When is Work, Not Work? – March 2014

As you get older, there are certain conversations or events from your youth that remain crystal clear in your memory. Might have been a conversation with your 2nd grade teacher. Could have been a pep talk from a coach. Or maybe insight or encouragement from a Grandparent. I have many such memories, but the one I want to talk about today happened with my Best Friend’s – Brian McClellan’s- father (Doc. McClellan). Brian and I were Seniors in high school. I don’t remember the exact location of the conversation. It mighta have been at their house while eating some of Mrs. Mac’s INCREDIBLE home-made cookies or coulda been over dinner at Griff’s restaurant, the location is unimportant.

Dr. McClellan is a straight shooter and an extremely hard worker. He ran a Veterinary office in downtown Frederick for 30+ years. His father, the ‘Original’ Doc. McClellan, started the practice and built it on hard work and a love of his profession. His son continued and built the practice to greater heights. Built on a sterling reputation and hard work, both Doc. McClellans’ were/are pillars in the community and well-respected local Vet’s.

Brian’s dad was talking about life, what we were going to study in college, and basically giving two ‘know it all’ high school seniors a pep talk about the rest of our lives’. I don’t remember the exact evolution of the conversation that lead to this statement, but it has stuck with me for 20+ years. His advice is Crystallized in my memory- “IF YOU ENJOY WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING, YOU WILL NEVER WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE.” Huh? Being 17-18, I didn’t understand what the heck he was talking about. Of course you have to work to make money and pay the bills, and buy a home, and raise a family….but…

He went onto explain that what he did, being a small animal Veterinarian, brought great joy to him and that when he woke up each day he enjoyed the challenges that each day brings. Going to “work” was not a burden or something he dreaded. He was passionate about his profession and the career he chose and it showed…. His clients knew that he truly cared for their animals and he was not just there to ‘collect a paycheck.’ Dr. McClellan went on to further talk to us and tell us that if we could truly find a career/profession that we loved and were passionate about; no matter if it was being a janitor, a scientist, a school teacher, whatever it was; we would make a difference in those that we helped/worked with. When you find your calling, if you will, you will know it and you will work to become the best in your industry. While others’ will dread going to “work” and will bitch and complain about their job, their boss, their co-workers, the politics, the commute, basically every aspect of their job. If you find a profession that you LOVE you will overlook all the petty BS and will actually focus on the bigger picture and you will never have to “Work a day in your Life”.

During college at Salisbury, I had one such job that I LOVED and got a taste for what Dr. McClellan explained to Brian and I. I worked at MR DUCKS bar in Ocean City for 2 summers. If you have never been there, I HIGHLY recommend you visit. Very chill bar that is on a dock in the Inlet, the bar is literally right above the water. Think Key West meets Margaretville. Every afternoon the charter boats return with the day’s catch that include Tuna, Mahi-Mahi, Blue’s, etc. The crews and the people that charter the boats usually stop by for a drink or two and you get to hear the day’s “story”. Then in the evening the bar normally gets cranked up with people down on vacation and the locals that enjoy the scenery. Working at MR Ducks was an incredible job and each day was enjoyable. Incredible Memories. Great Staff/co-workers who would bust their behinds for each other when we were “in the weeds” and enjoy each other’s company on off days by hanging out or going out to dinner together. There was no bickering or in-fighting with co-workers, we were like family. Part of the allure of working at a bar is that you get to meet new people daily and I truly enjoyed meeting new people, talking with them, and hearing their “story.” It was during this time, that I learned that people really enjoy telling you about themselves and if you can find a common interest or bond (usually Orioles, sports or music) that you grew closer to that person. I never considered MR Ducks “work”. Yes, what we did was hard and we busted our behinds, but I never dreaded going to work. This was my first taste of enjoying a job and “not working”. I knew that I wasn’t destined for a career behind the bar, but what I discovered was what Dr. McClellan had told me, if you enjoyed what you did, it wouldn’t be work. My next 2 jobs were polar opposites of my experience at MR Ducks.

The first two jobs after college were both accounting positions. The first was at NVR/Ryan Homes and the second was as the accountant for the Frederick Towne Mall. Neither was a horrible job. I actually did enjoy most of my co-workers. But both jobs felt like “work”. There were 3 aspects of both jobs that felt like work. First of all, I absolutely despised going and sitting behind a desk every day from 8a to 5p. This was Mundane and Boring and the only interaction I had with the “outside world” was handled via phone. Either calling vendors, suppliers, other staff or superiors. This got old quick. The second unpleasant aspect was that there was little personal growth or betterment for self in these jobs. I wasn’t challenged. I wasn’t asked to be innovative. I have always been a voracious learner and I’m always striving to better myself personally and professionally and at these jobs I wouldn’t say it was shunned upon, but it definitely wasn’t encouraged. The third and the most disappointing aspect of the jobs, making them feel like “work” was that I did not feel fulfilled at the end of the day. I wasn’t ‘making a difference’… I wasn’t helping or contributing to society. My main purpose was to find ways to put additional profits in the owners’ pocket. I was good at this and got quite a few raises, but this was not personally fulfilling. I was becoming discouraged and disheartened at going to “work” every day. It was during this time that I saw how much Susan LOVED what she did, teaching. Yes, she worked long hours. Yes, there were frustrating aspects of her job. However, I could tell that she truly loved teaching and teaching was her passion and was personal fulfilling. So finding a profession that provided me with the same fulfillment was paramount.

I have been able to find fulfillment, personal growth, incredible satisfaction, and professional accomplishments in Real Estate.

Without a shadow of a doubt I have found what Dr. McClellan told me 20 years ago that if you “enjoy what you do you will never working a day in your life”. For me, Real Estate is a Passion. A career that I absolutely love and enjoy doing daily. Don’t get me wrong, I have challenges every day that I must overcome and there is a huge level of stress when you are dealing with someone’s life. Where they are going to live. Uprooting and moving their family. Dealing with their largest financial investment. This is STRESSFUL! But at the end of the day, when I finally finish working, often 10-11pm after answering the last email or writing the last ad, or meeting a deadline for the printer of my Newsletter, I can go to bed knowing that I did my best that day in helping someone else! And that person, that client, what they have entrusted me to help them with, their most precious commodity – their family- I have done my best to make a positive impact on their lives!

Now instead of my prior jobs where I went and just punched a clock daily I live Real Estate and it doesn’t seem like work. I’m constantly striving to find new and innovative ways to help my clients and that is how, after months of research, found that helping my sellers take a Value-Driven instead of a Price-Driven Approach to selling their home, has achieved great success. I have coined the name, after Warren Buffett, because he was the foundation of my research and I teach my sellers to analyze their home as an investment with a stock price that they wanna enhance their value before they list instead of arbitrarily slapping a list price on their home. To check out more about the Warren Buffett Approach to Sell Real Estate go to the Discover the Difference Link.

Another great aspect of the profession that I have chosen is that I’m my own boss and I can schedule my weeks so that I’m available for my family, for Anthony and Alex. I am able to take them to daycare. Pick them up from school. Coach their soccer teams. I am able to attend all their Dr. and Dentist appointments. I am able to do the running around. And I LOVE IT! The benefit of being there for my Boyz make getting up at 5:30am to input a listing or work late or weekends worth it and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Probably the best thing about my profession- Being an Entrepreneur, working for my clients- is the friendships and relationships that I have formed with my clients over the years.

When you work with someone as closely as you do with your Realtor over a 3-9 month period you either learn to love each other and form a bond or you come to despise each other. Fortunately for me, nearly all of my clients become friends and we stay in touch even after the transaction. I find it a sad state of my industry that in a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors when polled after the transaction if they would use that same Realtor again and nearly 80% of consumers would NOT. I have found that my numbers are reverse and I have many clients/friends who have come back to me two and three times because of the bond we formed. The relationships and more importantly friendships formed are Paramount to me and I cherish each and every one. Just recently I had John and Lalania come back to me for a 2nd time for another purchase. Their family, having grown, needed more room and they were ready to move from a Townhouse to Single Family with land. Here is what they had to say after their transaction: This is the second time I’ve worked with Eric to find a home. Working with Eric is like working with a trusted friend. He is so knowledgeable about the world of real estate and very relate-able. He had honest, helpful answers for all of my questions. On the rare occasion when he didn’t know an answer he would find out and respond immediately. I was always impressed with how quick he was with communication. Having Eric as my real estate agent took a lot of the stress out of the house hunting process. I felt completely confident in his knowledge and abilities which allowed me to focus my energy making sure I chose the right home for my family. When the ideal home for us came on the market Eric gave us great advice and helped us compose an offer that beat out multiple other offers.

These are the types of relationships that I cherish, because my clients are my friends and I care for them and want the best for their family.

Thank YOU for making my job so Fulfilling!!!! Dr. McClellan was correct, “If you enjoy what you do, you WILL NEVER work a day in your life.”