Speaking of Motivational Speakers…

Hmmm….yes…speaking of which…

You won’t believe the lengths that a Torontonian motivational speaker went to in order to find new clients.

This ties in very well with an article I had written two weeks ago about an under-listed property.  Now we know the true story behind it…


There he is, my hero: Matt Foley.

During the 1980’s, Matt Foley was the greatest (fake) motivational speaker in North America.  He specialized in speaking with disenfranchised youth about the perils of “getting on the pot” and drew on his own experiences.

We were all taught from an early age that if we didn’t watch our steps, we could end up living in a van down by the river just like Matt did.

In the late 1980’s, Matt came over to my house to speak to my sister and I (see above – I’m the guy that looks like Topher Grace but is actually David Spade) and as he dripped sweat all over my ripped-jeans and Reebok Pump shoes, his face became as red as a tomato and he looked like he was going to have a heart attack.

The night ended on a sour note when he fell on my mother’s coffee table and it broke like one of those break-away furniture props you see on TV…

I’m not very involved in the world of motivational speakers, even though I’m in sales.

I went to see Richard Robbins once during my first year of real estate, but I felt as if he was gearing his seminar towards the 50+ crowd.  I don’t even think he used the word “internet” once.

Recently, a local Toronto motivational speaker used a rather cheeky tactic to sell himself and his services.

As luck would have it, I had previously written about the very condo that he used as a springboard in this “tactic.”

You can read the article I wrote here.

There was a condo listed for sale in the Yonge/Dundas area for a paltry $250,000.  Measuring 630 square feet and having a city view from the 33rd floor, I assumed that this condo was worth well over $300,000.  The unit was nicely upgraded, had well proportioned rooms, and once you factor in the presence of parking and locker, I’d say you could easily push that number to $320,000.

The owner was holding back offers for twenty-four-days, and I examined the pitfalls of this tactic in the article I wrote.

Today, a colleague of mine called me and asked, “Did you hear the true story behind that $250,000 listing?”

I was all ears…

Let’s call my colleague “Lisa” and the motivational speaker and would-be-seller, “Tony.”

Lisa had a client looking in the Yonge/Dundas area and she thought this condo would be perfect for her buyer.  As a good agent often does, she decided to preview the property at the agent’s open house which was being held on a weekday afternoon from 11:00 – 1:00.

Normally, an agent’s open house is a chance for agents to preview the property and talk shop with the listing agent who is there to run the show.  If we’re lucky, the listing agent will provide sandwiches or cookies; I’ve seen fully catered lunches at some really expensive Rosedale and Forest Hill agent open houses.  I guess the rich need to eat more expensive food as well…

But at this particular open house that Lisa went to, there was no agent present.

Instead, she was greeted at the front door by the seller, Tony.

This is a terrible, terrible idea by the way.  The seller should be kept at arm’s length and should NEVER be present when agents and/or buyers are viewing the property.  Buyers don’t want to worry about whether the owner is looking over their shoulder.  And agents don’t want to get the foo-foo sales pitch from the seller!

But we soon found out why Tony was present, and it had nothing to do with selling real estate…

Lisa walked into the condo and noted that Tony was very dressy, in his three-piece-suit with a pocket-square.  His hair, nails, and teeth were all perfect and glowing, and if Lisa didn’t know better, she could have been sure that Tony was wearing some light make-up on his face.

The 52-inch plasma TV was emitting a lot of noise for what was expected to be a quiet open house, but Lisa took off her shoes and grabbed a feature-sheet as she ordinarily would.

Tony hovered over Lisa and asked her for her business card.  Agents always leave a business card behind so that the seller and listing agent know who came through the unit, but Tony put this business card in his pocket.

As Lisa started to walk through the noisy condo, she found herself stuck in the living room starring at the TV.

The man on the TV was Tony.

Tony was a motivational speaker who worked primarily with real estate agents.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Tony said with a toothy-smile even though he had no clue what Lisa was really thinking, “And yes, that’s me.  That’s actually a copy of my new DVD which I thought might be fun for agents to have a quick peak at as they move through the condo.”

Lisa continued through the condo but had to practically step over all of Tony’s brochures and promotional material.

She watched as every single agent through the door was greeted with the same toothy smile and immediately asked for his/her business card.

Lisa left rather quickly as she described the whole scene as “rather creepy,” and she told her client that the unit was severely under-priced and “something strange was going on there.”

A week later, Lisa received a mysterious package in the mail at her office.  She opened it to find a letter from Tony thanking her for her interest in his condo and his services (even though she had never expressed interest in the latter), a business card, a fridge magnet with some motivational thoughts, and his DVD!

“Ewww” is the first thing that undoubtedly came to her mind.

What a shark!

What a slimy, dirty bastard!

And what happened on offer night?  He received a slew of offers for his supposed $250,000 condo, but the listing was terminated the next day.

And what happened a week later?  He re-listed the unit for $400,000!

So what is really going on here?

Did this guy use his condo as a breeding ground for new business?  Did he list his condo at an artificially low price so that he would get tons of showings and he could pick up hundreds of business cards from Realtors and add them to his mailing list?

Is that seriously the level that this guy would stoop to?

Was his condo ever actually for sale?

Did he ever have any intention of selling it, or did he just want to meet real estate agents to pitch his services to?

And what do we make of the new $400,000 price?  That’s $635 per square foot for those of you playing along at home, and I rarely see anything in this building sell for more than $500 per square unless it is spectacular.

Part of me thinks that this was all just a ploy to meet potential prospects, but would somebody really go through all that?  Is the economy really that bad?  Is McDonald’s not hiring anymore?

I was going to start this blog post with “I thought I had seen everything in this business,” but I don’t think I’ve seen the half of it!

I think stuff like this goes on every day of the week in our business.

And when I hear about it, I can’t wait to write about it on my blog so my readers can be just as awestruck as I am…


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  1. I would certainly never do that! This is not a very efficient way of promoting one’s services anyway since it’s so one to one at a time. The speaking industry, like other fields, is much better promoted by demonstrating expertise at events first.

  2. Tara_Lou says:

    Wow… unreal.

  3. WEB says:

    Well…..holy freekin’ da!

  4. LC says:

    Creepy indeed. How is that supposed to be a motivational experience for anyone? It’s one thing to fool your clients once they actually are your clients, but before? The only thing this guy accomplished was to waste everyone’s time and evaporate any credibility he may have ever had.

  5. David Pylyp says:

    Always a fun read!
    Thank you

    David Pylyp