Brian Culhane, Founder & CEO at Culhane Companies. First President of eXp Realty shares his story:
Brian Culhane's family legacy is the plotline of a great movie script. His great-grandfather was a Chicago teacher and the patriarch of the family up to that point. His grandfather was a great man who was a Golden Gloves boxer and a Notre Dame graduate. After, his grandfather became the President of the Pritzker Family Holding Company. On the way to the funeral of his dad, Brain's grandfather got into a car accident and passed away.
Brian says his father gave him lots of love, but financial security eluded him, and he did not grow up wealthy. "I was a blue-collar kid in a white-collar neighborhood.", he says "we moved around a lot simply because we were just renters".
He paid his dues early and waited tables and was a caddy for many years. He then played Division 1 and 2 college basketball. His first job in the industry was with architectural engineering due to a diligence company. He spent a couple of years there and then spent time doing ad sales for a commercial real estate trade publication. It's there that he got his first taste of real estate and was hooked.
However, he got sick of the cold weather in Chicago and decided to throw all his things in a Hefty bag and drive to Arizona, where he had some friends. He said two important things happened there that changed his life: 1) He met his future wife, Kristi, and 2) He met Glenn Sanford.
By the time he had gotten his real estate license, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do. Brian was looking at Craigslist ads and saw an ad for a team leader, and it happened to be Glenn Sanford. In 2004, Glenn had already left Prudential for Keller Willaims and was building his team in different areas. He wanted to expand to Arizona, and Brian became his guy.
When profit sharing at KW didn't manifest in the way Glenn expected, he started his independent team, and they were doing great until 2008. When the financial crisis hit, Brian remembers Glenn calling his team together and saying "It's going to be bad... and bad for a while".
He tells the story that Glenn disappeared for 4 days, and when he re-merged, the vision of eXp was born. They started in Washington state and Arizona, and it went from there. In 2013 when they went public, people started to take notice. In 2015, some large players started coming in.
Brian uses the story of the California gold rush as a metaphor for what happened next. "Sutter's Hill is where they first found gold, and I felt like old man Sitter when I was sitting on this model", Brian explains "all of a sudden I see these big players coming out of retirement and joining. It felt like they were going to tunnel under my feet to go get the gold before I got the opportunity to stick a shovel in the ground".
It was then that Brian decided to form his team and go into production and recruitment, and he hasn't looked back.
One of the greatest pieces of advice that have remained with him is:
"If you do something and it works, keep doing it.
If you do something and it doesn't work, stop doing it.
Just do something !"
Brian has earned generational wealth with eXp, and he has become very philanthropic, but his humility and sense of serving others remain quintessentially true to his heart.
It was a pleasure to have him on the show.