Episode 36: Blessings in Disguise

Episode 36: Blessings in Disguise

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Hello and welcome to the Thoughtful Realtor Podcast. I am Kenny Gong.


I'm Cliff Tsang.


And I'm Connie Chung.


And we are the founders and partners of Willowmar Real Estate. This is a show for those interested and invested in the world of residential real estate. Every episode we sit down for insights and stories and conversations about all things in the real estate market today.

Running a real estate team in California and finding our way as leaders and business partners. And today we have some blessings in disguise for everything from life to real estate, to entrepreneurship. What are some of these blessings in disguise? And it could be also unexpected things, unexpected insights.Things that might be counterintuitive as well. All kinds of things. 

So where should we start?


I'll go. I'll start with a fun young memory as a hungry, fresh realtor and I was working out of our downtown office. you know, just hustling. And I met someone who came into our office, I think he lived in one of the high rises downtown and said, oh, you know, my parents, they're visiting. We'd like to look at some condominiums downtown. 

And you know, being new really wanted to pull out all the stops. So I hired an Uber XL with a driver to drive us to each building, and we looked at some really nice ones. It was really fun. We saw – for those who might know in downtown San Francisco – the millennium, we even saw the private residences at St. Regis and for seasons. 

Yeah, I was learning as I went along on the tour and at the end of the day, spent a good amount of money on Ubers and ended the tour, chatted with the client, shared the different options, talked about the value to the best of my ability, and then I think it was crickets after that. He thanked me and his parents were very grateful, but I don't think I heard from them for the longest time. And I thought, wow. What a waste of money. What, Connie?


Uber XLs.


Yeah. I had the Uber XLs Exactly. The Uber black cars. I just thought, was that the dumbest thing to ever, to have done?

And you know, there are a lot of those, I think in my early days. But years later, probably five years at least, I get an email from this person and he remembered me as an agent and said, you know, my parents aren't looking, but I'm actually looking for an investment property.

And I thought, Okay, how serious is he? But he turned out to be really serious and I thought, wow, I must have left such a strong impression on him that he remembered me after all these years and came back as a much more equipped agent and really excited to work with him again and ended up helping him buy an investment property in San Francisco.

And that was such a good reminder. So one, just to constantly stay true to yourself, treat your clients as you would treat any other client, and, with the intention that yes, they all are serious, but maybe on very different paths and journeys, but that what you do really does reflect who you are that they remember you years later.

So, that was a really fun Okay. It wasn't for nothing, you know, everything you put in, especially as a, a hungry, new realtor, it's not for nothing. It really does pay off. In the long run.


I have an interesting tidbit to add because, so that, that client who came back a few years later I helped a lot with their search to buy the investment property, and I actually didn't know about the, I don't think I knew about the Uber kind of story at the time, but I remember just thinking that this client really has so many positive things to say about you.

He was so effusive and sharing so many nice things. I think what he kept saying was, Connie just gets it. She knows what people are looking for and she's just an amazing realtor. And I think he even shared a story of – he had worked with other agents before and you know, after all those years had remembered the impact that you made with all those Uber XLs. 

But no, seriously, he had only positive things to say and, and has left us great reviews. And was it, you know, hearing your side of that story again right now and then thinking that I kind of caught it at the end or picked up at the other side of it. It was, it's really, really cool to see how that's kind of a blessing in disguise. 


Yeah. For our young realtors listening to this, I think there's all we can do, especially as you're building your client list or clientele, is really just to give as much value and come to think of it in between those years.

As an agent, I would send out mailers. And I remember because I knew he owned a property in downtown, every time his name would pop up I'd think, oh, you know, is he opening up this mail? Or you know, is this gonna be of value? And I think all of the little things definitely do add up and they do help in focusing on what you have control over is so important.


Cliff, what about you?


My story for blessing in disguise is after graduating college. So, I graduated in 2009 which was a kind of a rough time to graduate, you know, the kind of the economy started to collapse in 2008. So when I graduated in 2009 one of my goals, ideally was to kind of move to San Francisco, work in finance and kind of start that career.

But instead, I had to pivot and I joined Teach for America. Great program. I was excited to join of course, but that was not kind of the “One A” option from graduating. And I remember at the time, I don't wanna say I was, I wasn't bummed by any means. I was still excited but not getting your top choice of what you want- Kind of felt that a little bit inside, but in hindsight, it was a blessing. 

You know, I've pretty much lived in California all my life. I moved to Houston and had some really, really fun experiences there. A few of my best friends to this day are folks that I met while living in Houston and doing Teach For America.

And I also think of a couple memorable things too that I would've never had otherwise, like the drive out from California to Texas. That in and of itself was kind of a crazy trip. It's 20 plus hours. You go through California, Nevada, New Mexico – I'm missing a state – Arizona and then half of Texas. All on that trip.

Half of the trip is actually in Texas from El Paso to Houston, which is crazy to give you a sense of how wide Texas is. And my dad came out with me on that. and that was a really, really cool experience to hear his story and just spend three or four days kind of just driving with my dad out to Texas and also learning that their immigration story was they were either gonna go to San Francisco or San Antonio, Texas.

And I just think about my dad with a Texas accent and how that would just be very, very different. And then coming back to California and here we are and everything kind of worked out for a reason, but it truly was a blessing in disguise, sometimes not getting what you want in life. That is the blessing in disguise because you realize Life can unfold in different ways. 

Recently someone shared this idea of a false dichotomy with me, or I've heard of the term, but I never really spent time thinking about false dichotomy. And I just think it's like a very interesting thing.

It's like, I think our brains think that there's only two paths. The dichotomy of it's gotta be a path A, and if path A doesn't happen, then we're mad that we have to go path B. But it's a false dichotomy. Because there's not just A and B in life. There's not even A to Z. There's unlimited ways that life can unfold.

And to not get stuck thinking life has to happen in this way. Well, what, what about you, Kenny? 


So a couple of years ago, a few years ago, there was a moment when I thought that I would leave residential real estate sales. And I had been in the industry at that point for a handful of years, and there was something that wasn't clicking, like there was something that I just wasn't quite figuring out, like, how do I feel – I've been doing this for so long, like my passion for it kind of has faded or has ebbed and flowed. What can I do to invigorate my passion? 

And so you know, I was exploring a lot of different things outside of direct sales and what I realized in the past couple of years is that actually everything that I wanted was right under my nose. and it wasn't actually getting out of real estate sales. I just needed to reorient myself and pivot to approaching real estate sales in a very, very different way. 

And what it turned out to be was starting our company and. Building out our team, recruiting more agents and then changing my focus from direct real estate sales, one-on-one client service to mentoring, coaching, and supporting other people to build their businesses in real estate sales.

And that was such a blessing in disguise because it was so unexpected. I thought that it was really like, oh, there's something about real estate sales in general that wasn't working, but it was just not working for me necessarily. And- 


Or that version of it.


That version of it wasn't working. And it was really, really sad when I actually was thinking about and considering leaving real estate sales because I love real estate.

I love real estate sales, like the process of helping people move through this life. Transition in this life chapter is so special to me. I love so much about it, but there was something about the version of me doing that direct client sales work that wasn't working.

And, and so now that we have built a team where I can do a lot more mentorship and coaching and sometimes I still do service, but it's less my focus. I have found so much more gratification and satisfaction in the coaching and mentorship aspect of what I get to do today. It's so unexpected because truly I was about to leave the industry and leave sales, but what I really needed to do was absolutely stay on sales, but do it from a different vantage point.

And I've just loved that little blessing in disguise that continues to unfold and continues to reveal different levels and layers of passion. You know the more I do what I do now, the more I feel passionate about it. And that discovery process has been something that feels incredibly critical to my personal development and my professional development.

And I feel very, very, very lucky to have found something that feels so nourishing and soul fulfilling. It feels really, really special to do the work that I do now. 

Any other blessings of disguise about real estate, about life, about entrepreneurship?


I'll share a life blessing in disguise. And I may have shared this in a previous episode, I can't recall, but if folks are listening for the first time I, in high school, I knew I was not the smartest class kid in the classroom.

But, you know, I thought I tried hard. I took honors and AP classes. I did a lot of extracurricular, so I thought I'd get into a decent college and I got rejected from almost every college I applied to. And the one college that did accept me later rescinded my application because I failed physics.

And I remember feeling like the biggest failure ever. And you know – what was wrong with me? What a shame. And then our speech and debate coach suggested I go to community college and at the time community college – at least in our community or my family – felt very stigmatized of, oh, you don't go, you know, you know, you work so hard–

We sacrificed so much so you can get a higher education at a university. And so I remember being so scared to tell my parents, Hey, I'm gonna go to community college. But one, they were so happy because that meant I would stay local, which was really cute. But mentally, I felt like the biggest failure. 

And I think it was Facebook or MySpace that was prevalent at the time. I think I shut that all off and I didn't even have an account because I was so embarrassed. So I cut off a lot of high school friends because I just carried the shame of, wow, I'm not good enough. I'm going to community college. 

But when I was there, it taught me so much about grit and resilience and starting over because college was such a fresh start. I loved high school. And then I got to college and I thought, wow, this is great. I put my head down and I really did well in school for the first time. I got straight A's and also I felt like I became my own at Pasadena City College. 

I even still was involved in student government as student trustee. and made the most of the two years at my community college, which led to scholarships and then an acceptance at my dream college, which was UC Berkeley and paid my way through that. And there was always kind of this, the shame that I held even after I graduated from Cal, that I went to PCC or whenever I talk to people, I wouldn't really talk about my community college days.

But they are so formative of who I am today because it really taught me that process of what I thought was a failure was probably the best thing that could have happened in my life because it's led me to where I am today, to making the most of a situation and to making even more of what I could have even imagined of that time in my life.

And I made such great friends, people that I still am in touch with today and had really great mentors and yeah. Just really grateful to have gone through that.


Thanks for sharing that, Con. I will share one, I guess more of a personal example. Mine is– blessing in disguise is I think for friends who might be listening to this, Meesun and I have been on the baby making pregnancy journey for a while now.

You know, we've just crossed the one year mark. And it's been a tough, challenging road, for both of us, but more so for her and don't get – it's been tough, you know, seeing her every month kind of go through the ups and downs of it, or mostly downs of it, you know. And kind of having to repeat and regroup herself and put back together and just repeat, repeat every month and kind of get beaten down.

But the blessing in disguise is, I think knowing that it's gonna happen. That we're gonna be fine. But also it's allowed us in the last year to really work on our relationship, on things that I think if it had happened right away, we wouldn't have talked about. And you know, we don't need to get into all, all the details of that on this podcast.

But in terms of just intimacy communication for me, it's forced me to grow up as a man. Just to understand, I think, the female side of things, the female body more and kind of all of that process and… Maybe I'm just trying to make a, what is it? Make lemonade out of lemons or something.

But I really feel like it's been a blessing in disguise for us because we've grown a lot together and I feel like we– It's interesting with your spouse or with a deep relationship. Because as you get into deeper levels, usually through trials and tribulations, and you get to learn more about that person, it's like peeling the onions.

It's weird cuz you know that there are more layers there, but you don't know what the other layer has. And only by going through it do you actually start to see those other layers and it makes life more beautiful. It makes that relationship with that person more beautiful and more special. Yeah, that's been our blessing in disguise over the last year and I guess we're still being blessed from it cuz it hasn't happened yet. And no, no use to announce. 


Yeah, it's also really wonderful to hear about a blessing in disguise that's very current. I think so many times we don't realize what the blessing is until many, many years out. 

So what I think is so wonderful about what you're sharing, Cliff, is that it's a very mindful practice. Like the mindfulness and the presence of being able to see through a current hardship, what the blessing is such a powerful emotional tool to be able to say – wow, I'm going through a really, really hard time. 

But there already is this silver lining or there's this blessing that is already unfurling and unfolding and revealing itself to you. And yeah, that's a powerful place to be because I think that is such an aspirational way of living.

Cuz we're always gonna be going through hardships regardless of where we are in life. We're always gonna be going through hardships. But if we're able to find what the blessing in disguise is with our current hardships, that's a superpower.


Agreed. Agreed. Yeah. And to add to that, kind of adding to what Connie was saying earlier about things being stigmatized, it's been really really interesting to see – as we've shared with other folks and they've shared back about their journeys as well – just the words of encouragement that we've gone and the connections that we've built with other friends who now have kids learning about their journey and it being not as stigmatized in our heads. Just how tough it can be. So yeah. Thanks for that, Kenny. 


Well, thank you all for listening to some of our blessings in disguise. I  just love these and I think that we might do a part two, a part three, a part four of these blessings to disguise, which I love. And yeah, we just really appreciate all of y'all who've tuned in and gotten to share in some of these little reflections of life and business that Connie, Cliff, and I have been able to think about .

And yeah, we really appreciate you. And on that note, this is the end of another episode of Thoughtful Realtor® Podcast. You could find us at willowmar.com or on Instagram at @willowmar__ and if you haven't already, hit that subscribe button and leave us a review. 

And if this was a helpful episode, an enjoyable episode, we encourage you to share the love and share it with someone that you think would also enjoy it. So thank you so much for listening to this episode, and until next time,







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