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2023 From the Rearview Mirror

December 28, 2023


2023 From the Rearview Mirror

2023 From the Rearview Mirror

Confessions from a Reflective Learner


Once upon a time, it was explained to me that each year you get older, that year represents less of your overall lifespan. It’s why summers as a 10-year-old child seemed to be so long and yet, as adults, we blink, and a year has shot by. When you’re 10 years old, one year is 1/10th of your lifespan, when you’re 50, it’s 1/50th.  That explanation makes sense to me as to how 2023 went by so quickly when in some ways, it seems as if it was just January of 2023 and not (almost) January 2024.


When I was a business major at Fresno State, I had a management class where the most interesting thing I recall learning was not about business, but about different styles of learning. You see, I’m what’s called a Reflective Learner which can be a bit of a curse and blessing all at the same time. Over time, I’ve learned and am still learning how to make it a constructive process and not one of perpetual torment. When you’re a reflective learner, you run every circumstance through your head in a never-ending cycle, searching for ways you could have handled a situation better. Second guessing your every move. Examining things you could have said or done differently to be more effective, or less hurtful. Trying to learn from a failure and not let it define me, but to get better because of it. It’s somewhat of an OCD loop that can be exhausting!


Now that you have a bit of background on me, I’d like to share with you some of the biggest lessons learned in 2023 and as a result, my path forward in 2024. Best-selling author, Seth Godin once said: “Show up each day and do the work that matters.” I love this quote as it defines my will to continually refine myself, my processes, and as a byproduct, my results.


Lesson’s Learned from 2023


To “Really” be Faithful


It’s no surprise to anyone reading this that 2023 has been an exceedingly difficult year in the real estate industry. Linda and I entered real estate in 2010 when we started buying and flipping homes. We incorporated and started our real estate brokerage in May of 2014. Back then we were called Green Fin Realty and officially changed our company name to The Mitchell Group in 2020. God has been so good to us over the past 10 years as real estate brokers and helped us grow and be profitable each year. However, 2023 has been a challenge. We’ve had to be introspective on our finances and trim costs just about everywhere that was conceivable. It’s easy to be faithful in times of plenty but it’s in the times of lack that the spotlight really shines down and illuminates this category in your life. Am I really faithful? I know that Jesus is watching too. He’s watching to see what our reaction is. Will we be consumed by the fear, uncertainty and doubt that is all around us or will be faithful? Will we keep our eyes on Him?


A month or so ago, I had a conversation with the owner of one of the roofing companies that we work with. I had called him to have him go out and complete a roof inspection for a property we would be listing. The roof needed repair in several spots and the homeowner had received a bid for repairs that I felt was too high, so I told her I would have someone I trusted come out and inspect the roof. My gut was right as he was less than half of the price the homeowner had been quoted. Anyway, during our conversation this man asked me how business had been for us in 2023. I told him that it would end up being our lowest year on record as a company and over 50% down from that of 2022. He said it’s been the same for him and as of late, it had been causing him many sleepless nights with worry. I told him that I often wondered how Jesus felt when he went to feed the 4,000 men in the book of Matthew (15: 32-39) and the disciples asked him where they could possibly get enough food out in the wilderness to feed all these people. You see, Jesus had just fed the 5,000 (this was just men) and with woman and children, this number was much higher. Was Jesus frustrated by their lack of faith? The disciples had just personally witnessed him feed a huge crowd (chapter 14).  They had also repeatedly seen him do many other miracles as well. YES, I think He was profoundly frustrated with them and now he’s watching us, awaiting our response to these lean times. It’s the lean times that develop character, not the good times. I told my roofer (and friend) that Jesus has always shown up for Linda and me. In fact, He has never let us down and I refused to worry about this year and business. How could I be unfaithful now after all these years of Him taking care of us?


This is easier said than done but He is putting our faith to the test this year and, Jesus is watching to see how we react. We’ve always said to Him that we are faithful, but when the rubber hits the road and times are tough, are we?


To Be Authentic


Several years back, I read a book by Gary Vaynerchuk called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook that had a lasting impact on me. Gary Vee, as he’s known, is a self-made marketing genius. I have learned a great deal from Gary and adopted many marketing techniques because of his writings. In Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary talks about how to create the highest possible engagement strategies within different Social Media platforms. However, one of the most crucial aspects for success, is to be authentic. Simply put, to be you. I’m learning to be my authentic self and it’s likely a process that may never fully end.


You see, we’re all creatures of not just our upbringing, but also of social pressures. This is a pressure that we all face, and it can be relentless. From a very young age, we learn the art of fitting in with the crowd. The pressure of going along with the flow instead of swimming upstream and charting your own path. From the language you use to the clothes you wear, to going to college, getting married and having kids, it is societies prescribed path for what is considered normal behavior. If you sway from that “normal behavior” in any way, it starts making folks uncomfortable and you’ll begin feeling resistance. Darren Hardy talks about this in his book, The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster. This truth has never been more embodied than it was over the past few years in the “cancel culture” we now live in today. I think most of us play the part of themselves in public, but it’s not the real “you” if they’re being completely honest. 


As a result of this, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about whom exactly the authentic Todd Mitchell is. Integrity is very important to me, and I’ve made it my mission to be a “you see what you get” type of guy. I will be the same regardless of the group of people I am with. I will dress the same and not the way that I once thought people expected.  If you come meet with me, I’ll be me, in jeans and my Mitchell Group golf shirt and hat. Once in a while, maybe a button-down dress shirt and nice shoes, (because I like nice shoes!) In fact, that’s how I dress most of the time and I’m comfortable being me now and not playing the part of Todd Mitchell. There is a vast sea of people out in the world all trying to be EXACTLY the same. They dress the same, talk the same and act the same. I’ve learned that this is the wrong path for me, and I’ve abandoned it for good.


To Be a Storyteller


Another crucially important lesson I’ve learned from Gary Vee is to be a storyteller in everything I do. The power of effective marketing is the ability to tell a story. Have you ever noticed when someone tells a personal story, you are most often captivated by it and drawn into the story? That’s a very powerful thing and Gary Vee is 100% right with this. Think of the power of someone’s own story, like a video testimonial for instance. A transformational story of weight loss or a journey to fitness or someone pursuing their travel dreams and then telling you about it. We watch and listen attentively and are drawn into the story, rooting for that person to succeed and tell us how they did it.


The Todd & Linda Files was born from this concept. Linda and I decided we wanted to tell stories from our lives and through that, you (the reader) would have a better perspective of who we are. What our beliefs are and what makes us tick. Like characters on a TV show, over time you get to know them well, and that is our goal with this newsletter. And, quite frankly, blog posts about real estate are boring and no one cares, so why write them anyway, they are a dime a dozen. We aim to be our authentic selves, and to be vulnerable through our stories.


How We Tell a Story through Video Marketing

When it comes to selling homes, every home and every family has a story to tell. We’re learning to do nothing more than facilitate that story through the home sales process and through video marketing so that it resonates with people and they want to watch and find out more.


To Make Impact


When history looks back on my life, if nothing else, I would want to be remembered for making impact in the lives of the people around me.  I’ve come to realize that life is so much more than working and making money. There is no lasting joy in that. When you impact someone’s life though, help them to see their potential and change their life’s trajectory, now that’s rewarding and something worthy of pursuit.


This time of year, you see so many folks in my profession boasting about their achievements. “I’ve sold this many homes this year and achieved these things,” so on and so forth; well, maybe not as much this year…  Now, I am a goal-oriented guy by nature so don’t get me wrong, these things are important to me also, but at the end of the day, I’ve realized that no-one really cares how many houses we’ve sold. Tony Robbins talks about two major things at work in a person life: The science of achievement and the art of fulfillment. You can’t be truly fulfilled unless both are in balance. When you look at the life of Robin Williams as an example, from the outside looking in, he was the hallmark of achievement and outward success. Yet, he was extremely unfulfilled. Sadly, this unbalance lead this extremely talented man to take his life. There is a vitally important lesson here for us all to learn with the dangers of only chasing achievement. We need to live our lives in a fulfilling way and make impact in others even if it means we make less money in the process. This is a much more rewarding path in the long-term in my opinion. We need to have balance and we need to give back proportionately to what we have received.


That Change Takes Time


A big lesson that I’ve learned over the past few years is that effective change takes time. There is no way around this. We live in an “I want it now” world and I fall victim to this all the time. I’ve battled discouragement off and on with the pains and frustrations of the real estate industry. Linda and I have ambitions for our business, but it’s more focused on relationships now as we’ve grown a bit older. We have big visions for our Impact Fund and our Faith-Based charitable contributions. God as specifically called us to help fund His work in this manner. Often, we’re ready to move things to the next level, but God’s not always ready for us to go at the speed and scale we want. He says to wait and to be patient and wait a bit longer; it will come. We have visions for wanting to help people grow and develop. Again, He says to be patient, it’s in His timing not ours. I’m learning to keep my expectations in check and realize that he’ll grow us at his pace, not our pace. And, I’m learning to be okay with this. 


Direction for 2024


When I reflect on 2023, I can confidently say that it was a great year. There was much personal growth and refinement that I’m thankful for. We’ve continued to develop mastery with our marketing techniques that are delivering tremendous results for our clients.  For 2024 though, there are non-negotiables for me. I will continue to work on becoming a better version of myself. The authentic version that God intends for me to be and is patiently working with me on. I know that I must frustrate Him a great deal too. Linda and I will continue to write The Todd & Linda Files and put our thoughts out there in the world for public consumption. We will be patient and allow God to sustain us and work through us to help others. And, we will continue to “Show up each day and do the work that matters.” - To the Best of our Ability.


Happy New Year Everyone!

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