I sat down with our newest partner, Mike Postil, last week to talk real estate, family, martial arts and surf.
J: You’re family – how long have I known you now?
M: Well, I’ve been married to your cousin, Jessica, for 18 years now and I’ve known her for 21 years, sooo…
J: 21 years! That’s a long time. Amazing. Well – I wanted to start this off by asking you a couple of tough questions – you OK with that?
M: Sure thing. Fire away.
J: Alright then. T St. or Salt Creek?
M: <laughs> Salt Creek for sure.
J: River Jetties or Trestles?
M: Oh boy; tough one. Trestles – of course – but RJs for convenience. Trestles is too far and chaotic at times but I would prefer Trestles. RJs gets killer and I can get there on my bike, but Trestles is Trestles.
J: What’s the best time to surf River Jetties? Is there a season there?
M: It’s year round, which is good, but depending on the swell… it catches swells from all directions… but my first concern is if it’s raining and in the wintertime, I don’t want to be near it because of the outflow from the river; it can get nasty.
J: You ever bodysurf the Wedge when it was breaking big? I couldn’t do that.
M: That I’ve never done; I’ve been out there small days, but never when it was big. When it’s blackballed, I’ve bodysurfed and sponged some pretty good sized days on other jetties, but never there.
The Wedge in Newport Beach, August 27th, 2014
OUT-OF-STATE GUESTS + OC
J: If you’ve got friends from out-of-state and they’re not Californians, where do you take them? How do you show them the Californian experience?
M: Depends what they’re into; if they’re into the water, I’m going to take them all over Newport, maybe putt-putt them around the harbor in an electric Duffy, grab some food & a drink… if they’re into the beach, then I’ll take them down the Peninsula, we might go surf… If we’re looking for a quiet beach, maybe we’ll head south to Laguna Beach, or north to a pocket in Huntington… depends what their particular nirvana or zen state is. I might take them shopping at South Coast Plaza or Fashion Island; there are plenty of great places to eat in the area. Sometimes I’ll cook for people, we’ll BBQ or I’ll take them to Fujiyama or Buddha’s Favorite …
J: You’ve travelled; you just got back from Hawai’i yesterday and I know you’ve lived outside of the area… what do you think makes Orange County special?
M: Orange County is unique; I lived in LA County for a long time… I’ve been here for 20+ years… OC is planned really well; most of the neighborhoods are laid out nicely… there are beautiful beaches mixed in with rolling hills. The air is clean. You can go surf and hours later be hitting the trails on a bike, some are into horses, or go skiing locally – or do it right and go to Mammoth 😉 <laughs> We’ve got great school districts here . I can do so many things within a 2 mile radius of my house; I can surf, go to the Y and swim, knock out my martial arts, go pick up the kids at school in a minute, groceries are close by… when I was in LA County, you had to drive tens of miles to get things done; always nasty traffic… so much time of my day was driving…
J: I understand you’re a martial artist.
M: Well. There are ten billion other people better than me. <laughs>
J: You’ve been doing that for 20 years now?
M: 22 years.
J: Wow. Where did that drive come from?
M: I’ve always been an intense guy; I’ve always played sports. I’ve thought about it myself and I think what really got me into it was a fight I got into when I was a kid; I was beat up pretty good in 3rd grade by a 6th grader who should have been in 8th grade. I think that kind of tattooed me early on… then I was bullied almost every other day and I had had enough… I got into karate but I got bored with that and moved my attention to sports… I really didn’t get into martial arts until my early 20’s. I wanted to improve my situation. A friend introduced me to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and he asked me ‘What would you do if I grabbed you or if I mounted you?’ and I said ‘What? You mean if you get on top of me? I’ll punch and kick you and I’ll -’ and he and wrestled me down and got on top of me so quickly it made my head spin; I felt so humbled. I said ‘Where did you learn this?’ I went down that same week, that Saturday, met some of the gnarliest people around and never looked back. I’ve had plenty of injuries, broken bones – you name it – but I’ve always enjoyed it. This is my gig. I work with a good group of guys.
J: What secret science have you learned over 20 years?
M: < laughs> Well. Always treat people like they are blackbelts. Give them the utmost respect. Treat people well. Never assume anything. Stay self-aware and give people common courtesy. I think that translates everywhere in my life. From family to friends to strangers… treat people with respect. At least until they prove otherwise.
J: So – back over to real estate. There are a bunch of television shows about real estate right now and I think it is neat that people find the business sporting and entertaining. What do think happens in real estate that people don’t know about?
M: From my perspective, I think there is a perception that transactions are easy. <laughs> There is so much that has to happen. From initial conversations with clients, to sorting through everything on the market to finding them a home and then negotiating – winding your way and guiding them through everything that it takes to get that home or sell that home. Avoiding the pitfalls; watching out for signs on the horizon of trouble, be it from other agents, a lender, or the other party, to the transaction and then being able to navigate through & around trouble… it’s not for the faint of heart… there are so many wrinkles that arise and you need a calm, cool head to prevail to see your clients through… Sometimes that means getting them out of a transaction as much as through a transaction…
One of the best things an agent can do is buy or sell their own home; it gives you such great perspective and empathy for your clients. One of the first homes I bought with my wife had serious structural issues; the previous owner committed fraud and we had to fight for what was right. It wasn’t easy. The stakes are high no matter what the price point.
Real real estate is about being calm; not yelling at other agents and swooshing through a room waving your arms about how fabulous it all is.
J: Do you have a favorite kind of architecture? Something that really moves you?
M: I tend to lean towards Cape Cod homes… they build a lot around here in Newport. That said, I’m not a fan of the Nantucket style that are peppered with windows… Some of the classic Santa Barbara styles are really great. Modern & contemporary architecture I can appreciate, but for me, at the end of the day, I just want to sit down and relax in my home; some of the contemporary homes seem too “hard” for me.
J: You’re a father of three boys – what’s the hardest thing about being a dad?
M: I think the hardest thing is stressing and making sure they’re going to be OK. Just making sure they’re going to be alright. As I get older, I find myself becoming more like my Dad… My Dad said he thinks it is harder for my boys than it was for me… maybe its just because we know more… I don’t know… my son Braden – my oldest – I remember when we were surfing gnarly waves – 6 foot backs over a heavy reef in Maui – and half of me was worried crazy for him and the other half was stressing for me. It made for a tough time surfing that day; seeing him at age 14 paddle into and catch big waves, that stressed me out a bit… it was tough… You know though, what’s great now, is that fast forward three years and he’s 17 now and we just got back from surfing big waves in Maui – a hurricane swell -and he handled it like a pro. I can enjoy myself a bit more and relax because he’s gotten good at it. He’s a phenomenal swimmer.
J: So you had to go through that time then – you had to allow them to make mistakes and try tough things. I get that; as a Dad myself, I have to allow my grommets the chance to try difficult things and fail – and succeed sometimes, too which is great! But that’s easier said than done… your gut says ‘protect always’ and you want to intervene but I think that mentality doesn’t do them any favors in the long run; they need to fail so they can learn so they can improve and start to make their own informed decisions…
M: Yeah and now I’m going through it all over again with my 9 year old! <laughs> And you know, seriously – I’m really lucky to be here – I had a bad car accident when I was 18 and came very close to dying. I know one of the reasons I am here is to raise my boys; and hopefully I am here for a lot longer than that. Please. <laughs>
J: You’ve got beautiful boys. Huge credit to your wife, Jessica, of course as well. She’s an amazing woman. I don’t know how she does it all.
M: Absolutely. She is the best. An amazing business woman, great mother and wonderful wife.
J: Last bit here – you’ve been in Newport Beach for 10 years now and 10 years is just enough time to start to get the pulse of the city; you know when the wind blows a certain way what it means and there are smells you start to recognize; the city starts to become yours after a time…
M: I get what you’re saying, totally. September through mid-October is probably the best time of year here. Period. Bar none.
J: What’s happening then?
M: You still have warm weather; the water is still nice… it’s warm… you may get a few Santa Ana’s and killer combo swells… the tourists are gone; the kids are back in school, most of the college kids are gone – except for UCI and JC students… you just have the local crowd around… the familiar faces… it is a spiritual & magical time for me. The traffic is lighter. I feel lighter…
J: Yeah! I know what you mean; the season is coming to a close and beaches start to empty out… a melancholy wind will blow and you look around and the place is all yours… as a local you start to own it again… time alone in California… a private summer.
M: Yep! That’s why we live in Newport… winter can be epic too, but Fall for me… that’s the time.
Balboa Peninsula, Newport Beach, August 27th, 2014
J: Michael – thanks so much for sitting down with me to do this interview. I’m really stoked to be working with you. It’s going to be a good time.
M: Thanks for bringing me onboard.