Joan Stansfield says recession or not, working in real estate is her dream come true –especially when working with first-time homebuyers. “I absolutely love this career. My passion is people. Being a realtor is like being a god fairy.”
But the road to finding her dream job was a long and windy one. She had started in the real estate business over 20 years ago, but practiced in the field for only a few months. After her first marriage fell apart, she found herself a single mother, and nervous about the volatility of working in an occupation ruled by commission. “When you’re a single mom, you have to have insurance, you have to have a stable paycheck.”
She traded in her real estate license, and started working for the government. The job was interesting, but never quite stirred her passion. She began working in human resources for various companies. However, employment at a real company was still no guarantee of a paycheck. She was hit with a pink slip from one of these jobs, and the effect was devastating.
She took the first paying job she could find, and started working retail at a department store. “I hated it. I was good at it, but I really didn’t like doing it.”
Depressed and angry, she went to the Jobs Ministry, where she met Jack Dunlap, who encouraged her to change her attitude and heal from the experience. It took some time, but she eventually made her way back into human resources.
It wasn’t until she met her second husband that she finally had the guts to do what she truly wanted to do. The firm she was working for, she believed, had run its course. “I left my job as a management executive in HR for an IT company. It was still running on venture capitalist money,” she explains. “It hit a glass ceiling.”
The road to breaking back into the real estate business and reinventing herself was bumpy as well. Earnings were slim, particularly as the housing crisis swelled to a head. “I took a huge leap of faith. The first two years were really hard,” she says, recalling she earned only $7,000. “My first year, I spent more than I made.”
She was also aware that many people had been burned by a desire to capture the American dream, without really having the means to do so. “I think [people] went into it with bad advice. Back in the day, they were giving loans to people who couldn’t afford that. I’m glad I wasn’t a part of that.” She adds, “It’s cool that I’ve come in when the interest rates are low.”
Today, as a successful real estate agent, she says she is living a dream she nearly abandoned 20 years ago – while giving other people the opportunity to have theirs too. “What a gift to say I gave someone that!”
Her are top five strategies for her success:
1) Passion. “If you work hard, and love what you do, you will be successful,” Stansfield insists.
2) People matter. Stansfield credits her thriving business to the relationships she has cultivated while growing her business. “People ask me where to get their rof done, where to get their hair cut.” She says that type of personal interaction and involvement has kept her business going, and her clients referring her to other potential buyers.
3) Networking. “I love networking and pulling people together. “ If she knows someone from her rolodex that could help someone else, she will put the two together.
4) Tenacity and commitment. “Be persistent as hell!”
5) Strive to leave a legacy. “At my funeral, I want people to say I made a difference.”