would be later on in my life. It’s having that support around you. I look at professional athletes now. You’ve got the ones that are pillars in the community, and then you’ve got the ones that are screw-ups. If you were to compare the two of them, one chose to have the discipline to do the things they knew they needed to do, and the other one didn’t have that discipline or desire.
We’ve all got to find our why and that purpose of why we’re here, why we’re driven, why we get out of bed in the morning, what is this crazy real estate business, why we go and get beat up by sellers who think their house is worth more than it is, and buyers who want to pay nothing for a house, and so forth. It’s that why that pulls you in and gets you to self-actualize and be all that you can be. I’m sorry I’m blabbering here, but you’re talking about stuff that I love to talk about. That Tony Robbins question, I went in ten directions.
That’s okay. That is to be expected by a real estate guy, for sure. What I heard was, “Tony taught me to take the responsibility of creating my own life for myself.” That’s what I heard. I also heard that you used to run a bar. Very quickly, what’s the number one attitude lesson about running a bar and being successful at running a bar? What did running a bar teach you either business-wise or personally?
Growing up, I’m not going to say I was an introvert, but I forced myself to take a public speaking class in college, and it scared the shit out of me. I was scared to death, and I didn’t do very well in the class. I grew up an only child. I went to a small private school here in Dallas, and I probably wasn’t fully socially developed. Once I got out and got into the real world, I got a taste of the stuff that I enjoyed. What it did for me is working in the service business, whether it’s food and beverage or whatever it is, where you have to deal with people. Particularly if you’re in a position where, for example, people who work on tips, I love to find waiters in restaurants that I can help develop.
I’ve got a couple on my team, and I’ve got one now who’s taken her real estate test. She’s a bartender. She has the most incredible story that you would ever hear and the struggles that she’s overcome. She’s one of those people with a pure heart and desire. I can teach her real estate, but I can’t teach her how to want it. I can’t teach that hunger that she’s got. For me, I was able to develop more to be able to interact with people. My undergrad is in Electrical Engineering. Most engineers are pretty stodgy, stay in the books, and that kind of stuff. I graduated with my degree, and I never even practiced a minute in engineering.
I knew that I was destined to do something other than sit in there. I had nothing against engineering. If we didn’t have engineers around, we wouldn’t be able to drive Teslas, great cars, roads, and everything else. I felt that I had a better way that I could serve if I could get and be around people. That’s one thing that the bar and the restaurant business did for me. It pushed me not only into the business of serving people but front and center. You become a celebrity or whatever owning a popular bar. Anyway, it was fun. I got to get a little small bit in the movie Urban Cowboy. They filmed the movie in one of the bars I was working at during college in Houston called Cowboy. I happened to be in the right place and at the right time. It was a lot of fun.
I hear that often. There’s so much talent that walks around the bar and the service industry. Even in these times, I always take the time to thank my server. A lot of people said, “I’m done,” with this whole new employment revolution and the Great Resignation, as they’re calling it. We’ve been interviewing on these previous episodes people who are coaches in the employment business, how to win at work, and all that stuff in that dynamic. Those servers, ladies and gentlemen and GAPers out there, thank them no matter what it is because they’re there. They’re choosing to be there. Half that workforce has said, “We’re done. I don’t like it.”
It’s interesting. It used to be that people were embarrassed to admit that they’d got an unemployment check, and it’s the cool thing to do. I grew up with a little bit of a different work ethic than everybody else. That’s why I think that working in a bar, you make what you create. If you’re not serving at a high level, your tips are a way you keep scores of how well you serve somebody. Anybody who’s worked a commission job understands that. People get into real estate and forget that it’s 100% commission. They think it’s HGTV that goes to somebody’s tree houses, and in 30 minutes, you pick up a commission check. They fail to see what happens behind the scenes to make all that happen. That’s one of the reasons why the failure rate is so high.
Eighty-two percent of people who get their real estate license fail to renew it on their first anniversary. It’s a different mindset. It’s not for everybody, but it’s all about attitude. To get back to what you said originally. Hopefully, the people are tuning into your show, and I know you focus on this all the time. I know a consistent flow in the shows you do, and everything is that you are in control of your life, even though it may seem out of control. What happens outside of your control doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is your internal locus of control or what it is that you do to manage yourself. As soon as people can figure that out, they can do some amazing things.
That’s so good. Julie Braun, one of our past guests, said, “No matter where you are or what you’re going through, understand that you are in your own miracle.” I thought that was so good. You mentioned that you listened to The Strangest Secret with Earl Nightingale. Not the most uplifting or fast-paced recording ever, but certainly full of life-changing advice. What was your favorite nugget in that content that you used to listen to?
It’s full of nuggets. Back then, it was Napoleon Hill and the people who pioneered self-development and the mindset of being able to control your destiny. For a lot of people, when they were born into this world, there’s no owner’s manual. Nobody figures this stuff out on their own. What it did for me was it brought clarity to a lot of things that I didn’t understand. It didn’t bring me a full understanding, but it brought clarity. Clarity and a full understanding in my book are different. I don’t understand the universe, but I have clarity on why I’m supposed to be here now.
I’ll never understand. I’m not God. I didn’t create this thing, but I’m able to get clarity, which is what you have to have in life in order to have a vision. The vision here of understanding your purpose and why you’re here is, in my eyes, it’s what makes it worthwhile to be here and what makes you successful. In the end, you have a legacy. You build while you’re here, and what you want to leave is a legacy. That’s the whole Nightingale-Conan. They had so many good things that came after that. The Strangest Secret was the cornerstone for me to build on and open my mind up to be open-minded to new ways of thinking.
Cliff, why are you here?
Why am I here? That’s because of you, Glenn. You were kind enough to offer me a chance to be on the show. I love being able to get on a platform as you do, influence other people in a positive way, and being able to have a positive impact on their lives. The funny thing is that stories are what make the world go round. If you look at Jesus, he was one of the best storytellers in the world. The Bible is one of the bestselling books of all time. It’s full of stories. Every one of us has a story. The funny thing about it is a lot of people don’t know that they’re writing their own story.
They think other people write it for them. That’s one of the things that Tony Robbins got me clear on. The same bullshit story you keep telling yourself is the reason why you’re where you are. You have complete control over when you get up in the morning to write your story of how your day is going to turn out. It’s just that people don’t take control of themselves and of their actions. That’s such a wonderful epiphany. Once you understand that and realize it, you see an immediate change in relationships. You see it in performance. Everything about your life gets better once you learn how to harness that energy.Every one of us has a story. The funny thing about it is that a lot of people don't know that they're writing their own story. They think other people write it for them. Click To Tweet
I love that. Cliff, you got a lot of stories. How about telling us the one that you tell all those agents when you’re training them or whatever story you want to tell us that may give us some hope and inspiration for the GAPers tuning in? What’s one of your favorites?
That’s a tough one, Glenn. I’m going to take that and turn it into something that I think could be useful for your audience. What I mean by that is rather than me telling a story, I would challenge the people in your audience to look back on their lives right now and think of a moment in time when you had an epiphany, a defining moment, as Tony Robbins would say, one of those moments where your destiny was created. Think about that moment. There was something that you did that made you uncomfortable. Whatever it was, you knew that you had to make a quantum change in what you were doing in order to get to some level in your life. I want you to think about that in terms of how you could communicate that testimony to somebody.
I love to tell the story of a coach. I talk to people all the time about, “Who was your hero growing up? Who was the person that had the biggest influence on your life when you were little?” I had this coach in eighth grade when I was playing football. This was in sixth grade. I wasn’t a great football player, but I had a coach who believed in me more than I believed in myself. What happened is that he filled me with positive support and energy. He used to write me postcards. This is before phones. This is back in the day when a postcard was a nickel. We’d have a game. He’d send me a postcard.
He went out of town and said, “You played a great game yesterday. I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you.” A lot of us get spoken down to. Can you imagine a teacher telling your child, “You’re never going to amount to anything? Why don’t you forget about law school or being a doctor? Go ahead and admit that you’re going to be a plumber.” There’s nothing wrong with being a plumber, but you’re not going to amount to anything. You’re not going to be able to hold a job. You’ll never finish an entire book and that kind of thing. In about everybody’s life that I talked to, there was a person that cared about this individual and spoke something into them that was a positive thing that helped them get through a very difficult situation.
If you’re in the audience, think about how you can develop that into a story. If there was something that was potentially a threat in your life, how did you solve that? How did you resolve it? What was the outcome? How did you handle a difficult situation? I’ve got lots of stories, Glenn. I could sit around a campfire and tell stories for days, but I didn’t have that gift. I was blessed because I had a good public speaking teacher at Rice, and he helped me learn how to process my thoughts into communication.
Another great thing is if you guys are into learning how to communicate better as a human being, you might want to look at something called Neurolinguistic Programming. NLP is the science and the art of human communication. I had a little bit of exposure to that. Tony Robbins is a master of it if you want to learn. Life is about communication, and stories are a great way to communicate. Sometimes we think we’re great communicators, but we don’t get the outcome that we’re seeking when we’re talking.
I got to warn you. If you’re not getting the outcome when you’re talking, you’re not a great communicator. The whole idea of being a great communicator is to communicate a message and get that person to understand it, internalize it, or take it. All of the great speakers, leaders, presidents, and leaders of countries are great storytellers. I want to encourage your audience to challenge you to become a great storyteller and see if it has an impact on your influence on people.All of the great speakers, leaders, presidents, and leaders of countries are great storytellers. Become a great storyteller and see if it has an impact on your influence on people. Click To Tweet
That is so true. It’s a real challenge too. What we heard there is I love the story about the coach that believed in you more than you believed in yourself. Our challenge to our GAPers is simply to go and identify somebody that we can pour into. Let’s go in and fill them up with hope, compliments, and self-belief. If everybody that’s tuning into this show does that to one person, Lord knows the ripple effect that we could do.
Cliff, let’s say that you’re going to start all over again. Whether it be in real estate or any business, could you give me first down, second down, or third down? If you got a fourth downplay, that’s good. What are the most important strategies you would employ if you were starting from scratch in a new business, whether it’s real estate or anything? What are the four pieces of advice you could give our GAPers who may be sitting there going, “I’m not sure I got the guts or the money to do it? I’m too old. I’m not sure I should do it.” First of all, let me tell you something, GAPers. It’s never too late to start. You do have it within you. Now we are going to get four great points from the one and only Cliff Freeman about what you should do in your business. Go, Cliff.
Thanks, Glenn. You nailed it. Ask Colonel Sanders if it was ever too late to build an empire. He was in his 70s or 80s or something when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Also, he was told no 220 times or something crazy.
I’ll give you an example. When I met Zig, he used to carry around this little thing that would look like a coin. On the side of it was written the words “to it.” I asked him one day, “What is that thing you carry around in your pocket?” He said, “This is a round-to-it.” I said, “What’s a round-to-it mean?” He says, “Most people I know, I ask them, ‘When are you going to start that new job or when are you going to start that new company?’ ‘I’ll get around to it.’ I had a bunch of these round-to-its made, and I said, ‘Here’s a round-to-it. Go do it.’”
The first step is that you’ve got to take the move. Tony Robbins would say, “You got to take massive action. You got to get off ground zero.” How often have you heard that it’s often better to make a bad decision than it is to make no decision? At least, if you make a bad decision, you can correct it. If you make no decision, you’re not getting anywhere, and you’re not getting any feedback. You got to get out of the boat. You got to take that jump and do it. If you look at wealth creation or the way that wealth is created, we start out, and we become good at a trade. You’ve got to find your niche.
We’ve got enough of some things in the world we don’t need more of, so you need to find a niche, whatever it may be. Maybe it’s something you’re good at, maybe you’re good at making custom guitars or something, but you need to be good at something. People want something different, and it needs to be different. Finding your niche would be second. First of all, think about it. Do something and find the niche. Let’s get these in the right order. I guess you got to visualize it first. We always have to go back to visualizing it. Don’t procrastinate. Because of the old paralysis by analysis, many of us will sit and try to perfect a business plan. The heck with that.
Write the business plan after you start the business. Go out there and try it. If it’s not successful, pivot. I looked at eXp, and for eight years, Glenn Sanford took this company. He started it back in 2009. People told him, “No. It’ll never work. You’ll never get people to work out of a cloud-based this and all that stuff. Rev share doesn’t work. You can’t give agents equity. It won’t work.” He said, “Yes, it will.” He persevered through the whole thing. Sometimes, you have to push through all of the negative. If it’s something that you believe in and you have the niche, the passion, and the drive, you have to persevere.
Even Mark Cuban sold a software company first, but he didn’t make it big until he had blown it again, was unfocused, and everything else. Finally, he said that Broadcast.com is going to be the future. He had the vision, and then he took massive action. He started buying up all this bandwidth and stuff. Anytime you want to go in and start a business, you can’t go in with one foot. You’ve got to go in and be totally dedicated to it. What I would suggest is, and this is where you get into developing the business, you’ve got to get around the right people. Surround yourself with people who can help you, whether it’s employees or advisors.
Find people who care about you, can pour into you, and help you make the right decisions. None of us get to where we are or where we want to be alone. We’ve all got great mentors, great coaches, and so forth. The fourth down is if you want to create wealth, wealth is created at the leadership level. That’s where wealth is created. We start as a trade. You master your trade or niche, then you get good at management and getting around the right people. Self-leadership is where you’re going to make the biggest difference.
Your ROI on your time and how you spend your time. Everything you do, you’ll have more impact on the world as a competent leader, a self-leader, and a leader of people than doing anything else. The fourth down would be to get to that leadership phase. The first down is to do it. Secondly, get your niche. The third is to surround yourself with the right people. The last would be to strive to become a great leader.
Ladies and gentlemen, GAPers, that’s simple. It’s not easy but it’s simple. It has been given to us by a very successful man who has been around, who has been working at it, who studies, and who’s a life studier. Those are four unbelievably great little pieces of information for us. Thank you, Cliff. That was beautiful. We appreciate that. What we’re going to do now is get our broadcast closed. You’ve already said your age, so I know we got six of these to get through. We’re going to do this thing called Knowledge Through The Decade. I’m going to ask you to walk through your life and tell us the attitude lessons as you have gone through life.
By the way, Glenn Sanford was on the show. I don’t know if you’ve tuned into that one, but listening to Glenn and his message on attitude is fantastic. We were fortunate enough to have Don Hobbs and Fee Gentry as well on this program. Also, several folks from our sphere and several people that are mentors to me. Cliff, what I’d like to know is, when you think about a newborn baby or if you remember being born, what’s the attitude lesson of new life or birth or when you were born? What was the attitude lesson of a newborn baby?
I think the first thing we learn is sales. A newborn baby learns sales and how to influence people. You come out of the womb, and you’re hungry. What’s the first thing you do when you’re hungry? Crying. What happens? You learn that gets mom to bring over the food and you get to eat. I think that what we learn at a very young age at birth was that we have the ability to influence other people.
Who’s to say that a salesman was never born? We’re all born salesmen. It’s all the corruptness that gets us out of being a salesman. I used to love Floyd Wickman. It was Floyd, but I think it was Zig, now that I think about his speech, “Salesmen are what makes the world go around. Where would we be without salesmen?” All you salesmen and women out there, thank you for oiling the skids of commerce in America. If you are not in sales but want to be in sales, trust me, reach out to me and we can maybe help you with that. I want you to think back now to being ten years old, in fourth or fifth grade in Texas in your little town. Was there a story or an event that happened during those years that possibly shaped your attitude, or was there a lesson you learned back in fourth or fifth grade?
Fourth or fifth grade wasn’t too bad. It was seventh, eighth, and ninth grade when the hormones started to take place.
We’ll take those too if your stories are better. That’s fine.
I was blessed at a very young age to have some wonderful teachers who encouraged me to be something that I never even dreamed that I could be. I remember, in particular, I had a math teacher back then in those days who took a special interest in me. I don’t know why but I would spend time in his office after school and he would help me. He would coach me and help me with life issues and things like that.
I started to understand, “I’m a human being. I’m going to have a role to play here in the world.” I have no idea. It’s like becoming consciously incompetent. When you’re a baby, you’re unconsciously incompetent. You don’t know what you don’t know. As you start to get into fourth and fifth grade, you start thinking about things like, “That’s the birds and the bees. There are all kinds of things that you’re learning about here.” You start to understand, “There’s probably a reason why I’m here.” That’s when I started to get a self-awareness that I didn’t have before.You’re a human being. You have a role to play in the world. Click To Tweet
Now you’re twenty. You’re at Rice University. What was the attitude lesson of Cliff Freeman at Rice University at twenty?
Is this a G-rated audience? What is the length of time I need to stay in here?
I think you’re fine. My producer is loving it, so let’s roll. Certainly, you had a lesson, so go ahead and tell us what it is. My guess is many of the GAPers have lived this. That’s why we do this.
Everybody who gets out on their own for the first time has that experience. Some of us are better prepared for it than others. I was one of those. I guess because I lived a little bit of a sheltered life when I got out there. I saw what actual freedom and being able to make my own decisions were. I wanted to make all the decisions. Granted, they weren’t all right. You hear about the prodigal son. That was a point in my life where I challenged everything. I challenged my upbringing, my parents, the status quo, the professors, and everything else.
It was a time for me to figure out limitations and get to know myself better so that I could learn how much energy I had. I knew at some point that I would have to figure out how I was going to harness that energy and channel it. As a young in Texas at that age, there’s a lot going on. In the ‘70s, it was a little bit of a different world than it is now. I would say that we didn’t have all of the pressures in this generation. I would feel very challenged to try to be a twenty-year-old in the world that we live in now.
All eyes are on you, and we’re all on social media 19.7 hours a week or something like that. The average person spends worrying about how many likes they have, the whole attitude we live in, the judgment, the hate, and all that stuff. There were problems back in the late ‘70s, but at the end of the day, it was like a football game. We all hugged and prayed after we fought. We were still one people. I don’t know what it’s like now. It’s very challenging. During my twenties, when I went back and got my graduate degree, I did a summer internship in South Africa.
For the first time, I traveled outside of this country, I saw townships like Soweto and Crossroads outside of Cape Town. I saw what a true famine struggle was. I realized, for the very first time that we’re the luckiest people in the whole world to live in this country. People now don’t understand that and degrade what this country was built on and why it’s here. It’s heartbreaking. My dad used to say, “The hell with conscription. Let’s put everybody in the Peace Corps for two years and let them go look at how everybody else lives. That’ll fix their attitude.”
Dad had a good point because we don’t have an awareness of how we are in the rest of the world. All we know is this little Facebook world and Instagram world that we live in, and that’s what has formed us. It’s our image or DNA. It’s terrible because it limits how far we’re going to be able to go as human beings. I pray for this country all the time that eventually, we’ll get back to realizing that there’s more to life than how many likes, hearts, and whatever else you have on your social media accounts. It’s insane.
I always said that the day of reckoning is coming. You can start to see people turning against social media, including traditional media. I call it nose and phone disease. My nose is in my phone, and W in The ABC’s of Attitude is Wholeheartedness. Wherever you are, be there. As I travel and speak to companies and corporations across America, it never ceases to amaze me. As I sit at breakfast, eat, and watch the people in the bar, there’s a divorced dad or divorced mom with the kids, and they’re looking at their phones. If I was king of the world, I would shut down all social media one day a week like it’s off. You pull the plug and no social media one day a week. Could you imagine what would happen? It would be great.
I don’t know. It probably would fill up the hospitals with people having nervous breakdowns. People would have mental health problems.
Let’s go to age 30. I’m sure you remember turning 30 about half your life ago. Where were you at 30? What were you doing? Were you working for somebody? What was your attitude lesson when you turned 30?
I’m certified unemployable, so I never held a job. I’ve always created my own jobs. At that particular time in my 30s, I had gotten married. I still owned a couple of food and beverage establishments and got into the business of having children. At the ripe age of 36, I had my son. That’s a life changer for those of you who’ve never had kids before. I think it’s God’s way of getting back at you for what you did to your parents. It’s a wonderful blessing. Don’t get me wrong. I loved every minute of it, but it was one of the biggest challenges in my life, now being responsible not only for myself and my wife but also for two young humans that couldn’t fend for themselves and needed you for everything.
That unconditional love that we talk about, that’s where you start to understand what unconditional love is all about that you have with your kids. It helped me mature a lot. Every man needs to have a daughter because it will 100% change the way you look at women for the rest of your life. One of the greatest blessings is to have a daughter. I’m so thankful. For me, it was a time of growth. I was able to, in a lot of ways, resolve a lot of the open issues that I had carried in my life when I was younger that I’d brought with me.
I started to feel more complete. There’s something about being a dad and a father that helps a guy determine what you’re here for. It’s part of the basic raw instincts of running fast, pro-create, hunting, what that means, and being the leader of a family. It was very rewarding for me. It wasn’t always perfect. I wound up getting divorced later, but it was those moments when you were working hard and busting your butt. I say I didn’t have a job. I was in capital formation while I was owning these establishments, working a lot, and trying to raise kids. It was one of those moments in life where you realize what your capacity is. You realize how much you can handle and stay sane.
Great answer. Two things. One of the things I admire most about you is your relationship with C3. I have three sons, but I don’t think I could work with any of them. For those GAPers out there who are thinking about having your son work for you or working with their boys, you guys may put on a facade that you guys are happy, and things are great, but you’re extremely successful. It’s so cool that your son is with you. Give us your quick thoughts. What’s the mantra you live by as you interact with your son? What are 1 or 2 quick points on how you do that? That’s what I look at you when I look at you guys. Your son is so cool. I love him. What’s the trick there?
Part of it is that I used to drug him when he was young. Every Sunday, I would drug him and his sister to church. That’s one of the things that has had the best positive influence on both of my kids. At an early age, they learned a lot of important life lessons. The Bible is the number one all-time bestseller for a reason. There are a lot of great things to be learned in there. I would have to give credit to a lot of the people that poured into my kids’ lives at an early age. You got to look at it this way. Even though my son and I are great friends, we do all kinds of stuff together. It put me in my place the first time he hit a golf ball further than I did off the tee.
Now he hits about 320 on the fly. The kid is incredible. I coached both of my kids from pre-kindergarten all the way through third grade for six years. I taught Bible study in their classes to be involved in and have a presence in their life. It’s like you said, be present. Too many fathers and mothers too, I got to call you out, you are so involved in everything else in your life, and you’re leaving out the most important time you can spend to influence your kids. I want to challenge people in a positive way to be that dad that maybe you didn’t have. Be the dad there for them. You don’t have to be their best friend.
That’s not the point of being a dad. Being a dad is helping them learn how to make the right decisions, how to have the right set of core values, and how to respect things and other people. I’m very proud of them. The way they get around people that are twice or three times their age. They maintain very well. They’re very respectful. My son is 6’4”, but he’s still never going to be too big for me to put over my knee and spank his little ass. He won’t forget that. I say that tongue in cheek, guys.
I’ve seen C3. You aren’t putting him over your knee.
We have respect for each other. We’re great friends. We would do anything for each other, but we also understand each other’s role right now in our lives. I’m grooming him and his sister to take the business over. It’s a huge responsibility, and they’re all in. I am so proud of them because they see this opportunity as something bigger than any of us could do alone. Together, they understand the magnitude of what we’re building here. We don’t do it for the money. The money is the score of how well we’re helping other people. That’s what it is.The money is the measure of how well you're helping other people. Click To Tweet
I’m so proud of my kids because they understand that what’s important in life is not about your profit but your profit motive, what you do with that, and how you help other people that are going to get you where you want to be in life. Tony Robbins says, “The pinnacle of life is when you can give somebody something without the expectation of getting anything back.” I’m in that season in life. My kids are seeing it in a very early season in their lives. We do believe that there is no finer living than living to help other people. I’m so proud of my kids and for them to embrace that and to make that a real living thing that we’re building here.
You mentioned something in your 30s, and I’m going to want you to tell me what the attitude lesson at 40 is. We’re committed to interviewing men and women. We always make sure that half of our interviews are with minorities and/or women. We always get perspective on divorce from the women’s point of view. When we talk about what the attitude lesson at 40 is, my guess or my hallucination is this is probably when you hit divorce.
I do want to know the attitude lesson, but I would you to address the attitude lesson from men to men. How did you negotiate divorce? What was your attitude to getting through a divorce? What did divorce teach you as a man or a father? There are people going through this. Maybe you can lend some insight as to what you could have done better or what you didn’t do so well for those who are tuning in to help navigate that. You can wrap that up with the attitude lesson of 40.
It’s very likely that my ex-wife is going to be tuning into this, and that’s fine. We’re still friends and cordial. We had some rough spots. We were different people growing up. She grew up in a small town in Ireland, and I grew up in Dallas, Texas. We met in New York City. It was one of those storybook kind of things. It’s hard relationships. Jimmy Buffet wrote a song one time, and it does something like, “Relationships, relationships, everybody wants them. Once they get one, they don’t know what to do with them.” That’s part of the lyrics in his song. I think, at some point, nothing is permanent.
We start out and say, “Until death, do us part.” We mean it at that time, but we don’t know what lies ahead. You’re built in. We have minds and brains that are five million years old. There are things that happen because our brain is designed that way. There’s the fight or flight and the amygdala hijack. All kinds of things can happen to make crazy decisions and so forth. Looking back, I don’t know if saving the marriage was possible. All I know is where I am now, I’m very thankful because I got through it. My kids got through it. I’m in a very happy relationship now with my second wife. We have a wonderful time together. I don’t harbor things against my ex-wife. We’ve been able to mend fences in a lot of areas and things. Honestly, it’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy to go through.
It ripped our family apart, and it bankrupted us. It literally took us down to zero. The only people who won at the end were the attorneys. That’s what I think is so bad because people don’t realize the collateral damage that happens when you get divorced. If I could have done something different and avoided that, I would have. Especially if there’s abuse in some cases and maybe some mental health issues and things like that, I’m not going to look down on anybody for doing what they had to do to save their own life, the life of their children, or anything else. It wasn’t great walking around the church with the big D on your forehead. Everybody thought you had leprosy or something like that.
It wasn’t really like that, but you felt like, “Did I do something wrong?” It takes a lot of getting it square in your head like counseling and all kinds of things. As I said, I’m so thankful that my children so far, knock on wood, seem to have been able to get through that. That was the most important thing to me. I didn’t care about myself as much as I did my kids getting through it and going on to lead lives and being able to love and not being afraid. It’s better to have loved and lost than it is not to have loved at all. I wanted to make sure that they weren’t tainted by anything.
When you think about turning 40 or your young 40s, what do you think the attitude lesson is for you or us? What did you learn?
If life is a string and you measure how long you’ve been on this planet by how far you are down the string, that’s when you start to get closer to the end than you are at the beginning. If everybody lives to be in their 80s, what the average age is? We start to think about a lot of different things. Until we were 40 and under 40, we were pretty much invincible. We don’t think about dying, what it’s going to be like to retire, and all that sort of thing. At 40, you start to gain wisdom and start to look at things in a different light.
I reflected back when my parents were in their 40s. I thought 40 is so old. My dad was 38 when I was born. I was very young and they were in their 50s before I knew it. I thought, “I’ll never get to be that old.” When you get to be 40 or 50, you still think you’re in your 20s. The reality sets in. Your hair starts to do things. The body starts to do things. You can’t run the 100-yard in 10.2 or whatever. The weird thing is that people at that age, that’s when other people start to die, like your uncles and your parents even. That mortality starts to confront you.
I never went to so many funerals as I did when I got into my 40s. It seemed like all my friend’s parents were dying. Thank God, I haven’t been to a funeral in quite a while. However, there was a period in my 40s when it seemed like once a month or twice a month, I was going to a church. It wasn’t to praise God. It was to put somebody down on the ground. That was not a good thing. For me, that’s where I took on a different attitude about life, realizing that those 86,000 seconds I get every day is all I get. I can’t make any more of them. I better start thinking about how I’m going to finish this race here because the first half of the marathon is over. That was what set in for me back then.
There’s a nice positive message for all of our GAPers who are 40 and over, which is good. If you’re not realizing it, maybe this message will help you. Do you remember your 50th birthday? Did you do anything fun? What was the attitude lesson that you learned at 50?
That was in 2009, and my mom was ailing. I was her caregiver at that time. We were struggling financially. I had to cut back on real estate, and I was doing some coaching. Thank God I had income from that. That was normal income. I didn’t have to work nights and weekends. That was a low point for me because I was losing a second parent. The divorce had left us as a broken family. My kids, during those years, were going through some challenging teenage years growing up.
Life gets a little wacky and crazy. In those tough moments, that’s when I could sit back and think that I felt satisfied with where I was and what I was doing. I was driving a Toyota Camry back then. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a great car. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the C8 I have in the garage now. It goes 194 miles an hour. I was humbled, and being humbled is a good thing.
If you don’t go through life in humility and being humble, you can’t serve at a high level because you’re in the way. I got into serving other people and got busy at church. I got a lot of great satisfaction, and it had nothing to do with money. I was glad because money had done things for my family that I regretted when we made a lot of it. I could see that money was part of the problem and the way that we treated it. I was glad to get back to that sense that there are more important things than making money. It’s about relationships. My relationship with my mom was coming to an end. My relationship with my kids was prime time for them.
I was able to spend time with them. I didn’t care if I didn’t have any money. It didn’t matter to me because I knew that the role I was playing then was the most important role I could play at that time. It didn’t involve making money. I’d done it before. If you’ve made money once, it’s not hard to do it another time. For those of you who are tuning in and maybe you’re flat on your butt right now because something bad happened, don’t worry about that. It’s like you said earlier, Glenn. It’s never too late. We’re capable of going in and recreating things that we like, wealth, money, and that sort of thing. It’s all about your attitude. It’s what this show is about. It’s about your attitude.
When you talk about the attitude of freeing yourself for money, I would guess 90% of people wish they could get there. What’s so funny and paradoxical about it is that when you were humbled and broke, that’s the only thing that would allow you to feel your self-worth, passion, mission, and the reason you’re there. A lot of times, money won’t let you find that. That message is worth the whole episode. I want to respect your time. I’ve had too much fun with you. Let’s get to 60.
You’re just a little over 60. What we’ll do is conclude. Where are you now? What was your attitude lesson 24 months ago when you turned 60? When you tell us what your attitude lesson was at 60, we always like to give our guests a couple of minutes for you to speak to them, a message of hope to our GAPers, whether they’re walking on the beach, driving in their car, or walking in their neighborhood. What’s Cliff Freeman’s message of hope for those people tuning in about their attitude, their future, and what you wish, hope, and pray for them?
It was 58 if we could back it up a couple of years.
I’ll allow that.
That’s close enough to 60. I’m 62 now. In the past, a little over four years, my life has changed tremendously. I always knew I was capable of it. How it came about, I never would’ve guessed in a million years. I don’t think you’re supposed to. That’s part of the journey, and that’s what tests your faith. It is not knowing how you’re going to get there but knowing that I’m going to get there and being resourceful. Tony Robbins talks about the difference between resources and being resourceful. I didn’t have any resources back in 2009. I was upside down financially, but I remained resourceful and looked for opportunities where I could scratch and claw, whatever I needed to do, my way back up. I took advantage of them.
I think that if we’re lucky, the good Lord puts 2 or 3 significant opportunities in front of us in our lifetimes, and it’s up to us to embellish, embrace, take that opportunity, and do whatever we can with it. This opportunity happened to come from Brent Gove. It was when he found me in Dallas and cornered me. He was very passionate about this little company that we all are with now. I’d been an independent broker for nine years. I was making good money at that time. I loved to be independent. I had no desire to go work for another company. Certainly not a franchise or anything like that, but there was something different about this.The good Lord puts two or three significant opportunities in front of us in our lifetimes. It's up to us to embellish, embrace, take that opportunity, and do whatever we can with it. Click To Tweet
Thank God I was open-minded, and I listened instead of trying to be a know-it-all. I think at 60, what I figured out about life is I sure don’t know it all. I got to be a much better listener now at my age than I was when I was younger. I used to think I knew a lot, but I realize now that I don’t know a whole. I know 1/10th of what I could know. Zig, thank you very much. That’s why God gives us one mouth and two ears, so we listen twice as much as we speak, which is not what I’ve done on the show. Thanks to you, Glenn. You’re such a great interviewer. You have a blab in my mouth here. I’m going to go back and watch this and feel embarrassed probably about a lot of the things I’ve talked about. That’s okay because you’re a great host. Hopefully, this will help other people. That’s the goal.
At 60, I went from being concerned that I was going to outlive my money and literally could have retired two years ago and never worked another day in my life. I realized this is an opportunity to build a legacy. It’s something that I had dreamed of and always wanted to do. I had no clue how it was going to manifest itself. The fact that my kids are working with me in the business. It’s a family business. My wife is in business and we’ve been able to build something that is very significant and meaningful.
I learned that if I hadn’t been open-minded and receptive that this opportunity would’ve passed me by, I would be in the same place I was five years ago, still concerned about outliving my money. My kids, I have no idea where they would be. My son originally wanted to move to Colorado. My daughter, I don’t know where she would’ve been. Now, they’re all here within a couple of miles of me. We see each other every day. It is a dad’s perfect dream come true. It’s crazy. I am so lucky. I can tell you that it was absolutely because of the things that had happened in my life before that led to this moment where I knew what to do. Things happened, and it built. With God’s hand on it, everything came together.
I don’t know how much time I’ve got left here. If you look at that string, my wife and I play this game a lot. We’ll pull out a string and go, “We need to start traveling some more. We need to go do some more things because we don’t have a lot of string left.” I can promise you that what I’ll be doing during the rest of that string is going to be a lot different now than it was five years ago. For me, 60 is great. Thank God my health is here. Everything is greenlight. Thank you, Matthew McConaughey. I got Greenlights. I’m more excited now and having more fun in real estate than I have in 37 years of having a real estate license.
Cliff, thanks for giving, being honest, and being authentic. As we walked through 62 years, there were ups and downs, just like he said in the beginning. That’s a reality for all of us. I know that if you tune in to this, I keep hearing a man of faith in his words. He came back, and he came back more than once. If you’re in a place right now that you’re not sure you can come back, if you’re in a financial reversal, if you’re in a personal reversal, or if you’re in a family reversal, it’s never too late to start.
We bring these exceptional people to you so you know firsthand that there is hope and a way out, and that way out, that way to improve, and that way to move forward is between your ears. It’s this thing called attitude. Cliff, thank you for sharing your attitude with us. If you wouldn’t mind, get on your soapbox if you can or preach to us, but give us a message of hope. Speak to our people or that person out there that needs a word of encouragement. You probably have a saying that you love, but we’d love you to close the show with a message of hope for our people.
As I said, I drugged my kids when they were young, and the Lord has had a lot of impact on my life. I used to sit down the row on the second pew at Prestonwood Baptist Church from Zig in the Redhead. I was talking with Zig one time and he taught a Bible study class called the Encouragers Class, which was wonderful if you’ve ever seen him. The guy was one-of-a-kind humble, and a servant of the Lord. He was talking about people who are in that dark place. We all know what I’m talking about. You mentioned hope, Glenn. What Zig said about hope is you can go about a week without food. You can go about three days without water, but you can’t go one day without hope.You can go about a week without food. You can go about three days without water, but you can't go one day without hope. Click To Tweet
For anybody out there who has lost hope right now, get on the phone and run out of your house. There is hope around the corner for you. First of all, if you don’t know God, he is full of hope and love. There are also people that you know who can be your hope and can help you no matter what the problem is. There is nothing impossible with God. If you’re in despair or having dark moments in your life, understand that life is about learning how to dance in the rain.
I’ll repeat another Zig, “You’re either in a storm, you’re coming out of a storm, or you’re heading into a storm. No matter what, dancing in the rain is a lot of fun.” My message of hope is it’s there. Don’t believe what you see and listen to and read, the music and social media. All of this crap is designed to make you go crazy. Don’t let it work because that is not the way it is. The real world is full of love and hope. I want you to go find it. You will be out of that dark place, and God has got a great plan for you.
You didn’t only get attitude, GAPers. You got some hope. Cliff Freeman, thank you so much. Cliff’s Notes is his podcast. Thank you so much for your attitude and your message of hope. We will see all of my GAPers on the latest episode of the show. Stay positive.
- Cliff Freeman
- Cliff’s Notes Real Estate Podcast
- How to Win Friends & Influence People
- The Strangest Secret
- Think and Grow Rich
- Julie Braun – Past Episode
- Glenn Sanford – Past Episode
- Don Hobbs – Past Episode
- Fee Gentry – Past Episode
- ABC’s of Attitude