Saying goodbye is never easy

Saying goodbye is never easy.  But sometimes it’s the only option that will lead you to new and better opportunities down the line while striking up an inner voice that confirms that your path is now adjusted and you’re moving in the right direction.  Without accepting a few losses, we would never be able to embrace positive change.

Still, saying goodbye is never easy.

Last week, Ellie and I had to say goodbye to Tom and Margaret Cannava, the heads of Fort Smith’s Bradford & Udouj Realtors and our mentors for the last five years.  The decision took a lot of hard thought.  We’re confident now that we chose well and are looking forward to a re-birth, as you might call it, of our career with Sagely & Edwards Realtors, another leading firm in the Fort Smith real estate market.

But I’m not writing this to tell you about our move – people change jobs and employers all the time.  What I want to talk about is Tom and Margaret and why Ellie and I will carry the utmost respect for them, wherever our careers take us.

We first met the couple in 2007, when we were house hunting and attending open houses.  (This was before we became real estate agents.)  Tom and Margaret were both really nice and clearly had deep knowledge about the real estate market – which didn’t come as a surprise since they were at the helm of one of Fort Smith’s most well-known real estate firms.

The home we ended up buying in Fianna Hills turned out to be right across the street from the Cannavas.  I thought that was quite coincidental.  And fortunate.  It wasn’t long before I’d begin moseying across the street when Tom was working in his garden and politely ask him for some tips and pointers on being more successful with my rental properties, which I had been operating for several years.

One thing you notice about Tom very soon after getting to know him is his . . . language.  Yes, Tom has a way of putting things that certainly wakes you up and makes you take notice.  Some might call his choice of words abrasive; I always considered it simply colorful.  He’s a retired U.S. Army colonel, so that might explain where some of all that comes from.

Our first Christmas in Fianna Hills, I looked out the window into 20-degree weather and saw Tom over there stringing lights around his house.  It was inspiring to see a man twice my age working out in the bitter cold as if it was nothing.  A job needed to be done, he was the one who had to do it, so he did it.

Truth was, it inspired me so much that I went out and bought Christmas lights for our house and braved the cold to tack them up around the perimeter.  Unfortunately I come from a generation that has been called lazy – and worse, so I decided to follow Tom’s lead and be un-lazy and do something I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.  And if felt good.

In 2009, Ellie and I decided we wanted to pursue careers in real estate, she full-time, me part-time as I maintained my responsibilities with my family’s business, Glidewell Distributing.  I called Tom and said, “Can we meet?  We’re thinking about getting real estate–” and before I could say “licenses,” Tom said, “I want you and Ellie to come work for me.”

Over the next five years, Tom and Margaret taught us the things they don’t teach you in real estate school.  They also threw some epic Christmas parties, so everything balanced out real nicely.  Being in the real estate business was truly everything we had hoped it would be.  Both Ellie and I are certain that whatever level of success we’ve been fortunate enough to achieve so far would never have been possible without the guidance and direction as only Tom and Margaret could supply it.

As I said earlier, our leaving Bradford & Udouj was a difficult decision.  In any business, things change over time – people, policies, structures, the overall landscape.  And most of us, at one point in our lives, are faced with a set of changes that we believe would be detrimental to our ability to perform at our best and feel comfortable on a day-to-day-basis.  When this happens, you have to make a tough choice to accept some losses in order to wake up each day with the conviction that you’re in the right place and doing the right things.

Still, saying goodbye is never easy.

Nick & Ellie