"How can I be helpful?".  These were five words I heard from an old friend during an unusual week.  The question came while she was hosting my daughter and me in her lovely home in Boston, which she and her family had graciously opened to us while I was moving my first born into her college dorm for her freshman year.  My younger son, who was back home in Colorado, had decided that it was as good a time as any to contract appendicitis.  And so, just a handful of hours after we had landed half way across the country, I received word that my son was going to have an emergency appendecomy.  Even though he emerged from his surgery in tact and was on the road to recovery before I was flying home, it was a stressful few days.

Despite instant access to Google Maps, Alexa, Siri, Uber and other modern tools of convenience, those words, "How can I be helpful?" were powerful in my moments of stress and uncertainty.  This question was an open-ended invitation to me, signaling it was okay ask for help.  I had permission to seek small or large favors.  She knew that I was trying to navigate a new city, stay in control and get my daughter settled in and she was offering up her expertise, guidance and ideas to help make our time more valuable, efficient and stress-free.  

After I left Boston I kept thinking about how my friend's simple question had meant so much to me. It had relaxed me in a time of potential crisis. I asked myself how often did I utter those words to friends, family, clients, acquaintances or even strangers?  Anyone who knows me would likely say I tend to be a helpful person, but I realized that I assume everyone already knows that I am available to help.  How often do I actually ask someone "How can I be helpful? "Old friends from UCLA Kathryn Brown and Cory Nickerson sitting on porch in Boston MA

For those of us who work to serve clients, whether in real estate or another industry, we are aware of how much knowledge and information is spinning around the World Wide Web to empower consumers. We have accepted the fact that our clients know a lot.  In real estate, clients can find properties for sale on their phone 24/7.  They can review pricing history on their laptop.  They can read reviews of agents and make decisions based on other consumer experiences.  We know that since the emergence of the internet, many consumer-centered companies have struggled to demonstrate their value.   We ask ourselves how can we stand out and how can we compete with all that the internet has to offer?  Thanks to my Bostonian friend, I am going to make an effort to re-frame that question. I'll be sure to simply ask those in need "How can I be helpful?".  

And I certainly hope I can return the favor to my dear friend in Boston someday. 


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