There’s always something to howl about

On work, busywork, hard work, and how to tell the difference

A revelation: At this moment in time, my business is exactly where I want it to be. Is that weird? I don’t think so, as I’m getting exactly the business I’ve earned. That’s not to say it’s the business that would make you happy, and it’s not to say it’s the business I want in six months or six years, even six weeks from now, but today, when I stopped to think about it, my business is in direct proportion to the amount of work I’ve put into it.

I’ve been busy over the past few years, but I haven’t always been busy on work. Some of that is my own fault, I’ll own that, I always have owned that, but the fact remains that the business I’m getting is exactly proportional to whatever I put into it, and that’s the good news for the day, because I know that whatever I put in, I’m going to get out.

I haven’t talked about my dad in a long while, but everything I know about work, I learned from him. I think you’d like my dad- he’s a Bloodhound. He grew up in a hardscrabble part of town, in a Catholic orphanage where the nuns let him be as much as they could. He is a kinesthetic learner. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, but not in a bookish way. He can teach himself any sort of thing, but only if he does it and the nuns allowed him to follow the plumbers, the maintenance people, the doers, around. He’d ask them questions about what they were doing and hand them tools when they asked. Other kids were off playing pick up games or getting into neighborhood fights, Dad was learning, always learning stuff.

When he had a family to support, Dad became a salesman which allowed him to get out and talk to people. A desk job? No thanks. My dad needed to live unchained, so he headed out- an independent sales rep for tool manufacturers. It wasn’t an easy life for him, but he was used to that. He loved to work, can’t sit still, to this day he can’t sit still.

He once told me about his early days on the road as a sales rep. When things were really tough and he had no money, he’d pull into a motel parking lot and sleep in the car. Back then, when a motel guest was checking out, they’d leave the room key in the door as a signal to the maid to come in and clean. If things were really tough, Dad would sit in the parking lot and wait for a guest to leave, run in and quickly use the shower to clean up. That’s kinda gross to think about, isn’t it? Yeah well, it’s also hard work and what needed to be done and the way he survived, and it fed me and my brothers. Fortunately, that didn’t happen often and he didn’t live that way for long because hard work pays off and he began to earn business in exact proportion to the amount of work he put in and eventually he was able to put four kids through college. Dad can look back at those times and smile. They now represent an extraordinary marker of how far he has come- how hard he worked and how much his hard work paid off for everyone in his life. You and I have our own markers of success.

I bring this up because I’ve been thinking about different real estate markets around the country and how there must be agents in booming parts of the country who didn’t have to work too terribly hard on their business the past 10 years. I’m assuming, tell me if I’m wrong, that in a boom town, with people moving in, you might could work in real estate without having to work too hard at the business side of real estate, and perhaps today you are looking back at the past few years wondering what happened? Business isn’t where you want it to be? Easy come, easy go, but I’m here to give you a nudge to get to working, seriously working, because the good news for me is also the good news for you- whatever you put in, you will get back and it while it probably won’t take long, it will take work. My dad would be proud.


13 Comments so far

  1. Don Reedy April 12th, 2010 2:28 pm


    I love the continuity of this post. You are your father’s daughter.

    You are also a strong and powerful mother and Real Estate professional, working and following the business nuns around, learning and excelling, putting in and getting out.

    Your message resounds with me, for reasons you’ll read about here during this very week. Your personal message about your dad resounds even more, making me reflect on my own dad and my upbringing in Ohio.

    Here’s a firm handshake for that dad of yours. It’s extended as a measure of thanks for his taking the measure of his responsibilities, meeting them, and then fulfilling and teaching them to you, as you say, “as a kinesthetic learner.”

    Thank you for this moving reflection.

  2. Sean Purcell April 12th, 2010 2:41 pm

    Well said Teri, especially this:

    in a boom town, with people moving in, you might could work in real estate without having to work too hard at the business side of real estate, and perhaps today you are looking back at the past few years wondering what happened?

    With first hand experience here in San Diego, I’ve lost count how many agents are gone precisely because of what you describe. The worst of it is, I don’t thing they were all front-runners, looking for the quick buck in real estate. Some of them started out working hard, but the easy money started and they lost their habits.

    The upside? Anyone out here making a go of it now is definitely working hard, laying down good habits and most importantly: increasing market share.

    Thanks for reminding us all what’s important.

  3. Alex Cortez April 12th, 2010 6:57 pm

    Teri, we certainly appreciate your input as it seems genuine and touches a hot button. To entirely too many people, doing ‘busy work’ is the equivalent of being productive and effectively using their time/effort (alas, it is merely on their mind). Your dad certainly inspired you, and now you are paying it forward. Thanks for the post.

  4. Eric Blackwell April 13th, 2010 6:12 am

    Thanks Teri. Thanks for this post and for the phone call yesterday.

    After the last few weeks, it was much needed.

    Your dad IS proud. And he should be… 😉



  5. Jim April 13th, 2010 7:22 am

    I have always work in the service industry. It is my job to service the customer. You need to expect it from the auxiliary companies the work with you. Appraisers, mortgage brokers, home inspectors ect.

  6. […] On work, busywork, hard work, and how to tell the difference – This is really good, so good in fact that I am probably going to reread it after I post […]

  7. Jeff Brown April 13th, 2010 12:47 pm

    That’s it — I hereby unilaterally declare you my sister. How cool to be able to sit down and yak for a couple hours with your dad? There’s no way I wouldn’t come away better than I was going in. Great stuff, Teri.

  8. Teri Lussier April 13th, 2010 4:52 pm

    This was an easy post to write, but hard to publish.
    Thanks everyone, for your kind words.

  9. Richard Stabile April 13th, 2010 8:14 pm

    Focusing on what can really be finished is the key. You must try to close in your niche, to become more productive without running all over. For a while it was all the motions, now the buyers are really getting into gear. Again focusing is going to make the difference.

  10. Vicki Rucker April 14th, 2010 6:09 pm

    I enjoyed your article immensely.Being positive, hard work and never giving up on yourself.
    Vicki Rucker

  11. Thomas Johnson April 15th, 2010 6:10 am

    Late to this post, because I’ve been working on new ideas that will get us through. Well said, Teri. Your Dad is a hero.

  12. Teri Lussier April 15th, 2010 6:05 pm

    >Your Dad is a hero.

    Yes. Yes he is. 🙂

  13. Jonathan Benya April 17th, 2010 12:22 pm

    Beautiful Story. I’ve always said that what you get out of life is a direct correlation of how hard you work for it. Everyone sees tough times at some point in their life and what you do when that happens defines you. Bravo to your father and thank you for sharing this with us!