I sat with a heavy heart during the six-hour flight to to Hawaii. A dear friend and confidant was about to undergo a surgery he might not wake from. One minute he was fine, and in an instant, his life was about to change. My thoughts and prayers for him would periodically trade places with my own personal soul-searching throughout the flight.
It was a long six hours.
Sometimes life can change in an instant.
My destination was Maui. The Hawaii Life Worthshop conference beckoned. From the speaker lineup to the exotic location and overall stunning design on the website, this event drew me in. I told everyone I knew that they would be out of their minds if they didn’t join me.
At the time, I was employed by Partners Trust as its Vice President of marketing. My team and I had just completed a major overhaul of the company identity that included a beautiful new logo, tagline and brand story. We were about to embark on phase two — the complete redo of our company website.
As Social Marketing Director at Move, I had dreamed of getting deeper in the trenches on the broker level in real estate and believed I couldn’t be any happier.
Hawaii is a magical place. It makes you stop in your tracks and take in each moment as if it were your last. For me, those moments occurred each morning. I’d rise before the sun and walk the endless stretch of beach outside the hotel.
Each morning, my phone would vibrate, alerting me to a group text my friend’s wife sent, sharing news of her husband’s surgery, its success and his post-operative condition.
More soul searching.
The Worthshop conference surpassed all my expectations. During one session, “Your Inner CEO,” something the speaker said triggered my thinking. At that moment, I had an epiphany. One that would lead to a complete transformation in how I looked at my work and life.
I loved the people I worked for. I loved the work we were doing. But the nature of the job, as great as it was, presented certain limitations that I need to break free from.
I wanted more.
In that instant, I knew that I could no longer work for only one entity.
I needed more.
I needed to collaborate with more creative people. I needed to help more brokerages and companies. I needed to solve more problems and deliver more exciting experiences to more people. And I needed to connect more with the real estate media and the many reporters around the country I’d built relationships with over the years.
In that moment, amid the firestorm of projects, sunrises and sunsets and a dear friend’s second chance at life, Lion & Orb was born.
The love/love test
After six months of planning, this past June, my new public relations agency launched. I haven’t looked back.
Our growth can be tied directly to a network that I already had in place. This wasn’t merely a collection of people I didn’t know who were liking my social media pages; these were people I worked with, shared drinks with, had done favors for, connected with deeply throughout the years in their businesses by putting in time, energy and personal interest.
It was my belief that, based on the goodwill created over the years, I’d launch my brand with little fanfare and a cryptic website and let word-of-mouth fuel my growth. We didn’t push out any mass emails, build a fancy website or flood the social world with self-indulgent marketing.
We let others tell our story and hoped for the best.
The results were three luxury real estate brands signing within days and our client base doubling in the second month of operations.
But in the third month, the demands on us presented me with a serious problem that knocked heads with my temptation to say “yes” to helping everyone.
This led to what we created and called the love/love test — the checklist that must be completed before saying yes to any new business. It reads like this:
- In order to work with a company or individual, we must unanimously love what they are doing.
- In order to work with a company or individual, we must unanimously love them as people.
- In order to work with a company or individual, we must unanimously love their vision and believe in it as if it were ours.
I offer this to you because I don’t believe this mindset is unique to me or my agency.
It’s not easy to set boundaries, but I’ve noticed that those who do so are happier, do more business and live more balanced lives. The more you love your clients, their vision and their product or service, the better work you do, and the more you love your own business as a result.
Honestly, you’ll feel better about yourself, as well.
I’ve met with thousands of agents during my real estate career. The ones who are the most successful are the ones who either consciously or subconsciously do this. Those who don’t, those who say “yes” to everything and everyone, oddly enough never seem to grow.
Sometimes life can change in an instant.
It’s been a year since that experience, and much has changed. My friend’s health is 100 percent. His life changed in one instant and has radically improved as a result of the risk and action he took. If he could go back and change things, he would not.
In a similar instant, my career changed — and, subsequently, my entire life as indicated by my work, my sphere and the possibilities that are presented to me.
All it takes is a having a dream, a thought or a belief, and simply acting upon it.