The following is a chapter from the book REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate. I wrote this in 2013, around the time I launched my own real estate brand, DIGGS.
I spent 25 years convinced that I would never, NEVER, create my own real estate company.I had a lot of reasons for that belief, but it all boiled to one huge factor. I was afraid. Afraid of failure, of success, of heartbreak, of disappointment. I was afraid I would change into a person unrecognizable to my friends and family, that I would become the evil business woman caricature of the 80s, fabulously wealthy, but hideously wrinkled in spirit, character, and soul. Mostly, though, I was afraid to step into my light.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”
- Marianne Williamson
Who am I, indeed? Do you ever feel this way? Do you shrink from your greatness? Do you find comfort in playing small? Do you feel that, at some level, you do not deserve to be the fabulous human being God intended you to be?
The rest of the quote gets me, every time:
“Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- Marianne Williamson
It is time to let the light shine. As I am writing this, I am at the very beginning stages of launching my own real estate brand, DIGGS. It is the first step toward creating an entire company. I am scared to death and it is easily the best thing I have ever done in my professional life.
To understand how I was able to grow my belief, and the lessons I learned, it is helpful to understand a little bit about my journey.
I am the daughter of a “force of nature, defines professionalism, household name” real estate agent. To say I had a hard time finding and filling my own shoes is a bit of an understatement!
You are not the result of a single influence or person.
You’re the sum total of your life experiences plus your conscious choice of who you want to be. You choose. It’s not forced upon you.
I started my real estate career when it became clear that I was not employee material, approximately six months into my first job out of college. I worked for a humongous Fortune 100 consumer goods company and I didn’t believe in the mission (sell cake mix), couldn’t understand the point of daily reports, and I spoke my mind—frequently and unedited.
I did everything I could think of to fit in, including some truly heinous medium blue suits and a botched attempt at drinking cocktails, but nothing seemed to work. The best thing I ever did was stop trying and find something else.
Do not put lipstick on a pig.
If you don’t fit, don’t change yourself, change your situation.
I had the complete advantage of starting in real estate when I was young and innocent. I knew hard work and long hours were required, but I had no concept of failure. If there was an opportunity—answer phones, sit open house, write an article, show a house—I did it with no question of whether or not I was ready or likely to succeed.
Did I fail and make mistakes? You bet! But it isn’t the mistakes I remember 26 years later. It is the ways my naiveté led to spectacular wins. The first offer I wrote, cribbing from the sample contract right in front of my buyer, yet winning in an 18-offer battle. The For Sale By Owner listing—I called to see if I could show it to my buyer and then asked if I could interview for the listing because my training manual said to ask. I got the appointment, and the listing, and the malicious jealousy of most of the agents in my office who had also interviewed for the listing.
Don’t wait to be ready
That will never happen. Act as if you have it all together, and, faster than you would believe, you will. Your mistakes will fade, but your gains will create the person you were meant to be.
I sold homes for seven years in the Silicon Valley. During that time, my husband quit his job and became my support crew. It was the best thing we could have done, and it is a job he excels at to this day.
How did we work together as partners and as husband and wife?
An early mentor taught us the dangers of Hat Confusion. “Hats” are a good way to visualize roles, and hat clarity is the key to smooth communications. For example, in a money conversation, am I wearing the Wife Hat or the Head of Business Hat? Does he answer as Head of Family or as Support Crew? If our “hats” are misaligned, tension and misunderstanding ensue.
Understand the different roles or “hats” that exist in your relationships
We enjoyed a lot of success in Silicon Valley, but when we were ready to start a family, I had to go back home. Being far from family, once we had started our own, was not an option. We sold everything, moved to Glendale, and started all over again, from scratch and six months pregnant. In the middle of a recession.
Know your priorities in life
My priority was family over success and money. Restarting my real estate career was an adventure in self identity. I had been a Super Star and a Big Shot in Silicon Valley. In Glendale, I was Bea Jue’s pregnant daughter who was “getting into” real estate.
That I looked like a 16 year old, on a good day, did not help. That my mother was a real estate icon and hyper competitive did not help.
It was amazing how people defined me as an extension of my mother. It was even more amazing how much I bought into that same identity. I saw myself as a protege who would certainly be a great star someday, but whose time had not yet come. In hindsight, I realize that I was the only one putting myself in that box.
You are always in control of your box
You can tell yourself any story you want, and your mind will accept it as reality. Why tell yourself a crappy story?
Over the next few years I enjoyed reasonable success. I was comfortably in the middle of the pack and I wasn’t rocking any boats. My mother, always a “believer,” decided that we should sign up for a coaching program. It absolutely changed my life.
A good coach will challenge your beliefs and your stories. They will encourage you to identify your “why” and they help you find a path toward realizing it.
A great coach will identify and call you out on your BS and blow apart your excuses. A great coach holds you absolutely accountable and instills an unshakable belief that anything is possible.
I started with a good coach and doubled my business, twice. I wound up with a great coach, Steve Shull, and doubled my life, several times over.
With Steve, I learned how I was holding myself back. I learned how to take responsibility, how to dream big, and how to believe in my greatness. Could I have grown this much without his guidance? Possibly, but it would take far, far longer.
A coach is invaluable
You can’t see the roadblocks you set up for yourself, but your coach can. The sooner you get a great coach, the sooner you will fill your greatness.
In 2005, I realized that I was bored. I am a learning junkie and I love to acquire new skills and experiences. Selling lots of homes was uninspiring.
Fortunately, it was right about this time that the internet started to influence the behaviors of the home buyers and sellers. I realized that the internet would go far beyond simply letting the public shop for homes without an agent. I saw that it would fundamentally change the way customers would make decisions and how they would relate to their agents. If agents are not the gatekeeper of the listing information, what would our role become? I could not have been more excited, and I immediately started a blog and set out to learn all I could about the changing expectations of the buying and selling public.
Embrace change, because change is life
Almost everyone else is running from change or denying that it’s happening. There is great advantage and opportunity for those who recognize, and leverage, this basic fact of life.
Facebook became a huge part of my professional life in 2011. For the first time, I was in an environment where I wasn’t the crazy idealist. I found other agents, company owners, and consultants who recognized the real estate industry had massive potential for change and were passionate about finding a better way. Many of these people were smarter, more accomplished, and had fancier titles than I did, but it didn’t matter. I learned from them, exchanged ideas, and realized that I had valid and valuable ideas of my own. Because of them, I learned to see myself in a new light.
You are who you associate with
Choose your associates as carefully as you would choose your children’s friends.
And, here we are, back to the present. I have accomplished more than I thought possible and I am on the cusp of a grand, new adventure. This is the year that I turn 50 and I have to say that I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years will bring!
About The Book
Most real estate books fall short. REAL goes beyond mere tactics and strategies to focus on the core of what really matters - You. In addition to the authors' lessons learned, this book also includes contributions from some of real estate's most influential thought leaders: Marc Davison, Spencer Rascoff, Sherry Chris, Krisstina Wise, and many more.
If building a real estate business that lasts is important to you, this is a book you surely won't want to miss!