Lessons From Dad… – June 2015

I’m writing this month’s article from 38,000 feet in the air as my Dad and I are traveling to California to visit a family member that is in the hospital. I’ve got some time to sit and reflect on life. So, if I ramble some, please excuse me.

I can’t remember the last time that my father and I traveled together alone. Not that we haven’t shared many life experiences together, we have. Moreso that we have always been surrounded by family and friends in our adventures.

My Dad has always been there for me and has been my best friend throughout my life.

I remember as a 5-6 year old child that he and I were going to pick up a race horse in the horse trailer. Traveling to Baltimore, I was in a car-seat next to my Dad, and I looked over at the speedometer. He was going 80 mph. I began making a siren noise like a police car. He immediately slowed down, and, if you know my Dad, he’s never had the best hearing and had no idea where the noise was coming from. I tucked my mouth into that little alcove of the car seat and made the noise. He would slow down. I would stop. He’d speed back up. I’d make the siren noise again, and he’d slow down. I probably did this 4 or 5 times until I started laughing it was then that he realized it was me. We both had a good laugh.

As a middle schooler and playing basketball at West Frederick, I was on the team with some kids that came from single family homes and their parents never came to the away games. So, my Dad would put some chaise lounge cushions in the cab in back of his truck and take half the team to the away games. (The seat belt laws were more lax in the 1980s.) All the kids loved my Dad, as he was this big gentle guy that was always willing to help a teammate or drive one home after practice instead of making them walk home in the dead of winter. My parents were always there to help me, or anyone else for that matter.

A couple other memories that Stand-Out.

My Dad went to my bachelor party in Deep Creek Lake, serving as our designated driver and got pulled over not once, but twice that weekend.
Then a few weeks later my Dad standing as the best man at my wedding and then later that night giving one of the most emotional toasts during the reception. There was not a dry eye in the room at the end of his speech. In fact, I don’t think he actually made it through his entire speech.

The influence my dad has had in my life is a big reason why I do what I do for my Boyz.

I volunteer twice a month at their school. I attend as many field trips as possible. I take them to karate twice a week. I coach or assistant coach their sport teams. I never miss a dentist or doctor appointment or a hair-cut. I strive to have a similar relationship with my Boyz in 30 years that my Dad and I currently share and have had throughout the years.

I’m almost 40 years old now and, having time on this flight and really the last few months, I’ve started to reflect on life. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons but I’m far from having ‘all the answers.’ One thing I do know is that the traits that I have today were molded from my parents’ traits. I’m carving my own niche in life, but the examples my parents set for me throughout the years definitely have a major influence. I believe that each person forms their own path in life, but parents/mentors/roll-models start you down that path.

Just like I hope that Anthony and Alex learn traits from Susan and me. From Susan that hard work and planning are key components for success and being prepared for all situations. From me, I hope that they have learned how to talk to and relate to people, overcome hurdles, and think on your feet. My boyz hear the conversations I have with clients and that if there is an issue, I find a way to solve the problem. I’ll sometimes ask, “Did you hear what I said there? See how I handled that situation?” Just little teaching points.

My Dad exhibited a relentless work ethic…

Growing up on a horse farm was an awesome childhood. Always being able to play outside and explore nature. We lived at the top half of the farm with my grandparents at the ‘bottom-half,’ and I had the ability to walk (or take my 3 wheeler) to see my grandparents anytime I wanted.

I’d go help my dad on the weekends. We’d wake up early and feed-up and ‘muck out’ the stalls. I HATED IT. The physical labor. The time with my Dad was priceless and enjoyable. The manual labor sucked. I saw what my dad did on a daily basis and, although I admire the heck out of what he did, being a farmer and cleaning stalls, being kicked by horses, fixing fences was not something I wanted to do as a profession. At almost 70 he still works 7 days a week, and that work ethic was instilled in me at a young age.

The one aspect that I absolutely loved growing up on a horse farm was foaling. Foaling, is the horse giving birth. My Dad for all intents and purposes was a horse foaling doctor. The best around. People would sent their horses to him to foal. Back when I was growing up my dad would deliver 50-60 foals during the foaling season from February to May. Some nights he would deliver 2-3 foals. And I would say that 90% of foaling occurs between 11p and 4a. We had a beeper system that would go off when a horse would lay down. And if the mare was really close, we would sometimes sleep in ‘the office’ at the barn. It had a bed, chair and TV. That was the best. Watching my Dad deliver foals was awesome. Watching a new life come into this world. Watching the mare lick her foal to stimulate its blood flow. Watching the foal try to stand and nurse within the first hour of its life. This part of farming was incredible and I could see my dad making a tremendous impact in the life of another living being.

Another trait of my dad is he has an uncanny ability to be able to fix ANYTHING…

Growing up on a farm, things break and you are always fixing them. A well pump quits. You don’t call a plumber. You pull it yourself, identify the problem, and fix it. When there was an electrical issue, my dad never called an electrician, he identified the problem, reverse engineered how it was supposed to work, and fixed the problem. Tractor breaks down, mower blades not working. Dad would take it apart, identify the problem, and figure out a way to get it fixed. In 39 years, I have never seen my Dad NOT solve a problem himself. Granted, he would usually end up with an extra part or two when he put it back together, but he is an AMAZING problem solver.

Just recently I was taking stock of my real estate business and where I am. Where I want to go. What I do well and what I need to improve. I went back and was reading my reviews and what my clients thought about their experiences with me. Two things stood out.

First, they said that I was available and would always respond quickly to any questions or concerns they might have. See, as a Real Estate Agent, much like my Dad, I run my own business. Although I’m not cleaning stalls 7 days a week doing physical labor, I do work with my clients daily. And if I have an offer out for a buyer or I’m negotiating a contract for a seller I can’t tell you the number of times, I’m on my back porch pacing back and forth negotiating a contract well after most people stop working their 9-5 job.

Working hard is great, but what I believe is my strongest asset, is my ability to be able to solve problems that arise during real estate transactions.

I learned this skill from watching my Dad problem solve throughout the years. He was never flustered. If one way didn’t work, he’d regroup and try another. If that didn’t work, he’d finally figure out the flaw in his logic and solve his problem.

One thing that I’ve taught my assistant Susan in the year that we have worked together is that there is ALWAYS more than one way to ‘skin a cat.’ Meaning that if an issue arises and our first solution doesn’t work, regroup and find another way.

This past week is a prime example. I received a panicked call from an agent with whom we were doing a transaction the day before we were supposed to go to settlement. The agent received a call from the buyer’s lender asking for the termite report. Well, the agent was out doing a home inspection and didn’t have access to the document, so she emailed me asking for help. I told her, no worries, that Susan and I were on it and wouldn’t not let the transaction close the next day because the lender didn’t have the termite report.

I called Susan and told her to stop what she was doing and take care of this immediately. There had been so many hurdles in this transaction that we had to get it to settlement the next day. I told Susan, “Ok, first check the file to see if we have the termite report. If we don’t, check the home inspection, because I think the home inspector might have also done the termite inspection. If it’s not there, call the home inspection company immediately, and have them resend the report.” We started with the easiest solution and worked to the hardest. Well, within 10 minutes, Susan solved the problem and got the termite report to the lender. She had to go to the third step, but she took care of the problem.

I thought we were ready for settlement, but in real estate I’ve learned that no two transactions are the same, and just when you think you are in the clear another issue arises.

So the next morning at 7:30am the settlement company emails me and tells me that one of my sellers has not gotten their settlement documents back to them yet, and if she didn’t get them by 11am we wouldn’t go to settlement. Neither one of my sellers were attending settlement so the settlement company emailed all the documents to my clients with instructions on how to sign in front of a notary and overnight back to them. Needless to say 3 hours before settlement there was NO WAY my client could get the documents notarized and back.

I called the settlement company and asked that if she emailed the documents directly to me, could I print, and meet my seller at a notary and deliver the documents personally to settlement? She said yes, I could.

I called my seller immediately and told her to meet me at PNC bank at 9am to sign everything. (Problem adverted, right?) Not that easy. I get to PNC; they know me there, as this is one of my banks. I ask the assistant manager if there is a Notary there. He tells me there is and asks what I need, “I tell him that I’m meeting a client there to sign some docs that need to be notarized.” He says, “I don’t think we can do that, let me check with the manager.” He tells me they can’t notarize settlement docs. I’m dumbfounded but onto the next step. I tell my client that my company has an account at BB&T. Its 2 minutes away; let’s go there. We walk into BB&T and the manager who is the only notary is in a meeting and won’t be back til 1pm. At this point, I just want to scream. What else can go wrong?

Time to regroup yet again.

I call Katrina at Signature Settlements, who has bailed me out numerous times and, I briefly explain the situation and ask if she can help out. She says, “absolutely, but I need to leave for a remote settlement at 9:30am.” So the seller and I hightail it to Frederick, meet Katrina and get her to notarize the seller’s documents by 9:34. Disaster averted. We got to settlement and had happy clients.

I know for a fact that watching and learning from my Best Man, my Dad, all those years as he figured out ways to solve any problem that he encountered definitely has inspired me to find ways to solve problems in my personal and professional life.

We are starting our descent so let me wrap up this Story…

I want to let you know how much I appreciate YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!! I received the following text message from a reader of the newsletter after she read last month’s article. I cherish the calls, texts, and emails that I receive each month from you.

“I just want to tell you that I finally had time to read your latest newsletter this morning and I think it was my favorite so far… When I tell people about you, I always tell them you put the client first, not your bank account, and that you are about relationships and that is exactly what your newsletter highlighted, how important relationships are to you.” – Heidi