Real Estate As An Art Form - A Deep Look Into My Views

Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Moline Realty 40022101

I learned a hard lesson early in life. 

There is only one way to do things.

When I started kindergarden, I could read.  I mean, I could read so well that the teachers would have ME read to the class for a "break".  I could add, subtract, multiply, divide.  I was a little "ahead of my time".  I was the first born, my mom stayed at home with me, and spent a lot of time teaching me things.  I loved reading, anyway, and definitely enjoyed reading to the class.

As we grew and moved on to bigger and better things (first grade), the learning (for me) began.  I was soon told and taught that everything I knew about writing, adding, and subtracting were WRONG.  I was BAD for doing it the way I did.

I spent countless hours having to redo my work to count whatever those little dots are on numbers and draw them in, the teacher not satisfied with just the correct answer. 

I consistently was sent back to my desk because I didn't carry numbers when I subtracted, even though I still had the right number.

And surprisingly, the thing that makes me the MOST mad now, my artwork was constantly given poor grades because I didn't draw the tree/cat/house/whatever EXACTLY as instructed.

This continued all through school.  As you can imagine, it got old pretty quick.  I lost interest in school and the basic subjects fairly quickly.

A whole new world was opened up to me when our band instructor told me that my "reflexes" weren't fast enough to play flute on the 6th grade band signup day, and placed a clarinet into my hands and said "here, we need more clarinet players in the band, this is what you will play."

Despite my dreams not quite coming true, my mom and I set out in the search for a clarinet.  I got that thing home and I tried DESPERATELY to make some noise.  It was not pretty.

"Band week", a week during the summer where they teach us how to blow into whatever instrument we were awkwardly trying to hold in our little 6th grade hands, began and ended semi-poorly.  But I wasn't giving up.  Every day I sat outside (Oh, our poor neighbors) and I practiced the same three notes over and over and OVER again. 

Sixth grade gets a little blurry with the discovery of boys and the realization that they could be nice to look at and may not, in fact, have cooties, but by the end of the year, as my band director put it, I had the range on the clarinet of a senior in high school.

The fun began.

I quickly found myself not challenged enough, and taught myself more instruments.  7th grade brought on the flute, which I took to contest and received a superior rating.  Bass clarinet, saxophone, drums... anything that my band director would let me touch came home with me and I learned with a devotion rarely seen in even American Idol contestants.  I taught myself the clarinet, and I taught myself all my other instruments.  I was "quite a find" and labelled "talented".  My move to high school found me in front of the high school director the year before, his mouth open in awe, and the following announcement that I would be immediately placed in the high level band AND the high level choir.  I could have cried.

So tenth grade began.  This director spent time teaching me, and immediately I was on the road to an All State Audition.  They take place in March, but he convinced me that MONTHS of preparation were required.  Although a trumpet player, he was an AMAZING teacher.  And I quickly learned that there was more than playing fast notes and looking "showy". 

All State Auditions are another whole novel in themselves, but I flew through and was one of very few who make it their sophomore year.  I spent time at camp that summer, and shortly after camp we moved to Mora.

Quickly I discovered that I was a rarity.  All these other clarinetists had private lessons and professional level clarinets.  I still played on an old Yamaha plastic clarinet from a pawn shop.  (I still play it sometimes, just for fun.)  I quickly realized that I was what the kids now call a "poser" - a small time clarinetist PRETENDING to be big time.  (At least that's how it seemed to me at the time!)

So Mora High School brought on many new experiences, including a new professional level clarinet.  (I love my baby!)  The biggest change though was the bi-weekly trips to Duluth from Mora for lessons with Ted Schoen, an AWESOME clarinet professor at the University of Minnesota.  This was it, now I was big time!!!   Along with all the fame and recitals and the new shiny clarinet, I had acquired a big shiny new ego, too.

I was quickly put in my place again.  As I branched off and did more and more "prestegious" things like lessons and camp and workshops, I found myself constantly berated.  I was doing EVERYTHING WRONG.

I held my clarinet wrong.

I blew into it wrong.

I tongued my notes wrong.

I used the wrong reeds.

I used the wrong mouthpiece.

I even was told at one point that I didn't have the right "jaw structure", and should just quit now.  I would never progress.

I began to change EVERYTHING, which began to set me back instead of help me move forward.  I probably would have been better off if someone would have broken all of my fingers and I had to teach myself to play like that while I healed. 

So what happened?  I continued to exceed, earning a coveted spot in the All State Orchestra (four clarinetists in the whole STATE each year get that spot... it's not easy!), along with many awards, scholarships, and invitations to play in bands nationwide.  I began to "do everything right".  The most important part - I hated what I was doing!

Music to me was, and still is, about passion, emotion, lyricity, and movement.  When I began to be restrained, music wasn't MUSIC anymore... it was a chore.  My senior year I decided I had enough and began breaking all the rules again.  I did what I wanted, and I was good.  I continued to be awarded scholarships and trophies, and I enjoyed it again.

So what does this have to do with real estate????

I've been "in the business" for nearly three years.  I've been licensed for nearly two.  In that time, I have received a LOT of advice.   "Do this, do that, this is the only way, you'll never get any sales THAT way..."

In the last month I've realized that this is what has happened my whole life.  I've hit the ground running, doing well, adapted to what I'm "supposed" to do, and soon discovered that I had lost the passion for what I was doing!  Marketing became a chore!  The good ideas died and fell off along the way. 

I became "just another agent", when I should have just continued being Joslyn Panka.

I woke up one day realizing that selling real estate is art!  Okay, not art like what you would see in the Walker Art Museum, but it's art!  The marketing, the creativity.  There is so much that goes into creating a business for yourself that is not textbook, and can't be taught to you.  "Stay in the office", "Go GET the business", "You need a website", "You need shiny business cards", or even "You need a big national name to sell ANYTHING"... I was being sent back to my desk with a picture of a tree that I personally thought was AWESOME, and it "wasn't the way things are done". 

I'm not suggesting that everyone go out and break all the rules of their brokerage, or completely change the way they have done business.  However, I do think that what works for you is awesome, and what works for me is awesome, and what works for Jane Doe and John Smith is awesome, too!  Sure, I work floor time.  I like it.  There are some nice leads that come in.  However, I do spend MORE of my time on my internet marketing.  I'm the leader in the area for internet marketing, and I plan on keeping it that way - because it works for me!  Will it work for my colleagues in my office?  I don't know.  Will it work for other agents in the area?  It might, it might not.  (Probably not because I'm determined to keep my "Internet Queen" title.)  However, if we all did business the same way, wouldn't that get old?  Besides, how would clients pick who they want to work with?  How would we as agents ever become individuals without the art required to sell houses?  The transactions would lose their beauty.  No longer would you tear up on your way home from a closing because that couple got the house of their dreams, or the child in the family was HILARIOUS when picking out "his bedroom" during the second showing.  The laughter, the smiles, the tears... that is the beauty of real estate, and the number one reason why I love this career. 

I love it for the art.

So fellow agents and real estate professionals - don't forget why you got into the business, and to appreciate and embrace the art in our careers EVERY DAY.  It will make you a better agent - and you'll love your life a whole lot more.

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Joslyn Panka Solomon & Nicholas Solomon - Realtors

Century 21 Moline Realty

Looking for an East Central Minnesota home?  Start your search here and find the perfect property!

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Ricardo Bueno
Diverse Solutions - Los Angeles, CA

"The marketing, the creativity."

I think that's the part that drives me (and challenges me) every day. Sometimes achieving that balance is hard but that's where you work at discovering what works for you. If you spend a little bit of time reflecting on that, it kinda just finds a way of working out. (Can you tell I'm optimistic? Hehe...)

May 16, 2008 05:59 PM #1
Nick and Joslyn Solomon
Century 21 Moline Realty - Cambridge, MN
The Solomon Team - Century 21 Moline Realty, Inc.

Ricardo - Exactly.  I mean, that's kind of where this blog came from.  Especially being in a new office and watching "new" agents (been in the business for years, but new in the sense that I haven't worked with them before) go about their days.  We all operate quite differently, but our goals are the same.  It's amazing.

May 16, 2008 06:13 PM #2
Ricardo Bueno
Diverse Solutions - Los Angeles, CA

How long have you been there now?

Each and every one of us is going to sell (I hate  using that word but it's true) differently than the next guy. The bottom line, find what works for you and stick to it. And when you can, help your friend along the way :D

May 16, 2008 07:29 PM #3
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Joslyn--Many of those experienced agents are threated by your new ideas. They don't really want you to succeed doing things differently. They want you to conform as that is the easiest way for them to compete with you. The educational process is similar...their goal is teaching to a certain level and a certain were outside the box.

What is great about real estate is that you are an independent business person. While you have a broker who is to guide you legally, you can market yourself and your business as you see fit. Ignore those who don't take the same path....Your success is your own!

May 17, 2008 01:41 AM #4
Alyce Martin
The Realty Group, LLC - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque - THE Place To Be!

Real Estate is a good place for analytical/creative/forward thinking people to be.  What other business can you get into with not much money, a few months of training? So it's accessible, BUT NOT EASY.  I have learned to embrace what I do.  Sales seems so crude, but when you think of it as something else, a "calling," if you really own it and be true to who you are, there are fruits to be picked.  Great post.

Alyce Martin, Keller Williams Realty, Albuquerque  

May 17, 2008 04:12 AM #5
Nick and Joslyn Solomon
Century 21 Moline Realty - Cambridge, MN
The Solomon Team - Century 21 Moline Realty, Inc.

Ricardo - What has it been, just over a month?  It didn't take long to see the differences!  :)

Teri - It does help to be somewhere where I really CAN market myself, not the company... I'm excited to do things I did before, but with a little more flexibility and focus on ME.

Alyce - Thank you!  That was a beautiful comment!  Being ahead of the competition is HUGE to me, and trying to find new ways to bring in the buyers is like a game that I can't get enough of.  You're absolutely right... this is a great business for outside-the-box-ers.

May 29, 2008 03:33 PM #6
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

Joslyn, I love this post.  It was hard to read how you were continually forced into traditional norms.  Although, I understand why your teachers thought this was the best way, it's painful to have a gift dimished because it came in an unusual package.  I'm glad that you've found your voice through blogging and being on the internet.  Kudos to you!

Jun 11, 2008 12:51 PM #7
Nick and Joslyn Solomon
Century 21 Moline Realty - Cambridge, MN
The Solomon Team - Century 21 Moline Realty, Inc.

Lola - Thanks so much!  I really appreciate that.  I think we all get pushed into being "normal", but what is normal?  And why should I want to be just like everyone else?  Thanks again!

Jun 13, 2008 04:55 AM #8
Midori Miller
Talk 2 Midori, LLC - Daytona Beach, FL
Online Marketing For Real Estate Professionals


Joslyn-I love reading your thoughts and for some reason I feel very close to you..maybe you remind of my 3 sons or maybe you remind me of me at a younger time but girl you got it going on! 

To this day I am told that I do things wrong..or I am different..funny thing we all all different with some incredible qualities.  I too played clarinet but I could not read music..but I could pick up that thing and blast it with some incredible sound. 

My clarinet days were short lived when our band teacher got upset with me..I had trouble learning the notes but the sounds were amazing.

Instead of taking some time with was bye bye band. 


Great great post and congrats it was selected as a Blogger's Choice Selection!

Jun 14, 2008 10:21 PM #9
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate


Boy did I understand and relate to this Post.  I can still hear my teachers asking why I capatilized everything, and got graded I receive many compliments on my penmanship, and even my blogging has a lot of capitals where they don't belong.  But that has never detracted from the words or the message, it's just what I do.

As far as Real Estate, oh again how similar.  I was told I had to walk farms, do this and do that.  My first 6 months in the business I had more listings and sales in our office than anyone else, and was #7 in the San Diego Council of our Franchise.......all while learning the art of Real Estate, outside the box. I didn't know their way, but could match my skills to my way. 

Later, I was told only Brokers were important, when they couldn't get me to conform.  So....well look at my signature line.....Broker :)  I only hire people that can think outside the I have no time to take care of the box for them.

Oh, and I love your upside down picture, or maybe it's rightside up and ours are upside down....:) :)

Congratulations on your Bloggers Choice Award, it is well deserved :)

Jun 15, 2008 05:51 AM #10
Diane Aurit
LKN Realty, LLC - Mooresville, NC
Lake Norman Real Estate

Thank you for sharing such a personal insight into your life and how it applies to all of us.  After 17 years in real estate I am still told that I spend too much time/money/effort with my clients and behind the computer. You have reminded me to follow my passion and not listen to the nay sayers. Thank you!

Jun 16, 2008 02:10 AM #11
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

Joslyn, such a heart-felt post. Thanks for opening and sharing who's behind the name. It's not easy to make yourself vulnerable like this and yet have a big story to tell. I consider you street smart and absolutely, do things that make you and I feel comfortable. And congratulations on the Blogger's Choice Award.

Jun 16, 2008 08:39 AM #12
Debra Kukulski, Broker Associate
RE/MAX Suburban - Cary, IL
SRES;SFR,CDPE;GRI;ABR;e-PRO Realtor, Northern IL

Joslyn, I love this post.  One of the things I love about our business is that there is no one right way to do things, and we can find out own way that works for us and our clients.  You do not have to fit in any certain mold to be successful in this business and I believe success comes not only by what we know and how we do it, but, most importantly, who we are inside and how we use that to help our clients reach their goals.

Jun 17, 2008 12:50 AM #13
Nick and Joslyn Solomon
Century 21 Moline Realty - Cambridge, MN
The Solomon Team - Century 21 Moline Realty, Inc.

Midori - First of all, thank you very much.

Secondly, to hear that band was given up over something as minor as not being able to read music BREAKS MY HEART.  Yes, it's difficult to perform in a group like that when music is hard for you to read, but some of the best musicians died being completely unable to read music.  So who is to say that you were any different? 

Kathy - Wow, I can totally relate to your comments, too.  I can't count how many times I've heard that I'm really "nothing" because I am not a broker, or don't have a designation.  Or the fabulous line "how did YOU get THAT listing?"  I just keep plugging away, and someday I will probably be like you - a broker, who only looks for agents who go above and beyond and are coming up with new ideas every day.  New ideas make us different than the rest!

Diane - I hear similar things, as well - especially about the computer.  However, I'm doing business, and that's all that matters to me!  :)

Loreena - Thank you so much!  I try to be different, and yet observe the things that are working.

Debra - Besides, if we weren't all different, how in the world would clients decide who to work with???

Jul 21, 2008 03:46 PM #14
Marshall Enterprises
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Antiques, Lawn Care, and Trashouts

This is an awesome post.  And, just the type of inspiration others need.  I rarely reblog, but I am going to reblog this one.  Best to you!


Oh, I can't. Darn it!

May 17, 2014 05:21 AM #15
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The Solomon Team - Century 21 Moline Realty, Inc.
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