What a wonderful year! 2010 has restored my faith in many things and I just wanted to share a few of those events with the people that mean the most to me, my family, friends, and customers. My success is directly related to many of you who will read this and find yourself in at least one of the lines here.
I learned so much this year, as you often do in challenging times. One of the most valuable lessons learned early in the year was on transparency. I’ve always been an open book, but the lessons of transparency learned from a social media mentor opened my eyes even further. Truthfulness, clear motives, appropriate context and trust, those are the qualities of transparency I am talking about. With that said, and sitting in a few moments of quiet reflection, I thought I’d recap a few details about my year, about business and about relationships in 2010.
To start, and probably not to anyone’s surprise, 2007 –2009 were the worst years in my real estate career. I don’t mind saying it. Business declined to a point of nearly a complete stop for me and for many of my friends in the business, and each transaction was costly, time consuming, volatile and stressful. Months were spent with people who moved on without ever purchasing or grasping the true picture of market conditions when selling. Very few transactions went smoothly or without a lot of angst. (But, THANKS for the ones that did!) The stressors of these transactions brought out the worst in people. I saw my share of greed, anger, impatience and blatant lies and total disregard for the time or energy of others. I experienced personal investment property losses. I wondered weekly where money was to come from to help me continue doing the job I loved to do in helping others make good financial decisions. There were many sleepless nights, many bottles of wine opened at days end. Throughout this time, I still preached the positive, and begged people to stay away from the negativity of the media and TV, yet I was living the hell of an economy first hand, along with friends and with my customers.
Although one of my most used words these years was the “f” word, I was able to offer some positivity, I hope. One of my favorite sayings is, “You build it, they will come.” Straight from Field of Dreams. I truly believe this, and I got my ass in gear and began building.
Over the past three years, I have worked longer hours, 90 – 100 hours a week, learning, designing, creating a plan for the recovery. I am dedicated to being a Realtor, and it will be the career I eventually retire from, so, I just had to make it work again. So, I kept busy, keeping the eyes moving forward, and I surrounded myself with the best people in the business, not necessarily the wealthiest, but the ones with most synergy. Two years of work came full circle as business increased exponentially in 2010. I’m alive, I’m healthy so far, and with a little more help, business will continue to grow in 2011. Keeping busy does generate buzz and activity, and like the self-winding watches, movement creates energy. So, I am grateful for what I accomplished in 2010 and here’s what happened this year:
I was one of the Board of Directors for the Tallahassee Board of Realtors. Along with others, we made strides in growing membership and supporting others who were hanging on by a thread. It’s a support system that in invaluable. I was also the Governmental Affairs Chair, and what a two year challenge that was with the many elections we have seen! Working with local officials, candidates, other organizations to identify community issues this year felt like a job in itself! I can tell you this, every one of those candidates knows it IS time for changes. This should be an interesting next few years.
I was a Director for the Florida Realtors and served on the Public Policy and Emerging Technologies Committees. I made so many friends and acquaintances throughout the State this year, I can’t even begin to tell you how valuable that was for me. Our State Association is led and managed by some of the best people in the nation, and Florida Realtors are fortunate to have a leadership team truly dedicated to their member’s businesses. I also helped plan the first Real Estate Bar Camp in Orlando the day before our annual conference in August along with Lisa Walker and Chris Brown, aided by Chris Griffiths and Cyndee Haydon. This event changed the way many Realtors viewed the integration of technology in their businesses. This event has opened many doors for teaching others just a little of what I have learned locally and throughout the State. The best part were seeing those synergistic faces of the people I follow and interact with via social media. A now good friend, Paul Chaney, (author, “The Digital Handshake”), says it best when he says social media is just a mechanism to help build trust and create relationships through listening and sharing. Paul is one of many I plan on sharing my life with. Meeting others there, Doug Devitre, Lesley Lambert, Stacie Wells, Mike Mueller, Jeremy Blanton, Marci James, Bill Lublin, Katerina Gassett, Liz Landry, and so many more. These are the movers and shakers, the support of a real estate marketing network. Edgy. Fun. Giving. Super-Talented.
I traveled to Atlanta to attend RETechSouth, a real estate and technology business event in March, the National Association of Realtors Meeting in November, and met folks who I had been talking to for two years like Toni Lazzari, Missy Caulk. All from whom I gained more knowledge than in the last 8 years combined. More face to face meetings led to friendships and networking relationships that will last a lifetime like Kristina Cusick, Lisa Oden, Kristen Anclein-Jones, Susie Blackmon, Amy Chorew, Nicole Nikolay, Matt Fagioli, Lori Bee and others. Social media and the network of professionals I have met have brought four corners and areas in-between this big world closer to home. I am thrilled to be working with many social media experts and talented, productive marketers learning and sharing with others the success tools for their businesses. Referrals have come in, and gone out to many of these people, and relationships grow, trust evolves.
The National Association of Realtors Meeting in November was in New Orleans and I traveled with a group from Tallahassee and met many more folks from across the country at the Real Estate Bar Camp New Orleans. Again, more fun, more learning, more challenges as I implement what I have learned from other Realtors and industry leaders lie Tony Lazzari, Lori Bee, Chris Drayer, Elaine Hansen, Melissa DelGuadio, Lisa Heindel, Dawn Brickler, and Amanda Hall. Rockstars in my book!
This was a huge year with Dakno Marketing building me a fully involved website that people can use as a resource, including a Tallahassee, FL MLS home search tool feature that is unlike any other, and incorporating this blog for my ramblings, industry news, and market condition reports as well as tons of information about Tallahassee and the 365 Things To Do In and Around Tallahassee category of posts. I got a kick out of how many people actually called me for information on the Fourth of July event blog. There is still a ton of work to do… but, I’m getting there. I developed more networking relationships via @FloridaSunSales on Twitter and my Facebook Fan Page. There have many fun, memorable events, thoughts, and good information shared here for sure! The Tallahassee group is growing and the “tweet-ups” have been amazingly fun and wonderful avenues for exchanging ideas and business as well as life in general.
I was fortunate enough to have added an assistant to my team this year, a very good friend and a Realtor who shares my vision for the future, Susan Waldman. Another agent from my office is joining us and there are interviews for other team members planned in January. Good things are coming in 2011!
I was elected as President-Elect of the Tallahassee Board of Realtors, a big job, and one of the reasons I need an assistant and team! We always want to be available for our customers. This year I will travel to Washington, DC, Chicago, Anaheim, and even more travels in Florida representing my Board and will be attending a few speaking engagements. I’m looking forward to a year of service and learning even more about our association. Meanwhile, the team and me are working like maniacs with our customers.
This year in real estate and with my customers, I met wonderful people, many hard to leave as just when you get to know folks, they must move. Helping them sell homes, and then to relocate was thrilling. My buyers this year were in all ranges, from first-time homebuyers to investors. It was wonderful closing with one couple in particular who I shared eight years with, watching their son be born, remotely, and finally finding them the perfect home here in Tallahassee. I closed the year announcing to another expecting couple that we are in contract on a home they will raise their child in as well! I am thankful for each one of my customers and their patience this year with the process that has become harder, and harder. We survived!
Each face is special to me, each voice even more special and each hug the greatest reward of friendship. There are many more face to face meetings to come in 2011, many more people to help realize their dream of home ownership, of building wealth through investments in real estate and many more that I will have to say goodbye to. The lesson here, however is, via technology, we need not be so far apart, video, cell phones, even conference calls are the vehicles we will use to stay close to one another.
Of course, my greatest gratitude goes to my family, who does not see me as often as I’d like, but who are there to come to my rescue, to life my spirits, to challenge me and who support me.
Merry Christmas and here’s to a Happy, Healthy, Successful 2011 and many more face to face meetings and greetings. You know who you are, Diane Gurecio, Dana Moos, Kathleen Buckley, Amy Cesario, Tim McDonald, Clint Miller. It’s our year!