When Pat Hiban puts his mind to something, he makes it happen. That's how he became a brand-name Realtor in Howard County, and that's how he turned his book, "6 Steps to 7 Figures," into a bestseller.
"I always thought in my mind that I should write a book," said Hiban, 46, during an interview in the conference room of his Pat Hiban Real Estate Group office in Columbia, a Keller-Williams affiliate.
His plans took shape after his friend Ken Hovet, the football coach at Marriotts Ridge High School, died of cancer in June 2010.
At the funeral, recalled Hiban, person after person described Hovet as a mentor. Hiban figured he had cultivated about 65 mentors in his own life, but, "I wasn't pulling anyone else up." He decided he could mentor others by writing a book that outlined his strategies for business success.
Hiban worked with a ghost writer to boil down his ideas to six steps and create a readable tale of overcoming adversity and creating a multimillion-dollar income while working about 200 days a year.
The book is published by Greenleaf Book Group, which charges an initial fee but then pays a 35 percent royalty on each book, Hiban explained. To qualify for bestseller lists, he had to sell 9,000 books. He has sold 14,000, mostly by traveling to 50 cities in 30 states since February and speaking to groups of agents in each city, outlining the concepts in his book and pre-selling copies.
On Sept. 26, the day the book went on sale, 10,456 books were shipped out, putting the book at No. 6 on the New York Times list for paperback advice and miscellaneous, and No. 65 on the bestseller list for USA Today.
"I wasn't surprised," said Pat's wife, Kim Hiban, of her husband's success in both writing the book and making it a bestseller. "I think it was something he wanted to do for a while.
"When he sets his mind to something, he accomplishes it."
Hiban has close-cropped blond hair and looks almost as youthful in person as he does in his well-known print and television ads. His leg bounces when he talks, and he can't suppress his enthusiasm for just about any topic.
His six steps aren't complicated or surprising, but following them takes determination. They are: Set goals and affirmations, track your progress, find mentors and masterminds, act, build on it, and invest.
The book is written as an advice guide for Realtors, but it also provides life lessons for anyone. In it, Hiban tells of growing up as one of five siblings in Howard County. He didn't speak until he was five, and he was put in special education classes in first grade because he was thought to be learning disabled.
He graduated from Wilde Lake High School in 1983 and went to Frostburg State University, choosing sociology as a major in his junior year, mainly because of the relatively easy course requirements.
"I really didn't know what I wanted to do," he said.
After graduation, he worked as a substitute teacher at Harper's Choice Middle School and drifted into real estate, mainly because he wanted to be his own boss. He started at Grempler Realty, which no longer exists, and said he learned about the business by mimicking a successful agent, Erv Norgren.
"We were literally back-to-back and there were like six inches between us," recalled Hiban. "One day he turned and said, 'It's starting to echo in here.' " Norgren was flattered, Hiban said, and "he started telling me more and more."
From that point on, Hiban made a point of asking for advice and reaching out to potential mentors whenever possible.
'Persistent and relentless'
One such mentor is Michael J. Maher, 42, head of the Maher Team real estate group in Kansas City, Mo., and author of the best-selling "(7L) The Seven Levels of Communication: Go from Relationships to Referrals," published in October 2010 by Author Solutions.