MSC MAG | April/May 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

MSC MAG will forever be one of my favorite things about my business. The latest issue included a spring market survival guide, another sweet review, an update on my current transactions and a short thank-you note to those who helped me achieve 30 Under 30

The April production night was a wonderful one because of the people who helped me. We grew up together, and our friendship became *official* the summer before my junior year of high school. On a church trip to San Francisco, we bought octopus tattoos and decided to call ourselves "The Octos" (in true high-school-girl fashion). 

As sisters-in-Christ, the eight of us navigated our teen years together. We went to a few different places for college, but during breaks, we would joyfully reunite. Much has changed in our lives since our high school days, but much has stayed the same. Our faith will always be the common denominator. 

Most of us live in the city now, so I asked them to help me put this issue together. We drank wine, ate popcorn and berries, and laboriously labeled and glue-dotted. MSC MAG came together with the great help of some my oldest friends, and I was (& still am) filled with thankfulness.

On Sharing

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Over the past year-and-a-half, I've found myself teaching in front of many different crowds -- some bigger (50+) and some smaller (>5), but no matter the size, I am filled with butterflies every single time. Yesterday was the largest audience yet: I gave a presentation for 300 of my industry peers.

My friend Tommy curated the event for the Chicago Association of Realtors. When he asked if I'd share about how I created "So You Want to Buy a Condo," I enthusiastically agreed. It took a few weeks for the fear to set in. I am fairly comfortable speaking to millennial first-time homebuyers, but to stand before a group of Chicago realtors was a whole new ball game. 

I set two alarms the night before, and Andrew promised me a wake-up call. What if I oversleep and miss the event? What if the room is too warm? What if I pass out in front of everyone? Welcome to my anxious thought life. If you've followed along with my blog, you'll notice a pattern. 

Miraculously, none of my fears came true. Yesterday was one of the leading moments of my career thus far. I felt celebrated, appreciated, loved and accepted. My realtor friends were there, my managing broker was there, and many admirable industry greats were there. I gave my short talk about condo seminars and then got to sit back and listen to two amazing guys, Tom and Phil, teach on other forms of lead gen. After a Q&A session, we stood at the front of the room and talked to audience members. There was a line of people that wanted to talk to me. A line! Me! What?!

The very best part was that my dad was next to me the entire time. He's the reason I am in real estate, and he's my #1 fan -- -- to see him beaming in the front row made my heart melt. I was so proud to introduce my dad to my colleagues, and he even got a special shoutout from Tommy as he welcomed me to the stage.

I was texting one of my girlfriends later that day about the event. Her words -- God powering MSC -- are absolute, 100%, undoubted truth. 

The Hometown Date

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I met Andrew on an iPhone app in June 2016. His profile said he was from Georgia, and as I swiped through his photos (throwback to when you could swipe left & right on Hinge), I noted how adorably Southern he looked -- blonde hair, tanned skin, preppy t-shirts and a picture of him on a cliff thrown in for good measure. 

On our first date, I was expecting a guy with a heavy accent -- y'all's and gonna's -- and maybe a guy that would want to talk about the great outdoors or sunshine or boats. Instead, I drank beers with a guy who lives in the West Loop, works in engineering and loves to learn about anything and everything. 

Andrew brought me home with him this past weekend. As the trip came closer, my nervousness grew. I am a Chicago girl. I wear all black, never travel further than the suburbs and do not own a single stick of butter. I worried about what I'd say and what I'd eat. I worried about the weather. I worried about flying. Ultimately, I had to surrender my fears to JC and let Him figure it out (as He always does).

Our flight was late last Friday night, and we didn't land in Atlanta until ten or so. Andrew had thoughtfully planned for us to stay in Buckhead, an upscale neighborhood in the city, and then spend the next day exploring the area where he grew up. (For reference, Andrew was raised in an Atlanta suburb called Suwanee. When he was in college, his mom and dad moved to a small lake town called Hartwell.) 

We drove all over the place on Saturday morning, blasting country music with the windows rolled down. I saw Georgia Tech and I saw his fraternity house. I saw his childhood home, his high school, and the streets where his buddies would ride their motorized scooters. It was a full immersion, and by the time early afternoon rolled around, we headed to his parents' house.

Two hours later, we were cruising down a back country road in Hartwell. I was anxious and Andrew knew it. He held my hand and distracted me by pointing out the soaring trees, the brown cows, the greenest grass. I had met his parents once before, but going to their home felt different. I prayed silently as we drove. 

We pulled up the long driveway and almost instantly, I was at ease. There were hugs and gifts and a fluffy white dog named Bixby. Andrew's mom gave me the grand tour (it included a walk to the dock and framed photos of baby Andrew) and then we hung out on the back porch before dinnertime. His grandmother came over, too, and she welcomed me with the same gentleness. 

That evening, the five of us piled into Andrew's dad's truck. We rode out of town and across a state line (to South Carolina!) for dinner. I boldly ordered grits and even tasted a bit of pimento cheese. I especially loved sitting in between Andrew and his grandmother -- those two are quite close. 

Sunday began with breakfast and coffee. His mom had bought an assortment of my favorite things, like Rice Chex, bananas and Quest Bars. I ate some cereal with her that morning, feeling impossibly grateful for her care. 

We went to church shortly thereafter. Many times before, Andrew had told me that his parents know everybody in this town. It became clear that he wasn't exaggerating. His parents were greeted by each person we passed: "Mornin', Lynn and Mike!" I met almost every person, too: "This is Andrew's girlfriend, Melanie." I liked how that sounded.

That day, we had lunch at the golf course, then came back home to change into comfy clothes. Sunday was a spectacular Georgia day -- no clouds, a high of 75, a light lake breeze. After some rest, Andrew and his parents and I went down to the pontoon boat. We drank a little rosé, listened to classic rock songs and enjoyed the glittering Lake Hartwell. 

Andrew and I went for a golf cart ride afterwards, and then his grandmother came back to the house. For dinner, his dad cooked us steaks on the Big Green Egg, and his mom made baked potatoes and asparagus and salad (with three types of lettuce because she didn't know what kind I liked best). We laid low and I had the best time. 

Whenever I travel, I am always ready to leave by the end of the trip. But by Monday morning, I truly wished I could stay a little longer. Hartwell is unlike any other place I've been. People wave at one another as they pass by on the narrow roads, Bixby sniffs around the yard without a leash, and there is not a single Chipotle. We couldn't go anywhere without running into someone his parents knew, and everyone had that thick Southern drawl. 

Our last hurrah was a journey to the Biskit Barn (which I can't even link to because it doesn't have a website). Andrew's grandmother treated us to homemade biscuits and buttered pancakes as big as my face. The restaurant was a tiny room on the side of the highway, and inside, there were mismatched dining chairs and Coca-Cola signs. My massive pancake -- affectionately known as a "wagon wheel" -- tasted like heaven. 

We stopped by the local Coldwell Banker office on the way home, a gorgeous Victorian house that looked very different in comparison to my Gold Coast cubicle. Throughout the long weekend, I tried to keep in touch with clients, but it was an unexpected relief to have limited cell service and relinquish control. Somehow, it all worked out -- I was able to write one offer and put one contract together.

Andrew had booked a late flight for us on Monday night, so we ended up with plenty of freedom that afternoon. He and I packed our suitcases, hugged his parents goodbye and headed back to Atlanta. I loved those hours with him -- driving, talking, listening to music. We ordered a plate of tacos at Ponce City Market, then drank cheap beer at a local dive bar. It was such an easy and peaceful time to simply be with each other. 

By the time we got to the airport, the sun was setting in shades of orange. Andrew and I waited for our flight in the Sky Club (things you can do when you date a man who travels for work), and then we both fell asleep on the plane ride home. 

I woke up before we landed and looked at him for a few moments, marveling at that Georgia boy -- a brilliant, God-honoring Georgia boy with a father, mother and grandmother that are just as sweet as he is. I am glad I swiped right.

30 Under 30 | Class of 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Yesterday was a day to remember.

It began the way all others do -- couch, coffee, emails. After a fitful night of sleep, I was moving slowly, worrying about the announcement from Realtor Magazine. I'm not going to get picked. It's over. I'll be so upset. What am I going to do now?

These were my anxious thoughts, and I was drowning in them. I tried to pass the time by perusing Bloomingdale's online shoe department (to which my friend said: "You need to stop stress shopping!"), and then I read a chapter about my identity in Christ (this helped more than the shoes). I left and went to the gym soon after.

Some time later, I stepped out of the shower and heard my phone ringing. It was Sarah, one of my best friends, calling in the middle of the workday. I picked up to her hushed voice: "You got it! You got it!"

It was then official: I'd made it into the 30 Under 30 Class of 2017, and to have Sarah deliver the news was that much more special to me. I floated through my day of meetings and showings with the biggest smile on my face. This was something I had prayed and hoped for, and yesterday, my dream came true. I fielded congratulatory notes from family, friends, clients and colleagues all day long, and my heart melted with every text or comment.

After my last appointment of the evening, I ubered over to Sable Kitchen & Bar to meet Andrew. He had told me to meet him there at 7:30 for celebratory drinks, and I'd been looking forward to it all afternoon. I walked in to the greatest surprise. There they were -- Andrew, Camden, Sarah and Courtney -- sitting at a high-top with party hats and a bouquet of flowers.

"Thirty under thirrrrrty!" Courtney said, grinning.

I am not an easy person to surprise -- control freaks tend to be that way -- so this truly knocked me off my feet. Sarah had come up with the idea the night before, and by the time the announcement came out, their plans were in motion.

The five of us caught up over wine, beer and a bottle of the prettiest pink prosecco. This group is especially significant to me for so many reasons. They each play a crucial role in the success of MSC, and I know I'd be absolutely nothing without them. These are friends I love dearly, and they're friends who support me emotionally and spiritually, too.

I went home that night and tearfully FaceTimed my parents to gush about the evening. It was the most perfect celebration, and I am thankful beyond measure -- for my friends, for my boyfriend, for my family, and for all the wonderful people who encouraged me over the past week. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 does not lie. He did it!

30 Under 30 | Finalist

Friday, March 17, 2017

The email arrived while I was at an inspection last week. I had been thinking about it earlier that morning -- in fact, I told my business coach that I was trying to keep my expectations low. I know myself, and the minute I get too wrapped up in something, I sink.

Realtor Magazine's 30 Under 30 national contest is an annual award in real estate. Each year, the magazine selects 50 finalists from across the country -- from San Francisco to Apple Valley to East Hampton. The honorees are realtors who are doing things differently. More than anything, I wanted to be in this group.

I started working on my application in early December. Courtney helped me with my audition video, and I poured over the written portion for weeks. It is exceedingly frightening to have one chance to present yourself. In the end, I submitted my application in late January and told God that He'd have to do it.

Slowly, I moved up in the process, sending in proof of my age and scheduling a phone call with an editor at the magazine. I felt hopeful, but still cautious. Nothing was certain, and ultimately, I had to remind myself that my identity was not in this award.

Today, I am so honored and thrilled to announce that I am one of the 50 finalists. I'm representing the best city in the world and serving others in a job I adore. This recognition means the world to me, and I'd love to secure a spot amongst the 30. The final group is selected by a panel of judges, but there's an online voting contest, too. The realtor that receives the most votes is guaranteed a seat in the class of 2017.

I'm not sure what's going to happen come March 24th, but I am one-hundred-percent-sold on this particular truth: The one who called me is faithful and He will do it. 

On Entertaining

Friday, March 10, 2017

My mother is a person to admire. Her mirrored coffee table is ever-adorned with fresh flowers -- sometimes roses, sometimes hydrangeas, sometimes tulips. For her Friday morning Bible study group, she puts out the prettiest coffee glasses and a platter of scones. Growing up, she always set the table for our family of five, and on holidays, she makes our home feel like a scene from a Nancy Meyers movie: jazz music, tealight candles, a cheese tray and stocked bar cart. If one of us has a birthday, she is sure to find a beautiful card and wrap each gift with a bow.

Now that I'm (kind of) a grown-up, I am in awe of my mom's thoughtfulness. I neither cook nor entertain, and on occasion, I wonder if these are skills to be learned, or if I simply didn't get the gene. Yesterday, I made a grand attempt: It was my boyfriend's birthday, and to make him feel special, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and surprise him with a dinner party for two.  

My idea of cooking is scorching frozen vegetables on the stovetop or microwaving a bowl of oatmeal. For Andrew, though, I planned a menu with some of his favorite things: crab cakes, salmon, salad, peanut butter cheesecake from Sweet Mandy B's and the crème de la crème, Veuve Clicquot. 

I was a sorry sight at Whole Foods the night before: "How many people does a 6-ounce fillet serve? What sauce goes with crab cakes? What do you mean you don't have any crab cakes?!" I didn't own a pan, so I had to acquire one of those. I bought flowers, too, and they were dead (yes, dead!) by the next morning. It was a comedy of errors, and I probably called my mom ten times. She graciously gave me step-by-step instructions for preparing the food; I took copious amounts of notes. 

In the end, the evening was a success. We listened to Leon Bridges and sat at my table by the window (it was the first time I've ever dined there!). I decorated it as my mom would, and truly, I couldn't have pulled it off without her guidance. 

Happy birthday to Andrew, and thanks to my mom for her encouragement. 

SYWTBAC | WeWork National Building 2.0

Monday, March 6, 2017

These days, So You Want to Buy a Condo is happening once a month. Our March event took place last Thursday night at WeWork's National Building. I've held SYWTBAC here once before -- it's ideally located in the heart of the Loop, and what's more, Revival Food Hall is downstairs. I'm so glad I went back. The audience was warm and friendly (they even laughed at some of my lame jokes!) and the room was completely full (60 guests, I'd say).

My best friend slash unbelievably talented wedding photographer was there for moral support and photos. She is the best, and her pictures are certainly worth a scroll.

I would be remiss if I did not write a thank-you to WeWork. These folks are the most accommodating -- they host, they set up and tear down, they open up the taps. I'm a WeWork fan, always and forever.

My next event is April 6th at WeWork Fulton Market. RSVP here!


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