By Lynn Minnick
When I was first starting out in real estate, I was lucky enough to have an experienced agent take me under her wing. We were from entirely different generations, and had very different business styles, but regardless of our differences, the education I learned from her was invaluable and continues to shape the way I practice real estate today. Our relationship didn’t arise from any formal mentoring program like the one my company later adopted. She was someone willing to foster young talent, and I was someone eager to learn; the Yoda to my Luke.
She took me on listing appointments, had me co-host open houses with her, brought me to home inspections, and taught me to be supportive of and network with other agents. She stressed the importance of our business reputations. And through it all, I was in awe; when it came to real estate, she was utterly fearless, because she knew how to handle every possible situation and dilemma that might occur.
Beyond everything I’ve already described, here are some more lessons she taught me:
Prevent burn out. When she realized I was putting in 60-hour weeks, she explained how agents burn out and how we must balance our work by carving out time for ourselves to do things we enjoy. It’s important to make time for exercise, family, and friends. Now, I can immediately spot grumpy, miserable, burnt out agents. Even worse, these agents are clearly not enjoying what they’re doing anymore. I’m sure you’ve come across a few…
Set clear boundaries and expectations. I do this with every client at our first meeting. I tell them upfront that there are times of the day when I am not available and that I generally don’t make or take work calls past a certain time. If they feel that’s unreasonable, I’d rather refer them to someone else. Admittedly, this has gotten a little harder now that everyone texts to communicate and expects an immediate reply—no matter the time of day or night. Still, it’s an important conversation to have, and everyone seems to respect it once the boundaries have been set.
Pay yourself first. It’s easy to neglect funding your retirement account when you’re living on commission, but you MUST plan for the future. I always use my Yoda’s rule: 10 percent of every commission check goes toward retirement.
Give back by volunteering. While her non-profit of choice was—very appropriately!—Habitat for Humanity, I’m an active volunteer in my community, in our schools, and at my local board. The friendships and connections I’ve made are priceless. (And yes, I’ve had several transactions and referrals come from my volunteering efforts, but that’s just a bonus!)
Eventually, my Yoda migrated to another brokerage and now we don’t see each other much anymore. I like to imagine she has since taken in other new agents and helped guide them through those first few overwhelming months in the business. Recently, I felt like I was honoring her when a new agent from my office asked if she could shadow me during an open house. We spent the downtime between visitors sharing our favorite real estate apps and going over talking points about the town.
Did you have a mentor? Would you take the time to mentor someone who could eventually grow to be your competition? I’m so grateful for the selfless training mine shared with me. Without it, I wouldn’t be the REALTOR® I am today. So thank you Yoda. Sincerely, Luke.