This time last year, we were buying new signs, sending proofs to Santa Fe for new business cards, and in my case, cleaning out an office that had way too much stuff in it until 11:30 at night. The first “day in the office” was November 2nd, but Hannah Parsons and Benjamin Day joined the tribe at Selley Group one year ago today on November 1st, 2010.
Both of us have experienced our best year ever. Hannah is closing five sides in six days right now. She has already had her best year ever, and I’m having my most profitable. But the signature of our first year together, which started with a lot of audacious, “we’ll do this better and that better” sorts of strategic planning is this: being.
Good writing isn’t supposed to use the passive voice in American English. You’re not supposed to get introspective and Shakespearean with your “to be’s and not to be’s”. The Bard was a deep thinker and what was going on beneath the surface – be it torment or motivation – was as important as what was going on above the surface. But American English doesn’t like the “passive” inner voice. It likes action verbs. It likes moving forward. The most American of presidents was Teddy Roosevelt, and he embodied everything American by constantly rushing forward in a whir. He was the Rough-Rider who took San Juan Hill for crying out loud.
Constantly rushing forward in a whir is tempting. Real Estate succumbs to 24/7 action-verb life pretty easily. On the surface, our production numbers this year are tangible metrics for what we’ve accomplished. They don’t even begin to tell the story however. The story starts in the passive voice of being.
This year has been a journey for both Hannah and I. Real Estate as an industry is in tumult. The failings of our industry caused the Great Recession and the continued sputtering in this enormous sector are continuing the malaise. We are surrounded constantly by the grouchy, the upside-down, the burned-out, the flighty and the burned. Real Estate for decades has embodied the American Dream for both practitioners and owners: start your own small business and be self-directed; enjoy the fruits, benefits and pride of home-ownership. Today, it embodies American Angst: live in fear of your business failing, act out of lack of trust, scheme, plot and scratch to keep your head above water; make all your decisions out of a spreadsheet, and allow the mistakes of the past to carry-over into the present and future where they are destined to reappear. We have begun year six of a less-than-thriving industry. The number of agents practicing in our business is down 40% from October 2007.
The origins of our partnership came from the problems of going 24/7 into American Angst, and the hope for something a bit better and more humane. There should be a little happiness in your work. You should have peers and allies. There should be a thoughtful perspective to share the results of a well test. There should be an empathetic listener when buyers’ choose to default. There should be a way to have a life for four or seven or fourteen days at a time without cell coverage. There should be a way to be a spouse and a parent without worrying about a transaction. There should be a way to not have to bring home the weight of so many burdens, every evening, every day.
Pikes Peak Urban Living is a joint marketing venture. Sometimes we share clients where I will do a listing and Hannah the buy side, and presently, behind the scenes, we are creating a fantastic, online, client-resource as a shared project. But what we’ve accomplished in our first year is a little more balance, a little more space, a little more focus, a little more perspective, and a little more presence. The culture of our business does not typically brag about increasing value per hour or being able to stay at home with a sick child or carving pumpkins on the front lawn on a 65 degree Sunday afternoon, but that’s what we wanted to be about when we started this 365 days ago, and that’s what we are becoming.
And there is that passive verb, yet again. It’s a journey. It’s not defined by actions and activities and metrics achieved and other metrics unfulfilled; instead, it is defined by Hannah being able and wanting to rush out to cover an appraisal appointment for me last Friday night when an appraiser scheduled an appraisal on a vacant house on 2 hours notice (instead of the usual 1-2 days) and I had Trunk or Treating with the kids and Amy was in Virginia. Or me covering for Hannah tonight at an appointment with an architect because she’s supposed to be at a closing that got delayed, and Bob can be home at that hour to be home with sick kids.
If this sounds to you like it’s all about us, well you bet it is. And if you’re wondering how this benefits you, ask yourself this: do you want an agent that’s tired, burned-out, making short-cuts in life and has no money in their bank account and therefore cannot give you advice without personal sacrifice or compromise? Or do you want someone that has an ally, a larger perspective and is making sustainable business decisions with constant accountability?
After one year, we can’t say at all “Mission Accomplished.” We’re on a journey. We’re trying to live a better story. We’re embracing the “be”. We can say we have cut superfluous chatter, reduced distractions, given it our all, and been happier with our business than we have in years.
Thanks for journeying with us as we embark on year two.