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Helping Design the Place Where Business and Life Collide

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By Andrew Rudansky

The audience in the Bay Street Theatre sat enthralled, watching every move and hanging onto every word of motivational speaker Tom Ferry. With notepads and iPads in hand, the audience members, all Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate agents, were taking notes throughout what Ferry calls just “a little talk.”

Ferry, author of the new book Life by Design, published in 2010 by Ballantine Books, calls himself a real estate business coach and life strategist who leads more than two hundred business motivation seminars a year across the country. This free seminar, exclusively for Prudential real estate agents, provided them with advice how to run both their business and lives.

In his new book and at the free lecture, Ferry describes what he calls the two ways of living life, either by “default” or by “design.” The main difference between these two, according to Ferry, is knowing what you want and attempting to achieve those goals.

According to his book, one in three Americans are depressed because of their relationships, health, or career, and this depression can be chalked up to Ferry’s “four addictions.” These addictions are to the opinions of other people, drama, the past and worry.

Ferry said that addiction to the past is the one that is “really affecting the real estate business.” People need to let go of their past and instead focus on the real estate reality of the present, he said.

“The addiction to the past will hold you to the poor economic market of the past,” he said.

“All people, high school seniors and CEOs they are all the same,” said Ferry to the crowd, “they are all addicted.” He said that these addictions prevent people from living life to its fullest.

These messages of self-determination and positive thinking have made Ferry extremely popular. Life by Design is currently number four on the New York Times Best Sellers: Advice, How To and Miscellaneous list, right above actor Michael J. Fox’s new book A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Future. The real estate agents in attendance shared this enthusiasm for Ferry’s message.  

Patrick McLaughlin, Manager of Prudential’s Sag Harbor office, said, “Every time I hear [Tom Ferry] speak I gain something new for my business and for my life.” He added, “I know when I follow what he teaches, my business gets more successful.”

Real estate agent Suzette Reiss, from Prudential’s Mattituck office, said that listening to Ferry got her thinking about “producing more as an agent,” adding that his speech was “inspiration to me.” Real estate agent Karla Dennehy agreed, she said the speech was “absolutely fantastic.”

Ferry’s own success was very much “by design.” He said that he practices everything he has preached, and his success speaks for itself.

“I feel like I’m on track,” said Ferry, “but I don’t get overexcited about it because I still have five more steps [to achieve my original goals].”

The secret to Ferry’s message is the presentation.

“I touch on the three things people don’t want to talk about,” he said, referring to poor relationships, health and business. To broach these subjects, Ferry uses his ultra sharp sense of humor. Throughout the seminar, Ferry had the audience laughing with topical and genuinely hilarious jokes.

His comedic delivery allows him to confront the audience, challenging, questioning and daring them to live a more rewarding life.

“I have a choice every single day to be powerful or a little wimpy,” said Ferry to the audience, telling them that life is a series of choices. He said the first and possibly most important choice is to admit that you aren’t living up to your potential, or as he said “living in a coma.”

Ferry urged the audience to “just start attempting simple, doable goals.”

“The changes can be unbelievable,” he continued, “but awareness is the first step.”