Fun & Fabulous

What (almost) playing a villain on TV taught me

After being edged out of this year's Big Brother Canada, Zolo agent Michael Jakobczak reflects on the four lessons he learned from his amazing, nearly-on-prime-time experience
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We’ve all heard the greasy car salesman jokes, seen the forceful real estate agent bench ads and at one point or another, we’ve questioned whether or not a representative was truly looking out for our best interests. So, when Michael Jakobczak was chosen as a finalist for Big Brother Canada Season 6 — after being a superfan for many years — he was ready to change the opinion that Realtors are all just snake-skin salesmen.

Lesson #1: Even in adversity, be genuine

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It was pretty much guaranteed that Jakobzcak was going to be typecast as a villain. He’s a real estate agent — a profession that consistently ranks only slightly higher than bankers and CEOs in the Insight West’s annual “Most Respected Professions” poll.

Realizing the stereotype he was up against, Jakobczak decided to use it to his advantage. During his audition tape, he wore a flashy checkered suit in front of a screen that displayed fiery red flames. When asked questions, Jakobczak answering in his typical straight-forward, no holds-barred approach.“I didn’t hide who I am,” explains Jakobczak. And the producer’s loved it. “It was an hour-long interview and the show producers clipped the video into a short reel of the pieces they loved,” explains Jakobczak.

Sadly, viewers didn’t find Jakobczak’s blunt approach to be too appealing. He was voted off — competing against “angel” competitor Merron Haile — before he even got a chance to enter the Big Brother house. But Jakobczak isn’t upset. “A client knows when you’re putting on a show. It’s better to be genuine because in real estate, client-agent relationships require trust.”



Lesson #2: Take a chance

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After watching Jakobczak’s audition tape, a few people asked him why he’d risk his reputation and career to be on a reality show. But Jakobczak didn’t see the participation in a reality show as a hindrance but as an opportunity.

First, he’s a big-time super fan of the Big Brother reality series, so auditioning was a no-brainer. “I felt I would regret missing the missing the opportunity to audition if I didn’t try.” (For those that don’t know, Big Brother Canada was originally cancelled from the air until its fan base petitioned to bring back a new crew for one more season.)

But a genuine love of the Bro-House wasn’t the only reason. Jakobczak wanted to use the show as a way to showcase his negotiation skills. “I’m constantly brushing up on my negotiation tactics and looking for ways to win big for my clients,” explains Jakobczak. “I felt Big Brother would be a way to showcase those skills, learn and highlight my brand of representation.” For Jacobcak, marketing is about exposure and even today, seeing a familiar face from TV is powerful branding.

Lesson #3: Don’t be discouraged

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Once the producers of the show had selected him as a potential candidate, Jakobczak had to go through interview after interview, while being subjected to a multitude of evaluations. About halfway through he realized the process was just an extreme version of meeting a client for a first-time. That’s when he began to see the interview process as a way to fine-tune of the more nerve-racking components of being a Realtor.

“Whether the client is buying their first house or selling their home, as an agent you have to put your best foot forward,” explains Jakobczak. “You need to provide relevant information, show the client that you are reliable and trustworthy without overwhelming the buyer or seller with t0o many choices or too much information. It’s a balancing act that must be practised and improved-upon,” says Jakobczak. Somewhere during the rigorous interview process on Big Brother, Jakobzcak realized that the first step is not allowing yourself to be discouraged.


Lesson #4: There are no limits

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Prior to becoming a Realtor, Jakobczak spent more than 10 years flipping houses and focusing on international real estate investing. During that time he realized that a little luck and a lot of hard work will go a very long way. As a result, Jakobzcak works very hard at his chosen career as a Realtor with He is constantly brushing up on his negotiation tactics and always looking for ways to help his clients achieve their homeownership dreams.

Early on, Jakobczak realized “there is no ceiling in direct sales. It’s endless growth and it’s a new challenge every single day.” This is important for this hard-working, driven agent.“You do need a little luck in anything you do,” said Jakobczak. “But it’s putting yourself in the right position to get that luck, that’s what counts.”


Romana King & Alyssa Davies
Romana King & Alyssa Davies

Romana is an award-winning personal finance writer with an expertise in real estate. She is the Director of Content at Zolo. Alyssa is a personal finance blogger who focuses on mixing finances with laughter. She is a content specialist at Zolo.

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