The Post and Courier

Gene Kizer Jr. graduated magna cum laude from the College of Charleston in 2000 and now has written a book about how it’s done.

That’s remarkable in itself. But Kizer, broker-in-charge of Charleston Saltwater Realty, was almost middle-aged by the time he attended the College.

He had tried once before at the University of South Carolina and admittedly, partied too much and flunked out.

Kizer, of James Island, stayed in Columbia after his inglorious experience at USC. He worked various jobs, did some freelance writing and videography before getting involved with a pager business that was entering the fledgling cell phone field.

But he wanted to give college another try, this time in earnest. He enrolled at the College of Charleston, “busted my (behind)” realizing he had to make all or nearly all “A’s,” and graduated at the top of the class with a degree in history. He taught himself how to take good notes and went on to add “half a master’s degree” in English.

Armed with a college diploma, Kizer had more flexibility in his career choices. He picked real estate.

“It looked like an exciting field, helping clients,” he says. “It’s a real people kind of business.”

Also, home prices were soaring in the mid 2000s. “The market was super heated. It got me interested in real estate.”

Kizer joined Carolina One Real Estate and stayed from 2006 to 2009 before launching his own company, Charleston Saltwater Realty.

Carolina One, he says, is “a great company.” It helped him learn the ropes.

Since starting Charleston Saltwater Realty, he has been on his own, although his son Trey Kizer — a commercial broker — is joining shortly.

“I like it this way,” he says, noting it fits someone like himself who is more of an entrepreneur. “I can give attention to a few clients, shower them with all they want and need.”

Kizer, who works out of his home, plans to ramp up the real estate business including securing an office and possibly adding staff.

But he’s been focused for the past five years on a book that seeks to explain how to finish college at the head of the class. In July, he completed the book, Elements of Academic Success. He based the title on the famed writers’ guidebook, Elements of Style.

The 230-page book is an e-book but is set to be published and available on Amazon in a couple of weeks, he says. The cover, he says, is drawn from his College of Charleston memories — a chalkboard.

Kizer says he had considered such a book for awhile, realizing that people would want to learn some secrets about graduating magna cum laude. He pens notes when ideas spring up, and he found that notes about the academic success story were the most voluminous. That was 2007, and he started writing the book.

At the same time, Kizer enjoys writing about history and fiction stories. In the summer, he completed Charleston S.C. Short Stories Book 1 subtitled “Six Tales of Courage, Love, the War Between the States, Satire, Ghosts & Horror from the Holy City.” Bob Graham, who he knew from a joint project at the College and The Citadel, designed the cover showing a drawing of a Citadel cadet in the traditional Scottish kilt and bagpipe.

Kizer says he plans to write more, noting that he’s currently studying “50 Shades of Gray” and also reading Louis L’Amour novels with the idea of a book along those lines. He also intends to write about history, which is his “passion.”

Real estate, however, is his focus now. “Charleston is such a fantastic market,” he says. Kizer works with clients across the Lowcountry, including James and Johns islands, Mount Pleasant and West Ashley.

“I really enjoy working with buyers,” Kizer says, noting he has time to “pamper” them. Many buyers have a general idea what they want but don’t know for sure until driving around. Then it hits them. “It’s like love,” he says.

Kizer says that while son Trey will be joining his agency, he likely will be operating fairly independently under a separate agency name.

Gene Kizer has two sons: his youngest son PFC Travis Kizer just graduated from U.S. Army Ranger school at Fort Benning, Ga.

“I’m proud of both of them,” he says.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or