I love March. Not only does it signify that warm weather is around the corner, but it is also home to my favorite sporting event: March Madness. It is appropriate that our Top Producer issue comes out in March, just as the top basketball teams around the nation are getting ready to show off what makes them the best in the country. I am very superstitious when it comes to my beloved Fighting Illini, so all I will say is this year is looking a lot better than 2008. This time last year, the University of Illinois basketball team had exactly 11 wins. Illinois went on to win just two more in the regular season, and an exciting run through the Big Ten Tournament left them with a record of 16-19. This was the first losing record for my boys in orange and blue since 1998, and their absence in the Big Dance made my tournament bracket a lot less biased. Before I lose most of my audience with too many stats, I’m pleased to report that at press time Illinois has already doubled last year’s total with exactly 22 wins, has been ranked in the top 25 for a good few weeks and will finish the season with a winning record no matter what. The most remarkable thing about this incredible turnaround is that there are only three new players on the team, one of which won’t make an appearance on the court until next year. How did they make this transformation? Let me count the ways: determination, drive, passion, chemistry, training, love for the game and excellent coaching. Last year, Illini-nation was calling for coach Bruce Weber’s head, while this year they are back to singing his praises for taking a dismal season and molding the same players into a team that is fun to watch and loves to win. Every one of the reasons I’ve mentioned above for the team’s success can be applied to you as a way to become a top producer. That same passion and drive that can help a team win a basketball game can help you become a successful Realtor. It’s about giving it your all in everything that you do and never giving up. In our cover story, we spoke with a top producer in each of the six Chicagoland counties to find out how they are finding success and maintaining top-producer status. This is not a time to lick wounds and hope for the best, this is a time to work hard and make things happen. With two highly anticipated recruiting classes scheduled to arrive in Champaign starting next season, this was not supposed to be the year that Illinois made any noise. Everyone expected them to remain under the radar and wait until next year to make waves in the Big Ten. The same can be true of the real estate industry – this is not supposed to be a good year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be one. Take a hint from Bruce Weber, Chester Frazier, Mike Davis and the rest of the guys on the team and give it your all even when the world thinks now isn’t the time. You make your own fortune, so start making it now!