Fiona Blayney: Treading a new path

Fiona Blayney reflects on the tumultuous year that was 2020, what she learnt from it and why two simple questions will help you plan the remainder of the year ahead and make better connections with your clients.

We just need to get through this year.

Everyone needs a break.

Bring on 2021.

These are just three of hundreds of catchphrases that I heard towards the end of 2020 as people sought to close the door on, for many, their most tumultuous year yet. 

I wondered each time I heard such a sentiment if we were expecting too much from turning the calendar?

The dawn of a new year would surely bring the sunshine and merriment so many seemed to be expecting.

Or would it?

No matter what part of the world you are reading this from, I have no doubt that 2021 has already thrown a few surprises at you.

I’m certain you’ve found yourself questioning, testing your resilience and, more than anything, reconciling that adapting to change will continue to be an important part of your life this year.

After I caught up on sleep, gave my brain a break, and cleared out the negative 2020 energy, I gave some headspace to recognising and harnessing the lessons in planning the year ahead. 

It’s pretty clear, as we wandered through the past 12 months, we shared similar experiences, and we witnessed situations that provided lessons in commitment, capacity, capability, culture, community and the sheer resilience of humankind. 

That never ceases to amaze me.

On a personal note, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the ways I’ve been tested.

On the home front as a partner, parent, child and human.

On a business front as a business owner, employer and leader, and in my, perhaps self-appointed, position as an industry guide and supporter.

I can tell you for sure that 2020 led to a new and improved version of myself, and our business.

I’m focused on not ‘going back’ to old methods, but instead using new ways to continuously refine our future.  

Upon reflection, I discovered solutions in 2020 held common threads.

Whether it was a personal challenge, a business issue, or an anecdotal discussion to solve the world’s problems, asking a child’s favourite questions of ‘why’ and ‘how’ led to a solution.

Last year forced us to dig deeper with our answers to these questions.

“I don’t know” or “that’s how we do it”, no longer cut the mustard. 

With restrictions, workplace moves and an ever-changing landscape, we could no longer do things the way they had always been done.

We had to find alternatives and find them fast.  

As businesses repeatedly asked ‘why’ and ‘how’ (albeit quickly and, at times, unconsciously), we formed solutions with an unlikely combination of technology and customer engagement.

This included virtual tours, tenant-driven routine inspections and video chat appraisals.

Our clients and customers have shown us, not only their willingness to engage in the rental process in new ways, but that we have the technology and innovation to facilitate great results.

As you walk the path this year, don’t think of technology as new gadgets, apps and solutions you can add to your stack, but as a vehicle to engage your clients and customers, improve their experience and your bottom line.

All you’ll need to do is channel your inner three-year-old and make ‘why’ and ‘how’ your favourite questions.

Your business depends on it. 

  • Fiona Blayney is the founder and director of Real+ online. For more information visit

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Fiona Blayney

Fiona Blayney is the founder and director of Real+, an industry first Property Management learning platform. For more info visit