Standing Alone on Stage

I turned on the TV this afternoon, and as it was CBS, an Oprah repeat was on, with a very pretty young girl from Pittsburgh singing. She’s a recent winner of a national talent contest, I think about 12 years old, named Jackie Evancho. Watch for this girl. She knows she has a special talent, her voice is exceptionally beautiful, and she told Oprah that she feels it is something she received from God, whom she thanks every night before sleep. When Oprah asked her how she feels alone on stage, she said she felt like the whole world was watching, and is very thrilled.

That brief episode reminded me of myself in the seventh grade. I grew up on a farm near the small town of Brady, Montana. I often have repeated the fact that I was second in my high school graduating class, but barely made the upper third, because there were only six of us in the senior class out of 26 in the entire high school.

Anyway, for the all-school Christmas program in 1947, I had the honor to stand in front of the curtain of the high school gym stage to introduce the program. I practiced until I had it down pat, and when it happened, I walked out from the curtains, gave the talk, and the entire gym full of parents and community members gave me a fine round of applause. I turned to go back behind the curtains, and they wouldn’t part! I kept trying, but they just wouldn’t budge. I panicked, suddenly realizing my “buddies” had decided to pull a prank on me and hold me out. Of course, the crowd probably realized what was going on, and were heartily laughing at the prank, but I, personally, absolutely was humiliated.

That experience devastated me for the next 30 years, until several years after I had become an S.E.C. member. In fact, in 1968, I was teaching Spanish in Brady, and was elected to be the chairman of the State Foreign Language Committee. Our guest speaker was the Consul General of France, whom I had to introduce. Of course, I managed to squeak through that, but only I knew how intensive that struggle was. Three years later, I had to move to Missoula, where I needed an extra job to afford keeping the farm and living there, so I attended a workshop given by Cliff Jacks, S.E.C. He and I had an instant bond. He later became like a father to me, and began grooming me to become an S.E.C.

It helped that I seemed to have a knack for putting properties and people together. Five months after I had become licensed, I had completed a multiple exchange that involved 15 properties scattered across the state and nine different parties, including partnerships, individuals, a family with 12 children, etc. It took me 70 days to complete the transaction from start to finish, with only one counseled client of Cliff’s to start. Actually, that was the transaction that stood out to make me a member, as it got the attention of many, including Jim Keller, John Berven, Tom Peterson, Bob Steele, Jim Misko, and Richard Reno, who, along with Cliff Weaver, were the movers and shakers of the time, and of course, some still are.

In order to become an S.E.C., I had to present that transaction in a way it could be understood, so I had to formulate a presentation to do so. As I was really the only person in the world who actually understood it, I had to prepare it carefully, first to a group of three at the 1972 S.E.C. meeting at Santa Fe, then later to larger groups, doing it couplet by couplet, usually as kind of a lesson in brainstorming to a conclusion. The more I did this, the easier it became, and I began to use parts of it to train our own staff of nine or 10 neophytes. Eventually, that exercise evolved into further brainstorming, moderating local, then statewide, and finally national marketing sessions

Finally, I became reasonably successful at moderating regional sessions, and was invited to moderate a meeting in Seattle, masterminded by Jim Brondino. As a result of the latter, Jim invited me to moderate at a session in Anaheim, in early 1984, where 700 people were registered. Because the meeting was so large, each presentation was moderated by only one head moderator, with maybe three or four floor assistants, and one presenting broker at a time. The chief moderator had absolute control of each presentation; only he or she could activate any participation by the audience, and would be the sole person to determine when the property had been developed amply, at which time said chief moderator would take the presenting broker and his/her potential offerors to a quiet room table to proceed to a hopeful conclusion and closing.

At that meeting, I know for a fact that presentations I moderated resulted in more than five million dollars in actual closings. I am proud of that, and grateful Jim Brondino had the confidence to give me one of those jobs as chief moderator.

As Paul Harvey always said, “Now, for the rest of the story!” At the first moment of the first presentation in which I was chief moderator, my personal thoughts were of that horrible experience I had endured over 36 years before, and how good I felt in looking out over those hundreds of brokers sitting there in that audience from all over the U.S. and Canada. I knew I could do it, and I did. THANK YOU, JIM BRONDINO, FOR THAT OPPORTUNITY. I hope my experience helps someone else who needs a little encouragement.


  1. Ron:

    Thank you for your kind comments. I was VERY flattered. Hope all goes well and hope to see you in the near future.

    Be happy and healthy!

    Jim Brondino S.E.C.

  2. HI Ron