If experience is the best teacher, then I recently had the privilege of interviewing one of experience’s most ardent students. She’s been remodeling old rental units, filling vacancies, pleasing both owners and residents for over 40 years. She and her late husband once managed over 1,200 residential rental units in Southern California. Today she’s still managing over 400 units with the help of staff members who’ve worked with her for decades. The amazing thing is she still loves what she’s doing and is as passionate about it as ever.
One quality that impressed me the most about this remarkable property manager was her enthusiasm. I’ve known her for many years and she once told me she admired a comment that the late, great actress Katherine Hepburn made famous. “Life is to be lived,” exclaimed Ms. Hepburn. “If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.” That’s the spirit with which this property manager succeeds at what she’s doing, and she keeps that spirit burning brightly. “If you’re going to be an effective property manager and landlord, you’d better find ways to recharge your batteries and remain excited about what you’re doing,” she reminded me with her characteristic determination.
“Clients and residents respond more positively when you’re that way.” She recently slipped away on a week-long adventure to Panama for that very reason. She knows that if you want to remain sharp and rejuvenated, you need to plan some down time. It interested me that she doesn’t want her clients and residents to know that she’s gone since she believes that it might make them feel somewhat neglected (how’s that for devotion!). That’s why she gets ahead on her responsibilities and prepares her employees to fill in for her and keep the ship afloat while she’s gone.
In the past we’ve talked about the famous quote on this topic from one of the greatest painters, sculptors, architects, musicians, inventors, mathematicians, scientist and thinkers of all times, Leonard Da Vinci. Talk about a busy, accomplished life, the living embodiment of a Renaissance person. Da Vinci gave this great advice because he practiced it as part of his prodigiously accomplished life, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer; since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment…“Go some distance away because the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen.”
What appropriate and wise words for active property managers! How else can we have epiphanies and fresh, new ideas if we don’t practice this ourselves from time to time. After more than 40 years, this veteran property manager believes this more than ever. “How do you think I keep on doing this year-after-year? I remind myself every day that I’m so fortunate to have such a great career, and I go away on trips whenever I can to catch my breath.” In my next article I’ll get into some of the practical tips and fresh ideas she shared with me that I’m sure you’ll find both useful and of interest. I hope this article inspired you and makes a positive contribution to your work and to your personal lives as well.
Here’s to enthusiasm and to balance!