Rob Henderson pictured outdoors in mountains

Colorado Springs Real Producers featuring Rob Henderson

I have found over the years that the majority of Realtors I have met started off on a very different career path, I too am one of them. I graduated from the University of Massa­chusetts Amherst in the early 1980s and was doing what you expect geologists do, living in Wyoming working in the oil industry. But in the mid-1980s oil prices plummeted and the industry shed many of its Junior Field Geologist and I, along with hun­dreds of fellow Geologists, was soon unemployed.

I decided my next move should be to go back to school. I enrolled in the graduate program back at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While studying for my Masters in Geophysics I met two classmates who were forming a solar energy busi­ness, Advanced Sun Technologies. They recruited me and I eventually became part owner. It was a tough decision to give up my graduate studies, but it was clear that the Oil Industry was going to be slow in recovering and lucrative jobs were not going to be available for many years.

Career Change

As a partner in Advanced Sun Technologies I found the catalyst that would spark my inner entrepreneurial spirit. While I enjoyed geology, I felt my prior career did not match my new moti­vation. I wanted a place where I could be more in tune with the working world and in control of my destiny. I realized quite early that the corporate business model would never work for me. As the solar business grew bigger I had the satisfaction of developing a successful company from the ground up. This partnership was short lived; however, as the Federal Tax Credits that supported the industry ended. I loved this business but without the Federal support we had to close our doors.

 By 1986, with the lack of work options back in geology, I was still looking for change. I was inter­ested in buying a townhome but surprised at the lack of answers I was provided by the real estate agents I spoke with. I decided to take a real estate class and from that point on I realized this could be the change I was looking for. I signed up for the full licensing program and earned my real estate license later that year. That’s when my passion changed from rocks to real estate – a seemingly unconventional change of events, but one that suited me. “The light just came on,” and off I went in a new direction.

I was selling real estate part-time and, one week­ end, I was sitting at a builder’s model and I sold two houses. I realized that, financially real estate made sense but, most importantly, I was in a position where I could work with people and help them – that’s really who I am. I knew then I wanted to be in real estate full-time.

The career change not only put me in a position where I could craft my own business, but also help mold and develop a real estate company. Affiliated from 1994 to 1997 with J.W. Riker, the top inde­pendent Rhode Island company, my colleagues and I owned 49 percent of the business and the entrepreneurial spirit began to grow within me once again, bigger than before. “This was a unique opportunity to learn the business and have a say in where and how it grew.

As my real estate career blossomed, my personal life also began to look up. In 1993 I met my future wife, Fiona Holland. Fiona was an event planner for a Boston-based computer event and conference company. She was living just outside of Boston and we enjoyed splitting time between Boston and my home in northern Rhode Island. I never considered myself a city person but I truly loved spending time in Boston. Growing up in a small town in western Massachusetts the big city was always, and still is to this day, a pleasure to visit but not a place I could live in day to day.

As a real estate professional in Rhode Island with a thriving practice I still felt a void in my life. Af­ter my geology career ended, my love of the West didn’t die. When the opportunity came up for Fiona to work in Colorado Springs, we jumped at the chance to come out West. The move would not come without a price. We both wanted a lifestyle change, but it was at the expense of giving up a safe and steady real estate practice in Rhode Is­ land. We knew no one in Colorado Springs. Like the explorer Cortez who burned his ships upon arriving in the New World, we had come to a new city with no options but to succeed and no easy return. So, after walking away from a 9 -year client base in Rhode Island, Fiona and I headed to Colorado Springs.

Now in Colorado Springs

I had to start over from scratch, it was back to square one again.  There were no referrals, no sphere of influence on which I could rely, but it worked out to be the best thing I ever did.

I started with ERA Shields in June of 1997. I did what every other real estate professional must do at entry into real estate: open houses, taking over orphaned files from former agents and taking as much floor­ time as I could. The back-to-basics approach worked for me, but took several years to get going again. 10 year’s prior experience helped but hard work and lots of hours were needed to get a foothold. Working at ERA Shields was a big help. The teamwork and support that was pro­vided by fellow agents and staff was amazing. I found my home and have been there ever since.

When I restarted my business in Colorado I made a rather signifi­cant decision that has molded my career ever since. I realized the one of biggest reasons that agents failed was their belief that you must work 24/ 7 to succeed. I felt that if I followed that path I would soon burn out. I came out west to experience the outdoors and spend quality time with my wife. We planned on having a family and I was not going to miss out on that . Once I got through the early stages of getting the business set-up, I committed to working five days a week and a half-day every other Saturday. You don’t have to work 24-7, and if you do, I believe your family and personal life may fall apart. This single commitment has allowed me to be happier outside the office and allowed me to be stronger, more focused and work harder  for my clients. When I am working I am 100 percent committed to my clients, but when I am home I am 100 percent committed to my family. In 2001 our family grew with the addition of our daughter Megan, and I have continued to follow my commitment to spend time with family. Being a Realtor has allowed me to include my daughter in some of my every day activities, such as going to Pikes Peak Association of Realtor Board Meetings and even occasionally showing homes. My wife’s travel schedule required a very balanced approach to the parenting world. I was quite surprised by how many clients not only accepted this but embraced it.

The Ninja Selling Process

Another big change for me was com­mitting to the Ninja Selling process. This program works well with my personality in that it is more about being customer centric and implementing processes to be more efficient wit h time. I have been a Ninja for almost 9 years now and coincidentally those have been my y best financially. The tools that they provide Realtors  is amazing and support is fantastic.  Larry Kendall and this organization have been pivotal to my success and continued growth.

With the Ninja Selling system solidly in place it created time for  travel and personal growth.  It has allowed me to be able to volunteer and give back to the community.  In  2017 I was  honored to be asked to join the YMCA Camp Shady Brook Advisory Board. Camp Shady Brook is located in Deckers, Colorado just about an hour and 15 min­utes northwest of Colorado Springs. The photos in this article were all taken at Camp. The Camp’s mission is to effect positive change in our commu­nity by creating opportunities in the outdoors for personal growth, leadership and development and the building of relationships though exceptional camping experiences . These words could not be more in line with my personal beliefs. In a world where today’s children and adults are exposed to 24-hour bombardment of information and instan­taneous gratification, camp allows both young and old to slow down and take a breath. This is a spe­cial place where you can rock climb, learn to play a musical instrument, horseback-ride or just hop in a hammock and read. The team that runs Camp Shady Brook takes professionalism and caring to the higher level. They know that through outdoor learning we all can become better communicators and listeners. I am grateful to have spent time with the entire team, it has made me a better father, friend and Realtor.

Continuing Education

With 32 years of experience in the industry, I have earned the designations of CRS, GRI and ERS. I was the director for PPAR for five years, serving as chairman of government affairs, and the leadership development chairman and PSF chair. Education is critical to me. I am constantly taking classes on all aspects of the business. From radon to RESPA, we need to stay on top of the ever -changing rules and regulations.

Adapting to an ever-changing market, Realtors constantly need to be learning new skills and be forward thinking in regard to clients and our busi­nesses. Our industry  is  more  dynamic  than  ever and at a pivotal point of change . There are so many new players in  the  real  estate  world  all  vying for our livelihood. I truly believe that the way we do business from here on out is about to change dra­matically.   Buyer platforms, OpenDoor and Redfin all have made significant inroads into our world and they are not going  away.  We will all need to adapt to  these changes. Client loyalty is dissipating and as computer algorithms further alter the landscape we will need to change our behaviors.

I believe we all need to become a new dynamic breed of real estate agents: those who know that you must change with the times and constantly reinvent yourself to reach your targeted clients and build your business. After 32 years and counting I know that there are changes coming and am looking forward to these new experiences and challenges ahead.

Finally, I have been given the gift of time with Family. We have been able to camp, hike, travel and be a part of my daughter’s interests her entire life. She is now 17 and heading off to college this fall, I can proudly say to my Alma Mater. The life as a Realtor is a good one and I am honored to be a part of this industry.