Eat that Frog


June 3, 2020

“What’s the biggest daily challenge after I get my New Jersey real estate license?” asked Ashley, a recent graduate of our Cherry Hill real estate school licensing class. While it is true that the primary duty of our instructors is to teach our guests how to pass the state real estate exam, we pride ourselves on being a different sort of real estate school. We don’t hire instructors who teach from a book and have no experience in the real world of real estate sales. All our instructors are super-successful brokers with decades of experience in helping other real estate agents build profitable careers.

Try the frog for breakfast.

Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest frog first.”

I hasten to add that it is not my intent to persuade you to trade in your morning Wheaties for a nice plump sautéed frog for breakfast. So what did Mark Twain mean with this crazy piece of advice? To analyze the statement, what is your job, and what is the frog?

Your most important job.

When going through real estate school, we often ask our aspiring Realtors® what their most important job will be once we help them earn their real estate license. Their answers are predictable:

“To show houses.”

“To explain the home buying (or selling) process.”

“To understand a client’s needs and then help them satisfy those needs.”

“To sell the property a client lists with me.”

Those are all noble, appropriate responses. Yet as a person who has mentored and trained many new real estate agents at the beginning of their new careers, I beg to differ. I suggest the most important job for any real estate salesperson is lead generation.

For most of us, that’s our frog. And most of us have as much motivation to lead generate every day as we have to eat a frog for breakfast.

It’s not fun, but it is essential.

Whether it is making healthy food choices, exercising, or making lead generation calls, we tend to procrastinate on those essential chores that are not much fun. Steven Covey in his outstanding book First Things First posits that we place our everyday tasks into one of four quadrants composed from two rows: important and not important, and two columns: urgent and not urgent. So much of our workday is spent in the quadrant that is urgent, but not important. The best value, the best ‘rate of return’ of an hour spent is likely to be that spent in the quadrant that is not urgent, but important.

Our job as Realtors® is to dedicate part of every workday generating leads that could uncover a sales opportunity, either in the near term or which we can add to our database for future business. Maintaining a continuous stream of leads will help develop future client and will smooth out the inevitable peaks and valleys that epitomize the real estate business.

Eat the bigger frog first.

If you put off the lead generation duties because you spend the early part of your day in the other quadrants doing things that are urgent but not important or not urgent and not important, you will spend the day with that nagging knowledge that you should be doing something important but are procrastinating. That can lead to guilt, and if it continues can lead to many people just giving up because they see themselves as failures.

There’s no better test of your marketing effectiveness than to ask yourself, “How many people who could either be my client or could refer a client to me have I spoken to today?” and, “How many of my calls today did I convert into appointments?”

On the other hand, if you “eat the frog” first thing in the morning, the entire rest of the day will make you feel positive about yourself. You will feel more energetic about your job and will have time to plan how you can follow up on the opportunities you found in the leads you generated.

It comes down to discipline.

It is a natural human tendency for most of us to put off doing the uncomfortable tasks. But when I think of the most successful agents in the real estate profession, they are, without exception, people who approach lead generation with committed discipline.

Valerie Pressley of Keller Williams Medford-Marlton (NJ) office is such an example. She is a true superstar. She has no team, no staff assistant, and will close roughly 45 sales this year. Yet despite all the administrative work that such volume requires, Valerie spends a minimum of three hours every day lead generating. Every day from 9am until noon, she calls FSBOs (For Sale By Owners), expired listings and her sphere of influence.

Her discipline is so strong that she will not attend office meetings or settlements during that precious time slot. “Just yesterday, I spoke to 17 FSBOs,” she said.

Valerie is a big believer in using scripts for her calls but points out that every conversation is not a “sales” call. “I come from a place of contribution,” she says. “That means—especially in troubled times like these—I call my sphere of influence and past clients and ask how they are doing. How are they getting by? Has their situation changed, or is there anything I can help them with?”

For some, eating that frog first thing in the morning may sound disgusting. But for Valerie Pressley and real estate super achievers like her, that daily frog first thing in the morning has become the breakfast of champions!   

If you, or somebody you know is considering a real estate career, Garden State has pre-licensing classes that run during the daytime and other courses that operate three evenings per week. For experienced Realtors® we hold broker licensing licensing courses and continuing education classes.


David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 31 years ago. During his career, David and his business partner sold more than 450 homes in South Jersey.  He is now School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents and is the author of 15 books. David can be reached at

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