Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Naked Truth (or, Why I Love Working in Real Estate)

I'm pretty sure there's not a person out there that is 100% happy with their job every minute of every day. Even the "Professional Video Game Tester" or the "Chief Chocolate Taster" or sometimes even the "Male Underwear Model Photographer" must have moments where they say "MAN, my job SUCKS!" Probably not often, but hey, it's gotta happen!

I had one of those days yesterday. First of all, let me clarify: 99% of the time I really do love my job. Real Estate is one of those rare careers where you can make a fairly decent living without needing to be a Corporate Slave, chained to a desk for 8, 10 or 12 hours a day. You can often (but not always) pick and choose when you want to work, who you would like to work with and how often you would like to take a vacation. You can also pretty much control how much money you'd like to make each year. I'll admit, it's a decent gig.

It is not, however, easy. In reality, helping someone to buy or sell a home is actually a very small part of what we do. We are frequently called upon to be marriage counsellors, appliance sales people, financial advisors, interior designers, tour guides, taxi drivers, couriers, photographers and mind readers. Clients have read my bio on my website and asked: "You have a degree in Psychology and you ended up selling Real Estate?" I reply: "You'd be surprised how much it helps".

I have been working in the Real Estate industry since I was 12 years old - June 1987, to be exact. Real Estate is in my blood - it's pretty much the only thing I have ever done. I was there when the market exploded in the late 80s, worked through the awful recession in the early 90s (a Real Estate office was a mighty depressing place to work in 1991, let me tell you) and enjoyed the strength and stability of the market in the "new millennium". I have worked in reception, accounting, marketing, training and finally sales. I became licenced on May 1st, 1997. In fact, as I am typing this, I realize that today is the 14 year anniversary of the day I sold my very first house. (H-section, Brampton, $130K, multiple offer situation. They say you never forget your first.....) Every day since has truly been an adventure.

The wonderful thing about Real Estate is that no two "days at the office" are quite the same. When you wake up each morning, you often have no idea what you are going to walk into through the course of your day. I was driving to an appointment this afternoon thinking about the less-than-stellar work day I had yesterday and took a walk-down memory lane thinking about some of the more fun and interesting days this career has brought me. The following story popped into my head and I felt it needed to be shared. Enough time has passed now that I can actually laugh at a situation which, at the time, I was convinced was going to land me in therapy.

I received a call from a gentleman one day who wanted to sell his house. Let's call him "Richard". He wanted to sell his townhouse because he was buying a condo-type property at the Four Seasons Nudist Resort near Guelph. He asked me if it bothered me that he was going to be a practicing Nudist. "Of course not", I replied, "whatever floats your....ummm....boat"

I gathered the information I needed for the listing appointment and planned to meet him the following day. When I arrived at his home the next afternoon, I was surprised to discover that he wasn't "planning to become a nudist", he was already a full-fledged practicing NAKED PERSON! That's right folks, Richard greeted me at the front door wearing nothing but a SMILE. Nothing they taught me in Phase 3 quite prepared me for this moment.

What did I do then, you ask??? Well I went in and gave a kick-ass listing presentation, of course! But first, I followed him around as he gave me a tour of his home. There was not a window in the place had blinds or any sort of curtain so it was a little awkward standing in the living room looking out the HUGE picture window with a naked man at my side. I also had to try REALLY hard not to laugh when we stood at the back door and I remarked about the size of his deck. Following him up the stairs for a tour of the bedrooms was equally fun (whatever you do NOT LOOK UP!!!)

It's truly amazing that no matter how hard you try not to look at IT, your eyes seem to have a mind of their own! Looking back, I am actually pretty impressed that I kept my composure long enough to survive the X-rated house tour. All I kept thinking was "Let's just get to the table so we can sit down and I won't have to see IT staring back at me any longer". We made our way to the kitchen and, wouldn't you know it, it was a FREAKIN' GLASS TABLE!!! Looked like I was going to be giving this listing presentation to Richard....and Richard Jr. At this point I began looking around the room for the film crew because this felt like a "Surprise!! You're on candid camera!!!" moment.

Of course, my husband, friends and a few colleagues enjoyed some hearty laughter at my expense over this one. Most everyone that I told the story to was quite shocked that I actually stuck around. He never did sell his house (maybe he decided he didn't have what it takes to be a nudist? I can imagine it would get awfully cold......), but he's still on my mailing list and every once in a while I'll get an email from him. If nothing else, it's a funny story that I can reflect on when I have a day like I had yesterday. Laughter is definitely the best cure for a rotten day at the office.

All in all, I love what I do for a living. It hasn't always been smooth sailing, but the good experiences definitely outweigh the bad. Real Estate may be unpredictable, stressful, draining and emotional but it is certainly not BORING! I am thankful to have had the chance to spend the last 24 years of my life in one of the most dynamic industries in the world.

But let's be honest, "Chief Chocolate Taster" would be pretty cool too!

J :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day 2: Count Your Blessings

Well, here we are - day 2 of my New Year challenge. I behaved myself all day yesterday - with the only questionable food item consumed being popcorn at the movies last night. I wish I could say that I awoke this morning feeling like a million bucks, but sadly the cold/flu season seems to have caught up with me and I sort of feel like I had a run in with a very snotty, sneezy, achy Mac Truck last night. I am quite certain that has nothing to do with my "healthy whole foods" choices yesterday - 'tis the season to be coughy.

Thankfully, my task for day 2 does not involve any physical activity or contact with others. I'm kind of hoping to stay in my jammies all day watching football and eating soup.

"Say Thank You. Make a conscious effort to be grateful. In the morning think of three things that you appreciate in your life. Starting the day from this place changes your mood and energy. In the evening, think of three things, people or moments that you experienced during the day that were positive or made you feel good" *

This exercise ties in with something that I learned during a motivational/ training seminar that I attended earlier in December. The event was called "Achieve 2010" and was hosted by a Real Estate motivational speaker that I have mentioned before in my blogs - Richard Robbins. The event was 2 1/2 days of fabulous speakers, sales training with a little dancing thrown in. There were a few AHA moments for me during this event, but one thing that I learned and planned to put into practice for the new year was "R&R" time (Reflect and Review). Richard suggests taking 15-30 minutes of time - preferably before the rest of your household awakes, if possible - and reflect on what you accomplished, review what needs to be done in the day ahead and be thankful for what you have in your life. He likened this practice to: getting up in the morning and reviewing the map before you head out on a road trip. You wouldn't just get up and start driving, you should always make sure where you're going before you get behind the wheel.

So, it is very fitting that my "to-do" list is incorporating this task right off the bat. Here goes.

Three things I appreciate in my life:

1) My healthy, smart, beautiful children. Granted, I can't wait to get them out of the house and back to school tomorrow, but I appreciate them nonetheless.

2) My husband/partner in crime. Even though he still hasn't learned how to change the toilet paper roll.

3) It was hard to pick just one thing for this spot. I am blessed to live in a beautiful country (cold weather and all), have a wonderful circle of friends, extended family and supportive colleagues and a job that I love.


As for the second part of the exercise, I ended up drugging myself up on cold medicine and falling asleep last night, so I couldn't finish it until this morning.

Three Things/People/Moments that Made me Smile yesterday:

1) Erin's home made "get well soon" card - signed "Erin, Peace, Love and Happyniss"
2) A yummy piece of birthday cake sent home to me from my nephew's birthday party (that I had to miss!)
3) A signature on an accepted offer (come on, not everything has to be mushy)

I am going to start incorporating Richard's method of "R&R" into my daily routine (or maybe even a little "R,R&R" - Reviewing, Reflecting and 'riting) It really helps to put things in perspective. I find that we really can get overwhelmed with rushing through the day-to-day busy-ness of our lives that we tend to not stop and appreciate all that we have. Often we complain about how much we have to do and how little money we have to do it with instead of saying "thank goodness I have such a full life!" I guarantee that no matter how rough you think you have it, there is someone, somewhere that would change places with you in a heartbeat.

Thank You.

J :)

* Source: Chatelaine Magazine, January 2011 issue.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Blog, New Me?

Well, I think this is the first New Year's Day in recent memory that I awoke with a clear head and not even the faintest hint of a hangover. On one hand, that means we didn't have a wild and crazy party last night, but on the other, I believe it is a fitting start to a year where my primary objective is to be a healthier, happier, fitter and more productive version of myself. I made some changes in 2010 that started me on the right path, but this year is the time to "kick things up a notch" so to speak.

In my Christmas stocking this year, I found a copy of Chatelaine Magazine. One of the cover stories immediately caught my eye - "Change Your Life in 30 Days - A Step by Step Guide to Finding Real Balance and Boosting Your Health" Well, Santa must be a lot smarter than I give him credit for - this is exactly what I need! (Although, Santa was sending some mixed messages, as the cover of the magazine features a positively scrumptious looking chocolate cupcake - the very thing I am trying to AVOID in 2011, but his heart was in the right place).

I flipped to the article and noticed that it was a "to-do" list, of sorts. There were 30 items, all small and relatively easy to accomplish, and the goal was to do one item each day for a month. Hmmmmmmm......I think I can do that! I didn't finish reading the list (better to keep most items as a surprise!), but I thought it would make for a good experiment for the month of January. Every day, I will complete one of the items on the list and blog about it. At the end of the month we will see if my life has "changed" as the magazine promises it will.

Most experts say it takes 30 days to form a habit (some say 21, but let's not be nit-picky). My secondary goal with this little experiment is that it will force me to write something every day. As many of you know, 2011 is "The Year of the Book" for me. By starting the year building a "writing habit", I should be on the right path to making some real headway with my future novel.

Now, for my first "to-do" item:

"Aim for 80% of today's food intake to be fresh, real and unprocessed. Avoid any canned, frozen, pre-cooked or pre-packaged fare." *

Sounds easy enough, right? In our house, we very rarely eat anything that is pre-packaged or frozen (thanks to my Executive Chef and Partner in Crime). However, when I am out and about and working, I have a horrible habit of grabbing whatever is easy, fast and can be eaten in the car. If you actually sit down and take a look at the nutritional value of what I eat when I am away from home, it is truly appalling. This is one issue that definitely needs to be addressed - not only on Day 1 of my experiment, but every day going forward.

I'm off to a good start so far - just oatmeal for breakfast! I'm heading out to Square One shortly for a little new year shopping (thankfully item #1 on my list wasn't "cut up your credit cards". That would have stung a bit). The real test will be passing by all that food-court fast food crap in the mall. Good thing they say willpower is always strongest on day one of any new challenge!

"We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not looking for flaws, but for potential" - Ellen Goodman

Wishing all of you the very best for 2011! Make it count.

J :)

* Source: Chatelaine Magazine, January 2011 Issue.