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My journey of balancing small business and small kids


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Does my 5 year old have racial bias already?

This morning my five year old helped me take out the trash. She was dancing around in the drive as I cleaned out evidence of my many fast food lunches crushed into the corner of the passenger seat of my car.  I’m a Realtor so I eat a lot of lunches in my car.

We started making our way to place trash bin at the curb when she noticed about thirty birds eating birdseed that our neighbors had tossed in their driveway.

She looks at me and tells me that it looks like a birdie restaurant.  That it did with thirty doves quickly picking up seed and eating as fast as they could, much they way I must have looked creating my pile of fast food bags.

“Look daddy there is a one black bird, he must be the waiter.”

The waiter, the waiter! Why would she think the black one is the waiter? Does she think that since he’s black he must be the servant? We haven’t broached the topic of slavery from a historical perspective. We’ve taught that all men are equal and all birds too.  Where is she getting this from? Why would she think this?  We probably go out of our way to treat other races better than we treat ourselves. Does that make me a racists against my race and hers?  Heck she’s bi-racial so by offending ourselves I’m offending two races.

For a girl who has only known an African American President and knows that daddy’s favorite golfer among all the white guys is an African American, how the heck is she seeing racial bias.

All of these questions flooded my mind in a split second like a MSNBC reporter at a Trump rally.  I pictured myself running for city council in a few years having to answer questions about how my little girl obtained racial bias and not having any answer other than “I don’t freaking know!!!!”

So I asked, “sweetie, why is the black bird the waiter.”  She looked at me with innocent eyes and said “Because he’s wearing a black uniform like waiters do.”

Phew! She’s not racist just observant (not that we eat at many restaurants with waiters in tuxes, Chili’s waiters have been known to wear black).

I know that racial bias will creep its ugly head into my child’s world through TV, the internet, music, class mates and yes through her parents.  It’s nearly impossible to avoid. The problem as I look at it is not that its there but how we handle it. I honestly believe we have become  conditioned to see differences over the last many years in a way that I didn’t feel growing up.  I’m thirty-seven and think about race more now than at any point of my life. I had African American, Hispanic, Anglo and Asian American friends growing up. To me they were just friends and race was just a thing.  Sure I’ve felt odd being the only Hispanic at times when I’m certain places but  when I stopped thinking about it all was good. I have always just considered myself an American who’s family came from Spain and Mexico a long time ago.  My race is just part of my history. I’m not disowning it, I just don’t let if define me. I like the cultural elements of my heritage, especially the food.  I just believe my character is what should define me. That’s my choice and others have the right to think different.

We are all different and that’s a beautiful thing, yet we are all humans and love flows from and to us the same. Cultural differences make the world an amazingly awesome place. It would be boring if we all act the same way. If the whole world was like Texas it would be boring, well run but boring. We need Californian’s, New Yorkers, Europeans and everyone else.

The difference we as parents can  have is to make sure our children understand that we are all the same  in that we are all unique and we all need love.  We need to discuss these issues with our kids because if they don’t learn from us they will from someone else.  First to discuss the world from this standpoint we must really take a look at how we see others and the world. Our beliefs pass on to them.  Both hatred and love are taught. We can change the entire world in one generation if we all just really grow up and think like an innocent five year old who just observes the word through fun eyes.

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Seventh Anniversary of Dadhood

Seven years ago today I became “DAD” better known today as “Daddy, daddy, daddy”.  The very word strikes fear in the strongest of fatherless men world wide, yet I claim it proudly. I am dad hear me …. frankly sometimes its hard to hear myself because I’m the father of two little girls.

Seven short and at the same time long years ago at 2:56 pm my Ayla was born.  I honestly can’t remember what it felt like to not be a dad. There is a piece of my brain and all of my heart that has been captured by my littles.  I was always afraid that becoming a father would cause the identity of Joseph Cortez to be lost. In reality it was not until I became a dad that my full identity was fully revealed.

I’m not saying that I was incomplete prior to fatherhood just that who I am increased. It’s like God expanded my capacity to understand Him in a new way.  The same can be said of when I married my amazing wife.  There are certain things that only parents can ever understand and that can only be revealed through marriage.

I now look at the world through a lens I didn’t know existed prior to that magical day. Each and every day on this journey I discover new things about the world and myself. I find new weaknesses and once hidden strengths.  My outlook and approach to the social constructs under which the world operates have undergone a transformation in some respects and been reaffirmed in others.  I comprehend love to a level I never could have reached with out the precious gift that is fatherhood.

The main lesson I have learned over the past seven years is that no matter how well read I am, how many sides of every social and political issue I research,  how much advice I garner, I am incapable of being a great father without the grace and strength of God.  On my own I would give in to the temptation of taking the easy way out of difficult situations,  of discipline and guarding their hearts.  I so try to guard their hearts not to shield them from the world but to teach them to be rooted in the strength of conviction of knowing Gods love as best I can through the completely fallible vessel I am. 

The complexity of being a dad in a world focused on Bruce Jenners issues while a Christian holocaust occurs in the Middle East and goes untold is a daunting task.  Parenting in a world where we can’t figure out who should use what bathroom anymore and what was once right is now wrong is becoming increasingly difficult as being self guided instead of God guided is the new normal.  I shall keep my head laser focused on their hearts and do my best to grow as a father and understand I can only control my part. I must trust that my daughters will become who they are supposed to become.  So today I celebrate my daddy hood anniversary with great joy with, great concern for , and most importantly great love for my daughters.


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Reflecting on a stressful 2014 or was it?

Over the past few weeks I have begun to feel a stress unlike any I have during my journey as a parentpreneur.  The end of year approaching should be a time of excitement and joy. The anticipation of time off around the corner should light up my smile like the lights on our Christmas tree, yet I have found myself buried under the stress of work and worry. The end of the year for many entrepreneurs has us looking at the finances, goals, and in my case projects wrapping up. Projects don’t always coincide with the year end, but in my case I have two that have been inching a long for the better part of seven months coming to a close. Finishing is not my strong suit, I’m a starter by nature which may explain why I go so long between posts.

This year has been interesting fun and stressful year. We had a lot going on, in fact it’s probably been to much. Buried under my own self talk and stress I was glad to have a great call with my coach who reminded me of how good the year has been. I beat last year’s income (not necessarily profit), opened a real estate franchise office and quadrupled our agent count albeit from two to eight,  I think on some level that may be the hardest jump. The momentum should help us grow quicker next year. We also will finish our strongest year building homes.  The conversation with my coach was a good one because it helped pull me out of the muck of the day to day. When I get lost in the stress of all that has to get done with work and then helping manage a household, raise two kids and support my wife in her growing business it all seems to much. I think about shutting it down some days and just going back to a job where the weekends are really free. I have come close on a few occasion especially with the late night client calls and text ,the weekends full of questions and working with someone for months only to have them use some one else with out a second thought. When I’m caught in the stress I only see the bad, I don’t see the wonderful clients, the great conversations, the fun weekends, the hundreds of people we help employee through building. The stress causes me to lose sight of the dream that drives me, the desire to build a business that helps fellow real estate agents change their careers and lives.

It’s nice to have someone remind me of what we have accomplished instead of what feels sometimes like a series of short comings. Maybe it’s the nature of an entrepreneurs to strive to the next level all the while forgetting the level you’re on is last year’s next level. Andy Andrews says that those who can get through the fog of life seasons will be the one’s to see the reward on the other side. Well, I have turned my fog lights on and I’m going to power through.

This year end take time to review what you have accomplished. Maybe your income went up or down, think about what caused these results. What struggles did you have to deal with that you overcame? Sometimes familial changes or stress can cause your business to slip. I had a daughter in the hospital twice this year causing a new source worry and anxiety. Thankfully all is well, but I can tell you my results during that time were less than stellar financially. However I managed to push thru and I was there for my family when they needed me and that’s more important than a few extra sales.

Before you plan 2015 take a few minutes to review 2014. You may find that you accomplished more than you know and overcame some obstacles that taught you great lessons. The pain and stress are hard at the moment, but the lessons learned can be invaluable if utilized. It’s in the pain that we grow and its on reflection you get the knowledge of such growth.  The wisdom gained in a stressful year will only help to handle the next year better and so on. What once was stressful when faced again is less stressful.

Ask yourself the following questions?

1. What three situations did I overcome that helped me grow? What did I learn about myself in these situations?

2. In 2014 what worked well in my business and family and how can I make it better in 2015?

3. What are three areas I can improve that would make my work and family life better? Are there simple things I can implement like getting a maid for home and new technology for the office? What are some longer term strategies I need to get started on now to have ready for 2016?

This reflection is key to setting goals for 2015. Apply these thoughts to every area of your life.  You may find that 2014 was not as stressful as it seemed in the moment or that it may have been a year of great growth.  The story of your 2014 is yours to tell and yours to assign meaning to. That’s the beauty of life. When I look back on 2014 it was much better than I thought and I’m encouraged how it’s going to help me have a great 2015.
Have a great end to 2014 and get rested for a huge 2015.


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Cliff Dives and a Sick Kid – Stressful Relaxtion

This post was started a week ago, so take yourself all the way back to last week (cue flash back harp music now)
At this very moment I am at the height of a personal paradox, a stress filled relaxing vacation. I’m sitting in a cabana chair with an amazing ocean view of the Caribbean, a full glass Johnny Walker Black and Coke light (as it’s called in Mexico), and an amazing wife, yet my mind and heart have been preoccupied with the stress of work and a sick child. Through her company, Thirty-One Gifts, my wife worked her tail off and earned a fabulous trip to the Hard Rock Resort at Riviera Maya. It’s absolutely amazing. All inclusive meaning all the food and beverage you can handle. I have brought some oversized and stretchy clothes for the occasion. For the first time since our honeymoon nine years ago we are taking a trip that doesn’t involve kids, family, real estate coaching or a life coaching conference. This is our chance to spend time together and take a relaxing break from both of our lives as parentpreneurs.
Relaxation and I have an odd relationship. I almost feel like it’s a long distance relationship in which we speak often yet spend little time together. In my world as a parentpreneur the ability to disconnect is one that doesn’t come easily. Amazing wifi and international cell phone service and an amazing resort quickly turns in to a real estate office south of the border. The real estate transactions can be dealt with fairly quickly these days. Over the past few years I have been able to grow a small team of very competent and reliable agents whom I’m blessed to be associated with. A few text and e-mails makes short work (a few hours) of the first few days. What I am really paying for is the true lack of preparation for integrating my team into the work prior to leaving versus just leaving notes. Future trips will include taking enough time to stop and perform a thorough briefing. That stress I can deal with.
The one I’m struggling with as is my wife who earned this amazing trip is what’s going on with our oldest daughter. The day before our scheduled flights she complained of tummy pain in the morning. Back in June she faced a bout of pancreatitis that involved 4 days of hospitalization for fasting. I told her teacher about pancreatitis and asked her to be sure to look out for her. At 9:30 I received a call to go pick her up from the school. We were able to get her into the doctor right away who then ordered a blood test. My wife and I swapped places and she took little Ayla to the phlembots at the local children’s hospital. Fortunately our trooper has become accustomed to the blood draws over the past several months. A blood tests is the only way to rule out or rule in pancreatitis. Early that evening the whole family somehow all converged together at our house. Oakley’s mom, my parents, the kids, and I all were there when Oakley came in to tell us that Ayla’s numbers were up and that she had to go to a specialists in the next few days. One problem, we are leaving for Mexico at 6 am the next day. We discussed the situation with all the family as the girls played. Our initial thought was to stay. We couldn’t possibly leave her there with the possibility of a hospital visit. We ran through a myriad of options and came to the decision that the family will help as planned. If the doctors said she needed to go to the hospital we could get back that night. Ultimately we asked Ayla and she said that we should go. I’m really glad she said yes because I’m not sure how this would have played out had she begged us to stay.
Once in Mexico I worked the first few mornings and we worried between Pina coladas and dodging monsoon style weather. The dark clouds that covered the resort represented the dark cloud of worry that were covering my heart. In addition to my wife dealing with this worry, her father is undergoing spinal surgery this week as well. It’s been a mind filled week.
Then one moment at the dinner hosted for all the 600 plus consultants in attendance changed the clouds of worry into sun rays. I have been reading a prayer book and trying to elevate my prayer life and belief. I read how our prayers effect the world well beyond our individual needs.
At the dinner Scott Monroe, husband of the Thirty-One founder, prayed for the meal. During the prayer he seemed to add one line that was just for us like a word of comfort from the Lord. Paraphrased he said “God let everyone here know that you are taking care of all our family and loved ones back home. Help us trust you in caring for them. Help their minds be at ease.” I’m not sure exactly what he said, but that’s what I heard and I began to cry. I wiped my eyes and had a sense of peace.
Today the rain poured down hard and our worry was still there. Ayla had an appointment with the doctor and my father-n-law had his surgery. I remembered what Scott had said the night before and the clouds began to lift. I prayed and asked God to care for them and we will respond how he needs us to. The clouds at the resorts lifted and we are seeing sunshine for the first time all week. I have struggled with worry most of my life. I learned to not let it consume me like I used to. I believe God is continually working on me.
Originally this post was to start concluding here. The next day after writing this my wife we on our way to a jungle excursion which included jumping off of 20 foot cliffs, zip lines, and swimming in caves. On the way there I saw a message from my mother-n-law that said Ayla was on her way the emergency room at the doctor’s request. I had noticed the message as the bus pulled away from the hotel and we lost internet service. Once we arrived at a true Mayan village I was able to begin texting with my dad. Ayla’s blood work confirmed pancreatitis. The day we left we asked Oakley’s mom to put Ayla on strict low-fat diet which is the only way to combat pancreatic attacks without complete fasting. We prayed as we trekked through the jungle. Ayla was in a waiting room at the ER as we jumped off cliffs. We prayed for safety of us and for her. It was complete chaos in our minds as we enjoyed moments and I ran to check my phone every few minutes. They did more blood work on her and a few hours later we received the news that she was being released and going home. The low fat diet had helped her enzyme levels drop enough for the doctors to feel comfortable with her not having to fast. Our trek from the Mayan village to the bus was one of joy and relief. We had to work to completely trust God and our families to take care of her. We had to work to have fun and not let the worry take away an incredible experience that my wife and I will always remember. Fighting the feelings of guilt because of the fun while our daughter was awaiting another test was tough. Feeling helpless as a parent is indescribable. I really feel God was using this experience to show us we can truly trust him. He showed us that our daughter is a strong person and I hoped it showed her the same.
As I finish the post the sky has a dual personality with rain and sunshine. In spite of the rain God is still there shining down on us. I will remain committed to trusting him. When I let the rain of worry shower down on me as it is sure to do I will hold fast in the truth that rain is momentary and that the God who created the sun will shine always.
The hybrid of parent and small business ownership is truly tested on vacations. Maybe this time I wasn’t be great about disconnecting fully, however I am the type of person who likes to learn and I look forward to my next lesson. Thank you Thirty-One for this trip and thank you to my wife for working so hard to earn it and thank you God for taking care of my little girls.
Cue harp music for the return to tonight. It really was a painfully enjoyable experience. My wife and I had the greatest time on the trip and made some great friends. We both learned to trust God more. I know worry may never leave me, but the level of which I let it steal my joy is going to be a lot less.


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Mom’s Gone Now What? Running Solo for A Week Part one

When my wife asked me if she could go to a conference for her company I said sure.  I go to two or three trainings a year and spend thousands of dollars a year on events to further my personal and professional education.  I love events where I can get surrounded by colleagues and superstars in my business.  My natural response was “yes”, because I want my wife to have the same opportunity I get.  What I didn’t fully realize at the time was that her being gone for 6 days meant I had to fly solo with two precious little girls during the summer in the midst of the busiest season of my work world with over a dozen real estate deals going and four construction projects on the ground.  I pulled up my daddy boots and put on my house husband apron and went to work. I am thankful that my parents were able to watch the girls during the days while I worked.  Without that I’m not sure I would have made it.

I’m fully capable of handling dinner and bedtime solo  and hanging with the girls for a night, as a HOTONE (Husband of Thirty-One) that’s no big deal. If you didn’t know my wife is a rockstar Thirty-One Gifts consultant. She really is amazing in her business, meaning I get to practice nighttime with the girls several times a month while she is hosting parties. Comes with the territory and I’m glad to do it. Supporting your spouse is key and should work both ways.   Doing nighttime and daytime for six days in a row was definitely a first.  Who knew kids ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus a snack and another snack and another snack. These kids eat like teenage boys. I was never told that growing girls eat like crazy as well.  Oh yeah did I mention that my six year old had just come out of the hospital for pancreatitus and was on a low fat diet. No easy out with McD’s and pizza every night. I actually had to come up with real meals and made a lot of salads. Thank God they ate them.  During lunch I crammed as much fattening food as I could find to ease the pain and fill my fat food cravings. 

We got so busy before my wife left that neither of us remembered to go grocery shopping.  Taking two little girls to the local grocery store at 5:30 pm in the middle of the week is like running into a hurricane. Don’t people shop on weekends? What was supposed to be a quick trip turned into an hour of “Daddy can I have this, daddy can I have that ….., daddy why are you buying so much wine?”  My kids are great when we go to a store about not crying over toys and other items. When it comes to telling them no about food it’s like I punched them in the gut and ran over their non-existent puppy. I was looking around to make sure no one called the police telling them I was depriving my girls of sweet tarts.  I could hear the sirens in my head and the “doink doink” sound from Law and Order.  Best thing to do is race to the check out and head home with boxes of non mom approved cereals (insert villianist laugh, hehehehe)

I did my best to keep up with dishes (paper plates), laundry (wear the same clothes for 6 day kids), and house work.  I did nothing but work, be dad, and house work. By ten o’clock each night I curled up in a little ball in my bed with a sippy cup of wine and watched Big Bang Theory reruns counting the days till my wife came home. 

Over all I really handled it well.  I actually managed to get a bunch of work done with the kids which I will detail in my next post. Nothing like showing your most expensive property of the year with the little ones in tow. 

The day before my wife came home the girls and I put it into high gear to have the house as clean as possible. The goal, let mom come home to a house with no dishes, laundry to be done and no toys in the living room.  I accomplished this with Disney Princess and Tinkerbell movie marathons and lollipops. 

I have the utmost respect for single parents everywhere.  If you’re a single parent and running a business you have the absolute toughest job in the world.  As a dad I’m equipped to handle a lot of things, spiders, bills, changing light bulbs, checking for the boogie monster and scaring off boys. However I’m not equipped for a week of dressing, feeding, and attempting to do the hair of  little girls. I tried and had some epic hair fails, so much so that my oldest just looked at me and said, “Lita (grandma) will do it when you drop us off.”

Amidst of all the chores and girly things I had some of the best quality time I could ever imagine with my kids. We danced and played games, watched movies and stayed up late a few times because it takes me forever to get through their nighttime routine while taking calls, sending out contracts and doing dishes.  I also developed an amazing appreciation for my wife.  The one thing I made sure of was to do my absolute best not to complain to my wife about the extra stress.

I wanted her to enjoy her time and get the most out her trip. Making your spouse feel guilty over work trips is not going to help your marriage at all. I must say my wife has been really good about this over the years. I never felt more guilt than my self imposed guilt. After a few trips I gave myself permission to enjoy my time and really focus on my trips. The great thing is once a year we now take a trip together to attend a personal growth event.

I made it through the 6 days unscathed and the kids had a good time, but we were all super excited to see mom.


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Your Eternal Custom Home

One of my families two businesses is a home building company named Tandem Homes. We are small company that mainly focuses on building custom homes. There is a distinct difference between types of builders. There are large speculative or inventory builders who build homes to their own specs to sell on the open market. These are the most common types of builders who build multiples of the same floor plan in a subdivision. If you are lucky you will get to “customize” your house by choosing colors and some variations of design they have predetermined. These builders do a great job giving you choices from their expert selections. The Realtor part of me loves selling these new homes because the builders in most cases do a great job with clients during selections. They have great process and systems for customer management. Since they generally have a lot of customers the one on one time is limited. Some spec builders won’t even sell their homes until it’s almost finished in order to avoid having much interaction with customers during the build process.

Then there are true custom home builders. We are the group that specializes in helping people from the conception to the closing of the house. We often get involved at the outset with site selection and design where a blank sheet of paper begins to reflect someone’s dream. The customer and the builder are together every step of the way. The best part is that the customer has the ability to make almost every choice. The hardest part is that the customer has the ability to make almost every choice. This is where the separation is. Custom builders give the client what the clients wants and walks hand in hand with them through the whole process. It’s a time consuming and very involved process for builder and client. Our company is named Tandem because we work together with the customer for their dream.

From a real estate perspective both are great. Spec builders can efficiently build hundreds even thousands of homes a year, while a custom builder may only build a few. This is because a custom home takes much more time and effort. Working with your customer so closely requires getting to know them on a much deeper level.

This past Sunday at Easter service my Pastor Bil Cornelius began a new series, Heaven is for real. During the message which you can view using the link at the bottom of this post he spoke about John 14:2.

John 14:1-2

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

Pastor Bil spoke about the fact that God is preparing a home for each one of us in Heaven. This may be the truest custom home of all. It’s built for you based on you and there you will experience constant joy. The homes my company builds are beautiful and serve you well, however they will never be perfect because you and  life is always changing. In Heaven your home and room are prepared specifically for you by your father for your lasting joy.

As a home builder I spend countless hours on a project and have hundreds of conversations with the home owner. I love seeing the process unfold and the house begin to take shape. When trim work and cabinets go in it’s my favorite part. It’s at this time that the colors chosen by the home owners will take this blank canvas and make it their own. At the end I love walking through the house right after it’s been detailed and cleaned. My partner and I do an extensive walk-thru to catch any missed items before the customers come in for their walk-thru. We want to present our best effort. 

Now imagine you were building a custom home for your children or a loved one. You picked every detail exactly like you know they would love it. The rooms are perfect and the backyard has everything they want. It’s like your personal Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Imagine that the process took a year and you labored and had hundreds of hours filled with sweat, blood and tears put into it. The day your call your kids to scream “move that bus” everyone of their friends and your friends is there to see them. Now imagine if they, your kids don’t show.

You would feel crushed. The party is there for them and the house is perfectly built.  It would be a shame to have them never move in. I know as a builder I would be sad if the houses we build were never lived in.

How much more is God saddened by his children not taking residence in their Heavenly house. During Easter we celebrate the master home builder’s gift. God sent his son Jesus to die for our sins so we can get the keys to our house in heaven.  No one in this world is perfect and we have all not lived up to the standards set by God. If you go through the 10 commandments and your anything like me you’ll find several that you broke today. That means we can’t get into heaven on our own because we have sinned against God. Jesus paid the price for our transgressions. That’s the good news everyone talk’s about. He paid the mortgage on your new home. 

In John 14 Jesus goes on to say starting in verse 3 –“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you ask Jesus into your life you will experience unconditional love and forgiveness. Life won’t instantly get better and your problems won’t disappear. What will happen is the keys to your heavenly home will be delivered to the gates of Heaven with your name on them.  Your custom home is being built for you right now. Your eternal joy is a decision away. Don’t let that home go abandoned.

Check our Pastor Bils message using the below link.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1JJbgPWNIM

 


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Be a pro during stressful times

Being a business owner can be extremely stressful at times. Okay, it’s stressful most of the time especially during the start-up, massive growth, transition, downsizing, or Monday through Friday. A small business owner is CEO, CFO, COO and DAD at the same time, which equals to lots of WINE (just occasionally).

Lets throw on top of that being in the real estate business where your clients are generally going through something considered second only to death in terms of stress, moving.  It’s my job and current life’s work to help people get from one place to another.  Handing the keys over to a first time buyer is a great feeling. Handing a check over to a couple who just sold their recently passed dad’s house is heartfelt.  This business is amazing. However it has it’s stresses with odd hours, weekends, late night phone calls. When the world is getting off at 5 pm after a normal business day your second half is often just beginning. Being successful in this business is tough and the rewards are great as well.

One of the most difficult aspects of business is working with your clients and other parties emotions.  People are going to handle stress a different way. It amazes me that I can have two clients going through similar situations in the same week and handle it completely opposite. One will get angry and frantic and the other will take it in stride and roll with it.  I have learned that both clients are right.  They have the right to feel what they feel.

I am a “roll with it” person and early in my career I let the angry folks really get to me.  Rolling with the punches doesn’t make me weak or less of a negotiator in fact composure makes me better. I have a philosophy that life happens and your part of it instead of things happening against you.  When you don’t see obstacles as personal it’s easier to deal with them. The buyer’s bank didn’t deny the loan at the last minute to cause the seller major stress on purpose. Things happen and it’s how we respond that is important.  “Don’t give a circumstance power over you” is something I tell myself often when things are going south with a deal.

My job is to be the calm in the midst of a storm. I can’t let their stress and anger affect my decision making and advice.  You would be amazed the kind of anger people get in a transaction.  I can tell when the agent on the other side is letting their client stress them out.  I have counseled crying agents through tough deals.

It took a long time to learn to stay calm and composed. It allows me to be a better negotiator and a better agent with real advice not emotion filled responses that just fuel the fire.  I once had a client remark that I was almost to calm.  I asked them how their experience would have been if I was upset and frantic when they called. They said, “oh, that makes sense.”  Composure is to be remained when with a client. I go to bat for my clients and make sure the other side is aware of what’s going on.  At home where I feel comfortable to let stress out I can get frustrated.  My wife knows when a client is upset or a deal is going bad. She knows the look in my face when I get the “deals dead” phone call. The “we just lost $8,000 in a few seconds” call. There are very few jobs in the world where you can spend 6 months working on a project and not get paid for it. There are also few jobs where you can meet someone and make $8,000 a few weeks later. I had to learn quickly to find ways to manage such stress at home. Just like my client’s stress isn’t my fault, my family shouldn’t get the blame for my work stress.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the tops agents in our city and frankly the state. I asked “how do you handle it all?” His response, “exercise, faith, and stress management. You can’t own their problems.”  That was great confirmation for me.  I had a problem early on of owning people’s problems.  People make choices that get them in situations and then because of the stress of the situation they can find fault with the people they hire to help them. This is true of doctors, lawyers, counselors, almost any business.    Trust me I go way above for my clients and offer great solutions to the problems.  A major life lesson is to always remember that how people respond to you or a situation is out of your control.

Learning to not own the problem has actually made me better at helping solve the problem. That’s what professionals do. Imagine a quarterback getting stressed out and frantic when the defense just gave up a touchdown with two minutes left and is now behind by 6.  We expect a champion to go out focused and composed to lead the charge. That’s what our customers expect from us. If you own their stress you can’t be a pro.  You can understand their stress, empathize, but you can not blame yourself for it.

It’s still a struggle daily. Like any muscle in life the staying calm muscle gets stronger with practice. Find a way to learn how to remain calm. My main weapons for handling stress are words. I have a few phrases that keep me calm. I remind myself the situation will often be over in a few days or weeks. I try to work my client through their stress by asking questions that lead them to find an answer to the real cause of stress.

My other weapons are exercise, prayer and chocolate. yes women, it works for men also.  Chocolate tends to beat out the exercise which is a whole other stress.  Ultimately experience and the ability to gather perspective will be your greatest strengths when dealing with stress. The better you can learn to handle stress the better you will be for your clients. Be a pro.