Are You a Consumer or a Producer?

Dinosaurs are cool! I remember when I first learned the difference between an herbivore and a carnivore. I made the decision then and there that meat-eaters were preferred to plant-eaters (sorry, vegetarians).

Though it was much later than Second Grade, I have also learned that there are two types of people in this world. The first group is much larger than the other, but the smaller group is by far the dominate one.

For lack of a better word, let’s refer to the larger group as the “Consumers.” I would define a Consumer as one who takes more than they leave. More of what? Food. Money. Time. Attention. You name it. Consumers are constantly on the receiving end. Take. Take. Take. What is in it for me? Most of the world is on this side of the coin. These are the employees of our world. They get up, go to work, do their job, collect their paycheck, and go home. There is nothing wrong with Consumers. We need workers. But, just as the long-necked brontosaurus is no competition for Tyrannosaurus Rex, Consumers could not even exist without “Producers!”

Naturally, the definition of a Producer is one who leaves more than he/she takes. These are the employers. These are the business owners of the world. The entrepreneurs. The Carnivores!

I am convinced (and bolstered by the fact) that most appraisers are in the Producer Camp. We have chosen to buck the system, risk it all, take on the burden of over-regulation, and make a living PRODUCING! ‘Damn the torpedoes!’ Despite the obvious challenges, we continue to create, innovate, and adapt. Despite the vast number of casualties leaving our ranks, we continue to fight the battle and hold up the flag of victory.

Of course, it is possible to be an appraiser and still be eating leaves for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight snacks. Unfortunately, there are a few Consumers among our ranks. Fortunately, they are easy to spot (once you have learned what to look for) and… most importantly… avoid. Here are the tell-tale signs of an Appraiser-Consumer:

– They do the bare minimums (or less), but no more.
– They complete the state required educational hours each year, but any further education is beyond imagination.
– They spend little or no time working ON their business, choosing rather to spend all of their time working IN their business.
– They choose to complain about the status-quo rather than doing something to change it.

When you see any of these (or the dozens of other) signs of a Consumer, don’t walk – RUN away. Consumers are like misery-magnets, and they will latch-on to any who will give them a passing glance. They can and will destroy an otherwise effective Producer. Of course, the opposite effect can also occur. Last spring, I had the opportunity to spend two inspiring days with a group of 300+, like-minded Producers at a regional conference. That incredible time was enough to spur me on for another few months. On a bi-monthly basis, I meet with my Mastermind Group, each of whom are Producers in their own industries. I also have an Advisory Panel of Producers who keep me on-track and focused, so I avoid falling into the abyss of Consumerism. I am an avid reader and trend toward biographies and true stories of successful Producers. In other words, Producerism is a decision. Consumerism is not. Staying in the Producer mindset takes effort. Consumerism does not.

With the recent changes in our industry, I am convinced that there will be a larger and more pronounced chasm between the Consumers and Producers of the appraisal world. Each of us must decide if we are business owner-appraisers or simply appraisers. There is simply too much innovation and adaptation needed for the simple appraiser to survive. It will become increasingly difficult/impossible to do business in 2013 as you did in 2007. Some will retire. Others will try to survive on the old model. The Producers, however, will reach into their entrepreneurial side of the brain, competently make business adjustments, and will be here still making a living in 2015.

The first question one must ask themselves is whether they are a Consumer or a Producer. Are you eating green beans or ribeye for dinner? If you find yourself taking more than you give… never fear! You can and SHOULD adapt.

Now, go create some value!



Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach ( where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth.  He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office ( which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up time for real estate business owners.   He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.


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