Some lessons in life and real estate cannot be taught in the typical classroom setting. There is a great need for mentoring and training beyond simple applications. Conventional wisdom or “street smarts” is obtained through experience … the great teacher. Sell Like a Mule is a practical guide for real estate agents using the metaphorical comparison of this magnificent hybrid animal, the mule. Being labeled “stubborn as a mule” is a compliment because mules are highly intelligent. What makes them stubborn? They can THINK!
The exact origin of the mule may be somewhat difficult to determine, but its ancestry begins with the origin of its parents, a male donkey and a female horse. This combination affords some remarkable and very desirable traits. From the father, donkeys have longevity. Some live over 50 years. They are stronger than a horse of the same size, extremely smart, and have an incredible memory. A donkey can recognize geographical areas and fellow donkeys they’ve not seen in 25 years. From the mother’s side, horses are courageous, vigorous and agile. Using
a larger mare can increase the size and stature of the mule, allowing them to carry and pull more weight. Horses are faster than donkeys, and some mules have been bred to race. When you combine the best of the donkey with the best of the horse it’s easy to see why these hybrids have become highly prized.
The mule has been intentionally bred by man since ancient times and was considered the steed of choice for kings during Solomon’s reign. George Washington was one of the first American mule breeders. During World Wars I and II, mules were “drafted” into active duty. They were better equipped to navigate the dense jungles and steep mountain trails that were impassible to motorized vehicles. They carried food, supplies, and ammunition into the battle zones, and they often carried wounded soldiers out of harm’s way. More than 8,000 mules died in those wars, and the supply ships carrying these heroic mules were often prime targets for enemy submarines.
I first personally witnessed the brilliance of mules in the 1960s as a small child on our family farm. We had two mules, Kate and Della, who were the apple of my father’s eye and his hard-working partners for growing crops. I remember many barefoot walks behind the plow, picking up arrowheads and other treasures in the freshly turned earth as Kate and Della prepared the fields for planting. The rows were always straight and perfect. They heeded Dad’s verbal commands, eagerly obeying every gee and haw, turning right or left, respectively. They stood perfectly still as he adjusted their harnesses. They seemed to enjoy the work and were gentle and even-tempered giants. They never foundered or fell ill, and always required less maintenance than our horses, cows, and other farm animals.
Later, as an adult around 1994, my husband and I purchased a beautiful parcel of land in Maury County that just so happened to have once been a mule farm. We learned that many local farms in the area operated in the late 1800s breeding and supplying mules for the war effort, and for some, it was their main source of income. The area was a central hub for mule sales and gained a reputation for breeding exquisite stock. People came from all over the world to buy the prized mules, and Columbia earned the title, “Mule Capital of the World.” To this day, during the first week in April, the Mule Day Festival attracts tens of thousands of tourists and international mule traders to participate in the weeklong celebration. Columbia is lovingly called “Muletown” so it’s no surprise that I had to name my real estate firm Muletown Realty.
As humans, we would do well to strive for the attributes of a mule. Mules learn very quickly, often with as little as three repetitions. Their physical strength and stamina allow them to endure extreme conditions like those experienced in the front lines during the World Wars. They are the animal of choice for those steep and treacherous Grand Canyon trails and are steady and surefooted. Mules don’t spook easily, and if they do, it’s for good reason. They have a keen sense of self-preservation and cannot be forced to do dangerous things or work beyond their health limitations, thus, unjustly earning the reputation of being stubborn. When in fact, they are very clever and possess common sense.
Sell Like a Mule was written with the intent to help agents work smarter, not harder, to become “sure-footed” in our industry. There is much to learn, and you don’t know what you don’t know. You will need to learn how to write offers, list homes, explain contracts, navigate through home inspections, interpret appraisals, prepare for closings, manage your leads and database, and of course, how to get paid— much more than simply learning which words to fill in the contract blanks. Psychology is involved. You must outsmart the competition. You must THINK.
Conventional wisdom and knowledge must be gained quickly and with little experience. Communication skills are imperative. You will need to be intuitive, able to predict and overcome obstacles, able to understand the gee’s and haw’s of the industry. Additionally, you must learn to monitor and adjust your mindset—how to recognize and adapt to others’ behavioral traits and personalities, how to apply time management and bring organization to your work, and lastly, how to maintain relationships so that you will have rewarding friendships, endless referrals, and repeat business for life.
Indeed, you’ll need many of the mule’s attributes … agility, surefootedness, strength and stamina, intelligence, memory, common sense and the ability to learn quickly, just to name a few. Sell Like a Mule offers its readers a faster and smarter path to success, the opportunity to glean years of wisdom by learning
from others’ experiences and mistakes. It will create a deeper understanding of the why’s and how’s of real estate through the sharing of true stories from the field, both heartwarming and heart stopping.
Congratulations on your decision to become a mule in a world full of horses and ponies! A career in real estate offers amazing opportunities for growth and self-development. You have opened the door to achieving substantial financial and emotional rewards, both for you and your clients. Now, it’s time to become a magnificent hybrid so you can …SELL LIKE A MULE!