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  • Writer's pictureChris Muellenbach

The Day that Took My Breath Away – My First Day on the Job as the Compass Real Estate Sales Manager

I woke up and the nurse told me I had stopped breathing for 15 minutes. This was on Monday, June

26th, the first day in my new position as the Sales Manager for Compass. It wasn’t a bad dream, it happened.


For my age, I consider myself healthy. I work out multiple times a week, I’ve completed six marathons, conquered a few mountains, and rode my bicycle in the two-day Ride Across Wisconsin last year, so when I went in to have my second surgery in 24 hours only to wake up and hear that I had stopped breathing, it again took my breath away.


My day was supposed to be a lot different. I was deeply honored to have been appointed the first Sales Manager for Compass in Metro Milwaukee. If you’re not familiar with Compass, you’re not alone. In Wisconsin, Compass has only been around for two years, and as a company, it has only been in operation for a mere decade. However, within those 10 years, it has not only emerged as the #1 Brokerage in the United States in terms of Sales Volume for the past two consecutive years, but it also genuinely prioritizes the well-being of its people, employees, and customers. The health, physical fitness, and mental well-being of its team are deeply ingrained as core values that the organization not only mentions in its company handbook but also actively advocates and stands by every single day.


I was incredibly excited to dive into my new role. Leading my first sales meeting on Tuesday and humbly embarking on this new position with many of the smartest Realtors in metro Milwaukee was something I eagerly anticipated.


However, fate had different plans. Over the weekend, a reoccurring sports injury began to flare up. By Saturday I knew I was going to be admitted to the hospital. I was hoping I could put it off until after the Sales meeting on Tuesday. But by Sunday morning, it was clear I needed to go in asap. My wife took me to an ER. They performed the procedure and sent me home. It all happened so fast.


Despite having a restless night's sleep, the excitement of starting my new job and engaging in numerous Zoom meetings with new colleagues and upper management from across the country energized me. One of my meetings, scheduled for 1 pm, involved nine other individuals. However, within the first ten minutes of the meeting, I had already sweated through my third shirt of the day. As I stared at my reflection on the screen, the thought crossed my mind, "All these people will witness me fainting right here, live on Zoom. I'll be 'that guy.'”


It was at that moment that I realized I wasn't well. My wife Katie convinced me that it was time to return to the emergency room. Things took a serious turn from the moment I was admitted. The ER doctor informed me that I had developed sepsis, accompanied by a fever exceeding 104 degrees, prompting immediate surgery.


By this point, it was Monday night at about 7:30 pm, and it was too late to find a babysitter. Consequently, Katie was at home with the kids, anxiously waiting for updates via phone calls. Thankfully, the surgeon kindly took the time to call Katie after the surgery and provide her with an update.


After the surgery, my breathing ceased. When I regained consciousness, the nurse on my left greeted me with a smile and uttered, "Hello! You stopped breathing for about 15 minutes!" In a daze, I couldn't believe what I had just heard, so I asked, "I stopped breathing for 15 minutes!?" That's when the nurse on my right chimed in, saying, "No, it was only around 5 minutes, and we managed to stabilize you without needing significant measures. We handled it with minor interventions."


For my own well-being, I decided to listen to what the nurse on the right had said first. However, for the sake of storytelling in the future, I wanted to hear the account from the nurse on the left as well.


One of the most heartwarming moments of that night occurred shortly after I regained consciousness. A doctor entered the recovery room and revealed that they were my neighbor, living only a few blocks away from my house. They inquired about my wife's presence at the hospital, and learning that she was not there due to our two young children being at home, they immediately suggested, "Why don't I have my teenage daughter walk over to your house and watch your kids so your wife can come to the hospital?"


It was an incredibly kind gesture that I never could have anticipated at that moment. That doctor wasn't concerned about customer service or how it would reflect in a review; they simply saw a person in need. I will forever cherish that act of kindness and carry it forward in both my personal and professional life.


I hope this serves as the most extraordinary "first day of work" story you'll ever come across. And I also hope that, like me, you can take away the positive aspects that emerged from it.


Thankfully, my recovery is progressing wonderfully. I finally feel like myself again. I'm adhering to my doctor's advice and taking it easy for a few days. Fortunately, I have plenty of videos and onboarding lessons to watch during my recovery, and I must say, I'm genuinely enjoying them!

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