In December 2005 I purchased a 20 year old property management portfolio from a retiring property manager. The business was within a division of a real estate company. I threw myself into the business and started building the company through my vision. By 2008 the real estate company was over extended and had to file for bankruptcy. Needless to say, I was stressed and scared I would lose my business and investment once my clients heard the real estate company was closing. So, I did what I have done my entire life, rolled up my sleeves and confronted the situation head-on. I called every client and personally explained the situation and informed them that I had purchased the property management portfolio and had a large investment of my own in the business and that their money, and rental(s) were safe in my hands and that they wouldn’t see any change as I handled the transition. I assured them it was actually a great opportunity because now I could provide even better service once I was independent. I was relieved that not one client left me during this stressful time.
I continued to grow the company with the goal of working myself out of a job so I spend more time with my man who retired in 2001. This took a lot of work on my part and a shift in my thinking that, “no one could do it better than me” to “I need a team.”
Fast forward to 2011 and for the next 4 years I was in the caregiving role for my two in-laws (1 with Dementia/Alzheimer’s) and a close family friend who was diagnosed with a form of Dementia all while running a property management company.
The company continued to grow and systems were in place but with my office time down to Tues-Thursday I let the employees handle more of the business. I thought I had a handled on the business and my personal life. Anyone that knows me knows I am super organized and get things done. I just calendar it.
However, I was having anxiety attacks and emotionally I was running on fumes although I didn’t know it at the time. Leaders aren’t supposed to show emotions. It is a sign of weakness…or so I thought. I’m a self-motivated, extremely focused individual but I am not a robot. I was having employee issues and just didn’t have the emotional strength to deal with it. I took the position they need to work out their issues between themselves. I can’t come running in and fix it all the time. Can you say lack of leadership on my part?
I felt helpless, and didn’t feel I had the necessary tools to handle the situation. I felt very, very, alone, lost and sad. My employees had no idea of how their actions impacted me or the company that I had worked so hard to build and at times when everyone had gone home I would sit in my office and cry.
What was I doing wrong? I felt like I was letting everyone down including myself.
I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t have the energy to deal with it. Simultaneously, I was preparing memorial services, looking for assisted living facilities, taking my friend to doctor appointments and everyone was making demands on my time. Yet, I had stepped up willingly to take on the responsibility so, how can I complain? I love the saying, “when the student is ready the teacher will appear.”
I found a business coach to help me with the business and I found a therapist to help with my grief and emotions around caregiving for 3 people.
What I realized is that I’m passionate about small business and property management. I realized it is lonely at the top and we all need a coach to help us stay true to who we are and what we truly want. My coach became my Executive Board for my company.
One employee said, “You don’t need a coach you already know what to do.” Exactly! That is what coaching is about. Working with a client to help them create the business and life THEY want. Coaching works off the premise that the client is the expert of their life and changes comes about when they buy into what works best for them not what someone else tells them is best for their situation.
I realized my business allowed me to focus on family and friends and now that all 3 have passed and I look back I feel so grateful for the time I was able to spend with all of them. Helping them pass with dignity and loved ones around them.
My coach asked me one day, “how long are you willing to tolerate the situation?” He also said, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” My painful point came when I lost a client with 8 units because my employees weren’t handling things correctly and I had checked out emotionally from the business. As I cried in my office I realized it was my lack of decision making that got me to where I was at that moment. I also realized I had wonderful people working for me but they weren’t the right people for my bus. I made the gut wrenching decision to make some tough changes. I completely revamped my organization and hired the right people to fill the right seats on the bus.
I was so convinced and had seen first-hand the power of coaching I spent a year getting trained to be a coach. I have always been a teacher at heart and now I’m a Certified Professional Coach and my new passion is to work with Property Management Owners and residential landlords, to help them create the business and life that THEY want.
I feel renewed about my business. I have new tools to be the leader I am meant to be and now I want to serve my colleagues, other industry experts, to be the great leaders they are meant to be as well. We can have it all. We can have a profitable business that allows us to retire financially secure, to build a legacy for our families, to serve our local communities by employing great people, managing real estate for our clients so they can devote their time to other things and to offer quality housing to people who are renting at this time in their lives. It is a wonderful career filled with service on many levels. I am truly proud to be a property manager. It is my mission to share, serve and support those around me.