Here is a chance for you to get to know a little bit about who I am, this person whose services you are considering using in the biggest financial decision(s) of your life. It's hard to get a good impression of a person from a website they wrote about themselves, but I don't need to embellish anything to show you that I'm not just another guy with a cheesy smile and a firm handshake who wants to make a quick buck.
So far, I've had a life that has blended the typical everyday kind of life with things that really aren't. I started my life growing up quite near Nanaimo in the town of Port Alberni (just over an hour away) and have always had some sort of relationship with the town, even if it was mostly as a place to go shopping during those early years. I eventually went to college here before going globe trotting/studying for seven years before deciding that Nanaimo was really as good as it gets. I could have stayed in Japan, lived anywhere in the EU (thanks to my UK/Canada dual citizenship) or Canada. After many travels, I just wanted to be herein Nanaimo. Which is part of why I chose this industry, I believe in what I'm selling so it's easy for me to get enthusiastic about it. I know that what's right for one person isn't what's right for everyone but even so I am a little confused when the odd person tells me they're leaving Nanaimo. Kind of like my reaction to how my wife likes natto. (Inside joke for the Japanophiles.)
After having spent 7 years away from B.C., I was so excited to return to my home island. There was no question in my mind that I had to live on Vancouver Island. Canada is definitely the country for me to live in because of its generally polite and well mannered population and it's carefree lifestyle, not to
mention that it's my real home. After having lived in Nova Scotia for 3 years and briefly Ontario, and then having driven across the country from coast to coast I knew that B.C. had to be the place. It was the combination of the mild winters and the stunning natural beauty of the area, not to mention the cultural diversity which gives us the potential for endless exploration of different ways of thinking and living. (You should see the kaleidoscope of people from different cultures that show up at my dinner parties. It's always interesting.) It was just a question of which town, I had originally considered Victoria for a long time, but after some pondering I decided that the best place for me to live would be Nanaimo. Life here is certainly more affordable than Victoria and Vancouver, and if I feel that if I need my 'city fix' those places are easily accessed from here. I also feel safer here. I value being near nature, and there are some incredible areas of true wilderness that are within one or two hours drive from my front door. Not to mention the lakes, waterfront and forest walks that are within walking distance of most places in this town. In short, the more I travel and see the world, the more I feel lucky to have been born on this island. Life here has a good balance of all the things I value most. There are those who complain about life here, but when I hear that, I always wonder what they think the rest of the world is like.
Outside of my professional life, I have developed a deep interest in a few areas. My earliest passion, was food and cooking. I started cooking at the age of three, with lots of help of course, and when I was a teen and in my university years I took many jobs in restaurant kitchens and managed to work my way into some fine dining establishments. If you live in Nanaimo, you may know the Wesley Street Cafe for example.
I had once planned to become a high school music teacher because I was inspired by a couple of the great teachers I had growing up and disappointed by others so I wanted to make the same positive difference for some young people the way some of my teachers did for me. In pursuit of this dream, I went to Malaspina College (now Vancouver Island University) to study Jazz music and eventually transferred to St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia to earn my B.A. I still play jazz and classical piano and write music as a hobby, but I did eventually decide this wasn't what I wanted to do with my life for reasons stated below.
After university, I spent four years living in Japan teaching English and studying martial arts with the world's top teachers of the style I study. This is where most people ask me how good my Japanese is. Well, it's alright I guess, just don't expect me to make any speeches. My French is much better though as I grew up taking the French Immersion program at school.
I have to say that this was a time that changed me quite deeply as a person for a variety of reasons, some pleasant and some not. One of the results is that I became more ambitious. In my off time, at work I was teaching one on one English lessons which often turned into chatting one on one with middle and upper management of major corporations, highly paid Lawyers, Doctors and even the odd CEO of a large company or assistant to the Japanese Royal Family. You see, I worked at a company called Berlitz where students pay a hefty fee for one on one lessons with western teachers, and in my eyes these students who were so often the image of "successful" that so many societies have, were really just people. Smart, ambitious people, but people nonetheless. They had set their eyes on a goal and went for it. Although tere were those who had in my eyes destroyed their personal ives and health in pursuit of such ambitions, there were also those who were well adjusted and lived life as an adventure. My reaction "That looks fun. I want to try it too!"
I've never been one of these people who feels the need to get rich just to be rich/justify myself, but there was a certain appeal in the adventure of choosing a path where you are constantly challenged and have room to evolve.
This is a big part why I chose something besides teaching in the end. I had learned quite quickly that teaching the same topic every day mostly means repeating yourself. There is a great deal of satisfaction when you see that you've helped someone else grow and improve their life, but I felt I wasn't growing myself enough in that role. I also craved something adventurous where I could be the master of my own destiny. But yes, there was also the more mundane reason that I didn't want to have to go back to university to do my B.Ed. because after nearly 6 years of university I'd had enough and I didn't want to substitute teach for x number of years before landing a regular job in whatever town happened to need my particular skill set. I also knew where I wanted to live and didn't want to live anywhere else once I had finally come back from Japan.
At this point, I was in my late 20's and although still young, I felt it was time to stop travelling like a gypsy on the run and start a career that I could excel at while enjoying the challenges it presents. I've never seen any reason why someone can't have fun doing a job and be good at it, they just have to choose the right one and make certain modifications to their habits and knowledge base. (i.e. work at self improvement continually, and pay attention to the details)
As my job was to teach business English, and to customize it to the life of each student, it was also part of my job to learn about their jobs and to strike up conversation about their work by learning what it is they do everyday and how their business world works. I had become totally comfortable with the business world, living and working in the world's biggest city and teaching English to so many professionals from various fields had given me a rare opportunity to learn a great deal about the inner workings of the world of big business in so many professions. It made me realize that the world of business is not that intimidating at all, mostly you just have to really want to go for it and be able to recognize opportunity when it presents itself. I eventually had a chat with my mother, who has been doing Mortgages for CIBC for about 30 years and had always worked in close contact with real estate. Thinking back, I had always had some basic understanding of the world of real estate because I had heard my mother talk about it every now and then and explain certain concepts to me. So, since I had grown up hearing about real estate from her, I'm social, I like to do quality work, and I'm self motivated. I signed up for the licencing course from UBC and began my studies while in Japan. The course is one that is done by correspondence so it was perfect. Here's the part I'm proud of, I did most of my studying under these conditions and still managed to pass my exam on the first try (most don't):
Here's the busy time of morning (probably around 8am):
Reading, underlining text, staying focused and doing all this while not really being able to hang on to anything because my hands were busy was pretty challenging, and good fun trying to make happen. I didn't like living in Japan so much despite having been totally in love with the food, the martial arts and certain qualities of the social life, so I was quite motivated to move back home. The result was a period of frantic study so I could finally get back to my beloved island after 3 years in the harsh cold of Nova Scotia and 4 years in the general madness that comes with living in a city with 35 million other people whose sense of values clash with your own.
Nowadays, I'm working on becoming a master of my profession. There are many ways a person can measure mastery in something, but in this case my measurement is by how much I can be the Realtor that I would want to work with were I the client. I have taken a page from my martial arts teacher's book. One more than one occasion I've heard him say something to the effect of "Share the feeling of real budo (martial art) in your classes and the students will eventually recognize the value of what you teach." That's a bit of an amalgamation of different ways he's put it, but that's how I understood it. In my work, I apply it as doing the real work knowing that in time I will attract people who can recognize the difference in the quality of the work I do. People like that, are more the sort of people I want to work with anyhow.