I had the opportunity to take a brief holiday down to Fort Lauderdale. As I was in the ocean looking back at the beach, I saw the lifeguard beginning to close up her area for the night. In Fort Lauderdale, the lifeguards don't simply have a high chair, but more of a small hut on stilts. It probably took her about 10 minutes to close up everything before she could leave for the night, but as I was watching her, I wondered how much preparation is needed to be a lifeguard at the beach. Obviously being a lifeguard at the beach is more difficult than at the local community pool, but I was surprised to find out how competitive it is and that the pay rate can be between $16-$20 per hour, which isn't too bad for seasonal work.
As I watched the lifeguard continue to wrap up for the night, I thought about how similar her job was to a lot of real estate professionals. She must have at least basic first aid and CPR training, and possibly certification as an EMT, all of which requires some degree of continuing education. But if I were flailing helplessly in the ocean being carried away by a strong rip current, would I want to have a lifeguard rescue me who was content on doing just the bare minimum? Is it acceptable for us to begrudgingly sign up for the most basic CE classes simply to meet our state's requirement? And honestly, that had been my attitude for the past several years. The realty company I had worked with would have wonderful 1- or 2-day conferences with great speakers that I could never compel myself to go to. "I have work to do at the office! The calls don't make themselves! If only it were being held at a more convenient time."
Now that I'm on my own as a broker/owner, I have a new appreciation for learning and networking. I've joined several new organizations and take advantage of free classes that are held around my area. I've signed up for a 4-day property management conference hosted by NARPM that's coming up shortly. I've already signed up for my state's Realtor's Association conference that will take place in Atlantic City in December. It is not inexpensive to go to these different events. Sometimes I struggle to justify the costs with my wife - the hardest sale ever! But I've to understand that I don't want to be mediocre in my real estate career. I don't want to coast along relying on the knowledge from when I got my license. Instead, I want to be the local expert in my field. I want to be known as the go-to person if someone has questions about real estate. Millennials get a bad rap today for having minimal knowledge, instead relying on Google when they don't know an answer. A true professional has studied hard and knows the answers to questions that are specific to his or her field without needing to look them up.
Beach lifeguards have a tendency to have grown up around the beach. They are intimately aware of the ebb and flow of the ocean. It's not just a 9-5 job they show up for and then they check out. No doubt much of their "play time" is training time.
I don't necessarily have the money nor the time to be attending all of these different classes, seminars, webinars, and conferences. However, I will make the time and will find the money to make the investment into my professional life to be the Realtor that my clients can fully depend on. Simply satisfying the minimum requirements is no longer an option if I want to have a successful (and happy) career.