“I have shoes older than you,” the woman real estate practitioner announced.It was a year ago, and within the first five minutes of being introduced to my new office as the branch vice president, the practitioner had stood up and declared that I couldn’t possibly know how to run an office. Why? Because I was 32? Because I had only been in the business for 4.5 years? Because when she sold my grandmother’s house in 1987 I had just finished my Bar Mitzvah?Well, yes — I guess for all these reasons people hesitated to consider my value.From that moment I understood what I was there to do. The powers that be did not hire me to be a yesterday’s manager — a legal dictionary of real estate wonder, sitting behind a desk all day to field every piece of minutia the associates could throw at me.
Rather, I was placed in the Chevy Chase office to create an atmosphere and culture of profitability where none existed before. I was hired to be a marketing expert and business partner to every single associate in my office, so they, using their creativity and talent, could learn how to run successful businesses.
Simply, we are no longer a cottage industry. We are innovative, marketing experts dealing in a multi-billion dollar business. If you don’t look at yourself that way, then this is perhaps no longer what you should be doing.
Did it take time for people to adapt? Absolutely. Did some decide that this was not the right place for them because of the new standard of accountability? Yes. But running a business from the perspective of fear is not leadership — that’s about knowing the goal and striving toward it regardless of condition, hesitation, or fear.
So, how did I answer that morning, in front of everyone, when she so delicately told me that her Ferragamos had existed longer than I?
“Buy new shoes.”