Johnson took a licensing class on a whim while working at a bank. "I thought it would be an interesting side gig, but it turned out I'd found the secret to life: Work ceases to be work when you love what you do," she says, "I love Mondays." Johnson worked for a couple of traditional brokerages but felt she could better serve customers with a discount alternative. In 2003 she opened an Assist2Sell franchise. Last year, her company's closed sales volume was $21.6 million.
Warming up to competitors: "Many traditional brokers didn't want this concept to come to the market," says Johnson. She's been able to improve the environment through kindness, professionalism, and respect. She even invites competitors to lunch to discuss how they can work together.
Personal mission: Johnson's four-year-old son has chronic renal failure and is awaiting a kidney transplant. To build awareness about the disease and sensitize kids to others' disabilities, she talks to grade-school and high school students about six times per year. "I try to make kids aware of differences so they'll treat everyone with respect."