Today, the EXIT Realty Corp. International Head Office family gathers to celebrate the life of Bill “The Bald Eagle” Nasby.  Here, his long time friend, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Erika Gileo, reflects on his life and contribution to EXIT Realty, the real estate industry at large and to the lives of all who knew him. 

Bill Nasby was a true leader before that term was even popular.  When I first met Bill, he was a pioneer of sorts; a pioneer in reverse – he was coming east.  He had just left a successful career in Alberta with RE/MAX to start over in Ontario in 1985 at the age of 57.

I had an independent bookkeeping business and worked for a couple of brothers who ran an independent real estate company.  He convinced them to open a RE/MAX brokerage at a time when RE/MAX was pretty new in Ontario.   He was such an initiator.  I love this definition of initiator.  It is the chemistry definition, but it describes Bill so well, “An explosive or device used to detonate a larger one.” Bill was larger than life; everything he did was over the top.

Bill was always learning.  He was one of the first people in the Toronto area to be part of a mastermind group; one of the first people to use a laptop in his business.

Bill was so proud of his daughter, EXIT Realty MIND-SET Trainer, Erica Nasby.  She was the first of his children to graduate from university.  He moved heaven and earth to get her a new car because he promised he would.

Over the next eleven years I watched Bill and his wife, Raina, grow their business from scratch in a brand-new city and province and replicate and exceed his previous production.  Over that same eleven years I evolved into the office manager in the now two RE/MAX brokerages owned by these two brothers.    During that same time Bill and Raina traveled by bus across North America and made their way to Australia speaking to agents, all the while maintaining their real estate business in Toronto.  More importantly, during that time, I got to know Bill and Raina Nasby very well.

  • Bill always lead by example and he had a strong sense of fairness and integrity.
  • He always helped others without any regard for whether it would benefit him.
  • He was a goal-setter and like any good leader he made everyone around him understand his objectives.
  • I have heard EXIT Realty Founder and Chairman, Steve Morris, say many times that a successful person would proceed even though he didn’t have all the answers. Well, that was Bill.  He would jump in with both feet.  He was passionate about anything he embraced and so brave.

I knew immediately when we were presented with the EXIT opportunity in 1996 that I wanted him to be my partner in this new venture and he felt the same way.  Bill was 68 years old.  I was 38.   We were the first EXIT Realty Regional Owners (we called them districts then) in Canada.  We had not ventured into the United States yet.  Bill was the front man and I was behind the scenes picking up the papers that flew around when he walked into a room.

Bill sold the first EXIT franchise in the system; he took the first listing and sold the first home.  I remember that first listing so well because Bill and I thought we could probably convince Steve Morris to change the name of the company because it didn’t make sense to us.  When we were taking the picture of the first EXIT lawn sign with the sellers, the sellers said to Bill, “Oh I get it – you’re helping us to EXIT our house.”  From that point on we got that dumb idea of changing Steve’s mind on the name right out of our heads.

It was Bill’s passion that rocketed EXIT out of the gate in those early days.  I believe we determined that over 80% of the regions in Canada were sold to people in Bill’s circle and it was his passion that made them jump on board.  That generated the front end money we needed to continue.

Bill took it one step further and spearheaded those new Regional Owners, rallied them to get off their butts and make calls.  This was no easy feat.  One of the “mistakes” we made in the early days (and we made many) was to sell the regions in Canada to top producers.  The problem with that was that it was difficult for them to step away from their real estate business.  Not Bill; he burned his bridges and stopped selling real estate.  He was #allinforEXIT.

One of my favorite John Maxwell quotes is, “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” Oh, did Bill have passion!  Anyone who knew him was called a sausage at least once during the time they knew him.  But he was always so positive.  He ended every call with, “Have a wonder-filled day!”

Bill carried that passion to Florida when EXIT Realty entered into the United States late in 1997.  Bill had his first cancer diagnosis in 1998.  He was living in Florida, many times by himself and selling franchises can be a lonely job.  For a while my husband, Joe Gileo, was working with Bill in Florida, the two of them sharing a little apartment because it was our plan to eventually move to Florida to continue to build the Region.  If anyone knows my husband and Bill, two hard-headed Aries, it is amazing that they came out of that rooming arrangement alive.

We didn’t have any money in those early days and Bill was not selling real estate in Florida.  At one point during this time Bill contemplated selling pizzas to pay the rent because that’s how committed he was to launching our brand.  His biggest concern about doing this was that he would one day deliver a pizza to one of his prospects but it wasn’t because he thought it was beneath him.  I still remember how tormented he was about whether or not to do this.

You could always count on Bill to do the right thing.  I’ve seen him walk away from giant real estate commissions on principle.  We walked away from a few franchise sales as well.  As it turns out we should have walked away from a few more.

I remember one franchise prospect who wanted to purchase in the Florida Panhandle area.  We decided that we didn’t want him to represent us and we went to tell him that.  Bill was actually very nice about it and the prospect was not as nice.  I think it’s the only time I ever shocked Bill as it was usually the other way around.  I told the prospect that perhaps he was not the right man to get the job done.  It’s one of the few times I’ve seen Bill speechless but he still chuckled about it years later.

In 1999, we determined that we could both serve EXIT Realty better from the corporate head office rather than in our partnership in the Florida region.  I had just broken my back and Raina had been banned from the U.S. because she overstayed the 6-month timeframe (Bill was a dual citizen).  So in July, 1999, Bill had flown back to Canada and the two of us went on a road-trip which was to be our farewell tour.  The plan was to drive down to the States and visit all the franchises we had sold to say goodbye in person, meet our commitments for a last couple of franchise presentations and then pack up Bill’s apartment and drive back.

There is no doubt that Bill Nasby’s contribution on the front lines when it was needed the most was critical in the launch of this company.  He worked harder than anyone I knew.  And he continued to help all levels of this company right until his recent death.

But Bill’s leadership skills were not only limited to EXIT.  I had the great pleasure of attending his 85th birthday party and, more importantly the 50th anniversary of his sobriety.  When I saw how much the people in that room looked up to him and how caring he was towards them, it touched my heart.  I am so grateful to have had that opportunity.

Bill Nasby was like a father to me, a friend, mentor and partner and my life was richer because of him.