Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel… And Real Estate.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel… And Real Estate.


Recently, I toured through the up and coming Rowe Condos and snapped this picture of a digger. As I walked through the project, it brought me back to my favorite book and how the principals in the story have driven my life.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is my favorite book. It’s the story about a steam engineer, who starts to see the end of his career as new technology starts to come in and is faster than he is. But Mike does not let his steam engine give up. He decides to keep moving and find new work to do. One day, Mike gets a job digging a foundation. He digs it so fast because everyone is cheering him on. Once he finishes, he looks around and realizes he can’t get out of the hole he dug! Mike decides to make his steam engine the new boiler for City Hall and help the city grow. I loved listening to this story as a kid, when my mom read it to me. Today, I still read it a couple times a year for inspiration.

A rebuild like the Rowe, a building with so much history, takes time. Being a Realtor is no different. It takes time to build a foundation. Then when you have built a foundation, the world is always changing around you. You have to determine what items in that foundation have the ability to last and what you need to repurpose.

Some takeaways from my career so far, using the things I’ve learned from the story of Mike Mulligan:

1) Pick a specialty and learn it better than anyone else. No one can take the knowledge you have away from you. If you have a specialized knowledge of a particular neighborhood or type of real estate, clients will want to work with you. Spend the time talking, learning, and growing your experience, but in a special niche or farm. Be the expert in your field of real estate, be it new construction, historic homes, a neighborhood or a culture of people.

2) Tell people about your specialty and find cheerleaders. When Mike Mulligan started digging his last hole, a little boy came over and started to cheer for him. The little boy noticed the more people that would come, the better Mike would dig. This is the same for your real estate business. Start sharing your work on blogs and social media outlets. Make phone calls, set up coffee sessions with friends- Find your crowd of supporters. This becomes your sphere of influence and the bigger that becomes, the bigger your business.

3) Never give up and never stop changing. At the end of the book, Mike sits in a rocking chair, next to the steam shovel which has become the boiler for city hall. Mike and his stream shovel could have ended up like all his friends, in the junkyard, if he hadn’t pressed forward and embraced change. Change in Real Estate happens all the time and with technology, it’s changing even faster. You have a choose if you’re going to let it pass you by or if you’re look at your business and find the items of value and repurpose those to invite growth.

Don’t stop growing and start looking for the next cheerleader in your life- your career will thank you.


Posted on

October 9, 2015

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