In 2004, I was one of five thousand realtors in the Silicon Valley. The market was on fire and the industry was flooded with individuals who thought selling homes would be an easy way to get rich quick. Houses were flying off the Multiple Listing Service and at prices higher than we’d ever seen before. Anyone could get a real estate license – and they did.
I’ve never been someone who easily boasted about my strong points. My brothers and I were raised to be humble to a fault. In my family, bragging was a cardinal sin, so the difficult question became how to sell myself to the public. Everywhere I looked, agents claimed to be “Number One,” the “Neighborhood Specialist,” or in the “Top Ten Percent.” Their ads seemed to screamed “pick me, pick me, pick me.” I wanted to be different and set myself apart from the throng.
One day, while taking a marketing seminar, I heard of an idea of mailing letters to your contacts about something personal in your life. A “letter from the heart,” so to speak. This suggestion came with a fee and monthly CDs with pre-written suggestions of what to say.
From the time I was ten, I’ve always written everything down – my secrets, thoughts, dreams and desires. Verbal communication was a major challenge for me. Nothing ever came out of my mouth clear or in a manner that could be easily understood by the listener. Plus, there was always the fear of feeling stupid or rejected because the recipient of my dialogue wouldn’t like what I had to say. When I wanted to express something to a family member or friend, instead of looking at them face-to-face, I wrote them a note and left it on their pillow. Marketing myself through writing would be a natural way for me to communicate. I plunked the $1000 down and the journey began.
In November, the first generic CD came. I doctored it up, put my personal spin on it, mailed it to three hundred people and waited. But there was no response from anyone.
I went through the same process the next month. I was sure someone would comment on a Christmas letter, but again – nothing.
By January of 2005, I decided to write my own letter and I titled it “Count Your Blessings.” My mother had recently died, my children were leaving the house, my divorce was final and I was financially broke. Life was extremely difficult, but I began to see that, despite all this pain, I was truly blessed. It was because of these hardships that I grew to understand what was wonderful and beautiful in my life. Comparison is the tool by which we can measure success, love or failure. The response to this letter was astounding.
From that point on, each letter came as a result of a random idea I had in a particular moment. More importantly, the letters became a way of expressing my inner most thoughts to the world at large.
Five years later, I’m still writing. My following has grown and I’m constantly told how these notes have touched a visceral cord in my readers. But the main reason I write is a selfish one. With each new entry, I continue to find something delightful within me. My fears have dissipated. I’m not afraid to express how I feel and it doesn’t matter if someone appreciates it or not. Rejection is no longer my worst enemy. Through a marketing tool that began in 2004, I began to discovered I had a voice. I found confidence in myself and learned how and why I fit in this ever changing experience we call life. It has been a gift and blessing and one I plan to carry on as the journey continues.