Emerging from the Appraiser Cave

Appraisers are hermits. Okay, maybe not ALL appraisers, but many of us are. I for one am a certified introvert. I know that surprises many due to the public way I live my life, but I can wear a mask when I need to. If given the choice between a neighborhood party or a Grisham novel by the fireplace, give me The Pelican Brief by the firelight any evening. I do not think I am alone. Most of us would likely rather use a lockbox key on an unoccupied house than meet the homeowner and promptly retreat to the safety of our cubbyhole to complete the write-up.

Though there is nothing whatsoever wrong with desiring to do what we do in the comfort of our own surroundings, there is one, huge disadvantage: when you live in your own head, you become much like a FedEx employee holed up on an island talking to a volleyball. Of course, it is not that bad (at least I hope it’s not), but our lack of communication, especially among ourselves, can be stifling for business and personal growth.

For many years I have read, watched, and studied success. In that process, I have noticed that all successful individuals in this world have certain things in common. I call these the Ancient Laws of Success. One of these Laws indicates that there is no such thing as a ‘self-made millionaire.’ Those who achieve do so by surrounding themselves with others more intelligent than themselves. When they do, they experience a phenomenon that the late Stephen Covey called synergy. Simply stated, the power of the combined is greater than the sum of the individual parts. In other words, you get more from a group than you can by yourself.

As a journalist, the great Napoleon Hill spent most of his life studying the lives of thousands of truly successful people. In every case, he found a common element that he referred to as the Mastermind. Hill defined it as the “coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose,” and he continued that “no two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to “a third mind.” This was the Mastermind. Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) has said, “I don’t know anybody who has become super successful who has not employed the principle of masterminding.”

Now, despite the general disposition of appraisers, I have been participating in Mastermind groups for many, many years, but it has usually been with business owners in other professions. Through this experience, I can honestly say that it has been the principle of the Mastermind—above all others—that has catapulted my success trajectory. When I can bring my business problems to the table with a group of 4-6 other like-minded individuals, ideas come forth that I could have never thought of on my own in my appraising cave.

Naturally, participation in such a group requires a commitment of time (and sometimes a little money). However, such a commitment should be seen as what it is… an investment. I have never left my office to attend a Mastermind meeting when it did not feel like a huge sacrifice. On the other hand, I have never left a Mastermind meeting where I have not felt uplifted, inspired, and with my pockets full of new ideas to grow my business, better serve my clients, and make more money in the process.

Another important tool you will find on the road to success is that of mentors. Maybe it is a bit pretentious for The Appraiser Coach to preach the concept of mentors, but even The Coach has a coach. Once a quarter, I hop a plane to Southern California to meet personally with my own mentor. Though my coach is not in the real estate business, she understands universal principles and helps me to refocus and laser-in on what is important for the next quarter. Again, it is the power of collaboration with others that makes all the difference here.

So, how do appraisers best go about associating with others in this capacity? You can begin with national appraisal conferences. The Appraisal Buzz hosts one every year, and with more and more continuing education being taken online rather than in a classroom, it is a great way to hear from leaders in our industry, talk to appraisal product vendors, and network with other appraisers from across the country. Start or join a Mastermind group on a local or national level. Find a mentor who can help you achieve your goals. In short, get out of your comfort zone just a bit.

We are approaching the New Year. Traditionally, this is a time for reflection and setting goals for the future. What are your goals this year? Are you happy where you are? Are their ways that you and your business can grow in the next several months? You, of course, can continue down the same path, or you can look at some new opportunities. I, for one, am committing in 2013 to get out of my appraisal office seclusion more and spend an increased amount of time associating with other appraisers. I am convinced of the benefits to doing so.

Now, go create some value!

Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach (www.theappraisercoach.com) where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth. He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office (www.yourappraisaloffice.com) which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up time for real estate business owners. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.

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