If you’re looking to find your way in life, the first thing to do is find your why. Do that, and success follows explains Keller Williams Realty Co-Founder and Chairman Gary Keller in his book The Millionaire Real Estate Agent. “The Big Why is about having a purpose, a mission or a need that in turn gives you focus,” Keller wrote. “High achievers always have a Big Why powering their actions. A Big Why brings big focus and big energy.” Nick Shivers is one such high achiever.
As a principal broker with the WestOne Properties Group in the Portland Central, Portland Central South and Vancouver (Wash.) market centers, Shivers ranks in the top 1 percent of real estate agents nationwide. His 2012 closed volume checks in at $73 million, making him one of the top Keller Williams agents in the Pacific Northwest.
Shivers got into real estate 12 years ago following the demise of his telecommunications company. Then in 2005, his wife was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Faced with caring for his three children and his wife as she went through chemotherapy, Shivers cut back on his business and began looking for an alternative solution. What he found was Keller Williams Realty. “I knew with my wife’s health that I couldn’t work as much as I had been working,” he says. “With Keller Williams, I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. I could have systems and models and still get to be with my family.”
By the time he joined the company in 2008, Shivers had also found his Big Why. He had spent some time in Nicaragua to invest in a resort that ultimately failed. It was during one particular trip that something different happened.
A friend from church told Shivers and his wife that he wanted to show them a garbage dump known as La Chureca. What they saw there changed their lives. “You drive in and see smoke, buzzards and crows so thick that you might not even be able to see the sky,” he recalls. “You look to the side, and you see young boys sniffing glue, just lost. Young girls were doing unfortunate things, just so their family could eat. Seeing the hopelessness brought me and my wife both to our knees. I was depressed. I wanted to go home, but my friend said, ‘Understand that you can leave, but they’re still here.’ From that day forward, I got fi red up. I wanted to make as much money as I could to help as much as I could.”
When Shivers got home, he partnered with Forward Edge International, a mission organization based out of Portland. Together, Shivers, his team and Forward Edge have worked to support the people of La Chureca, ultimately opening a school for girls called Villa Esperanza, which translates to “Village of Hope.” “They take 24 young girls out of the garbage dump and put them in school. It’s a Garden of Eden compared to what they have been through,” Shivers says.
“These girls get educated, know that people love them and learn about Christ. They make sure the girls stay connected with their families if it’s not a sexual abuse situation. The girls are changing their future and the future of the community.” In addition to the support of his team, Shivers has also received support from his clients. He throws client appreciation parties that include auctions to raise money for Villa Esperanza. He shares videos and asks people to sponsor kids; they typically say yes. To keep his team fired up, they’re taking a trip down to Nicaragua this spring to fish, see the challenged community and visit the girls at Villa Esperanza.
“Our goal for 2013 is $100 million in sales,” he says. “If there’s nothing behind that, it’s easy to get pulled off track. When I have a sniffle and don't want to get out of bed, I think that if a 9 year old can scavenge through the garbage dump this morning, then I can go to work,” he says. “When I look at those pictures of the dump and of the kids being happy, I can see it and I can feel it.
“If you know in your heart that your responsibility is that these kids don’t go back to a dump, nothing can stop you. I’m an average guy, but I will run through a wall to help these kids who are not going to get what they need to flourish.”