Season 03 Episode 11
Mike Hearne, realtor, podcaster

Mike Hearne is a golfer, realtor and creator of “This is Oklahoma,” a podcast that tells stories of Oklahoma’s history, culture and people. Mike was born in Bridgend, Wales, and moved to Oklahoma in August 2011 to play golf and study Marketing at Southern Nazarene University. He graduated in May 2015, passed his real estate exam and became a realtor. Mike launched “This is Oklahoma” in May of 2018. His podcast has since grown a large, national following including a sponsorship with the Oklahoma Hame of Fame.

In this episode, Mike shares his inspirational story of finding his way to success and why it is vital that entrepreneurs learn to harness the power of saying “yes.”

Chris Allen: Well, I’m excited to have Mike Herne here sitting in the seat, The Entrepreneur’s Studio. Welcome.

Mike Hearne: Thank you.

Chris: Welcome. The question that came to my mind though was, you got to tell us how a 33-year-old guy from Wales ends up in Oklahoma.

Taking unexpected opportunities

Mike: So, I grew up playing golf. Golf was my main sport as a kid, and my granddad gave me my first golf club when I was three, four years old, and I still have it today. It’s in my office here. It’s got a wooden shaft in it, it’s that old, it’s got dots in the face instead of lines and grooves, as most golfers know. I somehow managed to save it from my nieces and nephews back home, because it’s just been passed down. I went home for Christmas one year, I’m like, “I’m taking this with me. This needs to be in a case somewhere.” So, golf’s always been in my life. When I look back at every relationship I have, everything’s come from golf. I can always tie it back to a connection within the sport, was really good at it from a young age naturally, and then worked at it. Had friends older than me that they’d gone to the States, they were going, and university back home’s three years, and golf is sort of a intramural type situation. They have golf teams, but anyone who’s on university golf team’s doing it for a club, for fun. The winters back home are terrible. You go to university back home to go to university, you don’t go as an athlete like it is out here. And so, I always had the dream to come to the States. I didn’t care where that was, I wasn’t really focused on what my degree would be, it was just like, “I want to go to the States.”

And so, at the time there was three agencies that you could sign up with, and they would put you on their website and market you to golf-specific agencies. Now there’s 15 to 20, they’re all sports, they’re just getting kids into the States and the colleges know where to find them. And so, I hooked up with this guy, his name is Lorne Kelly, and he owned a company called Pro Dream USA, guy in Scotland, and he’d played high-level golf, and he’d been to the States. And when he did it in the ’90s, he was writing letters to schools. And he just got a letter back and was like, “Yeah, we’d love to have you.” Went to Coastal Carolina. And so, I got hooked up with him, flew up to Scotland with my dad.

We did a promo video and a whole profile thing, and he submits it to his website and just waits for the coaches to ... It’s like eBay for college golf coaches. They just scroll profiles and looking at videos. And I got a call, I graduated in ’09, so I got a call early ’09 saying, “We’d love to offer you a scholarship.” It was to a place in Florida called Nova Southeastern. Pretty good NAIA school at the time. I was like, “Yeah, done. Florida sounds awesome.”

Chris: Sounds great.

Mike: Never been to the States before. I had gone on family vacations to Spain and Portugal, close stuff for a week with family, and-

Chris: Yeah, just Portugal.

Mike: Yeah, nothing.

Chris: I’m just kidding.

Mike: Well, it sounds awesome coming from the States. For us, it’s just a quick hop across the water, was like a two-hour flight. The longest flight I’d been on up until that time was four hours, and that was to Turkey. And at the time I was just like, “Four hours on plane? What?” So yeah, I was pumped. I was going to go out that August, and we got about a month out from me going and the company my dad worked for went out of business. And so, my dad didn’t have a job, so the money that was saved put me through my first semester was now putting food on the table.

Chris: There you go.

Mike: My parents did everything for me and my brother, I never grew up without. My dad worked on the side to pay for us to go on vacation. I mean, I owe everything to my parents, but it’s not like the golf parents that you have in the States. Most golf country club parents, they’ve got cash. Total opposite back home. And so, all my friends went off to university, I went to work at the local golf course, and honestly, I lived the dream for the next two years. I pulled pints of warm beer for crusty old man at the golf course for two years. I didn’t start work till 11:00 in the morning, I never worked really later than 5:00 or 6:00, and I played golf morning and night. It was awesome for me, but there came a point I’m like, “This is not ...” I looked at my bar manager, who’s like 60, has a drinking problem, who’s been in the bar industry for his entire life. I’m like, “I don’t want to be that person.”

Chris: You’re like, “There’s got to be an alternative there.”

Mike: Yeah. And so, I talked to my mom and dad and I was like, “Look, I’d love to reapply. Let’s figure this out. How can we make this work?” And we reapplied. I reapplied late, I reapplied in May, which is not the time to apply to go to school that fall. I had one offer, and that offer was from Southern Nazarene in Bethany, Oklahoma. I’m like, “Where is Oklahoma? What is a Nazarene?” I had no idea-

Chris: You didn’t get dropped into the center.

Mike: Yeah. I didn’t grow up in a religious household. My Nan went to chapel for social reasons, and that was because it was around the corner from my house. So I was like, “Yeah, let’s go.” I got on the Skype call with the coach at the time, and I thought the connection was so bad because he was talking so slow. And then I got out here and he’s like, “That’s just how people talk here compared to people from Wales.” And so yeah, I mean, it was crazy. And they offered me a 50% scholarship for that first year. And I went to my dad and went to ... I was a member of two golf clubs at the time back home.

And when I say golf’s totally different back home to it is here, I wasn’t paying membership at either of those golf courses because I made my national team, and if you play for your national team, golf is free. But even if I wasn’t paying, the membership dues for an 18, 19, 20-year-old, were 500 bucks for the year. Golf is very cheap back home. So, I was a member of two places. Some people hear, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, you’re a member of two country clubs? How much money do you have?” Total opposite. So, I went to both of those. One of them we had a golf day, we had a fundraiser golf day, and then the other one we had a dinner and there was an auction. And so, both of these clubs that I’d played at since I was a kid really rallied behind me, and had a huge support. And I think we’ve raised like 8,000, 9,000 pounds, which paid for my first half of my year really.

Chris: That’s amazing.

Mike: Paid for my first year, and it was incredible. I again, owe everything to them too. And it goes a lot to say about the relationships you build through golf. They’d see me grow up, they’d see me morning and night out there in the summer. My mom dropped me off with 5, 10 pounds for the day or maybe less, and we’d just play golf all day. I think those days are missed now, kids don’t do that anymore. And if they do, maybe they’re at country clubs and running around doing other things. They’re not just literally playing golf all day-

Chris: Not actually literally playing golf.

Mike: Yeah. And so, I came out August of 2011. It was August the 17th, 2011. I land, jeans and a hoodie, it’s raining back home, it’s 50, it’s miserable. I land here and it’s like 105. I’m like, “What have I done to myself? I’m melting.” I’ve been on the plane, been up 20 plus hours, never flown this far. And then drive, we picked up a rental car. I remember coming to the first stoplight in the rental car, in this tiny little rental car. I look across, I’m looking at the wheel arch of this massive truck. And to me I’m like, “Oh my gosh, it’s a monster truck.” It’s just a lifted F-150. But to me, it was the biggest thing I’d ever seen on the road. We drive up to Southern Nazarene and the drive from the airport at Meridian is not a glamorous drive. And I’m just like, “What have I done?” I just turned 21 at that point, or I was about to turn 21. I was 21 in September, so close to being 21. And I’m not 18 years old, I’m an adult at this point.

And I was still just so unfamiliar, I’d never been away from home. And I remember the day my dad was there, moved me in, and he’s there a week. And I remember driving to the airport to take the rental car back, and the drive to the airport felt like it took forever. And we pull in, and I just said goodbye. I just hugged him and I’m walking out, I said], “I’ll see you later,” which I won’t see you until four months time, Christmas. I just remember walking out of the airport sobbing. Like, “I’m on my own now.” That was like first realization of, “Okay, you need to grow up a little bit.” And my international advisor picked me up from the airport, and she’s like, “You okay?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’ll be fine.” And I’m just crying in the car to myself on my own, and that was 2011.

I mean, I didn’t have an iPhone. It was Skype, it wasn’t FaceTime. And the weeknight, the weeks with the weekdays were good because you practice and go to bed. It was the weekends that were the hardest, because after 6:00, they’re six hours ahead back home, so kind of after 6:00 everyone’s in bed. So, those weekend nights were pretty tough. And also, I found out that first week that I was ineligible my freshman year. So, I’d flown 4,000 miles across the world to play golf, and I couldn’t play my freshman year. I was so mad.

Chris: Great surprises.

Mike: Yeah, right? And my coaches, as far as I know they fought it pretty hard. And basically it came down to the NAIA Clearinghouse thought that those two years I took out of high school to work at the golf club were professional years. So they took two years of eligibility. Fortunately for me, the school actually transitioned after one year into division two. So, I actually got those two years back.

Chris: Oh, that’s great.

Mike: Or a year back at least. I hated it when I first moved here. I miss home, it’s miserably hot, I can’t play golf to the competitive level. I’m like, “What am I doing here? I didn’t come here to go to school, I came here to play golf,” but I got used to it. Like I said, I turned 21 that September and then I had a very international team. And so, one of my, he won’t mind me saying this now, but my assistant coach, who was from South Africa at the time, said, “I know it’s your birthday on Friday. I think you need some sense of home, let’s go and have a beer.” And that would’ve kicked us out of school. We signed a lifestyle covenant, you’re at a Christian school, I would’ve lost everything. And he’s like, “Just don’t tell anybody.”

There was five or six of us international students, and we went out, went to Edna’s in Oklahoma City. People listening will know that one, and woke up with a very sore head the next day. And that was a turning point, whereas I felt like I had guys around me that understood home. They’d grown up around home and they knew how, as simple as it is, just to go for a beer. And yeah, of course we were kids, we risked everything at that point, but we didn’t realize how bad it was or how much we were risking. But that really, it’s like that bonding thing. You bond over doing sports, you bond over having a beer together or going to a concert, whatever it is, that really made a switch in my head. And from then on, I just focused on practicing. And I had a timer on my phone of when to go home for Christmas, just counting down the days till December, whatever it was, till I flew home.

Shifting from the 9 to 5 perspective

Chris: Wow. Well, you end up going all in on Oklahoma. Something called “This is Oklahoma-”

Mike: Shocking, right?

Chris: It’s shocking. So, how did you end up go going from playing golf in college, being here, to saying like, “Man, I’m all in on this place, and I’m going to stick around to the degree that I’m going to start selling the property that’s here”?

Mike: Right. Yeah, so as the big shift for me, again, another big shift happened. I went home that first semester and got to see all my friends, but I realized nothing had changed. And I’ve been away for four months, which I thought was a lifetime. I’ve gone home, all my friends are still at the same bars, they’re doing the same thing as on the weekend. There’s no real entrepreneurial culture back home, it’s very 9:00 to 5:00. And at this point, my friends are getting close to graduating their universities, and getting into work as well. So, they’re all talking about what jobs they’re going to do, and like, “This life sounds terrible to me.” I’ve never really been one to do the 9:00 to 5:00 thing. And so, I’ve always had aspirations to either work for myself, or just do something different. Just go out, and you can always get a job.

You can always fall back. And for me, at that point I realized if everything didn’t work out, I could always move home, and get a job, and go about the life like everyone else seems to go about their lives. Part of me just didn’t want to do it. And so, when I realized that I went back to the States that semester and had a different mindset, and again, that was just reinforced when I went home that summer. And every time I kept going home, it just kept getting reinforced that you have a real opportunity here, don’t mess this up, or take advantage of it. And I think that helped that I was a little older in school too. I was 21 my freshman year, and I just had more awareness I guess, because when you’re 18 you’re just like, “Oh, having a great time.” And you don’t really think about the future. Whereas I was 21, 22, 23 going through my freshman, sophomore, junior year, and it came to my junior year and I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to stay up here, and how do I figure that out?” And when you’re an international student, I’m pretty sure it’s the same now, but at the time you could do a one-year work visa as long as it was related to your degree. And so, I had a marketing degree. I can find a job in marketing pretty much everywhere, but I wanted to treat it as a gap year. I didn’t want to work full time again. I was like, “If I can find something I can weave in and out of, make a little money, travel, enjoy it before I have to figure everything out properly.”

And so, one of my professors connected me to a guy who he played golf at SNU with maybe six, seven, eight years before I did, who was in real estate. Connects me to the guy. I meet him and I’m like, “I know nothing about the real estate industry, but I like to play golf. I don’t like to work in the morning 9:00 to 5:00, but I don’t mind working evenings if I get to play golf in the day.” And he’s like, “I think you’d be good at real estate. You’re different, you stand out, you seem like a guy who’s comfortable talking to new people and just having a conversation. You’re not socially awkward, or just you’re comfortable.”

There’s a lot of people who they hate. If we said to some people go out and make 10 new friends today, they’re like, “No, I’d rather write 1,000 word essay on why I don’t want to do that.” I just felt comfortable, and I think that comes back to golf too. I’d play golf with all my granddad’s friends, and you play golf with different people and you just get used to having a conversation with the older generation for me as a kid, and I just got used to having conversations. And it’s so easy to do looking back on it, at the time you don’t think about it, but simple to ask. And I do it today, it’s who, why, what, when, how? Those are the easy ways to keep a conversation going, someone talks to you and you’re like, “Well, who did that?” Or, “Why?” “Why” is the easiest question.

But parents, when their kids ask them “why,” they’re like, “I don’t want to answer that question.” “Why” is not what you want to hear from your four-year-old kid. But to keep a conversation going, it works. And so, I’m junior year, I apply for this one-year work visa, I get it. I’m going to go into the real estate industry after I graduate, works out fine. And actually, I met a woman at that time, and how I stayed was we got married. And so, we got married and so I got my green card effectively. And so, that was a huge part of getting a job, getting a wife, basically finding a woman that you fall in love with, and going through that whole process of immigration. I mean, it’s not an easy process.

You basically got to put your entire relationship in a binder and send it off to the government to prove that it’s legit, that you’re not just coming over here. And it moved really fast, but I got my green card, we got married and all that stuff. So I stayed that way, but I fell in love with real estate because it was just a way to connect with people. And with real estate, it’s such a big purchase, but it’s also such a meaningful purchase. People buying their first home, or they’re buying a home, and they graduate college, and they’re getting their friends to rent from them. And that’s what was my selling point at the beginning. All my friends had graduated, and they all get someone thinking about the apartment life. I’m like, “Why don’t one of you buy a house and then you guys can rent? Someone’s parents has got enough money to help you,” then all their friends would rent.

And so, that was how I started and it just slowly moved from there. And at the time I was working part-time at Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club, just to play golf for free. I would work in the cart barn, load people’s bags. I mean, it’s not a fun job, but you’re around high net worth individuals who like golf. And as a college golfer, they knew I could play golf. And so, I’d get invited to play golf with them. I played more golf than I worked. I took full advantage of the position I was in, try and build those relationships. And one day one of them came to me and said, “What do you think about commercial real estate?” I mean, “It’s real estate, it’s just big buildings, right?” He’s like, “Well, kind of.”

And he’s like, “But I have an opportunity. We’re hiring, I think you’d be great. Would you consider an interview?” I was like, “Sure, okay.” Residential was great, but I’ve always strived for bigger and better, and how do you just go to the next level? The next level at the time was you could go sell a $3 million building or a warehouse to whoever, industrial, whatever it needs to be, office building versus a $250,000 house to your buddies, or $150,000 house at that time. And I was like, “Yeah, sure. Why not?” So did the interview, and I was open. I was like, “I know nothing about commercial real estate.” So, that was my first sort of 9:00 to 5:00. I was there six months, hated it, just I didn’t learn much, I didn’t enjoy it.

Chris: Leases, sales?

Mike: Yeah, everything. Just starting out fresh in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City is such a small town that all the commercial guys, it just wasn’t a good fit. And so, after six months I think my parents had come to town, and I just wasn’t in the office, which is not surprising that they didn’t want me to come back after my parents left town. I get a phone call, “Where are you today?” I’m like, “Oh, I took my parents shooting.” In the middle of nowhere countryside, Dad loves it. And my phone, no cell signal. And I get home, my phone’s blowing up. It was the boss, and she’s like, “Where have you been?” I was honest. “Oh yeah, my parents were in town, I took them shooting.” Because I was used to real estate, just doing whatever. And up until that point, I didn’t realize I didn’t feel like I was doing anything in the office anyway.

I just sitting there all day. I’m like, ’This is driving me nuts.“ And so, when I went back in that Monday morning, come to the office and sat there, walk in the office and the lady from HR is there. And I’m like, ”Before we go through this awkward conversation, I know where this is going and it’s okay. I’ll pack up my stuff and leave. We don’t need to go through this, ’Hey, we think you’re great,’ but no. Just here’s my keys, I understand.“ And I guess I stopped them from saying, ”You’re fired,“ but I got fired basically. And that was the catalyst to starting “This Is Oklahoma,” because I went home, and driving home like, ”I just got fired." The first time ever that no one had said it, but I just got fired. And I doom scrolled social media for five days trying to figure out ... I knew I would go back to residential real estate because I never really gave it up, I was still doing deals and stuff.

Finding a voice

But I saw a Gary Vee video, and it was just like, “You should become the social media mayor of your town, and this is how you should do real estate.” And I think his sister was in real estate at the time, because he was doing the content around that. And it just struck a chord to me. I’m like, “I’m always on my phone. Why don’t I try and do something that turns it into a business, and build a pipeline through social media?” And so I found, I think “This Is Us” was on TV at the time, I didn’t watch it but I was like, “Oh, ‘ and ’ It sounds awesome, let’s do it.” The name was available, and I have a passion for photography. I did a few photography classes in college, and I’ve always loved that stuff.

Never been really good at it, but just I appreciate how good people are at it. And so, people love sunsets, tornadoes, and all those posts and photos, they do really well on social media. So, there was a page called “Only In Oklahoma,” it’s still up now. And I researched them, and they have an “Only In Arkansas,” Louisiana, they’re a massive social media business, whatever. But they only posted like once or twice a day, or reposted once or twice a day. I’m like, “I can do this, but I can repost every hour.” So, I just started doing that every day, and for the next year I made no money at all in real estate. I probably made $35,000 that year.

It was not good, but I was building this brand and had the long-term thing of like, “Oh, this is going to become something. I’m going to have a pipeline, I’m going to be doing deals all the time.” The man math of how many houses can I sell? And about a year, that was June of 2017. May of 2018, the podcast started, because I got to the end of the year and I think I grew to 10,000 Instagram followers at the end of the year. And I was like, “I want to tell stories. You can only tell so many stories through pictures, how about we start a video series?” I went to my friends who are college friends who were in the videography world, “Hey, can we record an intro video to the Facebook page to say, ’This is what we’re going to do?’” So he sits me down, kind of like the setup we have here in front of a camera, lights, everything, and I sucked at it. I have so much appreciation for people who sit in front of a news camera and just talk, because I can not do … That’s a real skill. And I can see he’s getting frustrated, because I’m just not getting it. And he’s putting the lines that I need to read on the camera, and just it’s not working. And he just says, “What about a podcast?” I’m like, “Sure.” He’s like, “We’ve got all the equipment, I think that’s where you suit best” It was a nice way of saying, “Video is not for you, pal.”

Chris: You got a personality for radio.

Mike: Right. Basically, yeah. And so, I took him to lunch after that just to say, “Thank you, and sorry you’re wasting your time.” But those guys, Ian Weston and Alan Brown, gave me my first podcast set up. I still have it today. And they said, “Look, use this as much as you want. We’ll help you edit and get you started, and just pay us back whenever you start making some money.” And so, the first 50 episodes, they edited all of them.

Chris: Unbelievable.

Mike: And still to this day, Alan’s voice is the intro and outro to the podcast today, still. And we’re at 600 and something episodes now. And I just fell in love with it. And they said, “Go out and record five episodes and come back.” It took me a month, didn’t take me long at all to go record five episodes. They didn’t expect me to do that many in such a short amount of time. One of them, the turning point, because the goal was start a podcast, have a cheesy real estate ad at the beginning, and then go into whoever the person’s story is. And I interviewed Todd Vincent from EOTE Coffee, and I pull up to the warehouse there at the time. We hang out for about 30 minutes just talking about life, drinking coffee, and then we record for an hour, and then we hang out and finish another coffee pot after that. I’m like, “I haven’t had a conversation like this maybe in my life.” Just deep conversation over coffee with someone I’ve never met before. And at that point, I hadn’t recorded the intro for the real estate advertisement part of it. I just didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I’m just like the guest, it’s their story, it’s not about my cheesy real estate ad. And at the time, I don’t think I had enough self-confidence in my real estate ability, because I’d gone through a weird transition of like, oh, you’re a commercial agent and you’re a real estate agent. The passion wasn’t in real estate at the time, but I found this, I like to have conversations, and I like to learn about people, and just really get to know them on a deeper level. And you see this EOTE Coffee brand, but who is Todd? Why did it start, and just what makes him tick? And why did he decide to do this?"

And from that moment, I’m like, “There is no real estate ad. It’s just going to be podcast, and we’ll figure out the real estate as well. I’ll still make money from it, but right now let’s just do the podcast and keep it that way.” Again, no money came in from the podcast until two years later when the Hall of Fame signed up, but it was February of 2020 they signed up a 12 months sponsorship, which I got that and I was like, “I’m rich. After two years or 18 months of really working at this, I’ve made some money from this. This is insane.” All my friends, the Instagram following is growing and I’m reposting people’s photos. None of it’s my own content, I’m just slowly building this brand and all my friends ... I’m not talking about real estate on the Instagram either, I’m just reposting photos of the state and sharing the love of ...

And the one thing that I love about Oklahoma and I love about just the States in general, is that everyone when they travel has state pride. They wear something from their state. No one does that back home. And I really noticed that, I was like, “There’s something to tap into there, so let’s tap into that.” And at this point I live here, this is home to me. As much as my mom would joke, or I’d wind my mom up and say, “I’m going home now.” And she’s like, “No, home is here. Home will always be here.” I’m like, “Well, I have a house home.” I always say that, but it just kind of snowballed. And I still do real estate today, but it’s different now. People back in the day when I was trying to sell houses, I’d have to bring up real estate in a conversation with people, which is a lot harder to sell because they can see through-

Chris: Yeah, they know they’re being sold.

Mike: ... they can see straight through you. Whereas now everyone’s like, “Who’s the podcast guest this week? And how’s real estate?” They bring it up. “Are you still doing real estate?” And so, I created on the side a page called “This Is Oklahoma Homes,” just to reshare the real estate content, but yeah, it just snowballed. And I just fell in love with doing interviews. And during COVID, I was doing three a week because everyone was over Zoom, and everyone had all the time in the world. So, I did like 150 interviews during 2020 because I just sat at home. Just like, “Oh, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, done.” It’s 30, 45 minutes to sit with someone that’s got nothing to do anyway, that really leaped, and that also helped the reps. It’s like when you have a conversation, you learn the intricacies, and especially over Zoom it’s hard. I much prefer recording in person than over Zoom, because you get those keys.

So yeah, it just snowballed. The Hall of Fame introduced me to the Chickasaw Nation, I interviewed Governor Anoatubby, and then a few months later reached out and said, “Hey, I’m doing this project. I will be doing this for the rest of my life until I can have a voice. Would you consider being a sponsor?” And they’ve been a sponsor for the last two and a half years now, it’ll be three in September. And it just snowballed from there. And we had people reaching out, “Hey, would you interview this person, this person?” And it went from one episode a week, to two, to three during COVID, and now it’s back to two episodes a week, Tuesday, Fridays.

I can’t explain it, I just love … Sometimes maybe on the podcast you’ve been around people and there’s examples, when you find something you grab onto it, you’re like, “I will do this for the rest of my life, even if I don’t make any money from it.” Because it’s just fun to sit here and chat, get to know people. And I said this on a previous podcast, whenever do we sit across the table from someone with no phones and have a conversation? It doesn’t happen anymore, because people think it’s weird. I joked, I said, “If I were to come to you and say, ’Man, we’ve known each other for 10, 20 years, and how are you doing? Hey, let’s go have a chat.’” Like, “Are you okay? Is everything okay?”


What are we about to talk about?

Mike: Yeah, right? You think something bad’s going to happen. Like, “No, I just want to go hang out and have a conversation about life, family, career, whatever it is.” Now we just have to sit in front of microphones and a camera to do it.

Building a pipeline of relationships

Chris: Yeah, and that’s a real thing. Well, there’s a couple of things that, one of the questions I really want to unpack with you is in real estate you’re balancing two sides. You got the marketing side, and then you got to actually know how to do the work. Negotiation, all of the things. So, do you have somebody going to get the introductions to meet these people? Or is it all you?

Mike: It’s all me.

Chris: It’s all you. See, that I think is a key. So, there’s two things, because I was in real estate for a long time as well, and the whole like, man, I know somebody is going to want to do a transaction at some point. How do I have that conversation? I think that’s really important, because you got to be known for two things. You know what I mean? So, the thing that’s easy to talk about can get you the opportunity to talk about the thing that’s tougher to talk about. I think that’s a real secret there, that you’re doing the networking, you’re doing the connections, you’re known for this one thing and this other thing. I think that is a secret to real estate that a lot of people don’t really talk about is how do you do your thing? It’s actually two things.

Mike: Yeah. No, I totally agree. And for me, I was known when I first got here for, “That’s Mike the golfer.” And over the last two or three years is, “Oh, that’s Mike, the podcast guy,” because the people in the podcast world have no idea that I played college golf. And it’s really funny when they find out, and it’s really refreshing when they find that out too. But I couldn’t agree more, whatever it is that your passion is, like I like cars and I like golf. And I, like most men, took on too much early on. I started a golf podcast, I started a car podcast, and now I just have one because it’s just too much to do. But the reason I did that was because of you’re in and around those like-minded people. And if it’s golf, start a show around golf. And podcasting I think is the easiest way to get in front of people that you want to meet. Because I’ve sat in rooms with people that there’s no way, if I didn’t have a podcast, I’d sit across to them. Because I want to the typical, "Hey, I’d love to take you to coffee and…

Chris: They’re like, “Here we go.”

Mike: ... pick your brain.“ Right? They’ve heard that 1,000 times. But, ”Hey, come on the podcast, tell me about your story.“ Yeah, where do you need me to be?” And then you either ask those questions on the podcast, or you get those 15 to 20 minutes before and after to really pick. That’s the real question you wanted to, depending on the context. But the other thing too is no one’s ever asked me how many people listen to my podcast. So, that’s the other thing too, I’ve never had me reach out to someone ... I had Larry Nichols on the podcast, Devon Energy. I’m asking him, “Why’d you build one building?”

He’s like, “Well, it was cheaper to build one than it was to build two.” It’s kind of funny, but then he goes in, and dives in and tells this really impactful story about how he’s talking to ... His dad is in care at the time, and he would always go see his dad, and tell him progress about the building, and other projects he’s involved in. And he lit up and talked about that for 10 minutes. No one gets that, only his close family gets that, but some random off the street that wants to pick his brain? No one gets that. So, podcasting for me has been the easiest way to get in front of people that I want to meet, I want to build a relationship with.

And then when you see these people six, eight months later at an event, or sometimes they’re Oklahoma Hall of Fame events or Chamber events, or whatever it is, they recognize you because you shared a very impactful conversation with that person. You haven’t just saw them for 15, 20 minutes, you’ve really listened to them for an hour tell their story and talk about what makes them tick.

Chris: Well, then you also have this, in networking, you’ve got this brand affiliation where it’s like, oh, that person interviewed this other person, so somehow that whatever, brand appeal that that person has rubbed off on you. And they’re like, “Yeah, but they talked to this person.” And then you get other intros.

Mike: 100%. And back to what you said about you got to do two things. For me, it went from it being golf to now it’s podcasting. And so I use the podcast, like you said, to do something at a high level to meet people. And they’re like, “Oh, what do you do?” Well, I actually sell real estate, that’s my main career. I just do the podcast because I love doing it, but also it feeds. And everything I do feeds into real estate. The reason I joined the country club feeds into real estate, the reason I love cars and I’m around a lot of car guys feeds into real estate, because they need a three, four car garage, whatever it is. Everything feeds-

Chris: Yeah, I can help with that.

Mike: Yeah, but it’s just doing it the right way that comes across as organic rather than, “Hey, I see you have a two car garage and you have a car collection. You needed a bigger house.” And just, no. It’s like, “Oh, talk to me about your cars. What are you going to buy? What’s on the net? What’s on dream list? What are you building right now?” “Oh, I have a warehouse over here, but it’s too far away. So, these cars are getting neglected.” And, “Okay, well where do you live? How much garage space do you have? Have you thought about putting lift systems in?” And especially during COVID, people made a lot more renovations to their house rather than selling and rebuying. But yeah, and because I’ve met so many people now, I add value to a lot of people I meet because I know someone that they need to get to. Or, “Hey, I need new garage doors for my ...” People listening probably get a kick out of that, garage doors, “For my warehouse.”

“Great. I know a guy who’s the best in the city that does proper roller, shutter luxury doors.” Or if it’s glass. Or it doesn’t even have to be houses, it could be anything. But because I have this huge network of people now, also the key is maintaining that network as well, which is hard to do.

Chris: That’s not exhausting at all-

Mike: That’s a skill too, and I definitely don’t do a good enough job of that. I think that’s one area I definitely need to improve on. But when someone comes to me and they’re like, “Do you know anybody about this?” “Yeah, I do.” That’s really fun to have too, because then you’re adding value to all these people and then they remember that, and sometimes they’re like, “Oh yeah, we’re going to buy. We’re going to sell, we’re going to buy a house.” “Great. Let’s get into it.”

Chris: Well, something that you’ve really, I’d say unlocked, is the power of the network. Because it’s almost like the law of attraction. You have a body of information, you have a lot of people that know you, and people tend to talk about you and you tend to talk about others. I think that is something a lot of people really, really struggle with networking, because they’re inauthentic doing it because it feels unnatural to them. So, talk to us a little bit about building the community, because you’ve got a digital community that you’ve been able to get outside into the real world too. So, talk to us a little bit about your secrets of networking, and yeah.

Mike: Yeah, it’s fun when you go to events and you know people by their Instagram names, and you meet these people for the first time and you’re like, “Oh, you’re the people behind this brand,” or, “You’re the person behind this photography page,” or whatever it is. And I would always get anxiety around ... Most of my content is resharing other people’s content.

Chris: You’re a curator.

Mike: Yeah, curating is the nice way to say it. I’m basically just stealing it and reposting it. And that’s how it was seen early on because the following wasn’t there. But now the following is at 158,000, people want to be reposted by the page and the brand. And so, I went up to these two girls who have been best friends since whatever, super young age. They have a page called “Keeping Up with OKC.” And they started it because it was an excuse for them to get together and stay in touch. They’re both older now, they have careers. And we were at a similar event together, and they introduced themselves. I was like, “Oh, I reshared all your stuff.” And they said, “No, thank you, because we really appreciate that.” That was the first time that I’d had that from, “Why are you resharing my stuff?” To, “We get a lot of engagement out of you resharing it.” And so, that was a shift too, seeing that I’m actually adding value, not just stealing content. And randomly I still get, I had one the other day, I reshared and I … Early on I have to ask everybody, “Hey, I’m going to repost this. Do you mind?” “No, go ahead.” Now I just go ahead and do it. But very rarely do I get someone reach out and says, "Hey-

Chris: Cease and desist.

Mike: ... can you take that down?“ ”Yeah, no big deal. I won’t repost any of your stuff. I respect it. Sorry I didn’t ask,“ done. And so, it is what it is. But you’re right, it’s meeting those people, and how do you take that 150,000 people and turn it into 30 people that show up at an event? And that’s the hard part, because it’s easy for someone to sit on their phone, scroll around, but when you have an event that people come to, or you say, ”Hey, I’m going to be at this event. Would love to meet up with everybody, let’s go and hang out. I’m going to be in a black T-shirt with a certain logo on it," and people do. I didn’t do events for a very long time, I didn’t put myself out there and I didn’t put my face on it for a long time either.

I’ve only started doing that in the last six months to build my personal brand up a little bit, through some coaching advice I’d had, because I’d always felt a little weird about, “Hey, I’m the guy from Wales that’s talking about Oklahoma.” And when people find out, I did a voiceover of a reel the other day and someone commented, “Oh my gosh, where are you from? I had no idea that you weren’t from Oklahoma.” Because I’d never put myself out there and people started to figure that out.

Chris: You’re like an Oklahoma fanboy, but-

Mike: Yeah, exactly.

Chris: ... from somewhere else.

Mike: People think it’s exotic. I’m like, “Well, it’s not,” but I understand. And everyone over here loves the royal family and hears my accent. Like, whatever it is. But there is the skill, and I think it wasn’t intentional, but I think because I held on for so long and didn’t put my face out there for, was that five years? Maybe more? Yeah, 2018 to now. So yeah, it’ll be six in June. The relationship and the trust has been built, which is hard to do because a lot of people, they want that sale now, they want to make those connections now and they want to do that. Whereas that long-term build, like I said, it was unintentional but I think that’s what it is. And so looking back, it’s hard to say to someone, “Hey, you need to build something for five years and then start,” not cashing in on it, but then giving yourself opportunities to take advantage of those.

Chris: Yeah, that’s definitely the long game.

Mike: Yeah. And real estate slowly got better and better, and I moved into the luxury space because of the connections that I had made. And a luxury real estate agent reached out and said, “Hey,” he had been a guest on the podcast and said, “I’d love for you to come work for me. Would you consider it?” I mean, when I started real estate that’s what I wanted to do is be in the luxury space. Because again, it ties into-

Chris: The country club world-

Mike: It’s in between the car world, it all ties in. And I’m not saying I sell million-dollar houses every day, but I still sell first time buyers. But everything connects. And that’s one thing that if I can build that, everything works together, then I don’t have to worry about something fitting into my life that doesn’t fit to the mission, I guess, the whole center of that. So, the network works in that way. And then it just ties into going to car events and being around. And again, being in the social media world, I’ve done some social media work for local dealerships and stuff too, and that gets me in the car world. Like I said, people who have nice cars generally live in nice houses, or they play golf, or whatever it is. So, the one thing I haven’t tapped into is the watch market. I’m not a big watch guy, but that would probably be the next one that ties in too, because people generally, you look at your average doctor, he’s probably got a Porsche in the garage because doctors drive Porsches, and they’re country club members and they got a Rolex. You think of those three, how do I center myself in that to take advantage of all those things to benefit my real estate business?

Harnessing the power of saying “yes”

Chris: Yeah. Well, and that’s the thing is you’re adding value along the way too, which is pretty awesome. Well, one of the things that I heard, I don’t know, I’ve heard you talk about is this idea of, and it’s actually your TED Talk, you did a TED Talk and it was about saying yes. So, talk to us a little bit [00:44:30] about where that is, because you go from this, it’s almost like arbitrage, networking arbitrage kind of thing, to now you’ve started talking about some of your ideas and this idea of saying yes. Talk to us a little bit about how did TED Talk come about?

Mike: Yeah, I changed it about two weeks leading into it actually. David Skidmore was my coach, and Amy Ore were my coaches on that. And I was talking about I think opportunity maybe, because it’s a lot of opportunity that I have taken advantage of. And then I look back and I’m like, “It’s because I’ve said yes to everything.” And so I’m like, “Oh, there it is. Let’s talk about saying yes.” And at the time, people were just coming out of COVID and it was just easier to say no. And they’re like, “What are the creative ways that we can just say, ’No, I don’t want to be there, I don’t want to go to this?’” But we never know what we’re missing out by not showing up. You can always show up to an event, don’t like it, leave after five minutes, but you showed up to see who was there to figure that out, and maybe you get introduced to somebody.

And so, when I look back at my life, I said yes to a lot of things and everything started to make sense. And what’s that quote? That you go through, the doors that open for you and just some of them ... I don’t know, I’m going to butcher the quote, but that naturally the doors will close around you and you just keep walking through open doors, and the ones that need to close will close themselves. Something like that anyway. So, I look back and I said, “Yes,” originally to go into the States. I was going to go to Florida. That didn’t work out, great. I said, “Well, I had one offer to come to Bethany, Oklahoma in the middle of nowhere.” The first time I wrote the word Oklahoma, I think I wrote O-A-K-L, like idiot. English education is not great, my literature skills are not great.

Shout out to my aunt for getting me through my classes in high school. She’s a professor at Oxford. So yeah, I’d said yes to coming to the States, never been to the states before. Didn’t know what a Nazarene was, didn’t know Oklahoma was, but I know that I don’t want to stay here, and I know that also I can always go home if it doesn’t work out. Said yes to being out here, said yes to staying. We’re trying to stay here. Said yes to going into real estate when I knew nothing about real estate. Said yes to going into commercial real estate, that one didn’t work out. That door naturally closed itself. Said yes to a Gary Vee video, starting a social media brand around telling stories. That goes into other stuff. I said yes to starting a podcast when the video route didn’t work out.

So all of these things, even though some of them haven’t worked out, I’ve always said yes to those opportunities because what if they do work out? You meet these people, and there’s a few occasions where you say yes to something and you’re like, “I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m going to say yes, and I’m going to figure it out.” And if you do figure it out, people see the value that you’ve put in, the energy and the work that you’ve put in, and I think the universe rewards you for that. People see your hard work and see what you’ve done. Yes to podcasts that I didn’t think that guests that have reached out, and right now the podcast guest, I reach out. But sometimes now it’s got to a stage where people refer me guests, and I’ll look, do a little work.

And now I’m just, Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s see what can happen.“ And some have turned into some of the best episodes and people I’ve ever met. You never know. And so, we came out of COVID saying no to everything, because it was easier to say no. ”No, I don’t want to go to an event because I got COVID,“ or whatever it is. I’ll just use COVID as an excuse, and people were just in their shell. And I’m just like, ”What are the opportunities that you’re missing?" And to give it some context, it’s got to come back to if you’re unhappy and you’re saying no to everything, then-

Chris: There’s something to change.

Mike: ... there’s something to change. If you’re really happy, and you’ve got a great job, and you’ve got a great relationship, and you’re saying no to going to an event because you want to stay at home with your kids, by all means, that’s what you need to do. Say no to that. And it does go the other way, you can say yes to too much. So, the TED Talk was directed at those people who were unhappy in their job, unhappy in their relationship, unhappy in whatever it is that they didn’t like, say yes to more things and that will lead to more opportunities. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but at least you know. Yeah, of course, and it’ll naturally, by saying yes to everything, it’ll figure itself out, but then it also tips the other way. And then you can go back to start saying no again.

So, it’s like this fine line on the scale of like, “Okay, I need to say yes to everything to get out more and meet more people,” and maybe find a business connection, or maybe find a relationship, whatever it is, to I’ve been saying yes for 18 months straight now, and I need to like rein it in. But you’re in such a better place because you’ve said yes the whole time, rather than being back where you were 18 months ago unhappy.

Establishing the right anchor points

Chris: That’s an amazing observation. When you realize that you’re unhappy, not everybody’s always paying attention to that am I happy, am I unhappy? And if somebody can say, “Why am I unhappy?” And that’s a super simple thing to do, to go, “Why am I unhappy?” And start paying attention to how often I’m saying yes or how often I’m saying no. That is a great kickstart to a new life, for sure.

Mike: Yeah. And it’s hard to do. I don’t have kids, I’ve got two dogs so it’s a lot harder if you have family that relies on you, that relies on you to have a paycheck and have benefits. I was fortunate to be in a position where I could pivot and do what I wanted, and my bills were not as much as someone who has a family. But even in that case, there is still time in the day, like after the kids go to bed. If you really want to change something, you’ve got that, what is it? That 8:00 to midnight, or early mornings, wherever it is that you can find time. Most people who work a 9:00 to 5:00, probably there’s two or three hours in the workday that they’re not working. So, how do you find something that you want to go towards and say yes to? “Yes, I’m going to do affiliate marketing. Yes, I’m going to start a social media brand, or start a podcast,” whatever it is that you want to do, learn something that transitions you into, and then eventually you’ll snowball into that.

One of my favorite stories from the podcast, he’s a friend of mine, a guy who’s now a friend but wasn’t before. Both him and his wife are from Brazil, they didn’t know each other in Brazil. He worked at an oil and gas firm doing IT. They met at work and met, struck a relationship, got married, and they started buying and selling things on the weekends. Going garage sailing on the weekends. And they built up the business so much that the wife quit her job, and the husband said, “Hey, if you get to this, if you can double your salary monthly, you can quit.” And it took her 60 days, which is crazy.

Chris: Really?

Mike: Yeah. And this was early on in the garage sailing. Now it’s a little overcrowded, but that they moved into doing stuff on eBay and I mean, they’re selling stuff all over the world. And they moved out of their apartment into a house, basically lived out of two rooms in the house. The rest of the house was packing and shipping, and she found her niche and passion in plus-size women’s clothing. And so, they have a business, they have a warehouse now. They’re now in their second warehouse, they have a warehouse that, they moved into a beautiful new home, kept the other one as a rental, bought a warehouse. They have five or six employees, and they’re a fully online business. And they were, I think on the Inc. 5000 list. I mean, we met because of the car world, because he has a $800,000 Lamborghini and she drives a McLaren. They’re the coolest people ever.

Now they’re having kids and they’re traveling all over, because their business runs itself. But it started from reselling, and they both worked corporate jobs. And we did a podcast and he’s like, “We were making double my monthly salary combined, and I didn’t want to leave because I was so tied in. The benefits and the risk.” They took that leap, now they travel the world with two kids. Last summer they bought an RV and just drove around the country with two little kids, and they worked on their laptop-

Chris: Running their online business.

Mike: Yeah, it’s incredible. And I asked him, I said, “What would you do if you started again?” He goes, “Go straight back to garage sailing and Goodwill, just picking things up, reselling.” He said, “The thrill that you get for buying something for $2 and selling it for a $10,” whatever it is, but you do that over and over again. It’s not glamorous work, but I mean, he lives in a million-dollar house, drives a Lamborghini, he’s succeeded. And that’s the full American dream. They’re both from Brazil, they’re building a house, I think in Brazil right now. That’s one of my favorite stories, because anyone can do that. Anybody can literally go and spend 10 bucks at Goodwill, go on eBay and sell it for 20, and then spend 20 bucks and just keep compounding.

Chris: A lot of people, a lot us struggle to connect the first $2 purchase to the $800,000 Lamborghini.

Mike: Exactly. It’s nuts, it’s such a great story. And that’s what they do. She’s got a great eye for clothes, so they go to these big buy-in, buy a comp, whatever it is that she goes, makes orders, comes back, puts it online, marks it up, gone. And they’ve just built that brand.

Chris: That’s amazing. That is amazing. Well, it’s an amazing story, it’s amazing the lessons that you’ve learned along the way, and I think it’s amazing for you to come here and share them. I wonder what’s one piece of advice that you’d offer to entrepreneurs who are still trying to find their way to that one thing that really sticks?

Mike: Yeah. I mean, for me it was finding something like you figure out what you want to do. If you can wave the magic wand, how would you relive the rest of your life? Does that mean you’re going to move? Does that mean you want to travel? Whatever it is. And then you like, “How can I build a business around that?” That’s how I looked at it. I wanted to join a country club and drive a nice car, and I thought, “How can I do something that I enjoy doing?” And somehow, by saying yes to a lot of things, it worked out that I stumbled on podcasting. And I wouldn’t be in podcasting if Ian and Alan didn’t say, “We think he’d be good at podcasting.” So, it just comes back to putting yourself in positions that you don’t think are going to ... Looking back, it makes a lot of sense that I have a podcast.

I had a friend in town yesterday, and he said to me, he’s like ... He was one of my professors in college. He said, “You were different in college because you always stopped by to have a conversation. None of the students ever did that.” And it’s no surprise now, we were chuckling, it’s no surprise that I have a podcast because I like to talk, I like to have a conversation. But when it goes back to figuring that out, I had a golf club in my hand from since I was three years old. So, there’s no surprise that golf led me somewhere. And then it became podcasting. So, going back to saying yes to things, but you’ve got to figure it out. You’ve got to start with a North Star. What do you want to do? And there’s levels to things. We all have these levels that we might want a bigger house, we might want to drive a nicer car, we might want to go on two or three different vacations a year, go on a safari.

Whatever those things are, those are your anchor points. And then you figure out what you’re good at, or figure out what you want to do and learn that. We don’t need to go to university anymore, everything’s on YouTube. YouTube university, whatever you want to do. There’s people out there making tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars on affiliate marketing or whatever it is. That’s still something that people are like, “You should get into that,” among a bunch of other things. But when I look back at my own story and how I try and relate that to people is, yes, I’ve said yes to a lot of things, but I also knew what I wanted. So, it has to start with well, you can’t just aimlessly say yes to things because then you’ll just fade into the distance saying yes to other things, and you’ll wake up in 5, 10 years and be like, “I’ve done a lot of things, but I have nothing to show for it.”

So for me, it starts with really figuring out what it is that you want to do. What’s that first thing that you want to accomplish? For me, it was joining in the golf course. Right now it’s buying a Porsche, which I don’t have one yet, but that’s my next thing, because anyone who’s ever known me has known that I’ve loved cars from a young age. I don’t really care about having a big house. I grew up in the UK, we don’t have big houses. That’s just the way it is. And I also grew up knowing from a family that everything I have is enough. I didn’t grow up with a lot, but I had all I needed. And so, I came here with my golf clubs and a suitcase, and I have a lot of strength and power that I pull from knowing that I can go back to that and be totally fine.

Which is crazy to say because I have a house now, and two dogs, and all the other stuff. But if I was just to wake up tomorrow and someone was like, “Here’s your golf clubs and here’s a suitcase,” I’d be like, “Great, let’s go. I’ve done this before.” But it all starts for me, you’ve got to figure out what that point is.

Chris: I love it.

Mike: And then you figure out by saying yes to things, what you’re good at, what doors are naturally going to close for you, and you just keep moving forward towards that. And you got to know it’s not going to happen overnight. I’ve done 612 episodes now as we sit here today. I mean, since June of 2018, it’s 2024 now. There’s a lot of conversations in there, a lot of relationships. And people would look at my real estate business and be like, “Well, you don’t sell that many houses.” And I don’t, compared to a lot of people who do all that stuff. I do 10 to 12 houses a year. I’m not out here selling 50, 60 houses, because I know if I did that I would not enjoy selling real estate. I like where I’m at. Of course, I’d like to make more money. Who doesn’t?

But I have the ability to do two podcasts a week, meet awesome people that I know in 10, 15, 20 years I’m going to look back and be like, “Oh yeah, remember we did that podcast and now we have this amazing relationship?” It’s a strange way to look at it. For me, it makes all the sense in the world. But for everyone else, it’s like, “No, I want to sell a business. I want to make $100,000 in six months.” Why? Why don’t you just chill a little bit? Build something with a fantastic foundation and a brand that’s going to stand the test of time. My journey with the podcast is to 10,000 episodes. I’ve done the math, I don’t do enough episodes a year to get to 10,000 by the average lifespan. So, I’ve got to probably start another podcast, which I will and I have, I just need to kick it back up.

But when you look that way, and you break it down to daily activities of, okay, if I’m going to get to 10,000 episodes, how many am I going to do a week? There’s your plan. No one thinks like that. Everyone’s short-term gratification, I want to have abs now. I’m currently in a six-month fitness journey with a bunch of guys, and it’s the longest time I’ve ever signed up for a fitness journey. I’ve done the 75-day ones and the 30-day ones, and you always relapse and gain the weight that you’ve put back on. I’m excited about this six month one, because it scared me to start. I didn’t want to do it, I had to be convinced to do it. And six months is, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a long amount of time, but six months eating clean with no alcohol, no sugar? It’s like a jail sentence to some people.

So, I try and look at that long-term picture with everything that I do, to see how I can fit in, how this works towards the goal. And then you just break it down to daily activities. But yeah, it starts with finding that North Star originally, whatever that want to be, or that first one is, and working towards that.

Chris: Love it. You got a North Star, a backup plan, and you say yes to a lot of stuff along the way.

Mike: Yeah. The backup plan sometimes is like, there’s that burn the boats quote, and I think that scares me a lot. It scares a lot of people. My backup plan is knowing that I could always go home, which I know I wouldn’t enjoy because of the life that I’ve lived here, and the life that I’ve been around, and the way of life here is so different to back home, and that’s why I wanted to stay. But I know that there is some way I could figure it out and claw back out here.

Chris: I love it. Well, Mike Hearne, thanks for taking the time to sit in the seat with us at The Entrepreneur’s Studio.

Mike: It’s been awesome.

Chris: Awesome, man.

Mike: Thanks, man. Really appreciate it.

Chris: Absolutely.

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