A guest perspective from Ashfaq Munshi, co-founder and CEO of Terabitz.

In an earlier incarnation, soon after I graduated, I was a young and eager executive at Oracle viewing life through a much different lens than I do now. While I did not know it at the time, that lens was cloudy, fogged up by youthful exuberance born out of pure textbook education and the rush of applying it inside fast lane of corporate America.

As far as rat races go, Silicon Valley is the Indy 500. And there I was, one was of many, trying to lead the pack inside a huge company where every other over achieving, drafting, Ivy League hot shot could, at any given moment, swing out from behind and out do me. All they had to do was work one hour longer, take one less break, and devote one more weekend to a project.

I didn’t think about it then, but few of those folks would ever really make it to the end of the race a winner.  The reason, as I would soon come to learn, is that most never really had the proper set of directions. Or discipline. They had an idea where they wanted to end up – rich and famous for some technological innovation – but few every really understood how to navigate the inside course to reach it.

I might not have either had the man I reported didn’t pass on a few words of wisdom that I remember to this day. In short, he suggested that if I truly wanted to define my life and achieve everything I was capable of, I needed to answer one simple question: What do I stand for. Once I determined that, he said, all I needed was to make sure everything that followed paid homage to it.

Right now this might be a great time for anyone reading this to ask that same question of themselves and their business.  

The essence of a brand

You do not have to be a dog lover to appreciate Cesar Milan or the success he has created for himself and others around him. What is important to understand however, is how he was able come to this country minus most of the tools we are lucky to inherit as citizens and within ten years achieve the very things most of my colleagues at Oracle spent a lifetime aspiring towards but never reaching.

Cesar stood for something. That something guided each and every decision he made. From who he married, to where he lived and to whom he allowed into his life.

The world is filled with examples of people who find within them a core belief that define their being. Some of them go on to build businesses that evoke and stir that same emotion within their clientele.

Madison Avenue distills that core essence down to one word – principles. It is from those core principles that brands are born, live and thrive.

I went back to my office after speaking with my boss and thought about what I stand for. I came up with two simple tenets that have defined my life. One was personal and one was career oriented. Personally, I stood for family first. And I meant it. I never waivered.  Career wise, I stood for creating solutions that better organized and simplified the life and business of my clients. I meant that too. And never waivered.

As a result of my dedication to these principles, the people I served achieved the goals they stood for as well.

The essence of real estate

Deep down, stripped away from all the goop that is our business, the commissions, the leads, the politics of search, and housed under the mire of fierce competition and the down market, are solid gold entities – brokerages and agencies that face far less adversity than any immigrant from south of the border who if pressed, probably couldn’t read a yard sign back then to save his life. Or for that matter the son of an Indian immigrant, fresh out of Stanford, trying to find his way in life.

Every broker I know stands for something. But until you compose it on paper, flush it out and fully examine if what you’ve built is aligned with your principles, then your brand will never shine bright. It will spin inside a centrifuge, caught in the rat race that is real estate and pit you against every other high achiever. On any given day, any broker can work a little harder, recruit the other brokers agents or throw a few more dollars at their marketing and out do the other.

But that’s not going to build a brand.

Align yourself and your company with your principles – the very core of what you stand for – remain steadfast and the essence of your brands will begin to glow. And you could become untouchable.

I’ve been fortunate to watch this happen in other industries. I know it can happen here.

Interested in contributing a perspective to FOREM? Please send your submissions to futureofrealestate [at] gmail.com.

photo by Stuck in Customs

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