We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Mary Bell a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary, thanks for joining us today. So let’s jump to your mission – what’s the backstory behind how you developed the mission that drives your brand?
I grew up with nothing. When our friends parents have our friends opportunities when they grew up we were given nothing. My mission was to build something for my kids. Something they could join me in and have later in life.
Mary, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I grew up extremely poor but I had huge motivation. I wanted to be different from what I grew up with. I got married very young and worked hard. When I had my first child at 21 I got my real estate license but ended up not doing anything with it. We ended up moving-ALOT. From Tennessee to Anchorage, Alaska back to Nashville then to Fort Myers FL to Atlanta, GA to Miami, FL back to Fort Myers and then to Birmingham. During these moves we bought and sold many properties. Houses and land. During these times I was putting together my business plan for when we decided to stay put. So when we moved to Birmingham I got started and I hit the pavement hard. It was NEVER about the money to me. It was about serving others. We had agents many times throughout our moves and they disappointed. So I took note of what I expected as a client and became the agent I always wanted. I wanted someone who was concerned with me and my family’s needs. Someone who looked and was proactive for us. I wanted communication and quick responses. When I started, bc I am not from here and have lived and seen a lot, I not only wanted to be a trendsetter in my market I was. I work hard bc I am honored when someone puts their trust in me for their biggest investment, that being their home.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
I wasnt from Birmingham. I moved here in 2017 and got my real estate license. We moved a lot over the years to several states. So during that time I put my business plan together and when we decided we were no longer going to move I got my license and started. With real estate the first thing people tell you is your sphere of influence is who you need to contact first. Obviously not being from here I didnt have a sphere of influence. But I knew how to hustle. Once I started I just kept going and going. Networking events, setting up my own referral network, talking to strangers, working any way I knew how. And it worked. I ended up being the rookie of the year for my firm and have been one of the top agents in Birmingham.
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
Humility. Pride is definitely before a crash, as they say. I went into this thinking my son would join me a few years in. I would create and build it and I could eventually give it to my kids. It would be a family business. Being “successful” in this industry you get a lot of recognition. Never did I think it would go to my head. I always wanted to treat people right and do the right thing. In which I did. I do think there are people that either want to learn from you or want what you have built. Keeping the balance of treating people great, staying humble, and yet not getting constantly taken advantage of is a lesson, a hard lesson, I have definitely needed to learn.
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