On Wednesday, I was invited to the McGuire offices in San Francisco to participate in their twice-yearly "Boot Camp," which is designed for new licensees and seasoned Realtors alike.
In a series of short seminars over the course of several days, Agents learn everything from best practices, to online marketing, to digitally transforming our CMAs (Comparative Market Analysis) into more current, visual presentations. (That's a smart idea.)
Despite whatever clever, new tips we took away from our colleagues, marketeers (as opposed to Muskateers), and mentors, it takes real world practice to truly learn the craft of buying and selling homes, and I suspect, that's true of every profession any of us pursue. No matter the goal, there's no substitute for time and experience. (I hope my boys are reading this.)
What was I asked to teach?
Well, after nearly 500 Perspective columns, it should come as no surprise, that my role was to speak about finding your "voice" and then using it to set yourself apart from the competition; a skill set that every sales person needs to embrace (regardless of what they are selling) if they want to "go the distance." (complimentary lattes at Mulberry's Market for those who respond and know the movie reference).
Appropriately, I titled my talk: "Where's Waldo?"
Remember that book? The one you read to your kids, full of red and white stripped backgrounds, foregrounds, and every manner of item known to mankind? The goal was to find WALDO in a sea of people, places and things, and no, it wasn't easy. You had to REALLY work at it. (See where I'm going here?)
Unfortunately, the bar for getting a Real Estate license is fairly low: online courses, a state exam and a willing Brokerage, and voila; you're a Realtor! As a result, there are more Realtors than you can count. In fact, I'm certain, you've probably got a friend, a relative, or an acquaintance who recently got their license and would be thrilled to help you out. AND IF all Realtors were created equal, I'd tell you that's a great idea; that it doesn't matter who you hire, that we're all the same, but actually, we're not. (Where's Waldo?)
So what's the secret sauce?
How do you stand out from the pack?
What profound wisdom did I impart?
For me, it's been about consistency, growth, a desire to learn, a sense of humor, creative solutions, tenacity, the right attitude, incredibly THICK skin, accountability (and yes, sometimes I didn't get it right and had to adjust mid-stream), and an abundance of HARD WORK! (I guess it's not so secret after all, nor particularly profound.)
Writing "The Perspective" each week has been the opportunity to define the journey, to express my core values, and to clearly hone my "voice" (both in work and in life), to promote my listings, to honor my profession to share the successes and heartbreaks on a very personal level, and most importantly, to GROW! IF this particular brand of personal therapy has educated you, made you think, or elicited a chuckle at some point in time, so much the better. That was the goal all along.
These essays have also become my own weekly touchstone, but it's also what sets me apart, allows me to push your homes (in a sea of houses), and to create and control the narrative in a very unique and tangible way.
Should I be teaching others how to sing their songs; how to shout from the rooftops; and how to find their "voices?" Should I be freely giving away what I've spent years developing?
Of course, I should. Collaboration is the backbone of the Real Estate industry (as is competition, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition).
But truth be told, no matter how often I encourage others to go "find Waldo," few will follow my example (BECAUSE IT'S A LOT OF WORK; that's why), and that's too bad because if they did, they'd better understand what they bring to the process, they'd fine tune their message, they'd attract more like-minded clients, and they'd definitely stand out in the crowd.
Where's Waldo? She's right here. (You can stop looking now.)
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 14 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.