Reinvention, Photography & Living with an Abundance Mindset CTM with Linda Aaron

CTM post (34)

Spend any time with Linda Aaron (Aka Skynnard – we FINALLY hear THAT story!) and you’ll immediately fall in love with her generous spirit, her love of life and her commitment to her agents! Linda serves as the Training Director and Operations Coordinator for the very large and successful company Coldwell Banker Bain/Seal in Seattle, WA.

Linda has had to reinvent herself a few times over the years and it’s always fascinating to hear how someone landed in real estate… Linda’s story focuses on abundance; life transition and reinvention, photography (Check out her photography blog Skynnard’s Lens to view her amazing photos) and the love of learning! (Probably why she makes such an awesome Trainer!)Untitled design

Linda says on the topic of reinvention: “Even though we are an industry trying to attract young people there will always be older people coming into RE as a second career and we need them – they bring a life experience.”  (TWEETABLE!) I couldn’t agree more!

Here’s one of the FEW pictures I have with Linda (with Anne Jones, in NYC for Inman Connect January 2014 – Thanks to Heather Ostrom for taking the pic!)

 

Linda NYCHope you enjoy this CTM as much I did! And reach out to Linda on Twitter @Skynnard~ She’s the bomb! 🙂

 

 

Announcer:You are listening to “Conversations that Matter,” with your host, Teri Conrad.

Teri: Welcome to Conversations that Matter. I’m Teri Conrad, and I am here with Linda “Skynard” Aaron, who works for CB Bain down in Seattle. You are Director of Training, I believe, is your title?

Linda: Yes.

Teri: For all of CB Vain: how many agents do you have?

Linda: We have, just over 1,000, about. I think we’re at 1,046 right now. The number fluctuates, depending on what’s happening with the market, of course.

Teri: Huge company. I have been a fan, and have done some contract work with your company over the years. Actually, I was just tracking back to when you and I met, and that goes back to Agent Reboot: I think 2010.

Linda: 2010.

Teri: That’s four years ago now.

Linda: I know. We have a history. It’s so funny to me how time goes so fast like that. You think back to, “When did I do that,” and it’s like, “Wow, four years.” It was right about the time I went over to the corporate offices and was working in the training department with, at that time, Deborah Trappan, who since moved on. Then I raised my hand and said, “I want training.” So – 

Teri:You got it.

Linda:They gave it to me. Yeah.

Teri:We’re going to delve into that a lot, but let’s start at the very beginning. First question I have to ask, right out of the gate, is: where did Skynnard come from? What is Skynnard?

Linda: Oh, my gosh. It’s a silly story. A very close friend of mine, [1:40], who is an agent with our company – in Seattle we call them brokers, but for this conversation, I’ll call them agents so people know what we’re talking about.  She and I worked in the same office and became extremely good friends. We did some traveling together through the years, and we were fast and furiously trying to trim ourselves down for a European trip. We were going to go for two weeks, so we each had an alter ego named for our weight loss program that we were on, and our heavy duty power walking to get down so we could eat like fiends in Italy.

Teri: Brilliant.

Linda: Mine, because of the connection – I’m from the south and my southern roots, and a takeoff on my name was “Lynyrd,” and so she started calling me “Lynyrd,” and then it morphed into “Skynnard.” When I went on Twitter, I thought, “I think I’ll just go on here and be anonymous. Nobody will know what this is.” I went on as “Skynnard,” and then I met so many people on Twitter that I don’t feel like I can switch to my real name now: no one would know who was tweeting to them anymore.

Teri: Oh, my God.

Linda: It just stuck. It stuck and it just became a thing that I did with my photography and my garden, so there’s Skynnard’s Gardens and Skynnard’s Lens, so in fact, my website is SkynnardsLens.com. It just was a funny thing that stuck, and now there are a lot of people that call me that, among other nicknames, like “Techno-Nana.”

Teri: Techno-Nana. 

[Laughter]

Linda: That’s the current one that’s floating around.

Teri: That’s a darn good one. Okay, so that’s something that honestly, I have known you all these years, and we’ve never once figured out where that – so, thank you. That’s something I’ve been dying to know. Now I know. Thank you. Skinny Lynyrd, basically.

Linda: A nickname that stuck.

Teri:I love it. Perfect. Now that we’ve touched on Skynnard’s Lens, let’s go into photography. You are known, loved, revered in Inman, honest to goodness, I don’t know what Inman would do without you, because every single conference you’re there, taking and capturing so many beautiful moments on film. You work your tail off, crazy. You work your tail off when you’re there taking all your beautiful pictures. Where did this photography passion start? How did you get into photography? How are you so knowledgeable?

Linda: Wow. It’s started actually, even when I was a kid, like, camp pictures, I’ve always had a camera. When my children – I have two daughters who are both grown, and have children of their own now, but when they were in the horse world, riding horses – our whole family rode, so we had acreage, and we kept horses at a barn and a riding arena, and a tractor. That’s a whole side of me nobody probably even knows about.

Teri: No idea. Had no idea.

Linda: I used to drive a tractor! That’s how it started. I would go to the horse shows and take pictures of my kids, and other mothers would say, “Would you take pictures of my kids?” “Sure, happy to do it.” Then I just really got re-engaged with photography, so I decided “I’m going to go and take some classes,” because I have a love of learning as well as teaching. 

I had a great photography professor at one of the local community colleges here, named Chris Simmons: he taught me black and white photography, processing in the dark room, and all of that. Where we lived, I was able to actually set up a dark room. For about four years, I had a dark room, and developed my own film, and did all of that. It was really fun. I took a lot of classes, to answer your question how I got really into it. It turned into a little business, so I though “Well shoot, if I’m going to be taking pictures, I might as well hang out my shingle,” so I started doing some freelance equestrian photography in the late ’80s.

Teri: No kidding.

Linda: Yeah, and early ’90s. Shot a couple of horse shows locally, some small shows on my own, and then I assisted with a couple of really large shows with another local photographer named Jay Goss, which was just a whole lot of fun. We were shooting Hunter Jumper shows, and actually came up to Canada with Thunderbird.

Teri: Oh! That’s right in my backyard!

Linda: Shot up there one time: really fun. Then, as life presents you, you have a change of plans. Things don’t always go the way you want, so I needed to figure out a way to support myself. Photography wasn’t really going to do it: not doing it as a horse show business. There’s just a limited amount of time you can shoot. I’ve always stayed active doing it, and I love it. When you’re doing it for a business, it’s completely different than when you’re doing it for pleasure.

Teri: Everything is. Why is that? It sucks all the fun out of it. As soon as you have to charge it’s like hey, it’s not fun anymore.

Linda: I know, I know. For me I’d rather just shoot and share, and give away, and let people use. That works for me. I like it. I like sharing that part.

Teri: Your photography is up for grabs?

Linda: Within reason, it’s up for grabs. I would like to be asked if someone wants to use something.

Teri: Absolutely. Do you find that – that’s an area I didn’t plan on going down, but what about creative commons? What is your stand on that?

Linda: I have my website and I have it copyrighted, just because there are some things that at some point, I might want to use for my own purposes. This is this chapter of life. I don’t know what the next chapter’s going to look like. 

I keep all my options open always, but when I shoot the Inman shows, it’s so much fun, because the pictures that I use very often immediately become profile pictures on people’s Facebook pages, and their Google Plus. It’s really fun to see that, because it’s a gift for me that keeps on giving. When I see, “Hey, that’s one of my pictures, and that’s one of my pictures,” I really like that.

Teri: No kidding. What we have found is it’s challenging is finding a good picture of Linda, because you’re always the one behind the camera.

Linda: Most of my profile pictures have a camera up to one eye. 

[Laughter]

 Which is fun. I like being on this side of the camera.

Teri: Yeah, no kidding. Listen, while we’re on the subject of chapters in our lives, you and I touched on this for a moment: we had a conversation briefly around reinvention. I thought it’d be fun to just go deep a little bit, just because you and I both had to re-invent ourselves a couple of times already, and how we’ve identified that there’s just chapters in your life. Why don’t you share with me a little bit about the different chapters in your life? What they represent to you. What is the process of re-invention? How have you tackled that?

Linda: Wow. It’s not like you ever just sit down and decide one day, “Okay, I’m going to re-invent myself today.” It doesn’t ever happen like that. I started out with a completely different kind of career than real estate. I was in fashion merchandising. Another, I know – 

Teri: I had no idea! It explains a lot though. You do always look fabulous.

Linda: That’s where I met my husband. We married, and then we decided we were going to start a family. We just discussed it and decided that we really felt it was important for me to be in the home, with the kids: raising the kids. At that time, he was doing a lot of promotions and job changes across the country. I think at one point we moved five times in six years. It was craziness.

Teri: Wow.

Linda: I was setting up a new home, and getting ready for the next phase. For 27 years, I stayed home with my family, and I did lots of things. I did photography; I did a small antique business. I did lots of interesting things, but nothing that was ever full time, that took me completely away from raising my family. 

There’s the first chapter of the fashion-merchandising career: I bought [9:38] designer dresses for a southern California department store, Bullocks, that’s no longer there: it’s Federated Department Stores. That was a whole lot of fun. I traveled to New York about every five weeks, and I was really young: I was in my early 20s then.

Teri: I’ve seen a picture of you in your early 20s. You were stunning! What was that one picture that you shared? We’ll have to get that. We’ll have to get a copy of that. I was just like, “Wow, she’s a model! She’s so pretty!”

Linda: It was really fun. It was exciting, and I enjoyed it. Then, when I decided to – the first reinvention, of course, was figuring out what I was going to do, life after divorce. As many people do, life doesn’t give you what you have planned. The twists and the turns that happen, and you just dust yourself off and say, “Well, this is not where I was expecting to be, but let’s figure out what we can do.” That was the whole reassessment of photography as a business, and what could I do. In the meantime, in the late ’90s, I felt really compelled; I was just absolutely drawn to know more about computers. I wanted to go take computer classes, and I did.

Teri: My goodness.

Linda: I didn’t really know why I was doing that, but I took computer classes and graphics class, because I was just always interested in something artistic. When I decided to look for a job, I had a small stint with a private, very large equestrian firm here in the Seattle area. It was a privately owned barn: really, the state of the art, coolest riding academy around. 

We did some pretty creative things with advertising, and that launched me on that marketing track, and advertising, and photography that way. It was enhancing what I could do with photography, and at the same time, I was learning how to use computers. 

In 2000, when I decided I needed to go back to work full time, I was reading the paper, and recognized that this job description that was being advertised was exactly my skill set: that I had been as time, re-inventing myself, all these skills I was gathering, were all leading me up to the point of getting this particular job that I’m in now. You just never even realize that at the time. You just think, “Oh, it’s Linda going off and taking photography classes. Oh, it’s Linda going off and taking graphics and computer classes.” In the end, here I am, doing a whole new career based on all of that prep stuff that was going on in the ’90s, while I was winding down being a mom.

Teri: Wow. Wow. There’s so many things there. First of all, I relate to so much of that, because of course, as you know, I’ve been through many of the same life changes. I’ve gone through periods of my life where it feels like you’re treading water: you’re in that waiting, holding pattern, like you say. You’re taking your classes, you’re touching and experimenting, or whatever, as you move towards the next phase of your life. My question is: do you feel like this was the universe pulling you along and directing you, or were these really conscious choices? Did you go to seek these choices? Or did they present themselves to you?

Linda: Some of them, yes. When I was analyzing, “What can I do to support myself if I needed or wanted to?” I knew that equestrian photography alone would not do it. That sent me on the path of going and taking computer classes. 

As it turned out, the first job I got after I did all those classes was working for this horse farm. I was running their office and I was helping with their pony camp program: the first one they’d ever done. The first year we had 100 people on the waiting list, and it was all because of 1 ad that I ran.

Teri: Wow.

Linda: The way everything unfolded, it was like, “Okay, I’m doing what I’m meant to do,” without really realizing. Sometimes I was so compelled to take the computer classes; I had no idea why. In fact, my ex-husband said to me, “Well, what are you going to do with computers?” and I looked at him and I said, “I don’t know yet. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.”

Teri: We can let him know now. Now we know.

Linda: Yeah, right, so teaching computer classes.

Teri: Wow.

Linda: The teaching thing: I think I was always meant to be a teacher. I just took at big detour with it. I actually was going to go to a teaching college and, in the end, got lured away to this whole fashion merchandising thing, and went down the management training path with Bullocks and Federated, and did all that. 

I loved every second of that, it was very exciting, but really, in the end, I love the teaching. Just seeing somebody get that aha moment when they’ve learned something, and you’ve made a difference for them in their work or their own personal knowledge, or – that’s really rewarding to me.

Teri: I’ve seen you in your environment and [14:40] move from ponies to agents. Now you’re working with professional people who, many of us operate from a very strong sense of ego, and you have all these people with different expectations. They, at this time, have had to face a lot of challenges: a lot of big changes in the industry, and the tech piece being a very big part of it. I love how you’ve been that example of, “Don’t tell me you’re too old to learn this stuff, because” – 

Linda: Oh, yeah. Oh, I’m the poster child. In fact, when I first started teaching, I’d stand up in front of 40 or 50 agents and I would get the, “I can’t do this!” and I’d go, “No, no, no. Look who you’re looking at. If I can learn this, you can learn this.” I think helping people be tech curious and not be afraid to try something and – I would say a billion times, “You can’t break the internet. Just try it.” 

I think it’s giving people that courage to step out of their comfort zone. I think that is one of the gifts I have, because I don’t present it in a way that’s over their heads. I try to break it down to what people can really understand, and help them problem solve. If you don’t need to use that, don’t use it. Use what you need for your business: so figure that out first, and then we’ll figure out the solution. That little bit of Sherlock Holmes is fun too, to help people figure out their workflow and how they can better maximize their business.

Teri: This is where I think [16:14] so fortunate to have you there, because I actually feel like so many agents really struggle with that on their own.

Linda: They do.

Teri: They need that outside person to talk to, to help them navigate that. I do think it is overwhelming. There are so many things that you could be constantly experimenting with, and trying to add into your business, and totally take you off track from sticking with your basic systems: that would really work for you.

Linda: Right. Our President, Mike Grady, always says, “We’re a real estate company using technology, not a technology company doing real estate.”

Teri: Love it.

Linda: I think that’s a huge distinction. We do use real estate. In fact, we’re going through a whole major tools overhaul, and website overhaul, and that’s all going to be launching soon. It’s all really exciting; it’s been a long time coming. 

I think the bottom line is, what we try to help our new agents do is get the basics and the fundamentals of good real estate practices in place, and then figure out the modern technology or tools that can help you do that. Without those base skills – and it’s funny to me, because when business was bad and the market was horrible, everybody was looking for the fix, right? The shiny bullet; the pill that was going to make it all better. 

The truth is there wasn’t anything, and I think a lot of people got very distracted during that time. Now, I think people are coming back around to a very busy market, and they had to get really real and focused on the fundamentals of doing real estate and building real estate relationships.

Teri: Couldn’t agree with you more. I looked at that period as a time of let’s dabble, let’s play and see; because we had time to do that, because business wasn’t crazy. We all just dabbled quite a bit. Anyway, what happened was, I told Heather Ostrom that I was going to be interviewing you. As you know, she was my last interview.

Linda: Yes.

Teri: She’s like, “Oh, I love Lynyrd so much!” She had a question, and I thought this was really good. She wanted to know – let me just see here: she wanted to know what got you into real estate. Now we know that story, so that’s awesome. 

I think her question was about saying – “How do you handle agents who are pushing back?” so, they really aren’t embracing tech curious. You’re managing a huge office: there’s all these people with all these different personality traits, and all these different expectations and needs. How do you manage that, and how do you mitigate the pushback from your agents?

Linda: Everything isn’t for everybody. I think if you can find the one relatable piece – so, here’s an example: a woman significantly older than I am who’s still in the business, who has done tremendous production in and out over the years, and she came – I was doing a little Twitter workshop, and she came to my Twitter workshop. She sat right in the front row, because, bless her heart, she was determined she was going to learn this new stuff. I could see her just shaking her head, like this, through the whole thing. 

When I got to the end for Q and A, I said, “Tell me what you think.” She said, “Well, thank you very much. I’ve decided that Twitter’s not for me, but,” she said, “What I have decided is that LinkedIn works really well, and I’m going to do more of that. 

By talking to people, you can figure out what their style is, and where their people are. I always say to brokers, “If your people are not on Twitter, then don’t go spend your time on Twitter.” Figure out where your people are, because you can’t tell me that people today are not on the internet. They are. We know this. There’s 90 year olds on the internet, so come on. Don’t give me this, “I’m too old, I can’t do it, my people aren’t there.” I just stand up and say that: “How do you know your people aren’t there, you haven’t even checked.”

Teri: Yeah, if you’re not there – 

Linda: If you’re not there, you won’t know that your people are there. I think helping them to figure out, one bite of the apple at a time. You don’t have to go – I have a presentation I do that outlines all the social media sites that I think are important for real estate, and where I think people need to have their profiles online, to really have a good digital footprint. That’s about a 45 minute program, and when I’m done, people just look at me like, “Are you crazy, woman? I couldn’t possibly have time to do all this,” and I go, “You don’t have to do it all.” 

That’s the beauty of it, is there’s something for everyone. If you love photography, go be on Instagram. Go do Pintrest sports; go do visual things. There’s something for everybody that they can relate to, especially on the social platforms. I think really, in the end, they’re all about building relationships: every single one of them. That’s it, and that’s what people in real estate do best. We build relationships. It’s just the nature of the business.

Teri: Well, you have to.

Linda: Yeah. Back in 2009, when I started getting really active online, with Facebook, and Twitter, and all of those social platforms, I just looked and I went, “This stuff is tailor made for people to talk to people.” Take the marketing piece out of it: it’s just building relationships has gotten so much easier because of all the online opportunities.

Teri: Now you’ve touched on something that is often a pain point for many people, which is deciphering the difference between social and marketing: How do you explain that to people? I’m sure you have agents who are using social as a purely marketing platform. How do you get them to wrap their brains around how it should be used more effectively?

Linda: We teach a week long – it’s 30 hours, it’s called Fast Start. This is an introduction to, specifically for new agents, but it’s really interesting, because sometimes we’ll have experienced agents who haven’t taken it for years come into it. It’s so different now, that I’ve started teaching it in conjunction with another instructor. We’ve taken some of those modern marketing techniques and social media platforms, and we’ve woven that into the traditional curriculum of building a real estate business. 

In the end, people come up, and they’re just so blown away about all of the things that they have ahead of them; but helping them to figure out “Okay, this is who you’re going to be in real estate, and this is what your brand is going to be,” and helping them understanding that brand piece, because it’s so important about how you present yourself online. 

Every single time after the class, somebody will come up and say, “Should I do a Facebook Business Page first?” I go “No, absolutely not.” In fact, I don’t care if you ever do a Facebook Business Page, because the fact of the matter is, unless you’re willing to pay for advertising, which is a model that’s working for a lot of people – but for the majority of people, that does not work, and it won’t work, because they won’t do what they need to do, which is spend some money on advertising. 

I say to people, “Your best and highest use for Facebook, in particular, is to go talk to your people. Build your relationships online. Build your list. Talk to people. Share what they’re interested in. Be personal. Be social. Don’t try to put all your open houses on there.” All of us that teach say that; well, not all of us, I think some people tell them to put their open houses – 

Teri: No, no, no, no.

Linda: I am very vocal about it, in that I disapprove of it. I don’t think – particularly social media, each has their own ecosystem. I don’t think Facebook will ever – The social side, the friend side of Facebook, wants to see all straight ahead business. They just don’t.

Teri: I agree.

Linda: I think you have to figure out where you’re placing with it. Let’s face it: all of us online are always marketing, in a way. We’re marketing who we are. We’re marketing who our personal brands are. We’re marketing what company we work for.

Teri: We used to be told all the time, “Don’t be a secret agent. Let people know that you are actually in the business of selling real estate, or you will never” – “You can build all the relationships in the world, but if nobody knows what you do, then it will never come.” It is a delicate balance. I do think that’s true. I love watching people like Stacie Staub, with her, “Here’s our fabulous open houses this weekend,” and she creates this beautiful graphic, and she makes it really inviting. I think she calls it, “Pimping it out.” 

[Laughter]

Linda: Yeah.

Teri: There are creative ways to share what you’re doing, or “My gosh, these are my client’s beautiful home, that they just completed on. They’re so happy,” and talk about how they feel, and – 

Linda: Right, and talking about how you’re helping people.

Teri: Yeah.

Linda: I think most of the people in real estate like helping people. If they didn’t they’re straight ahead masochists, as far as I’m concerned. 

[Laughter] 

This business is brutal, in terms of the emotionality of it; everything that’s involved in it. You work so hard to get a transaction put together to help this person buy their dream home, and at the end, something falls apart out of your control. It is a hard business, emotionally, for both the people buying and selling, and the agent in the middle, trying to help them through this process. 

A good friend of mine has this mantra – she’s a realtor. She says, “See the job, do the job, and stay out of the misery.” Meaning, keep yourself level so that you don’t get sucked into that emotionality of it, so that you can’t be your best self for you clients. It’s hard. It is such a personal thing, it’s such an intimate process to go through, most often with people.

Teri: Completely agree. The thing is, it’s never the same experience twice.

Linda: Never.

Teri: Every deal is a completely new experience.

Linda: It is. You’re constantly learning in this business.

Teri: Always.

Linda: That’s why, when somebody says to me, “I’m too old to do computers, or social media,” I look at them; I go, “I don’t believe it, because look at what you do every day, putting these complex transactions together.

Teri: Do you think, though, that it gets to a point where the agent is just flat out tired of having to constantly learn?

Linda: Yes. Sure. Aren’t we all? How do you keep up? How do I keep up? I love it. I wake up in the morning at 6:00 a.m. with my cup of coffee, and I’m in my Feedly, reading all my feed reader that’s come in overnight that I just can’t not read, because I want to learn something new. I love that process. I love the learning process. I’ll sit down and I’ll read a manual, or I’ll read an instruction book, or I’ll – 

Teri: Okay, that’s just weird.

Linda: That’s just me. I’m a “why” girl. I need to know why. Why does that work that way? When I understand the why, I can stand up in front of a group of people, and I don’t need a script, I can just tell you how and why you need to use this, or why things work. I just like to go there. I want to know, for my own edification. 

It’s interesting, the number of people who won’t do that. We’ve been talking a lot about where training’s going for agents, because with 30 branches, over 1,000 agents, traffic in Seattle and [27:43] a nightmare. Our agents in [27:46] Portland area can’t drive up for classes, typically, unless it’s a two-day class or something. How do we deliver training going forward? What does that look like? I’m doing more of a video: screen cast videos in short, little increments. Then we’re going to be doing a lot more with webinars. The truth is, people don’t want to sit down and even watch an hour-long webinar.

Teri: Isn’t that the truth? I think it’s an interesting time. I was just having a conversation with Tony Joe, who is an agent in Victoria: a broker, had been the past president of their board. He does this great buyer presentation, and he does a lot of new agent training, right out of the post licensing. 

He was saying they’re talking about moving everything into online training. Five years ago, I would’ve been like, let’s do it, because how many classes have I sat in where I’m like, “This is a waste of my time.” There’s two sides of this argument. However, when it’s truly amazing content that we need, there is something to be said for that in person time that you can spend inside that classroom.

Linda: Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s the problem. If you ask, and I do ask often: I’ll ask at the end of a class, “Would you guys like to see more online training?” Everybody in the room says no, because I’m asking people that have come and driven to get to class: they want that in person experience. That’s the way they learn. 

I think the interesting thing, working with adult learners, is you’ve got not only all the various age groups to work with, and different learning styles, but you’ve got busy people who are thinking about their business. In any given class, if I were to walk around the room, if there’s a computer screen up, I’ll bet you they’re not taking notes about what I’m talking about: they’re checking email, they’re working on a deal, they’re doing all this things. The distraction factor for that kind of learning is really great. 

I think, when you’ve got the hard, boring law stuff, that’s fine online: you just power through it and get it done, because you have to do that: because it’s necessary. Some of the other classes, I think, we really still do them live, and with good reason. I’m so blessed. I don’t teach the real estate classes for our company, I teach sales and marketing as it relates to real estate, and I teach online computers and marketing that way: just general computer usage and social media. I have 30 people that are also certified with the state of Washington and Oregon to teach in our training program, and they all are vastly talented, incredibly knowledgeable: most of them principal managing brokers. 

Our managers in training are all participating in our training program, and I’m really proud of that fact, because collectively, the knowledge that our group has: you can’t replace that. That’s something that you would never get in online training. When we have our principal managing brokers teaching in our Fast Start group, some segment of working with buyers, or sellers, or transactions, or negotiations: our people are getting the best education they could possibly get. Truly

Teri: I know for a fact you bring in the Divas to talk about what [31:12] about what he did. They are all just amazing – 

Linda: The extraordinary thing about that is we started doing this in 2014 with Fast Start, because I felt like I can talk theory all day long. Kimberly [31:35] is our primary Fast Start instructor right now: she is semi-retired, I absolutely won’t let her go, from managing one of our most profitable branches in Seattle. She did that for years, and built this just lovely pool of agents in that office that I draw from for these classes. 

Kimberly and I teach – we’re such a good combination, because she’s teaching all the real estate stuff, and I’m teaching all the other things that brokers need to know to get their presence online, and get moving in the business, and how they let people know what we’re doing. We started asking in brokers, so as you mentioned, Michael Ackerman, who is just a gold standard, in my mind, of what the epitome of an agent should be. He does everything first rate, high quality, with the client’s best interest in mind every single time. 

He comes from this place of abundance. That’s who you want in front of a brand new group of agents, so they can understand what a really great agent is. I’m so blessed to have him. We’ve written a couple of other classes together that we teach together, but this Fast Start portion: he’s teaching listing presentations and how you talk to sellers in the living room – so, it’s a very comprehensive, which we actually turned into a three hour class, because it’s such a phenomenal amount of information he was giving people. 

You mentioned the Divas [33:02] so we have them come in and talk about how they built their business using social media, and reviews, and online platforms. 

Then we have somebody else come in and talk about open houses. Those three things are always so daunting to people in the beginning, is “How do I do an open house,” and “What do I do,” and “How do I connect with people?” We bring in these people who are in the field, working at the height of their careers, to share what they do. God bless them, they share so freely: Michael gives his entire pre-listing packet and says, “If you want a copy of this, for inspiration, call me or email me and I’ll send it to you,” and he does.

Teri: That blows my mind. When we talk about raising the bar in this industry, which is thrown around pretty willy-nilly these days, this is, I think, a perfect example. I have huge respect for these people, because not only are they coming in and teaching a class, but they’re taking time away from their business.

Linda: Yes.

Teri: To me, this is their philanthrop – I can’t say the word – 

Linda: Philanthropic?

Teri: That’s it. They’re giving back in a very meaningful way, using what their gifts are. It’s just completely generous. I just think that’s awesome. I love that the companies embrace that, though. That the company knew to identify, “Here are these people who are doing amazing things” – 

Linda: Yeah. We have just so many of those people in the company. It’s not just those same three people all the time, I have other people, so we rotate people through and, every single time, on the surveys at the end of that class, it is the absolute favorite thing. 

Every single person mentions on the survey, “It was so fabulous to hear from Michael;” “So fabulous to hear from the Divas.” These people are just sharing, all of them. Everyone that gets invited in to teach like this, comes from a place of that feeling of that abundance: “There’s plenty to go around. I didn’t invent this: I ripped it off from somebody else. You can rip it off me, because if you rip this off, I know it’s going to make us all better.”

Teri: Yes.

Linda:I love that, because it’s a gift to have people like that in the company. Not everyone’s like that: there are some old timeys that say, “No, this is my marketing secret!” Oh please, there are no secrets. 

[Laughter] 

It’s all been done. Share it already.

Teri: Awesome. I love that. I truly love that. It’s inspiring. It makes me feel good about our industry. We’ve had so many bad things that we’ve been trying to climb out from under, and I just feel like that is such a powerful thing to be able to say: “This is how we work at our company.” That’s awesome. 

There’s so many ways we could go. There’s so many ways we could go. The legacy piece is huge for me. Since we’re on this topic anyways, about matters of the heart, and how we choose to live our lives, and what our values are: I always ask this question of everybody, and I’m particularly interested to hear your take on this. This is your one life: you get to the end of your life, and you’re looking back, and you’ve had all your chapters, your re-inventions: What’s meaningful to you, Linda? What are the things that you’re going to look back and say, “Wow, this is what I stood for”?

Linda: You mean how do I want to be remembered?

Teri: Sure.

Linda: Gosh, I guess I want to be remembered as being a generous person who gave something back to lots of people. I feel like when you go through your life, you touch a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. Sometimes you don’t always know how you’re touching people, and then every once in awhile, someone gives you a gift, and just says to you, “Here’s the impact you’ve had on me.”

It’s so humbling to think that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. I guess I would just like to know that I left someone learning something, or appreciating something; or maybe a piece of wisdom that I learned over the years that I shared, that made a difference to somebody. Honestly, that’s what I’m hoping.

Teri: You live that every single day. Every single day, you’re impacting hordes of people, just by virtue of your company. Also, just for me personally, you’ve been such an influence. You’ve helped me along as I’ve been building Agent-Quest [37:34]. You’ve been so generous with guidance, and ideas, and support, and offering to invite me down to come and see some more of what you guys are doing: which I will take you up on for sure.

Linda: Anytime.

Teri: Yeah. I love that. I just think you’re amazing. Everyone does, by the way. If you drop Linda’s name in any group of people that we all know, everyone has nothing but the most glorious things to say about you. To me, that’s a testament. That’s a testament about the kind of person you are.

Linda: That is a testament. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, thank you.

Teri: Absolutely. I just want to thank you for taking your time to join me in this conversation. I think that every time we talk, I always get something from it. I think it’s real, and that’s what we’re trying to do here. 

We’re trying to really create this real space, where we can drop the mask and get real. I think everyone’s been wanting to know a little bit more about you. You’re so humble, you don’t talk about yourself that much, so – 

Linda: Yeah, no, I just don’t think it’s that interesting. I’m more interested in others, and what they’re doing.

Teri: That’s me too. 

[Laughter] 

Well, I want to thank you. Thank you for being here.

Linda: Thank you so much. This was really fun. I love our conversations, and it’s been fun to share this with you, and to let you know that I used to drive a tractor.

[Laughter]

Teri: Woohoo, and horses!

Linda: I know.

Teri: We’ll have to see some of those pictures. 

Linda: Absolutely.

Teri: You have to send me that picture of you, when you were really young. I want that one, too.

Linda: Okay, okay. Throwback Thursday. Thank you so much, Teri.

Teri: Thank you, Linda.

Linda: Bye bye.

Teri: Bye.

 

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