Marguerite Crespillo: Hello, everybody. Guess what time it is? Real Estate Real World. I’m Marguerite Crespillo, and I’m thrilled to be here today with my newest guest. And I’m really excited to hear his story. What an interesting man he is!
Ben Lang is a highly successful and tech-savvy real estate expert known for his exceptional customer service and expertise in listing homes. He made a significant impact on the real estate industry during the short sale boom of 2009 to 2012, selling over 60 listings per year.
With decades of experience, Ben is passionate about professional development and shares his knowledge through coaching, speaking engagements, and podcasts like ours. He stays ahead of trends, helping others achieve their goals, and remains a leader in the industry.
Ben’s resilience, drive, and commitment to excellence have propelled him to succeed despite setbacks. He is an inspiring example of turning adversity into opportunity through hard work and dedication. And I am thrilled to have him here today and hear his story.
So, welcome, welcome, Ben.
Ben Lang: Thank you so much for having me, first of all. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here.
Marguerite Crespillo: Absolutely, you’re part of the eXp organization that I have. And I’ve been following you, stalking you a little bit on social media, and I’ve been excited to talk to you and hear your story. I’ve listened to parts of it, and you’re quite an inspiring man.
Interestingly, I was doing REO during the time that you were doing short sales. I went into that REO arena, which is a separate long conversation about the craziness that happened during that time. For you to deal with short sales – to me, short sales were way harder than the REOs, which were still a lot of work – so kudos to you for going through that.
So, tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about your background – I’m excited to hear.
Ben Lang: Yeah, a little bit about myself. First and foremost, I’m definitely a man of faith, of strong faith. I am one of the biggest dog lovers you’ll probably ever meet.
Marguerite Crespillo: What kind of dogs do you have?
Ben Lang: I have three rescue dogs. Each one is over 60 pounds. My household is a little hectic.
Marguerite Crespillo: I have two dogs – I have Rascal, a rescue, and then Daisy Rose, a wild Mini Australian shepherd.
Ben Lang: Okay. So, one of our rescues is part Aussie.
Marguerite Crespillo: High energy.
Ben Lang: Yes, we love the Aussies. We love the bully breed rescues. I always have. I’ve always been drawn to the bully breed rescues because they get such a bad rap in public and real life. For the most part, they’re the sweetest dogs. So I can identify with that breed.
I just got remarried last year.
Marguerite Crespillo: Congratulations.
Ben Lang: My daughter will be 12 years old on July 4th.
Marguerite Crespillo: What a birthday, huh? Fourth of July.
Ben Lang: The fireworks are for her every year. That’s our present.
Marguerite Crespillo: My youngest son, his birthday is July 9th.
Ben Lang: Nice. And, I’m really into fitness, a bit of a gym rat. So, that’s a little bit about me personally.
As far as professionally, I started investing in real estate in 2002. I was a flipper, flipping quite a few houses from 2002 to 2005, and accumulated rental properties. I just fell in love with the industry as a whole.
I started selling in 2005. As you mentioned, I hit my stride during the short sale boom. Did a lot of radio advertising, really heavy radio advertising. I started my own short-sale processing company that processed our short sales and did very well.
Moving into 2013, I built a huge team. My team was growing very rapidly. At that point, I decided to open my own boutique brokerage, not affiliated with anyone else, and things were going very well. Took a bit of a turn in 2016-2018 and started from ground zero in 2018.
Today, my team is strong; I’m listing and selling a ton. In fact, I just got invited to speak at a national conference in August about listing dominations. So, I’m super pumped about that.
Marguerite Crespillo: Where’s that conference you’re speaking at?
Ben Lang: It’s the National Association of Real Estate Brokers in Austin, Texas.
Marguerite Crespillo: Okay. I’m speaking at the Florida Association on August 2. So I was wondering if you would be at the same place, that would have been cool.
Ben Lang: No, I’m going to be in Houston. National Association of Real Estate Brokers. It’s actually my first paid speaking engagement. I’ve done several free speaking engagements over the years, so I’m pretty excited.
Marguerite Crespillo: That is very exciting. You talk about zero to success. Do you want to talk about what took you to zero?
From Zero to Success
Ben Lang: I do; I love sharing this story. Every time I speak, I share the story because I believe it can empower others. And I believe not sharing it is almost a disservice to people listening right now.
So, I’ve actually fallen flat on my face twice in life. As I mentioned, I accumulated a lot of rental properties, and when the housing crash of 2007-2008 hit, I lost a ton of equity. I had a lot of rental problems.
Marguerite Crespillo: It was rough during that time. I remember well.
Ben Lang: I folded and filed bankruptcy in 2007, completely broke. Before that, I was doing very well as an investor, living the good life. Then, completely broke in 2007, I reinvented myself for the first time. And by 2010, I had a great team, was doing a ton of business, and did it all – I built a nice little empire again.
Success is Not Owned; it’s Rented.
Ben Lang: But 2016 is where it all went wrong. My sister actually committed suicide at 29 years old.
Marguerite Crespillo: Oh, I’m sorry.
Ben Lang: Yeah. It was very difficult and something I wasn’t prepared to deal with emotionally.
Marguerite Crespillo: Yeah, I can’t even imagine.
Ben Lang: I turned to alcohol and drugs and spent the better half of 2016 and 2017 really destroying my life through alcohol and drugs and neglecting my business. I was also a gym owner then, so my brokerage, my team, and my gym were neglected for almost two years.
By 2018, I was in a 30-day rehabilitation center and divorced, which was a pretty tumultuous divorce and wound up costing me financially and emotionally. After the divorce, after everything got depleted and I lost everything, my car was repossessed. When you’re at the peak like I was in 2013, ’14, ’15, you just think falling back down that far is impossible.
Once you reach a level of success, you’ve earned it, and you’re there; there’s a quote that I love and believe, “Success is not owned; it’s rented.”
Marguerite Crespillo: Absolutely, yeah, I got stories too, it’s crazy.
Ben Lang: Just because you reach that level, it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to it; it’s yours to keep or a constant.
So, life was pretty terrible in 2018.
The Challenge of Grief
Marguerite Crespillo: Yeah. It sounds like it was really rough. I’m really sorry about your sister. When tragedy happens, one of my favorite quotes is, “People either bury their heads in the sand or they rise up.” Grief comes in many different forms and ways; there’s no right or wrong in how people deal with it. But what’s interesting is that even the ones I’ve found that bury their head in the sand come out bigger and stronger than before. It’s a challenge.
Ben Lang: I could not agree with you more. With who I am today, I would never take away the 2007 disaster. Even if I could go back in time, I would not redo it. I have an almost 12-year-old. There are a lot of bad things that came out of that, but my outlook on life and my perception of life is so much different in five-plus years of sobriety now. You can’t buy the things that I’ve learned and how I’ve grown as a human being. You have to really fall to change that perception.
Marguerite Crespillo: There must have been a moment, an hour, or a day when you decided to go into rehab. What was that? I’m always curious: what is the turning point, what thought goes through your head, or what happens that says, “Alright, this is clearly not working. I need to make some changes, or I need to change my life.” I’m curious if you’re willing to share what happened?
Learning to Ask for Help
Ben Lang: Yeah. I’m an open book. Everyone that knows me, knows I wear my heart on my sleeve. I share everything about myself.
So, first of all, I was waking up at 7:00 a.m. and cracking open a beer. At one point, it was a case of beer every single day, and then it was drugs at night to sober up from the all-day drinking. That eventually grows tiresome. It’s actually physically and mentally exhausting.
So, I had tried, saying, “Well, I’m pretty strong. I’ve done some pretty cool things in my life. I’ve done some pretty big things in life, so how hard can it be?”
I went to the doctor, and they prescribed a pill that makes you sick and physically ill if you drink while on it. And so, I said, “All I’ll do is just wake up every morning and pop the pill, and that will make me not want to drink.” And then, I started drinking on the pill.
And, I’m like, “This is ridiculous; I can’t beat this on my own.”
We all think we can handle pretty much anything that’s thrown at us. But there are certain times when you come to the full realization that it’s just not doable without a support system, without help, without someone in your corner.
Marguerite Crespillo: That’s interesting because the most successful people I know have learned to ask for help. The ego gets in the way many times and keeps us from asking for help because we don’t want to look stupid or we don’t want to look like we don’t know what we’re talking about. Or, we’ve created a persona that if we ask for help, we think the bubble will burst somehow. But the people I know who’ve really powered through it like you did and figured things out, there’s always somebody there to help them.
Ben Lang: It’s so true. I have a funny story if we have time.
Marguerite Crespillo: Yes, absolutely.
Ben Lang: While in rehab, I fought for four hours to get out. And if you know anything about rehabs, it’s really hard to get out. Their whole goal is to keep you in. But I’m such a headstrong person, definitely a type-A personality; it became more about the battle of winning.
I did get out, and I got a cab, and about a half-hour into that cab ride, I said, “Well, I got to turn around. I need to be there.”
And I’m still friends with some of the leadership at the rehab. I’m still friends with them, and they’re like, “That was like a Rocky Balboa fight. It was intense.”
But it came down to me; it was just about the win. And once I won, I came to my senses and realized, “Okay, I really need to be there.”
Marguerite Crespillo: What in your mind do you think you won?
Ben Lang: The fight to get out. The fight to get out where they said, “Okay, you can go.” That fight, because it was four, five, or six of the leadership people of the rehab against me. And once I won, once they said, “Okay, you can go,” it just clicked in my mind, “Oh, did I really do the right thing?”
Marguerite Crespillo: Or did you really win? You won the right to not help yourself.
Ben Lang: Exactly. So, I went right back and finished my entire time there. And I’ve been sober for almost five and a half years now.
Marguerite Crespillo: Congratulations.
Ben Lang: Thank you so much. I go back and speak at that same rehab every month now and share the following story.
“Five years ago, I was sitting in your seat, thinking that there was no opportunity for long-term sobriety for me. So I know what you’re feeling right now…”
It’s really a phenomenal experience; I look forward to it every month.
Addiction is Addiction
Marguerite Crespillo: I have a couple relatives, and one of them has struggled with alcohol for many years and finally recently made the decision to make that change. And the first time he went to go to the AA meeting, he circled the building for an hour.
He told me, “I couldn’t do the walk of shame; I couldn’t walk in. And then, I said, ‘You realize that everybody in there is in the same boat, right?'”
Then he ended up going back a week later and actually walked in and said, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. People were great.”
And now he’s 18 or 19 days sober. He’s still pretty new at it, but it’s the first time he’s taken it that far, and I’m super proud of him.
I’ve not had that struggle, so it’s the one thing I can’t relate to. My only addictions are probably sugar and working. I’m a workaholic. So that’s the only thing I can relate to.
But I’ve seen so many people in my life – especially in this particular industry, even high achievers – find ways to be high achievers when it comes to drinking and drugs as well.
Ben Lang: I’m reading a book called “Driven,” and it talks about the D2 and D4 genes that people are born with. Driven people are born with this gene, and oftentimes, they’re multi-thinkers and very susceptible to addiction. It’s making a lot of sense in my head.
Marguerite Crespillo: Yes, because when you see highly driven people, they probably start by being addicted to work somehow and then find other ways. Addiction is addiction, whether it’s work, alcohol, drugs, sugar… And often, I see people just transfer that addiction to something else, right?
Ben Lang: Yeah.
Marguerite Crespillo: And if you don’t resolve the issues that got you there to begin with, then you’ll just go back.
Ben Lang: 100%.
Rebuilding from Nothing
Marguerite Crespillo: How has that helped you in your business and rebuilding? Let’s shift gears and discuss what you’ve done for your comeback. What did you start doing when you got out of rehab to rebuild and regrow?
Ben Lang: Yeah, this is really the best part. Talking about the addiction is cool.
But because I was managing a team, managing a brokerage, managing a gym, and also an alcoholic, I didn’t sell for about two years. I didn’t sell for 2015, ’16 or ’17. So, my SOI (sphere of influence) was gone. Most people still in my SOI, who were still around, had no faith in me whatsoever. So, in 2018, I returned to the basics, picked up the phone… Real hard stuff, right?
Marguerite Crespillo: But that’s great for people who feel they’re starting over.
Ben Lang: I was out there knocking on doors. This was pre-pandemic. Anything that I could do – I was driving around, knocking on doors, going to neighborhoods with just listed, just sold, knocking on doors, and just dialing contacts.
And it took a second to get going, but it worked. The basics always work. The fundamentals always work. There’s really no arguing with that.
You talk to 50 people about buying or selling real estate weekly, and you’ll close deals. If you speak to three people about buying or selling real estate, you’ll probably not do very well.
Marguerite Crespillo: So you started going out and hustling yourself. I assume you were at a brokerage at that point; you didn’t still have your brokerage, did you?
Ben Lang: I was. Correct, I folded my brokerage.
Marguerite Crespillo: How many agents did you have at your brokerage when you did that?
Ben Lang: We had 16, but they were all team members.
Marguerite Crespillo: I owned a brokerage with my husband with 120 agents. And in 2015, we made the decision that it didn’t make sense anymore, and we shut it down in 2015. So, all of our agents just scattered. We kept 20 and the small independent brokerage, but we let the rest go. It just didn’t make sense anymore.
Ben Lang: People ask me all the time, why don’t you go back to opening your own brokerage?
I’ve been selling real estate for 17 years, and I’ve never been sued. In the three years I had my brokerage, I got sued three times for newer agent mistakes.
And unless your brokerage has 250 plus agents, it’s really not a profitable model.
Marguerite Crespillo: No. More and more people are learning that.
Ben Lang: Yeah, the team lead is really where it’s at, I think personally.
Marguerite Crespillo: Yeah. I was the biggest producer of 120 agents, so it didn’t make much sense.
And so it’s been what, about a year or so ago, you joined eXp?
Ben Lang: A year in July.
Marguerite Crespillo: So, about a year ago. And what made you decide to bring your team to eXp? Since you’ve rebuilt your team, how many agents do you have on your team now?
Ben Lang: Last year, we got up to 14 agents. I did a bit of top grading at the end of the year, so now we’re at two in-house ISAs, a full-time listing coordinator, a full-time TC, and then myself. So, four agents, two in-house ISAs, a listing coordinator, and TC.
Marguerite Crespillo: Fantastic.
Ben Lang: The five of us are all producing agents.
Marguerite Crespillo: Versus 15 people where three are doing deals and the rest aren’t.
Ben Lang: Right.
Exit Strategy: What Are You Passionate About?
Marguerite Crespillo: So, what made you decide to come to eXp?
Ben Lang: I’ll tell you the main reason. Seventeen years selling real estate, I feel like I’m pretty good at it – I don’t want to be doing it 17 years from now.
Marguerite Crespillo: I understand – thirty years for me in December. I love real estate, and I love my clients, don’t get me wrong, but I would love to spend more time teaching, coaching, and paying it forward.
Ben Lang: That’s where I’m at.
So, I’ve done coaching. I’ve just left a national coaching company and started a position with a new national coaching company that I believe in tremendously. I just signed a deal to be the face of a new real estate technology company. And I’ve committed 25 hours a week to coaching and training starting this January.
My passion for selling has been gone for a little while now. It serves a purpose. My real passion is coaching, speaking, and mentoring. I don’t feel like I’m working when I coach, mentor, and speak. It’s where I belong. I believe it’s my purpose in life, and I’m fully committed to pursuing that purpose.
So everything I’ve done in the last couple of years is for an exit strategy – stock options, rev-share, short-term and long-term rental properties. I’m just trying to build five really good passive income streams, and eXp gave me an avenue to do that.
I left the brokerage, where they charged me $450 a deal for 10 deals, and I was done; it only cost me $4,500 a year to be there. But I’m very much big-picture thinking here. I’m going to be 46 pretty soon, and I want to do bigger things in life. And I need those multiple income streams to do those things.
Marguerite Crespillo: That’s interesting because, as I said, we used to own our own brokerage, and I’ve been in real estate for almost 30 years. And when I started to look at my exit plan, even owning a brokerage, it no longer made sense. And so, getting out of that brokerage, the best decision ever for me was to join eXp. And this isn’t all about eXp.
People say, “You owned your own company; you got 100%; why would you do that?” I can tell you that in 2020, when COVID happened, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And when you get diagnosed with breast cancer, you start to think, what will happen to my family? And the huge blessing was the revenue share and the stock that came in every month, whether I was out selling a house or not.
It’s been life-changing for me and allowed me the same thing – that freedom to impact more people. Life for you at this point, as it is for me, is really more about impact and how many people you can help and impact.
Your story is very inspiring. To get past that, grow and build another business, and support and encourage other people, I feel that’s where life is at. That’s where the good stuff happens.
There’s No Retirement Party for Realtors
Ben Lang: It totally is.
Time is the most valuable commodity. I could keep running like this; I work 80 hours a week right now. There are many days when I feel burned out right now at this point in my life, but I’m in a transitional stage. I’m doing it this year because I know what’s to come, and it’s for an end goal.
But I don’t want to be fully reliant on commission; I can’t do that. There are no retirement parties for realtors.
Marguerite Crespillo: So true. Who’s your ideal coaching client? Are you doing one-on-one coaching? Are you doing group coaching?
Ben Lang: I just left Club Wealth coaching. I’m now with Growth CEO coaching.
The Club Wealth was more one-on-one, and the Growth CEO is more group coaching. And in Growth CEO, I’m with the likes of Brian Curtis, Barry Jenkins, and Tristan Ahumada; very good company there. I’m so super pumped!
But my ideal coaching client? People who are open-minded. Leave the ego at the door; there’s really no room for ego when it comes to coaching, just people who are driven, open-minded, and humble. I would say those are the top three qualities.
Marguerite Crespillo: My favorite question is, where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Time is Freedom
Ben Lang: Oceanfront condo in Florida; coaching from the oceanfront condo, maybe the balcony.
Simple life. I’m a simple guy. If you saw me, I’m tatted everywhere. I like riding four-wheelers. I rescue big pit bull rescue dogs. I drive a Dodge Ram. I’m not into the Lamborghinis. I’m just a simple guy.
I want to spend as much time with my wife and family, wake up, and see the ocean every day. And then be able to enrich people’s lives and have the time to improve people’s lives. That’s it for me.
Marguerite Crespillo: That’s what it’s all about, right?
Ben Lang: Yeah. There’s no millionaire status. I don’t really care about any of that stuff. Just give me my time.
Everybody Gets Humbled at Some Point
Marguerite Crespillo: We talked earlier, and I said everybody in life gets humbled at some point by choice or by force. I think that the most genuine, grateful people are those who’ve been humbled at some point and who’ve been able to see how bad it can get so you can see how good it can be.
Ben Lang: Yes. I told you beforehand, I said, “That’s my tribe.” I believe in energy. I believe that there’s energy in this world. And I’m very much attracted to people who have faced extreme adversity, conquered it, and triumphed in the end. Those are my people.
Marguerite Crespillo: Awesome.
Final Words: Effort Outperforms Talent Every Single Time
Marguerite Crespillo: Hey, it’s been absolutely fantastic talking to you. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation and getting to know you. We’ll have all your social media information in the show notes. So, do you have any final words you’d love to share with our audience?
Ben Lang: I would say, just do it; don’t wait for things to be perfect.
A lot of people I coach say, “Yeah, when I get it perfected, I’m going to do it.”
And I think of the Nike quote, “Just do it!” It doesn’t have to be perfect. Effort outperforms talent every single time.
I’m a firm believer in that. So, just get it, man. There’s opportunity. Some agents are struggling. We’re a listing machine right now. I think I have 16 deals pending personally right now.
Marguerite Crespillo: Wow, that’s amazing.
Create Your Own Market
Ben Lang: Yeah, it’s there. There’s plenty of opportunity; people are buying, people are selling. People always ask me, “Are you worried about the market shift?” No, I’m not worried about the market shift because I create my own market.
Marguerite Crespillo: I love that. I’ve said that for years. I’m in charge of my own economy.
Ben Lang: Yeah. It doesn’t matter what the market’s doing. If anything, it floods out the people who shouldn’t be out in this industry in the first place.
When I was doing business in 2010-2011, every deal was smooth. A professional was on the other side because 2008-2009 cleared out everyone who should have never been there.
So, I see an incredible opportunity where everyone else sees problems right now. And, I’d say, “Go get it, get after it.”
Marguerite Crespillo: That’s awesome. Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been a true joy in talking to you. And, hopefully, I can get out there to Michigan, or you can come on out to California, and we can meet and connect. And I’m excited to hear more about you.
So, thank you so much for joining us today, Ben. We appreciate it.
Ben Lang: Absolutely. Thanks.
Marguerite Crespillo: Alright. Thank you, everyone, for joining us on Real Estate Real World today. You can find us on all your favorite podcast apps, and we’re also available on YouTube.
Be sure to follow me on YouTube, and we’ll post all the show notes for Ben Lang so you can get in touch with him about his coaching or his team or anything you want to do to talk to him. I know he’s an open book.
So, thank you, everybody, for joining Real Estate Real World. We’ll see you on the next fabulous episode. Have an amazing day.