It’s All an Education
Fifteen years ago, when I made the choice to go into real estate, I considered it to be my “sunset” career; something I could do and still be involved in the family livestock business until the day came to retreat to somewhere warmer in the winter.
Not that I had any plans to quit working, then or now, but still from the outside looking in I thought “just how hard can this be?”
Sell a house here and there, meet some interesting people, learn some new skills, should be a piece of cake.
Boy was I in for a shock.
Being that the brokerage I was going to join is in the bi-provincial community of Lloydminster, the local real estate board requires member Realtors to become licensed in both Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Wanting to start in the profession as quickly as possible, off to Edmonton I go for three weeks of intensive schooling in a college setting.
Once I got my Alberta license, I could do some supplemental study in Saskatchewan and challenge the entrance requirements there.
I hadn’t sat in a classroom environment since enrolling in the Executive Development Program at the University of Calgary years prior as preparation for achieving a national designation in health care administration.
Amongst the sixty or so candidates was a prince of The Sultanate State of Oman.
He held a master’s degree from Oxford and was on a two-year international post education program preparing him to become the Minister of Health for his country.
There was also a neurosurgeon looking for a career after the operating room and several dozen chief executive officers of large health care facilities or government agencies from across Canada.
Here I was, a country boy from a small town in Saskatchewan, simply wanting to improve my understanding of our national health care system so I could do a better job back home.
Thank goodness for two Newfoundland gentlemen who felt as intimidated in the setting as I did, as we were able to create an informal study group and encourage each other through.
One thing I did learn though. There are very few people, especially adults, who want to write a test to prove they are ready for the next stage.
The prince and surgeon were both mental wrecks the night before our final exam.
The boys from “the Rock” and I went out to a local pub for a couple of brews, figuring if we didn’t know our stuff by now, well it was too late anyway.
We all passed. I am not saying I won the valedictorian award or anything, but I came home with the designation I had studied for.
Looking back the most valuable lesson was realizing life presents ongoing learning opportunities if you choose to recognize them.
So, when I met my fellow classmates in Edmonton, I quickly realized we all were there to get the best start in this new profession as we could.
The hardest working students were landed immigrants from Vietnam and China.
Although English was their second language they came with significant educational backgrounds, and a strong desire to succeed in their chosen country.
Many of them were supporting parents and other family members.
You must respect that. When they had difficulty understanding the Torrens land title system, my rural background kicked in, so we stayed after class one day to review townships, range roads, etc.
I believe real estate is one of those careers where life experience counts more than academic standing.
You may come into this field with calloused hands or having raised a family but it’s your ability to adapt to new situations and read people that counts.
You also must know yourself. Your values will be continually challenged, as will your personal time and family commitments.
Frankly I was unprepared for the emotional component. Coming from health care, I had seen real estate as more of a sales game.
Not so. It is about helping people make transitions as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Their circumstances may be troubling; relationship breakdown, poor health, death, job loss, bankruptcy.
So, to improve my ability to serve clients, I continue to seek out those in the industry who are smarter than me and learn from them.
Life’s is simply too short to make all the mistakes myself!
Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.