This is the first post I've written that's not about real estate. Well, not exactly about real estate anyway. It's really about helping others to help themselves. I recently learned of kiva.org -- a microfinance site that allows you to make very small ($25) loans to people in need across the world. I was intrigued by this site for a number of reasons, but mainly because I just got back from a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. It was an amazing trip--more of an "education" than a "vacation," really. I won't take up space here with details (though I'll happily discuss off-line with anyone who's interested.) Suffice it to say that there are pockets of extreme poverty, yet in the midst of that, tremendous courage and a pursuit of something better. Entrepreneurship is everywhere. People do what they can to earn a living and provide a better life for their family. People all over the world, deep down, really do want the same things.
I started thinking about my adventures in real estate, and how lucky I am to have been given so many opportunities in my life -- education, careers, mentors, financing. It's so easy to take it for granted. On kiva.org you read profiles of people who are asking for so little, to try to get to the next stage of their lives.
Most people don't know this, but real estate agents are all independent contractors (1099 for all you payroll types.) We front money out of our own pockets for all our start up expenses--advertising, licensing, computers and cell phones, MLS access, business cards, etc. People always ask me who I work for, and the answer is "myself." Though affiliated with a broker, they don't provide health benefits, retirement benefits, equipment, clients, salary or draws, or many other things that people assume are provided. Being in real estate really is being a one-woman show (though in my case, I work with an amazing team!) That's probably why so many people fail. It's starting a business from nothing, with nothing.
When I think about where I am today, I'm so grateful that, truth be told, it was easy enough to get started in this business--some money, some time, some effort. And then I compare it to people trying to build a better life in other countries and I feel so, so lucky.
This isn't nearly as eloquent as I was hoping to be, but I hope you get a sense of where I'm coming from. And thank you to everyone who has ever given me an opportunity: parents, teachers, managers, co-workers, clients, and friends.
See more at www.kiva.org