*The following is an interview I conducted with Madison McClellan. It has been written in this format to accentuate her voice.*
It’s a Sunday evening, and I arrive at her apartment. She welcomes me in, and we set up in her room. We sit cross-legged on a white comforter. Madison tells me about her day at the office and we decompress.
Madison McClellan is a College Station realtor. Your first impression of her is young, soft-spoken, and seemingly very put-together. She introduces herself humbly to everyone she meets but always has an air of confidence around her. She stays presentable: medium-length blonde hair, fresh makeup, and a clean chic outfit. After getting to know her, I see a vast world of ideas and aspirations behind her eyes and words.
She opens up to me,
Oh, I’m feeling nervous! I’m so sorry if I mess up.
Please don’t be shy, you can talk as much as you want!
We laugh off the awkward air.
So, I know that your dad is also a realtor, how did that impact your view of real estate growing up?
She nods along with me as I ask, then her eyes wander off a bit.
Umm, when I was growing up I never really like— I mean, it’s just what he did. And, I knew that he was a realtor and I knew that he worked all the time. But, it also seemed like he didn’t work, because he was always doing it. So, I didn’t really realize ‘Oh, Dad is working all the time.’ It was more like, ‘This is just how we live.’ And then, I realized ‘Oh… he is ALWAYS working!’ So – I don’t know. It was always different because my friend’s parents always had ‘normal’ jobs.
She pauses abruptly to think again.
He can work whenever he wants, but if you want to be successful like him you work around the clock.
She pauses and smiles at me with a tired look.
But – he always tells me it’s not work when you enjoy it. And… he enjoys it! So, it’s not really like working for him, either.
And, do you agree?
Yeah, I agree. Um, of course, there are little parts of it that get frustrating, but I feel like that’s probably why I never realized that he was always working around the clock. Because he enjoyed it and he wasn’t complaining about having to work all the time.
She starts talking with her hands, lifting them from under her fuzzy blanket.
It’s kind of like a way of life.
After experiencing your dad living by those words and loving what he does, how does that impact you now, as a realtor?
Honestly, I think it’s super helpful coming from that because people who didn’t grow up close to real estate don’t really understand how to function on the day-to-day. They’re used to probably their parents going to work every day, and it’s kind of a transition figuring out how to make it work.
But, it feels just natural to me but it is kind of weird being away from him and trying to work on my own. Because there’s nobody here telling me what I should and shouldn’t do. So, all I have is the people I have at work saying to me that it’s gonna be helpful if I come in every day and go to training, but it’s up to me to figure out my next step to getting a deal. There’s no one pushing it toward you, you have to go find it yourself. Being away from my dad I’m like ‘okay, what do I do?”
I laugh with her, and she quickly returns to a serious tone.
But if he was around, I feel like I would have more guidance on what to do next.
Besides through your dad, did you have any sort of connection or “tie” to real estate?
My dad was obviously my biggest connection, but his sister’s a realtor, and my mom’s sister is also a realtor. But, my dad has been in it the longest.
I’ve always wondered at what point and why did you decide to move to College Station?
So, in my Freshman year of college, I did my first semester online through the community college at home. I’d been wanting to move away, not because I wanted to move away from my parents, but because everybody else is doing it. I felt stuck because I didn’t have a group of friends.
I nod in understanding.
I wanted to just get out and see what else is out there. Then, I reconnected with Brooke (her roommate), and she told me she was moving up here. I ended up moving up here that next fall and, I had no plan. I was just going to Blinn, and getting my associate’s. I was going to do dental hygiene, but then I decided I would hate that.
We both giggle at the thought. She’s gazing away, definitely imagining what her life could’ve looked like.
Sitting in the same office every day at 8:00 am – cleaning people’s teeth? That would suck! And, I really like having my own schedule. Of course, it’s working all the time, but it’s not like I have to be somewhere every day – I’m in control of my schedule.
So, I know you majored in business, what led you to that decision, if it was even your first?
So, I started out in business, then I looked at the dental hygiene program. And, I was going to come to Blinn for that, but then I changed it. Because I have a lot of different things I want to do as far as my career goes – and of course, real estate is number one, but as far as other business ventures I have a lot of other things that I’d like to try out. I just figured that that’d be a better route to go.
I do want to open a couple of businesses. That’s a dream of mine, later. I want to try out different things. So, I thought that would be a good way into it. I want to open… a lot of businesses. I don’t know – of course, I want to do home remodeling and investment properties. I’d love to have a hotel or inn with a restaurant. Or, a vacation rental! There are a lot of different things I’d love to do.
Her words get softer and quieter before she trails off. She’s smiling at me. Before, she was clearly excited to talk. She was looking off while painting her future for me.
How exciting for you, I didn’t know that!
Now, I know that you worked alongside other realtors before getting your license, could you describe what you learned from that experience?
I don’t know if it’s just because the people in my office are so great, or if it’s because I like being around other realtors, but it’s definitely a positive thing! I told my dad that the best decision I made was getting a receptionist job at the office, before getting my license. It helped me build relationships with the people in the office.
These people really want to help you, and having that relationship with them before I got my license made it so much easier to learn and ask for help from them.
Is there a certain moment or experience from those realtors or even your dad’s work that you carried into your own work?
Honestly, this is something I got from my dad and then confirmed by the people in the office: this is really a business about personal relationships. You can’t be transactional. You have to build relationships with your clients. Not just because that’s how you get referrals. Yes, that’s true, but you build a successful real estate business that way. You have to actually care about the people you’re helping.
Do you have any words of advice or wisdom for those exploring the real estate world?
You’re going to make mistakes. It’s going to happen. There was someone on our team, and I don’t remember where we were, but they said, “You haven’t been in real estate long if you haven’t made a mistake.” Which is true, because I haven’t been in it long and I’ve made mistakes! But, you live and you learn. Stick with it, and don’t give up. You have to push through and it’ll get better. Only, if you’re willing to put in the effort. And, I’m not speaking from much experience, this is from my dad!
We laugh at that comment and conclude the interview.
Madison clearly is full of passion and ambition for her field of work. It was beautiful to experience an energy that screams: I love what I do! At 21 years old, she clearly knows exactly where she’s going and how she’ll get there. She holds on to her experiences and the trust she has for the people around her.
Listening to her speak about her father and his relationship with real estate helps us understand where her work ethic comes from. After leaving her apartment, I had a new understanding of Madison McClellan: she notices and enjoys the little moments.
Thank you, Madison.