Elite Agent

What do you know for sure? Samantha McLean


This time last year I wrote my editor’s note based on something Oprah Winfrey does every year: the O List, a list of her favourite things of the year dressed up as Chrissy gifts for sale on Amazon.com. I made a list of my favourite things of the year too. I re-read that editorial the other day and thought wow, how things can change in a year. So, in closing 2017 and perhaps giving a few thoughts on next year I’m still going to take some inspo from the great Lady O, but in a slightly different way.

There’s a famous story about Oprah. Early in her career she was no Sandra Sully, and pretty much sucked at being on live TV (hard to believe, but even she had to start somewhere!). As she was interviewing the late Gene Siskel, a movie critic, he asked her at the end of the interview, “What do you know for sure?” It’s well documented that she got all flustered and couldn’t come up with an answer. But, ever since then, Oprah admits that she has never stopped asking herself that question. It even became the topic for her book, “What I know for sure.”

What do we really know for sure from one year to the next, from one week to the next? For each of us it changes as we grow older, and absorb life and business lessons; people come and go, and the world around us goes through a bunch of changes. There are some great quotes in that book, and I will draw on those to give you an insight into what I think I know for sure going into 2018.

WIKFS #1 “You can have it all. Just not all at once.”
A valuable lesson for our Transform 12 provided by Fiona Blayney again gave me pause to think about life and business while the #DirtyDozen were learning about theirs. Balance is a crock. Nobody has complete balance; if they tell you otherwise they have a lot of help (paid or free) or they are lying, so don’t feel bad if you’re not there.

Also, we’ve sometimes made the mistake of chasing shiny objects when we should have been polishing the solid ones. Chasing shiny objects puts the solid ones at risk. I don’t think I need to go into any detail, but let’s just say there is probably something in that for all of us.

WIKFS #2 “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
There have been plenty of people who, for different reasons, have crossed what I’d call my ‘boundaries’ this year. A few of them have understood and apologised. And, says wise owl Oprah, “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different”.

I’m actually grateful that I have butted heads this year with a few people; it’s taught me a lot about who I am and to listen to my gut more, as most times now I can predict where these slippery slopes are going to end. If you can identify with that, it means in 2018 we need to take better care of ourselves. People are who they are. The lessons we learn are a gift and we need to see them as such. For me, that gift says I am responsible for being clearer on where my boundaries (and expectations) are.

WIKFS #3 “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure just is another steppingstone to greatness.”
This is going to be my mantra for 2018, kind of based on point 2. I love to tell people about marketing, ‘Everything is a test until it’s not’. In 2018 I will start taking my own advice. (I also know for sure that taking your own advice is much harder than giving it.)

In my keynote at ‘How to Lead a Winning Team in 2018’, I made the comment that publishing is an industry that has been disrupted for so many years now. We always say to you guys in the real estate industry that the way not to be disrupted is to find new ways of remaining relevant to your customer. On this one, the goal for us is to get creative and lead by example; a queen must have some sparkle, but not from chasing aforementioned shiny objects. So, yeah, watch this space.

WIKFS #4 “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”
I’ve been surprised a bit at times by the perception that what we do at Elite Agent is all glamour, parties, photoshoots and networking. The reality is something quite different. Hard Work. Very ‘un-pretty’ 5am starts every weekday. Deadlines. You have to really love it to push past that! There have been a few people come and go since this time last year where the perception didn’t quite match the reality.

On this one, I will say I am pretty lucky to have a partner and husband who has been willing to sit beside me on that bumpy old bus for three years, in the sparkly moments as well as in the 5am grind. Every queen needs a superhero, and for mine I am incredibly grateful.

WIKFS #5 “Surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher.”
What I’ve learned this year are two things: 1) Being an entrepreneur can be extremely lonely 2) The people you have around you make all the difference. Again, this is something that gets highlighted in Transform for the participants in the quest to grow their businesses, and for us when our resources during those 12 weeks get stretched every which way but loose. This year I gained several more wounds that I’m attempting to turn into wisdom; mostly it’s been my quest to please other people for their reasons and not mine. I know for sure now that it is not sustainable, but I’m also sure it’s going to take a few more tests to get it right.

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance. Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure,” says Oprah. I think this has to be my favourite. One of the best tips from the year has been from Julie Masters; it’s an oldy but a goody that reminds me of all of those episodes of Grey’s Anatomy where Christina and Meredith would have a crap day and one would say to the other, “Let’s dance it out”. On would go the music and they would be dancing in their scrubs in the hospital or at home. Just that simple change of state created by music and movement can change ‘funk’ into ‘funky’. (If any of you saw Julie and me having a groove down the back at #win2018, that was what was going on.)

When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, you can guarantee I will be ‘dancing it out’. But you might also find me dancing at odd and unusual times in 2018, assessing what I know for sure. A new year brings everyone new opportunities and new challenges; I hope you guys find space and time to breathe and do the same.

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.