Buy Alexandria Real Estate: Lessons in Passion from a Chicken Farmer

Alexandria Virginia Real Estate Blog

Lessons in Passion from a Chicken Farmer

Lessons in life can come from the most unlikely of sources.  You expect to learn from your parents, your teachers, your coaches, and your mentors.  You learn from your colleagues, your clients, your friends, and sometimes even your children.

But a Chicken Farmer?

Who would have expected that?


Last week, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the TEDx MidAtlantic event in Baltimore, Maryland.  If you ever have the chance to attend a TED or TEDx event, hop on it without delay.  What's TED and/or TEDx all about?  Here's a blurb from the website:

TEDxMidAtlantic"TED conferences bring together the world’s leading thinkers and doers for a series of talks, presentations and performances. TED celebrates the convergence of Technology, Entertainment, and Design. TED events have been called “The ultimate brain spa,” “Davos for optimists” and “A journey into the future, in the company of those creating it.”

What can you expect to see? Speakers at TED events – some of the world’s most fascinating, innovative and influential individuals – are challenged to give “the talk of their life” in 18 minutes or less. Attendees are as exceptional as the speakers. Sharing and connection happens from the stage or in the lounge. It’s the conversation that will change your life."

It was truly a remarkable day.  There were 20 speakers from all walks of life: a Nobel Prize winning chemist, the Chief Technology Officer of the U.S., an economic professor and economic blogger, a Grammy nominated singer/songwriter, a neuroscientist studying the mystical effects of psychedelic mushrooms, a National Geographic photographer, the inventor of the first computer firewall, an actress from HBO's "The Wire", an Eastern European virtuoso guitarist, and more.

However, the most inspiring words of wisdom, came from, yes, a chicken farmer.


Joel Salatin is "an American farmer, lecturer and author... He raises livestock using holistic methods of animal husbandry, free of potentially harmful chemicals, on his Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia."


During his talk, Joel discussed how his mission of organic farming and of wholesome, clean, and natural methods produce animals and produce that are beyond compare and much superior to foods from non-organic mass agricultural methods.  He claims that his chickens and eggs embody the true spirit and essence of "chickenness and eggness."


Joel Salatin is a down-to-Earth farmer and is someone who is very passionate about his philosophy, his mission, and his business.  His creed and his adherence to his mission have made him a success.



In the most quoted, retweeted, and inspiring line, Mr. Salatin simply said:


"If we devote ourselves to sacredness in our vocations, the world will rise to meet us."

(Click to watch Joel Salatin's speech to TEDxMidAtlantic)


Too often, professionals, whether lawyers, doctors, consultants, accountants, or real estate agents, treat their clients and their businesses as just a job, just another customer, client, or invoice.  People can see through this.  They can see when someone is just going through the motions waiting for the 5 o'clock bell to strike so they can go home.

Those business men & women who are truly successful, those people in life who are truly successful stick to their core guiding principles and are passionate about what it is they do.  This passion shines through.  This passion

Joel Salatin talks about having nobility and personal ministry in your profession.  He notes that "everyday we are writing a story that will be told about us."

He is SO right.


If you know me, or even if we're meeting for the first time, you'll know that I am passionate about real estate.  I am not selling and helping people buy houses.  I do not view my clients as another sale, another job, another transaction.

I fully recognize, understand, and empathize with the reality that a home is not just a home.  It is not just an investment.  A home is not just lines and angles on a blueprint or a structure built atop dirt.  Rather, a home embodies the dreams, hopes, aspirations, and excitement of the people who are purchasing it.  When someone sells a home, they are parting with their memories, their stories, their successes and their failures.

A HomeA home is a sanctuary.

A home is an oasis.

A home is a place to make memories.

A home is a place for dreams to be realized.

A home is a realization of dreams.

A home is a protective castle.

A home is makes you a part of a community.

A home gives you a place for your children to play.

A home welcomes you after a long hard day.

A home is the center of your life.

A home is a sacred place.

That's what I sell.  I'm passionate about it.

And it makes me damn proud to be a REALTOR!


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Comment balloon 54 commentsBrian Block • November 10 2009 02:10PM


Thanks, Brian.  This a testament to the fact that there is truly a chance to be educated, inspired, and/or entertained by every person you encounter along the road of life - no matter his vocation.  It's a reminder to always keep our eyes and ears open.

Posted by Amy J. Broderick (REPSolutions Real Estate Staffing) over 8 years ago

What an interesting and thought-provoking post! Thanks, Brian!

Posted by Robin Rogers, CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser (Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas) over 8 years ago

Why did the Chicken (farmer) cross the get to the TEDx event!

Posted by Craig Richardson (National Realty) over 8 years ago

Brian, That was beautiful.  A home is every one of those things.  It's very true that people can spot a "business person" as opposed to someone who truly loves what they do.

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 8 years ago

Wow, Brian!

I love this post - I love the farmer's observation that "everyday we are writing a story that will be told about us."  I think I'll have a different take on things tomorrow based on considering this statement.

And I love your "Home is..."  Series, makes be proud to be a Realtor also.

Take care,   Laurie


Posted by Laurie Logan, South Central WI Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty, Inc., Broker Associate) over 8 years ago

It sounds like you learned a lot from the chicken farmer and the conference.  I'ld like to attend one in the future. Are they always held in Baltimore?

Posted by Kim Dillon (Creative Eye Home Staging) over 8 years ago

Winner,winner,chicken dinner ! Interesting post, soungs like a great conference !!!!!!!!

Posted by Michael J. Perry, Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist (KW Elite ) over 8 years ago

All I can say at this moment issss...WoW!!!!!

Incredible post sir!!!


Posted by Deborah Thornburg Peaks, Broker (Weichert Realty, Baron & Snipes) over 8 years ago

I love your blog and how  you so correctly defined what a home 'really' is. Great job!

Posted by Renee Thompson (Premier Sotheby's International Realty) over 8 years ago

What a line up and right here in my very own town of Baltimore. Definitely going to listen to the videos. Would have been fun to attend.  Thanks, Brian, for letting us know about this. Please call the next time you are in my area.


Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 8 years ago

Brian, what a great post! You are a passionate man about your real estate, and that is very important. I for one am not surprised that you learned important lessons from a chicken farmer. I have learned many lessons in my life from a cowboy and from a dairy farmer. Stewards of the land and keepers of animals are smarter than most people know, they have awesome life lessons to teach us!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 8 years ago

This is a terrific post. I am so glad you made these points. I wish I would have made them previously. Thanks again for your information.

Posted by Aaron Vaughn | Builder | Investor, If the deal makes sense, the cash will follow. (Conifer Homes) over 8 years ago

Brian, great post.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 8 years ago

Brian - great post, and deserving of Pat's featuring you!

I had a very curious phone call from some man in Texas trying to sell me web placement on Google - said he had done work for you. He called me since we are both attorneys and realtors.....

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA, (Keller Williams Capital Properties) over 8 years ago

Brian, this is an awesome analogy.

Knowing you I know how passionate you are about real estate. Pat's blog sent me here, sorry I missed it the day it was written.


Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 8 years ago

Brian, fantastic post.  I'm so glad Pat Kennedy pointed me in this direction!  You and I are in complete agreement, and I look forward to reading more from you. Off to start writing today's story... have a great week!

Posted by Kim Brown, Keene, NH - New England at its Best! (Keller Williams Realty) over 8 years ago

Brian - wow, what a great post!  Made me think this morning!  And you and Joel are absolutely right - find your passion and the world follows. Sounds like you have found your passion!

Posted by Lori Mode, Real Estate Made Simple (Keller Williams Realty - Elk Grove, CA Homes for Sale) over 8 years ago

Nice post. Just wanted you know I played 2 of your youtube videos in my real estate licensing class the other night at Penn State. They loved your "listing" video and the "recipe for success" video.

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) over 8 years ago

That truly gives me something to think about.  Thanks

Posted by Alexandria Virginia, Real Estate Editor (Featuring Susan Craft, CRS, REALTOR® - McEnearney Associates) over 8 years ago

Growing uo on an Oklahoma farm with a few chickens, I knew I could learn something from a Chicken Farmer!  

Posted by Beverly Carlson, Abilene's Staging Realtor (Carlson Properties 325-721-2429) over 8 years ago

Brian, Great Post ...

Posted by Yogesh Karki (Signature Realtors, Inc.) over 8 years ago

You are a passionate Realtor® ....and that's just being you....

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 8 years ago

Brian - I just stumbled across this post.  I love the TED talks!  They are among my favorite things to watch online.  I bet this was a fun and informative event.

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 8 years ago

I bet it was a Great event as well.

Posted by Dan Haggerty (Regal Real Estate Professionals) over 8 years ago


Very well written and it makes sense. I'm going to re-blog this for you.

Posted by Terry Chenier (Homelife Glenayre Realty) over 8 years ago

just yesterday a client said "all my Realtor wants is his commission!"


you don't have to say it they can feel it.

also when you have a passion for what you do you don't have to tell them,

they can feel it. 

Posted by Jay Beckingham, "I love first time homebuyers" (Fairway Independent Mortgage Company) over 8 years ago

Hi Brian- 

You have to have a Mission that includes both joy and competence for your clients to feel it.  That's what makes this so worthwhile.

--Sara in San Antonio

Posted by Sara Woolford & Steve Golson, ALHS (iTexas Realty Co.) over 8 years ago

Brian is passionate indeed and an asset to each of his clients.


Brian, have you ever been to a regular (non-free-range, non-organic) chicken house?  It is a place of evil.

Posted by Will Nesbitt, Nesbitt Realty is a family-run brokerage. (Nesbitt Realty at Condo Alexandria) over 8 years ago


Well written and that is exactly how a lot of us feel. This is a people business.


Posted by Ty Lacroix (Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc) over 8 years ago

Nice post Brian. My company promotes specialization in Real Estate.  Passion is the reason that we feel specialization is important. If you don't love what you do, you don't do it well.

Posted by Rick Wellington (Fonville Morisey ) about 8 years ago

This is really interesting and makes you think that what you are doing can and should really matter. 

Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Ilyce Glink, Best-selling author, award-winning TV/radio host. (Think Glink Media) about 8 years ago

Brian thanks so much for your post.  I agree that there is something truly spiritual that we're doing, in that we're selling safe havens to our clients who, inevitiably, if we do our job right that is, will remain contacts and friends for the remainder of their and our lives.  I think the great thing is that we're being entrusted with pivotal information and decision making in our work with our clients and that, always already and from the first moment, is a very very privileged position to be in.  Jark

Posted by Jark Krysinski *PREC (Personal Real Estate Corporation), TeamYVR Team Leader, BA,ABR,IRES,IMSD,LLB (REMAX CREST REALTY WESTSIDE) almost 8 years ago

Brian, I reread this this morning and still feel the same way. This is what real estate is all about


Posted by Ty Lacroix (Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc) almost 8 years ago

I am crazy with envy that you attended a TED event!  And heard Joel Salatin speak.  Recently our sustainable food book club read his "everything I want to do is illegal".  "Food for thought" so to speak.

Posted by Jeanne Dufort, Madison and Lake Oconee GA (Coldwell Banker Lake Country) almost 8 years ago


What a wonderful event, thanks for sharing it with us, and love the results that you came aways with.  There is no doubt that the concept of sustainable food is here to stay, and we are thankful to say the least.  All the best.  A

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) over 7 years ago

Wow! that is an awesome post Brian! I suggested it and I agree, we are not just real estate agents, we are helping people buy their dream and we are helping people who are moving on keep their memories alive. Great job!

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Brian, we need more chicken farmers like Joel. I can't imagine anyone doing real estate without loving it.

Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) over 7 years ago

Well, I wrote this post over a year ago and it just got featured today!  I guess this post stood the test of time.  Of course, my thoughts on this subject are unchanged -- if anything, the passion has grown.

Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) over 7 years ago

Brian, I guess they dragged this post from the featured posts in 2009. I am glad they did because I missed it first time around.

Posted by Mike Frazier, Northwest Tennessee Realtor (Carousel Realty of Dyer County) over 7 years ago

I'm glad it came back around too. I'm new to AR and loved reading this post!!

Happy Holidays!

Posted by Evelyn Rice, SFR - Northern Nevada (RE/MAX Complete Realty) over 7 years ago

Brian, what a very nice post - I really like your description of home.

Posted by Mark Montross, Listing and Buyer Specialist (Catamount Realty Group) over 7 years ago

Isn't it interesting that 100 years or so we never even would have thought "organic" farms, chickens, etc.  Until the mega farms started to emerge.  Back to the basics, and with homes, it is all that you said it is. 

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 7 years ago

I love watching those Ted videos.  I used to watch 1-2 first thing every Saturday morning.

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) over 7 years ago

So true!  Everyday, we are writing the story that will be told about us!

Posted by Karen Pannell, Owensboro KY Real Estate -270-903-2167 Homes, Cond (Real Living / Home Realty) over 7 years ago

My husband's beef business is modeled from Joel's and his business is BOOMING dispite this slow economy. There is ALOT to farming. Joel doesn't just raise chickens. His main business is actually cattle. To raise cattle, you grow grass. The chickens follow behind the cattle and eat the bugs, and generally clean up. Then there are the pigs in the barns and woods. And he and his son also raise meat rabbits. To really FARM land, a person must really research and be very careful with his soil.

I have heard many people refer to our real estate business as farming. Most of it really don't work to hard to research our farm to get the most out of it. This is no doubt the hardest part of real estate.

What is sad is how few true farmers there are out there, in terms of raising food, and in selling real estate!

Posted by Amy Law (Alliance Properties) over 7 years ago

Hi Brian...Quality has longevity.  Congratulations on the feature.  Love of what we're doing is important in all aspects of our lives whether it is our marriage, raising our children, being a worthy member of our community, or with our career.  It makes all the difference between success or failure.


Posted by Kate Elim, Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a (Dockside Realty) over 7 years ago

Great blog. It is true we can learn from people every where.

Posted by Loudine Marrs over 7 years ago
Great post Brian! I have eaten organic eggs and can attest that they are indeed very different from the normal eggs you find in stores. They are so much more flavorful. I've been eating more and more organic food this past year and enjoying it very much. It's worth the extra effort to find it and the extra money.
Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) over 7 years ago

Brian, I'll bet his birds taste as wonderful as the one I ate from the orgainic  market my sister found when we were in Paris.  It was a different bird.  And raising chickens that taste like that is a really, really noble profession. 

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 7 years ago

I really like the definition of home at the bottom of your post. It is really special.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge over 7 years ago

It looks like I missed this the first time around.  I'm glad it came back as it's so true, and this is a great explanation of what a home is.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 7 years ago

Hi Brian,

I've never heard of Ted, so I'm glad I read your post.

You know, if you're open to it, you can learn from almost anyone. It's about being open to learning and Ted seems like a great teacher.

I enjoyed your thoughts about what a home is all about and I also enjoyed the quote "every day we are writing a story that will be told about us."

Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

Have an outstanding 2011!


Posted by Bill MacBride, Mammoth Lakes Resort Real Estate (Ski-in/Ski-out, Luxury homes, Second Home Buyers) over 7 years ago

One of my favorite posts in a long time!  I love your mission statement about a home is.... I have bookmarked for later...I will reblog!

Posted by Navona Hart, Selling the Best Properties in CentralVirginia (Real Living Cornerstone) about 7 years ago

Dear Brian -

I love TED and the spectrum of ideas presented by so many people!
My first time hearing of TEDx.

Have a happy day -

Posted by Lynn B. Friedman, Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers (Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ...) almost 7 years ago