Meridian Idaho Seeing Explosive Growth in 2016-2017

Meridian Idaho is and will continue to see explosive growth through 2017 based on the number of new building lots planned and permits filed by developers.  It is growing at more than double the pace of any other surrounding city in the area, including Boise.

Mike Turner is Boise Idaho Realtor, who owns Front Street Brokers - The author of books “Value Driven Approach To Sell Real Estate” and “Agent Entrepreneurs.” Mike is the host of the weekly radio show and podcast.  
Contact Mike:


How New Construction is Stabilizing or Devastating the Boise Housing Eco...

How New Construction is Stabilizing or Devastating the Boise Housing Economy

If you drive around the Boise area you definitely see a lot of building going on. A lot of home building can be GREAT and DEVASTATING for a local economy. Great because it feeds economies with jobs, and not just with construction jobs, think about all the materials that go into the home, the number of people and services that get involved with a new home, from building inspectors, realtors, bankers, insurance professionals, the list goes on.  

However, TOO MUCH new construction can be devastating to a local economy if it creates an oversupply of homes.

Watching the attached video you can see how new construction went out of control. From 2002 - 2006 the new construction market in the Boise area swelled up to account for over 30% of home sales (over 40% in 2006). This might be fine if a city is growing rapidly, but when it happens for many years in a row it eventually leads to an oversupply of homes and at that point it doesn’t matter how strong the local economy is. It’s Economics 101, oversupply leads to lower pricing. Once the housing market cools off then all those jobs and services fueling the economy begin to atrophy. We all remember what happened 10 years ago. It wasn’t a pretty picture.  

So the real question today is: Are we overbuilding the Boise market?

I answer this question in the video.

P.S. I focus on the Boise area market. The national and even regional housing markets are different stories. I’m watching the Boise market closely to see not if, but when the tide changes so I can alert my clients and friends. If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter GO HERE.

If you have questions about your home, about when to sell it or what you can do to maximize your sales price, contact me anytime at 208-340-8399 or

Are we heading for another 2008 housing bubble

Q: Do you see housing market bubble burst coming or another 2008 crash?

A: I don’t see a 2008 like crash coming anytime soon.  In fact, the 2008 crash was quite predictable based on what housing stats were showing at the time (which is why I’m such a junkie at analyzing housing stats, I learned my lesson from not paying close enough attention to housing stats in 2005-2007). When you examine the last housing bubble, you can clearly see major issues about to happen in a housing market when you look at the data.  I spell out in the video what would need to happen if we were to have another 2008-like crash in housing. That doesn’t mean we may not see a dip in prices in our market, but I don’t forsee that happening anytime soon unless interest rates jump up significantly.  I believe Boise is going to have another 2-3 strong years of growth.  I hope that doesn’t mean prices will continue to rise but they will unless there is a jump in interest rates or more homes are listed for sale then what we have seen in 2016.  

Mike Turner is Boise Idaho Realtor, who owns Front Street Brokers - The author of books “Value Driven Approach To Sell Real Estate” and “Agent Entrepreneurs.” Mike is the host of the weekly radio show and podcast.

Contact Mike:


1353 Overlake - Eagle Idaho - New Luxury Home Review

**This one has a Special guest appearance from my girls!

Here is a link to full Virtual Tour of the home:

Go here for more home details:

The first time I saw this home I literally stopped and stared for a minute once I walked through the front door. The trim work in the place is off the charts. Like nothing else in Idaho. What is also really cool about this home is that it has this grand and elegant great room, but it also has more casual and comfortable entertaining spaces, like the detached party house that we nicknamed "The Lodge" because of it's rustic and casual feel. The total sqft includes a 2 bedroom apartment and the entertainment lodge. The home was built on 2 premium lots in Banbury Meadows golf community, with some of the finest craftsmanship you will ever find in Idaho. To rebuild this home today would cost well over 2.5 million. Home has 3 Kitchens, there is 2nd higher-end kitchen in the "The Lodge" plus a full kitchen in the 2 bedroom apartment located above the garage. - Michael R Turner, Voice: 208-340-8399, Front Street Brokers, Main: 208-740-5000,

Why Boise Home Prices Are Up | Mike Turner Boise Realtor

Mike Turner is Boise Idaho Realtor, who owns Front Street Brokers - The co-author of book the “Value Driven Approach To Sell Real Estate” and host of the weekly radio called “Boise Real Estate Radio.”  
Contact Mike:

It's a Sellers Market, So Why Aren't More Sellers Listing Their Homes?

The Boise housing market is hot right now, WHY are so few sellers taking advantage of it right now?

On the 
FS Brokers radio show, [which airs live every Thursday from 3-4pm on 89.9FM and 93.5FM] last week, we discussed WHY we think inventory levels are so low. Here is an audio clip from that show.

Click Here For Audio

If it is such a good seller's market right now, why aren't more sellers listing their home for sale?

Here are four main reasons:

  1. A lot of people are looking for houses. There are still a lot of people moving to the Treasure Valley. Early summer is peak season for home sales. Demand is high right now in the Boise market -- and that's not true nationwide, so we should consider ourselves lucky. Demand is keeping inventory down.

  2. Many homeowners are not ready to sell . . . yet. If it's so easy to list and sell a house, why aren't more people doing it? For most people, their homes are simply not worth enough -- yet. Housing prices have largely recovered from the recession, but there are so many homeowners who bought in '05, '06, '07 . . . '08. After the market crash, home prices have slowly risen back to the value of most homes, just not far enough above value to make most homeowners want to sell.

  3. Builders are more conservative than they were pre-bubble. From 2001-'07, before the housing bubble burst, 30 to 40 percent of all home sales in the Boise area were new construction. New construction bottomed out after the market crashed, around 2011. It's been slowly rising, but even today new construction accounts for about 20 percent of home sales. That means a lot more people are buying resale (existing) inventory. Builders are more conservative now. They're not building as many spec homes as they did pre-bubble, which limits the total number of home sales in new construction, and effectively keeps the overall supply of homes for sale down.

  4. Home Buyers and Sellers are still licking their wounds. They remember the housing bubble and plummeting property values of only a few years ago. They're being a lot more conservative this time around. It's more difficult now to get financing, but there are plenty of qualified buyers. Buyers are proceeding with caution, being careful not to make the mistakes they made, or saw others make, in the past. There are a lot of homes sitting on the market today that are NOT selling. The reason: buyers are weighing their choices carefully and only acting when they find a good value. They want to buy smart. The frenzy you may see is happening in pockets around these homes that come on the market that priced right compared to other homes that are available. Sellers are being cautious too. They are not listing their home because they are not seeing the right options on the market for them to move into if they sell. Plus most sellers are enjoying a very low-interest rate on their home. They don't have any urgency to move yet. Hence housing inventory remains low.
Having a housing market that has a very low supply of homes for sale is typically considered a positive thing because it means the local housing market is very healthy and poised to see values increase.
The best part about the Boise housing market today is that we are seeing steady growth in our market, but without the crazy increases in home prices we saw pre-bubble. Buyers, Sellers, and Builders are for the most part being more cautious today, then they were 10 years ago. That is allowing a strong robust housing market to flourish without it getting too overheated. At least so far...


How My Adventures in the South Pacific Taught Me the Importance of Building a Tribe 

Growing up I was fascinated with the Indiana Jones movies.  Watched the movies countless times. I loved how “Indy” went on these wild and fascinating adventures all over the world when he wasn’t working his day job, teaching at the university.

I don’t know if it was fate, luck, or random circumstance, but when I was in the jungles of Vanuatu, trying to find a hidden tribe of people, I realized that I was on my very own Indiana Jones adventure.
I’d been hired by the production crew of the TV show Survivor. You know, the one where they drop off a handful of people in a remote foreign land—and these contestants have to survive not only the elements but being voted off the show by the other players. Well before they brought in the contestants, they brought in people like me (and others) to organize the logistics of operating a TV show in a remote location.

I worked for Survivor on a season when they chose Vanuatu as their destination, which is a small nation of 80 islands in the South Pacific. The capital city, Port Vila, had the usual amenities you find in most cities: hotels, grocery stores, bars, and a shipping port.

However, when I toured the area where the show would be filming, I discovered a handful of small villages where the people lived completely off the land. They made their own clothes and their own transportation (dugout canoes with outriggers). They maintained gardens and fished daily to feed their families. They didn’t use or need money. They traded with other tribes if they needed something they didn’t have. It was like going back in time. It was awesome.

The producers of the show needed to rent some of the villagers’ dugout canoes for filming. They didn’t know how to pull it off, so I got tasked with making that happen.

The people of Vanuatu speak Bislama, a pidgin language with hints of English. You can understand much of what they say, but not all of it. So on my first mission to speak to the tribes about using their boats, I brought a local from town who spoke English and could help translate. A boat dropped us off on a small island where we knew a tribe lived, and we asked to be picked up in three hours.

As we started into the jungle to find a trail or some sign of the tribespeople, I suddenly wondered how many visitors these people got. I wondered if our visit would be unwelcome or perceived as a threat.

I asked my translator where the tribespeople lived and if they welcomed visitors. He looked at me nervously and said he had no idea. Oh great, I thought. It wasn’t long before I sensed we were being watched.

A man appeared ahead of us and started talking quickly to my translator. We communicated our desire to meet with his chief. The man from the jungle gestured for us to follow him.

I had knots in my stomach, but at least we were making progress. Or so I hoped. The chief was a quiet, reserved man who wasn’t ornately dressed. I wouldn’t have guessed he was the chief except for the stoic confidence he exuded.

He gestured for me to start talking, so I began to explain my reason for being there. I did my best to communicate and show my respect while hopefully getting him on board with the production company’s plan.

The Chief sat and listened. Suddenly, he put his hand up for me to stop talking. 
I figured I had spoken too much or said something wrong. Without saying a word he rose and walked away. I looked at my translator and said, “What just happened?” He gave me that look again that told me he had no idea. "Oh Great." I thought.  Then the man who had led to the village told us to follow the chief. We did.

The chief led us to a small clearing, where he picked up a big stick (I’m not exaggerating), which he swung at this large metal tank that was hanging from a tree. This thing looked like it must have washed up on shore at some point. Every time the chief made contact with the tank, it rang out with a loud boooonnnngggg.

Villagers began to appear from the jungle in every direction and surrounded us. I stood there in disbelief. It was like a cool scene right out of a movie. However, in reading up on my Vanuatu history days before, I learned that these people practiced cannibalism at some point in their past. So as cool as the situation was, I felt more than a little nervous about where all this was going.

Once the villagers had surrounded us, the chief gestured for me to start talking again. I realized he just wanted me to share everything I was telling him earlier with the rest of the tribe. This led to excitement (not anger, thankfully) from the villagers. When I finished explaining, the villagers led me down to the beach where they kept their dugout canoes. Each family had their own. They took much pride in them. Some had decorated theirs with primitive paints. They all wanted me to pick theirs for the TV show, so each one told me the story behind their canoe and showed me how sturdy it was. It was great fun and an early glimpse at how genuine these people were.

During my time in Vanuatu, I had the amazing opportunity to meet with many chiefs and tribes. They got to know me well, as I helped coordinate the multi-tribe production shoot with the villagers’ canoes on the first day. After that, we hired many of them as deckhands on our boats.

They were some of the happiest and most endearing people I’ve ever met. They didn’t have any money, and their motivation for working with us was not money. They didn’t even know what to do with it once we paid them. They just wanted to be a part of whatever we were doing.

These native people of Vanuatu lived a primitive life, but they seemed to be always smiling and happy.

It was a good reminder that money doesn’t buy happiness. We’ve all heard that a million times before, and I believed that, but I also believed that money was necessary to provide comfort and security for myself and my family. However, I realized from spending time with these people that they seemed really at peace with not having money. It was an incredible thing to witness, and it has impacted my views about money ever since.

Don’t get me wrong—I love earning money. I love taking my family out to dinner without worrying whether we can afford it. I like to go on adventures with my family, which often cost money. Our society runs on money, so learning many ways to earn it is essential.

In my work life I set up my company around my own personal business religion, this helps me make decisions that correlate with my core values. For example, I want to be the best at what I do. I want to help my clients win, even if it means I lose money. I want to help the agents in my office succeed, even if I have to take a pay cut. I find that when I put others first, it pays me back again and again.

I have found that focusing on money first just produces short-term gains. If I focus first and foremost on the product or service I provide, it ultimately produces far more money.

Sometimes that means I outspend my competition to provide services that nobody else has the guts or the ability to offer. Sometimes that means dedicating far more hours to certain tasks than others do, to help ensure a better outcome.

Businesses that win are the ones that consistently provide the biggest value (or perceived value) to the customer.

If a business is going to charge more than their competitors, they better provide more value to the customer. I run a real estate brokerage from which many agents operate their individual businesses. These agents have the option to work at dozens of other brokerages in town. My brokerage is not the cheapest place for them to work, so my responsibility, as the owner, is to consistently provide them a value of working at my firm that is above and beyond what they can get from other brokerages in town. I want my brokerage to be the best value for them as well as the most fun, fulfilling, enjoyable, and profitable place for them to work.

Strive to exceed expectations without expecting more money or recognition; both will eventually find you.

For some agents, that “value” might be better tools and resources. For others, it might be a healthy and fun work environment. Others just don’t want to be nickeled and dimed with fees, while some agents focus on getting something from the brokerage they can’t get anywhere else. The agents are the customers of my brokerage, just like my clients are my customers for the homes I help them buy and sell. I am really operating 2 separate businesses, they just blend together so they appear to be one.

I’m very proud of the business I’ve built.  I’m proud of the agents that work in my office and I care deeply for them. They feel like my TRIBE. I believe that is why I enjoy my work so much, because I am supported and surrounded by a great group of people who have my back and I have theirs, just like the tribes in Vanuatu. They were happy because they had a place of belonging where people cared about them. They worked hard, but they worked hard together. 

I guess all that time on the islands of Vanuatu rubbed off on me. I didn’t realize how much until I started noticing the tribes I was forming in my life. Now that I have them, I can truly see the value and the impact they can have on your life and your business. My tribe helps me realize that life is not about being the lone adventurer. That said, I’m still a fan of Indiana Jones.


5 daily practices to get luckier in business


You just have to ask yourself one question. Do you feel lucky?

We’ve all experienced times in our lives (could be happening to you right now) when the cards just seemed stacked against you. The harder you try, appears to not have any impact at getting you closer to your goals. As if there is a glass ceiling keeping you from breaking into the next level of success in your business.  

In my first seven years as an entrepreneur, despite my efforts, my business always seemed destined not to grow, as if it had plateaued. I would constantly try new things to see if that would help me finally break into another level of success. I kept working harder and harder, but in the end, I seemed to always reach the same results as before. It was like running on a treadmill—no matter how hard I ran, I stayed in the same place.   

It is easy to feel like you are unlucky in business if your hard work consistently falls short of your ambitions.  

Frustration from falling short of my goals led me to seek out wisdom from other great businessmen and entrepreneurs. I found that many of these great men and women take similar actions on a daily basis to achieve their success. They create their own luck.  Here are my findings.

How to create your own luck.

  1. Take 100% Responsibility

Darren Hardy, the publisher of Success magazine and a New York Times best selling author, discusses this topic at length his book called The Compound Effect. In simple terms, it’s like when a child becomes an adult. It’s not when they turn 18, but rather when they no longer rely on anybody else to do things or pay for things for them. When they take 100% responsibility for their own life and their decisions.  

Where this practice becomes hard is remembering to take 100% responsibility when you are relying on others in business or even in a relationship. If you do something to help someone else, do you feel that entitles you to get something in return from them? Of course it would be nice if that happened, but if you expect it and it doesn’t happen, it leads to us making excuses and complaints for issues or problems that are not our fault. Someone else was the cause of it.  

Once you start reflecting on everything you get frustrated about at work and at home, you may see that you may not be taking 100% ownership of the problems that exist. Has an employee messed up a report they sent to a client? You could have looked it over first, or created some sort of internal check system before it went out. Your best client just jumped ship to your competitor?  You could have been taking them for granted and not striving to improve the business relationship or services you offer compared to your competitors. Frustrated by something your spouse is doing or not doing? What behaviors have you done (or not done) that could have led to this frustration you are experiencing with your spouse?  

Taking 100% responsibility for your failures is not easy practice, but once you take ownership of them they are easier to fix or avoid in the future. Plus, taking 100% responsibility for yourself has the added benefit of taking responsibility of your successes as well. Even if you got help along the way, your success would not have happened without you. Taking ownership of your successes helps strengthen your backbone of confidence. If you are going to create your own luck, you need a strong foundation of confidence in yourself.

take responsibility - darren hardy.jpg

2. Self-Educate

The late Jim Rohn is one of America’s most famous entrepreneurs because once he made his fortune he dedicated his life to helping others achieve success in business and in life. Jim grew up in Caldwell, Idaho and had an amazing rags-to-riches story: working as a store clerk at Sears to becoming a millionaire by his early 30s. Jim was a huge believer in seeking out knowledge. So many brilliant business people and entrepreneurs share their strategies and stories in books. He said a formal education will make you a living, a self-education will make you a fortune.

jim rohn self education quote.jpg

Jim Rohn also said the difference between where you are today and where you’ll be five years from now will be found in the quality of books you’ve read. I’ve found this to be true for myself.  A major reason I travel for months overseas with my family each year is that I was deeply impacted by reading Tim Ferriss’s book The 4-hour Workweek. Had I not read that book (and re-read it many times), I don’t think I would travel more than the occasional week or two like most families. A book can have huge impacts on your life and your business. If you regularly consume books and other resources from mentors and those who have reached the level of success you desire, you will begin to find your luck.  

Jim Rohn - learning quote.jpg

Don’t let excuses and the business of life keep you from reading books that can help you. If you are a slow reader like myself, get the audio version. Listen to books rather than sports or political news on the radio. Dedicate 20-30 minutes to a book or podcast before you put on your favorite show at night. Take notes while you read or listen to books. Write down action steps and key takeaways. Most top-level entrepreneurs and business people will tell you one of the key advantages they have in their industry is that they read more than their competitors. They educate themselves at a higher level.

3.  Practice What You Learn


What do Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney and Richard Branson all have in common? They didn’t finish high school. So how did they accomplish so much?  They learned and practice skills they wanted to be better at. Walt Disney dropped out of high school and ended up working for the Red Cross in France during the war. Reportedly his ambulance was covered from top to bottom with cartoons that eventually became his film characters.  

Michael Jordan - put the work in.jpeg

It’s great if you take time to learn by reading books and by seeking out mentors, but if you don’t implement and take actions from the ideas that inspire you, then nothing will change.  

As Tony Robbins says, “Once you have absolute clarity about the exact result you want and why you must achieve it, the next step is to take massive action to get yourself there.” Take swift and committed action when you feel inspired to find your luck.  

4.  Be Prepared for Opportunity

If the opportunity you’ve been dreaming of landed in your lap tomorrow, would you be ready? If you are seeking a new type of client, a new venture, a new job, a meeting with a specific person, are you ready to hit the ground running? 

Jim Rohn's father liked to say, “When it’s raining outside, it’s too late to fix the roof; when it’s sunny, the roof doesn’t need fixing.” Which means don’t wait for the opportunity to come along to get ready for it. 

Few things are worse in business than watching an opportunity slip by when you can’t jump on it because you are not quite ready to pull the trigger. Put the work in now, to be ready. Opportunities will come your way—we all can get lucky, but only a few who are prepared can seize the opportunity.  

kick ass - repeat quote.jpeg

5. Know When to Sprint

Knowing when to sprint is a skill. As a business owner, you have a million things you could be working on and a million other things that could distract you. Those who find the most success in their business know that when you land a great opportunity you sprint like hell to deliver your best effort on that opportunity. You stay up all night, you learn a new skill, you accomplish something you didn’t know you could even do, you go for it. You don’t clock out at 5 pm and hope for the best tomorrow. You go all in.  

Of course you can’t sprint all the time. Some do, and they burn out or crash. You have to work hard and smart to succeed in any business, but to get truly lucky in business you have to know when to sprint.  

Become Lucky In Business Today.

You’re reading this article; that’s a start. But reading motivational quotes won't make you successful. So go take some action right now and create your own luck.

Darren Hardy - reading quotes don't mean success.png

Dr. Ego (you’ve met him before)

“I was shocked to learn the tactics of one of the most successful agents in town.”

Last month I was at a Realtor function and I bumped into an Agent who I’d not seen in a while. She told me how she had recently moved brokerages, which surprised me because she had been working in a team with a very successful agent in town. When my friend saw my surprise that she left her team, she leaned in and told me why, 

When I say successful, I mean volume of homes sold. Her previous team leader sells a ton of homes each year and is well known throughout our community.

Basically, her previous team leader was always trying to squeeze more money and fees out of their clients while at the same time using their dominance in the marketplace to push clients to list their home at a price less than it should have been listed so it would sell very quickly.

“I was shocked to learn the profit driven tactics of one of the most successful agents in town was doing, it was clear she was putting her own business profit before her clients.”
Having a team leader or even a broker that is highly profit-driven, may seem like a good trait if you run and manage a business, but not when their profitability comes at the expense of their clients. That leads to short term gains, but inevitably that plan will backfire and their business will be the most vulnerable to market and industry changes.  

These profit-driven tactics were too much for my Realtor friend, so she decided to leave the team. I was proud of her. Had I known she was looking for another way to do business, one that was focused on getting the most money for her clients, rather than focusing on how much money she could earn from them, I would have encouraged her to come to my brokerage.

At Front Street Brokers we are very client-focused. I only want agents in my office that feel the same way I do. I don’t want to recruit a Mega Agent who sells a ton of homes each year, just so my brokerage can achieve more market share. I don’t need a Real Estate Supervillain in my office hurting the reputation that we worked so hard to build.

Click Image To See Article About "Dr. Ego"

Last week I got an email from Dawn Larzelier,

Dear Mike,
THANK YOU AGAIN for delivering yet another great newsletter! Your Supervillain series is hilarious, because it is so true!   

I appreciate Dawn’s feedback. I write these articles and newsletters in part to vent my frustration with my industry, but also to find a way to inform home buyers and sellers that not all agents are equal, and frankly some will cost you tens of thousands of dollars and you won’t even know they are doing it.

The Value Driven Approach
To Sell Real Estate
Last week on my Radio Show, I talked about The Six Fundamental Mistakes homeowners make when they sell their homes. Many of these mistakes can be traced back to which real estate agent is helping them with the sale of their home.

If you missed the show, you can still learn about these 6 fundamental mistakes in my book, but also how we can help sellers maximize profits by using our “Value Driven Approach” to sell real estate. This approach was initially created by studying Warren Buffett.

Warren Buffett has had tremendous success when it comes to investing in companies. This success is from his unwavering commitment to follow his approach and rules to investing.

With my real estate listings, I found the same to be true. If we diligently follow our value driven approach when we sell homes, we can ensure our clients maximum profits from the sale of their homes.

If you haven’t received a copy of my book or if you would like to gift the book to another homeowner just email me, and I’ll send you a free copy.

P.S.  If you’ve ever dealt with a “Dr. Ego” or real estate “Cheetah” l’d love to hear your stories.

In Morocco I Felt Like A Movie Star

It’s true—I stood next to a mostly naked Matthew McConaughey. I also dined with Penelope Cruz.
Before your imagination gets carried away, let me tell you how I came to spend months rubbing elbows with movie stars, and what I learned from that experience.

I went to a special type of college called a maritime academy. There are seven of them in the United States. They’re like military academies (we wore Navy uniforms) but most graduates don’t go on to military careers.
I attended California State University Maritime Academy (CSUM). In addition to getting a Coast Guard license to drive ships of any size, I also earned a business degree. I would go to sea in the summers, and during the school year I’d take business courses and classes to be a ship captain.

CSUM – often referred to as Cal Maritime. I lived and worked on that 
ship during the summers while I attended that school. 

CSUM is where I met my good friend, Harry. He enrolled in school to get away from his family’s business—they worked on movie and TV shows as maritime coordinators and boat drivers. When I met Harry my freshman year, he had just finished filming Titanic. He said James Cameron and the whole crazy production had burned him out, and he was looking to do something else.

Harry and I rowed crew together and were captains of our rugby team, so naturally we built a strong friendship. After college he got sucked back into the family business. One day he called me and said they’d landed a contract to work on a movie called Sahara with Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz. The contract would last a year and take them to locations outside of London, on the south coast of Spain, and in Morocco. Harry said he needed someone he could trust, and wanted to know if I was interested in a job.

I had two questions for him: “Is it okay that I don’t know one thing about the movie business?” and “Can I bring my wife?” He said yes to both, and we boarded a plane three days later.

Part of my job was to accompany directors and producers on scouting trips to Morocco. I would help determined if the locations that were previously identified for the film were suitable for the boats they wanted to take there.

I took this photo on a location scout while in Morocco. 
It was fascinating to see people using these make-shift rafts.

This was an amazing experience, exploring mountain lakes above Marrakesh, and little known villages along the Moroccan coast. I, of course, was in fake-it-till-you-make-it mode. Harry trusted that I had enough common sense to not screw it up.

Eventually the whole crew came to Morocco. They built sets and got everything ready, and then the actors showed up. I was stationed at the port town of Azemmour, where the Er-Rbia River meets the Atlantic Ocean. One day, I was eating with a coworker at our hotel when he suddenly kicked me under the table. I looked up at him, pissed about the pain in my shin. He signaled me to look to my right. Two women sat at the table next to us. (Outside of the U.S., restaurant tables are placed close together, so the women were only inches away.) I looked back at my coworker and motioned: So what? Why did you kick me? He mouthed the words, “Penelope Cruz,” which was when I noticed the famous movie star sitting next to me.

This was the 2nd day of shooting for the movie outside 
of London. I took this picture while driving a support boat.
I silently mouthed back the words: So what? Don’t kick me. I was desensitized to movie stars, as I had spent that afternoon standing next to a mostly naked Matthew McConaughey.

It was my job to familiarize Matthew with one of our jet boats. He would be filmed in one scene driving the boat. When I and my fellow crew members welcomed him aboard, he was very kind and professional. He was also dressed appropriately for the cold and windy winter weather. Like the rest of us, he wore multiple layers for warmth. After introductions and a walk around the vessel, we set off up the river to show Matthew around the area where we would be filming. That’s when things got weird.

Not two minutes after leaving the dock, Matthew McConaughey began to strip off his clothes—right there next us. My fellow crew members gave each other perplexed looks, as if to ask: What is he doing? When Matthew finished undressing, he wasn’t wearing much. It became clear that he wanted to work on his tan while we were out on the boat. We knew he must have been freezing, yet that was how the whole day went—us standing next to the exposed body of a movie star.

I can say with certainty that Matthew was all business when it came to his job. He worked hard and did not complain. I tell that story a lot, because when people hear I worked on that movie they typically ask about the two stars.

The real reason I bring up my experience in Morocco is not to talk about movie stars. It’s to tell you about the locals.

I loved Morocco, but not because of the sights (although I saw some amazing things). It was because of my interactions with the local people. To give you an example, when I went to a coastal village ahead of the production crew, there was just my wife and me, one other coworker from the marine department, and our driver, who spoke no English.

This is Azemmour, where my basecamp was set up. 
The movie crew built a dock in this location for a scene in the movie.

Typical scene of how many locals transport goods.
There were no other crew members anywhere. No one around who spoke any English. Yet I needed to accomplish a lot in a short period of time, so I told the head of the Moroccan movie crew that I wanted to hire a translator as soon as possible.

The next day I came out of our makeshift office to find a queue of about 20 men standing outside the door. They were all there in hopes of getting hired as a translator. I don’t think this town saw many foreigners, and they must have known the pay would be decent. They all seemed excited about the opportunity.

I just needed to hire one person, so I began to see them one at a time. I discovered that they all spoke some English, but my pathetic inability to understand their accent kept us from communicating.

My wife took this picture. She and my parents took these 
camels into the Sahara Desert to camp overnight.
I asked them only one question as they sat down in front of my desk: “Please say and spell your name.” Seems simple enough, right? But I had a heck of a time understanding or pronouncing their names. Trying to follow along as they spelled them was a nightmare.

I was awfully discouraged until the last guy sat down and introduced himself. He almost sounded American when he said his name—“Amir”—and spelled it out for me. I looked up at him and said, “You’re hired.”

I complimented him on his English, and asked how he learned to speak it so well. He said that he ran the music stand around the corner. He sold pirated copies of CDs and tapes. Much of what he had in his collection was American music. He smiled and sang a couple of verses from Snoop Dog. He’d been listening to American music every day for the last decade, so his English was pretty darn good.

A Moroccan Village on the outskirts of the Sahara.  
A few days after I hired Amir, he helped me hire other locals to prep the site and get ready for the delivery of boats and production sets. They all worked very hard and never complained.

I spent a lot of time with Amir. Every day he was by my side, helping me give directions to the crew members. He laughed with me when I did something silly, and he even started to anticipate what needed to be done. He would take care of things before I asked.

Amir accompanied me when the crew members invited me to their homes for a meal. I loved these visits, because I could see how they lived. I learned more about the people who worked next to me each day. They didn’t know the popular actors working on the movie. To them, I was the movie star. I went out of my way to show them respect and appreciation for their work, their home, and the meal. They almost burst with pride when I sat down at their table for a meal. This, in turn, made me feel like a celebrity. I would glance at Amir with a look that said, “This is amazing.” Amir would smile back as he enjoyed the experience with me. 

This is Amanda and I in front of the Hassan II Mosque 
(a gigantic landmark on the shores of Casablanca).
I was in Morocco for more than three months, and I got to know many of the local crew members well. They were some of the kindest and loveliest people I’ve ever met. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

At the end of my stay, I said my goodbyes to Amir. I haven’t spoken to him since. But I often think about those months I spent with him. Without Amir, I likely would not have seen the side of Morocco that I appreciated the most.

Before my trip to Morocco, it was already part of my nature to treat people with respect and kindness, no matter where they came from or where they lived. But what I learned in Morocco was that when you show genuine respect and kindness to those who don’t expect it from you, you surprise them. They often honor you back tenfold.

I don’t know how best to describe it, other than I got a glimpse of how it feels to be a movie star.