The year was 1987. I had just completed my Real Estate Salesperson’s Exam – a pre-computerized, licensing exam involving a sheet of paper, a No. 2 pencil, and a 6-8 week waiting period. At that time, I knew very few people working in the real estate business. So, after receiving my passing notification in the mail, I picked up the phone book (link provided for those under the age of 25) and I started making telephone calls. My interest and primary focus was in the male-dominated, commercial and industrial real estate niche. Consequently, I sought to connect with a broker willing to give a young, inexperienced, female rookie some much needed guidance.
I Don't Think So.
After a brief search, I found a male broker who agreed to get together and talk further about joining his company. Arriving for our meeting early and eager, I was nervous – yet I felt enthusiastically confident that I would leave with a new job. I was wrong. Instead, after attempting to make a great impression by carefully and thoughtfully articulating my qualifications and capabilities, I heard the following response: “Such big words from such a little girl. Why don’t we continue this conversation over a drink?” Realizing I wasn't being taken seriously, but wanting to prove I was tougher than I looked, I managed to keep my composure during the remaining awkward moments – until I politely thanked him for his time and said 'goodbye.' Afterwards, feeling somewhat discouraged, I returned home with no job prospects, a bruised ego, and the vision of my phonebook – on a desk across the room – once again calling my name.
We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!
Of course, the dynamics of our business world have changed tremendously since 1987. In this day and age, many industries which were formerly considered ‘male-dominated’ are now overflowing with bright, independent, vibrant, accomplished, and empowered women. So, what happened after my initial encounter with that creepy guy masquerading as an upstanding, business professional – albeit equipped with a dysfunctional, moral compass? Luckily, he was the exception and not the rule. After a second painstaking search, I eventually connected with another male broker who subsequently became my first real estate mentor. A kind and decent older gentleman who respected me – and who acknowledged and honored my intelligence and sincere desire to excel in a lucrative, real estate field. Not only did he generously provide me with a desk and a phone – he was characteristically committed to bolstering the confidence and performance of each and every agent in his office. In short, he was a true gem.
You Never Forget Your First Business Mentor
Last week, I discovered that unbeknownst to me, my first real estate mentor had passed away a few years ago. As I reflect back upon our relationship, I feel humbly grateful and appreciative for his willingness to give me a chance when I really needed one. He unselfishly shared his time, his invaluable knowledge, and his boundless encouragement and support. The truth is, I believe a good mentor is an indispensible component to fostering success. Oddly enough, it seems even more ironic that I should hear this news now – when my current quest for a new business mentor is stronger than ever before.