When you think about your career, have you ever wondered how you came to the exact point on the road at which you stand today? What started it all? What happy choices led you on, true to yourself, as you put one foot in front of the other and headed down Discovery Road?
A real estate colleague asked that question just the other day: "What is the reason you chose real estate?" I had to think about that for a bit. And so I began to look through dusty annals and fading photographs for clues. As I mused about my alternately brilliant and not-so-brilliant steps along the Path of Many Possibilities, I had to smile because with each step I took, I was true to myself. Suddenly, I recalled "sitting around the kitchen table" at Grandma's house - the family—three generations of real estate professionals—Dad and his brothers, the mothers, the fathers, the aunts and uncles, and the kids...all of us side by side.
I remember well the day I, as part of the family, was invited to join that conversation.
I felt as if I had been called in to make an important play from my seat on the bench, (photo of Little janieO) for it was the very day we joined together to form the family real estate brokerage. I was still a wee girl. I felt honored to be included....
“What shall we name our real estate firm? ” they asked all of us.
And, right away, I answered, “Green Fields.”
Now you may raise an eyebrow about my memory about something that happened a dinasaur's age ago. And especially when you find out how, also on that very day, a prediction was placed on the game table. But I can assure you, I'm pretty sure my memory of the event is accurate. Well, mostly sure....
You can speculate about the outcome, and I'll send you an answer if you send your guess here....that is, if you don't already know, or haven't been told....
Oh I’m not saying that the path to that real estate juncture was without twists and turns. Or that there are no more switchbacks to come as I skip along. I just want to point out little seeds were sown at a very early age, as they may have been for you, too.
Real Estate was Dad’s lifelong career. I, on the other hand, took a few "Detours" ...
Dad was not yet 30 years old when he started his career in real estate.
He "retired" to the golf links and sunsets over the ocean at the tender age of 52 having made his mark in the world...but, as you may know, if you love real estate, and that he surely did, you simply do not retire... you may reach the 18th Hole...and then decide to play yet another round.
Dad and his brother, Jim, (side by side here -photo) loved God, Family, the “Neighborly Way of Doing Business,” Golf, and The LAND. ...and the gift that is LIFE.
"...Under it all lies the Land...." had special meaning for Dad. He took his passion for all of the above and became a million dollar REALTOR® back in the day when that was an awesome accomplishment.
"There is only so much Land, ” Dad said,
“I hope your grandchildren can experience it as we do today."
These Real Estate Brokers, two brothers with one plan, not only left a legacy for generations to come, but, and this is really important, a model for the real estate brokerage business that has become a family tradition...as we travel the road ...side by side.
That legacy would, in time, include these two cousins...(- photo) and many more family members, friends and colleagues who are not pictured here...
Oh...OK. OK. I'll add a few photos at the bottom of this post. If you happen to read that far, please don't tell 'em...(just for fear of a little friendly retribution.)
Here you see Cousins janieO and Mike side by side...REALTORS® to be...
probably discussing real estate and the numbers of steps to take along the way...
7 Steps On a Path of Many Possibilities
Step 1- Teaching.
(This is a very good discipline for preparing to enter the practice of real estate, by the way.) I enjoyed eight (8) years as a teacher and guidance counselor. During those years I got to work side by side with colleagues who loved the chance to share knowledge and motivate their students. Most of my work was in experiential learning environments where I worked side by side with students and faculty. I completed my Masters Degree and began working on my license as an Industrial Psychologist.
(Also during those years, I continued to consider seriously Dad's advice about the Value of Land!. And, anyway, green fields and nature always have been on my brain ...)
Here is a funny photo of me as a young schoolteacher side by side with a favorite fern...with "green" on the brain …
Step 2- Career Coaching. Then, on a visit to my hometown, I met and was recruited into the career management field. I found myself happily stepping from counseling in an academic environment into a second career lane- as a Career Coach- (communication about priorities and objectives is important.)
Step 3 - Business Owner. Within a year, that opportunity blossomed into an entrepreneurial adventure- the birth and development of an executive search firm. I nurtured that gem for twenty (20) years. I was excited to collaborate side by side with some of the most talented marketing and sales engineers in the USA. I had a Blast, learned business operations, management and sales (also good practice for an aspiring REALTOR®.) Soon I opened offices near Ann Arbor, MI, Atlanta,GA, Ft.Lauderdale, FL and Seattle, WA.
Step 4- Business Developer. Listening to what is most important to clients, then locating exactly that , and then, side by side, negotiating to a happy ending was part of the process. (also good practice for an aspiring REALTOR®.)In the high-tech industry, winning such accounts such as Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems involved thinking on your feet and keeping up with the latest technologies. Big changes were taking place. As I insert the next photo, I note that, by this time, my hair was changing,too. (photo)
My high-tech associations provided the groundwork for the next choice on the path -
Step 5- Corporate Marketing Executive. I sponsored the partnership model of doing business into a number of computer software corporations who soon adopted that model. I use this model in my associations in real estate today. It is based on the theory that various opinions count, and that by taking a side by side approach, listening, providing authentic responses, successful communication works to lead to happy endings. (REALTORS®- sound familiar?)
I talked and traveled. And traveled and talked. And did that some more. (photo of janeAnne at a seminar)
It was at about that time that I created what I called,
“The Zen 100,” a self-programmed survey that matches your personality, interests, career objectives to employment options. One day, I took The Zen 100 myself. And, following my own advice, I began to invest in real estate- buying and selling homes where nature easily played a primary role. And, like many before me, found sanctuary on the Land.
Step 6- Artist. Fortuitous Detours
I moved to an Island.
I learned about "energy medicine."
I painted... BIG Canvases. Small canvases.
I wrote and had published a book or two about changing directions, business as an art form, and communication online.
And soon this educator and business person now author of energy-wise and wellness books discovered a new path that was also an old one.
I had learned that, after all, real estate simply runs in my blood. Back in the day, blessed with talent and twinkling eyes, side by side with his brother and other family members, Dad had built a successful real estate brokerage based on positive relationships in the community and with his clients. And way back then, with my family's guidance I had learned that whether in real estate, or in day-to-day life, change with compassion, listening, and "paying attention" really matters....and now I was ready to see how that all can come together in real estate....as, in the next step, I found myself delightfully engaged as the broker/owner of a real estate brokerage whose motto is..."Side by Side." I say, “found” because I “arrived” at this point, rather than planned to arrive here.
Step 7- Principal Broker/Owner. Focus: the GREEN-DREAM FIELD of real estate!
As to “why” I chose real estate, possibly it was the unique combination of the side by side philosophy and our family environment- possibly,an aptitude and/or enjoyment of the components of which the practice is comprised…entrepreneurship, organizational skills,a love of neighborly interactions, and for me, a love of nature. But it could be just Good Luck. =)
Yes, the focus of this real estate practice has to do with “Green Fields”- stewardship- where we stand side by side with nature
My path gracefully has come full-circle - and I live under a rainbow of possibilities here in the mountains of North Carolina,
where family roots go back on the Land around here (a couple of hundred years,) and a real estate practice is all about enduring excellence and sustainable innovation .
So maybe the choice is best expressed in the lyrics from a song I sang in glee club when I was in college... traveling a road...side by side
P.S. Schmaltz? Oh well! Now you know, I'm sentimental. Here's the Side bySide video...
performed by the original troubadour, Nick Lucas
P.S. S. Not long after coming home to Asheville in 2000, I launched Asheville Greenolina's Real Estate Firm. Over the years, it's been a privilege to come to be valued and respected by clients and the real estate community, especially for a particular expertise in properties that demonstrate innovation in Quality of Lifestyle and Life-Healthy-Built Homes®, beautiful golf course properties and communities, second and vacation properties, and Land Legacies. So here I am today…. in Asheville, the emerald jewel in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where this real estate path leads to "happy endings."
P.S. S.S. You may be pleased to know that even though many, many years have passed ... we carry on our family tradition....My esteemed cousin, Mike, (see photo above and below ) owns a real estate brokerage in Michigan. He's a great Broker/Owner. A fine golfer. And lover of the “greens”.After reading this post, Mike wrote to say:"As a little guy,my Dad would often take me to the "Headquarter For Homes" on Livernois...I would take my box of cowboys and Indians...and the office paper drinking cups made great teepees for my amusement while your dad and mine would work! As a 12 -14 year old I cut the grass...with hand shears around their spotlights....and I still have an [brokerage] metal yard sign in my garage....fond memories!!!! Coincidentally,I was at Cousin Ed s in Brighton just yesterday.....obtaining bottom line signatures for Ed and Darlene's son,Michael, and his wife Renee,for their new home ....We have been so blessed with the life and the love of our family!!! Cousin Mike Website: www.mikeodonnell.listingbook.com
And, JT, my son, is also a REALTOR®
Their advice:” Keep Your Eye on the Land Over Which a Rainbow Flies”
SIDE BY SIDE!
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