The Courage To Go First

People Connection

A couple weeks ago, over breakfast, a friend and fellow Realtor asked me how many of my clients I actually stay in touch with.

He seemed a bit surprised to hear me say, “quite a few.”

“Certainly not all of them,” I told him. Some move out of the area and others drift away, when our time together comes to a close.

But regardless of how the story unfolds, at the core of my business philosophy is a desire to get to know the person. To figure out what makes them tick. Uncover their motivation. Get them to open up about their hopes, dreams, struggles and pain points.

Why? Because in my mind, that is the only way to develop the foundation of trust needed to forge a tight working relationship.

It’s why I am a firm believer in the principle of Going First. The reason why I remain “out front,” in my weekly and monthly writings about who I am, what I believe and what inspires me.

Like my buddy Travis says, “It turns out, the more you reveal about yourself, the more people connect with you. The more they want to hear.”

And I have to believe that’s the reason why when I miss a Friday email, like last week, I hear about it.

What happened?

How come?

I missed my Friday fix.

You know, recently I’ve been going back and reading my newsletters from years and months past. Trying to parse out the themes and lessons lived. I came across this quick passage that I wrote, about an initial client meeting that I had almost two years ago now:

The other day, I sat across the kitchen table from a proud man — an ex-Army drill sergeant. This was a man, I learned, that had made sacrifices and served for others. I watched as he was brought to tears talking about his young granddaughter. That one picture on the mantle struck him in a way that neither of us anticipated. This was a man, mind you, that I’d met just 10 minutes before. This was impromptu emotion. I was there in a ‘professional’ context. It was a listing consultation. Yet, we spent almost an hour talking about kids, his family, my family, his childhood in Kansas — our shared respect for Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame first baseman, George Brett. As I was leaving, he apologized for his emotion and thanked me for listening. It was a real moment — an actual connection.

His home has long since sold but that connection, forged over seven months of working together, remains. We still meet up for breakfast on occasion because as I told him, I don’t want to be just your real estate agent.

In a similar way, yesterday afternoon, on my way home, I stopped by with a box of See’s Candies, to visit my client Joyce. Joyce is 84 years old. And while most — at her age — are talking about how they are going to live out their remaining days, Joyce beamed with pride as we walked through the house and she showed me all of the projects she is working on.

We helped Joyce buy a new home earlier this spring, so that she could be closer to family. “Her” house, as she calls it. We’re now helping sell the home that she and her late husband shared for almost 50 years.

This is a theme that plays out time and again. As recently as last week … as I met another potential client for the first time. We walked into her home virtual strangers and I walked out an hour later, feeling as if I’d read her autobiography, just as she’d read mine.

Not that I’ve ever worn the tool belt of a “traditional salesperson” but I can tell you that something profound happens when you stop trying to “sell” and instead start to listen. When you stop regurgitating facts and memorized lines on a piece of paper and instead start sharing. Swapping stories and finding common ground.

Someone once told me that our lives expand in proportion to our ability to open ourselves up to the world around us. And that is why, as I’ve written before, I don’t simply sell real estate ….

I connect buyers and sellers through stories.

And to get there, it takes courage.

Courage to Go First.

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Ryan France

Ryan France is a native of Austin Texas, father of two, super-early riser, avid reader, admitted podcast junkie & bulletproof coffee addict. In a past life, France was an aspiring professional baseball player. Today, Ryan is an entrepreneur, author and relentless innovator of the real estate industry. Read more on the "Who is Ryan?" page.