2023 Time To Sharpen Your Saw

Posted By: Tadd Jones ICOR Blog & News,

As we look back at this year and pause to catch our collective breath, it may be good to take this time to reflect and consider how we can become more effective in the new year at the things we are doing. Steven R. Covey considers this the final habit in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”[1]

 Imagine you are going for a walk in the forest when you come upon a man sawing down a tree.

“What are you doing?” you ask. “I’m sawing down a tree,” he says.

“How long have you been at it?” You ask.

“Two or three hours so far,” he says, sweat dripping from his chin.

“Your saw looks dull,” you say. “Why don’t you take a break and sharpen it?”

“I can’t. I’m too busy sawing,” is his reply.

As an outsider, we could see that the process of cutting was dulling the blade. And the duller the blade, the greater the effort that is required to keep sawing. The solution, of course, was for the woodcutter to stop periodically to sharpen the saw. He was so engrossed in the situation he couldn’t see the need to take a break and do what was necessary to make his job easier.

Habit 7 teaches us to take the time to stop and “sharpen our saw.” “Sharpening the Saw” is synonymous with “self-care” or “self-renewal.”[2]

A few things to consider as ways to ‘sharpen your saw’ as we head into a new year.

Become a realtor. 

There are quite a few beneficial reasons to become a realtor.

Earning commissions on your own deals. The obvious reason to become a realtor is to save on commissions on your own deals. These savings can be significant.  Profit splits between agents is common, so you could earn 3%. Buying a house for $300,000, and then doing the work and selling it later for $400,000 (this is pretty typical for what we see in Utah) means earning $21,000 in commissions, if you’re the realtor. Given that in a typical deal like this profit earned may be as little as $50,000, this is an increase in profitability of almost 50%. 

Earning commissions on other deals. When you are ‘in the business’ you end up knowing lots of buyers and sellers beyond just your particular projects.  If you are facilitating the connections anyway, why not earn a commission for that work?

Networking. Along those same lines, knowing more people can be beneficial to your business.  Deal flow and getting your name out there are probably the biggest reasons to do it, but realtors also end up with much deeper information regarding neighborhood (re)development plans, pricing and general ecosphere issues (such as permitting, appraisal and title issues, etc.). The more information you have, the more informed your decisions are. 

Influence. Ever wonder who discusses and advises on issues such as density, ADUs, wholesaling, agent activities, and fair housing?  These were all topics worked on by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Division of Real Estate.  They actually have 6 different programs: Real Estate Broker, Real Estate Appraiser, Mortgage Loan Originator, Appraisal Management Company, Subdivision Developer and HOA.  This way, you can get quite deep into topics that interest you, and avoid some things that just don’t apply to you.  As a broker, you would also become a member of the Colorado Association of Realtors, and through these organizations you would become aware of issues and be able to more effectively have your voice heard.

Legitimacy. This credential can add to your reputation and credibility as you work with anyone in the real estate business, not only buyers or sellers and other realtors, but really anyone, including subs. They will know that you have passed tests and have third parties that consider what you do. 


The process is quite simple: learn the material, pass a test, and then keep up on your continuing education (CE) credits, almost all of which can be done online.  While this sounds daunting, remember that one of the reasons you are doing this is to learn (and keep up on) all of those other pieces of the puzzle, each of which can add to your business in one way (or time) or another.

Get out there. 

Community events: Attend events in the general community(s) you work in and meet the people whose neighborhoods you are making better, maybe they have some additional ideas for you.

Professional Associations.  Realtors are not the only places to network and learn. In addition to ICOR, there is a National Real Estate Investors Association (free to ICOR members, and with some handy benefits as well). These additional professional associations can facilitate your networking, introduce you to new trends and topics that are relevant, and provide you with additional organizations for your resume.

Online: There are many Facebook and Meetup groups, as well as online resources like Bigger Pockets, and of course the resources available at sites such as Zillow, RedFin and Trulia, which are free and may be worth checking into from time to time. Staying on top of these online resources can help you be at the front of the wave of changes in the field, rather than being swept away by them.

Talk to me

This isn’t meant as a commercial, but I have a lot of other resources and ideas and am happy to share those with you on a much more personalized level. In all my years in this industry I have made a wide variety of connections and would be happy to share some of those connections with you. Maybe we do business, maybe we don’t, but either way we are likely to come away more informed and connected.  And if it’s not me, consider taking someone else in the business to lunch just to chat and compare notes.

A word of caution as you consider these suggestions is that there really is no substitute for being involved in the process and actually doing the work. Learning from others can help identify opportunities and avoid mistakes but making and executing decisions will be what makes the most impact.

Whatever you do as you pause to catch your breath at the close of 2022, spend some time planning how you’re going to “sharpen your saw” for the upcoming year. Then start executing that plan. May 2023 be the year for working smarter not harder and may the results you get reflect that.

[1] COVEY, STEPHEN. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. SIMON & SCHUSTER, 1990

[2]. https://www.leaderinme.org/blog/habit-7-why-its-important-to-remember-to-sharpen-the-saw/