Keep Serving Your People and the Money Will Follow

How to stay relevant while business has stalled.

I’m certain you can look back on in your life and see times that offer you proof and encouragement to believe in your ability to be resilient.

Maybe you’ve weathered a sudden job transfer or loss of work unexpectedly. Maybe you took a chance on a business that didn’t work out, or maybe you lost money in the housing crisis years ago.

But here you are. Not only did you bounce back, but you bounced forward into your new life.

Why is it new? Because it was something you didn’t necessarily expect and you had to make adjustments to restore or transform it.

After this Quarantine, we’ll all be seeing life through a new lens.

The elephant in the room that looms is this… will my work, as I know it, be gone? But let’s prod this question a little further. Is there a possibility that your work life will be completely changed, or different, or better than before?

Is there a chance that this is an opportunity to look at how you’ve worked in the past, and completely transform the model for even more satisfying work experience?

It’s happened to me before, and here’s what I learned.

In 2008, I got hit hard in the housing market crash. I was a top real estate agent in my area, focusing on estate and ranch properties in Southern California.

I was not prepared for my income to drop as much as it did.

As hard as it was, I can look back and recognize how much I learned. I reluctantly leaned in to be more flexible, more resourceful, and I learned to work smarter. I also discovered that I became more real to clients. I let them see who I am, backstory and all.

I recognized that being real allowed them to trust me more. That kind of connection aligned me with them in a new way.

It was then I realized no matter how certain you think your business is, all of us are susceptible to challenging times. But there’s one thing that will carry you through… knowing who you’re serving.

Who are your people?
Author and marketing strategist, Ryan Holiday, who wrote The Perennial Seller advises that true success happens when you focus on “people building.”

“If I could give a prospective creative only one piece of advice, it would be this: Build a list… Imagine that for reasons entirely outside your control, there was a media and industry blackout…”

Let’s stop there and assess the relevance of that statement right now. At this moment in history, we’re in an economic blackout… a gap where many of us cannot work our regular jobs. It’s scary as hell realizing that the income I counted on is not there, and yet I’d set my whole financial life up for a certain income that needs to come in, month after month.

How did I do it in 2008?

I had to pivot my business to survive. My business partner and I expanded our education to include helping people who were in trouble. These people were our past and current clients. Some were executives with housing development companies or housing contractors who had suddenly lost their jobs. Some were first responders, teachers, and small business owners who had counted on the housing market to keep climbing, so they bought into it.

Some were upside down in their mortgage because prices had dropped so dramatically, and those enticing variable interest rate mortgages had reached their 5-year cap, causing a bump in payments that made it no longer possible to afford.

Hence, people struggled to make their revised payments and couldn’t get their homes refinanced because it was no longer worth what they’d originally paid.

The one continuing thread through that time was that I learned to focus on serving the people who needed my services the most. It was a dramatic drop in my income at first, but working in this new way built certainty into my future income by accruing a loyal client base.

And the money followed.

How can I be relevant in this uncertainty?
How I can continue to stay in contact with my clients (many of whom are close friends) and continue my business when the world seems to have stopped?

How can I be relevant to what they are going through now?

How can I serve them?

I want them to know… I’m here and I want to help.

I am more than my job. I’m more than the last house I sold, or the last article I wrote on Medium. Everything I do has a connection to people.

I do what I do to fulfill my highest potential in serving others.

You can’t fulfill that potential without knowing your people and what they need.

Sometimes you need to pivot.
With this current furlough in our work that many of us are experiencing, it’s up to us to fill in the gap.

My life might not look the same, but that’s not always a bad thing. My goal is to not merely cope with what we’re dealing with, but to thrive… and sometimes that means pivoting the way you do business.

This quarantine has changed me. For the first time, I’m learning to let my heart guide me and tell me what I need to add to my life and what I need to leave behind.

But the throughline for this is to know who my people are, and what I can do for them.

Writing has always been my side job, but it’s my love, my passion, my glass of Chardonnay at the end of the day.

I come home from hours of real estate and dive into that zone where writing completes my soul’s expression. I’ve written several books and more blogs than I can count, but I also love helping others learn to write, too.

The people who know me from real estate and the people who know me from writing are sometimes on both lists. There’s a crossover because people want to know who I am. After all, they’re entrusting me with perhaps the biggest purchase of their lives… and so I share all of it.

I write about resilience and transformational life experiences. People buying homes are going through a transition. Sometimes it’s a marriage, sometimes a divorce. Sometimes it’s retirement, or it can just be a desire for change. Whatever it is, I love sharing my own stories of transformation.

I have numerous clients who came to me after reading my articles on how I weathered the tragedy of losing my 16-year-old son. I wrote about it because I want people to know that you can restore your life after such a loss. It’s not easy, but it is possible to have a fulfilling life, even when you’ve experienced the worst that can happen.

Those clients who’ve experienced loss stay connected to me in a powerful way.

And yes… it helps me earn my living, too.

Nurture your people.
During this Quarantine, I’ve had a chance to ask what it is my people will be needing when life is restored. I know for certain I’ll need to be more aware of how this break in routine and challenging finances has hurt them or changed their circumstances.

I’ve been writing about my quarantine experiences openly and honestly.

My clients can relate. It shows them I’ve had problems, too. My stresses are often their stresses. It’s a connection that opens a gateway for conversation and trust.

Now is the perfect time to consider….
Right now, I’ve got nothing but time, and I think that might just be the greatest gift in all of this. I’ve had time to sort through my thoughts and where I’d like my business life to go from here. It’s going to look different because I’m different.

We can dream right now in this gap of time because there are no limitations on dreams… and Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, reminds us,

“You are not given a dream unless you have the capacity to fulfill it.Jack Canfield

Often, it’s another job that funds our dream project while continuing to work on the passion project.

Not earning money right now is a scary thought, but can you take a moment to let passion be the currency that drives you?

Will you imagine your future self with the knowledge you can acquire now? Rethink your business, your focus, your life. What does that look like?

Don’t be afraid, dreaming has no consequences, but opens the door to your mind seeing the possibilities. It might just be the tipping point to fulfilling your wildest dreams!

At this stage of the quarantine, we ask, where do we go from here?

My career is stalled, but do I look joyfully into the future to return to doing the same exact thing, in the same exact way?

The truth is, the real estate industry has suffered, particularly in my area. The last several months (even before COVID-19) have not been profitable. I remind myself I’ve been through these cycles before and every single time I’ve learned to adjust the way I do business. There are also industrywide changes that are taking place right now that will transform the way my job is done. I need to be aware of that and ask…

What transitions and pivots do I need to make?
I read the story of comedian Kevin Hart who suffered terrible setbacks in his career. His movies tanked, and his television deal fell flat. (cited in Perennial Seller)

Instead of giving up, he knew he had to pivot. Kevin set up a tour, performing not only in big cities but also in small towns where he could be the “big event” for the weekend.

He was intent on finding “his people,” the audience that he could serve while doing what he loves… be funny.

At every show, he placed business cards on each seat that said: “Kevin Hart needs to know who you are.” It asked for an email address. In 4 years, he built a database of loyal fans.

Kevin’s calling is to make people feel good, and his vehicle for doing that is to tell jokes and make them laugh. He knows while people are enjoying his show, it can let them forget about their problems for a little while. That’s how he lives up to his highest potential… he is serving others.

Does that sound strange? It isn’t. Everyone lives up to his highest potential by filling a need and serving others. And… everyone has to make a living.

When I sell a house, I use my talent, negotiating skills, and legal and contractual knowledge to help them get the home that will make them happy. And I get paid for it.

When I help women to finally achieve their dream of writing and publishing their book… I’m serving others. And I get paid for it.

Serve your people by using your talents, stay in touch, pivot when necessary, and… the money will follow.

It’s the little things that make the difference.
Emailing or texting might be easy… but I still believe in the personal touch. Just pick up the phone once in a while and let them hear your voice. It might just make their day.

Also, remember the power of a handwritten note. I know for sure, when I get a note from a friend or client, it touches my heart. I usually save it for awhile, putting it on display, and it makes me smile.

Do that for someone else. Be that person. Buy a batch of cards and handwrite a beautiful note to someone. I guarantee it will make a difference.

Create lasting impact.
Right now may feel uncertain, scary, and like you’re in complete chaos, but it’s what you do now that will make a difference.

Thoughts are powerful, and they lay the groundwork for actions you’ll be taking. By holding your people as your sacred tribe, those that know, like, and trust you, you’ll enter the next phase of your career.

Whether it’s restructuring your current job, looking for different work, or starting a new business, take your people with you.

As an entrepreneur, we have the gift of re-imagining our lives any way we want. Our ideas and talents are meant to be shared. No one can take that away… not even this gap.

Remember to serve your people and the money will follow.
That idea, alone, will change the trajectory of your life forever.

This article was originally published on Medium.

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