Old School

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My grandfather can be liberal with his advice. Particularly when it comes to his profession for the last 60 years, residential real estate. In one anecdote, he is a new real estate agent in his 20s. His boss drops him off 30 blocks away from his office and tells him not to come back to the office until he had rung every single doorbell on the way back. It took a couple of weeks, but he came back with a listing, some solid leads and the confidence that his business destiny was in his hands. All he had to do was ring the bell (or hundreds of bells in this case).

I'm 31 years old, a product of the digital age. I'm in the real estate business, too, but I often find myself using technology as a crutch, and I'm not talking about my grandfather's shoe leather.

Social media and technology is everywhere in business now. They have made it much more efficient and it's lead to the creation of a vast amount of wealth. But what has been left by the wayside is an "old school" approach to business that still works.

So, to take a page out of my grandfather's book, I would like to get liberal with my own advice and propose that everyone "get old school." You're in sales? Go out and knock on some doors. Work in the HR industry? Meet with people face-to-face as often as possible. Have a retail job? Turn your phone off and listen to your customers. Looking for a job? Submit your resume in person. Pick up a pen and handwrite a note. Make a phone call instead of typing a long email. Ask a colleague a question instead of sending an email. Take someone out to lunch. Turn your work email off when you are at home. Turn your phone off for 24 hours.

Taking some time to channel your inner luddite will create a dramatic change in your business and your personal life. If nothing else, you will know how to conduct business after the zombies take over the world and the electricity goes out.


With a Perspective, this is Toby Costello.

Toby Costello lives in San Francisco and is a commercial real estate broker.