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The bull rider who swapped the rodeo ring for real estate

By Orana Durney-Benson
14 February 2024 | 10 minute read
Jesse van Nek REMAX gympie reb blgo6x

Jesse van Nek has had a wide-ranging career, but three qualities have always seen him come out on top: mindset, commitment and dedication.

A young Queenslander from the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Mr van Nek started out his career not as a sales agent, but as a professional bull rider.

During his time riding bulls, Mr van Nek travelled through all corners of North America, competing in 43 US states and five provinces of Canada.

In 2011, he was even named national rookie champion by the Australian Professional Bull Riders, winning a gold buckle that he still proudly wears to this day.

“I live by the phrase, ‘You don’t have to be somebody to be something in this world,’ and I really feel that’s an important way to look at life,” said Mr van Nek.

As a professional athlete, the end of one career spelled the start of another.

“When I retired from riding bulls, my body needed some time to rest,” said Mr van Nek. “Sales has always been fulfilling to me, and real estate being one of the only industries that is required nearly 24/7, it was a no-brainer to head down that path and take on the challenge.”

In his younger years, Mr van Nek had voraciously read books about business and wealth creation when cultivating his sports persona. Now, the values that those books instilled in him early on have inspired Mr van Nek to start up his own business.

He now helms RE/MAX Gympie alongside his fiancée and business partner, Teesh Ottesen, an experienced real estate professional who has worked in the sector since 2008.

It’s a challenging role, but one that Mr van Nek feels his experience with sports psychology has equipped him for.

“Visual imagery is something I had to practise to excel in the sport of bull riding, and I use the same in real estate,” he said. “If you can vividly picture where you want to be, and utterly desire it, it inevitably comes.”

An appetite for success has undoubtedly fuelled Mr van Nek’s progression in the real estate world, but a desire to help people has been just as influential.

In his own life, Mr van Nek has found meaning and purpose in offering his three kids an idyllic rural lifestyle, in a home that he and his fiancée built themselves.

“We’re not super materialistic,” he said. “We now love living on our block where we all have just under a couple hundred acres to live our desired rural lifestyle.”

For the real estate agent, becoming a business owner is a way to share this joy with others in the community.

“We’re in business to make money, however our purpose is to help people,” Mr van Nek said. “People skills are everything in real estate, and in my opinion, the quality of your business – personal or professional – comes down to the quality of the relationships you form.”

As well as helping local buyers, sellers and tenants find homes for themselves and their families, Mr van Nek welcomes the opportunity to help the staff on his team.

“We now have the opportunity to not only help the public buy, sell and create their wealth, we can now offer the winning feeling to our staff who wish to embark on a personal and professional growth journey alongside us,” he said.

Looking forward, Mr van Nek has high hopes for the area of south-east Queensland that he calls home. He has a hunch that Gympie “has not met its potential”.

“The land opportunities for developers in the region are incredible,” he said. “I believe as new developers catch onto what’s available here, the area will begin to see its true potential.”

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