Create Opportunity for Others

Hope comes from believing that you can be part of making something better, and that is probably why Ebby Halliday is energetic and beautiful, even in her 90s! She never gives up hope, and, after decades of growing a business, she gave it to her employees and put a succession plan in place. Her Dallas-based creation, Ebby Halliday REALTORS is one of the largest privately owned residential real-estate firms in the US.


HATTIE: (Voiceover) Since 1945, she's been selling people in Dallas houses, and she's still in the office every day. This woman has built the road to self-employment for thousands. She's created a place where customers are served; and where people who want to work for themselves can learn how, and hundreds have succeeded. This may be the largest privately held real-estate company in the country, reaching its all-time best this year by moving 17,500 families into homes and ringing up over $3 billion in sales.

EBBY HALLIDAY (Owner, Ebby Halliday Realtors): And let's wind the clock back to age eight.

HATTIE: All right.

EBBY: I was living on a wheat farm in Kansas. And probably my first entrepreneurial effort, I sold Cloverine Salve. I rode my little horse to the neighboring farms and sold Cloverine Salve, and learned the profit motive. I made two cents on every can of salve, and put my profits back into ordering some more. My mother ordered it for me out of Kansas City.

HATTIE: What would the salve do for people?

EBBY: It would do everything, according to the print. It didn't matter: snakebites, bug bites, eczema, it was a cure-all. Then I went into Abilene, which was 18 miles away, to high school; and worked after school, Saturdays and summers in a department store, and perfected my selling skills.

HATTIE: Now did your parents say, 'Ebby, we expect you to work,' or was this just interesting to you?

EBBY: Oh, my dear, in those times when we were going into the greatest depression the world has ever known, all the banks in the nation closed the year I graduated from high school. And wheat was down to 10 cents a bushel, and even farmers were wondering where their next crop—and some, where their next meal—was coming from. So, a work ethic based in that economy— you worked to eat. So, I took a bus and went to Kansas City, which was the largest city that I knew about, and applied at the old Jones Store. The personnel department sent me down to the millinery department, and they gave me a job at $10 a week plus a small commission on my sales, and sent me to the basement department.

HATTIE: And that's where you started wearing hats.

EBBY: Yes. It wasn't until later that I traded my product from hats to houses. So, in a year or so, they transferred me to the W.A. Green store in Dallas, Texas, and put me in charge of the main department.

HATTIE: You just kept coming up.

This video appears in "Conclusions to Ecclesiastes" in Ecclesiastes and Work at