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It’s funny, the things you miss…

A handshake. It means different things to different people, and it has always been important to me. This new working climate has taken away many things, but that part I miss the most.

I still almost extend my hand each time I meet a new client, work with a past one, run into a friend or even pop by my dads’ yard to catch up. It’s a symbol for me of trust and one I learned very early.

I remember working many summers with my father in Toronto.  It was a unique business; managing parking lots and property management downtown. Although real estate related, the business was different than what I do today, but the strengths of what made my father successful transferred well to my career many years later…establishing relationships, building a reputation for working hard and most importantly, not letting down the people who trust you.

I didn’t appreciate the real success my dad had until years later, but it wasn’t anything related to money, it was how he treated everyone he worked with and how they treated him back.

I remember so vividly he and I driving from location to location, me probably complaining about working on Saturday, and him jumping out of the truck with such enthusiasm each time we pulled up to meet someone. He might have had a joke, or a “Hey, how are ya”, or maybe it was just getting straight down to the work at hand, but a handshake always came first. It didn’t matter whether he worked for you, worked with you, or you worked for him. When he met you, the first thing he always did was extend his hand.

The handshake. Person after person.

As years followed, I was the one driving and meeting people just like he did, and I always made sure the shake came first.

I knew it was important, but early on I probably didn’t know why.  It may have become just a habit. But I did notice the word trust was said a lot.  When people were referring to my dad, it came up time and time again. People seemed to put a lot into the handshake and it was my dad’s way of saying they could count on him. Sure, there might have been bigger companies than his, but I soon realized that the people he worked with didn’t care about that.

I started to realize what made him different, and what people wanted most. It was someone they could depend on.

When I began my real estate career nothing changed. The work with my dad all those years left me with many things that made working in this industry almost seamless. Helping many different people, a competitive landscape, and of course building relationships. (The commutes a lot better too, lol.)

It’s funny, as my kids started to get bigger (prior to the pandemic of course), I even started to pick up on them shaking hands. I would introduce them to someone and a “Nice to meet you” would come out at the same time. It was hard not to smile. Look, you may shake hands with someone for different reasons, but one will not argue that there is a feeling that usually goes with it.  My dad taught most things in life by his actions, and shaking someone’s hand was his way. Everyone trusted him, and he did everything he could to not let them down.

I know its that first step for me in building any relationship.

The pandemic has changed how business is done in many ways. Zoom meetings, Docusign, and remote working where possible. The personal touch has been removed from a business that really relies on it. Some things may be changed forever, but of all the things I look forward to when this pandemic is over, you can be sure if you are meeting me, we are shaking hands first. 


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