Four Entrepreneurs in a Row, Senoras y Espanol– All of Us Pursuing the American Dream


Perhaps it would be more surprising to encounter *me* in such company, but discussing the progress and potential of a future sharing in an event between our groups during a few minutes of conversation after church, the only senora present who didn’t offer me her real estate card was the Hispanic Ministry person I’d met two days before.

It brought a vivid reality to what is so attractive about real estate: Opportunities for success are very much within any individuals control, and that makes it an essence of the American Dream. Maybe not the same as Trump’s dream for America, but…

You hit the standards– in North Carolina its 79 hours of approved instruction, taking/qualifying via the state exam, paying your fees. Once you are legal on those points, everyone starts from Go!

Carve your own niche or go large, the absolute effort required is a great leveler; ‘up’ personality is never a drawback, communicating skills are a given. Taking the original real estate course– after a long period of working primarily by myself– being with 80 people of high verbal ability was immediately noticeable. The barrier to entry was incredibly low: $450 course, about $70 more for books and suggested prep materials. After that, reading-studying-testing is your deal, definitely the priority (sorry kids).

     The Opportunity to Directly Affect Your Own Future (and others!)

Having an entrepreneur inside cuts across cultural lines, and real estate rewards effort. The picture of car and commission check is worth the usual 1,000 words. Real estate as a career in a hot market, its got visuals you can appreciate, especially after the penury that was retail during the recession. Perhaps rewards come less often than is desired, but sometimes in unreal proportion to any actual brilliance, often by doing necessary steps and being there.  You follow through on leads and necessary paperwork, learn more whenever possible, make sure your technology and transportation work, be fearless, or at least mostly determined to put yourself on the line when asking if anybody you stand next to knows somebody else.

During orientation (at Keller Williams) there was a question about our Big Why? What would get us out of bed daily, make us stay on task, maybe neglect family and friends attention-wise, invest in worrying about an appraisal or offer? For myself, literally, walking out of 2016 in better way than I came in was the reason– left knee has been shot for a long time. Whatever it eventually costs for a replacement, by the end of the year– and primarily by the grace of Affordable Care Act– getting right on that can be accomplished.

Of primary importance, because of user-friendly technology, running my business won’t totally grind to a stop when two-six weeks of therapy after that knee replacement happens and actually affects any mobility.

Throughout a variety of careers, a strongly held belief is not having limits imposed on my choice of jobs because of extraneous, often legal, factors. Its rational to understand some leavening of opportunities, even in what is finally starting to feel like a better economy TO ME. Pero, (but) like those senoras, nosotros vamos forward with business on our minds, and helping in our hearts. There are few satisfactions better than delivering a major part of the American Dream– owning your home– to someone else, while ringing the register for yourself.

How a Great Fish Fry is Like Your New Home

After the final customers had left our charitable organization’s annual fish fry last week, there was a significant amount of clam chowder left. After I informed one of the other workers about that and suggested he fill some to-go containers, he asked, “Can I selectively skim it so I get more clams? I didn’t think there were enough in the bowl I had. And I really think the potatoes should’ve been a little more tender.”

Now, we haven’t seen the financial totals, but between 4:30 and 8:00, having served over 600 people all you can eat baked or fried tilipia, shrimp, mac ‘n cheese, fries, crab-shrimp-artichoke dips in line, ice cream– and that chowder– provided free (donations accepted) beer, wine, tea and lemonade, and had both a bluegrass trio and the ACC tournament on a big screen TV for entertainment, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind the event had been a huge community success again this year.

Those comments about the chowder were actually true though, which makes for a great analogy about the search for a new home: There’s almost no such thing as a 100% perfect house.

Your Top 5 Factors vs. Wish List Items

Customer satisfaction with the home buying process doesn’t rely just on price, or having granite counter tops in a super-large kitchen, a well-situated bonus room for Mom’s internet company office, a fair amount of yard, 2 1/2 bathrooms, and 2,150 square feet of space on a quiet cul-de-sac in a desired school district. It would certainly SEEM like everything is in apple pie order if buyers could check off that many favorable factors, but any real estate agent will tell you, everyone wants More.

“Gee, we’re going to have to paint that room something besides Carolina blue,” or “We really wanted to be a little closer to X, the yard isn’t enclosed, the 4th bedroom is a little small, the homeowners association dues are kind of high,” are common enough examples of Wish List. Unless someone has to move NOW because of a company relocation or similar situation, it’s rarely *just* the house that’s being considered, and that’s when having clients keep a Top 5 checklist in hand makes a difference.

Most agents will put The Perfect House idea in perspective at the beginning of the process by asking what a client needs, then “If there was something else, what would that be?” and probably even a “If one more thing would make it perfect…” type question. Beyond all the what if…? desires though, the single biggest factor in the hot-hot Charlotte market is that clients probably only get one shot at really liking a house. If they aren’t pre-qualified and ready to make a decision-offer, the next people in the door almost certainly will be. Those dreadful days (years!) when buyers could dither over fourth bedrooms or expect major concessions on closing costs by the seller are history.

Like more tender potatoes, or an abundance of clams in the chowder relative to 600 smiling faces, free beer and entertainment, or even a highly successful fundraiser, the buyer of today has to know what really counts for them. Buying a home is one of the biggest and most stressful decisions people make; its a commitment right up there with marriage. If you (with your agent’s enabling) want to continue searching for that specific ninth desirable aspect, that’s your prerogative. ‘Settling for’ is not really the answer, but when a fourth or fifth strong possibility goes under contract while you thought about things, recognize how serious your Top 5 is to fulfilling both a need for shelter and an overall happy home.

‘More like Matt from Martian’ is a Legitimate Mantra

The mantra refers to a movie-ending classroom discussion by Matt Damon’s character in ‘The Martian’, about surviving Mars or whatever situation they found themselves in. At some point you feel its all over, but “You do the math.  You solve the problem, and then you go on to the next problem. You solve enough problems, you get to keep living.”

dave-glennat 40threunion

This wasn’t first thought about going into real estate

While accompanying photo, at 40th reunion with brother David, wasn’t the first time a future in real estate had been contemplated, from that first day of class, to qualifying/being licensed as a broker in North Carolina, and successfully acting as a buyers agent on a $280k condominium sale on February 13th, was less than 100 days. Deciding to make a major life change means nothing without action. One question every new real estate person consistently gets asked is, “How long before you sell your first house-get a paycheck?” First sales already handled, closing date is the 24th are facts I can count on.

Matt was resourceful as hell throughout ‘The Martian’ in fixing technological challenges, and beyond good people skills, technology is an essential in real estate.

                                            Technology vs. Personality

Making a first sale– to the FIRST PEOPLE you ever talk to— is a somewhat giddy feeling, but there’s no telling at that point whether anything will become ‘more real’, no matter how bright and warm a day the relationship starts on. Its important to recognize that, while I managed to get a particular search application our company offers for downloading sent to those clients, going to that location to check out open houses vs. doing previews by myself was related to a difficulty in using my eKey to unlock houses.

Although walking up and introducing myself was the ultimate starting point– and considering the eventually positive consequences of  meeting clients as a result of being short of the right technology wasn’t bad– a major truth in today’s real estate is, “Make sure your technology works.”

After fixing an e-mail address and setting my client up for automatic updates of all relative properties coming on the market, the software allowed tracking what they were most interested in, and their responses to follow-up phone calls kept the search tight. Just as the ice storm came to Charlotte they identified two condos; on Thursday we showed them, despite more trouble with obtaining keys. On Saturday they made an offer, which was accepted. Yes, Charlotte is a hot market!

After another episode with eKey failure, it took 2 1/2 hours– late on a Friday afternoon– down at MLS Services to determine my cell phone wasn’t on list of possible users for a reason. Buying a *much* better phone Saturday morning was a $75 investment in my future. There was also the recent purchase of a Toshiba laptop, after knocking out the screen on an old Acer unit, and at $325 + tax, its been a super addition as well.

                              People will help, but handle your own problems

As much as having people like and trust me as a professional counts, knowing that technology will work FOR me becomes more of a reality each day. There are regular classes, ‘playing around on it’ and seeing screens actually matters.

The atmosphere in a strong real estate company is the sense of team accomplishment, and after a long period of time having worked alone, its invigorating to me. The team leader I’ve become a Buyers Agent with was dead right in stating, “It’s your fault,” about eKey problem, because I’d delayed a month in handling something obviously wrong. While the laptop, and an unfortunate whack on car requiring a bit of credit card space, seemed like problems, it didn’t require any dynamic resolutions, just money.

That people are willing to explain three new functions a week to make me more effective for clients in searching, and therefore a better broker, that’s all I’m going to ask for. Oh, and hitting the two closings a month by April goal I set in training.

Feeling More Professional Just Because of the Effort

12-5booking it

Four days, and feeling ready for what comes on Monday.

Two months after spreading the news at my 40th reunion that real estate was where my future efforts would be directed upon returning to Charlotte, NC from Schenectady, NY, the Reality of Commitment comes down to four days of almost continuous reading and testing to prepare for a more-important-to-my-future test than I’ve taken in MANY years: a 75% (two tries if necessary) qualifies for the State exam.

After watching multiple episodes of ‘Friday Night Lights’ with Blackhawk-flying, ‘promotable-to-captain’ nephew, Curtiss, and fiancee (Stephanie) during my reunion over Columbus Day weekend, the Permian Panthers “Goin’ to  States!” mantra has been locked in as my Now.

Half-way through this month of two full days (79 total hours) week in class and mucho hours reading/discussion, trying to fulfill a second goal of submitting 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo campaign didn’t make the cut as a priority. I mention that because, although tarot cards are essential to major decisions made by my main character Marlena (the Magnificent) Victoria Christie, declining to commit time to writing– an obviously significant professional factor– was an All-In! line in the sand.  Because school and studying required all possible focus, the call had to be made. That’s nothing but a straight-up fact of recognizing where and what your #1 focus is.

That is (IMHO) *still* how Success is earned, and yes, ‘deserved’ is a decent clarifier.

Our real estate class has about 70 people, and being at the same level of focus with that many articulate people, its been enlightening. At *NO* point is anyone I’ve talked to been taking things lightly. The instructor put an absolutely True point on the Next we’re all looking at with all the studying/long reading assignments: “You are all trying to become professionals– conduct yourselves accordingly.”

 I’ll add that every organization or ‘system’ I’ve worked with demands results along a scale of importance: High rewards, you gotta want ’em, then go earn ’em –Amen. And Luck,  that usually follows effort.

Time-wise, it’s been a short term investment:  Started October 28, final on December 7. Exceptionally strong potential results for a short term commitment,  and there didn’t seem to be any lack of determination in most individuals; nobody expects a ’15-minute-great abs!’-type cheat that aces tests, y’know? North Carolina has some rules and gotta do’s regarding real estate, and part of that is definitely 79 hours. Being licensed as a *professional* going into 2016 is a specific goal, so this weekend is about achievement. How much-how far with this weekend’s effort-commitment means points on Monday.

The world makes way for…you know the deal, and there isn’t a WINNER! type organization worth its mantra that doesn’t push that button somehow. There were several opportunities to present myself during  lunch ‘n learns to representatives (in one case, Director of Recruiting) of specific firms  I’d previously completed assessments with. Certain results from those clearly affirmed my inner attitudes and aptitudes, then it took a ‘put it on the credit card’ action  to qualify for a major professional Next. Don’t ever imagine anything happens without actions like investing in yourself. I’ll let you know the results soon.

As a small extra, this piece written after the Panthers big win in Dallas was/is pretty good stuff. At Thanksgiving we were 11-0, looking for more in weeks to come.

One Persons Tradition is Anothers Angst at ‘Again’

Having completed the necessary and brilliant football picks (Panthers giving 1.5 to Dallas? Absolutely!) over java and a large bacon-cheese-egg-with wasabi sauce sandwich, its almost time to head over to brother Steve’s for the deep frying of the turkey. While he hasn’t confirmed that the noon start– and strict schedule adherence isn’t usually a strong point with him– cooking time has been cigar and an adult beverage time tradition for us for the last couple years.

The real tradition behind this article is the Drumstick for Glenn though, and for a significant number of years, pretty much everyone has gone with idea I’m going to want to gnaw on one. Its not usually the massive hunk it seemed to be ‘back in the day’, but it doesn’t seem like there are a dozen other items crammed on the plate that made its presence look so overpowering either. Dinner seems simpler now, and while its understood Mike will mention his le sueur pea concoction (like the cheesy, not enamored of the potato chip topping vs. crispy fried onion) being a specialty more than once, its easily balanced by the fact Steve usually has a couple good bottles of wine available.

About the drumstick as Tradition/Dammit, Again. For the sake of accuracy, it was actually a Christmas turkey, and Steve’s family had left for a ski vacation out west, and my folks were here in Charlotte from Tampa. Having parked near the garage instead of on the street, significant date and I came through the house from downstairs vs. front door, arriving in the kitchen just as a semi-shocking conversation between Mom and Dad came to a point.

Mom: Just cut the meat off and put it on the plate.
Dad: That’s Glenn’s drumstick that he always likes to chew on.
Mom: Ohh, I always *hated* that he did that!

That we’d arrived just in the nick of time to save Dad from having to stymie her willingness to hack the meat off herself was one thing; to hear she’d HATED– apparently for most of 45 years!– my chewing on the dark, juicy drumstick was more than just a little bit of an oh my! moment. If there’d been a tendency to eat like a pirate early on, it has still been something to kind of count on as mine. Dad having my nephew Ian deliver a small drumstick to me (“Grandpa said you’d really like to chew on this”) when Thanksgiving was being celebrated at a cousins house, is still something that comes as a really good emotional memory. Those two specific times when a certain ‘streak’ was imperiled and Dad came through, that’s deep stuff, and clearly what Tradition is about.

Long time family friend Mrs. Kline– who alternated major holiday dinners with Mom for years once they determined there was no sense making seperate ones when we’d wind up together later in the day– *guaranteed* her mashed potatoes wouldn’t be stiff (it was a fact in the past) when we got together last year, which shows how significant some holiday memories are imbedded. It was only mentioned once, but we can all smile about it (now).

It’s doubtful Mom will say anything one way or the other today, and hopefully Steve leaves one drumstick to the side, and nobody grabs it before me. Tomorrow might begin another tradition when I help prepare a holiday dinner at the Men’s Shelter, and at some point there will probably be a dinner with lasagna instead of turkey, but Tradition, lets go with that at least one more time.

Best wishes to all, including those unfortunate SOBs who have to work in retail starting at 6pm.

Glenn S.

Panthers 7-0 After Rainy Monday Night Almost Slipped Away

Two essential Truths about unbeaten teams are that not everything is going to work perfectly, so sometimes you’re going to have to buckle it on *strong* and WIN the game, dammit! Secondly, clutch field goal kicking is going to figure in there significantly.

For the vast majority of Monday nights 29-26 victory, in front of an above-average crowd that endured steady and sometimes heavy rain (bless their hearts), the vaunted Panther defense made Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck look exceptionally human. The Colts had only 40 yards passing after three quarters, and he leads the league with 12 INTs after Carolina picked three, including the gamer in overtime. After Cam Newton’s TD pass (16-of-35, 248 yds., 2nd TD- Philly Brown) to Greg Olsen, the 23-6 lead looked like a kickin’, even though Gano missed the PAT.

Luck’s final yardage was 231, but overtime belonged to the kickers. The Colts Adam Viniteri, showed his chops with another clutch kick in his career-long string, thumping a 50-yarder, then Gano answered with one. After Kuechly, who dropped an interception possibility at the end of regulation, grabbed one in OT– Ted Ginn also dropped a possible TD in admittedly lousy conditions– Gano took care of business with a strong 52-yarder.

If the game looked kind of ‘Done Deal’ after the Olsen TD, its going to help Charlotte (and fans) in the future, because it became a game where that ‘unbeaten’ could have come off their resume. When they beat Seattle two weeks ago, that certainly charged expectations up, Seattle being a constant pain over the last couple meetings. Of COURSE there’s a whooooole lot of ‘Can they beat Green Bay/Aaron Rodgers?’ now, and thats a legitimate question. Should it make any difference that Rodgers had an ugly night vs. Denver and might have a chip on his shoulder when he gets to Bank of America stadium? In a word,’No’, because stopping his usual surgery on offense will test whats been the teams strength–its D– and you *HAVE* to nullify his big plays to win in all cases.

Moral victories don’t count, and no denying Green Bay is a premier team. It will be a massive game, and there’s every reason for a full stadium till the end, which is, or should be, a standard for this level of event. The Panthers haven’t been ‘Lucky’ yet in getting to 7-0— even without Charles Johnson (knee) and Kuechly (out three games, concussion protocols), the defense has been flexible with personnel, AJ Kline and Shaq Thompson stepped up, and opportunistic– two of ace cornerback Josh Norman’s 4 picks were returned for TDs. While TV analyst John Gruden continued to sound pessimistic about having Newton run as frequently as he has this year, his 41 looked good, and his 3rd down conversion rate has helped Carolina’s running game all season.

The Hornets have picked up their game with a 2nd win, after stumbling out of the starting game 0-3. Last night they rode (Less Big?) Al Jefferson’s 15-18 shooting for 31 points to bury the Dallas Mavs 108-94. Much has been made of Al being 25 pounds lighter this season, but it was an excellent team scoring effort, which was essentially the Hornets ‘must fix’ problem from last year. Marvin Williams-17, Kemba Walker-14, Cody Zeller-11– and with ALL due respect for Jeremy Lamb’s 16 off the bench— Coach Caldwell can continue blending process on where points come from.

Frank Kaminsky hasn’t been overwhelming yet, and losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (MKG) to a shoulder injury at end of pre-season are adjustments to continue. Caldwell, who is dealing with many new and clearly talented parts very successfully, feels getting roles set is a priority, even after a 7-1 preseason that included a pair of victories in China.

Reunions Stake Out Past From Next– and Which Memories to Keep Alive

Alex Chrys (L) raises Arabian show horses, Scott Grayman (M) is the epitome of reunion attendance, myself (R) in tuxedo

Alex Chrys (L) raises Arabian show horses, Scott Grayman (M) is the epitome of reunion attendance, myself (R) in tuxedo

With all due respect to George Alper for bringing a tableful of pictures (and still remembering his best half-mile and relay times), and the ladies who were at the core of getting the Linton HS 40th reunion done in such a satisfying way (Yay! Janelle Richardson, Belle W., Anna Casillo (Gelman), Allyson T., with an attaboy! for advisor Don Lang), being back in Charlotte this fantastic Wednesday morning is a start on the Next I had the opportunity to discuss with several classmates along the way. NEVER giving up on the writing, that is a piece of all I am, but real estate is in my future—talk to me if you’re coming to Charlotte!

To say I practiced my talking and journalistic habit of inquiry mightily over five days—many would say that’s essentially what I’m remembered for and wouldn’t need *practice* (right Scott?)— was quite affirming. Beyond the reunion, my always-a-sportswriter persona felt extra alive when brother David took me to a meet-great for this year’s Siena basketball teams directly from the airport. I was also glad to have several hours with my cousin Doug, wife Cindy, and their two girls, one of which I quizzed on her continents and oceans. I always appreciate time with my Blackhawk-flying nephew, Curtiss, who was back from Ft. Drumm this weekend, and his fiancée, Stephanie. Hearing he is promotable and will be an Army captain by the time they get married in June is a good thing.

For those who didn’t make it to this reunion– or other readers who missed their last/recent or are considering missing an opportunity– the chance to share and/or compare notes at this juncture in life is legitimate. The day a book of mine wins a Pulitzer, or a 7-figure check hits my bank account for a movie script, I’ll probably still be a million or more behind Vic Mazzotti (Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP) or Alex Chrys, but so it goes. Al seemed slightly affronted about my having Googled the idea he raised Arabian show horses, because Saturday morning it seemed like he juuuust might be seeing what stuck to the proverbial wall Friday night at our Clinton’s Ditch gathering. FYI—for anyone who remembers the spray-painted note ‘Susan is a pinhead’ on a downtown wall, ‘Pinhead Susan’s’ is where we had final drinks Saturday.

That guys I played Pop Warner football with even before high school were there: Jim Schemerhorn, a prosperous looking NY lawyer now, and Bob Massaroni– who I also graduated from Brockport with– looking forward to a few more years of teaching before retirement, and thankfully past some long time physical problems, was fine. That Joe Genovesi, who also played Pop Warner, didn’t make it, but told Bob to remind me of his 1-1 basketball victories on my court, brought a small smile. So did my brother David (Class of ’78) relating how all the gym classes were made to stand at attention one particular Monday while teachers demanded to know who knew what about a torn up football field from a bunch of us in college who played football in slushy snow the Sunday before the annual Election Day Linton-MP football game. Ahh, memories! (and I *swear* we thought the season was already over.)

Steve Lussier didn’t make it either, nor hoops buddy Danny Smith, who I double-dated with for Senior Prom. No Pryzblo, Dave Karowe, Karen Cioffi, Schein twins, or Robert Relyea, who gave the use of his legs for his country in the Gulf War even before our 10th reunion. There was a Memorial Tree for classmates who died, and while everyone is a loss, I’m sure Tim Easley’s smile was missed.

That several people were just as well-preserved as Don Lang kept crediting me with—I’m talking about Belle Waddington (Freedgood), Pete Zimandonis, Karen Korniak (Johnson?), John Zampella, Linda Noonan (Leary), John Notar, Joe Litz, Cindy Bush, Jayne Binzer, Kathy Riemer (Corso), Ken Bascue, Jean Tafler, and Anna Casillo (Gelman) for starters—is why anyone who said, “I’ll make it to the next one!” missed the boat. Oh, can’t forget Mini Acevedo (Hoffman) or Patti Barbeau (Egan), who explained how a medical condition caused some bulging in her very pretty eyes when she asked if I recognized her. Patti, knees were a concern for many of the guys, but those eyes weren’t a problem, even when they were hurting you Saturday night. Of course there are names missing from this list, so I’ll ask for forgiveness in advance, but even with glasses now, Pete Z. is still a studly 6’1” with shoulders that looked awesome in a plaid jacket. Linda, tell those puppy-aged nurses to shut up! about 40 as real old, especially in YOUR fine-for-58 presence.

People are doing interesting things: Chris Boehm, who I’ve known since summers at Sacandaga Lake with the GE Alumni crew our fathers were, was right on top of the dredging of PCBs from Hudson River project (even if he sub-texted the effort as many years and billions of dollars of ‘dog and pony show’ for the EPA), and deals with “30 of the deadliest gases you could ever imagine” regarding atoms 500 layers thick on silicon wafers (tough to explain); really really smart former-cheerleader (I’m smiling, Cin) Cindy Bush *swears* her financial derivatives weren’t the sort of irresponsible crap of the too-crazy-for-own-good numbers people that helped cause the recession; Jim Thackery is doing brainy stuff, I think also involving silicon wafers—-they were starting to hustle us out of Malozzi’s about the time we talked. Hope to talk to more people about such things (my movie?) when we attempt this again in five years.

Guess I shouldn’t be overly shy about plugging my book here: ‘CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent’ ISBN# 9781493176571, e-ver. -76557. (There’s a link and first chapter at the top of this page, in black area. Story goes well with red or white wine…)

Two doors away neighborhood girl/’Class Venus’ Allyson Towler (Grayman) was part of the reunion committee, and special props to her for persuading long time best bud Scott Grayman to be there. He had pictures of a great looking bunch of kids (6), but the Orthodox Jewish belief against celebration, because his mother died in the last year, and fact he couldn’t drive until after sundown on the Sabbath (he also drove *back* to NJ right after) goes to the core of religious tenets. We hear about intolerance of what others do in that area constantly, but self-practice like that, the world would benefit from those who do it quietly and personally.

Those who didn’t come for lesser reasons, well, the reunion was small relative to 560 at graduation, but we enjoyed it muchly.