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Guest Opinion: 3 lessons I’ve learned from 3 years of entrepreneurship


By Nora Crosthwaite | Realtor, RE/MAX Concepts

“So, what do you do?”

For almost 20 years, my answer to this question was easy: “I run software implementation projects.” I started my career as a software tester and steadily worked my way up to program manager. I was good at my job, recruited, even, by competitors. Then 2015 happened. I realized that my passion for my career was gone. No one was more surprised than I was when my manager started to look for my next project and these words popped out of my mouth: “Don’t bother. I think I’m done.” I’m not sure why I chose that moment to bring those words to the surface as I sure hadn’t planned it, but it just felt right. I spent several weeks wrapping things up, and then I was unemployed for the first time in two decades.

I spent a few months soul-searching before becoming a residential Realtor. This was a complete shift for me. I had no experience in sales and no real estate connections to give me a head start. But, boy, was I passionate. Almost three years after that fateful conversation, I can now share with you some lessons I’ve learned along the way. May they be of service. 

Lesson 1: Passion matters. 
Whether you realize it or not, your passion for your career or business (or lack thereof) is visible to those around you. Without that passion, your performance suffers, and it will eventually have an impact on your future. Find your passion. Grab it with both hands. Your clients and colleagues deserve to have someone who is passionate, and you deserve the joy it brings as well.

Lesson 2:Identify yourself by what you love, not what you do. 
We all identify ourselves by our position. When I left my career, I was embarrassed when someone asked me what I did, simply because selling houses didn’t seem as prestigious as software implementation. However, now instead of saying (sheepishly), “I’m a Realtor,” I talk about how I get to help people make the transition to new phases in their lives or solve their problems, by helping them buy or sell homes. 

Lesson 3: You will fail. You will fall. Don’t doubt yourself. 
How do you react when the going gets tough? You will have a friend or family member work with a competitor. You will fail to meet your goals, at least once. You may even fall down hard on the ice, as I did right in front of new clients. Mishaps are a certainty. Don’t doubt yourself. Your passion will get you through those bumps. Review what happened and what went wrong, adjust your techniques and plans, and then let it go. Keep that passion.

Mae Jemison, engineer, physician, and NASA astronaut, was the first African American woman in space, flying on the Space Shuttle Endeavour as the science mission specialist and logging over 190 hours in space. She reminds us all: “It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”

Nora Crosthwaiteis a residential Realtor at RE/MAX Concepts. She does business under Homes with Nora LLC, and specializes in educating her clients and inspiring action. Prior to becoming a Realtor, she worked in the software development field, implementing large-scale software, until she decided she wanted to impact clients directly. Outside of real estate, Nora volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, is on the board for FemCity Des Moines, and trains in tae kwon do with her 10-year-old daughter. She enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, and is a self-professed geek who catches all the Star Wars and superhero movies. 

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