What are the top two qualities you need to be a success as an estate seller?
I think a lot about what it means to be a success. I was featured on the War Ready podcast today (which is about business, not war, just in case you were worried about me going to war or something). The interviewer was very nice and it was fun. You can listen to the podcast here. There are other cool people he interviews too, I was listening to them the other day. If you like podcasts, add Aaron to your list.
But that's not why I am writing this. To say, "Hey guess what? Listen to me." That would be boring and I promise not to bore you here. I have to tell you I was a little embarrassed during the interview. And it got me thinking about qualities that make a person successful. Here's what happened:
The interviewer directly asked me how much money I make. Not what a person can make doing what I do. But me, personally.
I don't know how to tell someone this, I do well, I stay as busy as I want to be. There is no true answer here because you have to also look at the things I reinvest in as a business owner. In 2015, I made money on estate sales but I also spent money building Estate Fusion, buying a minivan I didn't think I was going to need, and growing my storefront location.
How much you make - is a thing you are expected to talk about as an entrepreneur. On the other hand, isn't it very uncouth to go around telling people how much you make? Quite the conundrum.
If you know about the MBTI, 16 personalities, I am an INFJ. There are charts and jokes about the crime each type would be most likely to commit, and the INFJ crime is the most laughable crime - heresy. It is true, it is basically impossible for me do anything wrong, including to lie, or even evade a question. (I could easily commit heresy though because I would be going against someone else's belief system in favor of what I thought was actually right. In other words I would be following my own belief system, which is necessary for an INFJ, we can't live without our beliefs. Good thing I don't live in the 1600s, huh?)
I have to be completely honest when people ask me things. So that leads to a lot of success as an estate seller, because people ask me what I can sell their things for and I tell them the truth, either, "I know you paid a lot of money for this, but so did a lot of people and they are very common. It won't bring much today." Or, "I don't know off the top of my head, but I suspect this is something special and I am going to research it and let you know what the current value is." Or they ask me for something that doesn't work out well, and I just answer them and tell them why what they are asking for doesn't work and then they understand because they know I am being honest.
Secrets to Success
In Richard St. John's Ted Talk on Success, he talks about the 8 Secrets to Success: Passion, Work, Focus, Push, Ideas, Improve, Serve, Persist. (It is only three minutes, go watch it.) In the video he says "A lot of kids want to be millionaires. The first thing I say is: "OK, well you can't serve yourself; you've got to serve others something of value. Because that's the way people really get rich."
That's what we do as estate sellers, we serve others something of value. I was listening to a debate between estate sellers recently on the topic of throwing away family photos. Another seller was .... (not sure what the right word would be) ... disappointed ... I suppose, that the family left behind the photos that had been put aside for them to take back.
I always find out before I start my work what family wants me to do with photos, old letters and similar items. I ask if there is anything they are looking for that hasn't been found so that we can try to find it for them.
At one of my recent estates, the family had photos all over the home. Tons of them. So as I always do, I asked them what we were to do with the photos. The family removed what they wanted before we started setting up but left behind many photos that were duplicates or unwanted. We were doing a full clean out. We had to throw them away.
Some of the estate sellers said they refused to throw out family photos, that the family has to do that themselves. Everyone in this industry has to make their own decisions on topics like this and you can set a policy on this, there is no reason that it would really hurt business. If you feel it is important that you are not the one to throw away their photos just tell your clients you can't do it and why you need them to do it. I'm not saying you will never lose a job over it, it is possible, but your business will be fine even if you lose a job once in a while.
But here is why as much as I feel bad about throwing away photos too, I have to do it. Because that is what the family needs from me. I am their servant. This is the service I provide. They are hiring me to take care of the tasks they don't want to or can't do, value and liquidate the property, sort out what is garbage and what is salvage.
I am providing them with a service. If they asked me to do something illegal that would be different. I talked about this with one of my employees since I was worried that my staff wouldn't want to dump the pictures and she said, "They are just pieces of paper, I have no problem." See, how the young folks are these days, why can't we just scan all the pictures and not worry about all this paper?
Back to the point, I don't know about many other industries, but I do know estate sales. I think Richard St. John should consider adding Honesty to his success list. Why doesn't honesty matter more in success? It seems like if you are honest with people, you are far more likely to succeed. If I did a Ted Talk, tomorrow that's what I would talk about.