J.T.: I’m curious why you want to be a real estate agent. Do you have experience? This is a big commitment. Most people who try real estate don’t succeed. To up your odds, meet with real estate agencies in your area and ask if and how they’ve seen other people successfully make the transition. I’d also interview some of the top real estate agents to get their take on what you’ll need to do to succeed. And I’d see if you can work for one of the agencies on a part-time basis so you can get a sense of whether this really is the right thing for you. I don’t mean to be negative, I just think that you need more practical experience and information before you commit.
Dale: Well, Jimmy, hearing that response from someone as positive and upbeat as J.T. is the equivalent of her donning a garlic necklace. And she’s right, except there’s this: The beauty of real estate is that you can dip a toe. While keeping your current job, you can do the due diligence J.T. suggests, plus the schooling to get your real estate license. And that brings me to an old joke: A highway patrol officer pulls over a speeding car. He goes up to the driver and says, “Can I see your real estate license?” The driver responds, “Don’t you mean my driver’s license?” The officer says, “No, not everyone has one of those.” Ah, I love that, because it suggests just what you’ll be up against as an agent: Everybody already knows one. So it’s typically a long slog to build a reputation, one that starts with helping your friends and relatives. But you’ll get going while still keeping your job, and then you can work part time in your current profession as you evolve into being a full-time agent.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I work at a tech company in a junior sales role. I’ve been there for a couple of months. I drive a really nice car. My family is wealthy, and it was given to me. Some of my peers at the company recently learned about my car and told everyone about it. Now I feel like I’m being “snubbed” from sales opportunities. I’ve even heard people say, “Don’t give that to him, he’s rich enough.” I’m really upset. My parents don’t give me money, and I have to work to pay my own way. What can I do to fix this? – Ethan
J.T.: It’s common for people to feel competitive in sales. So, while I don’t agree with their reaction, I can see why it’s happening. I would speak to your sales managers immediately. Tell them what happened, and ask what you should do. At the very least, they might be able to remind the senior salespeople that you are a capable salesperson and that excluding you could make them miss out on a good deal. I’d also not be shy about making it clear that you aren’t being subsidized by the family funds. That way, the next time someone makes the “rich” comment, you can remind him or her that it’s not the case.
Dale: I’ll take the other side. To run to the boss and complain is to reinforce the “poor little rich kid” stereotype. Your co-workers will resent you even more, and will work harder to undermine your success. Instead, I’d treat your background as the advantage it is. Be subtle about it, but let your management know that your upbringing makes you particularly qualified to take sales meetings with highly successful prospects. Plus, you probably have school ties or organizational connections that could benefit your company.
J.T.: And I could see Dale’s approach backfiring in a big way. So you have two options, Ethan. Let us know which you chose and how it worked out.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2018 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.