real estate

So much of our day-to-day activities involves rote behaviour.  Coffee, check.  Paper, check.  Email, check.  It is a robotron kind of mentality that keeps us moving forward.  Sad but true.

This past weekend was a wake up call for me to Snap Out of It!  I was confronted by my very own self and forced to face the realization that things were happening all around me, that time, that measurable yet sneaky thing, was slapping me on the shoulder, “How are you today, Ellen?  Been around a while?”  Well.  Now.

My very favorite daughter came home from North Carolina very early Saturday morning, about 3AM.  She went immediately to bed after checking in, got up at 6:30 to get her car inspected.  That’s my girl.  Actually that’s NOT my girl…I am far far from being slightly as disciplined as she.  But I love her attention to getting it done.

Once car inspections and a wee nap were over, off we went to sit outside Panera in Springfield.  We had lunch and talked details about things we needed to talk about.  And marvelled that we were sitting outside a Panera in Springfield.  Three months ago it was a dumpy Blockbusters, wasn’t it?  Left Panera and went to a bridal shop.

A bridal shop.

Me.  Her.  A bridal shop.  What is up with that?  She’s getting married?  I’m sorry; I do believe she is still three years old and discovering fireflies for the first time.  Married?  To that Brit guy?  Who says rawwwwnch instead of ranch when asking for salad dressing and wonders why no one understands.  I adore him.  He loves my Anna.  But marry her?

So to a bridal shop we went and she tried on a couple of dresses that vaguely smacked of her and Tina and Mandy dressing up in the good old days of innocent childhood.  She tried on a couple of others and oh-dear-heavens, look at you…you are a gorgeous young woman and you are a bride and I am so thrilled-happy-emotional that you are at a place in your life when your future really becomes your own.  So a simple dress becomes a gown that becomes the bride that marries her Dan.

Obviously that has some impact on me.  Every time I turn around there are changes in my world that smack me, often to my very core.  One has enlisted in the Marines.  One is getting married.  One works two jobs to pay medical bills from an ill-timed skate-boarding accident.  One is three and thinks his world revolves around Him!  Him!  Him!  My life.

Even work has its passages.  The office that has been my home for four years will be changing soon.  The view outside my window will no longer be the berm between us and Burke Centre Parkway but instead (if I squint), cherry trees and gentle light.  I embrace that.  It will give me new energy to charge into this next phase.  I may have to paint the joint myself, but I’ll be calling it ‘home base’ for at least the next year.  I hope that the people who drop in now to chat will find it possible to drop in there instead.  Better food choices, kids!  I swear!  Mondays are $5 burgers at Hard Times!

All of us have things coming up that involve time passing.  Last first days of school.  First first days of school.  New jobs.  New opportunities.  Time switching back.  Dark is early.  Cold is not the a/c.  Leaves will fall.  We can either run headlong, arms open wide, and grasp the change.  Or we can try to pretend  it isn’t happening to us.  The old ostrich move of head in the sand.

I now pronounce you man and wife.

Hell, I’m twelve aren’t I?  Or did I miss something?


Have you ever been somewhere or talked to someone who made you inspired to do better?  To do more?  To put yourself out there on that fragile limb that says I absolutely trust you?

I spent several days this past week in Denver.  I bonded with a tremendous group of people who not only are my teammates, but I would call them friends.  I met a slew of other folks that empowered me to think outside my little box here in northern Virginia.  Discovering opportunities that I didn’t even know existed … just by exchanging information with people.  And best yet….because RE/MAX Allegiance took seventeen of its Broker/Managers and Owners and staff to the conference, we are offered the opportunity to bring ALL our associates at half price to the convention in Vegas in March.  I’m feeling pretty lucky here right now, and I’m not even remotely CLOSE to Vegas.

I also learned a few humbling things.  I left my phone, inadvertently behind on my kitchen table.  I was able to ask Gwen to go out of her way to get it for me so that I wouldn’t be text-less.  Is that not selfish?  I cannot believe how plugged in I am.   Not that I had anything to do with the something-like-fourteen-hour-trip Gwen had from DC to Denver aside, thank you, friend!  My family was wondering who I was texting from random phones to make sure all was well in my home world.  (Note to self:  NEVER EVER EVER make a long distance call on a hotel phone.  Ten minutes = $23.46.

I was fired from map reading along the ‘trails’ of the Garden of the Gods.  It wasn’t MY fault, however.  They could have marked the trails a wee bit better wouldn’t you say?????  I also know that I will never be asked to be a partner on The Amazing Race.  That one stung a little; I’d always thought I would win a million dollars.  

An exceptionally important personal thing I learned is that Kathy Moore, aka Kathleen Fulton, is the best.  (So are you, Steve.)  I was originally scheduled to spend some time with them over the weekend and things shifted and whatnot…suddenly it was Tuesday afternoon and I am flying out the next day.  So what does my crazy, longest friendship from fourth grade do?  She convinces her Steve to drive an hour to meet me and catch-up and have a couple of beers at a really amazing out-of-the-way pizza joint.  Their faithfulness to our friendship makes me humble.

When I got back I was greeted with great joy and happiness by Niko, the scariest dog ever to live on the planet.  Amongst others who are not scary that are family and live in my heart.  It was 96 degrees when I landed back in DC.  But it felt like home as I felt beloved from the moment my feet hit the pavement.

Tonight?  Friday.  48 hours later.  How do I feel?  I feel empowered professionally because of the attention that RE/MAX Allegiance pays to making sure that everyone gets what they need in able to move forward.  It is almost ten at night and I am writing this on my deck.  I have a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt on.  The weather has shifted a bit.  I feel…coooooooool.  I have been caught up in a maelstrom that captures the essence of my life and makes me smile.  And worry.  And always always trust.  And I am part of something that is greater than I, and for that I am very thankful. 

Sometimes I have a sort-of goofy smile on my face.  I often don’t know why; perhaps my mind retreats back to retrieve memories that tweak a smile.  Tonight…my frogs are frogging.  The world is spinning on its axis.  And I know for sure that the sun will rise in the east….and I am absolutely guaranteed to turn my face to it.  Isn’t that right, my sunshine?

I am sure my five readers had given up on me.  It has been several weeks since I posted.  I did have a little bit of a bump on the head when a REALTOR (Seriously, can you believe it?  I can’t make this stuff up.), rear-ended my hokey little Honda Accord.  While I’m fine albeit a bit woozy(ier than normal), my biggest concern has been that I’d broken my witty bone.  I haven’t felt too motivated to be sharp and funny lately; and the creative wit has lapsed all together.  (And to silence all the jokers….no.  I will not be recruiting him.)

But just like the Honda, a little tune-up and repair job has me going at it again.  The biggest things that have happened over the past few weeks are that I became younger and more glamorous!  Ok, not so.  But some fantastic groups of people who have listened to me state my case about the Greatest Company on Earth have HEARD me and joined us.

Dave, Debbie and Matt Ingram are a family-based team.  I’ve been watching them for a few years now.  Boy, can they sell real estate.  They came from different paths in life and have taken the Springfield-Burke (etc.) area by storm.  It was with great pleasure that I am able to welcome them to RE/MAX, and I look forward to bumping into them in the hallways and by-ways of the Burke office.

Several months back I created a joke email for an associate that I’d also been stalking for quite some time.  I didn’t realize how concisely I dated it….it was a mock welcome to my company, dated July 1.  It said I hoped he would remember the little people that got him going and that perhaps every now and again he could deem it possible to nod his head in my direction.  In the midst of all my head bobbling, on 1 July 2010, Scott Pearson‘s license showed active on DPOR with RE/MAX Allegiance.  I cannot tell you WHAT a relief that is.   It’s been four years in the making, and Scott?  If you ever need help reading an ADC Map book, just let me know.

I’ve got some other pretty significant pots simmering on the stove right now.  It is an exciting time to be me.  And if twenty minutes from now I repost this because I forgot I already did it…bear with me.  Doing the happy dance about showing the reasons why no one sells more real estate than RE/MAX…it is quite the work out.  I love my job.

You know who you are.

Last year I even confessed that I’d broken two of the Seven Deadly Sins because of you.  I was patient, ever patient.  I even pretended that I was ok with what you were doing.  Yesterday, however, you broke my heart.  YOU, Steve Jobs, YOU and your lousy iPhone.  You teased me with 4G, and I am already with the 4G network, so wasn’t that a bit misleading?  You are staying with AT&T?  Say what?  Steve, you hurt me for the last time.  I’m finished with you.

I’m going to buy a Droid.  Yes, Steve, a Droid.  And I bet I’m going to love it even MORE than your stupid iPhone.  Because let’s face it:  Who needs to be able to play Farmville on the road?  If you do and you are reading this, I am sure that there are support groups that can help you.

I do need a smart phone.  We all do in this business.  If you aren’t running around with a smart phone, quite frankly you are losing business.  RE/MAX Allegiance has brought our company website mobile.  We will even provide you with the technology to bring your personal website mobile.  How cool will your tech-savvy clients think you are then?  Need access to your transactions?  DocBox-to-Go.  Yours.  Here you go.  Thank you for being an associate.  Now go take that vacation on the beach.  You work smarter, not harder with us.

And Steve?  You, the iSisters and iBrothers, Brian Block, Davidson….you all enjoy your iPhones on a sketchy network.  I’m Droiding you.

Now doesn’t that sound better than size 8 is the new 12?  According to Anne Klein.

The running habit is coming back…so much so that I finagled a way to get five in before getting Greyson to ‘school’ and me to work.  This achievement has made my whole demeanor that much more laid back; for a Type C- person, that is pretty darn laid back!  My lovely, sweet, older next door neighbor actually commented that it had looked like I’d lost weight.  When I thanked him and (kissed his feet), he then told me to keep it up; I needed to lose another ten.  The fantasy betrayed by the reality.

The largest problem of all of this running/getting back into shape/losing weight is time.  Balancing everything in my life has always been something of a sideshow act.  Perhaps a trained seal bouncing balls off of his nose.  Less than a decade ago with three teenagers and one pre-teen, working full-time as a Realtor, Queen of my Ingland domain etc; I seemed to have so much better grip on the minutae that keeps me bound inside these days.  Every Saturday, rain or shine, I would be up and on the trail doing my longer runs in order to prepare for the fall marathon that I’d decided to take on that year.  The daily mileage grinds were just keeping  the focus on staying in shape.

I don’t have the hours and hours to train that I, in my quick way of glossing stuff over, perceive that I had back then.  Somehow with one late-teen and one almost-three year old in the house, I’m exhausted.  So I’ve decided that like Anne Klein changing her sizing measurements; I’m going to change my goal-setting so that it is indeed something that is achievable and not something that sets me up for internal angst and external hissiness.  I’m going to train for half marathons, or maras as one corny friend called them.  That is an achievable thing.  Yes it will take some time and commitment, but it isn’t such an overwhelming feeling in the back of my brain as counting how many Saturday long runs there are until the New York City Marathon (the absolute BEST!).  I beat myself up enough daily on other things.  Adding that is just overkill.

Running smarter makes me feel like I’ve got more control over my destiny than before.  Having the mental head-to-head with my ego and my sanity paid off.  I’ll even be able to work more efficiently as I won’t be calculating runs on in a down moment or worrying about the full charge on the old iPod Nano to get me four hours of music.  Sweet relief!

Working smarter is something we practice on a daily basis here at RE/MAX Allegiance.  The recognition that time NOT involved in real estate but instead with family and friends or solo with a good book….is what makes the real estate time much more efficient.  We are constantly looking for suggestions that can shave a few seconds here, a trip to pick something up there, a signature that can be gained by an email sent from your smart phone.  Phew.  And to think that Anne Klein thought she was on to something!  We’re on to something.  It is called quality of life, and we believe in it.

Now that my run is out-of-the-way for today, my evening is clear for whatever pops up.  It may be racing cars in the cul-de-sac with Greyson, listening to the frogs coming alive for the evening or just sitting on the deck with a book that I’ll have to steal from a  neighbor’s as I’m out.  How smart are those plans?

Now, if I can just figure out a way to fit in the Novice Rowing Program that starts on Saturday…..

About five years ago or so, I received, courtesy of RE/MAX International a book entitled Everybody Wins:  The Stories and Lessons Behind RE/MAX.  I put it on my bookshelf, fully intending on reading it.  Heavens!  I WAS a RE/MAX agent, didn’t I need to know how I got here?  Of course as time passed the book moved down the shelf as ‘need to read’, ‘should read’, ‘hope to read’…etc.  Suddenly I found it foisted on myself as part of a group reading effort.   I am devastated that I never read it before.  What, pray tell, was I thinking?

I was supposed to read just two chapters…then four…but suddenly I had a heck-with-that moment and read the entire thing over a two day period.  I have highlighted, underlined, quoted…you name it.  I was influenced by this.  It made me realize just why RE/MAX is.  Who WE are.  Why I am with us and what I stand for.  Talk about humbling.  If I could only have half of the tenacity of these folks, I could move mountains!

It is not going unnoticed by me that I am talking in soundbites.  Because I can’t quite figure out how to parse what I’ve read and taken in.  The title of this post is “One is the Lonliest Number”.  It is derived from a quote in the book by Syd Syverston, “Dave, One log makes a lousy fire.”  (pg. 82).  It does.  The RE/MAX model is built on a bonfire concept.  Everyone has a log in the fire.  There is kindling.  When it lights, it warms you.  You are part of the fire.

When everyone invests, everybody wins.  We are all a collective of the whole.  The same group that talks about how “Eagles Don’t Flock” (Chap. 9) and “Shackleton Leadership” (Chap. 8)….are still there today.  The core principles that are RE/MAX still exist today.  Verbatim.  Nothing has changed, because when everybody wins, why should they?

The Leadership:  The leadership of the company remains.  People have come in, but they come in as welcome siblings to the family unit.

The Strategy:  We continue to grow, agent by successful agent, with Broker-Owners that embrace the Associates as co-owners in the dream.

The Dream:  Continuous learning, human development, and life success….and the technology to do so.

The Brand:  Brand awareness is paramount to the dream.  Every impression that is placed before the consumer has a local connection.  Television, radio, internet, signage…. whatever the medium….helps each and every one of us.

The Growth Formula:  How to grow?  Surround yourself with success.

The Core Principle:  The belief that RE/MAX is successful because its associates, the true customers of RE/MAX , are successful.  We work hard to keep you happy.

Nobody sells more real estate than RE/MAX.  Nobody.  That is not an empty promise. 

For those of you that do not know, I was born into a military family and have been involved in one fashion or another my entire life.  With that disclosure I have a very strong sense of what we owe our soldiers, sailors and marines for the sacrifices they make for us, the sacrifices their families make for us.

Davidson Lunger, one of the fearless Broker-Owners of RE/MAX Allegiance, along with a couple of his neighbors out on Kent Island, MD; embraced the injured men and women at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) in an all day picnic/fishing extravaganza.  The group that supported the endeavor and helped coordinate it is a group called Operation Second Chance.  Their mission statement: 

  • To aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded service men and women.
  • To assist in the modification of housing to accommodate disabled veterans.
  • To assist the families of wounded service men and women.
  • To facilitate the transition of wounded service men and women back into civilian society

How about that?  Pretty simple, yes?  How about no.  Often these folks haven’t the ability to buy some of the simple staples in life that we take for granted….toothbrushes, underwear….seeing their families often takes on a spin of the ludicrous with a spouse being able to visit the injured partner every other weekend and has to drive with the kids eight hours each way…in a car with 200,000 miles on it.  The love and commitment these folks share is an inspiration to us all.

At Davidson’s soiree last weeked there were amputees playing amazing games of football.  I probably would have cried had I been tackled.  One couple, a husband and wife, both military:  the wife had lost her leg.  The husband had lost his leg and a good portion of his face.  His glass eye?  The pupil was a Purple Heart.  The soldier that caught the biggest fish that day?  He had no fingers.

Who are our heroes every day?  I have a few that come to mind.  But my reader friends:  These folks are the real deal.  These are people that were willing to give it all up for me!    My favorite older brother’s best friend is a man named Brendan O’Connor.  He’s one of my heroes.  Because of him others are alive today.    You can read all about him through the link or you can watch him and his teammates during an interview that was on  60 Minutes a little while back.   That sort of do-or-die scenario is what is faced daily that brings our brave ones to WRAMC to heal.  To learn to live again.  To cope.

On September 11, 2010, RE/MAX Allegiance is going to be having a company-wide ‘cook-out’ , if you will, at Davidson’s digs out there on Kent Island.  The company will be floating the bill…and if anyone wants to, make a donation to Operation Second Chance.  That or giftcards to help alleviate some of the expenses that they face on a daily basis would be a great way to say thank you.  I’m proud of my company for doing something that feels so right to me.  I am more proud, no humbled, to be able to help out those who helped me.  And never even knew my name.

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