"I teach a plein air art class on landscape painting," my Buyer said as we looked at the spectacular bay views,"perhaps you'd like to join us sometime?" "I would," I responded, "but I have a BIG problem." "What's that?" he politely asked. "It's a talent problem," I replied, "as in . . . I have none!" "Talent," he kindly responded, "is highly overrated . . ." (Thank you, I appreciate that.) I'm reminded of this every few years watching our Olympic athletes take center stage as they compete for gold, silver and bronze. No matter the sport, no matter their background, these young men and women have all dedicated countless hours to learning their craft, AND performing under heavy pressure when it really matters. Sure, they may have been born with excellent genes, a predisposition to high endurance, superhuman balance, and above average hand-eye coordination, but even so, they haven't found their way to Sochi by relying on raw talent alone - they've prepared for the world stage by repeating and perfecting their skills over, and over, and over. . . And so goes with any endeavor we pursue - whether we are swinging a bat, arguing in a court of law, or selling Real Estate (which sums up my family in a nutshell). It's the practice and the preparation that makes one excel above another. While it's true that the vast majority of us "simple folk" will never reach the exalted peaks of our extraordinarily gifted Olympic athletes, many of us will aspire for excellence in our own right - both professionally and personally. However (and this is the tough part for many of us to swallow) true excellence cannot be achieved WITHOUT a few tough lessons along the route. In fact, it's the challenges that create real growth and the willingness to risk that propels us forward. Sometimes, you have to just "get into action" and let the chips fall where they may . . . Much closer to home, my beautiful niece, Anna, is looking to "get into action" herself, having just graduated from the University of Washington and seeking to join the work force as a full-fledged adult. And while she's studied both here and abroad over the past several years, she really has no clue as to what it is she'd like to do from this point forward (being a grown-up is a BIG leap from sheltered student). To no one's surprise, a degree in "Art History" is largely theoretical. (Stimulating, but theoretical.) But that's to be expected; college isn't intended to be a trade school; it's about exposure to many disciplines. (Note to our kids, learn to CODE if you want job offers beating down your door upon graduation.) Nevertheless, these well-intentioned, college educated kids are anxious to join the work force and contribute. They're just not exactly sure how to do so. (I've got my own college student graduating in June so I understand the drill all too well.) "Envision the perfect job," my good friend, Lois, an HR director counseled Anna over lunch a few weeks ago. "Realistically assess your strengths and weaknesses, and THEN understand that you're first position will look nothing like it . . . What you're aiming for is an entry point and the opportunity to grow from there." In other words, it's not so much about one's talent, it's about the effort we put it in to it day in and day out. (Work, work, work!) Or as another friend recently reminded me who's spouse has made quite a name for himself at Pixar in Emeryville, "Computer Animation didn't even exist when my husband graduated from college. The company came about with hard work and vision." It's never been more true: there's a world of opportunity for those who work for it. So let's get to work. (Yes, of course we had to segue into Real Estate at some point. You didn't think I'd really let you off the hook; did you?) Whether you are selling or buying this spring, I am here to help and gratefully, I am not alone. With nearly 50 years of local experience, 67 full-time agents and a team of in-house marketers, graphic designers, photographers and Brokers, you'd be hard pressed to find a firm more in step with the East Bay marketplace, or more goal oriented then The GRUBB Co. In short, when you work with one of us, you gain the collective wisdom and experience of us all. (And isn't that nice? Yes, it is.) But don't just take my word for it, we've got market share graphs to prove it and I'd be happy to send them your way. They speak more eloquently than my words ever could (just send me an email request). Hey, let's go for the Gold. (And if anybody's hiring, please let me know! I know a couple of great kids who need jobs.) What's Happening? Rates went down this week as the stock market took a hit over concerns about China's weakening growth. (We live in a global economy!) Whatever the financial news du jour, rates remain historically low meaning that NOW is a great time to buy. (But please check in with your lender, lending criteria has also changed in 2014, making it tougher to qualify.) ARMS (adjustable rate mortgages) are back in play so there are several fantastic options from which to choose, depending on your circumstances and long-range plans.
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.