Business is much better this year than it was last year.

I think we did hit some kind of a low in 2011, but I’m not taking the media seriously when they talk of recovery in the housing market because they have been talking about that since mid-2008. It is what it is and I cannot change it.

So far this year my business has been good. I am way ahead of last year, which isn’t anything worth bragging about. If I can keep up the pace during the spring homebuying season, I will have a good year.

Anyone who has made it through the last few years of the Great Recession and housing market crash as a full-time agent should congratulate themselves. I am not doing the happy dance myself, yet I feel like I accomplished something.

To be honest, most days I feel like I can do anything, but I want to tell you about someone who inspired me and who gave me hope and taught me so much. We all need positive role models.

The recession decimated many households, and the youngest and the oldest generations were hit the hardest with the highest unemployment rates. I watched a 60-something neighbor who got laid off spend two years relentlessly networking and volunteering in an attempt to get a job. She is one of the millions of Americans who will turn 65 this year.

It all finally paid off for her this spring when she landed a great job with a local software company. She met the hiring manager at a social media and networking event. Apparently, she did not listen when they told her she was too old to "get it," and used social media, her smartphone and her websites like crazy.

My neighbor did what every real estate agent knows they need to do. She never gave up. She didn’t stay home and feel sorry for herself, she got out there and networked like crazy.

I ran into her at local events, and we did a session together at a bloggers conference. I saw her online and offline. She never missed a social media breakfast, and was first to raise her hand when the group asked for help.

Very few employers are interested in hiring anyone much older than 50, but my neighbor never gave up and ignored the negative messages. She admitted that there were days when she had a hard time getting out of bed. But she did, and she kept networking and volunteering.

During her two years of unemployment, she spent money she had saved for retirement. Now she would like to work into her 70s. She is an inspiration to those she met along the way, and in the last year she has been the most inspirational person in my life.

There are still too many real estate agents, but the odds are starting to improve.

There are always people out there who will never let us forget how successful they are and how easy it is to sell real estate. They don’t inspire me the way my networking neighbor does. She isn’t out there on Facebook and Twitter telling everyone how wonderful her life is. She’s too busy working,

As an agent I have found that on the bad days, it’s wise to stay away from social media — or at least the people on it who will bombard us with messages about how great life is. It’s best to stay focused on what needs to be done to get more business, and ignore what other agents are doing.

It is also wise to stay away from the businesses that depend upon agent dollars, competing with each other for what they call the "agent wallet."

So much of the advertising aimed at agents is based on half-truths and out-and-out lies, and the idea that just about everyone except real estate agents knows what is best for consumers. They like to make it all look easy and magical, but it isn’t. It’s hard work every day — and evenings, weekends and sometimes major holidays.

There is only one way to be successful selling real estate, and that is to work at it very hard. But there are absolutely no guarantees that hard work will result in sales.

If you made it through the worst, pat yourself on the back and keep going. Get out of bed every morning and never stop networking. Even when you get to be 65, don’t listen when you are told you are too old or that you don’t get it.

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