Forget the Facade

The best way to get more business is to be your most outrageously authentic self.

March 19, 2014

I remember my mama and daddy telling me as a child to always “be yourself” and not worry about what others thought of me. I’m fairly sure that is standard parental advice; then again, it could have been to keep me from realizing that those purple corduroy pants I loved were not hip and cool like the Guess jeans other kids were wearing. My daddy and grandpa, whom I called papaw, were known for always speaking their minds no matter what the groupthink was.

Now fast forward to today. In 2014—and at a much more mature age—am I still allowed to “be myself” as a real estate agent? Or should I and others in the industry feel pressured to conform to some image of what a practitioner is supposed to be? (And what the heck is that anyway?)

Many educators and leaders in our industry have been telling us for years not to talk politics, not to talk religion, not to talk about anything at all that might be possibly divisive. Doing so could—gasp!—cause you to lose a deal.

I disagree heartily with this belief. I think that it’s possible to have a thriving, growing real estate business while still being open about your opinions. You see, in real estate, it’s the relationship between you and your clients that rules. The best relationships grow from honest dialogue and truly knowing another person. The single transaction is no way to build a lasting business. You can’t build a relationship on a facade of shifting sand.

Now, understand that I don’t pick fights, and I don’t belittle the beliefs of others. However, I refuse to hide the fact that I love Jesus; that in addition to my RPAC Golden “R,” I am a Golden Eagle with the National Rifle Association; and that I am a “DemoPublicanRepubliCrat.” (You know, that lost middle with fiscal conservatives who are socially not in other people’s business.) Why should I?

Yes, I lost a listing when the sellers saw a bullseye hanging on my office door. They were antigun liberals, bless their hearts, and they could not believe that I would have a target from the range right there smack on my door. They told me they could never use a real estate agent who is also a member of the NRA. That’s fine—they probably found someone they liked better. Rock on.

Yes, I have gained business from folks who appreciate knowing who I really am. I can’t tell you how many people have mentioned that they appreciate knowing where I stand on various and sundry issues, from my dislike of Common Core state educational standards (which dictate what schoolchildren should know in each core subject by the end of each grade level) to my dislike of career politicians. In fact, these concerns are what drove me to launch my own political campaign for a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives. I’m seeking to unseat an incumbent in the May 6 Republican primary.

What’s great about my business is that I have clients on both sides of the political spectrum. Many are less concerned with what my stances on issues are, but simply that I have a stance.

I would posit that in a world of milquetoasts, it is OK—and should be celebrated—to be different from the norm. The goal is to be comfortable in your own skin, to be yourself. It is refreshing to find others with real opinions. Heck, isn’t that why most consumers call a real estate professional anyway? Because they crave our opinions on conditions, pricing, and the best strategies by which to buy or sell? I don’t think it is outrageous to be authentic, no matter what the world says. Be you. Plenty of people will embrace you for it.

Leigh Brown, ABR, CRS, is a partner at Charlotte, N.C.-based RE/MAX Executive Realty and broker-manager of its Concord office. She is also a longtime speaker on real estate issues. Before she started working in real estate, her sales career included liquor, stocks, and chain saws. Contact her at