Rachel Foster: Real Estate, Family, and Uncovering Your Passion
About This Episode
Go With John as he sits down with Rachel Foster, managing broker for Long & Foster Real Estate. In this episode, John and Rachel discuss the unique and personal aspects of selling real estate, career growth, and uncovering your passions. Rachel also shares the story behind joining the family business, and talks about her involvement with Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP). Hear more about Rachel Foster in Episode 3, where John sits down for a fun conversation with her brother, Boomer Foster!
Long and Foster Website
[00:00:01] In case you missed it, here is a clip from Episode three with Boomer Foster, president of Long and Foster Real Estate.
[00:00:10] Leadership is about doing not saying because, you know, you get a lot of vocal people who profess to be leaders and they’ll say one thing, but when you watch them perform, they’ll do something completely different. Right. And I think you’ve got to have a consistency. Like I want to lead by example. If I don’t want to ask somebody to do something that I’m not willing to do myself. So if we’re talking about, you know, managers or regional managers and you’re talking about, you know, making contacts and recruiting and building relationships, I don’t have legitimacy. If I’m sitting in the ivory tower and saying, you guys need to be doing this. If all I’m doing is sitting in the ivory tower and not out doing that myself. So leadership by example is something that I learned in football because I was very vocal when I first got to college. And and by the time, you know, at the end, it was it about, you know, do as I do.
[00:01:02] It wasn’t about do as I say.
[00:01:05] Hey, welcome back to another episode of the Go with John Show. We are super excited that we just wrapped up our conversation with Rachel Foster. She shared some very personal stories with us about her decision to donate her kidney and a little bit about what it was like to grow up in the Foster family, as well as some of her viewpoints on being a real estate professional. So I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed chatting with Rachel Foster. Rachel Foster, welcome. Welcome. Thank you for coming in to chat with us today.
[00:01:48] John, I am so excited and honored to be here. I appreciate you asking me.
[00:01:52] Yes. Obviously, I think that you are a little hesitant. I was actually just reading on the Facebook interface or the interactions on Facebook that we were having.
[00:02:04] And I asked you to be on the show and you said something along the lines of I don’t normally do TV, radio, podcast interviews, not comfortable talking about myself. That may have something to do with being a woman raised in the South. Right. But I did say I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, that if with a little tequila, I might be willing.
[00:02:27] Right. So it dissipates. Just so for the record, it’s ten o’clock in the morning and I’m not consumed tequila today. Not yet. Right.
[00:02:36] Well, thanks again for doing this. I’m really excited about chatting with you. And we had an opportunity to chat with your with your brother earlier. And you heard his episode. He’s got some some great stories. So so on that note, tell us a little bit about what? Because because I said the same question to Boomer. You have a lot of a type big personalities in the foster family. So what was it like growing up with with Boomer and the rest of the Foster group there in Georgia?
[00:03:06] You know, it’s interesting. That’s an understatement. We are loaded down with big personalities when we get together for Thanksgiving. And we until this year, for the past 40 years, we’ve gotten together all of the foster brothers, my my aunts, cousins, grandchildren. It’s a big group. It’s a loud group. You have to warn people when you bring them in. Right. Because it can be a little overwhelming. But they are the most wonderful, loving, generous people you have ever met. We are great friends with our cousins. We are blessed to be surrounded by people who speak into our lives, who care about us. We lost our dad 25 years ago and they just surrounded us with love. They’ve always shown us right. But they became surrogate fathers. And it’s just it. We are really blessed. It’s idyllic to have this group of people surrounding us. Absolutely.
[00:04:12] So what are some of your great memories of of your childhood and the foster family? Do you have anything that comes to mind or that stands out?
[00:04:20] You know, it’s interesting. One of the things that one of the exchanges that I saw on Facebook recently was about our Sundays going to my grandmother. So my uncle was when he moved away to go to VMI, he never returned to Georgia to live. And so the remaining brothers, my dad, his brother Don and Terry stayed in the Atlanta area. And every Sunday we would get together, we went to different churches. But after church, we would stop by Wendy’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken or someplace and bring food to our grandmother’s house and grandfather’s and. We would spend all Sunday afternoon together just hanging out in the yard.
[00:05:05] Yeah, yeah, hanging out in the yard.
[00:05:07] My grandfather let us drive. Sounds weird to call him grandfather. My grandpa, we he would let us drive his truck up and down the the driveway. So we were young and had so much fun. There was a little store maybe a quarter mile from there and they would give us a dollar and let us go buy candy. It’s just little things. But there was freedom in that the the relationships that we built as a family during that time are so rich. And it leads back to what I was saying earlier about how, you know, we are just surrounded by love and it was built on those Sundays and then those Thanksgivings. My aunt Betty Wess’ wife is the one who, when I was 10 years old, said, you know, we’re never going to know your family in Georgia if we don’t do something about that. And so she’s the one who encouraged us to come up for that first Thanksgiving. And we went to their house in McLean on Crest Lane and had our first Thanksgiving. We actually arrived in a oh, gosh, a camper of some sort.
[00:06:14] We all came up together from Atlanta like an RV, like a like an RV. Yeah. We joke about it being like the Clampitt. Right.
[00:06:23] Because, you know, we just rolled into town and that from that point on, it has just been a very rich tradition. You know, we make an effort to be together.
[00:06:35] Right. And yeah, you have to do that. I think all families have to make an effort because life takes over and you’ve got to hit the brakes every now and then and and make that happen. So. So what year was that? Do you remember what year that was about?
[00:06:48] That would have been nineteen eighty one.
[00:06:51] Wow. Yeah. Wow.
[00:06:53] Yeah. And we actually maybe five or six years ago sat down and tried to figure out where we’ve gone every Thanksgiving for the last now forty years. Right. And you know, it’s interesting to look back on pictures that we have and, you know, memories of of all of those interactions.
[00:07:10] Mm hmm. So so tell me tell me a story that you remember about your dad. Let’s talk a little bit about Larry, because Boomer talked about his dad. A lot of great stories there. What are you give me one of your great memories of Larry Foster.
[00:07:25] You know, it’s interesting. This is going to be just sort of a vague recollection. But when I think about my favorite childhood memory of my dad, it’s when he would carry me from their bed to my bed if he and my mom had been out somewhere. There was something about waking up in his arms as a little girl and knowing that I was safe and protected. That still sticks with me today, you know, 25 years after his passing. I also have this memory. It’s been a long time, sure, since he passed away. But I have this the memory of how his how he smelled Old Spice and nicotine on his suits. He was an attorney right in our town. And yeah, there there’s something about that smell that’s also very evocative to me. Another favorite memory of mine. He was very patient with me in teaching me football because he never missed one of Boomer’s games. I don’t think he missed junior high high school. College. Wow. He was present. That’s amazing. He came to my dance performances, my tennis matches. I’m not sure how he balanced all of that, but we were his priority. And and the same can be said for our mom, but. It at football games when he was fully focused on everything that Boomer was doing and in junior high and high school, Blumer played on both sides of the ball. So there wasn’t a break, right. My dad answered every question. I had explained the game to me, explained that I should be watching the line of scrimmage and not the ball like, you know, all of these little things that as as a girl who hadn’t really paid attention to that sort of thing up to that point, they mattered in my education and being able to support my brother. So I love that memory of his patients, his generosity. There was an ease with my dad that I just really love. Wonderful. That sounds like a terrific man. He was. He was. And, you know, I think when people lose a parent, we put them on pedestals. And I’m sure that every single one of those people would say, well, they deserve to be on a pedestal. And I’ll say the same thing about my dad. He really was absolutely the best possible father. I can’t I can’t imagine.
[00:09:57] Yeah, well, as I said to Boomer, obviously his his character and spirit lives on with you, too. And you’re a testament to what a great man he was and is.
[00:10:08] Oh, thank you. I’m not sure I deserve that, but I appreciate it. Yeah, you deserve it. Absolutely.
[00:10:13] Thank you. So thank you for sharing that, Rachael. So I have one more and I’m going to be brief on this because I know you don’t want to talk about it or you’re not comfortable talking about it, but we. You donated a kidney. I did. And that is to me, just amazing. And I first learned about it like we learned so many things in the world today on Facebook. And Boomer in his episode spoke about your donation.
[00:10:42] And we’re going to roll that clip now. Tell us what what Rachel did.
[00:10:47] Well, I’ll tell you when we when we when you talk about our corporate culture, we talk about being a company of trust, family and excellence, because, you know, those three things mean different things to different people. But I think what Rachel did and donated her kidney actually epitomizes what we think about as a company because it wasn’t like she donated her kitty to her best friend or to one of her family members. One of our managers husband was in a situation where his his kidneys were failing, needed a kidney transplant, was having a very hard time. You know, he was in a in a desperate situation, was finally having a very hard time finding anybody who was a match. And my sister very selflessly started praying about it. And, you know, she she figured she would go and find out whether or not she was a person that could potentially donate a kidney. Not that she had made the decision to actually do that.
[00:11:38] But, you know, I’m sure in taking that test, you know, if I would just put myself in that space, if I were the person taking that test, I would probably have my fingers crossed that please, please, God, if this is, you know, if this is what you want me to do, OK? But I really prefer not to give one of my kidneys. But my sister is such a selfless person. You know, she went in there and she took the test and it came back and she was a match. And she had the opportunity by giving an organ to save somebody else’s life, but not somebody that she was close to. Right. And it wasn’t somebody that she shared blood with or that she grew up with or that she had any special relationship with. In fact, it was something somebody she really didn’t know very well. And she came back and she found out she was a match and she prayed about it and she felt like that was something that God was leading her to do. Right. And she did it in the story. I mean, for me, you know, I made a joke with her. I said, gosh, Rachel, you know, I hope you don’t ever need a kidney because, you know, because I’m not sure I could do that even for you. But she you know, just to watch the selflessness of that act was humbling. And, you know, she didn’t complain about anything.
[00:12:43] She went in I think they picked her up the morning to take her into surgery. I picked her up a few days later to bring her back from Japan after doing the surgery.
[00:12:51] And, you know, you’re down for two weeks and she didn’t want help. She you know, she she she tried to live as normally as she could during those time, during that time period. And she didn’t complain one time. I mean, I’m sure that it was a painful thing. It was a major surgery. And that selflessness is something that I frankly envy. You know, I try to be selfless and all that I do. But the idea of actually stepping out and risking my own life to save the life of somebody else. Hmm. I don’t know that I could have done it right. So I don’t know. I’m just so proud of her. She’s a you know, she’s special and a bunch of ways. I mean, she’s hurt. She’s she’s smart. She’s driven, you know, she’s talented.
[00:13:32] And but to think about, you know, that level of, you know, essentially godliness and selflessness, it’s just kind of humbling to be her brother.
[00:13:43] So, Rachel, knowing what Boomer. You know, has said about your your kidney donation, which I personally think is just amazing and I agree with Boomer, I don’t think I would do it. I really don’t think I could do it. I mean, it’s it’s an amazing thing. But but I guess just tell us a little bit, in your words, what you what you think about the whole experience with with donating your kidney?
[00:14:09] Well, I think one thing needs to be made perfectly clear. If I had been doing this of my own power and ability to sort of dig down deep and and do something as big as this, I wouldn’t have done it either. I don’t want to suggest that I’m somehow, you know, amazing for having made this decision. What I did is what I try to do with my whole life, which is have faith in God. And what he asks me to do, I respond to. And so in this case, you know, I’m sitting in a manager’s meeting in probably February of twenty nineteen. And the manager whose husband was losing his battle with kidney disease, kidney disease, said, you know, hey, if any of you have type O blood, would love for you to get tested. And I just remember thinking through the whole process, I approached her after that meeting and I just kept saying, you know, God, if this is where you want me to be, then open doors and I’ll walk through them. And if it’s not, closed the door and and, you know, that’s fine with me. But it really was a journey of faith for me. When I look back on the fact that many of my agents came into my office and shut the door and I think they all thought they were doing it individually, but they came in and they said, are you sure about this? Do you understand the chance that you’re taking? We’re not comfortable with this. And I think it was difficult for them because several times I said, look, if I die on the table, I’ve won the lottery. Right. And I’m okay with that. Right. I knew from the beginning I couldn’t be wed to the outcome. You know how it affected me or how it affected the recipient. I just knew that this as those doors opened, this was the path that I was on. Right. And I was going to continue down that path. So, yeah, it was it was interesting. It was interesting telling Boomer that it was something that I was thinking about doing less interesting when I told our mom, yeah, Boomer was helping me actually that day move some stuff in my apartment. And he had come upstairs and I said I said, I’m about to call mom and let her know because I had passed the final test. And I’m definitely not bringing this up until I had passed that final test. And I said and he said to me, could you wait until I’ve got great support there?
[00:16:35] And yeah. Well, I think he knew it was coming. Absolutely.
[00:16:39] Sure. My mom had lost her her husband a year before. Yeah. To sepsis after open heart surgery. And so the idea that literally 12 months later I was going to voluntarily have surgery, I think was a very difficult thing for her. Right. But, you know, it took her a minute to understand why I was doing what what I did. But, you know, in the end, they were both amazingly supportive. You know, Boomer Boomer talked in that clip about the fact that I wouldn’t accept help. I don’t know that I necessarily needed it. You know, the surgery was on Tuesday. I got home on Thursday. I went back to work Friday morning just working from home, reviewing contracts for my realtors. Right. And, you know, they they drove me places if I needed to be driven. And, you know, Boomer ate all of the sweets that my agents brought to the house. So, you know, there was a lot of assistance there. And also the first morning, you know, you’re supposed to get out and exercise. Right. But they’re very specific about how much you get. And and Boomer walked with me that first morning, actually, probably for the first three or four days. Wow. And he watched his watch so that we went, you know, x number of minutes away from the house and then X number of minutes back. Right. So, yeah, I, I’m, I really I’m just surrounded by amazing people.
[00:18:10] Yeah. Well you are loved by many for sure. It’s amazing. So the one thing Boomer did not say in his episode was about the kidney. He said that he wouldn’t necessarily do the same for you. And then after you and I spoke, you said, well, Boomer didn’t say was that he’s really upset that you no longer have a spare kidney in case he needs one.
[00:18:31] That’s exactly right. What we were wants is my my kidney.
[00:18:35] But now that it’s gone and I have to live on the one that remains, he’s out of luck.
[00:18:40] Right. Exactly. Exactly. Hilarious. Fantastic.
[00:18:48] I’m John Jorgenson, and if you want to learn more about buying a home or selling your existing home, contact us through the show. We work with an incredible network of professionals who can help you get through the process smoothly. Again, that’s Gowithjohn.com.
[00:19:12] Well, so let’s look let’s move on to to real estate. So when did you go into so eventually you followed Boomer, right? Boomer came into the real estate business before you did, and then you came some time later.
[00:19:26] He did so in 2013. I was the assistant superintendent of a school district just south of Philadelphia, and I’d been there for five years. And Boomer called me if I remember the story correctly. Wes’s daughter Amanda had mentioned to her dad, you should talk to Rachel about getting into real estate. And so when she said to Boomer, why don’t you give your sister a call? Nobody expecting me, I think, to say yes, because at that point, I was 19 years into the field of education. You know, I had I had spent a lot of time getting educated to to be good at what I did. And I think they were just saying, you know, hey, just give it a shot. Just let her know that, you know, if she wants to come and work for us, we’d be happy to have her. And Boomer called me and it was, I think, late winter of that year. And he said, hey, you know, Uncle Wes wants to know if you want to come sell real estate. And I laughed and I said, no, of course, I don’t want to come. So real estate, like, who would want to do that?
[00:20:32] Right, exactly. I think a lot of people ask themselves that question often. Yes. Yes.
[00:20:39] And you know what I knew of real estate at that point really was what you see on television. Right.
[00:20:44] So what does that what do you see on television? So what was can you remember what your perception of real estate was?
[00:20:50] A very overt sales, very obnoxious, selfish approach to real estate. Right. And when I hire realtors now, I say to them, look, I don’t know what your perception is, but here’s what we’re not going to do. Right? Like, if you’re joining this office culture and this company culture, we’re not doing any of those things you see on TV that you see on TV. Yeah, and I’m not saying that that all realtors on TV fit into that mold. Sure. I’m just saying that my take away was that and I didn’t want to have anything to do with that. And I’ll tell you, I was sitting across my desk in McLean when I was when I first went into management in Northern Virginia across from my uncle. He had just dropped by, as he was want to do at the time. And I leaned forward and I said, Do you understand that I would not be doing this if it weren’t for the fact that you have built a culture of people that is generous and collaborative and loving and cares about one another and doesn’t see the other as competition? Right. That’s who we are as a company. And if that weren’t true, I would be doing something else right. And he laughed and said, yeah, yeah, I get it.
[00:22:10] You do realize we all call Wess uncle Wess.
[00:22:13] Yeah, right. OK, yeah it is. It’s funny to me. I do need to get back to how I got the real estate we’ll get back to.
[00:22:20] I don’t want to lose that but sure my I don’t know, first week or so in the business my cell phone rings and it’s him and I called Boomer afterwards and I said my heart was pounding out of my chest and I had to remind myself, this man is your uncle and he’s been your uncle for, I don’t know, forty two years at that point. So settle down. Right. But all of a sudden he had become something else. This man who had created an empire in seven states and D.C., you know, he there was this this myth, this legendary quality to him. Right. And I had somehow separated that in my mind. So for a while there he wasn’t Uncle Wess.
[00:23:05] Yeah, well, I know exactly what you mean. It’s just like when I started working with Lilian and you begin to realize, wow, there’s a whole nother part of the brain and a whole nother part of the personality. Lilian Jorgensen, my mom, successful real estate agent. I knew or she was always mom, you know. And then I got my real estate license in 2004 and I’m, you know, hanging out with her in the office and trying to find my way. And you realize there is a whole different side to somebody. So I can imagine how intimidated you must have felt or was it intimidation or was it?
[00:23:40] I’m not sure what word I would apply to it. I just remember being nervous. Yeah. You know, all of a sudden I’m this brand new realtor talking to the president and CEO of this huge company. And for a minute there, he wasn’t my uncle. Right. And I thought, well, wait a minute. You know, that’s that’s not the relationship that you have, but, you know, it did take a minute.
[00:24:08] Yeah, yeah. He’s a great guy. Yeah. So let’s go back. So tell us now, getting into real estate. So I said no. Yes. Just like you told me. No, you’re not doing the podcast.
[00:24:17] And then somehow I’m here. Yeah, I, I prayed about it, you know, it just kept coming up in my mind. And I, I came down to Northern Virginia for my nephew’s birthday and I said to Boomer that weekend and I’m sure it was shocking to him. I said, you know what, I’ve prayed about this and I think it’s where I’m supposed to go next. And so I essentially said, tell me what I should do. And for. I don’t know, for the next few months, I did a correspondence course right through Mosley and I would get up at like two to three a.m. and I would study for two hours. I would get on the elliptical machine that I had in my condo and exercise. And then I would get ready and I would drive from my home in New Jersey into Pennsylvania to work for the day, come back and do it all over again. And I told Boomer at one point, you know, being an educator, I said, there’s no way I’m going to pass this test. I’m doing two hours. He can’t even say a night sometime in the middle of the night. Yeah. And so I honestly was shocked that I passed it the first time.
[00:25:25] I’m not as shocked as I was when I passed by. I remember I got to the end of mine and I don’t know if you’ll remember this, but there’s at least one.
[00:25:34] I did it. There was a series of questions before. They’ll tell you whether you passed. Right. They want to know about the testing environment. Yes. And I just hammered out some very honest answers because I thought, you know, I didn’t pass. Might as well tell them. Right. This dark, dank basement it was.
[00:25:51] Would you remember where you took place? Was it a McLean enticed? Yeah, I was. Yeah, exactly. They’re not a very they’re not very comfortable testing facilities, are they?
[00:26:02] Not at all. And so it’s shocking to me. And with the real estate exam, it may be true with all sort of state level exams, but at least with the real estate exam, the questions are written to try to trick the person answering them. And I was trained to write test questions. And you don’t do that. What you do with test questions is you write them to figure out what the person knows. Right. Not whether or not they can navigate.
[00:26:29] A tricky question. Yeah. How you’re trying to trick them. Yeah. So you were not tricked and I was not tricked. There you go. So you passed the test? I did. Then where did you get your start?
[00:26:40] With the company I interviewed with two offices and ended up choosing McLean. OK, I was living in Herndon at the time and I, I interviewed with Lonnie Plaster, who was the broker in McLean at the time, and we hit it off immediately.
[00:26:56] And you got to be some kind of special different if you can’t hit it off with Lonnie. I mean, very true. Very true. Yeah. Very likable guy.
[00:27:04] And he really is. And he took me under his wing. So I was working with him and with Susan Westbrook. Yeah. Who’s now running that office.
[00:27:13] That’s still my broker today.
[00:27:14] Absolutely. And I just went to work every single day. So one of the things that you may not know is that we don’t we Foster’s my uncle, my cousin Paul, my brother, they don’t give you referrals. They don’t give you leads of any kind.
[00:27:32] I was I was going to actually say that because I do know for a fact that you had to come in and cut your own teeth. And I know Boomer did as well. And I remember when Boomer was young in the company, he had to work his way through it. So, yeah, I totally understand and know that you were given the same opportunity that everybody else was.
[00:27:53] That’s right. You either make it on your own or you don’t make it. And that, to me, is something that I respect so much about how this went, because I don’t know how the realtors who work with me now could respect me. Right. If I were fed leads and that allowed me to build my business. I did what everybody else does. And I was new to to the D.C. area. So I also had to figure out where I built a database and from that, a sphere of influence, you know, that small group of people that you really develop relationships with. Yeah. And, you know, it ended up being a church that I joined in Reston where where most of that came from. And that was that was it was really nice to be able to build relationships with people and see the business come from that. And that speaks to what you were saying or what we were talking about, about the perception of realtors from television. Right. Versus the reality, at least in our company, which is go out and love on people, do life with people. And the business comes from that because they want to work with people who they like. No one trusts. Absolutely. So you you do life with people and the business the business just comes from that just you know, one thing I would dovetail on what you just said.
[00:29:14] You know, you’re a manager now.
[00:29:16] If you had not, you know, had your feet on the ground and been out there and been a successful agent, it would be difficult for you to be a successful manager because it’s hard to tell people what to do and how to react unless you have the experience in the field yourself, you know, so it’s it’s an important and important journey that move into management is an interesting story, if you’d like to hear.
[00:29:42] That’s exactly where I was going. I’ll never forget that day.
[00:29:47] Honestly, I was walking through our offices in McLean to a little office that I shared with Marjorie Meyers, who’s to this day one of my very favorite people. And Lonnie saw me pass by and he said, Hey, Rachel, do you have a minute? Sure. I walk into his office and he said, I’m being promoted. I’m moving into a regional manager position, and I’m going to move Susan into my position running the office. And I would like you to become the sales manager. Right. So essentially the second in command in McLean, I’d only been a realtor eighteen months, maybe a little bit longer than that. And I looked at him and like I told you and about doing this interview and Boomer about becoming a realtor, I said, no, no, no. I said, first of all, have you talked to Boomer? And he said no. And I thought to myself in complete relief, Good, he’s on an airplane. I knew he was flying back from, like Seattle or Portland or something. And I was like, good, I’ll get to him first.
[00:30:53] And then I said, Lonnie, this is the number one or number two office in the company. You cannot afford to make a mistake. All of these people know me as somebody who didn’t know anything eighteen months ago. And I said this, this does not make sense to me. And as soon as I got out of his office, which was as quickly as I possibly could, I called Boomer and I left a message and I said, hey, as soon as you land, give me a call again, thinking to myself, Lonnie’s going to make that same call. Right. And of the two of us, no offense to Lonnie, but he’s probably going to call me back first, you would hope, right?
[00:31:31] Yeah. Fingers crossed.
[00:31:34] And so Boomer call me back when he landed and he said, hey, what’s up? And I said, have you talked to Lonnie yet? And he said, no. And I said, he’s got this idea that I should move into management. And Boomer immediately said no and gave me the exact reasons I gave.
[00:31:50] Right, right. It wasn’t you’re not capable of going into management. It was you haven’t been doing this for very long. Right. Right. One of the great things, at least with Long and Foster about being a sales manager is you also continue to sell, right? So I continue to learn the business while I supported the agents in the McLean office.
[00:32:12] And there’s not a better way to learn than to teach. Yes. Yeah. Because you get all of the problems land on your desk. They do. Yes. A job I would not want.
[00:32:22] Somebody asked me the other day what I want.
[00:32:25] So let’s come back real quick. So you did end up taking the job and I know this because you were my sales manager. So how did it come about that you changed your mind? And then we’ll go on?
[00:32:36] I think Boomer and West talked about it and and probably talked to Lonnie about it. And they came around and I you know, I don’t have a real clear memory of that. OK, what I do have a clear memory of, though, is the day that it was announced at the sales meeting in McClain. I remember going back to the office that I share with Marjorie, and I had the biggest grin on my face, OK, for you, because it dawned on me that in a lot of ways, the the realtor client relationship can become transactional. Yes. Where I help you till we get to closing and then I’m done right now. Great realtors don’t do that right. They they stay with their clients. They continue to check on them. They celebrate birthdays and house of bursaries and, you know, all of those things with their clients. But the average realtor doesn’t. And so I for for me, thinking about the transactional or potential transactional nature of that relationship versus the opportunity to speak into the lives of realtors over an extended period of time and roll up my sleeves and help them become better at what they do and support them in their success was what drove me. Yeah. And so even on that very first day, I was like, this is going to be great. This suits me.
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[00:34:45] I did want to talk to you today about transactional real estate versus relation or real estate, which is something you are used to selling today.
[00:34:54] By the way, are you so realtors in our marketplace in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the Stanton, Waynesboro area. We sorry managers. Right. Can sell real estate. We are allowed to. I don’t think there are a few reasons why. One of those is there’s a perception that you’re competing with your realtors. Sure. And the last thing that I would ever want my realtors to think is that I’ve taken a deal that should have an opportunity that that. Yeah. Could have been there.
[00:35:24] Yes. That’s that’s that’s a great that’s a great point. I can appreciate that.
[00:35:27] And I also feel like, you know, I’m getting a salary to serve them right. To be present. And if I am not present, you know, that’s problematic. Yeah. For me, no judgment about how anybody else goes about it, but for me, that just could never work. So I don’t I don’t sell any longer.
[00:35:46] So there are there are a lot of very successful agents who have a transactional practice. And I think there’s a a great market for those. I think there’s a piece of the public that wants to come in to a practice where everything is transactional and regimented and all the systems are in place and they just kind of go through the whole thing and their house gets sold and everything’s good, you know. But but the relationship piece of it is what I think drives you based on conversations you have. I’ve had.
[00:36:14] Right, absolutely. Relationships in this business are everything from my perspective. And I agree with you. There are a lot of people out there who are successful working under a transactional model, and that’s great for them. It’s just not what gets me out of bed in the morning. Right. And it’s not how I train my agents. We talk all the time. In fact, they probably get tired of hearing this. But I say go deeper with fewer people. You don’t need a sphere of influence that has hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people in it. You can’t do life with hundreds of people, right?
[00:36:50] It becomes transactional. Exactly right.
[00:36:53] Which which I think is a lot of what’s happened to me over my career is, you know, and I even I even have great memories. And I still talk to people I did transactions with 15 years ago, who I had long and deep and and very lengthy and great relationships with and throughout the entire transaction.
[00:37:12] And as time goes on, you have more people around you and your your you know, me personally, I’m less in front of the customer now, even less so than I was four or five years ago. And that’s part of the reason I want to do this podcast is to be able to share a piece of what I used to be able to share with folks back in the day.
[00:37:36] But for that for that for that relationship that year, because that’s one of the things that get you out of bed in the morning, as you said, is helping people pun intended to foster relationships.
[00:37:49] So so what is what is most satisfying about the relationship that you have with your agents? Because now back in the day, you were fostering relationships with your clients and I’m sure you’re still in touch with them. I don’t even have to ask you. Absolutely. Yeah. And but now you’re going deep with your relationships with your agents. What does that look like on a on a daily basis? I know a lot of conversations and things, but what gets you out of bed? What is this? You know, pull the curtain back a little bit and try to give us some color on to what does that look like?
[00:38:22] You know, I’ve used this phrase a couple of times doing life with people. I know what’s going on in their lives. I know you know, I know their their husbands or wives or children. I know what challenges they’re facing. And I helped them through that. And it you have to be able to commit to just fully doing life with realtors when you’re supporting their business. And I tell them all the time, look, if you want to be a great realtor, you also have to have time to be a great parent and a great spouse, and you have to have time for yourself. There’s there’s a lot of coaching that goes into balance and being a complete person. And so what gets me out of bed in the morning is being able to interact with them in meaningful ways, being what is called a servant leader, rolling up my sleeves and walking the walk. You know, if we need to put stamps and and and mailing labels on envelopes, I get down and I do that, like, whatever it is that needs to get done. We get that work done, but in the midst. Of all of that, we get to know one another, we care about one another, and it speaks to our earlier conversation about the culture of Long and Foster overall, that we really are committed to being supportive of one another, being generous with our time. I remember starting in the McLean office and to this day it astounds me that Lilian Jorgenson, who is one of the top agents in our company, would stop what she was doing to help. And not just me. Like a lot of times I have to think about the fact that, you know, my last name is Foster and there are certain things that probably happen in my life that don’t happen. And most new agents lives, you’re right, in a company called Long and Foster. Right. But she would stop what she was doing to help anybody who had a question, who needed something. And that was true of Kate Ryan and Nancy Wilson and Lorrie Mensing like. And I could go on and on and on and name other colleagues that we had in McClaine. And I see that in my offices now. And it makes me really proud to go to to go to battle with and for these people, you know, because sometimes it is a battle, sometimes it’s a slog, you know, that you have to work through some very difficult things and transactions that are falling apart when this is the sellers dream to be able to move closer to their grandchild or this is their buyer’s dream, to be able to buy their first house and have this investment. So. Yeah, I mean, you know, just coming full circle to that idea of being present in their lives, helping them solve problems, I’ve told people before, you know, when they ask me what my job is, essentially it’s the chief problem solver. Yeah. And a lot of times what I’ve noticed in my business is that they will come to me with a problem. We will work through it. And one of the best ways to do that is just to ask them questions until they get to the point where because they had the answer when they came to me, they just needed to bounce it off of somewhere. So, you know, so part of that is that coaching and listening and just being an ear for them. But the interesting thing about my job is that once they have the solution and they’ve gone out to work it, a lot of times I don’t know what happens. Right. I just see that it successfully closed.
[00:42:10] Right, right. Right.
[00:42:11] And you don’t have time to go back and find out everything that happened with every problem that landed on your desk. Because I know for a fact there are a lot of problems hitting your desk in your phone every day.
[00:42:22] Yes. Yeah, absolutely. And again, it’s my job to help help them solve those problems. But you’re right, I don’t have time to go back and figure out what you know, what worked and what didn’t. Yeah, a lot of times, unless they make the point to let me know. So it’s it’s nice when they do.
[00:42:37] Fantastic. Yeah. So, Rachel, that’s that that that is everything you just said about the culture. I want to second that because, you know, I spoke about this in my very first episode, which I don’t know if you had a chance to listen to yet. I did. But when I own my marketing company, I was the primary salesperson for the company and I would cold call and just walk into businesses. And after years and years and years of doing this, I would know within just a few minutes what kind of experience I was going to have with that company because I would earn their business and then I would have to fill the orders of the products and materials and services they bought. And companies that had this really great feeling when I first walked in turned out to be great customers. And that’s what it was for me at Long and Foster. That’s what it is for me at Long and Foster. And it is for me with with Stanley Martin Custom Homes. And a lot of the names you mentioned of the folks that are here in the McLean office are certainly all givers and they’re all very generous and they all stop, including my mom, Lillian, and the other folks. If you have a question, if you have a problem, they will stop whatever they’re doing along with many others. There’s 350 agents in that office and they’re all extremely generous and willing to help. And the more they give, the more they get. And that’s part of the whole culture, I think, with Long and Foster. So I’m glad you said that. I second it. I appreciate it. And again, I’m grateful to be part of this organization. And thank you again for coming in to have this chat on microphone reluctantly. So I hope you I hope you’re happy with the way it went.
[00:44:18] It is completely my pleasure. This has been a joy.
[00:44:21] Great. So let’s talk about your so there’s a charity you’re involved with and we’re going to do another episode right after we conclude this one. But let’s let’s kind of wet the whistle a little for the folks that are listening. Tell us about your your charity. How are you involved? And a little bit just three or four minutes on. What is it?
[00:44:39] So when I moved to the Charlottesville area in 2016, I immediately formed an agent advisory group at my office. And so I brought in well brought in. My agents voted in four or five agents to represent them. And one of the goals that I had was let’s figure out what charities in town we can get involved in that are related in some tangential way to what we do as realtors. Right. But that allow us to give back to the community in some way. And so we work with the Ronald McDonald House with a group called the Shelter for Help in Emergency, and then with the Albermarle Housing Improvement Program, which has really become a passion of mine. I serve on their board. I’ve been on their board for a little over two years now. In addition to that, the thing that makes me most proud and actually most energized and interested is my realtors and I. We get out and we build wheelchair ramps or sheds for families. We have painted we have moved furniture. I’m just really passionate about what AHIP what they do for families in Albemarle County.
[00:45:59] If so, an example from the spring of twenty nineteen, we were building a wheelchair ramp. AHIP was also putting an addition on a home, and it was for a family whose daughter was or is wheelchair bound and she had grown enough that they could. Carry her up the stairs to her bedroom any longer. So in order for AHIP to keep them in that home, they they built a bedroom on the lower part of it so that she would be able to get to and from her bedroom very easily.
[00:46:36] And we built the wheelchair ramp and it was I I don’t have the tools or the experience to, you know, to run out and do a wheelchair ramp. Right. But what AHIP does masterfully is they have people who will take a group of realtors like us and walk us through just very simple steps to know how to put this together. And then they follow behind to make sure you know, that we’re doing it and it’s going to pass inspection that it’s safe. Yes. So, you know, when I when I think about charities, I, I do like to give my money and I do that. But to me, it’s much more powerful to give my time. I like to be. I like to be present actually making a difference in people’s lives and that family that we built that particular ramp for, they came out and served us lunch. They kept coming out and thanking us. I mean, it really is just overwhelming to know what a difference you’re making in people’s lives simply by showing up and, you know, using a hammer for several hours.
[00:47:46] Right. Fantastic. Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing that, Rachel. We’re going to sit down with Jen Jacobs now, and we’re going to have a conversation with her, and that’ll be a episode that will follow yours.
[00:47:57] All right. Sounds great. Thanks, Rachel. Thank you, John. I appreciate it.
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