'Million Dollar Listing' Star's Football Background

Josh Altman

To see Josh Altman operating in his element is to see a confidently polished high-end realtor who refuses to back down from anyone.

Altman's life and hard-charging business acumen have become an open book as a star on the Bravo! weekly reality television series, Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, which chronicles the high stakes and ultra-competitive nature of the workplace environment Altman thrives in.

Since the start of his career, he has averaged $350 million in sales annually, setting himself as one of the nation's premier real estate power players, routinely dealing with celebrities and high-profile movers and shakers.

But to appreciate Altman in his element also requires perspective. You can focus on the sales figures and A-list clientele that help calculate his success as a broker or to zero in on Altman's cocksure television persona that brings a fair share of naysaying feedback to his social media channels. But Altman's rise to the top of his game must also measured by the road he has traveled to get him this point.

It's there, in years filled with uncertainty and trial and error experimentation outlined in Altman's new book It's Your Move that the 36-year-old Massachusetts native points to as one of the primary reasons why he is where he is.

It's a journey that includes a two-year stint as a walk-on kicker at Syracuse in the late 1990s, when Altman was part of a program that won two Big East titles with future NFL stars Donovan McNabb and Dwight Freeney.

The school's championship culture and ability to draw top talent played a major role in Altman choosing to walk on with the Orange rather than finding the security of a full-ride scholarship and ample playing time at a school that didn't provide the high profile Syracuse did.

Choosing Syracuse represented a calculated risk for Altman, who had a collection of other offers.

"I had two negatives working against me," Altman says in a phone interview with ThePostGame. "One, I was a walk-on, which means I was at the bottom of the totem pole. Two, I was a kicker, which means no one was going to give me respect anyway. It was an uphill battle either way."

Looking back, however, Altman wouldn't have it any other way.


As easy as Altman's success is to track these days, measuring his college football achievement isn't nearly as simple.

Altman Book

Altman never appeared in a game for the Orange, playing behind Nathan Trout, who still holds the Syracuse record for 10 PATs in a 70-14 win over Rutgers in 1998. As frustrating as it was to never get on the field during his two seasons, Altman locked in on the opportunity to be part of a championship team.

Like in his business life today, Altman found the value in surrounding himself with talented people, aimed at making the team successful without allowing individual aspirations to become the primary objective.

Still, Altman used the competitive environment to improve his kicking skills, following the same path as his older brother and business partner Matt had a few years earlier as a walk-on kicker at Colorado.

On a daily basis, Altman worked alongside Trout and his fellow kickers, turning routine practice drills inside the Carrier Dome into friendly competitions. Altman was fueled by his walk-on status and understood that by holding his own against scholarship kickers would somehow pay off -- even if it didn't happen immediately on the field.

Like now while surrounded by the myriad brokers working the luxury real estate market in Southern California, Altman never shied away from proving himself. Despite his walk-on status, Altman's style of going about his business wasn't lost on those around him.

"I would definitely view Josh as a very confident person even back then whether he realized it or not," Trout said. "He took a lot of pride in what he did."

Altman Syracuse Uniform

Altman, who starred in soccer in high school before turning to place-kicking, embraced the high pressure nature of the position. Although his preparation on the practice field with Trout and his fellow kickers never translated to in-game action, being ready to rise to the occasion of a game-winning kick helped mold Altman for the kind of multi-million dollar deals he and Matt Altman close on a regular basis while working for the Douglas Elliman brokerage firm in Beverly Hills.

The mentality in taking care of business when the time comes to close the deal carries over -- whether on the field or negotiating a high-price real estate transaction.

"In football, the entire team works their butt off and in the end, all the pressure is on you," says Matt Altman. "You're either going to kick it and be the star, or you're going to lose it and be the goat.

"Now, we can have a whole team and everyone can support us, but you've got to make a deal go through. You make a deal go through and we make a lot of money. If we don't, we're considered failures or we lose the deal or we lose the client."


As much as the Atman brothers' business revolves around success, being motivated by struggle has also been part of the equation.

A share of "It's Your Move" centers around the bumps in Josh Altman's path -- a part of the story that he says has never been included in his television experience in Million Dollar Listing. But when it came to writing the book -- which hits shelves Tuesday -- Altman says that being motivated by failure remains a key component in appreciating what he has today.

Altman Rings Fist

Before becoming involved in high-end real estate market, the two former college kickers began flipping houses, but not before having to work toward purchasing their first piece of investment property. When the two brothers first moved to Los Angeles, they lived in a fraternity house because it was the only place they could afford at the time.

Josh Altman worked in a mail room -- a position that toughened his skin and that forced him to deal with criticism on a regular basis. Altman equates starting from the bottom to his days of being a non-scholarship kicker, requiring him in both scenarios to creating his own niche and standing out however possible.

Doing that took Altman through working as a television production assistant or working in a men's clothing store or in a funeral home before the two brothers each put $5,000 into flipping their first condominium, making a profit of $200,000 in the process.

But the economic crash in 2007 also took its toll. Altman had become a millionaire by age 26, but was broke six months later. Working at the time in the mortgage business, Altman was forced to put chains on the door of his office as he had watched everything he had worked for disappear almost overnight.

Like with his time at Syracuse, Altman viewed the experience as a teachable moment, insisting he would never allow himself to be put in such a situation again.

Allowing people to see that part of his experience in his new book was necessary for Altman, who says filming for Million Dollar Listing10 months out of year only gives viewers a glimpse into who is really is. Now in his fifth season, nearly every facet -- both the good and the bad -- have become public record, sometimes making Altman a target for social media criticism based on what people see.

Altman Syracuse Helmet

"I've completely opened myself up to the world on every level," Altman says.

Like his younger brother, Matt Altman thrives on chasing victory, feeding off the love of sports he has Josh have enjoyed their entire lives. The two siblings remain highly competitive with one another to the point, Matt Altman says, of reaching unhealthy levels. But that need to play at the top levels rather than settling for something less continues to drive business on a daily basis.

"At the end of the day, this is just another game," Matt Altman says. "Unfortunate, neither of us were good enough to go pro (in football) so this is our next game. In a lot of our deals, it has less to do with money and more to do with winning."

For Trout, Altman's former teammate at Syracuse, seeing the point the former walk-on has reached isn't far from what Trout expected. Even in a back-up role with the Orange, Altman's work ethic stood out to Trout, who says he has seen only a few episodes of the weekly show, but who hears about Altman's success nonetheless.

While several other members of Syracuse's championship teams made their millions in the NFL, Altman has made his way, building off some of the lessons he learned in college despite never getting a chance to prove himself in a game situation.

"I would definitely say (Altman becoming a reality television personality) is out of the ordinary," Trout says. "I don't know if I'm surprised. Josh was always a confident person and you knew he was going to be successful in his own right at some point in his life.

Big East Rings

"I'm sure he had a few breaks here and there in his career and he could have gone a different direction, but he decided to work hard and go that direction."

Regardless of the successful real estate career Altman has carved out for himself, nearly 20 years since his Syracuse kicking days, he still carries thoughts of getting his shot at a 50-yard game-winner.

While his allegiances clearly remain planted in real estate, Altman wouldn't pass up the chance to step back onto a football field with the game squarely on his shoulders and experience winning in a way he hasn't up to this point in his life.

He is confident that if given the opportunity to train for two weeks was provided with even a one-day Arena League contract, the risk of returning to temporarily return to his football roots would be well worth the reward for Altman.

"I may pull every muscle in my leg, but I will not get off that field until I split those uprights," Altman says. "I would do it for free or I will pay (a team) whatever the hell they want to get out on that field.

"I would run with that all day long."

-- Email Jeff Arnold at jeff.arnold@thepostgame.com and follow him on Twitter @JeffArnold_.