Life's Lessons: Learning through Service

Real Estate Agent with Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living

Learning by Serving

A real estate career begins with a pretty steep learning curve. First you realize that all that information you learned to get your real estate license didn't really teach you the step-by-step, day-to-day skills, practices, and scripts you'll need to find buyers and sellers, write contracts, analyze properties, or close deals. 

As a coach of new agents, I work to distill a lot of information into bite-size pieces, bullet points or checklists for my students. When I decided to write a post about life's lessons, I immediately thought about an ActiveRain post I'd written in 2015 with 20 lessons I learned tending bar. As I revisit that list, it still rings true. There are so many things that service jobs like workings retail, waiting tables and tending bar, have taught me about working with people. These lessons have translated to real estate, and also to motherhood.

I figured if I learned such valuable lessons working in the service industry so could my daughters. 

Passing it on

The Baller

When my first daughter was being recruited by college basketball coaches, (Stop and think for a minute what your life would be like if your success at work was measured by your ability to convince teenagers and their parents to select your school over other schools! Brutal, right?) they were often surprised that with her busy training, practice and game schedule, she was able to find time to work a part-time job. When they heard that she was waiting tables, they were even more surprised. They said most recruits were bragging about their career-oriented internships or cushy office jobs their parents had arranged for them.

Some coaches asked to speak to me and were pleasantly surprised by how much more I thought my daughter would learn in a service job. "There'll be plenty of time for office jobs later." I told them. "These lessons are important now."

The Artist

My younger daughter is an artist who spends a great deal of time to herself. She entered the work force in the service industry waiting tables and then serving ice cream. As she prepared her portfolio for college, she started out pretty secretive, not really showing anyone her works of art. Serving customers helped her build confidence interacting with people and develop a slightly thicker skin. Attending Art School requires a lot of self exploration, self expression and the ability to receive critiques and address the concerns without getting defensive.

She has also posted about her pet and house sitting services and scheduled all kinds of jobs on her own. I know that her jobs serving the public have helped her prepare for a life promoting herself and her art. 

Time Will Tell

In time we'll know if serving others provides my daughters with the same 20 things I learned tending bar, or if they have an entirely different list of benefits. That is the thing about parenting, it's a long game.  You hope you've imparted the most important things you can to your children and they turn out okay. In my mind, serving others never really hurt anyone. Fingers crossed. 

Parker is entering her junior year at Princeton where she is studying Anthropology and playing basketball. Miranda has just started her freshman year the School at the Art Institute of Chicago. I'm now an empty nester. 

This is part of the 2023 August Challenge Embracing Life's Lessons 

Posted by


Dana Hollish Hill
REALTOR * Broker * Coach 
JPAR Stellar Living
800 S Frederick Ave, Suite 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20877
office 301.944.9070  
cell  202.271.5301

Comments (14)

Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

You taught your daughters well and it seems to have helped them. Working to get what you want builds self-confidence and an appreciation for what work can bring,

Aug 31, 2023 07:39 PM
Dana Hollish Hill

Ed - Absolutely! It's amazing how good hard work makes you feel. 

Sep 01, 2023 06:21 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

What a great post Dana!  I learned so much more about you and your awesome daughters finding their unique ways in the world! I'd say you've raised some pretty smart girls that absolutely will find their way in the world - thanks to their Mom's lessons! I am so glad you found time to share this lovely post!  Thank you!

Aug 31, 2023 08:40 PM
Dana Hollish Hill

Thank you Anna "Banana" - 

I am proud of the women they are becoming. They surprise me with all the amazing things they do and create. Can't wait to see what they do next. 

Aug 31, 2023 08:47 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Dana - the term "shadow of the leader" comes to mind while reading your post.  Congratulations on your challenge entry and its inspirational message.  

Sep 01, 2023 03:12 AM
Dana Hollish Hill

Michael - You are too kind. 

Sep 01, 2023 06:08 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

How wonderful! Your daughters will do great - they have a great role model!

Sep 01, 2023 04:49 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Dana... you've raised two amazing daughters! There's no doubt in my mind they will be successful in any endeavor. I actually remember that post you wrote about what you learned by tending bar. Your point about the steep learning curve was spot-on......... all real estate school actually teaches is how to stay out of real estate jail.

Sep 01, 2023 05:44 AM
Dana Hollish Hill

Nina - You are so right. I know there are those who feel we need to have a higher bar to entry into the real estate profession. It seems like an apprenticeship would make so much sense. So many of the most successful agents had someone who showed them the ropes. I know ActiveRain has been an invaluable resource for me throughout the years. So many who are retired now shared freely their knowledge with me.

Sep 01, 2023 06:31 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Dana,
Isn't it interesting how different two kids can be coming from the same family? We can teach them a lot, but they have to learn from their own experiences too, don't they? It sounds like both of your daughters have a great foundation, and we all know that's the basis for long-term success. 

Now, I'm off to read what you learned tending bar.

Sep 01, 2023 06:24 AM
Dana Hollish Hill

Carol - It is truly amazing how one family produces such different kids...and dogs. I wonder what families with more experience. 

Sep 01, 2023 06:19 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

I love this, Dana!!!  Something that struck me was what you said about learning through service.  When we're dining out, we meet young people all of the time who are working their way through college. They seem mature and aware of the needs of others. 

You have succeeded in doing what I suggest to my nieces and anyone else with children. Your job is to prepare them to go out in the world and be good citizens. Kudos to you. 

Sep 01, 2023 10:50 AM
Dana Hollish Hill

Thank you Kathy. It is wonderful to watch all the kids in your life, not just your own, grow up right in front of you - at the local shops, restaurants, stores and as lifeguards and even rescue squad. It just goes so darn fast!

Sep 01, 2023 06:11 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Dana Hollish Hill - I enjoyed reading about your daughters. WOW! That photo of your daughter with her long, long legs is incredible! I can see how each of your daughters gives you pride of being a mother. I also have a daughter who had strong artistic skills. They served her well and I know your daughter's talents do too! I wish them much success and happiness. Motherhood isn't for the weak of heart or for those that don't have time to help them grow into becoming a strong woman. 

Dana, you have a beautiful family! 

Sep 01, 2023 05:01 PM
Dana Hollish Hill

Thank you Patricia - 

Although I was once the tallest woman on both sides of our family at 6'2",  my oldest is 6'5" and my youngest is 6'1.5" and since I've been shrinking, they both tower over me now. 

Motherhood is the hardest job I've ever had, but I've loved more than words can say. Can't imagine life without these two. Luckily I have two other girls at home to keep me company as an empty nester. 


Sep 01, 2023 06:17 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Sep 02, 2023 07:04 PM
Dana Hollish Hill


Wow! Thank for thinking of me. I really appreciate it. 


Sep 05, 2023 07:36 PM
Charles Ross - eXp Realty LLC
eXp Realty LLC Salina Group - Salina, KS
Love To Help People

Excellent post.Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful day and a blessed week

Sep 03, 2023 02:46 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Dana. Learning to service others at an early age has also taught them to save themselves in seeking their own choices. Kudos to you on a job well done and your daughters on pursuing their interests. The Art Institute of Chicago is a favorite place of the wife and I to visit. Enjoy your day.

Sep 03, 2023 05:59 AM
Dana Hollish Hill

Wayne - I loved it too. Guess I'll have more opportunities to visit there now that my daughter is there. Can't wait!

Sep 05, 2023 07:38 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for sharing some of your family story.

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Sep 03, 2023 12:39 PM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

I think your daughters will continue to do fine, all my sons had jobs, waiting tables stocking shelves or such, each has made good choices and they all have done very well. I think your girls will do equally well, being confident in themselves and exploring life with vigor.

Sep 05, 2023 12:42 PM
Dana Hollish Hill

Nick - 

I hope you're right! I sure do miss them though. 

Sep 05, 2023 07:38 PM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Each posting for this challenges shares a different aspect such as yours with your daughters.  Thank you for allowing AR members to read your life lessons.

Sep 08, 2023 08:39 AM