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8 Lessons the Army Taught Me About Being a Better Business Owner

Jay Marks

Jay has been selling real estate since 1993 and has had the opportunity to help several thousand clients buy and sell real estate over those 30 years ...

Jay has been selling real estate since 1993 and has had the opportunity to help several thousand clients buy and sell real estate over those 30 years ...

Jan 24 6 minutes read

This Veterans Day I spent a lot of time reflecting back on my 10-year service in the Army. My family has military service dating back to the Revolution with my great-grandfather working with the Sons of Liberty. As I learned about my family's legacy growing up, it inspired me to join the Army in 1985 as a Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. And now one of my children is continuing on that legacy.

I learned a lot of lessons in the Army through my years of service. They helped me become a better man, father, husband and leader. And no matter what phase of life we're in or what we do for a living, I think these are lessons that can benefit us all.

#1: Be ready at all times

My first unit I was assigned to was the famous 82nd Airborne division  and our mission was to be able to mobilize within 18 hours of notification and then to strategically deploy, conduct a forcible entry parachute assault, and secure key objectives anywhere in the world.  

That required immense preparation and planning. 

Our real estate team is always planning and preparing so we can best serve our clients no matter their circumstances or needs.

#2: Ignore the fear and embrace the faith

Let's be honest... when you're in the Army, you don't have the luxury of being afraid. Jumping out of airplanes at night with all of my supplies strapped to my back was enough to think about. So, I learned early on to just have faith in my equipment, my fellow soldier and our preparation.

As the Broker and Owner of a real estate company, I still don't have time to be afraid. I have people who depend on me. So, sometimes I step blindly into the darkness - relying on my experience, my team and our preparation.

#3: Working as a team leads to victory

I have always been part of a team. In the Army, you have to learn to rely on your teammates and fellow soldiers. Your life is literally in their hands. 

My real estate team that I have assembled is what I would call a "special ops" team where we are all highly trained and specialized in our individual roles, but can cover each other at any given moment. That allows us to best serve our clients. And that's what sets us apart.

#4: Live your schedule

Over the years I have learned to prioritize the things that matter most and to not waste time on the things that don't. There is a time and a place for everything. Our time and especially the clients time is precious and valuable. Don't waste it.

#5: Never take 'no' for an answer when 'yes' is possible

My commander in Korea had a high standard for us. He would not accept no for an answer.  When one door closes, look for an open window. If you know me then you know that I rarely (if ever) take 'no' for an answer. If anything, it makes me look harder for the 'yes.'

I teach my team to live by the same philosophy. Where someone else might tell you it can't be done, we'll find a way to make it possible.

#6: Stay highly motivated at all times

My drill sergeant taught me this. He told us to "move like lightning and sound like thunder." He encouraged us to serve with enthusiasm, drive, energy and a desire to constantly learn more. And to never quit.

My team operates the same way. We are passionate about what we do. We are passionate about our clients. And we will never quit being advocates for you.

#7: Excuses only justify the individual giving them

I also learned this lesson from my drill sergeant. He taught us to take responsibility for everything we said and did. We were to own our mistakes and share our victories.

We have a team philosophy that if one of us makes a mistake, we all take the blame. And if one of us has a victory, we all share in celebrating that victory. Own it, learn from it, and move on.

#8: "No one is more professional than I."

In my latter years in the Army I was a Sergeant and led men from 10 soldier howitzer sections to platoons of trainees. The creed of the Non Commissioned Officer begins, "No one is more professional than I." As NCO's, we were to display competence, professionalism and leadership. Our two basic responsibilities were to accomplish the mission and watch out for the welfare of our soldiers. 

The last paragraph of the NCO Creed states, "I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, noncommissioned officers, leaders!"

I am honored to be counted among the many who have worn the uniform. I am grateful for my time in the Army and for all it taught me. And now I strive each day to run the kind of real estate company that exemplifies these values. 

I love my job. I love my team. They are true professionals in real estate and although we don't jump from aircraft and shoot howitzers, we do deliver timely and accurate client service to each of our clients on a daily basis.  

And we are 'highly motivated' to help you.

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