Under The Influence - My Life In A Nutshell

By
Real Estate Agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103

Writing about the five people who have most influenced my life is like walking through dimly lit, dusty aisles of an ancient library to extract tidbits from time.  It is, in the end, easy of course.  It starts in my early years, at the knee of my father whose mantra and life path was "Do unto others . . .," and became an integral part of who I am.  The simple precept of the golden rule seems so abstract to many people I encounter on a daily basis as I navigate life from my "advanced wisdom."  I remember hearing early on in my real estate career, "Do unto others before they do unto you."  A sad commentary from folks who appear to the outside world to be successful.  

Dad taught me many things in his black and white life.  You are nothing without integrity.  Stand behind your word.  Be authentic.  What he taught me when he didn't know I was looking, was how proud he was of me.  I walking into his store one afternoon to see him showing a customer a pad of my artwork.  His beaming smile told a story he'd never shared with me.  Though he left me way too soon, his lessons continued even beyond the grave, and for them I am eternally most grateful.

Uncle Harry and I shared this planet for what felt like a minute.  He died of a massive heart attack when I was six, but by then he'd shown me the kind of love I've spent the rest of my life trying to replicate.  He was the guy who walked into the house, slapping his knees for me to jump into his arms for an unabashed display of the purest affection.  My personal Santa Claus, he would always find just the perfect gift that sat like a beacon on Christmas morning.  There was the Singer sewing machine with a dark blue lacquer finish and a lock stitch that fostered my lifelong love of sewing and creating beauty in the world.  And the skates, with the key to tighten them just enough so I wouldn't break my neck.  This magical man saw into the soul of a child and created a presence I can still feel any time I close my eyes.

My son David has brought me to a height of bliss, where I thought my heart would burst, only to be followed by rivers of tears as he suffered his setbacks, taking me right along for the ride.  As any parent knows, there is no greater love in this world than that which we share with our children . . . unless it is the incredible gift of grandparenthood.

Art Kaufman was my first real broker (even though I spent a month working in a different office when I first got into real estate).  More than once, during an office meeting, Art would say "the problem with most of you is you don't value yourselves, so how can you possibly sell that value to someone else."  I understood as soon as I'd been in the business long enough to know what I was doing, that I brought great value to the table.  In addition to the expertise, I've always cared more about the client's outcome than my own, therefore, always doing the right thing is easy and a foregone conclusion.

Allen F. Hainge invited me to join his CyberStar group years ago and took me on an odyssey filled with wonder.  It fed my never ending thirst for knowledge and need to find that better mousetrap.  He was one of the visionaries in our field and he put together an incredible group of like minded people whose goal it was to help each other grow and prosper.  But, more than any business related thing I learned from him, the end of his life impacted me most.  This leader of men brought me to tears with the grace with which he faced a difficult road.  He continued teaching the rest of us life's greater lessons till the day he drew his last breath.  So, Allen, if you're standing by as I write this, sending you hugs, you da best.

The Under The Influence challenge asks us to share negative experiences and how they positively impacted our lives, so here goes.  I face negative and/or insidious people every day in this real estate world that I love.  Though their well placed daggers occasionally draw blood, they teach me each and every time what I don't want to be.  The ladder they climb, sometimes on the backs of others, is made of wood.  It is rotten from the core and can and will one day crumble beneath them.  I wish them soft landings.

I learned a very great lesson from a man I loved with all my heart many years ago.  He was inordinately bright, funny as hell, extremely successful and extraordinarily caring.  The problem, discovered over time, was he didn't exist.  In reality, his persona, much like a Hollywood set, was little more than facade. His words were figments of his imagination, at least the ones that mattered.  Once I got past the horror and devastation of it all, I found me.  Once again, I knew exactly what I didn't want, and what I had to have.  Was it easy to walk away?  No, but another thing I've learned on this circuitous path I travel, nothing in life worth having is guaranteed to be easy.

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Rainmaker
1,317,601
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

.  Once again, I knew exactly what I didn't want, and what I had to have.  Was it easy to walk away?  No, but another thing I've learned on this circuitous path I travel, nothing in life worth having is guaranteed to be easy.  This is so true.  I think many of us have had a similar journey

Jul 05, 2014 01:20 PM #6
Rainmaker
657,272
Bill Reddington
Re/max Southern Realty - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Really a tough question for me. Can't really pinpoint examples. Have always had the drive to go for it. Got into real estate on a fluke. Watched an agent make $6,000 for doing not much. Had just left the corporate world and had enough of that. Never much attention span for dummies behind a desk.  25 years later with well over a 1,000 transactions still doing it.

Jul 05, 2014 02:32 PM #7
Rainmaker
2,791,696
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I don't think any path like yours is anything tovsneeze at. I wish nothing but the best and blessings!

 

Love and light,

Laura

Jul 05, 2014 04:13 PM #8
Rainer
23,019
Frank Connell
Keller Williams Realty Boston South West - Westwood, MA
"One Call Does It All"

Geri, what your dad gave you in being so proud of you was the finest gift you could have ever received. To walk through life, from the craddle, knowing you had worth and value was the catalyst needed to find every other situation you have ever found over the years. 

Allen, that you spoke of,  surrounded himself with visionaries of like minded people, so what were you doing their if you didn't already posses that gift. Allen found you, you didn't necessarily find Allen.

And finally, as a Realtor, I'm sure your clients see your goodness in you everyday. It is for that reason they want to work with you, because you live by that simple rule that your father gave you.

 

Jul 05, 2014 08:48 PM #9
Rainmaker
2,485,867
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Yes to the uniqueness of the individual and their travels...case in point

Jul 05, 2014 11:22 PM #10
Rainmaker
536,759
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint
Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Geri.  Thank you for the sincerity within your words. You are a much better person than I.  I don't always wish a soft landing to those few.

Jul 05, 2014 11:28 PM #11
Rainmaker
471,523
Geri Sonkin
Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103 - Merrick, NY
Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert

Joan - The lessons we learn in this schoolroom called life are not always easy, but if we retain the knowledge and move on, it serves us well.

Jul 05, 2014 11:45 PM #12
Rainmaker
471,523
Geri Sonkin
Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103 - Merrick, NY
Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert

Bill - I think you might do better with it if you focus on the bigger picture.  Think of pivotal moments in your life and the people, positive and negative who had an impact, and might have changed or accelerated your path.

Jul 05, 2014 11:47 PM #13
Rainmaker
471,523
Geri Sonkin
Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103 - Merrick, NY
Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert

Laura - We all have the opportunity, no matter what road lies before us, to grow and prosper as individuals.  I suspect our greatest lessons come from painful places.  

Jul 05, 2014 11:51 PM #14
Rainmaker
1,770,455
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Great post Geri! It is difficult looking at the MOST influential people and keeping it to five. We are influenced in so many different ways.

Jul 05, 2014 11:54 PM #15
Rainmaker
471,523
Geri Sonkin
Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103 - Merrick, NY
Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert

Frank - You are absolutely right.  Many years ago I started to write a book.  It came as naturally to me as breathing and it never occurred to me that I couldn't succeed in getting it published, at least till the world stepped in and person after person challenged my perceptions.  I remember my aunt saying, " Are you kidding?  What makes you think you can do this?"  I looked at her and said, "What makes you think I can't?"  I never understood negativity.  I always believed any of us could accomplish anything if we wanted it badly enough.

Jul 05, 2014 11:58 PM #16
Rainmaker
471,523
Geri Sonkin
Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103 - Merrick, NY
Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert

Richie - How clearly I know that, as do you.

Jul 05, 2014 11:59 PM #17
Rainmaker
471,523
Geri Sonkin
Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103 - Merrick, NY
Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert

Mark - I'm no saint.  At the moment of the attack my thoughts are anything but philosophical, but in retrospect I realize each of us is on our own path.  It will take us to a place of betterment . . . or not.  Each journey has responsibilities and gifts.  It is up to us to choose well.

Jul 06, 2014 12:01 AM #18
Rainmaker
471,523
Geri Sonkin
Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103 - Merrick, NY
Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert

Tom - Don't over think it.  There are many more than the five I wrote about who have influenced my life.  These are simply the ones that came readily to mind.  Allow your mind to take you wherever it does, and enjoy the ride.  I know you can do it.

Jul 06, 2014 12:03 AM #19
Rainmaker
1,279,027
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Wow Geri! Thanks for sharing your story with us. You've been blessed to have some truly amazing people in your life to help shape it.

Jul 06, 2014 08:45 AM #20
Rainmaker
471,523
Geri Sonkin
Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103 - Merrick, NY
Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert

Donna, I have been blessed, even when the road looked bleak. :)

 

Jul 06, 2014 12:09 PM #21
Rainmaker
5,509,446
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks, Geri, for sharing some of the centers of influence in your life.

I need to give some thought about joining in this challenge. Flower blogs are easier to write!

Photo: Margarita Purple Osteospermum, Kentlands IMG 7604

 

Jul 09, 2014 10:33 AM #22
Rainmaker
2,485,867
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Yes to you, your sharing and life...Let us continue in the spirit of children who are discovering what things are like for the very first time...Thank you

Jul 14, 2014 06:37 AM #23
Rainmaker
350,532
ReadySetLoan Condo Approval Team
ReadySetLoan Condo Team LLC - South Windsor, CT
The FHA/VA Condo Project Approval Specialists

Great post Geri!  It is interesting in reading these posts how the authors' personalities shine through.  It is obvious that you are a kind, caring and sensitive soul but one that won't stand for someone's BS.  I enjoyed getting to you know you via this article.

Jul 27, 2014 09:47 PM #24
Rainmaker
2,073,235
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
DFW FINE PROPERTIES - Fort Worth, TX
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Geri, 

I think every child wants to know they made their parents proud. I'm sad for you that your dad left you too soon. I pity the child that grows up into an adult and their aging parent still hasn't told them I love you or that I'm proud of you.

You're a wonderful woman.

Aug 03, 2014 02:16 AM #25
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