Start with ‘Why’
A friend of mine and local hair salon owner, Christian Wiles, recently recommended I check out the work of respected author and motivational speaker – Simon Sinek. Now I’m usually a bit sceptical about some of these characters talking a good game venue to venue but with no real business credentials, however as I respect Christian’s opinion and figured he wasn’t easily hoodwinked by these things I investigated some of Mr Sinek’s ideas.
I won’t regurgitate too much of his work here, as you may already be familiar with his principles, and if not you would be best advised to source them for yourselves rather than read them second hand from me, however the main theme of his first book and perhaps most prominent premise is the idea of ‘starting with why’…and I wanted to take this principle, apply it to myself, our company, our industry and elaborate on it a little. Some of you may find the same process helpful in your own way.
So the central idea revolves around understanding and promoting ‘why’ your business does what it does ahead of ‘how’ it does it and even ‘what’ it does. And by ‘why’ he does not mean the quest for profits, as he declares that a result rather than a ‘why’. You can also add to this the idea that promoting the garnering of profits as a reason for a potential customer to be drawn to your business is probably a bad idea!
Speaking for myself as an individual, although I suspect many (if not all) my colleagues are driven by similar aims, the reason I have stayed in the property industry, and more specifically as an Estate Agent, changed quite early on in my career from the reason I first became an Estate Agent. I first became an Estate Agent in 1996 because I dropped out of University and needed a job. Being 19 at the time I also quite fancied the idea of driving around in a Golf GTI (which never happened btw) with a Filofax tucked under the arm of my new Burton’s suit. In short, to quote the great Derek Trotter I was a bit of a plonker.
A few months in on pretty terrible money, with no GTI or Filofax I quickly had to reassess ‘if’ and therefore ‘why’ I wanted to stick at training to be and then becoming an Estate Agent. At that point I had a moment of clarity where I realised my previous motivations were quite superficial and a little sad. I eventually came to the realisation that I wanted to be the antithesis of the ‘typical Estate Agent’; I wanted to attempt to provide a service based on authentic principles and ideas like integrity, empathy, personal fulfilment. I wanted to be the best Estate Agent I could be, which I realise might not seem the loftiest of ambitions to some but it’s what drove me back then and what still drives me now. And when I state ‘best Estate Agent’ I mean in the eyes of the customer rather than the bank manager.
I’ve now been an Estate Agent for 22 years, my fellow Directors for that and longer, and our Branch Managers have on average over 16 years’ experience. Given the almost Armageddon like days of 2008/2009 in the property market I believe that longevity and experience counts for a great deal and says a lot about ‘why’ we do what we do.
We have seen many Estate Agency companies come and go since Jackson Grundy opened in 1994, and thousands of individuals working for those companies who also never got their Golf GTI or Filofaxes (and maybe some that did), but the main reason ‘why’ we are still here is because we love always trying to be better than people expect us to be as Estate Agents. Of course we do not succeed 100% of the time, but we try relentlessly hard to do so.
I accept this piece is maybe a little self-indulgent, but I found the process of consciously thinking about this again quite rejuvenating and therefore thought some, or hopefully at least one of you might find the same.