When your livelihood depends on sales and marketing skills, developing the proper tools for success can be challenging. Yet that hasn’t stopped Damon Smith and his real estate team from reaching incredible heights.
What is their key to success? It’s the lessons he learned from the sport of wrestling.
“Achieving success in anything requires discipline, a hard work ethic, education, and persistence,” explained Smith, a Life Member of the Greater Nashville Realtors Association and six-time Diamond Award winner. “The success I’ve enjoyed in my personal and professional career is because I’ve applied all of these attributes to every part of my life, every day.”
Along with his high school friend, Blake Shelton, Smith grew up in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma. His father managed the local funeral home, so he experienced death and people mourning at an early age. “That allowed me to see the world from a different perspective.”
Smith enrolled at Oklahoma State University after high school - one of the top collegiate wrestling programs in the nation - competing for two seasons. Interestingly, the team won the NCAA championship in his freshman year in 1994.
Although Smith loved wrestling, his pragmatic senses told him his future options were limited. “It wasn’t like I was going to qualify for the next Olympic team,” Smith jokingly stated.
His love for country music also began to surface during college, and Damon asked for and received a guitar for Christmas. Once his playing and singing skills met his high expectations, the aspiring entertainer informed his parents he wanted to showcase his talent in local Oklahoma “opry” shows.
Not wanting to “embarrass the family name” if his son’s musical talent was subpar, Damon’s dad suggested that he sing in neighboring Texas. It was there the attributes Smith learned from wrestling began to pay off. He not only won a spot on a Texas show, but he also won an Entertainer of the Year award.
With a desire to become a singer, combined with a love interest, Smith transferred to rival Oklahoma, where two years later he earned a Business degree.
Go East Young Man
“The day I graduated, I moved to Nashville,” explained Smith. Before relocating, Smith had met Jim Foglesong, a country music producer and executive, who signed such notable artists as Garth Brooks, Reba McIntyre, Suzy Bogus, Don Williams, Sawyer Brown, among others.
As part of a duo, Smith began paying his dues by playing multiple venues. “I played around 150-200 nights a year, all over the country in any nightclub, honky-tonk, fair, or casino around. Not only was I playing, but I was also marketing and promoting our act. I was about as ‘AAA’ as you can get in country music without making ‘major leagues.’ I knew it was time to move on,” Smith said.
With almost 15 hard years of entertainment experience under his belt, Smith returned to wrestling as an assistant coach at Nashville’s Father Ryan High School.
Years earlier, while living in Green Hills, Smith met Susan; a beautiful lady with an engaging personality who just happened to live next door. They became good friends, eventually dating. Eight years later, she became his wife.
In 2010, the newly married couple decided to buy and home and enlisted the help of a wrestler’s mother, who was a real estate agent. “I really enjoyed the process of looking for and buying a house,” a smiling Smith said. With their realtor’s encouragement, Smith decided to make a career change.
The same skills that made forged his previous success would transfer to real estate. Within a year, he sat atop the sales chart of a 100 agent realty office.
“Using the attributes learned from wrestling is my key to success,” says Smith. “I tell people I get more done between 9 am and noon than most people do all day. I’m disciplined, I crush a to-do list.”
Technology has also played a role in Smith’s real estate success. “When I began selling real estate, the industry was experiencing what the music industry saw a decade earlier. Record stores started to close as streaming services like Napster changed how we purchased music. Having witnessed that change, I adopted whatever technological tools were available to help home buyers.”
After two years as a full-time realtor, Smith was closing over 100 sales annually. His parents had also relocated to Nashville years earlier, so his mom became licensed, allowing him to form a team. Soon after, the grandparents of a former wrestling student came aboard. A handful of other realtors have worked with him through the years. Smith maintains the strategies he employs as a wrestling coach, are the same ones he uses to manage his realty team.
Although his real estate business keeps him busy, Smith still makes time to pursue his passion for helping others through wrestling.
“After we moved to Brentwood, the head coaching position for the wrestling team at Brentwood High School opened up, and I told Susan I wanted to apply for the job. I certainly don’t do it for the money,” joked Smith. “In fact, I lose money coaching. My passion - what drives me - is putting the traits I learned into these so they can be successful and, in turn, make this world a better place.”
In spite of his business success, Susan and Damon were confronting a significant life challenge. They had tried to have a child for several years. Nothing had worked. After exhausting every medical procedure and option available, disappointment had set in.
According to Susan, the entire process was taking a toll on their marriage. “Trying and failing to have a child soon becomes the focal point of your lives,” she confided. “You desperately want to have a family together. It’s what you dream of, and at some point, we had to realize that medical science couldn’t help us. There were so many disappointments during those years. It was difficult to hear about friends baby shower or walk into a Babies R’ Us store without my heart and soul hurting.”
That’s when the couple began to explore adoption. Challenges remained, and the couple had to implement the discipline skills Damon had developed. “We had multiple adoption situations present themselves, and for one reason or another, they didn’t work out,” said Damon. We had almost given up, deciding it was going to be the two of us and our dogs.”
Then came a home renovation project that would temporarily distract them from the adoption process.
“On a Friday, when it came time to pick paint colors, Susan decided she wanted a spare bedroom painted blue,” Smith said with a smile. “The painters had completed work that weekend. I had come home to have lunch on the following Tuesday and answered a call from her. With a quivering voice, she told me we were going to be parents and would pick up our new son, Oscar, three days later. It’s amazing how God works because he was born on the very day the room was painted. What did we learn? It was always supposed to be Oscar.”
Wresting, real estate, and Oscar, along with these success attributes Damon uses daily, have changed the couple’s lives forever. Both Susan and Damon hope the lives they touch each day will help others find their own success, both on and off the wrestling mat.