Person of the Week
There are a lot of people struggling right now and if they are struggling, their animals are struggling, and if I can help even a little bit, it makes me very happy. I help people find houses … and save to help the many animal organizations I’m passionate about.
1. What led you to the mission of being a realtor?
For many years, I had been an administrator in public accounting. There was a merger in that company and a lot of people left, so I went to work for a consulting firm. However, I was very unhappy there and experienced something like a mid life crisis. People had said for years, “You would be a good realtor! You should go into real estate.” I loved homes and so that’s exactly what I did at the age of about thirty-eight.
I took a real estate class and the test, and passed it on the first try. I talked to a woman about joining her company. This company did very high-end real estate and I realized that if I didn’t know people there, I might not be able to succeed at this office. Her suggestion to me was to go to somewhere else, get my feet wet, and see if I liked real estate. If I did, she suggested coming back and talking to her.
I joined another corporate real estate firm. I thought being in that office would allow me to work with more corporate types of clients. However, I was picking up the phone calls from a location and about properties that weren’t where I wanted to concentrate on my business. So after a while, I left for another agency. I never went back to the first one. It was always a joke because the woman said, “Well, thanks a lot.” She was kidding about my becoming successful after leaving her company.
What was most important is that I didn’t want to be all by myself. I wanted the guidance and name of a big company. I could essentially be my own boss, collect my own commissions, negotiate everything with my clients, but not have to have my own company.
2. What does this mission mean to you?
I love helping people. Being a realtor allows me to help people find or sell homes. There is a satisfaction when you do help somebody and they are happy about it.
There are a lot of people struggling right now and if they are struggling, their animals are struggling, and if I can help even a little bit, it makes me very happy. I love animals, so I help the many animal organizations that I am very passionate about.
I’ve very active in the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation and have been for about twenty-two years. While that’s not a warm and fuzzy organization, they do help when people don’t have any regard for animals. I feel that if you learn to treat animals right when you are a child, you’ll grow up to be a decent human being.
I also like to help support the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society of Missouri, the ASPCA, and other different small groups. I also work with Elizabeth and Ben Niven at Dogwood Farm Kennel and Sanctuary in Troy, Missouri. (Note: In 2005, Dogwood Farm Sanctuary was established as a not-for-profit organization to protect animals. They have placed more than three hundred animals.)
3. What was your best day as a realtor?
I’ve been doing this a long time and my best day is when I have fun with a client. I remember one client. She had to crawl in the window of the home she bought! So, if I can go out and have fun with somebody, that is my best day — if I can make somebody laugh, or if I’m cracking up at the end of the day, that is my best day.
There are a lot of ugly houses out there, so I ask new buyers, “How blunt do you want me to be with you when I’m in a house?” I do want to be honest, but I also have to consider the buyer’s personality. Nine times out of ten, people will say, “Just give it to me.” You can tell the difference between a house that has been “glossed over” to sell, and a house that really has been loved. So, if something is really pitiful looking, I’ll just say, “You don’t know how well this has been maintained because it’s been lived in really hard.”
4. What was your worst day as a realtor?
There were buyers who I thought should really build their own house, but they ended up buying a preexisting house. They were so brutal and ruthless to the sellers. I honestly don’t know how the transaction closed and I wasn’t sure it was going to close even the day before closing. The buyers were sneaky in what they did. I got calls at ten at night – multiple times — just to talk about the transaction. That was very frustrating. I was exhausted mentally and physically.
I was juggling more than one client and so I had to continually shift gears. That’s OK, unless you’ve been doing it for thirteen hours, and then you get tired. I want to be there for my clients, but at some point, I had to say, “I can’t do this any more today. I have to stop, get my jammies on, and just go to bed!” I just had to say, “It’s going to be there in the morning. Let’s talk about it in the morning.” I think a lot of people see real estate as easy and that you just walk into pretty houses all day long, and you sell two or three houses a week. But that’s not true. You have to work very hard.
5. How did you survive your worst day?
I pray and I find myself being grateful. I read a lot of books that motivate me. If you think about some of the things that go on in this world, my worst day is a walk in the park. Compare my worst day to people who don’t have food or water, or they’re living in a war town area, or are abused or beaten by their spouses. I don’t have to deal with that. I wake up every morning and thank God for the day. At night I find three or four things that I’m grateful for. Sometimes I just have to say that I’m grateful I have two arms and two legs. I express gratitude even if I’ve had a bad day.
When the real estate market tanked, I was angry and thought I couldn’t do this any more. I was out there working, but not making any money. A woman suggested I read The Wisdom of Florence Scoval Shinn by Florence Scoval Shinn. The book is four books in one. Even though the book was written in the 1920’s through 40’s, the issues are the same as today. This book helped me through some pretty dark times when I thought, “I just can’t do this any more.”
And then my dog died. He was a great dog. He knew how to act and could come with me to work. I haven’t gotten over his death and I might never be able to. I read Shinn’s book to get me through and be able to say, “OK. I know I can do this.”
Since then, I’ve found other books that are so encouraging. I’m reading a book that says human beings are innately negative. The author states you have to train your brain to be positive. The name of the book is The Four Agreements, by Don Miquel Ruiz. He lists the four things you can do to be a more positive person. So that’s what I do. I continue to read and become more positive and more grateful for what I have.