Mount Horeb, WI. March 18, 2021 – Perhaps one of the most overused words of 2020 was “pivot.” But as the scope of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic became evident, many of us had no choice but to pivot. That was certainly true for Mt. Horeb resident, Mike Morkri, who went from working two jobs to none within a few short weeks starting last March.
The previous 21 years, Morkri worked in the creative department at Lands’ End as a writer and managing editor in both their consumer and B2B apparel businesses.
On the weekends, he was a touring stand-up comedian performing under the name Mike Mercury at Midwest casinos, corporate events and banquets. He also operated a comedy booking business called ProComedians.com, helping corporate clients, theaters and casinos hire comedians for their venues and events.
The comedy business was so good, he decided to leave his day job to go back to comedy full time, like he’d done for 10 years prior to joining Lands’ End.
So, he started accepting more comedy bookings for himself, announced his May 1st departure to his Lands’ End colleagues, and was looking forward to the next chapter of his life. Then the virus came calling.
“I had just finished doing a run of 3 shows the second week of March (2020) and had about 6 weeks left to go with Lands’ End. The next week, all of my comedy work started cancelling. A few days later, Lands’ End furloughed 100s of employees including me.
“By April, it was clear that the pandemic wasn’t going anywhere, so I had to ‘pivot,’” he says with a laugh.
That pivot was real estate.
After completing the educational requirements remotely through the Wisconsin Realtors Association, Morkri became a licensed Wisconsin REALTOR® in August of last year and joined eXp Realty, LLC, a global cloud-based brokerage with over 47,000 agents worldwide. He now works primarily with residential buyers and sellers in Dane, Iowa, Sauk and Green Counties. Morkri credits his years of marketing experience at Lands’ End along with over 25 years of negotiating contracts with comedy clients and comedians for making the transition to real estate a pretty great fit.
“Sure, there are some obvious similarities between performing comedy and real estate” according to Morkri.
“Lots of high-pressure, very fluid situations. Working directly with people from all walks of life. Getting the details right and doing the prep work are keys to success in both.”
“In comedy, structuring jokes is all about setting up tension and then the laugh is the release. In real estate, the tension is already pretty built in because buying or selling a home can be extremely stressful. Injecting a little humor into the process can go a long way to easing the tension and making what can be a daunting task much more enjoyable for everyone involved.”
With record-low mortgage interest rates helping fuel high demand for housing, one of the ways REALTORS® add value is by helping buyers and sellers navigate the process much more smoothly than doing it on their own.
“My background in writing and editing certainly gave me an edge in terms of understanding the legalese and jargon of real estate. Which in turn allows me to help translate complex concepts and terminology into words and ideas that are easier to understand for people. And considering that the average person buys or sells 3 homes in their life, it’s not something they do every day, which is one reason why about 90% of buyers and sellers choose to have a professional REALTOR® help them through it.”
Now with vaccinations becoming widely available and the easing of restrictions on gatherings and venues, the comedy business is slowly showing signs of life. Is there another “pivot” in the near future?
“I think I’m done pivoting for now. Real estate is my full-time occupation and I’m enjoying it so far. Buying or selling a home is still a big deal for most of us and when I can successfully help people achieve their goals, it’s a great feeling. So, while I will likely be back on stage before long, my first priority is helping people buy and sell homes.”
In February, Mike Morkri, eXp Realty, joined the Mount Horeb Area Chamber of Commerce. Rachel LaCasse-Ford, Director of Business Development at the Chamber, recognizes this pivot as a hallmark of business survival in the age of COVID: “People who, like Mike, were able to transition and adapt, utilizing the full range of their skillset, are the ones who are not only going to get through the pandemic, but who will come out set up for success moving forward. When you can bring your passion and your profession together in a unique way,” she states, “that is what will set you apart from you competitors, and Mike is uniquely positioned in that way. We are so excited to welcome him to the Chamber family and we are excited to watch his business grow.”
Morkri and his wife, Barbara, who works at the Mt Horeb Intermediate Center, live in Mt Horeb.