Professional life.

(35 years in 3.5 seconds)

What a long strange trip it's been.

I have reinvented myself professionally at least four times.

 

I started my career after law school and grad school working in the public sector on environmental legal and policy issues.

 

First at the US EPA and then on 

Capitol Hill for the US House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee.

I got married, moved from DC to Florida and started practicing law with a firm. A few years later I started my own firm that specialized in environmental law.

I learned how to get clients and run a business. I had top corporate clients (Rolls Royce, J&J, Motorola, Waste Management, Kmart...) but was having problems growing my firm. I hired associates and law clerks, but my clients insisted on me doing their work. I couldn't scale my practice. I just wanted to be the "rainmaker" and bring in clients, but it wasn't working. Plus, after 10 years of practicing law, I was getting bored and wanted something new.

I had built a solid reputation as an environmental lawyer and was approached by the legal publisher Lexis-Nexis to help launch an Internet venture. (This was during the beginning of the Internet.) It was the kind of opportunity I was dreaming about. The job required moving from Florida to New Jersey and although we just built a house and had a newborn, my family embraced the change.

It was exciting to work for an Internet venture in the late 90s, but then the "irrational exuberance" came to an abrupt end and our venture was shut down.

Instead of going back to law, I pursued a career in commercial real estate brokerage with a national firm.

 

Over the next 12 years I learned real estate and made much more money than I had practicing law. I landed great corporate accounts

and won awards. My success peaked in 2012 when I closed two very large office lease transactions in downtown NYC and Tampa.

That was the good news. The bad news was that my major corporate account was acquired by a Fortune 50 company. The new leaders had their own brokerage firm and I was gently pushed aside. I wasn't bitter. Instead I was grateful for the 10 year relationship with my client. And today, we are still close friends.

I did not want to rebuild my corporate client base because of the painfully long sales cycle, so I started a new business venture with a friend. It was outside of commercial real estate and it was a B2C venture.

 

Selling to consumers, not big companies, was a first for me. We had a talented team, happy clients, but we couldn’t get the business model right. We had to shut it down.

In 2016, I thought about returning to real estate, but on the residential side. I was hesitant. Like most Americans, I didn't think very highly of Realtors. I thought they were too salesy, only focused on their commissions, not that interesting, and not deserving of their full commission in a time when much real estate information was available to consumers.

And then I discovered Redfin. A tech company turned real estate brokerage firm with values and a leadership team that I found refreshing, honest, and progressive. Their tagline spoke to me: "Redefining real estate in favor of the consumer." I believed they were poised to disrupt the industry and I wanted to be a part of the revolution. I approached the New Jersey market manager and he invited me to join them.

So here I am. A residential real estate agent with a fast growing company. I'll share my journey with you.

Outside of work, I've been super lucky to have a wonderful marriage. My beautiful (and supportive!) wife Jody and I have three amazing children, Sydney, Bernadette, and Matthew. We are a very close family. (Feel free to "friend me" on Facebook or watch our most recent New Years video.)

I wake up most mornings around 5:00 excited about the day and new possibilities. I'm never bored. 

 

That's my life.

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333 Central Ave

Westfield, NJ 07090

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© 2018 by Richard Hopen