Good question. Many times I've seen the work quality of highly productive agents suffer. Clients get frustrated, listings are left unattended and expire, but they still seem to get lots of listings. On the other hand I've also seen highly productive agents that get it all done with grace, a smile and strong customer skills.
For some agents it is all about the numbers of deals and for other agents it's about the personal connections. Agents are just about as diverse a group as you will see but they have to be self starters or they can't last.
I've been in management positions for most of my working life and I think Realtors are the most fun to manage.
You are right about the assumption on the part of the public but remember that si the way everything is marketed. Repitition is king, or at least it has been. You look like a young man and I'd assume you are from the millenium generation. You probably don't buy the repitition aspect of marketing and will go at your career in real estate with more social networking. But remember evidence of success is still important, people want to know that you can get the job done.