This article is part of our ongoing series offering tips on how to sharped your skills this summer and use the season to your advantage. Read more in our Supercharge Your Summer section.
If your batteries are running low, a summer sabbatical might be just the thing you need to supercharge your career.
As coach and eXp Realty agent, Julie Nelson writes in her book Success Faster: Quickly Launch or Relaunch your Real Estate Career, she thinks we need more sabbatical style breaks in America. In Europe, they take all of August off, why shouldn’t we?
She herself has done it twice before starting something new.
A sabbatical can “Help get your head right, your health right, your priorities straight, catch your breath, reclaim your life,” she said. It gives you a solid foundation to kick off the rest of the year.
A sabbatical experience from a veteran agent
Deanna McCrery, a senior Realtor with The Group, Inc Real Estate, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, broke off from her busy real estate career over 10 years ago in the summer — her daughter had just married, and McCrery decided she wanted some time to just be, to hold all her real estate calls and emails and to be “contemplative rather than reactive.”
She wasn’t acting on impulse — she had been preparing for the sabbatical since January that year and handed over her business to her stepson to run so she didn’t feel like she was leaving her clients in the lurch.
The first part of the sabbatical was in a holiday home in Vail, about three hours away from Fort Collins — there had to be some distance from her normal life, she felt.
She packed a case of books, a case of wine and some clothes.
“I would get up every day with nothing I had to do. It was the best gift you can give yourself,” said the Realtor who went for walks, read and never got bored.
What was meant to be one month away from real estate, then turned into a year working as a concierge at the luxury Bellagio resort in Las Vegas where she and her husband had a second home.
For McCrery, at each stage, both the month away and the concierge move, she told her clients what she was doing, she didn’t just disappear.
The time as a concierge at the Bellagio gave her some great new skills; she was expected to solve people’s problems — pronto. If guests arrived and a wheel on their suitcase had broken, she was expected to get that fixed by the end of their stay, McCrery said.
Her time away from real estate did her business no harm at all, and it gave her an excuse to check in with her clients. “Most of my clients were intrigued by what I’d done,” she said.
“I came back invigorated and excited to stay in real estate till I retire, I had no doubts,” she added.
McCrery thinks she returned to real estate better at putting limits on her time, better at identifying what is truly urgent, and she is also a more effective problem-solver for her clients after her concierge training and experience.
Her brokerage, The Group, Inc Real Estate, co-founded by Larry Kendall, the creator of Ninja Selling, known for its belief that agents should have good work-life balance, was very supportive of McCrery’s sabbatical, she said. She’s not sure if every brokerage would be as generous.
McCrery’s timing was, admittedly very sweet, it was between 2007 and 2009 that she was out, and as she said, she didn’t miss much.
In busier times, it might be harder to pull yourself away from your business, but she still thinks it’s worth doing at any time. There are lots of ways to structure a stint away from work, and it should fit your lifestyle, she advises.
An overseas trip away changes the life of a newer agent
While McCrery was well-established in her career at the time of her sabbatical, for Keller Williams Tribeca agent Edan Amar, he was just in the second year of his real estate career and finishing off an MBA with Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business when he had the chance to go and do a course in China as part of the program, and it was a revelation.
The qualified CPA, formerly with big four firm, PwC, said he fell in love with the Chinese business culture and came home with new ideas and energy toward marketing real estate and conducting business with Chinese investors.
The “jam-packed” trip had classes in the morning on Chinese history, politics, its business acumen and then cultural experiences in the afternoons, his favorite part.
“As much as you read — when you land in China, the whole thing comes to real life,” said Amar.
Amar, who spent a further week in Beijing, came back to New York and immediately looked at ways to make good contacts in China via social media. He marketed aggressively on Juwai.com, and as a member of WeChat, the Chinese people’s favorite mode of social media, he was active and connected with a Chinese investor on the site.
Amar was the first American real estate agent the investor had encountered, and he liked that Amar had actually been to China. By the time he arrived in New York, the Chinese investor was very well-researched on the New York City market with Amar’s help. He arrived on the Monday, wanting a brand new “ground-up” condo and had bought a $1.5 million new apartment by the Friday.
Amar, now based in Los Angeles with Keller Williams Hollywood Hills, property manages the condo for his client.
“I am their boots on the ground here, whatever they need from abroad, I’m the first one to get an email,” Amar said. And as a trusted adviser, the client has given him several referrals for other investors.
“I am lucky to have had my summer residency trip, my vision for a unique global marketing plan and a trusting client all come together full circle,” he said.
“It seems like the world is a big place, but actually, it’s not that big, and we have the ability to market properties in other countries and the ability to use social media with other countries.”