Rugged-Individualism vs. Constructive-Collusion

I think most appraisal business owners are like me; we like to be seen as independent folk who are fully in charge of ourselves, our surroundings, and our futures.  When we look in the mirror, we see survival-man Bear Grylls, or Kellie Nightlinger staring us back in the face.  In a way, we are rugged-individualists who are ready to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps whenever the occasion presents itself.  In fact, most of us go about our day with one hand on the bootstrap so as to get a head-start… just in case.

Let’s be honest however; going it alone can be, well, lonely.  Furthermore, the detrimental feeling that we can or even should be doing everything by ourselves is not only bad form, it’s bad business.  As much as we would like to think we are all-knowing, all-powerful, and the source of all-good that comes to our businesses, reality is something different.
For example, none of us got where we are without a mentor.  That is the nature of the appraisal business.  For good or bad, we had to have a “Supervisor” for a period of time before we gathered our knapsack, strapped it to a pole, and headed down the railroad track of life to seek our own fortunes.  Furthermore, that was probably not both the beginning or end of the assistance and help we needed from others.  Life is a journey, and going it alone can be much more difficult than recruiting a helping hand from others around us.

By nature, I am an introvert.  That surprises many people who see me on stage at the largest appraiser conferences and gatherings in the country, but that is my game-face.  I would take a good book or a movie in the quiet of my own home to a social gathering any day of the week.  Reality, however, is that we cannot hide out all of the time.  Interacting with others is crucial to success as a business owner, but what about our so-called ‘competition?’  Should we hang out with them as well?

We appraisers sometimes have funny ideas about things.  We think that if we somehow interact with other appraisers in our area that we might lose our leading edge.  I remember feeling like this for many years with regard to the mobile tools I was using.  I did not want any other appraiser in my area finding out how much time I was saving by using a mini-computer and laser measuring device for fear that they would also go out and buy them and somehow steal my business.  As I have begun sharing my ideas and methodologies with appraisers across the nation, I have learned that my scarcity mentality of old was just silly.  First of all, most appraisers do not care what other appraisers are doing.  They just don’t.  Secondly, even if they like what they see, most will not take any initiative to do anything about it.  They like their comfort zone and are not desirous to budge.  Finally, even if they care enough to listen and have the gumption enough to do something about it, it will likely not affect you directly.  The way each appraiser chooses to implement ideas is as different as the appraisers themselves.  In other words, stop being so fearful about sharing your great business ideas that you choose to cut yourself off from the world around you.

Sharing time and ideas with other business owners has effects that will benefit you both.  The eternal principle of the harvest states that you sow what you reap.  When you are willing to give to others, the blessings received in return are exponential.  For the past several months, I have been hosting an online Mastermind group with appraisers across the country and in Canada (see  In that short time, I have noticed a wonderful trend.  Appraisers are willing to share with other appraisers tips, tricks, ideas, and other helps that can benefit their fellow colleagues.  Furthermore, appraisers are coming to the table with problems and other appraisers are assisting them with solutions!  The sharing is reciprocal, and each participant comes away having been edified and filled with new ideas.

I know of other appraisers in various parts of the country who are meeting together, often in small groups in coffee houses, cafes, or conference rooms, for the same purpose.  They are not enemies.  They are people who happen to be working in the same industry.

Whether you choose to come and join us online or find other ways to connect with your peers, I would encourage you to consider the benefits of constructive-collusion.  It may not feel quite as comfortable as sleeping out under the stars next to your personal fire, but it might just bring you some value in the process.

Now, go create some value!

Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner and 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. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers. He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up ime. His principles and methodologies are also taught in an online, Mastermind group. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.

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