Real Estate, USPS, Dual Careers, and How to Transition Between Them with April Johnson


April Johnson has been working with the United States Postal Services (USPS) for the past 34 years. Add to that, she is also a realtor who got her license in 2020 by breaking through her fear and passing the test with flying colors. Amidst Covid, she found the courage to pursue what she loves and is currently working in her two roles with so much gratification!

This was such a fun conversation. I loved hearing how April balances both of her pursuits, what it’s like to work in an organization like the USPS, how she’s thinking about her upcoming transition, and so much more!


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In this episode you’ll learn:

  • What April does
  • How she got into United States Postal Service (USPS)
  • How her work experience has been and the roles she’s managed
  • How the skills from her current role cross over to real estate
  • The importance of the human touch and customer relationships
  • How attractive are the benefits of USPS really
  • April’s backstory into real estate
  • How April froze with fear and overcame it
  • How the Covid lockdown helped April through her journey
  • The real-estate test and what’s next
  • What to look for when signing up for your brokerage
  • How social media helped April transition personally
  • Getting beyond the fear of sharing yourself on social media
  • How to move through that “stuck” feeling

Resources Mentioned:

April’s website

Software Generated Transcription:

Dan

April, thank you so much for joining me. Welcome to The Meaning Movement podcast. It’s great to have you here.

April

Thank you. You. Thank you, Dan. Thanks for having me.

Dan

Yeah. The question I like to start with is how do you begin to talk about the work that you do?

April

The work that I do. It’s like neverending work, but it’s a good work. It’s work that I started with, like a normal nine to five that I do. And I am also a realtor. Now, I don’t say that I’m a part time realtor. Some people say I’m a part time realtor, but no, I consider myself a full time realtor because that is something that I gear to what I want to do as far as retiring from my nine to five. So I’ve been doing this the past year with The Covid, but I still have my nine to five, but I do my realtor as well. Something that I really like to do.

Dan

I love it. I love it. And I love that you’re in the midst of the side hustle. That’s becoming your main hustle. Right. That sounds like kind of where you are.

April

Yeah.

Dan

So tell me, what do you do for your nine to five and tell me a little bit about the transition, maybe just working backwards, deciding to start pursuing real estate.

April

Well, with my nine to five, I’m actually with the United States Postal Service. I do that from no, not actually nine to I call it nine to five because basically like a nine to five. And then afterwards I do my realtor. But normally during my breaks because we all have our two breaks and our lunches, I squeeze in my realtor because that is something that I really want to do, actually, as far as retire from what I’m doing right now and consider to pursue in my real estate,

Dan

I love it. That is so great. How long have you been with the USPS?

April

34 years.

Dan

Wow.

April

Yeah. And not even fresh out of high school. I came afterwards. Yeah.

Dan

Wow. Yeah. I just love to kind of keep working backwards there. Tell me about that decision. What brought you to the postal service?

April

Actually, it was my mom that brought me to the Postal Service. She had a friend who worked there. And at one time back in 88, that’s when I had taken the postal test. No, I was 87, not 88. I actually took the test. Didn’t want to, but mom pushed me and I passed it with flying colors. And I didn’t think I figured they not going to call me. They called me. I’m going to say maybe six months later to come. I said, really? So I was actually working somewhere else. So I had to tell them. I was like, okay, I’m about to work for the post office. I’m about to get some little extra money that I always wanted to get. So I decided on the post office since 1988. Yeah.

Dan

I love that. That is so great. This is super fun for me because I’ve never spoken to someone who’s worked for the postal service about what it’s like. Oh, man, I have so many questions. How many different roles have you had during those years? I imagine there’s.

April

Yeah. During those years, I probably had about, I must say, seven to ten roles during those years. So actually what I’m doing now is something that I love to do. So I’m glad I’m kind of ending it in a what did they say? Sweet but bitter. But I’m glad I ended it like that. I started out at one time we had machines called the LSN machine. We were actually key on the machines. The letters would come through really fast. So we had the key to a certain zone, certain zip code. So we learned to do that. That was way back in the 80s. But now the post office has upgraded with different technology. So it’s not that key in anymore. Everything the machine is reading it. It’s a whole different sense technology.

Dan

Yeah.

April

I’ve been a window clerk. I’ve been distribution, working with the mail. So I know the situation where people got a lift of heavy boxes. The machine I got carpal tunnel and both of my hands from that machine. So it’s like I got history. But the good thing about it is not as bad as it used to be. That’s the good thing.

Dan

Yeah. Wow. And what is your role now? Did you say?

April

Now I am administrator. I do administrative work with the post office where I try to bring on businesses and big businesses and small businesses to keep them businesses that’s not even with the post office or even some that’s with the post office constantly calling them, keeping them informed about the changes that’s going on and bringing it. The main thing is bringing in new customers. That’s our thing now.

Dan

So it’s almost like a sales role, it sounds like.

April

Yeah, that’s wonderful. I really like doing that because it’s funny, because it kind of incorporates with the real estate job that I do as far as to bring on people with the CRM, with the customer relation management. It’s like I’m doing it like turning in the circle, but in a good way.

Dan

Yeah. Those skills cross over. I could totally see that. I love it. I was going to say I just imagine, like you were saying about the LSN machine and just how things I just imagine over those years that there’s just been a lot of change. As far as technology, as far as how everything run.

April

Yes. With the mail carriers, it’s a whole different thing. It’s not as many blue boxes out there. They take away block boxes. The truck got bigger, as you notice, the USPS trucks has gotten bigger. And there’s lots of new machines that’s reading everything. But you still need that human being no matter how they try to change things. You still need the human being in order to manage it.

Dan

Yeah. I love that. I think that having that human touch, I don’t know, for me and for a lot of people, that’s really what makes it meaningful. Even though you’re looking to maybe towards the sunset of this portion of your career and to move to something else, I think that the human touch piece is where the meaning comes into play. Is that true for you?

April

Yes, that is so true. I mean, it’s basically my main thing is like the relationship you still have to have, no matter what you do, you still have to have that customer relationship and any type of thing that you do, any type of job, any type of business, anything you do. That’s how I feel about the customer relationship is very important.

Dan

That’s great. If you don’t mind me asking. I know this is somewhat personal, but I know that some people are really attracted to the Postal Service because of benefits and retirement and pension and those kinds of things. Is that a part of where you are with being able to move out of Postal Service? Move on?

April

Yes. They have excellent benefits, excellent retirement plans. When I came into the post office, I listened to they called the vets, the old timers. I listened to them. They told me how to start saving for retirement. I just talked with my financial agent last week as we speak around this time, and he told me, he said, you’re doing really good as far as what you’re saving. I had like retirement savings coming out every month. And I tried to tell this to the younger ones that’s coming in. And my retirement is well over $300,000 and it’s continuing adding on. I don’t want to throw the number out there, but it’s really good and I’m happy with that. So I will be retiring at peace, but still with a plus with my real estate.

Dan

I love it. Yeah. So you have that foundation that then you can have some fun and earn even more on top of it. With real estate. Have you always been interested in real estate or did it just come as looking for tell me about that.

April

Yes. Well, it all started not on a real estate aspect, but when I was younger, I was always into sales. I mean, I would sell everything from candy. And I’m talking young like twelve years old. Candy and my son and I, we just talked about the other day when I sold jewelry and he said, man, I remember you bought a new car because you sold so much jewelry. Your sales is just astronomical. And I was like, I know, I remember that. We just talked about that. I had a hot dog stand. What else did I do? My mom would sell stuff out of the house. Hot dogs, Apple Taffy, candies. I love this. Yeah. When I came into the postal office, I still continue to do the sales on the side. Let me see. I’m trying to think of the year and it hasn’t been to maybe I’m going to say 2015. When I was a window clerk at the post office, I would see people come in and they talk about Realtors or either landlords or either tenants would talk about tenants in a good way and tenants in a bad way. And I would say, you know, I always wanted to be a realtor.

April

What is it like? And they say, April, I think you could really do it because I had customers, like, right there coming at the post office that really liked me a lot. And I like to talk to people, for one.

Yeah.

April

She said, I think you will like it. But you know what I did? I let fear get in my way. I let fear get in the way until last year, 2020, with the Covid, when I had the opportunity, when we all were on lockdown. And actually I’ll go back to 2018, the fear came out and I actually went to real estate classes. So after I finished the classes and I did the transcript, I was able to take the state test, but I sat on it until 2020. Like fear came into me again. I sat on it until 2020. And then when we all were on lockdown, I said, April, you know, real estate is what you like to do. I got on the computer, I started taking online classes. I passed the online classes, and I scheduled to take the state test, which is a big deal. Take the state test. I took the state test in October. It’s a two part test. You got the state and you got the national. I passed the state, but not the national. Very upset. All of a sudden, fear came back in. But my son told me, he said, mom, you work too hard for this.

April

Can you take it again? I said, yes, I can take it again. Two weeks later, I went back, I took it again and I passed it. Yeah, right. That was like, oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I passed it.

Dan

I love it.

April

Yeah. That’s what I’ve been doing. My still working. And then now I’m a realtor.

Dan

I love it. Just your honesty around fear and how fear gets in the way. And I feel like I just know for people listening and just resonates with me myself that sometimes the things that we want most are things that we’re really scared of. Right. Because we want them so bad it’s scarier to step into them and pursue them because there’s more cost at play. There’s more risk, personal risk. Because if you can’t do it, if you don’t do it, if it doesn’t work, you’ve actually risked a part of yourself in the process.

April

Exactly.

Dan

And it sounds like Covid being home for you helped you move beyond that? I’m curious about that because I know for COVID for a lot of people is really lonely or isolating. And was it just having the extra time to think or what was it about covid that really helped?

April

Yeah, it was like the extra time to think. Me working from home. I didn’t have that distraction that I normally get in the office. And it’s just like I said, I mean, I thought about a lot of things. I thought about my finances. I thought about you know you start thinking about things that happened in the past, and that’s when they just clicked. It’s like, It’s your time now. This is your time, April. It’s time to do it. So I took advantage of it.

Dan

I love it. Way to get after it.

April

Yeah.

Dan

I find that to be just so inspiring. Just like hearing you say, this is your time, April. Get after it. That is so cool. I mean, it’s one thing to take the tests and pass the tests, and that’s a big thing, but then you actually have to do something about it. It’s only then like, okay, so you got this big hurdle out of the way, but then you actually have to start talking to people. You have to start putting yourself out there. And I’m curious for you how that process has been.

April

Well, that process has been, like you said, a process. So I got past the test. And the funny part about it getting past now I realize that getting past the state test is actually the easiest part of real estate. So I’m just letting anybody out here know, looking to be a real estate get past that state part, because that is the easiest part. The challenging is now getting connected with everybody again, building relationships and pursuing just continue. You just got to keep pushing and pushing. You got to accept the news, get used to the negative people, and just keep pushing. You can’t let them get in your way because it happens and it can get you down. Like, I have my up days and I have my down days. When I got my license, I was looking for you know you got to get a brokerage or what have you to get your license. I finally got a brokerage, but I wasn’t satisfied, so I switched brokerages. When I switched brokerage, it seemed like my whole world just opened up. When I switched, it was like the best thing that I did. I have learned so much, and that was May of this year.

April

I switched between May and now November. I have learned so much that I didn’t think that I can do in that short time. And I’m glad I did what I did, and people get hesitant about that. Oh, should I do this? Should I do another thing with fear? Because I was hesitant, but I still did it.

Dan

What is the difference between the brokerages? I know broadly, I know somewhat about how brokerages work, but what made the difference between where you were at the other one and what’s happening with this current one?

April

Now, where I was before, it was like, I signed on with a brokerage, and people normally say your brokerage get ghosts on you. Nothing happens after that. You wait for different trainings because you need some type of training, especially when you’re new. You need the training to know, especially those contracts. They basically just start with that just to make sure, because being a realtor is like, that’s a risk, too, because anything you mess up on, you can be fined. And the fines are not small. They’re large fines. So I didn’t get the training that I want that I was supposed to have gotten, and I mentioned it, but it was like I had it for a couple of times, and then it was brushed under the rug. And that’s when I started seeing a girl Melanie was on Instagram, and she kind of got my attention about everything that her brokers was offering. And what caught my eye was when they said training. And I was like, live training. And I was like, really? Like, no way during this time. But it was true. I said I got a nice little she set up with me and talked about it and showed me pictures and showed me different things.

April

I was like, okay, I’m going to go for it. So I went for it. And ever since then, I mean, I was not the type of person to be. What do they say? Social media, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. I was not into that stuff. Now, Instagram, Facebook, website. I’m into it.

Dan

Love it. I love it. Yeah.

April

People are getting to know who I am and what I do. So it’s been a help. Yeah.

Dan

That’s so great. It really sounds like choosing a brokerage to be a part of is for people who might be listening and thinking about real estate or getting their license. I think that’s one takeaway here. Is that’s a really important piece. Choose carefully. What would you tell people as far as they’re looking at options? What should they be looking for in the brokerage?

April

I say they should look for training for one mentor, someone that can mentor them. Like, now it’s like a team with my brokerage. We have teams, and you want to make sure that your team is always there for you. I can easily call Melanie as a drop of a hat and not even just call her or text her and she’ll respond with no problem. She may not respond right away, but I’ll get a response maybe within an hour or so. What else? The training. The main thing is see if you can before signing up with them, have, like, what do they call it? Just like a preview of it before you make your decision. That’s what I would suggest. That’s really important. But the main thing is that training and see what type of training that you will be getting. Find out, of course, the Commission, how much you’re getting the cap. If anybody know about cap, if you make so much per year, you’re going to get 100% Commission. Mine do it all. We have health care, we have stock. My brokers have stock. It’s like a whole package. You selling homes, but you’re not only gaining the money from that, but you’re gaining money with stock, too.

April

So you got money coming in different ways. You got money coming in different ways, which is excellent.

Dan

I love it. Yeah. That’s a great list of things for people to consider as they’re choosing and thinking about those brokerages. I’m curious in a transition like this, and I hear you talking about it, especially getting on social media, it’s almost like you have to I like to think of it as like you have to become the next version of yourself. Right. That you have to grow into the next version of April. Who does social media even though you didn’t do it before. And I want to hear your thoughts on that kind of I don’t know, the personal, like, becoming nature of it, the personal growth nature of the transition that you’ve been going through.

April

Yeah, the personal growth. Basically, the social media did transition me. And I not only do the real estate, but by me going on social media. Facebook has different groups. So I’ve linked up to several groups. And one of the groups that I linked up with, I started exercising as of December 2 of 2020, I was in this group and I exercise daily. I’ll even post just to encourage other people just to keep moving because as you know, with the covid people put on Covid, they call it covid weight. And you can’t blame the weight anymore because now that you can leave out. But the social media has opened up like doors for me, again with the customer relationship, meeting people. So I post, maybe I’ll show a picture of me exercising and I do like a hoop therapy. I’ll do hooping. That’s another group. And by now I think I probably joined over 200 groups. But it’s like a lot of things that helped out a lot.

Dan

Yeah. I was going to say I was just curious about as you kind of went through that change specifically related to social media, like going from not really sharing to being really open and sharing about even sharing pictures of you exercising and things like that. That could be really scary. Again, fear again. I guess it’s coming up here. I’m curious how you overcame that fear and change your mindset about it again.

April

Melanie, I want to put Melanie Gainesburg, the person who signed me up with the brokerage, she really broke that fear out of me, even just to go on Instagram and do things. But then I went on Facebook, and that’s why I feel more comfortable with Facebook, even though I still do both. But my comfort zone is over in Facebook, and I just tried it. Even if you just say a couple of words, just say something. Hey, I’m April Johnson, Realtors. I was like, all right, I’m going to give this a try. And then when I kept doing it, when you be consistent with consistent, I was like, all right, I got this. This is a piece of cake. And I started learning, like, the different functions. You can add music, you can add different things. I’m like, this is really cool. I really got the push from Melanie. I give her all the credit on that one. Other than that, yeah. I was not a social media person, especially showing my face. That’s the fear you get. Fear you like, oh, how did I look? You think about all kinds of things. And she said, just go for it.

April

And I went for it.

Dan

I love it.

April

I went for it.

Dan

I love it. That is so great. And for anyone listening, Melanie has been on the show a handful of episodes back. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes as well, in case you want to hear more about Melanie and some of her career trajectory. Yeah. I think that everything you’re saying about sharing yourself. I feel like I feel a little bit convicted about it because I know that that’s a place where I struggle, even personally, even with all everything that I do, it’s like, do people really want to hear from me? Do people really want to see that photo of me or whatever it might be?

April

You’d be surprised. It seems like the silliest thing I do. I get more views and more comments. I’m like, really?

Dan

I love it when it makes sense, right? When you think about it from the other side of the screen. Like, people doing silly stuff. I love seeing people doing silly stuff and just being themselves. But it’s so different when it’s me and like, oh, I don’t know that I want people to see me that way.

April

Right.

Dan

So it’s just that vulnerability piece, I guess, is what stands out to me. So I just want to applaud your courage. I think, again, just your courage to overcome your fears, to become the next iteration of yourself. It’s really incredible to see.

April

Yes.

Dan

I’m curious if there’s any other areas of I don’t know, that personal growth, personal challenge. As you’ve made this transition and are continuing to make this transition into real estate, where else have you been really pushing outside of your comfort zone, and how has that gone.

April

Especially as far as with real estate? With me pushing outside of my comfort zone is actually a lot of people say, like, with the new technology out here, you don’t have to do door to door talk to people. Well, that works for me. And I actually had to get out of my comfort zone to actually do it. And then I realized that it really does work. I’m normally involved with the community, so I’m at community meetings and just talking about what I do as well. But I can say one thing. That fear kicked in one of our last community meetings and I let Melanie know. I say, you know, the gentleman asked, does anybody have any businesses here? And I froze. I froze and then thought about it afterwards and said, why did I freeze? But that’s okay. The next meeting is coming up. I’m not freezing anymore.

Dan

Yeah. So you could just own it. Yeah.

April

There are challenges for different things because it’s like the negativity. You don’t like people nobody likes nobody to say anyone to say no to you. That word. Something about no or even just the hang of hanging up on the phone. It hurts, even though it’s like a business that you’re doing, but you don’t like it. But when they say I’m failing forward, that’s my thing. I’m going to fail.

Dan

That’s great. And I imagine, at least to some extent, your work with the Postal Service has made you really comfortable talking to people, even though it’s still different. It may be a little bit more personal. You’re having to push a little more here, but still just being comfortable just talking with people, making conversation, introducing yourself, all of those things. I imagine that there’s some good skills that you’ve honed over the years with the Postal Service.

April

Yes.

Dan

It’s great to see how it all comes together here.

April

Yes, it comes together for a reason. It’s funny how everything just goes right back around in a circle. That’s how I’m looking at it. Anyway, sometimes you got to analyze, just think about your life and just think about the different things as you was a child. And then, like I said, I was into sales. So doing this real estate, it was set up for me just by starting as a twelve years old. A young child. Yeah.

Dan

That’s really beautiful. It feels like it’s maybe a part of yourself that’s been waiting to come out and waiting to get more airtime, I guess.

April

Exactly.

Dan

I’m curious. A lot of people who listen to the show are considering making a change. Maybe they feel kind of stuck in their career or their work or unhappy or unsatisfied. They just want more of something. And I guess there are two questions here. One is, have there ever been times in your life when you felt really trapped or stuck or uncertain of what to do next?

April

Yeah. I still struggle with that sometimes of being like I said, as far as with the negativity. But sometimes you do feel trapped. But I’m glad I’m doing what I’m doing just to keep busy. So my suggestion, I mean, they can actually follow me. I’m on Instagram, Facebook. I’m just starting my YouTube channel because I like to encourage people, even when I’m just exercising, not just all the real estate, but even when I’m exercising, I may throw in different quotes just to get people through the day. So sometimes it’s rough. Even like on Monday mornings, it can be really rough. So I just encourage people just to keep like I said, if you’re going to fail, it’s okay to fail, but basically just do it because you won’t know how it is if you don’t do it. But I know people get stuck. That’s just a normal thing. And it’s okay to be stuck, but don’t be stuck there forever.

Dan

That’s what you just said. There so good. It’s okay to be stuck. Just don’t be stuck there forever. And I feel like those are words I need to be reminded of regularly. So thank you for that. And for anyone listening, I’m sure that there are people who are just nodding their heads as they hear you say that it’s okay to be stuck. Just don’t stay stuck forever. This has been just so much fun, April, to have you on the show. And I know you already mentioned your social media and stuff like that, but for people who want to connect with you more or follow along with your journey, is there anything specific that you would like to invite people to if they just want to look at my website?

April

My website is aprilbrownjohnson.exprealty.com. If they want to look at that, we can even connect like that or connect through Facebook, April Johnson and Facebook and Instagram. Johnson, April or Instagram. And like I said, I’m just starting my YouTube, which again, Melanie pushed me to do that. So I’ll be starting that every now and then. I’ll do a TikTok, but it’s rare, but I’m starting to get into that, too. Tiktok is fun. So I like that one. I’m in a couple of social media, they can actually follow me next door. I don’t know if anybody know about next door. I do next door. That’s a great app. And you know what? Nextdoor is a good app because they have different groups, specific groups where person going through different things. And clubhouse. I’m with clubhouse as well, too. And I’m sure a lot of people may know about clubhouse, but you can follow me on that as well. Yeah, I’m in a lot of social media content.

Dan

I love it. Yeah, I love it. Well, I will make sure to add links to your site and your social profiles in the show notes that people click on through and follow along. Thank you. Thank you so much for just sharing so much of your story. And like I said, just your courage and to face your fears and to take on this transition. It’s really inspiring. So I really appreciate that.

April

Yes. Thank you. Thank you for having me. I appreciate this, too. And I hope I’ve helped people along the way. Like I said, it’s okay to stay stuck? But don’t stay stuck forever?

Dan

Yes I love it? I’m? Or many people are taking words of encouragement from you so thank you so much?

April

Yes, thank you.

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