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First Person

Valerie Garcia On What it Means to be in a Relationship

"The definition of relationship is the state of connection." Valerie Garcia talks through what connects us and what helps us break through the fear of reaching out.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Relationships are about finding ways to connect with other people.
  • This saying still rings true, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care."
  • Ask for feedback. Not only will you improve but you’ll also create a deeper investment in what you’re doing.
To remember that we are all humans at heart, and deep down we've got to treat people like human beings. Not leads, not numbers, but humans. -Valerie Garcia

Rather read it? Check out the transcript here:

Mike Schneider: Welcome to another episode of First Person, and I'm honored to have Valerie Garcia, speaker consultant and encourager, on for this season of First Person.

Valerie Garcia: Thanks for having me.

Mike Schneider: Yeah. Tell us a little bit more about the encourager piece. Before I get started, I'm intrigued.

Valerie Garcia:So, a couple of years ago I read this quote that said, "Education is 95% encouragement and only 5% information." And I thought, gosh, you know that's so smart, because we pile information on people, but so often we don't give them what they need to actually do something with it, which is encouragement. So I kind of unofficially thought, "That's the title I really want to be known as; encourager."

Mike Schneider: Yeah. Wow, that's really powerful. When we actually started the business, just to give a little personal anecdote here, it was fascinating as we were focused on this core of people's relationships. So just talking to people about how are you following up, what do you do, what are your systems, and I'll tell, you, over two thirds of the conversations their response started with, "Well, I should be ..." And there's just all this guilt that I know I should be doing more.

Mike Schneider: So we share that. We're trying to build ... We term it gamification and all these other things to try to help make that easier, but it's the same concept of you need a little more encouragement along the way. Cool. Well, now we'll get started with the actual program. Where we usually start is with a fun little 60 second speed round.

Mike Schneider: See how you can get through it. So, our company's called First, so these are your firsts, and yeah, what was your first job?

Valerie Garcia: Dishwasher.

Mike Schneider: First car?

Valerie Garcia: Ford Festiva hatchback.

Mike Schneider: Nice. First listing?

Valerie Garcia: Never listed a property.

Mike Schneider:  Never listed, alright. First thing you say when you meet someone new?

Valerie Garcia: How are you?

Mike Schneider: First thing you do when you wake up?

Valerie Garcia:Grab my phone.

Mike Schneider: Yup, me too. First pet?

Valerie Garcia: A collie named Molly.

Mike Schneider: : A collie named Molly. Molly the collie. First album record?

Valerie Garcia:I think it might have been Paula Abdul. I can't believe I just said that on camera.

Mike Schneider: First computer?

Valerie Garcia:Something that weighed a thousand pounds. I couldn't even tell you what it was. Dell maybe?

Mike Schneider: First flight you took and where'd you go?

Valerie Garcia:I was flying to be an exchange student in a small town in Hungary.

Mike Schneider: Well done. Well, that's 60 seconds, so we'll stop there. Thanks for that. So, as I said in our preamble, we're all about relationships, and I'd love to here just some of your thoughts and maybe experiences on how relationships are the center, how they drive agents businesses.

Valerie Garcia:Yeah. So you know the definition of relationship is the state of connection, and I'm huge on definitions. So when I looked that up and I looked at that the very first time I thought, "Gosh, you know, we think of relationships as a give and take, or conversation, but really it is connection." And so relationships to me are about finding something that connects you to another person. Something you have in common, something that you can actually have empathy for, care about, and I was really taught from a really early stage in my business, from my very first broker, who said, "People are motivated by one thing only, and mostly it's fear." So they're afraid of losing their deal, they're afraid of losing a client, and the idea that connection helps us feel less afraid has driven me basically my entire 20 year career.

Mike Schneider: Wow.

Valerie Garcia: Just allowing somebody to feel like we're here, we're okay, I'm with you. So one of the major things that I teach is how do I get past talking about myself to talking about you, and it's really hard, because we're taught from our early stage to start sentences with "I".

Valerie Garcia:So I sit down with you and I say to you, "Why should I hire you?" Most of the time you're going to say to me, "I'm great, I work with a great brand, I have all the right tools, I'm going to get you the most money." But you don't have a 'why' statement, I asked you why, I have an 'I' statement. So relationships are about taking the 'I' out of it and saying you are going to have challenges and struggles and questions and fears, and the whole thing's going to be scary, and that's going to motivate you to be stressed and all of the things. My job is to be there every step of the way and help you feel less afraid.

Mike Schneider: And that's the why.

Valerie Garcia: That's the why.

Valerie Garcia: And so, we put so much effort into figuring out what are relationships? Are they databases? Are they whatever? But at the core of it is how can I make sure that you're getting everything you need so that you aren't afraid, so that you can make really good decisions. That's connection.

Mike Schneider: Whoa. There's a lot to unpack there. I want to rewind all the back to the ... I love the definitional concept. One of my majors was English. I love the definitional piece because you talk about relationship at that abstract level, it's any type of connection.

Valerie Garcia:There's a relationship between two things, right? That's really interesting because that doesn't go away.

Valerie Garcia: When we find that relationship, that connection, that's something that is always there for me to go back to, that is a relationship we have. That's really interesting, I don't think anybody has pointed that out yet.

Mike Schneider: That's really cool. I love the why. You really have to dig deeper too to figure out what that 'why' is, because you kind of have to flip the question. Why are you hiring me, as opposed to why am I real estate agent?

Valerie Garcia:There's some overlap, but it's not necessarily always the same thing.

Valerie Garcia:I mean, relationships really are all about making the other person feel like they're the most important, and then that's really where the connection comes from, because the old saying "Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care." And that's the core of a really good connection and relationship is that person helped me because they care about me, and that's where the magic happens because you feel something.

Mike Schneider: You do. So, one of the biggest challenges I think with being in a relationship driven business is that you end up with hundreds, thousands of them, right? You have hundreds of past clients, thousands of relationships.

Mike Schneider: How do you navigate that? I think there's two sides to this because invariably you can't be in connection, conversation with all of them.

Valerie Garcia: Sure.

Mike Schneider: So how do you re engage people by, we like to call these sparks, what are things that you would do to respark and kindle that relationship. Do you go back to previous conversations? I'd love to hear.

Valerie Garcia: Yeah. So one thing that works for me is I bucket people. So I have my people for this, and I have my people for that, and I try and focus on one bucket at a time.

Mike Schneider: Can you tell us what this and that are? Just for instance.

Valerie Garcia: So maybe friends, maybe family, maybe people that I want to hire me, people that I think are really smart in a certain area and they know things that I want to learn. And personally I do that too. People that travel, they're in my bucket of when I feel like planning a trip, they're the ones I reach out to.

Mike Schneider: Sure. So, I think sometimes we think of databases as this big group of 15,000 people that we've ever known or met, but if we could look as it as you have this bucket that has 15 people in it, and they're really the ones I want to talk to about this, or I want to reach out to them about this, or they're the ones I want to pick their brain on a certain thing, or re engage with them on a regular basis on certain topics. It becomes less scary and it becomes a little more realistic and manageable. So I might sit down and say, "You know what? It's a Tuesday and I really feel like this is the bucket of people that I'm feeling today." It's not scientific, but it works for me.

Valerie Garcia: And it comes back to relationships. I think, maybe it's a day that it's raining, and I think these are the people that make me feel light hearted or happy, or these are the people I reach out to when I'm having one of those days where I'm like, "I could just stay in bed today." And these are my motivational people.

Mike Schneider: So the encourager needs some encouragement sometimes?

Valerie Garcia: Yeah.

Valerie Garcia: So I think if you're looking at it from a client side, you have your hot buyers and sellers, or whatever, but you also have those people that you know you could get really good feedback from. You know, your past clients that were really good at saying, "That was great," or, "That could have used work." So when you're creating a new marketing piece you go to that bucket and you say, "Hey, I've got a newsletter. Would you proof it, would you look at it, would you give me your thoughts?" And so it's not always about, "Hey, are you looking to buy or sell?" It's not always about it's a touchpoint because it's on my calendar or my CRM's telling me to do it. It's, "You guys are my people that I reach out to for this thing."

Mike Schneider: That's cool.

Valerie Garcia: And so it humanizes it.

Mike Schneider: Yeah. That's really cool. Well, our last thing is just some pro tips. I know you probably have hundreds of these, but if you could share one or two, I'd love to hear a pro tip on whether it's deepening a relationship, or following up or managing something, I'd love just to have one or two tips.

Valerie Garcia: So, big one for me that drives that way I run my business is that saying that everyone's fighting a battle that nobody knows anything about, and I kind of go back to that every time business frustrates me. And I think we all get into that place sometimes where we're putting out fires, and we're dealing with situations, and people are annoying. I heard something today where somebody said, "Oh, we all got into this business because we love people." And I was like, "No, no we didn't." Not everybody loves people all the time, but it is a people business.

Valerie Garcia: And I think that reminder that we are all humans at heart, and deep down we've got to remember to treat people like human beings. Not leads, not numbers, but humans. And that's just something that gets me out of bed every day.

Mike Schneider: That's great. Well, thank you for being on the show.

Valerie Garcia: Thanks for having me.
Mike Schneider: Appreciate it.

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