When Your Life Hangs in the Balance, You Learn to Reprioritize



“I’m not supposed to be here right now,” Imran Poladi told the audience at Real Estate Connect’s Agent Reboot seminar on Tuesday. He didn’t just mean that he shouldn’t have been at the conference in New York. He meant that, according to his prognosis a couple years ago, he shouldn’t be alive today.

Poladi, vice president of San Francisco-based real estate franchisor NextHome Inc., switched the tenor of the business conference to a more personal, touching tone when he took the stage to talk about his battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma during his talk, “30%: Lessons of Life.”

Imran Poladi

Imran Poladi

The REALTOR® community was shocked when Poladi, 37, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in 2012 — this after he survived testicular cancer in 2007. Doctors found more than 30 tumors throughout his body, and he was given a 30 percent chance of living a year. But even through more than eight months of chemotherapy and more than four months of radiation treatment, Poladi refused to bow to his illness.

“I’d have chemo on Friday, I’d be in the fetal position Saturday, fetal position Sunday, and back to work Monday,” he said. “If I act like I’m dying, then I’m dying.”

During his treatment, Poladi said, he learned life lessons that changed his outlook and way of thinking. These lessons are also applicable to real estate and can help practitioners not only reprioritize their lives but also think differently professionally. Here are Poladi’s six life lessons:

  1. Don’t let other people’s expectations dictate your future. “When you go out and try to do something new in your career, don’t listen to what other people say to you,” Poladi said, “because you haven’t done it yet.” There will be plenty of people who will tell you not to waste your time on something, but some of the most successful people today are those who took a chance when everyone else thought they were crazy, he added.
  2. Surround yourself with people who want what’s best for you. “We all had our first day in real estate,” Poladi said. Remember the people who helped you, and pass on the favor by helping someone else. Poladi said there are three types of people you should keep in your life: someone who is older and wiser than you, someone who is your equal to bounce ideas off of, and someone to mentor and help be more successful.
  3. Use positive self-talk to lead you to success. Nearly twice as many words in the English language have a negative connotation than those with a positive connotation, Poladi said. “You have to think twice as hard not to be negative,” he added. “Don’t drag yourself or other people down. Let people try and explore and do new things. Don’t beat people up because they’re doing something crazy.”
  4. Just because you’re not standing on a stage doesn’t mean you don’t have an audience. Poladi spoke openly about his cancer diagnosis and treatment on Facebook, sharing emotional stories about his journey on Facebook. One day, he got a Facebook message from someone who was going through a divorce. The messenger said he could relate to a lot of the things Poladi wrote about related to his medical condition, and that helped the messenger through his own ordeal. “I didn’t know I was having that kind of influence,” Poladi said. “When you get into real estate, you’re no longer a private figure. Everything you do and say is being watched. How you react to that will be calling card. What are you doing to either inspire or discourage others that you don’t even know you’re doing?”
  5. Read until it hurts; your brain will thank you for it. Poladi said it’s essential to open your mind and learn things you might not normally be exposed to. He said two of his favorite books are The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci, and Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom.
  6. It’s better to sing along with friends than dance for strangers. “When you do something different than everybody else, you might look silly,” Poladi said. “But what ends up happening is, people start thinking that they wish they were more like you. … Before you know it, more and more people end up joining your movement because you were brave enough to stand there while something was not popular.”

Graham Wood

Graham Wood is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at gwood@realtors.org.

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  1. While I was not fortunate to hear Imran speak, I do know (first hand) you don’t need to be dying to turn your life around, you just have to want to.

  2. Excellent post and very inspiring! Having a major medical issue is always eye-opening and humbling. I, myself was very humbled by the Real Estate bubble starting in 2006. I thank the Lord every day and I continually remind my wife that I am a work in progress. Life is good!

    Imran, I’m so glad that you have prevailed. It is a testament to your excellent character! May you live a long and prosperous life!