I thought I was small, but learned that I was large…I thought I was large, but learned that I was small…I thought I was poor, but learned that I was rich.
I was born and raised in the south side of Montebello, a small suburb a little east of L.A. We were a lower middle class family that struggled, as most families do. We didn’t have a lot, but we had enough. It was a good upbringing, and though I do believe I was vaguely aware of our money problems, it was a fulfilling childhood.
When I left for college at USC, I was in for a little culture shock. I was given a full academic scholarship, but felt mostly out-of-place because I didn’t measure up to the “strata” of most of the students there. It didn’t take long for me to adjust. After a while, I not only got used to it, but I came to rather enjoy it. Status has its privileges. It’s easy to get used to flying first class for SC baseball games, and winning a National Championship probably didn’t hurt either. For me, as a kid coming from humble means, this was a dream.
After graduation, the dream quickly faded. I went to Mexico to play ball for two years in conditions that were not only more like my upbringing…they were substantially worse. I genuinely lived in poverty for much of that time. But it was also this time, that I developed my vision for what I wanted to do, or more importantly, what I wanted to value. I saw things that I had never seen before….or since. I saw kids who had nothing but the shirts on their backs, playing baseball with broomsticks and tape balls. And they loved it….and their lives. I saw their parents, who had very little food in the cupboards and less in their under-sized refrigerators. They could hardly provide for their own very large families; and, in fact, they barely got by at all. But in this great poverty, they frequently asked me over to their little huts or small “ranchitos” for dinner, and gave me what could only be described as a “dinner for a king”. They may have only had a bag of beans or a bucket of rice, vegetables they had grown, or maybe even their “pet” chickens, pigs, and goats that eventually made it to the dinner table…but they gave it ALL to me. They were the most generous and hospitable people I have ever met. What they were showing me was that they had a different set of values than I had. They valued things differently than I did. They valued PEOPLE OVER THINGS! And while they didn’t have a lot of “things”, they did have a lot of happiness. They had parties, or “fiestas,” to celebrate the people in their lives. They had the richness of family love and carefree giving that overflowed to others. They had the warmth and comfort of a vital and close knit community that depended on each other. They seemed to have things in order, and their “richness” made the “richness” of USC pale in comparison.
It should be noted, that this is in no way a commentary on cultural disparities. What I extracted, was a wonderfully different and fulfilling set of values that transcend any culture… where people were, again, valued. That’s what I wanted when I came back to the states: A different kind of life.
I carried this vision with me, and after a few more years of professional baseball, I decided to apply it to a position in “literature distribution” (i.e. bookstore management). Our store had a mission statement that matched up precisely, stating that it would “never make a profit at the sake of biblical truth.” In other words, it cared more about the people than the profits. It cared more about the health of their souls, than the health of their bottom line. In fact, we were given freedom to tell them “when NOT to buy a book” if it wasn’t in their best interest. And if the book was important enough for their lives and they didn’t have enough money to purchase it, then we had the freedom to GIVE it to them. Again, people were more important than things.
So when I entered the world of Real Estate, I wanted to continue this same philosophy. But I discovered a harsh reality that “people over profit” is not a popular concept in this business. I remained undeterred. After witnessing SO many people’s lives change in such dramatic fashion, by the honor and respect shown during my time in Mexico and in our bookstore, I knew it was worth the effort to pioneer a change. I not only wanted to have a different kind of life…I wanted to MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OTHER PEOPLE’S
I want to make a difference, not just a living.
There are countless ways people can make a living. I want something bigger. I want something that will capture my heart and the hearts of others. In the world of real estate, that requires something of a change.
As an agent, it’s hard not to notice how often people are NOT given a full disclosure of the facts, and how frequently they are given “half the story.” If you take a step back and see how prices have changed so dramatically over the past few years, it’s hard not to notice that people are more and more unsure of what the market’s going to do. How is that affecting their families…their workloads…their qualities of life? The problem: No one wants to give them a straight answer. It’s like the pink elephant in the middle of the room. Everyone sees it, but no one wants to say anything.
The truth is…sometimes Home Isn’t 1st. We saw such a huge amount of equity gains for several years, followed by a frighteningly unpredictable dip in the market. Sometimes we forget the higher priorities. There are times when you simply need to be reminded of the truth. Finding the right market for you should not be dependant upon working two jobs and having excessively high mortgage payments…and it shouldn’t be pushed onto you with a sense of panic or fear. The truth is, sometimes, it may NOT be a good time to sell. Or sometimes, it may NOT be a good time to buy. Maybe it’s because of market conditions; maybe it’s because of personal goals. Both have to be taken into account.
So, I started this journey by asking a lot of questions. And the best place to start was with my clients…the people who really know what’s wrong. I asked, “What’s the most important thing for you, not just about the home, but about your life?” Then I asked myself, “What’s the greatest good for the people who want to buy or sell their homes?” There were times when the answers indicated that buying or selling was not in their best interest at the time. And since I was looking out for their best interest and not just my own, we either postponed, or stopped the process. While I recognize that this means delaying or even forfeiting a commission check, the more important thing is the truth.
This is a cause…and not a new cause at that. This is an old cause
that all of us are familiar with. It used to be something that was commonplace. It used to be part of everyday life. It’s nothing more than telling the truth no matter what…even when it hurts.
This is an endeavor to intentionally tell the truth in every situation, no matter what the cost. It’s about putting others before yourself. It’s about advantaging others even if it means disadvantaging yourself. The ultimate goal is to benefit other people and to counsel them in a way that will result in their highest good. Not in a manipulative way, or a subtly shrewd way. Not in a sales tactic, “I’m here for you” way that is ultimately self-interested and finally selfish. Rather, in a genuinely caring way.
It’s not always easy. To be honest, it’s a struggle. It’s hard, simply because you lose money. Imagine, for a moment, if you were in a similar situation. What if you would lose your next paycheck by telling your boss about a particular matter that only you knew would hurt the company? You might still do it, but it would be hard.
It becomes easier when I see the benefits that come to my clients. There have been times when I have recommended not selling, but rather waiting until the market climbed. Seven months later, they made a substantial increase in profit. One couple made an additional $80,000 and in another instance, a client actually made an additional $170,000.
Each time, the house is incidental. The person is central.
I don’t have any customers. Customers are defined as, “one who purchases a product or a service.” I do, however, have several clients. A client is, “one who is under the protection of another.”
Protection is at the forefront of my mind during the entire process. As I ask questions about my clients’ needs at the initial interview, I think about protection. As I recommend certain courses of action, I think about protection. When I write contracts, I propose and write in contingencies that will ensure protection. I continue to take these measures all throughout the escrow, including warranties and insurances when we close.
Part of this includes providing my clients with the most accurate and up to date information available. I do an intense amount of research, keeping abreast of the best and brightest economists in the area. I watch out for every possible underlying statistic and every possible piece of data that might have an impact on the market. If I don’t do my research, I forfeit my right to give advice. That’s what people trust me for: accuracy of information. If I don’t have that, then I’m not doing my job.
I want to help them become more fulfilled people,
not just bigger and better home owners.
After a few years in Real Estate, and after having implemented my vision as best as I could, I decided to “formalize” what I’ve seen and put down on paper the principles and values that I’ve seen change so many. This is not an esoteric vision of reality or some revolutionary concept that’s new on the scene in the business world. It’s old and it’s simple. It’s just “PEOPLE SERVING PEOPLE.” It’s helping you reflect and remember and maybe even re-prioritize. No matter what the result, I want you to think about the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS in your life. Sometimes that’s a house. Sometimes it’s not.
Fundamentally, I don’t care if people remember Ron Arnold.
To me, that is insignificant. I am ultimately insignificant.
You’ll have a tough time seeing my face, my statistics, and my awards posted all over the place. I know that can be dangerous marketing. When you’re supposed to be “branding” yourself, that means name, face, and slogan have to be EVERYWHERE! I was a sales manager, a marketing director, and a marketing V.P. for 17 years. I know what should be done. Problem is…I don’t care. I’ve done this long enough; I’m old enough; I’ve got enough experience, that I only want to do what’s right. Treat people right. Protect them. Point them at things that may be more important than homes. That’s way more valuable than one silly name.
No one owns this. No one can “brand” it. No one has the corner on this market. If it’s
going to have a greater impact, it needs to be on its own. It needs to be able to flourish… to continue…to gain momentum. Tied to one business or person, it will die. Freed to be adopted by any and all, it will grow.
A lot of things that happen in baseball have a lot of parallels to life.
I love baseball…I always have. I love the fact that there’s a designed play called a sacrifice, where one player gives up a little something for the good of the team. That’s what I want to strive for. I want to be willing to give up a little, for a bigger impact. That’s what baseball can do…remind us.
Many of the things you’ll see from me are infused with baseball. I’ve played it practically my whole life. I think there is no sport closer to the heart of a child. We can all use a little more child-likeness in our lives. Not just to re-live the silly antics and carefree feelings of our youth, but to recapture some of the magical moments, some of the awestruck moments of wonder…and to be thankful for it. We can see ourselves, our history, our playfulness, our loyalties, and much more in the little game of baseball. My hope is that if you see a flyer or a brochure with an old baseball field and the, “When Home Isn’t 1st” logo, you won’t necessarily let it entice you to buy or sell a home. Instead, let it prompt you to enjoy and be thankful for the good gifts you’ve been given.