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The power of resilience, partnerships and people... in good times and bad.

April 15 2020

Running your own business is challenging, even in the best of times. During times of crisis, running your own business can feel more than overwhelming; it can feel down-right impossible. Take it from someone who's been there -- a few times over.

In 2005, I was living in New Orleans and had just restructured my entire business model from a service-based marketing agency into the wild world of software development. I had a 15-month old daughter and a 1-month old son. I was hustling through life and focused on building both a successful software company AND a loving household. All was well until August 29th, 2005... Hurricane Katrina.

In an instant, your entire life can change.

My staff dispersed all across the U.S. and Canada. My family was split as my husband stayed in New Orleans working with the National Weather Service, while I evacuated with two babies in diapers. I lost my home. I lost my office. I lost my entire community. I remember walking through what was left of my home with lead legs, feeling like I could barely move as my husband grabbed parts and pieces of our personal belongings and threw them out of the way so we could make our way from room to room.

The media was telling people across the nation that our city was destroyed, that there was nothing to come back to. As I reached out to my staff, I was met again and again with "I'm going to relocate back home, maybe I can work remotely for you." I remember standing in the shell of my office, on the phone with my CTO who told me he was back in Oregon for good, assuring him that there WAS something to come back to, that we COULD get through this, and that we NEEDED him to make it happen. Luckily, he decided to believe me over the mass media hysteria, as eventually did the rest of my staff.

The moments that define you.

In times of crisis, you truly see who people really are. Hurricane Katrina showed me a side of people that in "good" times I may have never seen. I saw people who bailed, who fled, who left their friends, family, community and companies holding the bag. I also saw the people who rose above, who stopped gutting their own homes so they could spend a day gutting mine when I felt like I couldn't go on. I witnessed a sense of community, friendship and camaraderie that I will NEVER forget. There are people who stepped up in my time of need that I will forever remember and be indebted to, not because they have asked for it, but because I witnessed their true character—and it was beautiful. I would do anything for these people, and they would do the same for me because I did the same for them.

How will people remember you...right now?

Real estate gets a tough rap. For every great agent that's out there, there are 10 others that make the industry look bad. Real estate community, THIS is your moment of redemption. How are you going to handle it? Are you going to bail, or are you going to rise above? How do you want people to remember your actions during this challenging time? Your community is suffering and homeowners are scared, not only for their personal safety but for their ability to sustain one of the fundamental human needs — shelter. Are you going to be the resource and source of insight and guidance they need? You SHOULD be.

Here are my thoughts...

This will pass, as so many crises before us (Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the 1918 Spanish Flu, etc). People and organizations will profit from this, while others will fail. That's okay. That's the way it goes. Here are my thoughts and suggestions on how YOU can ride this out. Trust me, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Mr. Rogers said, "Focus on the helpers." I add to this: BE one of the helpers.
  • Don't be reactive, be proactive. Anticipate the needs of your family, friends, clients and community and REACH OUT before people ask for help.
  • Align yourself. This is the time to connect with your partners and make sure that you are hyper-focused on how you can collectively service your audience. Connect with your family, friends, community leaders. Show them that you are here to serve—and then actually step up and do it.
  • This is NOT an every-man-for-themselves time. Get outside of your own head (a.k.a., don't be a douche) and serve those around you — safely.
  • Find your "keepers." Take a hard look at every one and every company that supports your business. Who's there for you? Who's collaborating and working with you? These are your keepers. These guys get the fact that "we're in this together." They are invaluable.
  • Clean house. Who's holding strong to their contracts in a "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" approach? Get rid of those assholes. If they aren't standing with you, then they need to step aside. Enough said.

My service to YOU, my real estate community.

I sincerely want to see everyone weather this storm. I want to see every single one of you come out of this crisis better and more focused on your business and family. I want to see every single one of you take advantage of what will surely be a real estate flood of activity. Here are ways that I can offer assistance to make that a reality:

Agents – Your online presence is more important today than ever before, and you need to be present in order to be competitive. Schedule a 15-minute social media audit with an Elevate Coach to review what you are doing. They'll discuss what's working, what's not, and give you tips for improving. Schedule your session at tryelevate.com/socialmediareview/.

Brokers – Before you start slashing and burning, or thinking about exiting this rat race, allow an Elevate Brokerage Development Coach to spend an afternoon with you digging into the fundamentals of your business. Be ready to take a hard look at your systems, processes, technology, marketing, lead generation, and agent offerings. Our team will help you understand where you can consolidate and streamline — without hurting your bottom line. Schedule your session at: https://boss.tryelevate.com.

ALL – As the Managing Partner of 3sixtyfive.agency, I have the ability to bring you insight into everything from business growth to exit strategies, rebranding to reimagining your future. If this is a time of contemplative shift for you, let's have a conversation. You start by emailing me at [email protected]. I look forward to serving you.

Bondilyn Jolly is a tech entrepreneur, investor and business leader. She currently serves as the VP of Marketing at Elevate and the Managing Partner of 3sixtyfive.agency3sixtyfive.agency, a full-service digital and creative ad agency servicing the real estate sector. She consults and works with everyone from large tech companies, global franchise organizations, all the way down to individual brokers and agents looking to "up their game." She's been featured in Huffington Post, Inc. magazine, Inman News, RISMedia, and is a sought after speaker across the real estate sector and beyond.