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?

It’s been a good week.

I got up about six-ish Monday.  My bedside table clock is set for fifteen minutes later.  Roll your eyes.  I already have done it.  Sometimes I forget to put my cell on vibrate and therefore get various dings/bells/whistles for things that I don’t even understand how to open.  But I do have some sort of weird internal alarm that has me on doze button about twenty minutes before the real deal.

Someone that knows me well had already texted me…good morning…..about two seconds before I realized I was awake.  Some0ne else (GWENNNN!) hoped I would drive safe and don’t text when I’m driving.  Oh heck.  You guys are taking all the fun out of a Monday roadtrip.  Seriously?

Heigh ho, heigh ho….it is off to work I go.  Starbucks coffee (with a straw so I don’t need to go  to buy a way-too-good-looking shirt)….(don’t suck in too fast, it will burn the whoknowswhatsit out of the back of your throat.  Just a friendly tip from me to you)

Long day.  Fun day.  LOVED meeting Regina, our great recruiter down there in Hampton Roads.  She will make us all proud, no doubt…not to mention she is an awful lot of good stuff to work with.  A personal favorite, Amy Carder, makes life a little fun for me.  And that puts her up in my fave list!  She brought Regina to  RE/MAX Allegiance’s  attention…and absolutely yes….Regina will build upon our already successful stuff.

Fast forward to today, Thursday.  Big storms blew in.  Trees blew down.  I sat in my car watching literal sheets of rain wash it clean.  There was no way-no how I was going to get out into that.  Especially since I no longer own a functioning umbrella.  Besides…great coversations can be had in cars when you can’t drive because you can’t see but the a/c is working so you are just relishing the quiet little slice of heaven. 

RE/MAX International’s Broker/Owner Conference starts on Sunday…so off to Denver I go.  Seventeen of the Broker-Owners/Managers/Staff will be heading out there.  It is going to be a really great event with a lot of networking, bonding, laughing…and perhaps a karaoke session?  One never knows.   I will miss my three trusty readers while I am gone.  Perhaps I’ll even get really crazy up there in that altitude and I’ll take fun pictures and post and blog from there.  My friend, Brian, says I’m really going to enjoy the running there.  Was he kidding me?  I’m really looking forward to finding out. 

Colorado will be a new state for me, but it won’t accomplish the dream I’ve established with someone.  Two down, forty eight GREAT ones to go!!!!  Next convention:  Vegas, March 2011!  At least that will be three!

Let the good times roll.

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 mapmyrun.com 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. 

My good friend, Brian Block, whipped out his calculator yesterday and did some simple math using figures from RISMedia and the Power Broker Survey.  If you doubt his work, check out this month’s REAL ESTATE magazine, published by RISMedia.

Here is just a little tidbit from Brian’s blog:  

RE/MAX Allegiance is ranked #22 in the country by total sales volume with sales of $2,598,955,784.

RE/MAX Allegiance transacted this volume of sales with a total of just 657 agents in 23 offices.  We’re not a small company by any measure, but let’s look at some other numbers.

Every single brokerage that sold more real estate than RE/MAX Allegiance had more agents.  The next smallest company ranking ahead of ours in sales volume had over 1,100 agents.

Sure, some of the companies ranked ahead of us in sales volume had mega amounts of sales, but consider the following.

RE/MAX Allegiance vs. Long & FosterLong & Foster Real Estate had a sales voume of $21,779,927,000.  That’s over 8X as much volume as RE/MAX Allegiance.  However, Long & Foster has almost 19X as many agents at 12,405 total agents.

That means the average Long & Foster agent sold $1,755,737 of real estate in 2009 while the average RE/MAX Allegiance agent sold $3,955,792.

 And, since I know you were wondering… the top Keller Williams brokerage on this list — Keller Williams Realty in Dallas with 12 offices and 1,578 agents — sold a total of $2,129,074,428 in sales volume or an average of $1,349,223.

BOTTOM LINE:  With almost $4 million in sales for 2009, the average RE/MAX Allegiance agent is anything but average!

You can read Brian’s blog here.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  I, for once, am at a loss for words.

I find myself at a period in time that forces me to look backwards and forwards and while the look backwards feels like a blink of an eye and the forward glance feels far-reaching; the opposite is true.  More of my life is behind me than in front.  I’m not sure when or how or why that happened.  Or why I didn’t really think about it until now, but it is so.

Seven years ago I was a successful Realtor.  I was making “Big Bank” as my son would call it.  I was married.  I had four beautiful healthy children, a growing retirement account.  You know:  Life was Good.  I had finished my sixth marathon and had three more to do before I got to this point.  Running was what I did; regular thirty five plus mile weeks.  I could eat and drink literally anything and my metabolism did whatever it does.

But life really wasn’t good.  I was working incessantly.  There were cracks in my personal life that hadn’t been patched in so long that they became crevasses and I found myself divorced.  My four healthy children suffered because of life’s changes and the penalty we all paid for that will last forever in both physical and emotional scars.

Suddenly the ‘big bank’ didn’t seem worth it.  I couldn’t quite summon the energy to show houses or even care.  Running, my salvation for so many years, disappeared.  Couldn’t focus.  Couldn’t get myself to force myself up the hill.  (Note to Realtors:  If you are dealing with a runner, do not let her buy a house that sits at the bottom of a hill.  She will curse you for years.)  The incredible ability to eat, however, remained.  And over the past five years I have managed to plonk on about thirty pounds.  It has been a swell(ing) experience.

The biggest change, however, happened when I looked at my life and realized that while I loved the money, really liked the cool cars and Bob Fletcher, it just wasn’t quite measuring up to what I needed, what Ellen Ing’s Life needed. 

So I quit.  I went in to Charlie to give him notice.  And he, silly man, asked me to stay on in a wholly different world, the recruiting world.  So here I am now; in a new phase that I actually sorta thrive on.

Three years later I am still here driving a ‘hot little used Honda’.  Bob Fletcher hasn’t given up on me; I still get cards on a regular basis.  I live.  I love.  I am.

Running is again becoming important.  EIC (if you don’t know, don’t ask) is something I’ve come to terms with.  Those thirty pounds?  Well half of them are still there.  I’m trying to lose the jello look and take on the lean fit look that I fuzzily remember.  I fit into clothes again that I’ve kept in my closet.  I’ve got a half marathon and a ten miler in my life in the next two months.

And I’m happy.  The balance is back in my life.  When I laugh I feel it.  I feel the joy.

Every day I meet with people and encourage them to change their lives.  I tell them that they will improve their business and that if you utilize the tools we offer, they will be able to work smarter, not harder.  And it isn’t a sales pitch.  I miss meeting with clients and seeing the ‘sale’ take place and their happiness at finding their new home.  But as I said to someone just yesterday, I am doing the same thing that  I loved seven years ago.  I am just it in a different arena but with the same feeling of satisfaction when someone makes a choice to change their lives, to play on a different, level field.  And to grow and flourish.  As Macrina says, ideas are grown here. 

So I am in the midst of life’s changes.  It is a good life.

What a great 2010 opportunity!  In spite of a difficult year last year, RE/MAX Allegiance continues to grow and expand its offices.  We’re so proud to announce the merger of RE/MAX Supreme Great Falls with RE/MAX Allegiance.  It is another way that we expand our footprint of offices throughout the area…and for you Realtors that always wanted a Great Falls address….here’s your opportunity for win-win!

You get RE/MAX Allegiance, the number one selling RE/MAX brokerage in the world with the tools and technology to help you arrive at your goals AND you get Great Falls!  How much better can it be?

Do you see yourself as a RE/MAX Allegiance Great Falls associate?  Let’s talk and grow in 2010!

Happy New Year!