KJ sitting on a chair

They say hindsight is 20/20. And for me, this is especially true when I reflect on my beginnings in the real estate biz. 

When I was a young burgeoning real estate champion, my perspective was a little…myopic, shall we say? An eager beaver focused on my own future, I didn’t always see the work my bosses were doing behind the scenes. Looking back, I may have spent an embarrassing amount of time wondering how much money they were making, or fantasizing about how much free time I thought they had. In my naivete, I may have made some unfair judgments about some of their decisions, wondering why they wouldn’t spend the extra dough I assumed they had. Sigh. If only I had known then what I know now.

A decade or so later, I’m on the other side of that situation. Leading a team of my own, I have a completely different perspective on what it takes to run, and more importantly, to grow a business. I have a new level of accountability. From making sure there’s enough money flowing into the business so that everyone on the team is getting paid to ensuring that we’re complying with labor and real estate laws, it’s an enormous amount of pressure — way more than I had when I was a team member looking up to my team leaders. Now I’m in charge. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, here’s what I’d like to tell my younger self.

It’s not your risk.

It’s hard to fully comprehend the amount of pressure on a leader until you are that person. Then, you have this understanding that there’s a ton of good reasons why they’ve made it to that level and come out strong. It’s not necessarily that they’re the smartest or the best, though they might be. More likely, it’s because they took the leap of faith. They put in the work and endured sleepless nights to reap those rewards. 

Present solutions, not problems.

One classic trademark of a newbie is running to your boss with a problem before stopping to think about how you might be able to solve it. To work smarter (not harder), when presented with a challenge, do a little critical thinking on your own. Then take it to your boss, so they see you are equally invested in finding answers to problems that arise. 

Grace and gratitude can go a long way.

It’s easy to fall into the pattern of being super transactional with everyone you work with. After all, it’s business, right? It does not diminish your moxie to show gratitude for the opportunities and assignments you’ve been given. Not only does it send a message to the universe that you would like more of those, please, but also lets your boss know that you’re mindful of the chance you’re being given. 

Try to see the bigger picture.

Have you ever heard that saying, “You never know what someone else is going through”? This is no less true for the head of a business. As a team member, you might be tempted to “count” your team leader’s money. I remember thinking to myself at times, “Of course they can afford it, so why don’t they just pay for it?” First of all, it was none of my business. Secondly, I’m sure the business was more expensive to run than I realized. 

Take time out to reflect. 

At least weekly, you should devote a little time to thinking about where you are in your current role and where you would like to be in the future. Then, spend time thinking about the steps you can take now that will help get you there. 

Ask for feedback more frequently.

This is another great way to show your boss that you are serious about what you’re doing. Asking for more feedback shows a willingness and a desire to learn. And that could lead to more opportunities to practice being the leader you aspire to be.

Ask ‘why’ more.

Seize every moment in your current work situation as an opportunity to learn. Believe it or not, sometimes you learn just as much of what you won’t do as you will about what you will do when it’s your turn. 

Trust that there’s a legitimate reason for any business decision you may not understand at first. Go ahead and get on board rather than spending time worrying about a decision that isn’t yours to make anyway. 

Show up with enthusiasm daily. 

This goes hand-in-hand with the last three suggestions. Remember, you’re telling both your boss and the universe that you are serious about this business, that you want the responsibility one day, and that you’re willing to take the risks it requires to be great at what you do. How you present on the outside plays an important role in your manifestation of this dream, as well. So in addition to showing up enthusiastically, dress the part too. Look great and be fabulous.

Keep in touch.

Somewhere in your journey, you will encounter those higher-ups who make an impression on you. If you’re able to recognize it in the moment, acknowledge it out loud. Even if you feel awkward at the time, I guarantee it will pay off. And if some time has passed, and if it feels appropriate, why not reach out to them and let them know how they influenced you? Remember: you might not have a job if these people weren’t here holding it down for you. 

And on that note…

I’d like to take a minute to acknowledge those that have come before me and that have helped me get to where I am today.

For all the times that I was a little annoyed, pissed, judged or sighed at you, I kind of get it now. And I have the utmost respect for you. 

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