When describing her unique family situation onstage at ICNY, Stephanie Lanier explained, ”We really got into real estate for the flexibility and the financial income — remember why you’re doing it.”

In 2010, Stephanie Lanier’s world fell apart: One morning she couldn’t wake up her nearly 2-year-old son Oliver; she then raced him to the hospital where doctors believed his brain was bleeding.

But later, doctors discovered Oliver’s brain wasn’t actually bleeding. Instead, they told Lanier, he had a rare genetic disorder called tuberous sclerosis complex that led to him having seizures.

Lanier — a broker and owner of The Lanier Property Group in North Carolina — recounted her story Monday afternoon during Inman Connect as she argued that real estate agents can and should balance the various challenges of their personal lives with their careers.

In fact, Lanier said, she chose to go into real estate after her son’s diagnosis because it was a career that fit with her family’s unique medical requirements.

“We really got into real estate for the flexibility and the financial income,” she explained. “Remember why you’re doing it and what this is about and what this is for.”

Lanier said that agents looking to balance their jobs and their other commitments ought to keep their goals in mind. In her case, she said that her goal isn’t to be the top agent or team leader in her market.

“What I’m looking at is, ‘Are my agents growing?'” she said. “‘Did my agents hit their goal?’ Those are the things that drive me the most.”

That perspective paid off late in 2018, when Lanier learned that her son Oliver actually had cancer. When that happened, she was grateful she hadn’t pushed her team to grow so much that it used up all of her time — time she needed to spend with her son.

“Wherever you are, it’s OK,” she said, “and sometimes its for reasons you can’t understand.”

Lanier offered a handful of suggestions for balancing work and life. Probably most significantly, she recommended agents don’t compare themselves to other industry professionals who have different goals.

“The reason I don’t look at how we rank is because it confuses me,” she said, adding that it just serves as a distraction from what she’s really trying to do.

Lanier also recommended focusing intensely on the job, even if it’s just for a short period each day.

She described locking herself up daily in an office for a couple of hours. She explained that during that time she can’t be reached, and her co-workers have to slip notes under her door if they want to talk to her.

And it’s amazing, she added, what someone can do with a short time period if they just double down.

“If you bring your whole self to work and turn your phone off, you can do a whole day’s worth of work in two hours,” she said. “Easily.”

Lanier also described how she no longer gets up to work out at 5 a.m., saying that that kind of schedule just didn’t work with her personal life.

Her point was that every person is different, and it’s important to adapt your work patterns to your individual needs. The end result, she added can lead to becoming a better agent and a better leader.

“As a leader, it’s your job to make sure you’re filled up so you can pour out,” she said. “You can’t pour out of an empty well.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

Correction: Lanier owns The Lanier Property Group in North Carolina. This story initially misidentified the name and location of Lanier’s business. 

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