By Joseph Callaway

In 2006, my wife JoAnn and I attended a conference in Boston. The event was billed as a “gathering of the nation’s top 100 real estate agents.” We were there because we had sold 4,000 homes, equaling over one billion dollars of residential real estate, in our first 10 years in the business. For three days we heard speaker after speaker extolling the virtues of the latest secrets of selling real estate, none of which made any mention of taking care of the client. Like most “secrets of success,” they were only a litany of self-serving manipulations designed to make transactions “happen” regardless of whether they served the parties or not.

JoAnn and I came away empty and a little frustrated. We had sold these 4,000 homes simply by doing a good job for each of these clients, one house at a time. Our “secret,” if you wanted to call it that, was that our clients were so pleased that they brought us more clients. They brought their mothers, their siblings, their co-workers, their children and, on occasion, people they had just met and struck up a conversation with. We called it “putting our clients first” and, on that trip, we decided to write a book. We had our title, “Clients First,” and were terribly excited. This would be easy.

Then, we had to face down a blank computer screen and find the words. We had to unlock the secret to the exceptional service that we seemed to deliver. We had to figure out what we did that made us unique. What had two otherwise ordinary people done to yield such extraordinary results? It took us six years and when Wiley & Sons, New York said they wanted to publish our book, the answer was incredibly simple. “Clients First” was embraced by not only the real estate industry but by many others as well. Our secret was captured in three keys: honesty, competence, and care.

Nobody wants to be lied to; people do not appreciate shoddy work and who wants to do business with an enterprise that doesn’t care about their customers? It is almost too easy but think about the times you’ve dealt with someone who didn’t tell the truth. They told you whatever was convenient, what they thought you wanted to hear, or they made up an explanation to serve their interest over yours. If only businesses would do the job right the first time. Who would need a customer service department if they eliminated the need to fix things in the first place? And how many times have you been told that “this company policy” or that your request is unreasonable when, to you, it seems perfectly fair?

Our book became a “New York Times” bestseller in its second week in bookstores. We spoke more than 200 times to interested groups. That was 2012 and “Clients First” is still in print today. But the most important thing we did was to simplify our passion so that our readers could grasp the power of honesty, competence, and care.

If you have a passion, if you have a book in you, maybe you can face that blank computer screen or that pristine legal pad and put your passion into words. Will you write a “New York Times” bestseller? We don’t know. We had a lot of support. But we know it is worth the journey because sharing your heart is the most fulfilling thing you can do.

Joseph Callaway is co-owner of Those Callaways Team, Callaway Realty, an independent brokerage operating in 85254 for 25 years. For additional information, visit