I’m…meticulous. The quality of my work is shown in a fierce attention to detail, an ability to make sure that everything is just right and double-checked.

In other words, I don’t trust other people. And that’s putting it mildly. Agent Mulder here is often sad that there are even other people in the world, people without the same attention to detail that makes me so meticulous. Or in the words of my husband, “crazy.”

(Technically, I know crazy is just one word, but he’s used it several times.)

As I’ve waded into real estate, I’ve seen my perfectionism pay off. I’ve started a direct mail campaign to get potential buyers, and the way I’ve found them is by going to city hall and copying out tax records, block by block. I know some of that information is in the MLS, but is it up-to-date, accurate, perfect enough? At city hall, whenever a house is sold, the owner’s name is crossed out and a new one is written right next to it. Making my own list is difficult: my hip cramps as I stand at the wooden counter copying out addresses. But I’m already over the 1 percent hit rate I expected, and I attribute that to my exceedingly careful nature.

On the other hand, this precision works only for me and me alone. You know how they teach in science class that a magnifying glass can burn ants by focusing the sun’s rays on them? When I managed a staff, I think they felt like those ants. My staff had done a great job, they deserved an “A,” and I kept grousing at them for not getting an “A-plus-plus.”

And now that I’m in business, it’s a little too tempting to be an army of one. Sure, I’m in start-up mode, so I have nothing better to do with my time than keep meticulous records of every house I want to buy and every homeowner I solicit. But I don’t want to develop habits that will handicap me when I’m actually buying and selling multiple houses. But how do you keep exceptional service from becoming obsessive-compulsive rigor? The line between making sure all the “i”s are dotted and becoming a candidate for a little tinfoil hat is a fine one.

I realized this when I starting tossing apart my office/living room because there was a folder I couldn’t find. The notes in it, I realized, were of a hyper-precise “called XYZ back at 8:05 p.m.” nature. They weren’t anything I really needed. What’s more, my frustration at not being able to find it made my husband…what’s the word…crazy.

So, starting today, I’m trying not to be so hyper-controlling. As part of my new mellow effort, I’m trying out the Barbara Corcoran rule: if someone can do a job 80 percent as well as you can, let them do it. I still want to spend my time gathering super-updated lists – but if an assistant in the office volunteers to help get a mailing out, I’ll take it. I’m not going to obsess over my contracts – I’ll read them, it would be dumb not to, but I’ve got a lawyer and I’m going to listen to what he has to say.

At least until I can organize this place and find that magnifying glass.


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