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The Value of Authenticity

Industry Observer with WideOpen Networks 250784

Summer Emerald Isle BeachI am not sure when I learned the value of finding experts and listening to them, but I have a feeling I was pretty young.  Expertise is a simple proposition to me, and it is probably best illustrated by telling the story of one of my first fishing trips in Beaufort, NC.  

I have been fishing on the coast of North Carolina since I could hold a fishing pole, so I am not a newcomer to fishing.  I even fished the Point at Emerald Isle when I waa a teenager, and the only way to get there was by driving a four wheel drive down the beach for miles.

Fishing is a challenging sport. Even in the best of conditions with expert advice, the best equipment and being in the right place at the right time, sometimes you can come up empty handed.

When I finally got the time to fish in Beaufort, I was smart enough to know that I could spend days trying to figure out the area, or I could pay to hire someone who already had the area figured out.  I did some research, asked some people whose opinions I respected, and I ended up fishing with Captain Tom Roller of Waterdog Guide Service.

My first fishing trip with Captain Tom, I caught some fish, but nothing really to excite me.  However, I did decide that I had picked the right guide.  We went for another fishing trip in challenging conditions and came back empty handed.  I knew the red drum we were after in that particular trip were a real challenge so I wasn't upset that we came back after a half day of fishing without any results.

I didn't give up on Captain Tom. Late in the fall of 2005, a much better time for fishing, we went out for another shot even though the weather was terrible.  It turned out to be one of the best fishing trips I had ever done.  It was a magical time, and if you are a fisherman or fisherwoman, you might enjoying reading the story of my Beaufort fishing trip.

So why did I put my trust and my money in the hands of Captain Tom instead of someone else.  First and most important of all, I figured out that he was an authentic person.  Not only did he know how to fish, he understood and loved the area where he fished.  He valued the fish we were catching, and I could tell he was a true conservationist.  Also he actually cared more about meeting my needs than meeting his needs.

In a sense he was what I call a professional sales person. I have been very successfully selling one thing or the other for most of my adult life.  About six years ago, I wrote an article about what sales is really all about.  As most people who have done a lot of sales know, sales is more about figuring out what people need and want than it is about convincing someone to buy something you just happen to have for sale.

Just like writing, part of being good in sales comes from being authentic.  You have to know what you are talking about and actually steer people in the right direction for the right reasons.

Before becoming a Realtor® I sold a lot of things during my career from Angus cattle, Vermeer round balers, and Apple computers to email services.  Not a single one of those products did I sell to another person until after I was using them and was convinced of the value proposition behind the product or service.

I came to the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina and settled along the Crystal Coast not as someone who was already a Realtor®. but as someone who was searching for a certain kind of life style.  My wife and I actually spent over three years looking for the right place before we chose our home in Bluewater Cove on the shores of the White Oak River.

After living in the area for several months, I became a Realtor®.  I eventually chose a slogan, "Carteret County, A Secret to Share."  I even have some tee-shirts printed up with that on them, and I use it on my Crystal Coast Life website.  Most of the people who find me and use me as a Realtor® are looking for something similar to what I have found.  They often decide to work with me because of something that I have written, and they have read it on the Internet.

While I don't come out and advertise it, if someone is looking for a place near the water, and they want to put a boat in the water, I can probably save them as much or more time as Captain Tom did for me.

I have tried to become something of a specialist.  Now that I have figured out what I am good at in real estate, I will actually turn down properties which don't fit the dream that I am selling.  Actually a fairly wide range of property can fit the dream, the property just has to be a good value and close to the water. If a buyer wants a condo on the beach, I have a colleague who is an expert at that.

I am most in my element when I am working with people who want to enjoy the area's waters.  While you often hear of people who live at the beach and never go to the beach, I am not one of those people. I make time to go to the beach and enjoy it so I can share my experiences in writing and in person with my clients and followers.  One recent Saturday I did a hike along the Point at Emerald Isle, I spent considerable time hiking the 3.5 miles and actually creating a map for others to follow.

Often I work with people who want to boat in the area.  I am a boater, I write about boating, and it is not unusual for me to put clients in my skiff during good weather and prove that I really do know what I am talking about when I say it takes ten minutes to run down the White Oak to the Intracoastal Waterway from our subdivision.

I also fish, and I have had some great fishing adventures in the area where I live.  When I talk fishing, I can tell you where you might actually catch some fish.  Two of my former clients are now my best fishing buddies.

When I did my recent area guide and my Emerald Isle Travel Guide, the information didn't come from what I had heard, it came from my actual experiences. Had I done it any other way, it would not have been authentic.

Everyone is different and has unique needs, but staying authentic and telling people the truth based on your real experiences instead of what you think they want to hear or what will bring you the most gain will always win in the long run. Whether it is hot weather, frost when growing tomatoes, beach traffic or snow in our coastal paradise, the truth is a lot easier to keep straight.

Being authentic and true to yourself is a good way to be able to crawl in bed at night and sleep soundly.  Remember if I tell you the beach is beautiful, it is because that I have been there, and you can count on me having a picture to prove it like the one at the top of the post.

Marcie Sandalow
Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894 - Bethesda, MD
Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate


David- why aren't you writing more.? This is one of the best Localism posts I've seen in a while!  I'm ready to start fishing and buy some beachfront property! 

Mar 30, 2011 03:48 PM
David Sobotta
WideOpen Networks - Emerald Isle, NC

Marcie,  thanks for the nice compliment. I try to do one a month on localism, but I write lots during the course of a month.  Most of it ends up on my own websites or at places where I have been writing for a while.  My main site at blogger has a list of most of my other posts.  The welcome page at my Crystal Coast Life website also has something of an explanation of where I write.

Mar 31, 2011 12:28 AM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
I love the photo and the GENUINE post, too. You get a feel for you and the area, too.
Mar 31, 2011 01:42 AM
Randy Harden MBA
CENTURY 21 Wieder Realty - Pompano Beach, FL

Thanks for sharing these bits of information. You are a good narrator of life. When I go fishing I'm just trying to catch a buzz. ;)

Mar 31, 2011 01:58 AM
Jason Belmonte
Prudential Fox and Roach - Atglen, PA

Great post. I feel people can tell if you are authentic or not. You are and it clearly shows.

Mar 31, 2011 03:45 AM
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

I almost want to move there after reading your blog. Boating, fishing,beaches and warm weather.....it sounds divine!

Mar 31, 2011 08:22 AM
David Sobotta
WideOpen Networks - Emerald Isle, NC

Well no place is perfect, but this is as close as we have found.  If all of spring could be like last week, you would hear no complaints from me.  Actually your comment prompts me to the tell a story about a couple I sold a property to a few years ago.  They were from Pennsylvania, and the wife started reading my blogs and sending me some emails about moving one cold spring.  I responded with answers to her questions. 

The first thing I knew they got a contract on their place in Pennsylvania.  They had some challenges in getting to closing, but after closing they stored their furniture, packed what they could (including their two dogs) in two cars and came down with the intention of buying a place.  They rented a place for a month while they looked, but we found them a place by the end of the first week.  They're still living here.  They had never visited the area before, and all they had heard about the our area came from what I had written.

So when anyone tells me that writing on the web doesn't have an impact on people, I just smile.  The former Pennsylvania couple recently listed their home with me.  They want to be on the water.  The husband of the couple is a competitor in my annual "Who is going to get the first homegrown tomato contest?"  In fact last year he beat me by a day and dethroned me. For three years I reigned as Tomato King.

Mar 31, 2011 08:52 AM
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate

So much detail and personal experience in this post. Have you thought about posting a couple of photos of the area each week? Just a short description, a few links to posts like this, and a call to action ... that would be a great way to build your online presence and engage readers.

Mar 31, 2011 09:20 AM
David Sobotta
WideOpen Networks - Emerald Isle, NC

Actually I post photos almost daily on Facebook and regularly on Twitter.  My photos are also regularly featured on the local television station. Every post that I do during the month features a new original photo.   I also use the photos as postcards that I mail a few times a year to potential clients.  Then I have a site with links to a wide variety of photos and area information.

The best use I have found for my photos is on the cover of a PDF brochure about the area that I distribute regularly to the local tourist bureaus and stores handing out information.  It always features one of my photos and a hand drawn map of mine that has my favorite restaurants and things to do in the area. It has become very popular since it is easy way to write notes for visitors.

I update the PDF regularly and try to make it relevant to the season.  I have even handed it out at our rental check-in.  I handed out nearly 400 one 4th of July.

Mar 31, 2011 10:32 AM
Gloria Commiso
Keller Williams - Hermosa Beach, CA
Hermosa Beach

great feel good post! its great that you can combine your passions!

Mar 31, 2011 02:35 PM
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

What I would do for the first fresh tomato of the season....its always the best!

Mar 31, 2011 04:19 PM
David Sobotta
WideOpen Networks - Emerald Isle, NC

Well stop by the Crystal Coast the first week of June, and we might have some homegrown tomatoes that we can spare.

Apr 01, 2011 05:44 AM