Between 2004 and 2006, I met with a local real estate agent for lunch. We agreed on Tuesday’s after he completed Caravan. During this time I was an executive at a software company. My time was very limited. But this was a special man and something told me I needed to do this. It began with his desire to become a customer of my company. In the course of becoming a client, he became something more â€“ a friend.
The Mission Grill
San Luis Obispo defines picturesque. A creek runs through the center of town fed by the melting snow off the Sierra Nevada’s hundreds of miles east. On the west bank of the creek is Mission San Luis.
Restaurants stretch along the east bank. Each has an outdoor terrace. Patrons are lulled there into a blissful serenity. The best view of the Mission is from the Mission Grill Restaurant. Robin insists we eat there. Outdoors. Facing west.
Our meetings began with him the student, I the teacher. Robin wanted personal instruction on everything he dubbed “technology”. One week it was tablet computers, the next it was exorcising the Kool-aid he drank at a recent Hobbs Herder conference.
“Your gonna kill me, Davison” he said at the start of one lunch. He slid a tri-fold brochure featuring a man fishing on a lake in Jackson Hole, Wy, across the table. “I want to do this so convince me why I shouldn’t.”
Sara, our server, brought the menus. Sara recently moved here from Boston. She knows that when serving me, she can be herself. I asked her if she could tell me what the guy in the brochure did for a living. Across the top of the brochure in large letters, she read””I can handle your HOLE deal.”
Sara’s lips curled pondering the ramification. She opened the tri-fold. Gazed at pictures of the man walking the beach enjoying a Frisbee with his golden retriever. She turned it over, acknowledged the back and said, “I don’t know what he does, but the ass HOLE can’t spell.”
Robin laughed at her east coast candor. That is until I looked at him dead square and said “that could be you.” Sara guessed again. “He’s a park ranger.”
I explained to Sara that he is actually a real estate agent. She cocked her head. Her eyes held a blank stare
as she attempted to process that information. I asked her if she would consider hiring him if she were to buy
a home in Jackson Hole. She fired back, “No way, he looks like he never works.”
Robin was honest about his shortcomings. From computer literacy to internet marketing. Unlike so many, he did not wear his lack of knowledge like a badge of honor.
Robin did not want to be typical or clichÃ©. He felt odd adding “Oh, and by the way” to his email signature file. He told me on more than one occasion he felt he hadn’t grown his skills since getting his license. Every seminar he attended was taught by old timers selling out of date techniques. He said, “I owe it to my customers to be better.”
This is why I kept meeting with him. He was real.
Robin’s unique talent was making me laugh out loud. He’d mimic my NY accent by doing his best Tony
Soprano impression. It’s not what he said but rather why he did it that caused me so much joy. That was the only way he knew how to repay me. By making me feel at home.
Our meetings ended abruptly nine months ago. Robin got caught in the California housing bubble burst. The shrapnel hurt a lot of people, Robin included. I never got a chance to tell him that over time, I received more education from him and the ways of a Realtor than what he got from me.
Real Estate is complex business. I cannot imagine why the licensing process is short and easy. A composite of people skills, psychological skills, technological skills, legal skills, organizational skills, and a willingness to embrace new ideas is critical to success.
Leslie Appleton-Young from CAR once told me that Realtors take more business risks than any ten other entrepreneurs combined. After spending two years with Robin, I understood that on a much deeper level.
After our meetings ended, I though about all the time we spent and how there was still things I felt I needed to share with him. And more importantly, there were still things he needed to teach me. There is still so much about the profession I don’t know.